Summer Advocacy Roundup

This summer has been hot! Our advocacy team has been busy collaborating with partners on the ground to heat up the region with major victories and we are so excited to share these updates with you!

Check out the updates on key campaigns and projects we have been organizing the last couple of months throughout the region! If you have any questions feel free to reach us at advocacy@waba.org.

Washington, D.C. Advocacy Updates

Transformative Budget Victories 

For the last few months, we marched, testified, and lobbied the D.C. Council to fully fund the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2020 in the FY22 budget. 

And due to our collective efforts we won! Included in the FY22 Budget is a legislative act that will use future ATE funds to create a dedicated funding source for the Vision Zero Bill AND future bike and pedestrian projects. This is huge!

The vision zero bill will be a tool for advocates to use to expand the number of bike lanes, bus lanes, sidewalks, and more!

And here are other FY22 budget highlights:

  • Funding for the Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lane
  • Funding for the 9th Street NW Protected Bike Lane
  • Funding to expand and develop our Trails Network
  • Funding to expand our Trails Ranger Program – which means more people to support with trail maintenance. 

Low Stress Bike Network 

This year, DDOT has been busy expanding or planning the expansion of the number of protected bike lanes in the District. 

The K St. NW, 17th Street NW, and 20th St NW protected bike lanes are substantially complete, and the protected bike lanes on Virginia Ave NW, Tunlaw Rd NW & New Mexico Ave NW, North Carolina Ave, 9th Street NW, and others are in the planning stages. 

Despite our progress, there has been pushback! And the only way we counter the pushback is through organizing! 

We’ve seen over and over that when neighbors get organized, bike lanes get built. That’s why we started a low stress bike network campaign, an advocate-driven attempt to build an entire network, block by block, in every Ward.

If you are interested in joining us, head to waba.org/network, click on Join the Campaign and fill out the form! Let’s complete the whole network! 

Campaign to Keep Beach Drive Open to Pedestrians and Bikers

WABA’s campaign with People’s Alliance For Rock Creek (PARC) to keep Beach Drive Open to Pedestrians and Bikers is at a critical point and we are on the edge of victory. But how did we get here? Check out some of the organizing successes that has helped put us on the cusp of a huge victory:

  • Since April, we have gathered over 6,000 petition signatures, 24 organizations, and passed resolutions from the DC and Montgomery County Council all calling on NPS to make the upper Beach Drive car-free zones permanent, 7 days a week after the pandemic. 

So what’s next? NPS began an Environmental Assessment (EA) of future management of Upper Beach Drive and committed to keep things as is until the end of 2021. 

We are seeking formal comments (due 8/22/21) from supporters, organizations, and elected officials. After the comment period is over, a decision is expected after another 30 day comment period in December. Click here to support the growing movement to keep Beach Drive car-free! 

ANC Vision Zero Caucus

A few months ago WABA started the Vision Zero Caucus to create a space for ANC Commissioners to collaborate on sustainable transportation campaigns, as well as provide support and resources to Commissioners. 

Our Commissioners have been meeting on a bi-monthly basis so far, and they have been able to accomplish a lot! 

Our Commissioners have drafted a “fund vision zero in the FY22 budget” sign-on letter and MoveDC resolutions, as well as held a training on using data for transportation advocacy and best practices for developing traffic safety assessments.

Our ANC Vision Zero Caucus is continuing to grow as well! If you are a Commissioner or know of a Commissioner who is interested in joining our Caucus please email advocacy@waba.org.

Transportation Equity

This year, The DC Transportation Equity Network, led by Greater Greater Washington and a steering committee (of which WABA is a member) has brought underrepresented voices to the table on transportation issues at the intersection of climate change through their micro-grant initiative. 

