Code of the District of Columbia

Part A. Bicycle Safety.


§ 50–1601. Findings.

The Council of the District of Columbia finds that:

(1) Increased use of bicycles for transportation and recreation will result in improved air quality, reduced levels of noise and traffic congestion, greater energy conservation, lower transportation costs, fewer parking problems, and increased physical fitness.

(2) Bicycle fatalities and accidents can be reduced through broad-based education and facilities improvements.

(3) The promotion of bicycle transportation and safety in the District of Columbia (“District”) requires the implementation of a comprehensive bicycle transportation and safety program.

(4) A bicycle office is required to coordinate the comprehensive program.

(5) Disability and death from injuries sustained in bicycling accidents are a serious threat to the health, welfare and safety of District children.

(6) Each year approximately 290 children are involved in fatal accidents, and nearly 400,000 are injured with varying degrees of severity in bicycle related injuries or crashes.

(7) Head injuries account for over 60% of bicycle related fatalities and 1/3 of bicycle related emergency room visits.

(8) Use of a bicycle helmet is the single, most effective preventive measure of reducing head injuries 85%, and brain injuries or serious disabilities by 88% from bicycle accidents.

(9) Only 15% of bicyclists use proper head protective equipment, and some studies show that bicycle helmet usage for children under 16 years of age ranges from 5% to 15%.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 2, 32 DCR 764; May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(a), 47 DCR 1985.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1401.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-112 added subsecs. (5) to (9).


§ 50–1602. Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation and Safety Program.

(a) There shall be established in the District of Columbia a Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation and Safety Program to promote the safe and convenient use of the bicycle as a means of transportation and recreation.

(b) The scope of the program shall include, but not be limited to:

(1) Planning and supporting road improvements for bicyclists, such as wide curb lanes, smooth shoulders, bicyclist-oriented signs and signals, and removal of hazards;

(2) Improving access for bicyclists on the road network and on all modes of public transportation;

(3) Monitoring construction and repair projects to ensure that no additional hazards or obstacles to bicyclists are created as the transportation system is built or rebuilt;

(4) Assisting, organizing, and coordinating the planning, design, construction, improvement, repair, and maintenance of bicycle facilities, such as bicycle paths and bicycle lanes, both within and separate from the highway rights-of-way;

(5) Promoting the installation of secure and convenient bicycle parking facilities;

(6) Organizing safety education and training programs for young and adult bicyclists, as well as for motorists, to reduce bicycling accidents and foster safe use of bicycles; and

(7) Promoting effective traffic law enforcement to protect the rights of all road users and to encourage good bicycling habits.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 3, 32 DCR 764.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1402.


§ 50–1603. Office of Bicycle Transportation and Safety.

There shall be established within the Office of the Director of the District Department of Transportation an Office of Bicycle Transportation and Safety to promote the safe and convenient use of the bicycle as a means of transportation and recreation.

(1) The Office shall be headed by a bicycle coordinator who shall be a person with broad knowledge in all aspects of bicycle transportation and safety.

(2) The Office shall be staffed with a minimum of 2 full-time assistant bicycle coordinators who shall have appropriate experience and knowledge of bicycle matters.

(3) The duties of the bicycle coordinator shall include, but not be limited to:

(A) Administering the Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation and Safety Program;

(B) Serving as a contact for federal agencies, the press, civic organizations, and individuals on all matters related to bicycling;

(C) Establishing priorities and programming of bicycle facilities;

(D) Coordinating the District of Columbia’s bicycle program with all agencies on matters relating to bicycles, including transportation, recreation, touring, sports and racing, physical fitness, and economic development;

(E) Assisting the Mayor of the District of Columbia (“Mayor”), the Director of the District Department of Transportation, or a District agency in preparing budgetary, legislative, or regulatory proposals which may affect bicycling; and

(F) Evaluating and reporting annually to the Mayor and Director of the Department of Public Works on the District’s bicycling programs and recommending any needed changes in these programs.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 4, 32 DCR 764; July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-184, § 2(a), 55 DCR 6101; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 238(a), 56 DCR 1117.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1403.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 50-1604.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-184, in the introductory language and par. (3)(E), substituted “District Department of Transportation” for “Department of Public Works”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in par. (3)(E).


§ 50–1604. District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council.

(a) There is established a District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council (the “Council”).

(b)(1) The Council shall be composed of 17 members appointed as follows:

(A) The bicycle coordinator of the Office of Bicycle Transportation and Safety of the District Department of Transportation, as established in § 50-1603;

(B) The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department or his or her designee;

(C) The Director of the Office of Planning or his or her designee;

(D) The Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation or his or her designee; and

(E) Thirteen community representatives, with each member of the Council of the District of Columbia appointing one representative.

