What could possibly go wrong allowing some Washington, D.C. residents to issue parking tickets against their neighbors?
A whole host of things, but the D.C. city council may implement a pilot program that would allow citizens to issue parking tickets to those obstructing a bike lane, crosswalk, bus lane, or fire hydrant by using a mobile app.
The Citizen Safety Pilot Program is included in a larger bill, called the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019, which was introduced to address transportation safety concerns after several cyclists and pedestrians recently died, WTOP reported. This section of the bill would allow up to 10 residents in each ward to be trained to use the app and issue the tickets.
“It would start small. Just 10 people per ward. They would be trained and made sure they would be ready to go. When they see a vehicle that is blocking a bike lane, blocking the crosswalk, blocking a fire hydrant, they would have the ability using an app on their phone to be able to take a picture and actually have a ticket that will be issued,” D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen, who introduced the bill, told Fox 5.
The photo taken by the authorized resident using the app would indicate when and where the photo was taken, and once submitted through the app, would carry the authority of a traffic injunction issued by a city employee.
Residents who applied for the program would be trained in “bicycle and pedestrian safety; the laws, regulations, policies, and best practices related to issuing notices of infraction for parking violations; proper use of the app; and conflict resolution techniques,” according to the bill.
There could be some legal issues involved in providing citizens such power, however, Allen’s bill also provides for abuse of the program.
“Anyone who knowingly submits false information through the app, or who provides anyone not authorized by the Department with access to the app, shall be subject to a civil fine of up to $100.”
The city will end the program after one year and issue a report detailing how many residents signed up for the program, how many were granted access to the app, how many infractions they issued, and how many of those infractions were dismissed. The report will also look into “evidence of confrontations attributable to the” program and issue recommendations for improvement.
Traffic cops already get plenty of grief if they’re spotted giving someone a ticket. Imagine what could happen if a resident gets a ticket from his or her neighbor — a neighbor whose address he or she knows.
As with any idea, this could end up being great for neighborhoods or disastrous. Should the program be extended, perhaps cyclists and pedestrians could be issued notices for crossing during red lights.
The inner libertarian in me, of course, doesn’t approve of such over-policing, but the “nearly hit by a cyclist who rode full speed through a red light and nearly plowed into me when I was legally crossing the crosswalk” in me thinks these people need to obey some traffic laws.