In 2016, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) was a standout group in their unrelenting advocacy work to push forward the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act protecting all vulnerable road users.
October 13, 2016, Mayor Bowser publicly signed the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act. The act does away with the harsh doctrine of “Contributory Negligence” as it pertains to cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized road users. Prior to the change in the law, if one of these vulnerable users was deemed even 1% at fault for a collision it could be a 100% bar to recovery. As one can imagine, it can be easy to find 1% of fault in a collision. Under the new law so long as a cyclist is less than 51% at fault for the collision it is possible to receive 100% of the recovery for injuries and damages.
The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act essentially “fixed contrib”. “Fix contrib” was the rallying cry of the advocates that led the grassroots movement to change the law to a more equitable standard. Several council members, notably Mary Cheh, David Grosso, and Elissa Silverman, and advocates shepherded the Act through years of wrangling and delays. There was one standout group that continued advocating over the years for this act, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. As Mayor Bowser pointed out in her remarks when signing the Act into Law, “WABA, you’re the leader of the pack. We need you to keep working hard, keep challenging us with great ideas, keep advocating for more funding, keep going out to neighborhoods and educating the public. We need your help with that. Because people won’t fight us if they are with us from the beginning. And you can help with that.” Read more on WABA.org
Why This is Our Advocacy Win of 2016
This win wasn’t simply about victory. We want to celebrate the years of unfailing work, and continued prioritization of this campaign over others in WABA’s strategic vision. Other advocates could take notes on this campaign as everyone wants quick wins and successes to spread to their networks but the longterm vision is what kept this aspirational for the D.C. metro. For three years, WABA was committed to this campaign pushing it through City Council and to the Mayor, keeping their members and donors informed, and also consistently educating members on why this issue mattered to everyone beyond those in bicycle crashes.
From everyone at Bike Law, Thank You to WABA, your staff, volunteers, and members for the three years of persistence, and education to fix contributory negligence in D.C.!
Photo Credit: WABA