WASHINGTON — A Northwest D.C. resident wants police officers to stop blocking the District’s bike lanes when they are not responding to emergencies.
On Monday, Logan Circle resident Lukas Pietrzak took video and pictures of Metropolitan Police Department officers parking their cruisers in designated bike lanes on Thomas Circle NW.
In the video, the officers appeared to be heading in and out of a nearby Wawa convenience store. Pietrzak said it did not appear they were responding to an emergency.
“I actually watched the MPD car first drive through one of the red lights on Thomas Circle to get to Wawa,” he said. “No sirens or lights on. They parked [and] they went in to Wawa.”
Pietrzak said he asked the officers to stop parking in the lane for the sake of local cyclists. He said at that point, more officers arrived and eventually parked in the same bicycle lane.
Pietrzak said one of the first officers to park in the lane then told him he should relay his message about blocking bike lanes to the other officers who arrived and parked. He said that first officer then left the scene altogether.
“The fact that the police of all people are blocking the bike lane sort of makes me wonder who's going to keep other cars out of the bike lane if the police don't even stay out of it themselves,” he said.
It is illegal to block bike lanes in the District. In February 2020, the D.C. Department of Public Works announced it would begin to fine motorists who illegally block bike lanes $150.
On Wednesday, a D.C. police spokesperson said the department was looking into the incident Pietrzak witnessed on Thomas Circle NW.
A spokesperson for D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen also said that the councilmember plans to bring up the issue at MPD’s performance oversight hearing next week.
MPD is not the only police department to be caught parking in the District’s bike lanes during non-emergencies.
Pietrzak also took pictures of Department of Homeland Security officers doing the same thing Tuesday. That department has not responded to WUSA9's request for comment.
“I actually come from a cycling family, and back in the ‘90s, my dad was in a really bad cycling accident and actually still has brain injuries as a result of it,” Pietrzak said. “So, bike safety was always something that was really emphasized in my family.”
He added that he has taken between 30 to 40 photos of police officers parked in bike lanes since he moved to the area last May. Pietrzak said he has also contacted MPD administrators multiple times about the issue.
Local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sherene Joseph said she plans to gather more information on the incident involving MPD as well.
She said it is troubling the situation occurred as the District continues to work to prevent pedestrian and cyclist injuries on its streets.
On Monday, a cyclist was hit and killed by a hospital employee shuttle on Michigan Avenue NE in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood.
“I think that if anything that should make all of us super aware of how much safer we should be making D.C. when it comes to cyclists and so blatantly parking or idling in a bike lane should not be tolerated from anyone, whether it's a private citizen, government officials, police officers or anyone,” she said.