Last week, more than 60 people showed up to testify in favor of legislation to make our streets safer. Thank you to everyone who took the time to testify. The personal stories people shared during testimonies were moving, and sent a strong message that we need to change our streets now. Plans don’t save lives.
The Council heard from us. DDOT heard from us. But we still have work to do—the Mayor’s office does not support a number of important provisions of these bills. In order to get them fully funded in next year’s budget, we need the DC Council to hold a vote before the year is out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the last year, together, we’ve made a lot of noise about the urgent need for safer streets. Right now, we have an opportunity to use that energy to push the DC Council to pass truly transformative legislation.
In the spring, you sent more than 5,000 messages to DC Councilmembers asking them to act. They heard you.
On October 24th at 11:30am, the DC Council will hold a hearing on the following bills:
B23-242, the Bicycle Advisory Council Expansion Amendment Act of 2019;
B23-257, the Mandatory Protected Cycling Lane Amendment Act of 2019;
B23-288, the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019;
B23-293, the Cyclist Safety Campaign Amendment Act of 2019
While we support all of these bills, our central focus for the upcoming hearing will be on the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019.
So what’s in this bill, you ask? Well, let’s take a look at some of the key highlights:
Limits speed limits to 25 mph on most minor arterial roads and 20 mph on local roads
Requires DDOT to certify plans for private developments that include new sidewalks, marking unmarked crosswalks, and adding protected bike lanes that are in the Transportation Plan
Requires new developments of 10 or more units plan for ride-share and deliveries that do not block the right-of-way of sidewalks or bicycle lanes
Requires sidewalks on both sides of all streets and connections be made to any existing sidewalks within .1 of a mile
Requires annual progress report on all projects or recommended projects in the Transportation plan, including explaining recommended projects were not advanced.
Bans right-on-red turns in the District of Columbia
Clarifies the Mayor can impound cars parked illegally in crosswalks and bicycle lanes and allows parking enforcement staff to mail tickets when a driver leaves before receiving the ticket
Requires all applicants for a new or renewal driver’s license to take a written test
Levies a $10,000 daily fine on contractors who do not restore crosswalks and bicycle lanes within 24 hours of completing work
Allows parking enforcement to target repeat reckless drivers by impounding parked cars with five speeding violations at 31+ mph over the speed limit or violations for passing a stopped car yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk
A plan to get to 50% of commutes by public transit and an additional 25% by bike/ped by 2032, in line with goals set by the landmark Clean Energy DC law
Identify areas in need of improved transit access
A list of one street or one bus line in each ward that will get a dedicated transit lane
Allows the Council to direct additional elements for the next plan in an approval resolution
Adds requirement for DDOT to aggregate crash and speed data in one publicly-accessible site
And there is more! If you want to learn more about all of the above bills before the October 24th hearing then join us for our community webinar!
During the webinar you will have an opportunity to learn more about the bills and ask any burning questions you may have about the bills. You can sign up for the webinar here.
Also, if you need support in crafting your testimony for the hearing, we will have a community testimony writing workshop on October 15th. At the workshop, you will get support and assistance to craft an impactful testimony for the hearing! There will also be pizza! You can sign up here.
Let’s seize on the progress we have made and continue to transform our transportation system to make it more sustainable and equitable for all.
Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets around DC? Of course you do!
Across Ward 5 are streets just screaming for traffic calming, safer crossings, and low-stress, protected bike lanes, especially in Trinidad, Brentwood, and Edgewood. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and help make them happen?
Last month, as part of our 20×20 campaign, we announced a new advocate training series to help you get to work making bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city. The Ward 2 and 8 trainings were a hit. Now it’s Ward 5’s turn!
On September 24, join WABA for an advocate training to introduce you to meaningful opportunities to help the movement as an individual or as part of a group. Learn the proven strategies for making streets safe! You will meet neighbors and community advocates eager for future collaboration and take a dive into WABA’s 20×20 campaign to build 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC by the end of 2020. No experience is necessary!
