Recap: Community Listening Sessions

Some of our readers will be surprised to learn that WABA hasn’t been engaged in the business of Community Listening sessions that long. As a matter of fact, the Listening Session held at the Anacostia PlayHouse (link to blog) was the first, and this year’s Community Listening Sessions doubled that number and included focused sessions East and West of the Anacostia River.

Like the name suggests, these listening sessions were designed to provide community members an opportunity to have their concerns heard on issues of traffic safety. No community is monolithic: there are a wide range of concerns and feelings about what makes a roadway safe for all users. But oftentimes, those who are outnumbered by mode often have their concerns co-opted or consolidated into one mass thought or ask. Because of this, WABA was intentional to give space for community members to be heard by decision makers. What makes this different than just attending the ANC meeting or civic association meeting is that the community listening sessions were being filmed and a video featuring community members and their concerns will be a key part of the 4th Annual Vision Zero Regional Summit.

On February 24, 2020, more than 30 people attended the Community Listening Session – East, held at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library. The listening session featured District Department of Transportation Director, Jeff Marootian, who answered questions about specific projects and about the lack of projects East of the River. To our surprise and excitement, DDOT brought a host of personnel along to answer questions and meet with community members throughout the event. After the Director finished answering individual questions – we turned our attention to community concerns and hopes! Small groups of community members brainstormed to describe their most ardent traffic safety concerns. The answers ranged widely, including the need for better lighting at bus stops, bike trails and sidewalks, safety improvements needed for pedestrians, and traffic calming for speeding motorists. But when asked about the perfect transportation network that answer was often centered around making pedestrians safer on their neighborhood streets. 

The listening session West of the River was held just 2 days later at the Columbia Heights Community Center and turned out another 30 attendees in spite of frigid temps and impending rain in the forecast. The format closely followed the previous listening session, adding a panel discussion featuring ANC commissioners: Ra Amin 5B04, Erin Palmer 4B02, and Evan Yeates 4B01. DDOT showed up in a huge way again, this time enlisting the expertise of Ellen Jones, Chief Project Delivery Officer. Jones was joined in the question and answer session by DDOT’s Project Manager Emily Dalphy and George Branyan who serves as Manager of the Active Transportation Branch. When the community members had a chance to talk about their biggest traffic concerns, it was no surprise that much of those discussions centered around excessive vehicle speeds and the amount of effort it takes to get improvements in place. What may have come as a surprise to some was when describing the perfect transportation network many people described a zero cost public transit option and an inclusive system that worked for everyone, everywhere across the District. 

Many of you know that WABA has made serious commitments to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. These Community Listening Sessions are one response to that commitment and we learn alot from engaging with underserved communities in this space. This doesn’t mean we got it all right, but we are trying. Trying to make sure community voices are heard over and above outside interest. Trying to ensure that community leaders and decision makers hear from people, in communities, who support safe streets and we are trying to amplify the collective voice of those who desire to be heard beyond the boundaries of their Wards. There is little reason to believe that WABA won’t continue to host these listening sessions because we gain so much insight as an organization. And it gives space for others to be heard on issues that affect us all. That’s at the core of why we engage in these listening sessions, to show that we are listening and to make sure that decision makers will be too. Besides, you never know what you might learn.

Ward 7 Protected Bike Lanes Meeting

Join WABA’s Ward 7 Action Group to talk organizing strategy around the 20×20 Campaign. We’ll dig into projects and plan our next activities.

Let’s get to work for better biking in Ward 7!

Ward 7 Transportation Safety Meeting

Want safer streets in Ward 7? Better crosswalks? Fewer speeding Maryland drivers? Join us to get involved in strategizing and campaign planning.

20×20 Campaign Meeting: Ward 4

Let’s get to work on protected bike lanes in Ward 4! Join us to get involved in strategizing and campaign planning.
Sign up below to let us know you’re coming:

World Day of Remembrance

Please join DC Families for Safe Streets, Alexandria Families for Safe Streets, and WABA on Sunday, November 17 for World Day of Remembrance.

