Advocacy Roundup Spring 2023
During these past few months, our advocacy team was busy collaborating with partners and volunteers on the ground—racking up some major victories and hosting events to make our transportation more sustainable for all road users. Check out our quarterly report, which includes information on campaign updates, the building of new coalitions, upcoming events and actions, and more!
Maryland Advocacy Updates
The Safe Streets Act of 2023
On March 12th, WABA testified before the Montgomery County Council in favor of the Safe Streets Act of 2023. This act will do the following:
- Requires an infrastructure review for pedestrian-related collisions within school zones across the county.
- Prohibits drivers from making a right turn on red on certain county roads.
- Requires the implementation of a Leading Pedestrian Interval at crosswalks in the county’s Downtowns and Town Centers.
- Requires the County Executive to provide and regularly update an automated traffic enforcement plan.
You can read our full testimony here. We look forward to the passage and implementation of this important bill!
Little Falls Parkway
MoCo Parks reports, “results of multiple traffic studies show that the reconfigured lane set-up reduces cut-through traffic in neighborhoods surrounding Little Falls Parkway, maintains a safe Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) crossing, and safely accommodates vehicle traffic.” This sounds like a success!
That’s why we are encouraging our supporters to tell the Montgomery County Planning Board and Montgomery Parks that you support creating a “linear park” in the repurposed lanes!
Montgomery Planning Board will meet soon to decide whether to maintain the lane reduction and proceed with the Little Falls Parkway pilot project!
Old Georgetown Road (MD 187) Update
There have been no pedestrian- or bicyclist-involved crashes on Old Georgetown Road since bike lanes were installed on the state road in October, according to a report released from the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA)!
WABA is still active in its campaign to make these bike lanes permanent, and we now have the data that shows these bike lanes can save lives. Sign our petition to SHA if you want to see these bike lanes become a permanent fixture on Old Georgetown Road!
Prince George’s County
WABA has been busy actively participating in Prince George’s County advisory group recurring meetings. We attended the March 6th Active Transportation Advisory Group (ATAG) meeting where we discussed general issues impacting bicycle, pedestrian and shared use paths in Prince George’s County.
In March, we also attended the Prince George’s County Bike and Pedestrian Community Advisory Group meeting where we discussed ways to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety for people of all ages and abilities.
These are recurring meetings, and we encourage any resident who wants to create a safer transportation system in the county to attend those meetings.
We were invited and attended a non-profit leadership roundtable hosted by Prince George’s County Council member Oriadha. During the roundtable, we were able to talk about what services and advocacy we offer residents of the county. We look forward to working closely with Council member Oriadha going forward.
General Assembly Update
After a three year hiatus, the Bike Maryland Symposium was back!
On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, advocates went to Annapolis to gather with other bicycle advocates from across the state of Maryland to learn, share, and advocate for change.
The Symposium took place at the Annapolis City Hall, just a short walk to the Maryland State House. Over coffee, Bike Maryland’s leadership reviewed its advocacy plans for the 2023 session, and shared more about the revitalized organization and Bike Maryland’s new partnership with WABA.
We also heard from State Senators, Delegates and Governor Moore’s administration about plans for better, safer biking in 2023. The attendees then headed to the state house to meet with Senators, Delegates and their staff to inform them and share perspectives on bills to make State Highways safer and to increase funding for bike infrastructure throughout Maryland.
Our advocacy did pay off because one of our priority bills passed! Transportation Equity Act HB69 passed the State House and Senate and will now head to Governor Moore’s desk for a signature! Read about the bill here.
Virginia Advocacy Updates
Arlington Memorial Trail
The Arlington Memorial Trail is a priority project by any measure. It is one of the Capital Trails Coalition’s top 40 top priority projects selected from more than 180 trail segments due to its significance in filling a critical gap in the regional bicycle/pedestrian network.