Through the initiative, we awarded micro-grants (up to $2,500) to the following organizations:

  • DC Families for Safe Streets (DCFSS) is using grant funding to collect (video) stories from families impacted by traffic violence
  • Prime Ability Bikes used grant funding to buy bikes for youth at Dunbar High School, they also held a transportation related conversation with youths at the end of a scheduled bike ride. 
  • The Future Foundation Youth used grant funding to develop a transportation equity comic book. 
  • MLOV (Many Languages One Voice): MLOV hosted two transportation related roundtables with DC residents who are immigrants. One in English, one in Spanish . 
  • HIPS DC used grant funding to host a transportation related roundtable with employees and will hold an additional roundtable with clients who are sex workers at a later date.

Stay tuned for the next round of our micro-grant intativie! We look forward to working with our partners on new projects this year. 

In addition to being a steering committee member of the DC TEN, WABA recently joined the Fair Budget Coalition! 

The Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that seek to address systemic social, racial and economic inequality in the District of Columbia. They work to accomplish these goals by leveraging the collective power of their member organizations and impacted community members, particularly those from Black and other communities of color.

Through this coalition we hope to develop intersectional campaigns that connect housing, transportation and economic justice. 

Maryland Advocacy Updates

Maryland General Assembly Updates

The 2021 legislative session was a busy one, hampered by COVID restrictions but productive nonetheless. The following are the transportation related bills WABA and other bike advocates from around the State, including BikeMD, followed and worked to pass:

  • HB 118/SB 293 – Vehicle Laws -Injury or Death of Vulnerable Individual Penalties
  • HB 562 – Montgomery County –Speed Limits –Establishment 
  • PEPCO Trail paving funded

To read more detail about these bills and our 2021 Maryland General Assembly advocacy check out our blog post here

University boulevard

For the first time ever, Maryland State Highway Administration is placing on-road bike lanes with physical barriers on a State Highway, MD-193, University Boulevard from Arcola Avenue (near Northwood HS) to Amherst Avenue and the Wheaton downtown business district. The bike lanes will run curbside on both sides of the road, repurposing one driving lane in each direction.

This pilot project, funded by a research grant from the Federal Highway Administration, will run 4-6 months beginning in June and will include data collection on use of the on-road bike lanes, car speeds and pedestrian counts on the narrow University Blvd unbuffered sidewalks.

Please demonstrate your support for these lanes by using them before the pilot is over! Here is a map of the bike lanes!

Prince George’s County advocacy training

WABA and Black Women Bike held a Prince George’s County Advocacy Training in May. 

Are you a Prince George’s County resident and want to learn more about how to advocate for better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure? Do you ever feel like you want to report a maintenance issue, but are not sure who to contact? Are you curious to learn more about what the county is doing to make it safer for walking and biking? Check out a recording of our advocacy training here.

Virginia Advocacy Updates

2021 General Assembly Organizing

As part of our 2021 VA General Session wrap-up, WABA hosted a virtual town hall for WABA members.

Speakers included Wyatt Gordon, Policy & Campaign Manager for Land Use & Transportation, Virginia Conservation Network; and Brantley Tyndall, President, Virginia Bicycling Federation.

During the Post-VA General Assembly town hall, our speakers reflected on the successes and lessons learned from this past session. We also discussed upcoming policies and initiatives that advocates should be pushing in upcoming general assemblies.

You can view a recording of that town hall here.

ActiveFairfax

Fairfax County is continuing its efforts to prioritize transportation for all with its launch of the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan

The Active Transportation Plan introduces a framework for advancing active transportation that includes an overarching vision statement, goals, objectives, action items, and evaluation metric. 

A draft of the plan’s Vision, Goals and Objectives will become available after July 30th.

Also a draft framework for Fairfax County’s Safe Streets for All Program will be released after July 30th. The program is designed to address systemic transportation safety issues with a focus on vulnerable road users and equity. 

The framework includes proposed education, policy, planning, programmatic and design strategies that can be implemented in a phased approach.

WABA has been attending stakeholder meetings over the past few months to help draft these plans. If you have any questions please email us.

Capital Trails Coalition Updates

Impact Report

The Capital Trails Coalition, in partnership with a team of experts, has developed a report that quantifies the economic, health, and environmental benefits of completing the region’s 881-mile multi-use trail network. 

