Cars or Bikes: Right on Red?

Picture these scenarios. It’s 8 p.m. You’re stopped at the light at R Street and Wisconsin Avenue, heading east. No cars, bikes or pedestrians are in sight. You turn right and quickly are on your way down Wisconsin. No waiting.  

It’s 3 p.m. You’re at the stop light on 29th and M Streets, headed north. You’re crammed behind two cars just inches from parked cars on the right. A large SUV turning left off M Street on the green light is jammed, stopped at the crossing, afraid to pass between parked cars on 29th and you in the lane. Traffic backs up on M Street. Drivers start honking on 29th. All because no one can turn right on the red light there.  

It’s 8 a.m. You’re at the stop light on N St. and Wisconsin Avenue, headed east, jammed between the streatery barriers of Martin’s Tavern and cars turning right off M Street. You edge up a bit over the sidewalk to look north, making sure no one is coming south. So you start making your right turn on the red light. You almost hit the bicyclist and the pedestrian crossing north from Martin’s. Really a close call. Yikes!  

Anytime on Georgetown’s residential streets, you come to a stop dutifully at every corner at the red stop sign. The bicyclist whom you have been forced to follow at 5 mph. by peddling in the middle of the lane (his/her right), goes through the stop sign. But, as you proceed, you’re again slowed to a crawl behind the bicycle.  

Last month, the District Council passed two new laws that prohibit turning right on a red signal anywhere in the District and allow bicyclists to peddle (or more often e-motor) through red stop signs everywhere as a yield. What say you? Should cars be able to turn right on red stop lights after a full stop? Should bicyclists be required to stop at stop signs to at least let car traffic pass them?  

The issues at hand are nuanced but not complicated. The Georgetowner believes drivers and bicyclists in our highly educated, aware and even woke city can handle the responsibility of proceeding prudently at red stop crossings. General prohibitions seem a bit tyrannical. People can make their own decisions — especially if they know that irresponsible decisions will be punished.  Let your Ward 2 Council member know what you think. Contact Brooke Pinto at 202-724-8058 or  




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