Join Action Committee for Transit, Friends of White Flint, Twinbrook Community Assoctiation, WABA, the Rockville Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee for a memorial and rally for safe streets in remembrance of Brett Badin and Michael Gamboa, two men killed along Rockville Pike earlier this month.
The memorial will be held on Saturday, February 8 at 12:45 PM near the IHOP restauraant (775 Rockville Pike). This is the location near where Brett was killed.This portion of the event should last approximately one hour. Bret’s family, friends, and members of the community will be invited to speak about his life and call for greater safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers along 355 in and around our city. You can learn more about him and his life here. https://www.mymcmedia.org/man-killed-crossing-rockville-pike-was-special-olympics-athlete/
The memorial and rally will then move south to Federal Plaza, near where Michael Gamboa died. The second part of the event will begin at 2:15 PM. Attendees are welcome to walk, drive, bicycle, or take the bus from one location to the other.
A convoy of bicyclists will gather on the west side of the Rockville Metro Station at 12:15 PM and ride to the memorial.
12:45 pm Memorial for BRETT BADIN, in front of IHOP, 775 Rockville Pike
Group BIKE ride: meet at
Rockville Metro at 12:15 pm
2:15 pm Memorial for
MICHAEL GAMBOA, on
Rockville Pike at Federal
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.
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.
On June 13th, the Montgomery County Planning board met to review and approve a permanent safety improvement plan for the intersection of the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway where a bicyclist was hit and killed in 2017. In a shocking turn, the Planning Board voted 4 to 1 to reject the staff’s recommendation. Instead, the Board chose to restore Little Falls Parkway and remove a successful road diet, detour the trail to the traffic signal at Arlington Road, and study an expensive bridge crossing over the widened Parkway.
This decision should have been a simple one. After a bicyclist was hit and killed here in 2017, the Parks Department sprung into action with a temporary plan to make this intersection safe by removing a travel lane in each direction and lowering the speed limit. In the 2.5 years since then, the interim road diet has proved to be an impressive safety improvement, with fewer crashes and safer driver speeds. Traffic studies showed that drivers experienced just 7 seconds of additional delay due to the road diet.
After a 1.5 year comprehensive study of 12 possible permanent configurations for this intersection — including a bridge, tunnel, removing the road diet, and completely closing Little Falls Parkway — Parks staff concluded that the safest and best-for-all option was a slightly modified version of what is there today. They recommended, and WABA supported, permanently reducing Little Falls to a two-lane road, lowering the speed limit, adding a raised crosswalk at the current trail crossing, and numerous other changes to add green space, improve connections and calm traffic. Coincidentally, this was also the least expensive and least environmentally impactful option.
But at the hearing, the Board rejected that plan and instead made up a new plan on the spot, directing staff to restore Little Falls Parkway to four lanes and divert the trail to the traffic signal at Arlington Rd.
This decision undermines 1.5 years of careful staff work. It disregards objective data collected here and case studies from across the US that demonstrate that road diets cut crashes by up to 50%, decrease speeding, and create easier crossings, all without major traffic impacts. The decision contradicts the County’s Vision Zero commitment and other policy goals by prioritizing moving cars quickly at the expense of people’s safety.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget came out a few weeks ago, and it is packed with details on what the administration wants to do, including plans to spend billions of dollars on transportation over the next six years. Before we jump in, we have two overarching questions:
Will this budget achieve DC’s signature transportation goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024?
Does it support the timely buildout of the safe, low-stress bicycle network DC needs?
While there are many great things about this budget, the answer to both of the questions above is probably not. Fortunately, there is still time to change that. The DC Council holds its DDOT budget oversight hearing on Thursday, April 11—and to get where they need to get, they need to hear from you. You can take action to tell the Council what you want to see changed in this budget.
What’s in the Budget
The proposed 2020 Operating Budget lays out a plan for spending on staff and programs for each agency in Fiscal Year 2020 which begins in October. Also released is the Capital Improvements Program, which is a long-term plan for major construction projects and purchases from 2020 to 2025. This budget is a proposal. The DC Council may add, remove, or change it substantially.
The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Capital Improvements Program includes hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation projects over the next six years. Here are some of the highlights we are excited about in the DDOT budget:
$63 million for safety and mobility projects including protected bike lanes, trails, bike/pedestrian planning, high crash corridors, and Vision Zero improvements;
$167 million for major street rebuilds including (potentially) great bike projects like C St. NE, Florida Ave NE, Connecticut Ave in Dupont, the New York Ave Trail, Dave Thomas Circle, Pennsylvania Ave west of the White House, and Broad Branch Road;
$10 million for 100 new Capital Bikeshare stations and 1000 bike;
and $110 million for new and replacement sidewalks.
While there are many laudable projects within this budget, we see too many cases where DDOT will spend tens of millions of dollars to deliver streets that are still hostile to biking and walking and dangerous by design. We are concerned that while there is a lot of money being spent to make the District’s streets safer, DDOT lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that these expenditures are directly addressing its Vision Zero goals.