So far the impact report has received 38 endorsements from elected officials throughout the region! The Impact Report has also received media coverage in the Washington Post, WTOP, and NBC

In addition, the Capital Trails Coalition developed a resolution in support of the goal to complete the remaining top 40 priority projects identified by the Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) by 2025. On June 22nd, the Prince George’s County Council adopted the CTC Resolution and on July 13th, Montgomery County passed it unanimously!

The CTC has produced some monumental wins in the past few months! You can read more about those wins in their quarterly newsletter. Also, subscribe to their newsletter and keep up to date with all the amazing trail developments throughout the region. 

Vision Zero Summit Recap

This year’s summit was more important than ever! This year’s theme was Transportation Equity in Practice and participants discussed the systems, tools, and processes that need to change to make our transportation network more equitable. 

Like previous year’s summits, this event brought 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.

To view the speaking sessions for yourself, check out the 2021 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit page, which has recordings of all the sessions.

Families for Safe Streets Updates

WABA has been busy collaborating with our Families for Safe Streets chapters throughout the region. 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), with chapters in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, is identifying locations across Northern Virginia where pedestrians and cyclists have experienced near-miss incidents and other dangers.

This information will be reported anonymously to regional municipalities and other transportation focused organizations to identify locations that would benefit from safety improvements but may have not been determined to be problem areas by traditional crash data sources. If you experienced a near miss in Northern Virginia, fill out the survey here! 

  • DC Families for Safe Streets (DC-FSS) is currently working on an initiative to share stories of those who have been impacted by traffic violence. 

They invite those who have been personally impacted by traffic violence in the greater Washington, DC, region to share their story as a loved one or the survivor of a serious crash. Their goal is to build a collection of stories that tells about the personal impact of traffic crashes. Sharing stories can offer comfort to other victims and loved ones and strengthen the case for life saving changes. Please feel free to email them if you’re interested in participating in the group or would like to share your story.

  • Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets (MoCo FSS) informally launched at the Montgomery County Vision Zero Town Hall on January 21, 2021.

MoCo FSS dual purposes are to 1. provide support and resources to families and friends of crash victims who died or were seriously injured by traffic violence, and 2. advocate for redesign of our roads to make them safe for all transportation modes.

In the past few months, the group, supported formally by WABA, has continued to hold memorials for pedestrian and cyclist crash victims. MoCo FSS is currently planning the group’s first event, tentatively scheduled for Sunday November 21 as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

If you are interested in getting involved please email us!

Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA

Upcoming Events and Actions

  • DC
  • MD
    • MoCo FSS is currently planning the group’s first event, tentatively scheduled for Sunday November 21th as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Email us to get involved! 
    • The Corridor Forward Plan will evaluate transit options that could serve communities along the I-270 corridor based on Montgomery County’s three core values: 1) community equity; 2) environmental resilience; and 3) economic health. Please take this brief survey, which will help planners understand your values and prioritize transit options.
    • Virtual Town Hall: Wheaton Pedestrian Safety Town-Hall hosted by the District 18 Delegation (Senator Waldstreicher along with Delegates Carr, Shetty, and Solomon), July 27th, 7:00pm-9:00pm. 
    • Prince George’s County Active Transportation Advisory Group is hosting its next meeting on September 13, 2021. The quarterly meetings are opportunities to discuss general issues impacting bicycle, pedestrian and shared use paths in Prince George’s County.
    • The Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is hosting its next meeting on October 22, 2021. 
    • Community input will help reimagine the Silver Spring Downtown area over the next 20 years through the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan. To stay up-to-date on the progress of this plan, sign up for their eLetter
  • VA
  • Regional 

WABA Advocacy In the News

Like what we’re doing for better bicycling in the region? Our advocacy work is directly funded by your membership dollars—donate today.

Get Police Out of Traffic Enforcement!

The best way to ensure walkers, bikers, and bus riders have safe commutes is to fund safe infrastructure to change driver behavior, and to educate drivers on safety rules and regulations.

