Regional Vision Zero Summit Recap

Driver Training and Accountability Panel

On March 31st, WABA hosted the region’s first Vision Zero Summit at the Milken Institute on the campus of The George Washington University. The summit was presented by the AAA-MidAtlantic and The George Washington University Hospital. The event was sold out with a waiting list. 170 people attended.

The morning plenary featured an opening welcome by Dr. Babak Sarani, Associate Professor of Surgery and the Director of the Center for Trauma and Critical Care at The George Washington University Hospital.

Dr. Babak Sarani

Greg Billing, the Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, spoke about the why Vision Zero is so important in our region and that we need commitments from Maryland and Virginia to make Vision Zero a reality in our region.

Gregory Billing, Executive Director, WABA

Dr. Yang, from AAA Foundation, presented his topic about major issues that affect road safety. Dr. Yang discussed issues such as distracted driving. Distracted driving includes texting while driving. Although 93% of drivers find it unacceptable to text while driving over ⅓ admit to doing it and 40% admit to answering a text while driving. One of the other issues with affecting road safety is impaired driving which includes marijuana use, drinking and driving drowsy.

Dr. C.Y. David Yang, AAA Foundation

The final speaker of the morning was Emiko Atherton, Director of National Complete Streets Coalition who spoke about the role of equity in Vision Zero. Three important points from Emiko’s presentation were:

  1. Focus on education and reduce the burden
  2. Focus on engineering and roadway design
  3. Don’t just invest in downtown and business districts. Invest in people

Emiko Atherton, Smart Growth America

After the morning plenary, attendees went to one of three breakout rooms. The sessions included Opportunities for Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation, Public Health Case Studies and Vision Zero and High-Risk Road Users.

Opportunities for Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation was moderated by Robert Thomson of the Washington Post. It was his last day at the Post before retiring and he graciously spent it with us. His panelists were Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, DC Department of Motor Vehicles Lucinda Babers, KLS Engineering owner, Leverson Boodlal and Prince George’s County Pedestrian and Bicycle Manager, Karyn McAlister.

Panelists discussed the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and their role as the channel that we’ve traditionally used for regional coordination. Although it is a vehicle for coordination, the quality of the products that come out of that coordination is debatable.

Opportunities for Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation Panelists

Public Health Case Studies was moderated by WAMU reporter Martin Di Caro. Panelists Kurt Erickson, CEO of Washington Area Alcohol Program (WRAP), Erin Thomas, Tobacco Cessation Manager at DC Department of Health and Jeff Michael from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke about what Vision Zero can learn from other public health campaigns.

Vision Zero and High -Risk Road Users discussed how was can make roads safe for those with disabilities, youth, pedestrians, bicyclists and the elderly. The panel was moderated by Michele Blackwell, Chief of Staff for Councilmember- At- Large, Elissa Silverman. The panel consisted of Susie McFadden-Resper from the Office of Disability Rights, Sterling Stone, Executive Director of Gearin’ Up Bicycles and Melissa McMahon, transportation planner for Arlington County. Unfortunately, DDOT hasn’t always paid attention to curb-cuts and sidewalk access to stay in accordance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Susie McFadden-Resper has only been in her role for 2 years and is starting to change the behavior of DDOT when permitting takes place. Her work on this area will definitely help make it safer for those with disabilities.

Vision Zero and High- Risk Users Panelists

During lunch, Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about how DC can do work on Vision Zero but it won’t be successful if the 5 surrounding counties aren’t on board with Vision Zero as well. She also spoke about her commitment to bike and pedestrian safety as an important part of DC’s plan for the future.

Mayor Muriel Bowser

After lunch, the second breakout sessions began: Vision Zero and Public Health, Human Impacts of Traffic Fatalities, and Vision Zero and Enforcement.

Vision Zero and Public Health was moderated by Phronie Jackson, a fellow with Walk America’s Walking College and included panelists Dr. Chikarlo Leak from the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,  Dr. Anneta Arno from the D.C. Department of Health and Kate Robb from the American Public Health Association. Panelists discussed why and how we should treat traffic fatalities as a health epidemic much like we would treat diabetes or obesity. Dr. Leak shared the fact that we have lots of stats about who is being affected. Drugs are included in approximately 60% of the fatal car accidents in the region. Dr. Arno added, “are we trying to trick people into acting a certain way, or fostering a culture where they WANT to act that way?” This is a discussion that we definitely need to continue having as we move forward with educating residents about Vision Zero.

