Vision Zero Bill Webinar

The D.C. Council is set to pass a transformative vision zero bill this Fall, with the goal of ending traffic fatalities in D.C. Is it possible to achieve vision zero without police enforcement? What does an equitable vision zero look like? Join us Thursday, August 20th, from 6pm to 7:30pm for a discussion on what a just and equitable vision zero looks like for the future of Washington, D.C.

Panelists:

  • Christy Kwan – D.C. Families for Safe Streets
  • Mysiki Valentine – Fair Budget Coalition 
  • Najeema Washington – Black Women Bike D.C. 
  • Lauretta Williams – Black Women Bike D.C.

Register via Zoom.

The 1st Full Council Vote For the Vision Zero Omnibus Bill

On Friday, July 10, the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment mark-ed up the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act of 2020. We deeply appreciate the hard work Council Member Mary Cheh and the Committee have put into crafting the bill since it’s introduction in 2019.

On Tuesday, July 21st, the Committee of the Whole will take the 1st of 2 votes before the bill goes to the Mayor for approval. We expect the 2nd vote to take place sometime in the Fall. 

This bill will move Washington, DC closer to eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries on DC roads, by changing many aspects of how the city builds and maintains its traffic safety infrastructure and encourages safe behavior.

Over the summer, WABA will work D.C. Council Members, partner organizations and our members on ways to improve the bill to ensure we have an even stronger bill in the Fall. 

But first we need to ensure two things happen before the vote:

  • We need you to contact your Council members to ask them to vote for the Vision Zero Omnibus Amendment Act of 2020 after the first reading of the bill. 
  • Ask that Council members support the removal of the provision that requires rear bike lights for bicycles. Wondering why this is problematic? Click Here to Read Our Statement on the provision.

Strong proposals from Mayor Bowser for safer, slower streets

Yesterday morning DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced several big changes that affect how people get around as the District reopens, and beyond. 

Those changes are:

  1. Lowering the speed limit to 20 miles per hour on all local streets. This is a permanent change, and takes effect on Monday, June 1.
  2. Creating a network of “Slow Streets,” open to people and local traffic, with a 15mph speed limit, and marked with barriers and signs. The District Department of Transportation has been tasked with identifying which streets will be a part of this network. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. 
  3. Allowing restaurants to expand outdoor seating options by widening sidewalks and closing parking or travel lanes. 

These changes are a big deal. A really big deal. Slower driving means safer streets, period.

Here at WABA we congratulate Mayor Bowser and the District Department of Transportation for taking these important steps toward a safer city. These measures, and more like them, are critical to keeping people safe as the city reopens.

As these changes go into effect, we call on the Mayor and her agency staff to make certain that they are implemented in ways that advance racial and socioeconomic equity, not hinder it. We see two components of this:

On Slow Streets: This program’s top priority must be safe transportation for our most vulnerable neighbors. If the primary outcome of these changes is to create leisure space for the District’s most privileged, least vulnerable residents, we will consider it a failure. Long-standing economic disparities in DC mean that black residents, in addition to being disproportionately impacted by our deadly transportation system, are also disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Black residents make up 75% of DC’s COVID-19 fatalities. Residents of predominantly black neighborhoods have to travel farther to grocery stores, and fewer than one in five can work from home. The Slow Streets program must create safe transportation connections that serve the District’s most vulnerable communities first. 

On Speed Limits: Unequivocally: WABA does not want more police officers pulling people over. The racially disparate impacts of policing are well documented, and WABA opposes any program whose street safety improvements come at the expense of physical safety for people of color.

This speed limit change can only be successful if it is a precursor to changes to street design, and, in the interim, a program of automated enforcement whose exclusive goal is behavior change, rather than punitive fines or revenue.

More thoughts on Speed Limits:

The distinction between “local” and non-local streets presents a challenge. Many of DC’s most densely populated streets are arterial roads, which also serve as retail and transit hubs. We need slower speeds on these major corridors as well.

