Advocacy Roundup: Fall 2021
This past summer, our advocacy team was busy collaborating with partners and volunteers on the ground—heating up the region with some major victories. Fall has only been hotter, and we’re excited to share some updates with you! Check out our quarterly report, which includes info on campaign updates, the building of new coalitions, upcoming events and actions, and more!
Washington, D.C. Advocacy Updates
Low Stress Bike Network
Our campaign to complete a low-stress bike network in Washington, DC has been ongoing, and our volunteers have been busy working on major projects. Here are some we’d like to spotlight:
- The Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane. The long awaited 9th St. NW protected bike lane and pedestrian safety project is finally moving again, towards construction in late 2022! In September, WABA held a meeting with volunteers to plan our community outreach efforts to generate support for the project.
- Kenyon St. NW Protected Bike Lane. Our volunteers kicked off a campaign to support DDOT extending the Crosstown PBL to 11th NW (at least). Petition & more coming very soon.
- Tunlaw / New Mexico Ave NW. There is continued pressure on ANCs & DDOT to build this Glover Park Protected Bike Lane. If you live in ANC 3B and would like to support these efforts, feel free to reach out to us!
- I (Eye) St. SE/SW. Getting east to west in Waterfront and Navy Yard is set to be a lot less stressful if DDOT’s proposed protected bike lane upgrade moves ahead as proposed. A petition and public meetings are coming soon.
- Protected bike lane installation. Thanks to a newfound drive from DDOT and months of aggressive support from organized advocates, DDOT and NPS are currently (or very soon) installing ~3.2 miles of protected bike lanes on Virginia Ave NW, 15th St. NW, West Virginia NE, New Jersey Ave SE, Water St. NW, and Monroe St. NE. These join the 4+ miles already installed in DC this year.
If you are interested in joining an advocate-driven campaign to build an entire network, head to waba.org/network, click on Join the Campaign and fill out the form! Let’s complete the whole network!
Beach Drive Update
Next Steps. More than 6,500 park lovers have signed our petition with the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek, asking the National Park Service to continue keeping upper Beach Drive car-free after the end of the pandemic. Thank you—you’ve made a huge impact!
More than 2,400 people filed an official comment with the Parks Service over the summer, about the best way to manage the roadway for recreation, conservation, and health. If that’s you, thank you!NPS stated that it will release its recommended action “this fall,” so we expect news in November! You can read our full update here and PARC’s full comments here.
ANC Vision Zero Caucus
Caucus Meetings. WABA’s ANC Vision Zero Caucus met in July and October for official meetings, and we had a social hang out in August!
At the July meeting, Commissioner Eichler facilitated a workshop on how ANC Commissioners can find and use data for their transportation advocacy. You can view a copy of that workshop here.
Commissioner Erin Palmer discussed lessons learned from Sidewalk Palooza and Commissioner Anthony Green discussed how Commissioners can connect with peers east of the river.
At our October meeting, we hosted DDOT Director Lott for a Q&A. Out of that meeting Director Lott agreed to form an ANC Vision Zero Caucus Task Force to reform Traffic Safety Investigations.
Our ANC Vision Zero Caucus is continuing to grow and do amazing work! If you are a Commissioner or know of a Commissioner who is interested in joining our Caucus please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take Action. WABA is continuing to work with coalition partners to move traffic enforcement from DC’s Metropolitan Police Department to DDOT.
Transferring responsibility for traffic enforcement away from the Metropolitan Police Department is simply good policy—it reduces the likelihood of police interactions escalating into violence, since there are fewer reasons for an officer to initiate a stop. Long-term, sustainable traffic safety comes from investing in the built environment and educating drivers, not armed police enforcement.
You can support this campaign and take action here.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
For the past few years, the District Department of Transportation has been quietly advancing plans to rehabilitate the Roosevelt Bridge which carries I-66 and an extremely narrow trail between Arlington’s Mount Vernon Trail and DC’s Virginia Ave NW. The plan includes cantilevering a new 10 ft wide trail on the upstream side, installing new, taller, bike-friendly railings, and lighting improvements.