Its importance is also highlighted in the National Capital Trail Network, the visionary 1,400-mile trail network recently adopted by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, our region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
The Arlington Memorial Trail offers a safer, direct, and more permanent alternative than any previous or existing route. We applaud Arlington County and the Federal Highway Administration for prioritizing its development and offer the following comments as the design process progresses.
This is one of many trail projects we will be advocating for in 2023 as we continue our progress to complete the Trail network throughout the region!
Vision Zero Year 2
Arlington County is rolling out 14 new 20 MPH school slow zones, school zone retrofits this spring, and a number of transportation projects are underway in the county but how is the county doing so far in terms of making streets safer for all road users?
Well the county wants to hear from you! The county gathers feedback annually to evaluate the impacts and reception of Vision Zero initiatives directly from the community.
This annual engagement effort is an important component of the Vision Zero Action Plan, which WABA has been active in helping to develop.
You have now until the end of April to let the county know how well it’s doing to make the county’s transportation system safe. Click here to share your thoughts with the county!
On Wednesday, April 12th WABA testified before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Fairfax’s FY24 budget. The following is a summary of the requests made in our testimony:
- Fund Safe Streets For All Program Manager FTE. We urge the Board to fully stand up its Safe Streets for All Program beginning with the inclusion of the program manager FTE at FCDOT in FY24 to coordinate the efforts.
- Fund the expansion of the automated speed enforcement (ASE) program to every school and major construction site in the County. State regulations limit use to only these two site categories, but the County could still make a meaningful effort to curb speeding by maximizing its ASE usage.
- Continue prioritizing and making ad hoc funding available for the County’s 6-year, $100M emergency sidewalk repair program. We must return our facilities to a state of good repair by addressing the backlog of unfunded pedestrian and bicycle improvements. We commend FCDOT’s efforts to develop a robust and equitable prioritization process but urge the Board to look at all possible means to expedite these critical repairs.
- Enter into formal negotiations with VDOT. We are cognizant of the uncertainty regarding maintenance responsibility for facilities along many VDOT-managed roadways, but we cannot continue to pass the buck when it comes to fixing our crumbling sidewalks. Clarify maintenance roles on ALL County roadways so as to provide FCDOT with a clear mandate and comprehensive scope for its maintenance budget. We would then call on the Board to identify and make available permanent maintenance funding for all the County’s trails, sidewalks, and bikeways.
Click here to read our full FY24 budget testimony for Fairfax.
Budget and Actions to Take
WABA will be collaborating with partners such as the Alexandria BPAC to determine what to advocate for collectively during the FY24 budget cycle.
If you would like to express your opinion on the need for more funding for trails, bike lanes and multi modal transportation options in Alexandria then take the city of Alexandria’s public input form. You can read the city’s budget documents here.
In addition to budget action here some more actions you can take right now to move Alexandria forward:
- Duke Street in Motion. Duke Street in Motion is holding a third round of community engagement starting April 13th to provide new information and obtain feedback on two busway concepts, including curb features and more detailed analyses. If you want to make Duke Street safer for pedestrians and bikers you can either show up to the upcoming open house or submit a comment asking the city to install curb extensions and pedestrian/bikeway safety features along Duke Street.
- Dockless Mobility Slow Zone Pilot Project. The city is testing a slow zone for dockless scooters and e-bikes and would like your feedback!
- Alexandria Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) Walk Audits. In 2023, the city of Alexandria will conduct a new round of Walk Audits as part of its Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. These Walk Audits will identify infrastructure recommendations that improve safety for schoolchildren and families and encourage more children to walk and bike to school.
WABA Advises the Falls Church City Council
On February 16th, our advocacy director conducted a 45 min Q&A with Falls church city council members on why protected bike lanes are important for Falls Church. They will use this information to help develop their “bike master plan”.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Recently, WABA met with our partner Bike Falls Church to discuss upcoming budget and advocacy opportunities in Falls Church, VA.
While we wait for the Falls Church budget season to arrive, Bike Falls Church is encouraging residents of Falls Church to attend the upcoming “Ask the Council session”.