The day honors those whose lives have been forever changed by traffic violence and remember those we have lost.

In DC, Families, survivors, loved ones, and allies will gather at 3:45pm at DC’s Chinatown Park (6th & I NW). We will travel together to the John A. Wilson Building downtown for a brief ceremony beginning at 5pm. We invite you to join the procession on foot or by wheels, or to arrive directly at the Wilson Building.

RSVP on Facebook.

In Alexandria, AFSS hosts a Walk of Silence at 1:00pm. Details here.

In addition to these gatherings, houses of worship across the city will include World Day of Remembrance in their services. See the map below for participating faith communities:

DC’s Traffic Violence Data, Visualized: Our Demonstration at 14th and U.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or walking around DC with your eyes and ears closed, you probably have felt the hectic energy of advocacy over the past few weeks! Advocates all over the region have taken to the streets to raise awareness for issues that hit close to home. For WABA and traffic advocates around the city, the number one issue we are faced with is the high number of traffic deaths and serious injuries that happen on DC’s streets.

Since 2018, more than 1300 people have been seriously injured as a result of a traffic crash. Sadly, of that number, 53 lost their lives as a result of those crashes.

A volunteer hands out traffic safety information to a driver stopped at a red light on U St NW.

In the District, serious injuries and deaths from crashes are down when compared to the previous two years. Honestly, we are so far away from our Vision Zero goal of zero deaths and serious injuries by 2024, that even acknowledging it seems premature. But we are heading in the right direction. The increased attention on traffic injuries and deaths is a big part of that

On September 19th, we took to the streets with a host of energetic and eager volunteers and we spread the word! During the height of rush hour traffic at one of the busiest intersections in Northwest DC, WABA staff and volunteer bike advocates made the streets a little safer for pedestrians and got some drivers’ attention in the process.

WABA’s large-scale data visualization at the intersection of 14th & U Streets NW, facing northbound on 14th in the crosswalk.
A pedestrian reads about the traffic violence statistics in DC.

I had a moment where I stopped and took it all in. Pedestrians walking past put down their phones and interacted with one another, albeit most of them were probably wondering about the huge 10” balloon wall and 3” inflated numbers “1250” & ”52” moving in and out of the intersection. 

The message of the day was simple: “Too many people are hurt and killed on our streets and we have the power to change that.” This message is born out of my belief that it takes every single roadway user to get us to our vision of zero. And that philosophy was on full display during our time at 14th and U St NW. Drivers and bicyclists couldn’t help but pay a little more attention as well.

Speeds were slower than I usually experience in this stretch of U St. The recent changes to the streets by DDOT undoubtedly had a lot to do with that. It seems we got some help from MPD while we were there, too. Police pulled drivers over for making illegal left turns and running red lights. It was like a symphony for safer streets.

Our large-scaled data visualization on traffic violence in the District. Each gray balloon represents two serious injuries since 2018. Each black balloon represents one fatality.

At the end of the day, I felt I understood what our streets could be like with everyone doing their part to make streets safer. We are a long way from zero, but we are closer than we were a year ago, and I hope that counts for something.

A big shout out to the amazing volunteers who came out and made a difference that day. It’s never too late to get involved, sign up to become a volunteer or become a part of an action group.

You can find media coverage of the large-scale data visualization here, as well as a press release from the day’s events.

Ward 4 Neighbors for Safe Streets Meeting

It’s time to get together again! I want to thank each of you who came out to the last meeting and those of you who have been attending all the other DDOT, MPD, Ward 4 Council meetings, and ANC meetings. Ward 4 residents have been consistently sharing their concerns about the lack of bike infrastructure and the number of people hurt on our neighborhood streets. We really appreciate that. And we want you all to continue to do so!

That’s why we’re excited about this first meeting with Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, who has shown himself to be very receptive to the needs of pedestrian and bicyclists throughout Ward 4. Will you join me on March 5th for a community meeting with CM Todd to discuss bicycle and pedestrian safety?

