D.C. Councilwoman Mary M. Cheh speaks as the council votes to confirm Peter J. Newsham as new chief of Metropolitan Police at the Wilson Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
**FILE** D.C. Councilwoman Mary M. Cheh speaks as the council votes to confirm Peter J. Newsham as new chief of Metropolitan Police at the Wilson Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday on the first reading to ban vehicle drivers from turning right at red lights in the city.

“The consequences of allowing right on red is significant in terms of increased risks to pedestrians, cyclists, and others on the roadways,” said Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), WTOP reported.

Cheh, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, authored the legislation, which prohibits drivers from turning right on red lights except at intersections designated by the city’s transportation department.

Additionally, the bill would allow people on bicycles and scooters to treat a stop sign as a yield sign. While bicyclists normally treat stop signs as yields, they can be subjected to ticketing under D.C. law.

Cheh said right-on red policies were implemented in the 1970s to save fuel during the country’s energy crisis. She said, “fuel economy is no longer a sufficient reason to keep right on red as the default position.”

“The acute fuel shortage of the 1970s is long over and today’s cars are much more fuel efficient,” Cheh said. She also noted electric vehicles “don’t see any fuel savings by not idling at red lights,” WTOP reported.

Cheh’s bill requires a second and final vote. If enacted, the bill would take effect in 2025.

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