Winning Better Streets in Ward 5
Tuesday, September 24
6:30PM – 8:30PM
Trinidad Recreation Center
1310 Childress St NE
This training is tailored to Ward 5’s unique opportunities and challenges, though the content will be applicable to other places. Additional trainings in Ward 4, 6, 7 will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.
No matter your background or your schedule, there are lots of ways you can have an impact! We hope you can come spend an evening with us and get to work!
On July 22nd, WABA rolled out its 20×20 Campaign, detailing a realistic but urgent plan for the District to add 20 miles of new protected bike lanes by the end of 2020.
Since then, we’ve been steadily gaining momentum. A majority of the DC Council signed a letter to the District Department of Transportation expressing support for the plan. (See if your councilmember signed on and send them a note here.)
We held our first Safe Streets 101 Advocate training in Ward 2. Some of the attendees are organizing an Action Group for the Ward. If you’d like to get involved, you can sign up here.
Our next Safe Streets 101 Advocate training is tonight at the Anacostia Library in Ward 8. Join WABA’s advocacy staff for an informative and engaging evening training to explore the many ways that you can help make bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city. No experience is necessary. Sign up here.
Progress on the street:
DDOT has heard you loud and clear: We need more protected bike lanes. Not in five years. Now.
The agency is finishing up three new protected bike lane projects at the moment:
First Street SW: Earlier this month, the city added buffers and bollards on a block of 1st Street SW near the baseball park, showing that quick changes are possible:
Florida Ave NE:
In a radical (and much needed) departure from its usual timeline for project completion, DDOT is nearly finished installing a mile-long protected bike lane on Florida Avenue NE, from the Red Line tracks to 14th Street NE. As work continues for the complete reconstruction of the corridor, these changes are already making Florida Ave more safe and accessible.
Edgewood Street NE:
A connected network is important! This new block of flexposts connects the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Franklin St NE, another section of future protected bike lane included in our 20×20 plan.
Ways to get involved:
But there’s still a lot of work to be done! Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, here are some ways you can help move this campaign forward:
Email your councilmembers:
Seven DC Councilmembers announced their support for WABA’s 20×20 Plan, a bold vision for 20 miles of safe, connected, and equitable protected bike lanes in DC added to our network by the end of 2020.
This leadership is exactly what we need. Thank your Councilmembers who signed on! Ask the Councilmembers who did not sign on to formally show their support for more safe places to ride.
Earlier this month, seven of DC’s thirteen Councilmembers sent a letter to the District Department of Transportation, asking the agency to implement WABA’s 20×20 Plan, a bold vision for 20 miles of safe, connected, and equitable protected bike lanes in DC added to our network by the end of 2020.
This leadership is exactly what we need. Thank your Councilmembers who signed on! Ask the council members who did not sign on to formally show their support for more safe places to ride.
WABA has an ambitious plan for 20 miles of protected bike lanes, installed or upgraded by the end of 2020. This 20×20 Plan identifies the most important miles and most feasible projects on DC roadways. DDOT has a responsibility to keep bicyclists safe on DC streets, and this protected bike lane network is a critical component of the larger transportation safety equation.
But WABA can’t do it alone. While, we’ve received overwhelming public support for the vision, we need DDOT to implement these projects and turn the idea of safe places to ride into actual facilities.
And what will get DDOT to implement this vision? Having support from local elected officials certainly helps. That’s why we marked a notch in the win column on August 8 when seven DC Council members sent a letter to DDOT Director Marootian, publicly announcing their support for WABA’s 20×20 Plan.
This leadership is exactly what we need. Thank your Council members who signed on! This council members are listening to their constituents and standing up for their safety. Tell them that you appreciate it!
There are more than seven council members, though. Ask the council members who did not sign on to the August 8 letter to formally show their support for the 20×20 Plan.
This vision of 20 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2020 is bold. But it’s attainable. And it’s going to take every one of us in our respective roles- citizen, elected official, planner, engineer, neighbor- insisting that connected, protected and equitable places to ride is what’s most important.
