Letter on September 13th Crash

WABA, Greater Greater Washington, and DC Families for Safe Streets sent the following letter to the Mayor’s office on September 14th, 2021 in response to a driver killing a 5 year old. A PDF version is available here if you’d like to send it to your elected officials.

Mayor Muriel Bowser
Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio
Deputy Mayor Christopher Geldart
Acting Director Everett Lott
Senior Advisor Beverly Perry

September 14, 2021

To Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Babers, Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor Geldart, Director Lott, and Senior Advisor Perry:

Last night, another driver killed another child in our city. Another sudden, violent hole torn through the heart of a family. It did not have to happen. Today, we demand change as we begin grieving this devastating loss. Traffic violence has a profound physical, emotional, and spiritual impact on our lives, families, and communities. It doesn’t have to.

The District has the resources, the tools, and the expertise to make every intersection in this city safe for people—regardless of race, income, age, gender, or ability—to cross on foot, on a bike, in a stroller, or in a wheelchair.

Instead, we see the same grim pattern, over and over again: a violent crash, a public outcry, and a feeble, “tactical” response from the city—some marginal infrastructure changes at the site of the crash, with no plan to address thousands of other similarly unsafe streets and intersections across the District with the urgency that a five-year-old’s death demands.

In the wake of the 185th traffic death in the past six years, we aren’t asking for more funding or more planning for infrastructure. The administration went a long way toward addressing that challenge in the FY2022 budget. We thank Mayor Bowser for her historic investment in transportation improvements and look forward to the release of an updated MoveDC long-range transportation plan. 

We see, however, that on street after street, project after project, the District drags its feet, implementing proven safety measures only reluctantly and after aggressive compromise.

Mobility is a human right. The first section of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” But the reality is that most American cities limit that freedom to people in cars. 

The District can do better. We can and should interpret the right to freedom of movement to mean that people have what they need to protect and preserve their wellbeing as they move through the city.

Thus far, however, the District has only demonstrated that level of commitment to people who are driving cars.

We are asking for an ideology of safety from those leading the District: We want to see, and feel, that Mayor Bowser cares more about safety than parking, more about safety than driving fast, and more about safety than driver convenience. We want to see equitable policy and decisive action to create city streets that ensure no one else’s life is lost. 

An ideology of safety will lead the District to do everything in its power to slow traffic through the reallocation of parking and driving lanes to multimodal infrastructure, increase investments in transit to ensure every resident has a reliable alternative to driving, advance automated enforcement, and, overall, to shift its culture to one in which lazy, reckless, and unsafe driving is not tolerated.

This will require constraining the privilege of individual drivers, and will no doubt be accompanied by public backlash. We think saving a person’s life is well worth that unpleasant endeavor.

Sincerely,

Chelsea Allinger, Executive Director
Greater Greater Washington

Kristin Frontiera, Acting Executive Director
Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Christy Kwan, Co-Chair
DC Families for Safe Streets

DC’s FY22 Budget: What We Won

We won major victories this budget season. 

Thanks to the advocacy of our supporters, this upcoming FY22 DC budget will fund major transportation initiatives in Washington, D.C. 

So what’s in the DC FY22 budget that’s so major? Here are some key budget items that will have a transformative impact in D.C.:

  • Fully Funds the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act (Vision Zero Bill). Going forward the District will dedicate 100% of new Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) revenue towards funding and implementing the Vision Zero Bill. The funds will be placed in a “Vision Zero Fund” and money from that fund will be used to implement the Vision Zero Bill. The Vision Zero bill includes initiatives that will lead to the expansion of sidewalks, bike lanes, and bus lanes in DC.  
  • Permanent Funding Source for Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure. Once the Vision Zero Bill is fully implemented, funds from the “Vision Zero Fund” will be permanently used to continue infrastructure and safety improvements, road design, sidewalk repair, and more for years to come. 
  • Funding for the Connecticut Ave NW and Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes.  $2.2 million to support the full design costs of the Connecticut Avenue Reversible Lane study. The budget also includes funding for the 9th street protected bike lane project, set to be completed in 2022. 
  • $1.7 million for pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements on Georgia Avenue NW. $1.7 million has been earmarked for improvements to the Georgia Avenue corridor including likely changes at an intersection where a 4-year-old child was struck and killed in April.
  • Expanding Capital Bikeshare. The budget includes $19 million in the next six years to expand Capital Bikeshare, including $6.8 million in the coming year. The District will also add 80 new stations and 3,500 electric bikes, more than doubling the city’s e-bike fleet. Under D.C.’s bikeshare expansion plan, every city resident will live within a quarter-mile of a bike station. The plan also calls for a pilot program of adaptive bikes for people with disabilities.
  • $580,000 in the next budget and $2.3 million over four years to expand the WABA’s trail rangers program. The expansion of the trail rangers program will ensure patrolling and maintenance of D.C.’s trails year-round.
  • Expansion of our Trails Network. The Budget also includes funding for 70 miles of trails by 2025. 

