Two weeks ago, the DC Council voted unanimously to pass the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019.
This win will fundamentally change the way we use our streets. It will make District agencies accountable to Council. That means DDOT will have to evaluate the most dangerous corridors in the District, report out on them, and then actually fix them.
This win means lower speed limits and no right turns on red. It means automated traffic enforcement at intersections and in bus lanes, and it means better investment in the communities with less access to transit and fewer safe places to bike and walk.
This bill comes at a devastating cost — the lives of our neighbors, friends, and community members. Since Mayor Bowser committed to Vision Zero, traffic deaths have increased every year. And now, as the bill goes to the Mayor to become law, we’ll be fighting hard to ensure it gets funded in next year’s budget and fully implemented so that we have real, meaningful tools to make this city a safer place to move through.
This isn’t even the only big news about Vision Zero this month. On September 24, WABA hosted our 4th annual regional Vision Zero Summit where we learned so much from our keynote speaker, Charles T Brown. He spoke about arrested mobility — the way enforcement and so many systemic factors inhibit Black people’s basic mobility. We carried that theme through the day, with conversations about Vision Zero and racism at the intersection of climate change, the pandemic, trail access, community engagement, and much more.
The conversations we had this past month are building power for safer streets, and we are so grateful for your support every step of the way. Thank you for helping us fight for safer streets. Progress sometimes feels slow, but together, we’re doing transformational work in the region.
Want to keep the momentum going?
The upcoming FY21 transportation Budget is critical for Washington, DC residents. DC is facing budget shortfalls but a stable and robust transportation system is vital for our economic recovery post COVID.
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh will present her FY21 transportation budget for DC and answer questions. Register through Zoom to submit your questions!
The DC Department of Transportation will need new funding and resources to create a connected network of bike lanes throughout the city and complete work in trails in DC, and our advocacy and voices will help push them forward.
- June 19th, 2020
- Register for the event via Zoom: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BvSeTpy_SOSZW5B1IWK4iQ
WABA is 503(c)3 nonpartisan and non-political organization. The following information provided as a public service to educate voters about political candidates’ positions on transportation issues. WABA does not endorse any political candidates.
Because transportation is such a critical election topic in DC, WABA wants to inform our members about ward-level candidates’ positions on some of the most pressing issues.
We sent a questionnaire to all primary race DC Council candidates from Wards 2, 4, 7, and 8—which addressed issues such as expanding our protected bike lane network in DC, funding to complete our trail network, open streets, transportation equity and vision zero. We also held virtual candidate forums and invited all the candidates to participate. The forum was an opportunity for our members to listen to the candidates themselves and hear their positions on many questions that were submitted by WABA members.
You can view those questionnaires and listen to a recording of the forums below. The Primary election is on June 2nd, 2020.
Ward 2 Candidate Questionnaires
Ward 4 Candidate Questionnaires
Ward 7 Candidate Questionnaires
Candidate Forum Recordings
Transportation is a critical election issue in DC. This forum is a great opportunity to get to know the candidates for DC Council in Wards 7 & 8 and hear their ideas in their own words and as face-to-face as current events allow. There will also be time for Q & A from forum participants so please come prepared to share ideas, suggestions, and questions.
This event is strictly for you, the voters, to get information and interact with the candidates. WABA does not endorse any political candidates and all candidates who are on the ballot for Wards 7 & 8 were invited to participate. Confirmed participants as of this writing are as follows:
Anthony Lorenzo Green
Transportation is a critical election issue in DC. This forum is a great opportunity to get to know the candidates for DC Council in Wards 2 & 4 and hear their ideas in their own words and as face-to-face as current events allow. There will also be time for Q & A from forum participants so please come prepared to share ideas, suggestions, and questions.