Vision Zero and Public Health Panelists

The Human Impacts of Traffic Fatalities put a very human perspective on Vision Zero. Moderated by DC Department of Transportation’s Jonathan Rogers, there was discussion about how serious injuries and fatalities take a person out of a household and what that means to a family. Panelist Christina Quinn shared her personal experience of losing her father to a bicycle crash. The Bike Lawyer, Bruce Deming and Melissa Shear from the Office of the Attorney General discussed the legal implications of traffic fatalities. During this panel, we learned that participants found to be at fault in causing death through a car crash can walk away with only a fine of $700. This is what happened in Christina’s family’s case. Bruce discussed underinsured coverage and shared that many states across the country don’t have any legislation in place for the minimum amount (if any) of insurance that an individual needs to have in order to operate a vehicle. His conclusion is that all of us should make sure that our under-insured limit is higher.

Human Impacts of Traffic Fatalities Panelists

Vision Zero and Enforcement included panelists Lamont Hinton from Metropolitan Police Department’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit, Sgt. Charles Seckler from the Alexandria Police Department and Joanne Thomka from the National Association of Attorney Generals. It was moderated by D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Councilmember Eileen McCarthy. The panel discussed the role of law enforcement in Vision Zero. The main takeaway was speeding fines aren’t for generating revenues, it’s to change behavior by hitting people’s pocketbooks.

Vision Zero and Enforcement Panel

The final breakout sessions of the day were Winning Over the Public to Vision Zero, Infrastructure: Designing Safe Streets, and Driver Training and Accountability.

Winning Over the Public to Vision Zero panel was moderated by Washington Post reporter Martine Powers and included panelists Caroline Samponaro from Transportation Alternatives in NYC, Marieannette Otero from Safe Routes to Schools, Moira McCauley from All Walks DC and rounding out the panel was Christine Mayeur from Nspiregreen. This all female panel discussed how we can’t lose control of the messaging and allow traditional media use Vision Zero as a reason that fines go up if we do then we are at a deficit with the public.  We have to make Vision Zero about HUMAN stories, putting families front and center is the way to go. People who complain about fines will look silly when you compare their complaints to someone who has lost a family member.

Winning Over the Public to Vision Zero Panel

Infrastructure: Designing Safe Streets panel kicked off with moderator urban planner and writer, Dan Reed. Panelists included Hillary Orr, Special Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Alexandria, VA Erv T. Beckert, planning engineer with Prince George’s County,  David Aspacher, transportation planner with Montgomery County and Andy Clarke, Director of Strategy for Toole Design Group. The panelists discussed the difficulties with redesigning roads when the public sees parking spaces taken away. Hillary Orr led a successful campaign in Alexandria a year ago by going door-to-door and sitting down and talking with the neighbors about the plan and listened to what they had to say.

Infrastructure: Designing Safe Streets Panel

Erv T. Beckert of Prince George’s county kept referring to DC as having it easy. Prince George’s streets were originally designed for 55 MPH speed limits. Slowing that down now is a great challenge and one that is being examined all the time. Not to mention, the county doesn’t own many of the problematic roads, the state does, and that is another challenge all in itself.

The final breakout of the day was Driver Training and Accountability with panelists Aaron Landry, general manager of car2go, Brian Sherlock from the Amalgamated Transit Union, Mike Heslin Baltimore Market Manager for Lyft and Laura Richards transportation planner for D.C. Department of Transportation. She specializes in freight and goods movement. The panel was moderated by Will Schafer of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Lyft shared a video of how they are educating their drivers and during the panel and car2go made a huge announcement. They are fully committed to Vision Zero and Vision Zero in DC!