We can start to move the pace towards investing in safe infrastructure by moving away from the dated status quo of relying on armed police enforcement! If we move enforcement to DDOT or DPW, we can reduce the likelihood of police interactions escalating into violence which disproportionately affect people of color, since there will be far fewer reasons for an officer to initiate a stop.

Research shows that more police stops does not make our streets safer. We can use the money saved from investing in more MPD personnel to invest in safe infrastructure measures that are proven to work!  Tell the DC Council you want to divest in solutions that don’t work and invest in a sustainable system for all! 

The Vision Zero Fund

Included in the committee report is a legislative act that would dedicate ALL new Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) revenue towards funding + implementing the Vision Zero Bill. 

And not only that, that funding will continue beyond the full implementation of the bill–meaning dedicated funding for infrastructure/safety improvements, road design, bike lanes, sidewalk repair and expansion, etc.

This is a major change. 

So needs to happen next?

Two things need to happen next. 

1. All the budget recommendations coming out of the committee need to be included in the full Council budget, and the Council needs to pass that budget with no changes 

2. The legislative act creating the vision zero fund is called the “ATE System Revenue Designation Amendment Act of 2021” and it must be added as an amendment to the Budget Support Act and the Council needs to pass that as well. 

To do both of these things we need you to take action!

Take action to demand a future where we fully fund and implement legislation that will move us towards vision zero! Read the full Fiscal Year 2022 Transportation and the Environment Committee Report here.

Highlights of the Metropolitan Branch Trail

Curious about the Metropolitan Branch Trail? Have you never heard of it or are you looking for some new trails to ride? Join the Bike Ambassadors for an evening webinar of the DC trail basics! We’ll cover where the trail is (and the 5 nearby Metro stations!), cool things to see on the trail and answer questions.

Register!

This virtual event is on topics about Nacotchtank land. Have questions about the webinar, event access or the trail? Send us an email at outreach@waba.org

We encourage you to get outside and explore the region by bike by trying out a new trail or taking a new bike route. We want you to remain healthy and keep your bike in good condition, so join us as we share information about the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Please keep in mind if we do chat about bike advice that what works for you may not work for everyone, and unsolicited advice can feel unwelcoming and condescending. Please come in the spirit of solidarity and communal problem solving.

Tell the DC Council to Fund Key Priorities in the Vision Zero Bill

This past year, people were killed because we failed to invest in a solution that is currently law. People were killed because we failed to implement a solution that is currently law. That law is the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act. And as it stands now, a law that can potentially save lives is not a priority in the Mayor’s budget, therefore the DC Council must show leadership and make it their priority. 

It has been well-documented that the District has seen an increase in speeding during the pandemic, and in 2020 we saw an increase in the number of people who lost their lives to traffic crashes compared to 2019. And these numbers could get worse if we don’t make significant investments in moving forward with funding and implementing the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act. 

In this year’s budget the Council can take the step to fund budget items in the Vision Zero Act that only require one-time funding. We specifically would like to highlight sections 3, 4, 5(b), 7(), 7(b), 7(c), 7(d), 7(e). 8, 9, 10, and 12 of the legislation for funding in the FY22 budget. Additionally, the Council should re-purpose $250,000 in the Mayor’s budget for vision zero public outreach and align it with the public outreach requirements of section 7(d) in the Vision Zero Act. 

We want to clearly state that is just part of what needs to be done to fully fund and implement the Vision Zero Act. Until the act is fully implemented, the Council must hold DDOT accountable, by requiring DDOT to be publicly transparent with how they plan to fully implement this act over the next few years. 

Rock Creek Park Trail Construction!

After more than 20 years of advocacy, the Rock Creek Park Trail is finally getting a much needed makeover! The District Department of Transportation just broke ground on the first phase of construction to rebuild and widen 3.7 miles of trail in Rock Creek Park, including a new access trail on Piney Branch Parkway and a new trail bridge south of the tunnel. This project compliments the trail rehabilitation and reconstruction of Beach Drive that finished in 2019.