We also want to thank the elected officials and partner organizations who played a role in pushing for these budget items alongside our supporters, ensuring that next year’s budget will have a monumental impact on transportation safety and infrastructure in the District.

Workshop: Getting Safe Streets that Work for Everyone

In this workshop, WABA’s Organizing Manager walks through some of the specific ways that we approach making streets safe, comfortable, and accessible. We review our proven strategies for getting attention and action from DC agencies on sidewalk fixes, intersection improvements, traffic calming, and more to improve traffic safety and reduce traffic crashes.

Agenda

  • Basic steps for interacting with DDOT and city agencies—getting the most out of 311 and traffic safety assessments
  • What to ask for—effective changes for more walkable, safe, and low-stress streets
  • Building support—looping in elected officials and civic groups to get things done
  • Tactics, tips and resources for escalating—proven strategies for demonstrating support and how WABA can support getting results

Download the slides here.

Next Steps

Do you have a street safety issue that affects walking, biking or traffic safety that is not getting traction with a DC agency? Do you have an idea for a design change to make a street near you more walkable and bikeable? We would love to hear about it and connect you with people and resources to make it happen. Email garrett.hennigan@waba.org to get started. Learn more about our campaign to build DC’s Low Stress Bicycle Network and get involved at waba.org/network.

Maryland 2021 Legislative Session Summary

The 2021 legislative session was a busy one, hampered by COVID restrictions but productive nonetheless.  Below are the transportation related bills WABA and other bike advocates from around the State, including BikeMD, followed and worked to pass.  We will renew the fight for the ones that did not pass next January in the 2022 session and also make a concerted effort to significantly increase the level of State funds for all active transportation projects.

Bills Passed

HB 118/SB 293 – Vehicle Laws -Injury or Death of Vulnerable Individual -Penalties text here.  This was the main focus of efforts by the BikeMD advocates and will become effective law on October 1, 2021.  The new Vulnerable Road User law will save lives by encouraging safer driving with stronger penalties for those who hurt or kill pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, wheelchair users and other vulnerable road users lawfully using or crossing our roads.The law mandates a court appearance by any motor vehicle driver who causes a crash with a vulnerable road user who is killed or seriously injured.  In the past, such drivers usually were issued a traffic citation or ticket.  Now, such drivers must appear in court and face stiffer penalties including higher fines, a driver safety program, community service and license suspension for up to six months.  This will provide greater support to victims and friends of crash victims knowing the driver involved will face a greater penalty.    The law helps fill a gap between traffic citations and higher offenses such as criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle.

HB 562 – Montgomery County –Speed Limits –Establishmenttext here.  Montgomery County and any local jurisdiction in the County  can now decrease the speed limit on a street down to 15 mph after performing an engineering and traffic study. This seems to include State Highways ( such as Georgia Avenue/MD-97) as long as the change is approved by MD State Highway Administration.  This bill will be effective October 1, 2021.

PEPCO Trail paving fundedmore detail here.  $10 Million was appropriated to Montgomery Parks to pave 7 miles of an existing 13 mile natural surface trail that runs along an electric powerline right of way from South Germantown to Cabin John Regional Park.   The trail goes along a electric powerline right-of-way.

Passed but Vetoed by Governor Hogan

HB 114 – Maryland Transit Administration – Funding and MARC Rails Extension Study – establishes and funds a Purple Line Grant program for businesses along the light rail corridor and funds a study on extending MARC service to West Virginia.  It is likely the veto will be overridden by the legislature in 2022.

Proposed but Not Passed

HB 564 – Montgomery County –Automated Traffic Enforcement – the bill would have allowed Montgomery County to transfer the automated traffic enforcement program (Speed and red light cameras) from the police (MCPD) to the transportation agency (MCDOT), thus placing this program with the agency primarily responsible for Vision Zero and any redesign of the roads.  In addition, removing this program from police responsibility could be an initial step towards removing armed police from traffic enforcement overall and thus reducing friction (often racially motivated) between the police and drivers.  This bill passed the House of Delegates, but failed to get a floor vote in the Senate.