However, the current plan will only widen the trail on the bridge structure, leaving hundreds of feet of narrower approach trail. This feature will continue to limit the safety, comfort, and capacity of this important interstate connection. Stay tuned for opportunities to push for a complete solution.
Maryland Advocacy Updates
Prince George’s County
Southern Avenue Metro Station Area Pedestrian Accessibility. WABA has been attending community stakeholder meetings for the Southern Avenue Metro Station Area Pedestrian Accessibility project.
In June 2021 The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) launched the Southern Avenue Metro Station Area Pedestrian Accessibility Study. The overall goal of the project is to improve neighborhood connections, promote health equity, and stimulate economic growth.
Community engagement is a key component of this study, in order to to center the experience of the people that live, work, shop and worship in the area. If you are interested in getting updates, check out their project page here.
Next DPWT Director. WABA sent a letter to the Prince George’s County Executive and Council regarding the ongoing search for a new Director for the Department of Public Works and Transportation. Some of the priorities we would like to see the new Director focus on:
- More inclusive and transparent public engagement.
- Commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through less driving in Prince George’s County.
- Embrace off-street trails as critical to transportation in the region and making a strong commitment to stronger partnerships with M-NCPPC and other stakeholders to complete and maintain the Capital Trails Network.
- A strong commitment to Vision Zero’s safe systems approach.
University Blvd Protected Bike Lane project. The pilot of the 1.35 miles of protected bike lanes began on June 19. Dedication of the lanes included speeches by elected County Council and State Representatives, plus the daughter of two parents killed in traffic crashes in nearby Wheaton. The dedication was attended by around 75 people. (Event posting here)
WABA has met with MDOT SHA a few times to suggest improvements and to monitor success from the State’s perspective. WABA, along with the Open Streets Montgomery group is working to continue the pilot beyond the November 14 end date and to convince MDOT SHA to make the lanes permanent, improve the design, and extend the length of the lanes east and west.
WABA coordinated a letter from fifteen Montgomery County and State elected officials to MDOT leadership to support continuing the University Blvd pilot beyond November 14th. You can read that letter here.
Open Streets Montgomery. WABA and Open Streets Montgomery have been meeting with business owners involved in the Wheaton outdoor dining streetery (map link) and with MCDOT to encourage the County to make the streetery permanent.
These two advocate groups have also been advocating to make the streetery in Bethesda (on Norfolk and Woodmont avenues permanent too.
The groups are working to turn the closure of Newell Street in Silver Spring (map link here) into a County park, as well as working with advocates in UpCounty and East County to make transportation related improvements in Germantown and Burtonsville.
Finally WABA and Open Streets Montgomery are working with MCDOT to continue the Shared Streets program.
Virginia Advocacy Updates
People Before Cars Coalition Kick-off! WABA partnered with The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID), Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County, Arlington Families for Safe Streets, and JBG to launch the “People Before Cars” Coalition to unite area organizations around shared priorities to create a safer and more accessible transportation network in National Landing!
The “People Before Cars” Coalition seeks to address community concerns around safety by championing the implementation of best practices in people-centric urban design and planning.
The Coalition is centered on a set of common priorities for key projects and opportunities to enhance multi-modal mobility in National Landing, and will work together to promote those priorities through public outreach, advocacy and engagement with key stakeholders, including Arlington County and VDOT.
The coalition is meeting weekly, and we are currently working on updates to share in the near future!
Funding Priority. Holmes Run Trail is treasured by many residents in the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County and trail users were devastated when heavy rain washed out portions of the trail in 2018.
Therefore, WABA, The Capital Trails Coalition, and the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) were thrilled to see that the City has identified repairing Holmes Run Trail as a priority and has fully funded this project. In response to this we sent a letter to Mayor Wilson, Vice-Mayor Bennett-Parker, and members of the City Council to express support. You can read that letter here.