The “Ask the Council Session” is an informal way to ask Council member questions about things going on in the City (e.g., bike lanes, budget, safe bike routes to school)! The next Council session will take place on April 26th from 9am-10am. Click here for more information.
Elections in Northern Virginia
This year there will be elections throughout Northern Virginia, and WABA will be working with coalition partners to ensure our supporters are educated on the transportation policy positions of all candidates.
Here are some updates on our work so far this election season:
- WABA in partnership with Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County (SUSMO) will be hosting a candidate meet-and-greet to hear from Arlington County Board Candidates who are running in this year’s primary election. The meet-and-greet will take place on April 25th from 5:30pm-7pm at Bronson Bierhall, 4100 Fairfax Dr, Arlington, VA 22203. Sign up here! We will also be sending a candidate questionnaire to all candidates and sharing completed questionnaires with our supporters.
- We are collaborating with the Fairfax Healthy Communities coalition members to prepare a candidate meet-and-greet and questionnaire for Fairfax Board of Supervisors candidates. WABA will be sending completed questionnaires to our supporters and uploading them to our website.
General Assembly Update
For the 2023 Virginia General Assembly, two important bicyclist safety bills were up for committee votes in the Virginia legislature and we called on our members to take action.
HB 1589/SB 847 would allow bicyclists to proceed with the pedestrian walk signal at intersections and HB 1773/SB 1293 would authorize the safety stop wherein cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as yields.
Both policy changes had bipartisan backing in both the Senate and House and have been successfully demonstrated in states and jurisdictions across the country.
While both failed to pass, we will continue to push for both in next year’s general assembly.
However, we did get some good news out of this year’s general assembly, SB 1069 passed and was signed into law. SB 1069 will require drivers to stop for pedestrians when driving on a highway. It also allows the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and jurisdictions to replace “Yield to Pedestrian” signs with “Stop for Pedestrian” signs.
Washington, D.C. Updates
In March, we hosted a training for campaign advocates on how to get involved with DC’s budget process. You can watch the video or check out the slides here.
Ensuring that protected bike lane projects have adequate funding is key to our vision of completing the protected bike network.
Besides advocating through the budget process, our campaign has been busy working to ensure the D.C Department of Transportation (DDOT) does not cave into interests that are working against progress.
As we work to move closer to completing the network there could be more pushback, therefore it is key we continue to build up a stronger movement to complete our network and create a sustainable multimodal city. And we need you to join us! 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!
2023-2024 ANC Vision Zero Caucus
On April 17th, WABA & our ANC Vision Zero Caucus hosted the DC Auditor’s Vision Zero team to discuss their report on DC’s vision zero programs.
We want to thank staff at the DC Auditor’s office for speaking to our ANC Vision Zero Caucus members today!
We also want to thank our caucus co-chairs Colleen Costello (ANC 5B05) and Josh Jacobson (ANC 1E06) for helping put together a great first meeting for the new term!
This year our caucus has over 100 ANC Commissioners from around the D.C. who look forward to collaborating with throughout the year in order to truly achieve vision zero for the District.
FY24 Budget Advocacy and Lobby Day
The state of Vision Zero policy in Washington, DC looks bleak. The DC Auditor put out a report stating that swaths of the 2020 Vision Zero Omnibus bill remain unfunded as we fail to meet our goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries.
To make matters worse, in the FY24 budget, Mayor Bowser wants to remove the only dedicated funding source for Vision Zero programming, and a key source of funding for future bike, bus and pedestrian projects.
2024 is the year the Mayor designated as the year DC gets to zero traffic deaths and serious injuries. We’re nowhere close, and now is not the time to scale back funding for key transportation bills.
But we have been pushing back on all fronts! WABA has called on our supporters to sign our petition to the DC Council calling for a reversal of the mayor’s cuts, we hosted a lobby day with partner organizations, and we also testified before the DC Council transportation and environmental committee (read our official FY24 budget testimony).
We will continue to do all we can to ensure there is funding behind the legislation intended to make our transportation system safe for everyone!