This event is strictly for you, the voters, to get information and interact with the candidates. WABA does not endorse any political candidates and all candidates who are on the ballot for Wards 2 & 4 were invited to participate. Confirmed participants so far:
Janeese Lewis George
Highlights of the proposed rules:Speeding Proposed Change: Increased fines for speeding in excess of 25 mph from $300 to $1000, and the fine for criminal speeding from $300 to $500. Why WABA supports it: Speed kills. According to AAA research, a person struck by a vehicle at 30 mph is 74 times more likely to be killed than a person struck by a vehicle going 25 mph. The District’s default speed limit for residential streets is 25 mph. Between 2010 and 2014, more than half of traffic fatalities in the District occurred on streets with a 25 mph speed limit. A motorist traveling through a populated neighborhood at 25 mph over the speed limit is going 50 mph or faster. This is reckless, deadly behavior that should be punished severely. Right Turns on Red Proposed Change: Increased fines from $50 to $200 for failing to come to a complete stop at a red light before turning, failing to yield the right of way to vehicles or pedestrians, or violating a “No Turn on Red” sign. Why WABA supports it: D.C. law requires drivers make a full stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians and other vehicles before turning right at a red light. In practice, drivers often do not come to a full stop behind the stop bar or even slow down before making a right turn on red. The requirement for drivers to stop at an intersection before making a right turn on red is so the driver can take the time to ensure that no pedestrians are in the crosswalk, because the pedestrian has the right of way. Drivers making unsafe turns at red lights also puts any drivers or bicyclists proceeding with the right of way on perpendicular streets at unacceptable risk. Parking in a Bike Lane Proposed Change: Increased fines for stopping, standing or parking in a bike lane, from $65 to $300 (for commercial trucks) or $200 (for all other motor vehicles). Why WABA supports it: Drivers who block bike lanes, even temporarily, create hazards for all road users by forcing bicyclists to merge suddenly into a regular traffic lane. This all-too-common experience in the District discourages inexperienced or apprehensive riders from riding their bikes. It is currently illegal in the District to stop, stand, or park in a bike lane. However, the number of vehicles that continue to do so demonstrates that the current fine is not a sufficient deterrent, especially for commercial delivery drivers and taxis, for whom the fines for parking in bike lanes are treated as a cost of doing business. Dooring Proposed Change: Increased fines for opening a vehicle door into traffic in a way that presents a danger to others, from $25 to $100. Why WABA supports it: The act of opening a car door into the path of a bicycle or other vehicle is one of the most common causes of injuries to bicyclists. The best way to end dooring is to redesign our streets so that bike lanes are physically separated from traffic and parked cars. In the meantime, the penalty for creating this dangerous situation for cyclists should be strengthened.
The following chart summarizes the full set of proposed changes: (click the image to see a larger version)We note that increasing fines in a vacuum will not lead to the types of safety improvements we need to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Traffic fines are an effective deterrent when the likelihood of enforcement is high. For Vision Zero to work, Metropolitan Police Department must increase traffic enforcement for all road behaviors that endanger others. All too often, enforcement is concentrated during targeted campaigns, but is lacking the rest of the time. Moreover, the public must know what the fines are and where the money goes. Though not in the regulations, WABA supports directing funds raised from traffic safety violations towards Vision Zero projects, like enforcement, education and engineering— not the general fund. The city should post signs about traffic fines and use public education campaigns to communicate with road users. Under these proposals, every road user has a choice: support Vision Zero by behaving like a responsible citizen who values human life, or support Vision Zero with fines. Anyone who wishes to avoid paying a fine may do so by simply obeying the law. The D.C. Council will hold hearings on the proposed regulations on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 11am in room 500 of the Wilson Building. D.C. residents wishing to provide testimony at the hearing should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin at 202-724-8062 or via email at email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be in touch.
The HearingSupporters of safe streets came out in full force to support the bills. Councilmembers heard testimony from a wide range of bicycle, pedestrian, insurance and automotive advocates on the merits of the proposals. Fifteen public witnesses shared personal and heartfelt stories about their experiences, clearly underscoring how much work remains to be done to prevent the tragedies we have become accustomed to on our roads. With more than thirty wide-ranging policy changes on the table, it is telling that not a single witness raised strong objections in testimony. Every witness, even the automotive and insurance lobbies, supported stiffer penalties for dangerous and impaired driving, a codified complete streets policy, and prioritizing the safety of vulnerable road users. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Charles Allen, Brandon Todd, and Elisa Silverman each made firm commitments to changing our approach to street safety. Charles Allen (Ward 6) stated that we “must stop thinking of roads as only for cars,” because “safety must be more important than convenience.” These bills are likely to move forward quickly. After the holiday recess, we expect to see the proposals combined into a single bill, followed by a vote to move it out of committee. For a full breakdown on the merits of each proposal, click here to read WABA’s full written testimony, For great coverage of the hearing from WABA member and twitter user @ and others, click here. You can submit comments on these bills until Dec. 22.
