The D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass a bill in the first step to ban right turns at red lights and allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs by 2025.
The Safer Intersections Act passed 13-0 on Tuesday. The bill will still face a second council vote and needs to be approved by both Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congress before becoming law.
If the bill is finally approved, right turns on red would be banned at all intersections starting in 2025.
D.C. would join New York as the second American city to entirely ban the practice.
The bill’s proponents argue that an outright ban makes the streets safer for pedestrian foot traffic.
“The engineers, the advocates, and other community members looking at this all agree that prohibiting right turns on red at intersections is appropriate,” bill sponsor Councilmember Mary Cheh of Ward 3 said, according to DCist.
The D.C. Department of Transportation, however, prefers the status quo, evaluating intersections on a case-by-case basis when implementing no turn on red (NTOR.)
“DDOT’s main rationale is that changing the underlying law and making NTOR the default at un-signed intersections will lead to low levels of compliance and confusion for drivers, many of whom come from other jurisdictions where right on red is allowed,” a report from the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment said.
For her part, Ms. Bowser told ABC 7 that “We’ve implemented at a number of high crash intersections no right turns on red already,” calling the bill a “Council-led initiative.”
The bill’s second provision allows for people riding bicycles, scooters and other mobility devices to treat stop signs as yield signs as long as they slow down, give pedestrians the right of way and determine that there are no hazards ahead of them.
Some remained skeptical as to the safety of the bike provision.
Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George noted that her constituents “have concerns about poor visibility at many of our Ward 4 intersections that have odd angles. It can make it hard for bikers to fully assess the danger,” according to DCist.