Zoo Loop Trail and Bridge Update!
WABA was excited to hear that the Zoo-loop trail was reopened, including a new 110-foot pedestrian bridge, however we were disappointed to hear that the trail would only be open from 7am to 5pm.
In response to these inconvenient hours, we met with Congresswoman Norton’s office to support her efforts to introduce legislation to expand the hours, and we also started a petition asking the National Zoo to extend the hours.
Due to those efforts, we are proud to say that the Zoo has agreed to expand its hours!
The zoo loop trail is now open from 7 AM to 7 PM, and it will remain so until daylight savings time in autumn.
We want to thank everyone who signed our petition and helped to make this step happen. Next step, we would love to see these hours become permanent, and we will continue work to make it happen.
Near-Miss Crash Tracker
On April 13th, WABA in partnership with Howard University and Safe Routes Partnership hosted a focus group at Charles Hart Middle School discussion to hear from parents in Ward about ways to make commuting to school safer for students in the D.C.
The feedback from parents will be used to create a near-miss crash tracker app to track near-miss traffic crashes near schools.
On April 19th, we will hosted a virtual feedback session to hear from parents, students and teachers on how to make the app an useful tool for parents, students and teachers.
In addition to speaking with local DC residents about the project, in February, we were offered the opportunity to present on our project at the National Safety’s Council’s annual meeting at the National League of Cities.
We look forward to rolling out this important tool soon!
Our vision zero coordinator, Sarah Haedrich will be tabling at events and public locations this summer and fall! Sarah will be engaging residents through fun trivia and vision zero statistics, while encouraging residents to play their role in making streets safer for all road users!
If you see Sarah out in the community, please stop by our table and say hi!
Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) Updates
On March 22nd, the CTC held its first meeting of the year! During the CTC meeting, the coalition highlighted how groups are utilizing maps to build support for trail projects, with the meeting including presentations from the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail and the Greater Prince William Trails Coalition.
Senator Cardin (D-MD), Kaine (D-VA), and Warner (D-VA), and Reps. Beyer (VA-08) and Connolly (VA-11) secured a total of $6.9 million in Community Project Funding demonstrating federal momentum behind investments in trails, walking and biking infrastructure for the Washington D.C. region!
The new Community Project Funding is critical to filling important trail gaps and moving closer to the Capital Trails Coalition’s goal of completing the remaining 400+ miles of the Capital Trails Network by 2030 and supporting walking and biking infrastructure to make it easier to access and use trails. The projects include:
- $1 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements to the Interstate 66 (I-66) Trail—a priority project for the Capital Trails Network—through the heart of Fairfax County, Virginia, secured by Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Rep. Gerry Connolly
- $1.5 million to improve multimodal transportation infrastructure, including trails, in the City of Falls Church, Virginia, secured by Rep. Don Beyer
- $4 million for the Virginia Department of Transportation to construct a cycle path from Sunrise Valley Drive to Innovation Metro Station in Fairfax County, Virginia, secured by Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner
- $428,000 for secure bike parking facilities in downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland, secured by Sen. Ben Cardin
Read our full statement here.
Ride-along the East Coast Greenway
WABA and East Coast Greenway staffers Allison Burson, Daniel Paschall and Elliott Caldwell, plus volunteers Eric Brenner and Wayne Clark explored the DC-Maryland East Coast Greenway loop – nearly continuous 24 miles of trail!
We look forward to our continued partnership with East Coast Greenway to expand our trail network throughout the region!
Interested in staying up-to-date on trail updates on social media? Follow the CTC on Twitter @TrailsCoalition.
Families for Safe Streets Updates
Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets
Ghost Bike Installations
In November, Paul Shinn was fatally struck by a driver in Rockville, at the intersection of Medical Center Drive and Medical Center Way.
Since that time, Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets volunteers have connected with Natasha and April Shinn, Paul’s mother and sister, who have shared stories of the love and light that Paul brought into the world.