What is Stop-as-Yield all about?The proposed change would allow bicyclists in very specific situations to treat stop signs as yield signs. Many drivers report confusion about current law for bicyclists. A change to the stop law would reflect current practice by many drivers and bicyclists. The following chart compares what behavior is illegal or legal under current law and what would change if the proposed legislation were enacted.
|Bicyclist action||Potential for endangering other road users?||Status under current traffic law||Status under proposed law|
|Riding through four-way stop without stopping or looking with a vehicle stopped at the cross street.||Yes||Illegal||Illegal|
|Riding through two-way stop without stopping or looking with a vehicle present or proceeding in the opposite direction.||Yes||Illegal||Illegal|
|Riding through a red traffic light without stopping.||Yes||Illegal||Illegal|
|Riding through a four-way or two-way stop without stopping when another vehicle is approaching at the same time.||Yes||Illegal||Illegal|
|Riding through a stop sign with a pedestrian crossing or preparing to cross the street.||Yes||Illegal||Illegal|
|Riding through a four-way stop without other vehicles, bicyclists, or pedestrians present.||No||Illegal||Legal|
There’s Still Time to Voice your Support For These BillsThe hearing is over, but the official record for this legislative package will remain open for comments until December 22nd. If you believe, as we do, that streets should be designed to prioritize safety for the most vulnerable, that driving carries enormous responsibility to protect the people and communities on our roads, and that safe travel is more important than fast travel, submit comments to the record.Of all the great provisions in these bills, stop-as-yield is the most vulnerable, and the most likely to be left out of a final version. If you would like to see stop-as-yield implemented in DC, include that in your comments.
- B21-0335, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015;
- B21-0383, the Vision Zero Act of 2015; and
- B21-0021, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015
Here’s a rundown of the key issues addressed by the bills.
(Believe it or not, this is the short version…)Complete Streets Policy: One of the most important sections of both the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act and the Vision Zero Act relates to complete streets policies. Each bill lists the principles and purposes of the city’s complete streets policy. The Vision Zero Act would “ensure the safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people with disabilities, the elderly, motorists, freight providers, and emergency responders.” (p. 2, l. 19.) The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act includes similar language. (p. 8, l. 183.) In order to actually change the status quo and create streets for people, the complete streets policy should elevate the safety and convenience of pedestrians, bicyclists, users of mass transit, people with disabilities, and the elderly over the convenience of motorists and freight providers. The Vision Zero Act would specifically require facilities for all users to be included in any construction, reconstruction, retrofit, repaving, and rehabilitation of a street. (p. 3, l. 16.) This means that DDOT would presumptively install bicycle lanes or separated cycle tracks any time it repaved a street that did not previously have such facilities. WABA strongly supports this provision and recommends its inclusion in any transportation safety legislation that is adopted. Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Areas: The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act would require DDOT to designate priority areas where the area is used heavily by bicyclists and pedestrians and the area has a high number of collisions. DDOT would be required to make improvements to traffic patterns and infrastructure in priority areas to enhance bicyclist and pedestrian safety. WABA strongly supports this program and recommends its inclusion in any transportation safety legislation that is adopted. We would like to see the bill revised to provide that DDOT shall actually implement, and not just recommend, safety changes to the priority areas. Open Access to Data and Information: WABA strongly supports open access to crash and road safety data. Accurate, complete, and accessible data will help the District accomplish many of the goals of its Vision Zero Initiative by:
- Identifying high priority streets, intersections and neighborhoods for safety improvements;
- Analyzing the effects of street design features;
- Creating more accurate benchmarks for measuring the District’s Vision Zero performance over time;
- Enabling public health practitioners to develop a greater understanding of the relationship between crash variables and medical outcomes; and
- Promoting transparency and ensuring the public’s ready access to important safety information.
- Updating the crash intake form of the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) to better align with national minimum standards so that the circumstances of a crash are captured accurately at the scene of the crash;
- Integrating crash data with medical data so that the physical outcomes of people injured in a crash are reflected in the record of the crash; and
- Disclosing crash data automatically, in a timely and intuitive manner.
- Ignition Interlock Devices—The Vision Zero Act would require a person who has been convicted of certain drunk driving offenses to install an ignition interlock device. (p. 6, l. 15.) WABA supports this requirement, and believes it should be strengthened with an enforcement provision. Currently, the only consequence of failing to install a required ignition interlock device appears to be an extension of the mandatory term for which the device is required to be installed.
- Drunk Driving Penalties—The Vision Zero Act would increase penalties for drunk driving offenses. (p. 7, l. 21.) WABA supports these provisions.
- For-Hire Vehicle Operator Training—The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act would revise for-hire vehicle operating training and taxi operator training to add training in specific traffic concepts, including the rights and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. (p. 12, l. 276.) WABA fully supports these revisions, which will help educate our city’s most active and frequent drivers on the rights of the most vulnerable road users.