All that said, 20 MPH is still a really big deal:

Speed is a contributing factor in more than ⅓ of traffic crashes in DC and it is the single largest determining factor in crash survival and injury. We cannot eliminate fatal crashes without slowing down.

And, while it’s not a complete solution, changing speed limits alone does affect driving speeds. When Seattle lowered the speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on urban streets (without any engineering changes) they saw a 45-65% decline in the worst speeding (40+ mph) and substantial drops in crashes and injuries (link). When Alexandria lowered the speed limit on Seminary Road and Quaker Lane, average 85th percentile speeds dropped between 6-15%.

On Outdoor Cafes:

We hope this new policy brings more folks back to work safely, and see it as a positive step toward a long term shift in the District’s allocation of public space—one that prioritizes the mobility and comfort of people over the movement and storage of private automobiles.

Next Steps

We are still learning the details of this proposal, but stay tuned for ways to get involved in making sure these good ideas come to fruition. In the meantime, take a moment to say thank you to Mayor Bowser (@mayorbowser) and DDOT (@DDOTDC) on your preferred social media platform.

Do you walk or ride in one of these places?


A map of some of the most dangerous intersections and corridors in DC’s Wards 4, 7 and 8. (Data source.)

May was supposed to be filled with all kinds of bike-related goodness, but things aren’t quite back to normal yet. So WABA has been working hard to help our communities stay connected and engaged. Most importantly we are making sure that when things get back to whatever the new normal is, it’s better than the old. That means we can’t stop what we’ve been working so hard to accomplish in our communities—safer streets for everyone!

As part of a grant-funded project in DC Wards 4, 7 and 8, we are collecting feedback from people who walk and bike through some of the most dangerous intersections and corridors in those Wards. (Map).

During the week of May 17, while you are out for essential errands or exercise, take a minute to tell us about how these places can work better for you.

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Most people do not feel safe riding in the road on Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road NE needs a two way protected bike lane to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and scooters. A steep hill, a blind curve, a narrow sidewalk, and a pattern of dangerous speeding make Lincoln Road an unappealing and unsafe place for getting around.  This creates a hazardous situation for both drivers and cyclists as they share a narrow lane. It also forces pedestrians to share the sidewalk with cyclists and scooters who are seeking a safe alternative. To rectify this situation, a two-way protected bike lane is being proposed for Lincoln Road, which will make it safer for everyone involved. Lincoln Rd NE needs a two way protected bike lane! Please sign our petition!

Lincoln Rd NE is an important connector between the neighborhoods of  Brookland, Eckington and Bloomingdale. Running along the Glenwood Cemetery, it connects the major thoroughfares of Michigan Avenue NE (via 4th Street NE) and North Capitol Street (via R Street NE).  A protected two way bike lane on this busy road will make it the safe connecting road for all that it should be! It will allow children, families and everyone else to bike to school, the brand new Edgewood Recreation Center, as well as connect the neighborhoods of NE DC. Sign our petition and ask DDOT to get the Lincoln Road bike lane built!

More Details

In 2019, DDOT prioritized the installation of a cycletrack, which is a two way protected  bike lane on the eastside of Lincoln Road NE, on the yearly work plan. 2019 came to an end without this much needed bike lane and the 2020 plan does not currently include the lane. WABA’s 20×20 campaign (20 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2020) includes Lincoln Road in the vision for a connected, protected network throughout the District. Learn more here!

Lincoln Road NE in red. Existing bike network in blue.

A two way bike lane on Lincoln Road NE would serve to connect the neighborhoods of Brookland, Edgewood, Eckington, and Bloomingdale, and the busy bike lanes on R and 4th St NE. The newly completed Edgewood Recreation Center and the Inspired Teaching Public Charter School are on Lincoln Road and are frequented by many community members, including children. It would also assist Brookland, Edgewood, and other Ward 5 cyclists to safely and efficiently get to downtown DC. Installing a two way protected bike lane on Lincoln Road NE would be relatively easy due to an existing northbound driving/parking lane. It would require very little infrastructure and taxpayer money. Currently, much of the available parking is inconsistently utilized. Bike lanes on Lincoln Road will further strengthen already existing and proposed cycling infrastructure. This network of bike lanes will continue to make our neighborhoods more vibrant, friendly and healthy.

Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.

Parents biking their kids to school choose between crowded sidewalks and a frightening road

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why protected bike lanes?

Busy streets work best when people driving, walking, and biking have their own space. Protected bike lanes give people on bikes and scooters a space free of the stresses of traffic. Pedestrians can walk freely without competing for sidewalk space. And drivers have fewer interactions with people on bikes sharing the lane. Studies show that protected bike lanes reduce both the frequency and severity of crashes for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

Why Lincoln Road?

Lincoln Road serves as a connecting road between the busy Brookland and Bloomingdale neighborhoods.  It runs from 4th Street Northeast to North Capitol Street, through the Edgewood and Eckington neighborhoods and the Glenwood, Prospect Hill and St Mary’s cemeteries.  In the section of a little less than a mile from 4th Street to Rhode Island Ave NE the road passes by the newly inaugurated Edgewood Recreation Center and the Inspired Teaching Public Charter School, both of which draw people from across the neighborhood and city.  In addition, there is a newly completed stretch of bike lanes on 4th Street to Lincoln Road and a heavily used bike lane on R street further down Lincoln. This bike lane would help to connect these bike infrastructures, and eventually will connect to the also pending crosstown bike lanes on Irving Street which will connect to 4th Street NE.

Why is speeding a problem here?

  • In 2019, there were more than 7,500 speeding violations issued to drivers who were  going 11 mph over the 25mph at the intersection of Lincoln Road and Douglas Street NE..  (This does not take into account that numerous of these violations occurred during the school day when the speed limit is 15mph.)
  • In the last 2 years, 27 crashes were reported on Lincoln Road NE.
  • Speeding makes crashes more likely. It also makes crashes more likely to result in a death or serious injury.

How does this help pedestrians?

By adding an option for cyclists on Lincoln Road, cyclists will no longer use the sidewalk in this section which is frequently used by bus commuters and walkers, some with dogs, in the Edgewood neighborhood, making for a safer overall environment.

By narrowing the crossing distance, protected bike lanes can make it easier to cross a street on foot. They also slow down the speed of traffic and provide a buffer between moving vehicles and the sidewalk, making more pleasant places to walk.

How does this help drivers?

By taking cyclists out of the traffic going up the hill south bound, this will open up the street for drivers and make the blind curve on Lincoln Road easier and safer to navigate.  Going north bound it will also take cyclists out of the traffic lane, especially during busy commuting times.

How does this fit?

Protected bike lanes can take the place of the extra northbound driving lane. They can be installed without expensive and disruptive construction.

Lincoln Road as it is today
Lincoln Road with protected bike lanes

SHA Commits to Road Diet on Old Georgetown Road

In July 2019, a bicyclist and a pedestrian died in crashes in Montgomery County. Jacob Cassell was biking on the sidewalk on Old Georgetown Road on his way to the YMCA and fell into the road while trying to avoid an obstacle on the sidewalk. Unable to stop in time, a driver fatally struck him in the road. Jennifer DeMauro was walking on the Bethesda Trolley Trail and was hit and killed by a driver who failed to stop at the uncontrolled crosswalk of the Trolley Trail and Tuckerman Lane. Both deaths could have been prevented.

In response WABA, Action Committee for Transit and Potomac Peddlers, and over 100 community members, friends, and neighbors came together for a memorial and rally on August 17. The group squeezed onto narrow sidewalks and spilled into yards and driveways to share memories and talk through the heartache. Some State and County officials attended. Hundreds signed a petition and sent emails calling for concrete action to prevent future deaths and serious injuries on these corridors. Though it will never be enough, we are glad to report that both agencies responded and are making needed changes.