(2)(A) Each community representative shall be a resident of the District with a demonstrated interest in bicycling.

(B) A chairperson shall be elected from among the 13 community representatives and shall serve for a term of 2 years.

(c)(1) The community members shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, with initial staggered appointments of 4 members appointed for 1 year, 5 members appointed for 2 years, and 4 members appointed for 3 years. The members to serve the 1-year term, the members to serve the 2-year term, and the members to serve the 3-year term shall be determined by lot at the 1st meeting of the Council.

(2) Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment to the position that became vacant. Community members who are appointed to fill vacancies that occur before the expiration of a community member’s full term shall serve only the unexpired portion of the community member’s term.

(c-1) The District Department of Transportation shall provide the Bicycle Advisory Council with an annual operating budget, which shall include funds to maintain a website, where the Bicycle Advisory Council shall provide a public listing of members, meeting notices, and meeting minutes.

(d) The purpose of the Council shall be to serve as the advisory body to the Mayor, Council of the District of Columbia, and District agencies on matters pertaining to bicycling in the District and to make recommendations to the bicycle coordinator on the budget and focus of the Comprehensive Bicycle Transportation and Safety Program.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 5, 32 DCR 764; Oct. 26, 2001, D.C. Law 14-42, § 28, 48 DCR 7612; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 26(f), 51 DCR 881; July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-184, § 2(b), 55 DCR 6101; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 238(b), 56 DCR 1117; Mar. 3, 2010, D.C. Law 18-111, § 6062, 57 DCR 181; Dec. 24, 2013, D.C. Law 20-61, § 6052, 60 DCR 12472; Oct. 22, 2015, D.C. Law 21-36, § 6072, 62 DCR 10905.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1404.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-42, in subsec. (d), inserted “, Council of the District of Columbia” before “and District”.

D.C. Law 15-105, in subsec. (d), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 17-184 rewrote subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 18-111 added subsec. (c-1).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-61 rewrote (b)(2)(B).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 21-36 designated the existing text of (c) as (c)(1); and added (c)(2).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 28 of Technical Amendments Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-108, August 3, 2001, 48 DCR 7622).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 6062 of Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Second Emergency Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-207, October 15, 2009, 56 DCR 8234).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of § 6062 of Fiscal Year Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-260, January 4, 2010, 57 DCR 345).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 6052 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 6052 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 6072 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).

Short Title

Section 6051 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle F of Title VI of the act may be cited as the “Bicycle Advisory Council Amendment Act of 2013”.

References in Text

Pursuant to Mayor’s Order 2000-20, the agency formerly known as the “Department of Recreation” renamed the “Department of Recreation and Parks” shall be known as the “Department of Parks and Recreation.”

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 20-61: Section 11001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that, except as otherwise provided, the act shall apply as of October 1, 2013.


§ 50–1605. Helmet use requirements.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person under 16 years of age to operate or to be a passenger on a bicycle or any attachment to a bicycle on a public roadway, public bicycle path or other right-of-way, unless that person wears a protective helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a child under 16 years of age to knowingly permit the child to operate or to be a passenger on a bicycle on a public roadway, public bicycle path, or other public right-of-way, unless at all times when the child is so engaged, he or she wears a protective bicycle helmet of good fit, fastened securely upon the head with the straps of the helmet.

(c) The parents or legal guardians of any child under 16 years of age found in violation of this section shall be liable for paying a fine of $25. However, the fine shall be suspended for:

(1) First time violators; or

(2) Violators who subsequent to the violation, but prior to the imposition of fine, purchase a helmet of the type required by this subchapter.

(d) The penalties provided for pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall not be enforced until 90 days after May 23, 2000.

(e) Any helmet sold or rented, or offered for sale or rent, for use by operators and passengers of bicycles shall be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the standard described in § 50-1609(5).

(f)(1) A person regularly engaged in the business of renting bicycles shall require each person seeking to rent a bicycle to provide his or her signature, either on the rental form, or on a separate form containing each of the following:

(A) A written explanation of the provisions of this subchapter and the penalties for violations; and

(B) A statement concerning whether a person under 16 years of age will operate a bicycle in an area where a helmet is required.

(2) A person regularly engaged in the business of renting bicycles shall provide a properly fitted helmet to any person who will operate the bicycle in an area requiring a helmet, if the person does not already have a helmet in his or her possession. A reasonable fee may be charged for the helmet rental.