- Repeat Offenders—The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act would provide an escalating series of fines for repeat offenders of serious driving violations, including entering crosswalks, crossing through a red light, failing to yield the right of way, or parking or idling on a sidewalk or bike lane. (p. 14, l. 322.) WABA supports this provision, but believes it could be strengthened by clarifying that separate violations of two different offenses on the list would also trigger increased penalties.
- Distracted Driving—The three bills being considered would address some of the flaws of the Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004.First, the Vision Zero Act would amend the law to increase the penalty for distracted driving from a $100 fine with no points to a $500 fine plus two traffic points. (p. 9, l. 1.) The fine and points would be suspended upon the purchase of a hands-free accessory.Second, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act would amend the law by keeping the $100 base fine, but providing an escalating series of fines for repeated violations within an 18 month period, including a suspension of the driver’s license for the third violation. (p. 2, l. 41.) Points would not be assessed for a single violation that did not contribute to a crash, but may be assessed for a subsequent violation that occurs within an 18 month period, regardless of whether the violations contributed to a crash. (p. 2, l. 55.) There would be no suspension of a fine or points for the purchase of a hands-free accessory.Third, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act would amend the law to further limit the situations in which a person could use a mobile telephone while operating a vehicle. (p. 15, l. 347.)WABA supports adopting a combination of all three bills. The base penalty for distracted driving should be increased to include higher fines and traffic points, because a $100 fine is far too low to be a deterrent. Moreover, drivers should not be free of punishment for purchasing a hands-free device, since research now shows that hands-free phone use is nearly as distracting as handheld phone use. Rather, an increase in the penalties applicable to repeat offenses should provide first-time violators with the incentive to comply with the law in the future. Finally, the scope of proscribed conduct should be expanded to include all situations where a driver is operating a motor vehicle other than an emergency.
- Aggressive Driving—WABA supports the creation of an aggressive driving offense for drivers who commit three or more specified dangerous offenses at the same time or during a continuous period of driving one mile. (Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act, p. 15, l. 352.) Given the seriousness and number of offenses underlying an aggressive driving violation, we believe the proposed penalty of two traffic points and a $200 fine is too low and should be increased.
- Speeding Legislation—Unfortunately, none of the bills being considered would lower the speed limit on the city’s residential streets from 25 mph to 20 mph, despite widespread recognition that speeding is one of the most important determinants of traffic injuries and deaths. Cities larger and more congested than the District of Columbia have adopted lower speed limits. The evidence is clear that lower speed limits save lives:
- A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the risk of severe injury for a pedestrian hit at 23 mph is 25 percent. At 31 mph, the risk of severe injury increases to 50 percent. At 39 mph, the rate of severe injury jumps to 75 percent.
- According to AAA research, a person is 74 times more likely to be killed if struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph than at 25 mph.WABA urges the City Council to pass legislation lowering the speed limit on residential streets to 20 mph.
- No Right Turn on Red—Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to crashes by drivers making quick and dangerous right turns at red lights. Drivers are violating the pedestrians’ right of way if they turn through an intersection with a pedestrian present. Often, drivers do not come to a full stop behind the stop bar or slow down before making a right turn on red. There should be an increased application of or a city-wide adoption of No Right Turn on Red.
- Increased Fines for Parking in Bike Lanes—Parking, standing, or stopping in bike lanes causes a dangerous situation for bicyclists and drivers. When a bike lane is blocked, even temporarily, bicyclists are forced to merge into a regular traffic lane. This sudden need to merge out of a bike lane and into mixed traffic often creates a safety hazard for drivers and bicyclists.
It is illegal under District law to stop, stand, or park in a bike lane. The penalty is $65 per violation. In 2013, the District issued 4,200 tickets for unlawful parking and standing in bike lanes. The number of vehicles that continue to park in bike lanes demonstrates that this fine is clearly not a sufficient deterrent, especially for commercial delivery drivers.
The district should raise the penalty for illegal parking in bike lanes. Comparable cities have significantly higher fines than the District ($100 in San Francisco and New York; $115 in Chicago).Are you in? Email email@example.com or call (202) 724-8062 to get a place on the speaker’s list. Then, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you are coming. We’ll have talking points, resources, and staff available to help you write and deliver your testimony. You can also stop by the WABA office on Monday, Dec 7, between 4 pm and 7 pm to discuss in person.