Driver Training and Accountability Panel

The Vision Zero Summit wrapped up with Lessons Learned. This diverse panel shared how they have implemented Vision Zero in their cities. The panel consisted of Natalie Draisin from the FIA Foundation, Eva Hunnius Ohlin from the Embassy of Sweden, Sam Zimbabwe of D.C. Department of Transportation, Carrie Sanders from the City of Alexandria, Sabrina Sussman from the NYC Mayor’s Office and rounding out the panel was moderator Caroline Samponaro from Transportation Alternatives. The big take away from this panel was simple: traffic fatalities can be cured. The vaccine is slow down.

 

Lessons Learned from Other Cities Panel

Trash begone! A cleaner Metropolitan Branch Trail

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was a great day for the Metropolitan Branch Trail as the Trail Rangers and Carlos Rosario School joined the Day of Service. Despite the cold, 37 amazing volunteers enthusiastically tackled the debris buildup on the trail and removed 30 bags of trash from the area surrounding the Rhode Island Pedestrian Bridge. We also found a box spring, a few cabinet drawers and a chair. Thank you to all who came out!

We’ll be hosting more trail cleanups in the spring and summer – more details coming soon!

Fabulous Fun at the Trail Ranger Scavenger Hunt!

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail was alive with hearty adventurers, creativity and merriment at the Treasures of the River Trail. Now in its second year, the Trail Ranger scavenger hunt saw teams explore the hidden corners of the twelve mile trail system, compete for fabulous prizes (big thank you to Blue Jacket!),  and put their ingenuity to test. Herons, egrets and cormorants were spotted, fantastic sturdy boats were built, and forts found. It was a great afternoon to introduce new and familiar faces to the many treasures of the trail!

We hope you enjoyed the blueberry soup!

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Hundreds of WABA members joined us at the House of Sweden last Sunday for the 2015 Vasa Ride. Riders chose from a 59-mile, 31-mile, or 16-mile ride. Although the weather was windy and chilly, the sun came out as the day progressed and ride participants returned to the house of Sweden exhausted, but with smiles on their faces, to enjoy the warm blueberry soup.

A huge thank you to the House of Sweden and the Swedish Embassy for hosting our Swedish-themed ride event for the 9th year in a row. And thank you to District Cycle Works for providing bike maintenance to riders at the start, and to KIND Snacks for donating granola bars.

The Vasa Ride is named after Sweden’s famous Vasaloppet, the world’s longest running cross-country ski race. The Vasaloppet ski race honors the trial of a renegade Swedish king who, in the 16th century, led the rebellion to free the country after a long pursuit on skis. For nearly a century, blåbärssopp—warm blueberry soup—has been served during the Vasaloppet to keep riders warm.

WABA’s Vasa Ride brings together riders from D.C., Maryland and Virginia and is a fundraiser ride to help support WABA’s work. When people participate in our rides, they fuel WABA’s mission to make riding a bike safer and more accessible for all.

ambassysweden-partners-logoDistrict Cycleworks    2012 KIND - High Res -- Perfect Square

Check out photos from this year’s Vasa Ride below:

Women & Bicycles Tip: Time To Spring Bike Clean!

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This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These posts certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

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Winter is rough on bikes, but it’s incrementally warming up. Get outside and show your bike some love!

This week, Women & Bicycles rode, washed, and maintained their bikes. Team Sticky Fingers hosted a Bike Washy PartAY in Arlington, which included a 15-mile ride, food, beer, and bike-washing skillshares from the team. Thanks to ProGold Bikes, everyone had the perfect materials to give their bikes a thorough cleaning.

Then, we joined Alexandria’s VeloCity Bike Co-op to learn about DIY bike maintenance. The shop staff and volunteers from the Bike House showed off how to tinker away the squeaks and creaks from the winter season.

Get inspired by our photos below the jump, then consider the 15-minute bike wash. This weekend would be perfect for some bike-washing and tinkering!

This weekend is also perfect to support Women & Bicycles. This Friday, March 14, is WABA’s Sadie Hawkins Dance at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, which will raise money for the 2014 season of Women & Bicycles. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.  Continue reading

WABA Bike Ambassadors Share the Love for Valentine’s Day 2014

After last year’s hugely successful Valentine’s Day outreach at 15th and R streets NW, the bike ambassadors took it up a notch for 2014: Two outreach locations were selected, 500 valentines were hand-crafted by our volunteer team, treats were purchased, and plans were made. Our goal was to share the love of bicycling.