In memory of Paul, MoCo Families for Safe Streets, WABA, and Action Committee for Transit (ACT) assisted his family in placing a painted placard at the crash site, along with a memorial ceremony where clergy, friends, colleagues, and loved ones were able to share a few words about his life.
William Villavicencio, 19, was fatally injured by a hit-and-run driver on October 23, 2022, in the southbound lanes of Georgia Avenue at Janet Road in Glenmont. His death was needless and tragic.
MoCo Families for Safe Streets, WABA, and Action Committee for Transit (ACT) sponsored a Ghost Bike placement on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the location William was hit, at the intersection of Georgia Ave/MD97 and Janet Road.
Washington, D.C. Families for Safe Streets
D.C. Families for Safe Streets volunteers have been busy advocating to ensure needed vision zero investments are included in the District’s FY24 budget.
Jessica Hart submitted performance oversight testimony on behalf of the chapter.
Jessica’s testimony was submitted in dedication to the 38 people who died due to traffic violence in the District since the last DDOT performance oversight hearing held on February 18, 2022. The names listed in her written testimony do not include the 5,500 crash survivors whose lives have been forever changed.
Click here to read Jessica’s full testimony.
Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets
Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets (NoVA FSS) is launching the updated version of the Near Miss and Dangerous Location data reporting and dashboard, a crowdsourced reporting application and data visualization platform!
Near Miss and Dangerous Location reports are submitted by people who walk, bike, or drive on Northern Virginia streets, roads, and sidewalks. The collected data is available to the public at no cost.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be connected to one of our Families for Safe Streets chapter leaders or if you live in Prince George’s County and have an interest in starting a chapter in Prince George’s County.
Vision Zero Summit 2023
This year’s Summit will take place in June 2023! And a call for proposals!
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.
Do you have an idea for a panel discussion or presentation for the 2023 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit? Our call for proposals is open and we encourage you to submit! The theme of this year’s summit is Community Engagement and Safe Streets. We are especially interested in proposals that focus on the following topics:
- How government agencies and organizations can improve community engagement
- Balancing community engagement with the urgent need for action
- Demystifying DOTs – helping advocates and the community understand who makes the decisions, where to focus advocacy and community energy
- As well as sessions that emphasize exciting efforts taking place in the various jurisdictions.
We’ll be closing the form on May 12th at 5PM, so make sure to submit your proposal by then! The 2023 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit will take place primarily over Zoom on Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 between 9:00AM and 5:00PM. We will also have a small amount of optional in-person programming that evening, with more details to be announced soon.
2023 National Bike Summit
WABA staff were pretty busy at this year’s National Bike Summit! We attended and presented at the National Bike Summit. WABA staff led or moderated the following events:
- Tactical Urbanism in Action
- They Were Seeds: The Buried Legacy of Black Wheelwomen
- The Power of Partnerships and Community-Driven Projects (Renée Moore)
- Congressional Lobby Day for Washington, D.C. and Maryland
We had an amazing time at the summit and we can’t wait to participate next year!
This year, Seth will be leading our MD state road campaign, where he will be leading the research, policy development, and advocacy to make MD state roads safer for all users.
We are welcoming Sarah Haedrich as our new vision zero coordinator! Sarah will be tabling at community events and locations around DC this summer, Sarah will also host a youth bike ride, a senior block party, and a safety walk with drivers’ school instructors this summer.
Also, WABA will be welcoming Keon Parsa to the team as our summer intern! We look forward to helping Keon develop policy research skills as he supports our efforts in Prince George’s County.
Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA
- WABA Comment letter on Long Bridge Project – Maine Ave SW
- WABA written Testimony DDOT Budget Oversight 3/30/23
- Letter Regarding Bike Lane Design in Connecticut Avenue Deckover and Streetscape Project
- Comment Letter Regarding Arizona Ave NW Protected Two-Way Bike Facility
- Testimony for Department of Public Works Oversight Hearing from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association
- Capital Trails Coalition comments on the DC Council Committee on Transportation & the Environment Oversight Hearing re: the District Department of Transportation Fiscal Year 2024 Budget
- Testimony from Jessica Hart on behalf of DC Families for Safe Streets for the Committee on Transportation & the Environment Performance Oversight Hearing for the District Department of Transportation held on Monday, February 27, 2023
- Testimony for Department of Transportation Oversight Hearing from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association – 2/27/23
- Blog Post: Most E-bikes are now allowed on DC’s off-street trials
- WABA Testimony on “The Electric Bicycle Rebate Program Amendment Act of 2023”
- Testimony for Department of Transportation Oversight Hearing from the Capital Trails Coalition
- ANC Letter Funding for Traffic Safety Projects
- Foundry Branch Trestle Budget letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser
- 2023 Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grant Program Application for East Capitol Street Mobility and Safety Improvements Project (Letter of Support)
- Howard University and WABA report on near misses near ward 7 and 8 schools
- 2023 Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Grant Program Application for Wheeler Road, SE Safety Project (Letter of Support)
- Bill 11-23, Motor Vehicles and Traffic – Traffic Signals, Devices, and Automated Enforcement Plan (The Safe Streets Act of 2023)
- Testimony for HB0519: Bicycles, Play Vehicles, and Unicycles – Authorizations and Requirements Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
- Letter to Montgomery County Congressional Delegation regarding Montrose Road Diet
- Testimony for HB1008: Maryland Energy Administration – Electric Bicycle Rebate Program – Establishment Economic Matters Committee
- WABA comments on the Planning Board draft of the Montgomery County Pedestrian Master Plan
- Sign-on letter on behalf of the Maryland Advocates for Sustainable Transportation coalition urging MDOT Secretary Wiedefeld to cancel the I-495 and I-270 toll lanes project and implement effective, equitable alternatives to the toll lanes including transportation demand management strategies and public transit
- Sign-on letter regarding Moore administration’s appointment of key leadership positions
- Joint Comments from Fairfax Healthy Communities Network on Fairfax County’s FY24 Budget
- Testimony for the April 12, 2023 Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Public Budget Hearing
- PBC RAISE Grant 2023 Support_Arlington Memorial Trail
- CTC 2023 Federal Earmark LOS_Arlington Boulevard Trail
- People Before Cars Coalition Feedback on Arlington County Staff Recommendations for Route 1 Boulevard
- CTC Press Release Regarding 2022 Federal Earmarks for Trails
- Sign-on Letter to Transportation Planning Board re Visualize 2045 plan
Upcoming Events and Actions
- Arlington Candidate Meet-and-Greet (4/25, 5:30pm)
- The public is welcome to attend this session to meet with Falls Church Council members and ask questions in an informal setting (4/26, 9:00am)
- Please use this form to express your opinion on Alexandria’s budget priorities
- This is the second Arlington Annual Safety Feedback Form! This form is anonymous. Let the County know what you think about their five-year plan outlines actions that the County and its partners will take to reduce serious traffic crashes
WABA Advocacy In the News
- D.C. considers revisions to Connecticut Avenue bike lane plan – Axios
- It’s not easy being a bicyclist in the US. Better infrastructure could help -businessinsider
- DC ANC’s urge council, mayor to keep traffic cam revenue for traffic safety – WUSA9
- Real Estate’s Road Rage Over New Bike Lanes Has D.C. Officials ‘Scrambling’-Bisnow
- States Consider Ending Right on Red to Address Rising Pedestrian Deaths – PewTrusts
- Lyft Rolls Out New AI Electric Scooters on DC Streets
- E-Bike Rebates May Be Coming to DC Residents – Washingtonian
- Pedestrian deaths in U.S. reach highest level in 40 years – PBS
- Family of Montgomery Co. teen killed in hit & run create memorial, ask for safety increase
- Maryland Department of Transportation Convenes Annual Highway Safety Summit, Unveils New Crash Fatality Dashboard (WABA was in attendance) -smnewsnet
- Montgomery County wrestles with growing cost of $82.5M Bethesda bike trail tunnel – Axios