After you’ve contacted your Councilmembers, support the 20×20 Campaign with a donation!
Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets around DC? Of course you do!
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves?
We are excited to announce a new advocate training series to help you get to work making bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city, whether you have 5 minutes or three hours to spend.
Each training will introduce the meaningful opportunities to help the movement as an individual or as part of a group and highlight some of the proven strategies for making streets safer. You will meet neighbors and community advocates for future collaboration and take a dive into WABA’s 20×20 campaign to support 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC by the end of 2020. No experience is necessary!
Winning Better Streets in Ward 2 Tuesday, August 6 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM West End Neighborhood Library 2301 L St NW Sign Up
Winning Better Streets in Ward 8 Thursday, August 22 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Anacostia Neighborhood Library 1800 Good Hope Rd SE Sign Up
Each training will be tailored to the Ward’s unique opportunities and challenges, though the content will be applicable to other places. We encourage you to sign up for the training in your home ward or the ward of greatest interest. Find your ward here. Additional trainings in Ward 5 & 7 (September) and Ward 4 & 6 (October) will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.
No matter your background or your schedule, there are lots of ways you can have an impact! We hope you can come to a training.
The City of Alexandria is at a crossroads: City policies require providing safe accommodations for all road users, particularly for people who walk and bike. The safest option for Seminary Road provides a three-lane configuration with center left turn lanes for drivers, pedestrian refuge islands for people who walk, and bike lanes for people who bike. The City’s Traffic and Parking Board narrowly recommended maintaining four motor vehicle lanes prioritizing motor vehicles, rather than safety and multi-modal transportation. Send a note supporting a three-lane configuration with bike lanes on Seminary Road to let Alexandria officials know that residents support safe streets for everyone. Ask Alexandria’s Mayor and City Council to direct the T&ES Director to implement a three-lane solution for Seminary Road, to provide safe accommodations for all road users consistent with City plans and policies
The City Council-approved Transportation Master Plan and Complete Streets policy emphasize safety for all users and prioritize multimodal transportation, including walking, biking and use of transit. The city’s Environmental Action Plan prioritizes low-carbon mobility options, specifically, a “…transportation system that puts the health, mobility, and accessibility of ‘people first’… with the following level of precedence: pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation, shared motor vehicles and private motor vehicles.” In March, 2019 city transportation planners proposed reconfiguring a section of Seminary Road, consistent with these plans and policies, a four-to-three lane reconfiguration. The three-lane configuration would apply an FHWA proven safety measure with features including a center left-turn lane for drivers, buffer space and refuge islands for people who walk or take the bus, and bike lanes for people who bike, all without adding to congestion. This section of roadway has excess capacity: traffic is already constrained to one lane in each direction at entrances to the project area
That said, on June 24, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board voted 3 to 2 to maintain four lanes for motor vehicles, as advocated by multiple civic associations, in spite of city staff evaluation of the three-lane option as best meeting project criteria and a 2-to-1 majority of speakers at the hearing requesting a three-lane alternative. A group of residents in the Seminary Road area have appealed the Board’s decision to the Mayor and City Council; they argue that the three-lane configuration is most consistent with City Transportation, Environmental and Complete Streets policies, was the highest-scoring alternative that best meets project goals and objectives, and is the best option for reducing excessive vehicle speeds. The City Council is expected to make a final decision on September 14. Letters and phone calls from residents will help convince Alexandria elected officials that they should demonstrate their commitment to safety and City plans and policies by directing a three-lane solution for Seminary Road.
Last week, Arlington’s County Board passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero in Arlington County. Their vote officially sets the county on a path to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Arlington’s roads through the coordinated effort of many county agencies. Arlington joins Alexandria, DC, and Montgomery County as the fourth jurisdiction to embrace Vision Zero in the Washington area.
Fundamental to this commitment, the Board recognized that far too many people are killed and injured while traveling from one place to another. In recent years, Arlington has experienced as few as one and as many as six traffic fatalities, already making it one of the safest jurisdictions in the region.