Decades in the making, the improvements will be worth the wait. DDOT, in partnership with the National Park Service, is completely rebuilding the trail west of the creek. Among the highlights are:

  • A new trail on Piney Branch Parkway – the well-used dirt trail alongside Piney Branch Parkway will be turned into a paved, ADA accessible trail to help neighbors east of the park safely access it. Until very recently, there was no sidewalk or low-stress bicycle connection to Beach Drive between Klingle Road and West Beach Drive at the Maryland Line.
  • A new bike / ped trail bridge – a new 110 ft trail bridge will span the creek immediately south of the Zoo tunnel, a huge improvement from the current narrow sidewalk adjacent to car traffic
  • Reopening the Zoo Tunnel Bypass – For decades, the trail around the tunnel has been slowly falling into the creek. (a 2013 photo)). After a large storm in 2018, three sections of this trail collapsed into the creek, forcing the closure of the tunnel bypass trail. This project will finally rebuild the creek banks and replace the trail. This work is expected to begin in 2021. Unfortunately, this fix will not change the nighttime closure that routes trail users into the tunnel because this trail is still within the National Zoo’s security perimeter and subject to it’s operating hours.
  • Widening & pavement improvement – The existing 8-foot crumbling trail will be rebuilt to modern trail standards with improved foundations and drainage. Most sections will be widened to 10 feet plus a gravel shoulder except at some environmentally sensitive pinch points. 

The National Park Service also recently started construction on repairs and upgrades to the 1.5 miles of trail along the Potomac River including the Rock Creek Trail south of Virginia Ave NW and the West Potomac Park Trail between Ohio Drive and the Tidal Basin inlet bridge. Both will be widened to 8-10 feet, repaved, and re-aligned for a more comfortable ride. The work includes some intersection safety improvements, more green space, and a new trail tunnel through the supports of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge for more room and comfort! Learn more here.

What to Know About Construction and Detours

Construction started in Spring 2021 and will continue through 2023 in phases. Detours for trail users will be set up and signed.

See the DDOT project page for more information and detailed detour maps for reconstruction north of Virginia Ave. DDOT made a quick video about the changes here. See the NPS project page for detour maps for reconstruction south of Virginia Ave by the Kennedy Center and Ohio Drive.

Bike Ambassador How To: Ride in the Heat

Kinda washed out photo of a back bike wheel missing the wheel, the person is sitting by the road fixing her flat

Join the Bike Ambassadors Thursday, June 10th at 6pm as they share tips on riding your bike during the warmer months. The Bike Ambassadors will discuss how to ride safely in heat. We will talk about riding gear, bicycle accessories and how to prepare yourself for riding on a hot day. Bike Ambassadors seek to provide helpful information and resources to ensure everyone is riding safely, so join us to learn and share ways that can help everyone continue to biking on those hot days.

Register

Need accommodations, have questions about access, or have questions about the event? Send us an email at outreach@waba.org

Please keep in mind if we do chat about bike advice that what works for you may not work for everyone, and unsolicited advice can feel unwelcoming and condescending. Please come in the spirit of solidarity and communal problem solving.

Bike Ambassador How To: Ride on Trails

Kinda washed out photo of a back bike wheel missing the wheel, the person is sitting by the road fixing her flat

Join the Bike Ambassadors Wednesday, June 23rd at noon as they share information on how to safely use trails on your bicycle.  The Bike Ambassadors will discuss how to prepare for your next ride and some trail etiquette tips. You’ll learn how to check over your bike before your ride, different options for planning your route, how to properly pass other trail users and so much more! Bike Ambassadors seek to provide helpful information and resources to ensure everyone is riding safely, so join us to learn and share ways that can help everyone use the trails safely.

Register

Need accommodations, have questions about access, or have questions about the event? Send us an email at outreach@waba.org

Please keep in mind if we do chat about bike advice that what works for you may not work for everyone, and unsolicited advice can feel unwelcoming and condescending. Please come in the spirit of solidarity and communal problem solving.