Active Fairfax. WABA, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Audubon Naturalist Society, South County Task Force, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions sent joint comments in support of the Active Fairfax Transportation Plan Vision, Goals, Objectives, along with some recommendations.
Richmond Highway Main Street Coalition. The residents of Gum Springs, a majority black community, have been fighting the expansion of Richmond highway. The residents believe that the expansion will lead to more traffic deaths.
To fight the expansion, they formed the Richmond Highway Main Street Coalition, and WABA joined the coalition. We look forward to following their lead and supporting their efforts to stop the expansion.
You can read more about the residents’ organization efforts here.
2022 Our Common Agenda
Agenda Released. Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) released the “Our 2022 Common Agenda”
This annual policy briefing book is the road map for state-based policy solutions to address the environmental problems facing Virginia.
Our 2022 Common Agenda is a collection of over 40 issue papers, and WABA co-authored the transportation issue paper. You can read the full agenda here!
We look forward to working with our coalition partners to turn those issues into legislative victories!
Capital Trails Coalition Updates
The Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) has been busy!
Arlington Boulevard Trail. This fall, the CTC hosted a site visit to the future Arlington Boulevard Trail with the Arlington Board Chair Matt De Ferranti. The purpose of the visit was to highlight key gaps and areas for improvement.
Prince George’s County Planning Board Public Budget Hearing. On Tuesday, October 19th, we testified at the Prince George’s County Planning Board Public Budget Hearing. The Planning Board approves MNCPPC’s budget request then submits the budget to the Council for final review. Our two main goals are to see the Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation Department hire an additional Trail Planner and to add additional dollars to the operating budget for trail maintenance. You can read the full testimony here.
Learn more about what the CTC has been up to here!
Interested in staying up-to-date on trail updates on social media? Follow the CTC on Twitter @TrailsCoalition.
Families for Safe Streets Updates
WABA has been busy collaborating with our Families for Safe Streets chapters throughout the region.
In August, we convened our first Families for Safe Streets regional meeting! In the meeting each group shared updates, we discussed WABA’s 3 year plan in support of the group, the DC-FSS Stories Initiative, and World Day of Remembrance.
Over the last couple of months the chapters have been working on innovative projects to center the voices of residents most impacted by traffic violence.
Check out some of their updates below:
- Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets (NoVA FSS). Please find updates for Alexandria-FSS, Arlington-FSS and Fairfax-FSS here and sign up for the chapter newsletters for updates sent directly to your inbox.
- DC Families for Safe Streets (DC-FSS). DC-FSS will be hosting an Interactive Memorial Wall at Union Station for World Day of Remembrance from Monday, November 15th through Sunday, November 21, 2021 from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm each day.
- DC-FSS chapter is coordinating with the Street Smart program, an initiative of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, to install an interactive memorial wall at Union Station in the lead up to and for World Day of Remembrance to create a shared space for those impacted by traffic violence in our region to celebrate the memory of loved ones lost and to share about our lived experiences as victims, family members, friends, and community members.
All are welcome to participate regardless of when, where, or how the crash that touched your life occurred.
- Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets (MoCo FSS). MoCo FSS has a steering committee that has met monthly throughout this quarter, creating a web site that will go live soon, and creating policy asks of the State and M0ntgomery County DOT.
MoCo FSS is planning it’s first public event on World Day of Remembrance, November 21 at 4:30pm at the Marian Fryer Plaza next to the Wheaton Metro.
MoCo FSS steering committee members have also been working with the National FSS and Vision Zero networks, as well as having conducted a few memorials for pedestrians and cyclists who have died in Montgomery County the past few months. Email email@example.com if you are interested in getting involved.
Washington Region Vision Zero Summit
Save the date for next year’s Summit on June 9th, 2022! Please contact Hannah.Neagle@waba.org if you’re interested in participating in the planning committee or volunteering.