But even one death is an unacceptable loss to the community. And rather than accept that loss as an inevitable cost of getting around, Vision Zero puts harm reduction front and center. Every fatality is preventable, and we should not accept even one.
This commitment is a bold and momentous first step for a safe and more livable Arlington. But now starts the hard work. It is up to county staff to create a plan to actually achieve the goal and by when. Over the next few months, county staff will get to work collecting data, analysing problems, learning from other Vision Zero communities, and asking for input as they seek to understand Arlington’s unique traffic safety challenges and develop a five-year action plan.
The plan will identify a range of actions including changes to the way streets are designed. Community engagement will be a critical element of shaping the plan as will addressing the inequitable spread of traffic violence and safe transportation options in Arlington’s communities.
We want to thank the Board for their leadership, county staff for the hard work and following through on promises made during the bike plan update, and all the community advocates who have tirelessly insisted over the last four years that Arlington must be a leader in transportation safety.
Read the full resolution yourself here. Review the presentation slides here. And watch the full presentation and County Board discussion here starting at 1:05.
Last month, the Montgomery County Planning Board made a hasty and very bad decision on the permanent design for the Capital Crescent Trail’s crossing of Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda. While perhaps made with good intentions, this decision will create unacceptable daily safety risks for the thousands of people who use the trail. The board has started a new term and has a new member.
In the letter below, we call on the board to reconsider its decision and to put its park users and people first. Use the form below to sign the letter.
Members of the Montgomery County Planning Board,
On June 13, the Planning Board voted 4-1 to reject the analysis and recommendation of Montgomery Parks staff to implement Alternative A including retention of the road diet already in place, and placement of a speed table forcing cars to slow at the crossing. We are deeply concerned by the Planning Board’s recent decision to not only reject Alternative A as recommended by Parks but to also disregard all other carefully proposed alternatives. The decision to eliminate the road diet put in place after a cyclist died in 2016 runs directly counter to Montgomery County’s core Vision Zero principles, ignores all objective data regarding this intersection, and will endanger vulnerable trail users on the most popular trail in the region. The Planning Board should reconsider this decision, retain the road diet and endorse the Alternative A approach that has the Trail cross at-grade with Little Falls Parkway.
Montgomery County’s Vision Zero commitment is grounded in just a few core principles.
Traffic fatalities are preventable.
Human life takes priority over moving traffic quickly and all other goals of a road system.
Human error is inevitable, so the transportation system should be designed to anticipate mistakes and reduce their consequences.
People are inherently vulnerable and speed is a fundamental predictor of crash survival.
While straightforward in theory, designing intersections and roads that follow these principles often requires different tools and different priorities than have been traditionally used. Relying on old auto-oriented values will not help the county eliminate all traffic fatalities.
The board’s chosen intersection design contradicts every one of these (Vision Zero) principles. Restoring Little Falls Parkway to four lanes prioritizes moving cars quickly over the safety of people on the trail. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially at off-peak times when the road is empty. And doubling the crossing distance increases a person’s exposure to traffic. If everyone follows the rules precisely, the intersection may work. But everyone makes mistakes.
Unfortunately, diverting the trail to the traffic signal and widening the road makes everyone wait much longer. More waiting will bring more cut-through traffic on Hillandale and encourage an increase in frustration, bad choices, and dangerous behavior. Frustrated drivers may run the light or turn right on red. Trail users may cross the Parkway against the light. When someone makes a mistake or a bad choice, it will be more likely to end in a crash and a severe injury or death under the Board’s chosen design.
Montgomery County and Montgomery Planning have committed to Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in just over 10 years. If we are to achieve this goal, we must be consistent throughout the County. The plan Parks recommended for this intersection is consistent with Vision Zero and putting a road diet here has been proven safe and effective with minimal impact on cars. The decision you made on June 13 is just the opposite, makes human life and safety the lowest of priorities, and will set us back in achieving our goals of protecting Montgomery County residents.
We implore you to reconsider this decision and choose a path forward that puts your park users and their safety, first.