2014 02 14 Valentine's Day

Just before our bike ambassador teams were to deploy, the weather challenged us by dumping several inches of snow! But despite snow-covered bike lanes and freezing temperatures, the ambassadors pressed on.

2014 02 14 Valentine's Day

The first ambassador crew set up camp at the corner of East Capitol and 4th streets NE and waited for the morning rush.

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We typically see 150-plus bicyclists during morning commute outreach at this location, but due to the slush we only saw 3 cyclists in the 90 minutes we spent outside. Armed with an abundance of Valentine notes, we ventured out looking for recently-ridden bicycles (ones not covered in snow) all over the city on which to hang the leftovers.

2014 02 14 Valentine's Day

 

Some of our favorite Valentine messages included “We WHEELIE like you,” “Are you spoken for?” “Hope your commute is as sweet as you are,” “You’re just our speed,” and “We like the way you roll.”

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By the time the afternoon team set up at the corner of 15th and L streets NW, the cycletrack had been plowed and the sun had warmed things up. People were surprised to see us out there, but thrilled to have positive interactions to kick off the weekend!

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Bike KIND-ly is Back for 2014!

Bike KIND-ly is back for the 2014 season!

Last year, WABA’s Bike Ambassadors partnered with KIND Snacks to create a Bike KIND-ly campaign. Each month, a different “tip” geared towards bicycle safety or etiquette was stuck on a snack bar and given out at various locations around the city as a reminder to riders to be kind on the roads. We reached over 2,000 bicyclists last year and are hoping to have an even bigger impact this year.

Catch the Bike Ambassadors tomorrow morning, Jan. 8, at Kansas Avenue and 5th St. NW rom 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Stop by to learn more about the program, how you can get involved, or just to grab a snack!

If you missed the 2013 Bike KIND-ly season, stay tuned. We’ll be back here with a full list of last year’s tips. For now, check out some photos below the jump. Continue reading

The WABA Holiday Party, in Photos

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On Dec. 12, WABA members filled up the Bier Baron in Dupont for a holiday celebration. Our yearly holiday party is a great way for our members to mingle with each other, and we loved welcoming new and old supporters alike. Your membership dollars directly support our advocacy, education, and outreach efforts. If you aren’t a member, join today!

Some photos from the holiday party made their way to Flickr. Did you take photos at the WABA holiday party? Add them to our Flickr group!

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WABA Holiday 2013 (32 of 43) Continue reading

Bicycling and Gender-Based Street Harassment: A Recap

e6MXyK7ObZyMVaWZ7KTNlYi1U8M0BlyNV1r6XhihuwI This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles Tips series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These tips certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

 

Street Harassment

Last month, Women & Bicycles teamed up with Collective Action for Safe Spaces to host a two-hour workshop about street harassments. Attendees were given a safe space in which to share stories and experiences, and CASS affiliates were on hand to demonstrate empowering response tactics. The event was covered by the Washington Post and Elevation DC. See some excerpts below.

From The Post‘s “How Should Bicyclists Handle Street Harassment? D.C. Area Groups Teach Empowerment Tactics” (from Nov. 29):

“As a woman, I’m constantly operating with the low-level fear that any man might attack me,” said Kate, a resident of the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington, who asked that her last name not be used because of safety concerns.

Once, a male cyclist pulled up alongside her on the C&O Canal towpath, presumably thinking she wanted company. He asked her to stop because he needed to urinate — not in the bushes, but on the trail, exposing himself for anyone to see. She sped away, but he chased her down. He asked her out; she declined.

“A lot of women start biking because it is empowering, but also because they can just get away from a situation,” said Zosia Sztykowski, 28, of Columbia Heights, the lead outreach coordinator for CASS, a grassroots organization dedicated to building awareness and ending sexual assault and harassment on the streets. The organization produces a blog that curates women’s experiences with street harassment. “A lot of people think street harassment happens just to them and that they’re alone,” she said.