HB 0067 – Maryland Department of Transportation Promises Act – bill would have placed restrictions on public-private partnerships and aimed to hold the Maryland Department of Transportation and Hogan Administration to many of the promises made during highway expansion planning.  The bill would prohibit the Board of Public Works from approving a phase public-private partnership agreement for the I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program unless the payment of the toll revenue is transferred to a certain special fund; it also would authorize a public-private partnership agreement for the Program to require a bidder to agree to initiate a community benefit agreement.  This bill did not pass either house.

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.

Speak up for Active Transportation Infrastructure in Arlington County!

Have you ever wished that Arlington County had better bike and pedestrian infrastructure? Do you ever wish that the trails were better connected? We do too! The good news is that you can speak up for bike/ped projects at the upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Budget Hearing on Tuesday, June 29th at 7:00pm. Register to testify here.

The CIP budget covers larger and longer-term projects typically dealing with investments in facilities and infrastructure or capital projects. Some examples include projects such as the construction of trails, public schools, or park improvements. These investments often take years to build and their costs may be distributed over a longer period of time than the shorter-term operating budget. 

So, what are a few things that we will be fighting for? 

  1. Additional funding for the Arlington Boulevard Trail
    • Arlington Boulevard Trail upgraded to current trail standards from Jackson St to Glebe Road
    • An improved trail crossing at Glebe Road
    • A new section of off-road trail from Glebe Road to Thomas St. 
    • Upgrades to the existing north-side sidewalk to trail width from Thomas St to George Mason Drive
    • Upgrades to the existing trail between Rhodes Street Bridge to Ft. Meyer Drive.
  2. $150,000 a year for a Vision Zero Tactical Fund to dedicate money for quick-build safety interventions. 
  3. $5 million per year for a Vision Zero Capital Fund to fix priority safety problems on Arlington’s High Injury Network.
  4. A 2-way protected bike lane on Fairfax Drive connecting the Custis & Bluemont Junction Trails to Clarendon.
  5. Protected bike lanes on Highland Street to bridge the “Clarendon Wall” which inhibits north-south bike connectivity in Clarendon.
  6. $1 million to expand the scope of repaving, redevelopment, stormwater projects, and other major construction projects to include the development of quick build protected bike lane projects.
  7. $300,000 for paint and signage on routes & bike boulevards in the Master Transportation Plan (MTP) Bike Element plan.

Our partners at Sustainable Mobility for Arlington also put together a comprehensive outline of more projects that will help Arlington Build Back Better. Explore their summary here: https://susmo.org/building-back-better-in-arlington/slides/

What are we excited to see already included in the CIP? 

  1. $155,000 is included over three years for the Trail light maintenance program
  2. $691,000 for the Army Navy Country Club Trail 
  3. $7.4 million for Trail Modernization 
  4. $6.5 million for the Boundary Channel Drive Interchange improvement 
  5. $12.3 million for the Army Navy Drive Complete Street project which will add Arlington’s first curb-protected bike lanes to Army Navy Drive.
  6. $12.7 Million for BIKEArlington which includes: 
    • Construction of the Potomac Yard / Four Mile Run Trail Connection 
    • Bluemont Junction Trail Safety Improvements
    • Arlington Boulevard Trail (Court House to Rosslyn) 
    • Concept Development of the Arlington National Cemetery Wall Trail 
    • Trail Safety Improvements (various locations) 
    • Concept development of the Custis Trail Renovation and Expansion
    • Funding for 3 new Capital Bikeshare Stations per year as well as an expansion of the e-bikes program

Do not forget to highlight the projects you are excited about in your testimony too! If you are unable to testify live, you can submit comments online. Online comments may be submitted to countyboard@arlingtonva.us.

Upper Beach Drive Environmental Assessment Meeting w/ NPS

The National Park Service is holding a virtual public meeting about the future management of upper Beach Drive. This meeting kicks off an environmental assessment of the options, including keeping sections of Upper Beach Drive open to people and closed to cars, seven days a week. 

At the meeting, NPS will present the options under consideration, explain their process, take feedback, and share how you can weigh in through the 45 day comment period.

This is the chance we’ve been pushing for! Please attend, share your enthusiasm in the chat box, and share what you think about the options. We’ll have guidance on written comments soon.

Upper Beach Drive
Environmental Assessment Kickoff
Thursday, July 8 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Join on Microsoft Teams
More info on the NPS project page