(3) A person regularly engaged in the business of selling or renting bicycles who complies with this subchapter shall not be liable in a civil action for damages for any physical injuries sustained by a bicycle operator or passenger as a result of the operator’s passenger’s failure to wear a helmet or to wear a properly fitted or fastened helmet in violation of this subchapter.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 6, 32 DCR 764; as added May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(b), 47 DCR 1985.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 50-1612.

Cross References

General helmet use law, see § 50-1651 et seq.


§ 50–1606. Contributory negligence.

Failure to wear a helmet as described in this subchapter shall not be considered as evidence of either negligence per se, contributory negligence, or assumption of the risk in any civil suit arising out of any accident in which a person under 16 years of age is injured. Failure to wear a helmet shall not be a admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action, nor in any way diminish or reduce the damages recoverable in such action.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 7, 32 DCR 764; as added May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(b), 47 DCR 1985.)


§ 50–1607. Child safety helmet education program.

(a) Within 60 days of May 23, 2000, the District Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Department and District of Columbia Public Schools, shall develop and implement a public education program to educate adults and children under 16 years of age on the requirements of this subchapter and the importance of properly wearing bicycle safety helmets.

(b) By October 1, of each year, the District Department of Transportation shall provide the Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on Public Works and the Environment, or a successor committee, a report summarizing the public education activities completed during the previous fiscal year, along with any statistics collected regarding bicycle accidents and injuries during the preceding fiscal year.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 8, 32 DCR 764; as added May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(b), 47 DCR 1985; July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-184, § 2(c), 55 DCR 6101; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 238(c), 56 DCR 1117.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-184, in subsecs. (a) and (b), substituted “District Department of Transportation” for “Department of Public Works”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in subsec. (b).


§ 50–1608. Child safety helmet assistance program.

The District Department of Transportation shall adopt a helmet assistance program which shall include grants and discount programs to assist indigent parents and guardians of children under 16 years of age in obtaining safety helmets.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 9, 32 DCR 764; as added May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(b), 47 DCR 1985; July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-184, § 2(d), 55 DCR 6101; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 238(d), 56 DCR 1117.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-184 substituted “District Department of Transportation” for “District of Columbia Department of Public Works”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction.


§ 50–1609. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter the term:

(1) “Bicycle” means a human-powered vehicle with wheels designed to transport, by pedaling, one or more persons seated on one or more saddle seats on its frame. “Bicycle” also includes a human-powered vehicle, and any attachment to the vehicle designed to transport by pedaling when the vehicle is used on a public roadway, public bicycle path or other public right-of-way. The term “Bicycle” also includes a “tricycle,” which is a 3-wheeled human-powered vehicle designed for use as a toy by a single child under 6 years of age, the seat of which is no more than 2 feet from ground level.

(1A) “Identification number” means a numbered stamp, sticker, or other label or plate issued for a bicycle for the purpose of identifying the bicycle as having been registered, including any sticker or label provided by the National Bike Registry or a registry established by the Mayor for the purpose of bicycle registration. The term “identification number” shall also include a serial number that is originally inscribed or affixed by the manufacturer to a bicycle frame or a bicycle part for the purpose of identification.

(1B) “National Bike Registry” means the nationwide computer database for the registration of bicycles that is an official licensee of the National Crime Prevention Council and is accessible at www.nationalbikeregistry.com or at 1-800-848-BIKE.

(2) “Operator” means a person under 16 years of age who travels on a bicycle seated on a saddle seat from which that person is intended to and can pedal the bicycle.

(3) “Other public right-of-way” means any right of way other than a public roadway or public bicycle path that is under the jurisdiction and control of the District of Columbia and is designed for use and used by vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

(4) “Passenger” means any person, under 16 years of age, who travels on a bicycle in any manner except as an operator.

(5) “Protective bicycle helmet” means a piece of headgear which meets or exceeds the impact standards for protective bicycle helmets set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Snell Memorial Foundation’s standards for protective headgear or the American Society for testing and Materials (ASTM) for use in bicycling.

(6) “Public bicycle path” means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the District of Columbia for use primarily by bicycles and pedestrians.

(7) “Public roadway” means a right-of-way under the jurisdiction and control of the District of Columbia for use primarily by motor vehicles.


(Mar. 16, 1985, D.C. Law 5-179, § 10, 32 DCR 764; as added May 23, 2000, D.C. Law 13-112, § 2(b), 47 DCR 1985; May 1, 2008, D.C. Law 17-149, § 2(b), 55 DCR 1272.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 22-3234 and § 50-1605.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-149 added pars. (1A) and (1B).