Workshop participants were asked in an online survey about their experiences with street harassment and public transportation. “The most frequent type of street harassment seems to be having someone from a car or sidewalk shout rude and disrespectful things at you,” whether the victim’s on a bike or a pedestrian, one person said. A CASS study in May found that 90 percent of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had experienced some form of harassment while biking.

 

SH Workshop

From Elevation DC’s “Fighting for Safer Streets for Women Bike Commuters” (Nov. 26):

For Nelle Pierson, like many women in D.C., the decision to become a bike commuter was partly for safety.

“For me, I feel infinitely better on a bike than I do on foot,” Pierson, the outreach and programs coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), tells Elevation DC. “There are streets I avoid on foot that I’d bike through in a heartbeat.”

Even so, Pierson has been catcalled on her bike too many times to count. And so on November 20 at the Mt. Pleasant Library, along with Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), an organization that aims to end public sexual harassment in D.C., Pierson helped put on a workshop geared toward helping women cyclists in the district feel safer on the streets.

“The environment around a perpetrator can make a difference. It has the power, over time, to change culture.”
According to WABA, women only comprise a quarter of cyclists in D.C. Pierson says that in a survey of 49 women distributed by WABA before the event, more than two thirds said they have experienced street harassment while biking. Many women are harassed at least once a week. But 41 percent surveyed say there’s no safer mode of transportation in the city.

The Cap City Bike Expo, in Photos

2013 Cap City Bike Expo

On Nov. 16, 2013, WABA concluded the third year of its seasonal East of the River grant program with the inaugural Cap City Bike Expo.

Held at the Anacostia Arts Center, the Expo brought entertainment, activities, and conversations about what it’s like to bike east of the river to the grant zone, which includes Anacostia, Congress Heights, and St. Elizabeths. The Expo was intended to foster dialogue about riding in wards 7 and 8 and help residents of nearby neighborhoods have a better understanding of how bike advocacy and outreach works.

Workshops addressed topics such as biking with children—during which Kidical Mass D.C.’s Megan Odett talked parents through some of the obstacles and barriers to biking with their kids—and provided an introduction to advocacy—which saw WABA Advocacy Coordinator Greg Billing and the League of American Bicyclists Policy Director Darren Flusche describe local and national transportation initiatives that will affect biking in and around wards 7 and 8.

2013 Cap City Bike Expo

Additionally, the Cap City Bike Expo convened a group of local bike shop owners to discuss how to improve access to bike facilities east of the river. Capitol Hill Bikes, Phoenix Bikes, Velocity Co-Op, the Bike House, Maryland Park Bikes, City Bikes, and the Daily Rider met with WABA staff to get the ball rolling for the Black Thumbs Collective, a group that will work to provide resources, outreach, and education on how to fix bikes in what’s currently an amenities desert.

The highlight of the Expo was the revealing of a Dero Fixit station, graciously funded by employees of CH2M Hill. The Fixit station is the first to be installed outside of a building that’s not a bike shop. It lives outside the Anacostia Arts Center and is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for passerby to use to repair their bikes.

2013 Cap City Bike Expo

WABA staffers, volunteers, and those involved with making the Expo happen had ample time to chat with people who dropped into the Anacostia Arts Center. We heard from a number of residents that they bike or are interested in biking, because it’s a low-cost, easy way to get around. And attendees of the panels and workshops came away from the Expo with a larger knowledge base of what it takes to make biking better, especially east of the river.

The Cap City Bike Expo was the final activity funded under this year’s East of the River grant. Many thanks to the employees of CH2M Hill for donating the Fixit station and to BicycleSpace, Capitol Hill Bikes, and Velocity Co-Op for donating bikes as raffle prizes. Maryland Park Bikes, the Bike House, City Bikes, Capitol Hill Bikes, Velocity Co-Op, Bicycle Space, Phoenix Bikes, the Daily Rider, Honfleur Gallery, ARCH, Congress Heights on the Rise, and the Anacostia Arts Center contributed their staff’s time and expertise to the Expo (including by fixing bikes!). Our awesome volunteers helped make the event run perfectly.

See more photos of the Expo below the jump, and continue to read our blog for updates on the East of the River program. Continue reading