DDOT Needs a Complete Streets Policy
One of the missing safeguards is a stringent Complete Streets Policy, which would ensure that all streets are designed, operated, and maintained to accommodate safe and convenient access and mobility for all users. DDOT adopted such a policy in 2010, but it left far too many exceptions to the rule. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act, adopted in 2016, required DDOT to adopt a far more stringent Complete Streets Policy by 2017. So far, the agency has not.
Included in this budget, therefore, are dozens of high-cost projects that will maintain the unsafe status quo and do very little to make DC’s streets safer or more approachable for people on foot and bike. Far too many road projects are still fixated on moving as many cars as quickly as possible, designed for the busiest hour of car traffic instead of being designed for the safety, access, and health for DC’s people. These projects’ core values should be reevaluated through a Vision Zero and Complete Streets lens and designs changed before moving forward (eg. Rhode Island Ave NE, Pennsylvania Ave SE & Potomac Ave Circle, Southern Ave, Ward 8 Streetscapes, Massachusetts Ave, U St NW, Local street repaving).
DDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian planning staff work wonders with the resources they have at their disposal. But given the multi-year timeline and immense quantity of work required to steer even small projects through the community input process, adding 10-15 high-quality miles to the bicycle network each year is infeasible without substantially more resources. DC’s sustainability, transportation and Vision Zero goals require that this agency is capable of building the bicycle network more quickly.
Additionally, safe accommodations staff are sorely understaffed. They need sufficient people to review permit applications (around 50k plus a year) and time and attention to keep the public safe. This includes enough inspectors to actually inspect sites (creating the expectation that an inspector will be on site). Additionally, this includes enough staff to proactively educate permit applicants concerning the rules and regulations that such applicants must operate under in the District.
For this budget, we are pushing for the following.
Fully fund DDOT’s Vision Zero and bike/ped initiatives and ensure that projects on C St. NE, Florida Ave NE, and Pennsylvania Ave NW move ahead without delay;
Do not fund major road projects unless they make streets safer for everyone. They must meet the criteria for Complete Streets as defined in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016;
Demand that DDOT adopt and follow the Complete Streets policy required by this act and ensure that all projects contribute to building complete streets, including local street repaving;
Add staffing and resources to DDOT’s active transportation planning team to support an impactful expansion of DC’s low-stress and protected bicycle network by at least 15 miles each year;
Add staffing and resources to DDOT’s public space team for a comprehensive approach to safe accommodations around construction sites;
Reconsider the allocation of Local Streets and Sidewalk funding with an eye towards transportation equity to ensure that resources and safety investments go where they are most needed, rather than equaly across all eight wards.
The DDOT Budget Oversight Hearing is Thursday, April 11 at the Wilson Building. If you are able, consider testifying. To sign up to testify, contact Aukima Benjamin (email@example.com) or call 202-724-8062.
In the District, Vision Zero is a commitment to ending traffic fatalities by 2024, (though traffic fatalities continue to increase). What many people don’t know is that Montgomery County and the city of Alexandria have also made Vision Zero commitments and are working towards that goal.
On March 14th, we brought the advocates, engineers, elected officials, reporters, and more, together from around the region to have a discussion about the state of Vision Zero.
The third Washington Region Vision Zero Summit was different from previous years for a number of reasons. We were intentional about bringing the Summit to community members and residents who are unable to attend a day-long conference. So, on the evening prior to the Summit, we brought the Community Listening Session on Traffic Safety right to residents. We held it in Anacostia because data shows that traffic crashes are disproportionately higher east of the Anacostia River.
And we cannot make any progress on making streets in D.C. safer if we do not address the needs of those who have been underserved.
On March 14th, we held the third annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit at the George Washington University Milken Institute of School of Public Health.
Vision Zero is a public health crisis and it’s on agency staff and elected officials bear the heavy burden of putting policies in place to protect all road users. The number of traffic fatalities has increased since Mayor Muriel Bowser committed Vision Zero in 2015. Our morning keynote speaker, LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH, provided data that confirms what we know: D.C.’s trends are moving in the wrong direction.
290 people were killed last year using our regional roads. Those deaths were preventable and predictable. We are moving in the WRONG DIRECTION. Vision Zero is a recognition it doesn’t have to be this way. @gregbilling, opening today’s #VZSummitDC
The Summit brought together elected officials, agency staff, engineers, planners, regional advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to come up with better solutions to make our roads better and safer for all users. During her Fireside Chat, Mayor Bowser reiterated that the number one issue that all wards deal with is speeding. (View the full video of the Fireside Chat here.)
Hearing the stories of near-misses and people who have lost loved ones in preventable crashes is difficult. But we cannot be disheartened about moving this work forward. Eliminating traffic fatalities in the District by 2024 is not an easy goal. It requires holding those in power accountable and demanding better street design.
The end result? Creating roads for everyone including kids, senior citizens, those with disabilities, and people using all travel modes.
Also new to this year’s Summit was Emily Simons, a graphic recorder who visually captured the Community Listening Session and a handful of panels at the Summit. Not with photos — Emily captured our discussions with beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations. View all of her graphic recordings from the Community Listening Session and the Summit here! (Click to enlarge each photo.)
Find a gallery of photos from the Community Listening Listening Session and Vision Zero Summit below.