Changes to Old Georgetown Road

The State Highway Administration, which controls all State Highways like Old Georgetown Road (MDA-187), held a community walk-through and did a traffic study. In February 2020, MDOT announced its decision to put Old Georgetown Road on a road diet between Johnson Ave. and I-495. After planned repaving this spring, SHA will narrow the car travel lanes, remove one lane in each direction and add a “dedicated bike lane with a 5 foot buffer” between the bike lane and car traffic on MD-187. This change will help reduce speeding and give walkers a substantial buffer from fast traffic. And while far from low-stress, the dedicated, buffered bike lanes will offer more confident bicyclists a far safer option for biking on Old Georgetown Road. Read the full press release here.

Old Georgetown Road Current
Old Georgetown Road with Road Diet

A New Crossing at Tuckerman

At the end of 2019, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation placed a pedestrian activated HAWK signal at the intersection of Tuckerman Lane and the Trolley Trail. People walking and biking on the trail may now stop traffic with the push of a button to safely cross Tuckerman Lane.

Both of these changes will make the corridors much safer for people getting around by biking and walking. These improvements would not have happened without advocates showing up and calling on State and County elected officials and agencies to step up.

We commend MCDOT and SHA for taking concrete steps in the wake of tragedy and in the case of SHA stepping far outside its historical comfort zone. But, these agencies need to set the bar far higher and step beyond reactionary safety improvements. Both Montgomery County and the State of Maryland are years into a commitment to completely eliminate traffic fatalities on county and state roads. Before July, there was ample evidence that Tuckerman Ln and Old Georgetown Road were unsafe. Yet despite crashes, and speeding data, and community pleas, it took tragedy to get a response. That’s a glaring failure.

We are grateful for all the community partners for their hard work and commitment to making the County’s roads safe and accessible for everyone. There is much more to do in order to reach our goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries from crashes.

Rally for Safe Streets in Remembrance of Brett Badin and Michael Gamboa

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.

Event Timeline

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
Plaza

Group WALK between
memorials (1.8 miles)

Group BUS ride between
memorials: RideOn 46

Tell the DC Council to pass (and fund) its Vision Zero Bills.

Last October, we spent an emotional day in the Wilson Building with many of you, sharing personal testimony and urging the DC Council to pass a suite of bills aimed at making our streets safer.

Our work is not done—several months later, none of this legislation has moved through mark-up or been funded in the Council’s budget. 

We need to demand that these bills are both passed and funded this year, or we’ll end up waiting until 2022 to see any of these important changes implemented.

Please take a moment to send a message to the Environment and Transportation Committee – and tell them they need to pass and fully fund these bills this budget year!

Make sure the Council knows you support Vision Zero legislation.

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.

That means the council needs to hear from you. 

You have until November 7th to submit testimony for the record. You can submit testimony by emailing abenjamin@dccouncil.us. Don’t forget to CC advocacy@waba.org, too.

In case you missed it, here is a copy of our testimony writing template and slides from our webinar. 

We are so close to truly transforming our city and making it safer for all modes of transportation. Let’s continue to push make Vision Zero a reality. 

DC’s Traffic Violence Data, Visualized: Our Demonstration at 14th and U.

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.

A volunteer hands out traffic safety information to a driver stopped at a red light on U St NW.

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.

WABA’s large-scale data visualization at the intersection of 14th & U Streets NW, facing northbound on 14th in the crosswalk.
A pedestrian reads about the traffic violence statistics in DC.

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.

Our large-scaled data visualization on traffic violence in the District. Each gray balloon represents two serious injuries since 2018. Each black balloon represents one fatality.

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.

A big shout out to the amazing volunteers who came out and made a difference that day. It’s never too late to get involved, sign up to become a volunteer or become a part of an action group.

You can find media coverage of the large-scale data visualization here, as well as a press release from the day’s events.