This conference brings together elected officials, decision-makers, advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to share best practices, insights and innovations to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our region’s streets and highways. Please find more information from the 2021 Summit linked here.
Candidate Forums and Questionnaires. WABA has been convening organizations in DC and MD to collaborate on engagement opportunities in the upcoming 2022 elections in Maryland and Washington DC. Some of the organizations we are collaborating with include CASA-MD, Greater Greater Washington, Jews United for Justice, Sierra Club, Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Open Streets Montgomery.
In Maryland, we will be hosting candidate forums and/or sending questionnaires for the following races: MD Governor, Montgomery County Council and County Executive, Prince George’s County Council and County Executive.
In DC, we will be hosting candidate forums and/or sending questionnaires for the following races: Mayor and DC Council.
In addition, we will be asking all candidates to sign on to a transportation equity platform that will be developed by a coalition of organizations.
Stay tuned for public invites to the candidate forums!
Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA
- Keep Beach Drive Car-Free Official Comment to the National Park Service
- Joint Letter regarding Alison Hart, 5 year-old struck and killed by a driver while riding a bike. Read the Mayor’s response here.
- Comments regarding Reimagining Anacostia Park
- Safe Routes to School Testimony for Safe Passage to School Expansion Act of 2021
- Stop the Expansion of “No-Tent Zones” in DC Statement
- Director Lott Confirmation Testimony
- Montgomery County
- Testimony for Montgomery County Planning Department public hearing on the Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel.
- Comments on the Cheltenham Drive Bikeway Feasibility Study in Bethesda
- Comments on Montgomery County Vision draft plan
- Sign-on letter urging MDOT to support continuing the University Blvd pilot beyond November. 14th.
- Prince George’s County
- Montgomery County
- Letter from FABB, WABA, and CTC in Support of the Holmes Run Trail Restoration
- Fairfax County
- Joint comments from the Fairfax Healthy Communities network in support of the Active Fairfax Transportation Plan Vision, Goals, Objectives, along with some recommendations
- Joint thank you letter to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors regarding their resolution in support of bike and pedestrian funding.
Upcoming Events and Actions
- Take Action to Keep University Blvd bike lanes in place!
- Email the members of the Council to ask that they support Montgomery County’s Thrive 2050’s transportation priorities.
- Southern Avenue Metro Station Area Pedestrian Accessibility Study Community Meetings
- Prince George’s County ‘The Active Transportation Advisory Group’ meetings
- Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) meetings. The meetings will include updates on Potomac Yard Metrorail Station, City planned pedestrian and bicycle enhancements, planned bus service, construction activity, traffic concerns, and the construction look-ahead schedule.
- ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan Meetings
- Alexandria Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meetings
- Provide Feedback on the Draft Pentagon City Plan by Oct. 31st, after Oct 31st email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fairfax Trails, Sidewalks and Bikeways Committee Meetings
WABA Advocacy In the News
- D.C. ‘Walk to School’ Crash Underscores Need For New Urgency on Vision Zero
- Our Vision Zero Manager is an Awesome Champion!
- Expanding Protected Bike Network Sparks Controversy
- After biking boom, some cities beef up infrastructure
- Opinion: Mayor Bowser’s harsh plan for D.C.’s homeless encampments must end
- Pedestrians face greater danger as D.C. reopens
- D.C. wants you to ride bikes. This month it raised the cost to ride Capital Bikeshare.
- Concrete barriers blocking street where tents of homeless encampment used to be.
- Starting Friday, Rentable Scooters In D.C. Have To Be Locked To Bike Racks Or Signs
- W&OD Trail effort ushers in a new era
- National Landing BID Advocates for Design That Puts People Before Cars
- People Before Cars Coalition Launches in National Landing
- A study reveals the role protected bike paths can play in bicyclist safety
- Separate paths on W&OD Trail for cyclists and pedestrians unveiled in Falls Church