Yes, I’ll be there

As you know, we’ve spent a lot of time combing through crash data, and now it’s time to put that work into action.

The March 5th meeting will help identify those stressful, near-miss and dangerous places. We will have a full agenda, but we’ll be looking for you to share areas of particular concern—bad intersections, poor street design, etc. Please be sure to tell a friend or neighbor about this opportunity. Along with Councilmember Todd, we are inviting representatives from DDOT, the Bicycle Advisory Council representative, and local stakeholders.

Ward 4 Neighbors for Safe Streets Meeting with Councilmember Todd

Tuesday, March 5th

32 Grant Circle NW

Washington, DC 20011

6:30pm – 8:30pm

RSVP

If you can’t make the March 5th meeting, please send me an email with your questions or concerns for Councilman Todd and I’ll be sure to ask them for you.

World Day of Remembrance 2018: “Gone, but Never Forgotten”

On Sunday, November 18th, WABA hosted the World Day of Remembrance in DC.

As the waning sun dropped below the horizon, and the falling autumn leaves signaled that a cool breeze and cooler temps were ahead, nearly a dozen riders arrived at Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church to join other community members in solidarity for World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence.

For the first time, WABA had the pleasure of partnering with six local congregations around DC to make World Day of Remembrance happen in a substantive and meaningful way. Earlier in the day, congregations offered sermons, prayers and reflections around the idea of safe streets. The evening gathering was a heartfelt display of community, care and compassion for those lives lost to traffic crashes.

Standing outside of Douglas Memorial Church, participants huddled together as the World Day of Remembrance projection shown on the wall for all to see. WABA’s Executive Director, Greg Billing, read the names of the 31 friends, family and community members lost this year because of traffic related crashes. Many of the victims were the drivers of motor vehicles, while others were people we had known, had ridden with and worked alongside here at WABA.

As the names were read, several passer-bys stopped to pay their respects. There were words of comfort offered by the pastors of Douglass Memorial and Mount Vernon United Methodist Churches. A song soothed our sorrows and a spoken word was delivered that moved many to tears. All in all, it was what we all needed from that space in that time. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Now we must continue in the work of doing all possible to ensure that ZERO lives are lost due to traffic crashes in 2019.

Take the Vision Zero Pledge

To all the participants throughout Washington DC and the region: thank you for supporting WABA and World Day of Remembrance. Without you, it would be impossible for WABA to continue doing the work of making bicycling better for everyone in the region. Your support helps us advocate for better laws and more bicycle friendly traffic lanes.

See the gallery for photos from this year’s World Day of Remembrance gathering in D.C.

Meet Jonathan Stafford, our new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator

Hello!

I’m Jonathan Stafford, one of the new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinators. Back in 2016 I worked as an intern at WABA, exploring the intersection between Faith and Public Policy in transportation. I am extremely blessed to return to WABA and to take up the important work that connects each of us to D.C.’s plan for zero traffic related deaths in all of our communities.

While serving as a police officer in Texas, I found that I really enjoyed being assigned to the bike patrol for Mardi Gras festivals. After I left the police department and moved to Nashville, I began cycling more often – eventually commuting to school and work by bike. Social justice was my focus and cycling became my passion. Putting on a suit and getting around town by bike was just a way of life. In Rochester, NY, where I’ve lived for the past few years, I‘m know as the minister who rides his bike to Sunday worship services.

As a Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator here at WABA, I get to mix my love of bicycles and social justice work, advancing conversations about race, gentrification, injurious policing, and other justice related issues. This is work that can not be done alone and I look forward to working with residents of DC to make our streets safer for everyone.

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: Trees, fresh air, not too many hills and less than 15 miles.

My style of riding: I mostly commute. But I have started bike camping and look forward to taking a few trips when the Spring arrives.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: my Panasonic Tourist named “Forrester”. Vintage styling, full fenders, and British racing green. Named after the title character from the film Finding Forrester!