More than 6,500 park lovers who have signed our petition asking the National Park Service to continue keeping upper Beach Drive car-free after the end of the pandemic. Thank you – you have made a huge impact!
More than 2,400 people who filed an official comment with the Park Service over the summer about the best way to manage the roadway for recreation, conservation and health. If so, thank you!
I want to bring you up to date on the status of the campaign for “Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week.”
The comment period regarding “Concept 1” (restoring weekday commuter car traffic) or “Concept 2” (continuing the current no-through-traffic protocol) has ended. The Park Service is now evaluating the huge number of comments. We know that there was a huge outpouring of interest, but we don’t know the “score” between the options. The Park Service could also choose to come up with a compromise based on time-of-day, day-of-week, season or something else.
NPS stated that it will release its recommended action “this fall,” and we’ve heard that might mean late October. After the announcement, the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC) – along with everyone else – will have 30 days to comment on the proposal. Then NPS will finalize its decision.
The Park Service says it will maintain the current traffic program (no commuting cars) on upper Beach Drive until any decision is made.
PARC is awaiting the outcome of the formal process, but in the meantime, we do not want this issue to disappear from public awareness. To that end, we are maintaining a three-pronged program:
Getting more petition signatures to show the Park Service how much we care. Our goal is “7,000 Petitions for Seven Days a Week.” Please help! Direct friends and family to our website: waba.org/PARC.
Getting more photographs of happy non-motorized users along upper Beach Drive – in every season, every time of day, using every form of mobility, accompanied by every kind of pet, and enjoying themselves in every possible way. We’ll use some pictures for our website and for our pressure on the Park Service. Send your photographs and your selfies to firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting the word out about Beach Drive on weekdays – before and after work, during lunchtime and other breaks, and on days off. Schedule some personal events and invite your friends to come along – it’ll be double the fun!
Once NPS publishes its recommended action, all of us will need to be ready to spring into action with either praise or an outpouring of criticism. Once again, you will be an important part of this effort, so please stay vigilant. If we don’t succeed this time, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get another chance for a 7-day-a-week park.
Last week, WABA launched our Streets for People merchandise as part of our membership drive. We celebrated Open Streets, and saw what our public space could look like when we take it from cars to give it to people. And we mean that Streets are for People, for everyone: even when their homes look different from our own.
Yesterday, we witnessed District Agencies forcibly remove people from public space, bulldozing not only many people’s homes, but a person themself, barricading the space with concrete blocks to prevent sleeping. All of these actions were performed under the cover of ‘returning pedestrian access.’ This is unjust and inhumane. And in the case of M Street NE, it’s totally ineffective. Rather than the agencies providing access via the well-lit sidewalk that already provided space for everyone, people are being forced out of the protected bike lane and onto an on-street underpass.
When we talk about public space, we are usually talking about streets as places of transportation and recreation, places of community and commerce. However, one of the unfortunate realities of living in an expensive part of the world, a geographic region and society with a deeply imperfect safety net, is that we have neighbors who don’t have permanent housing. That is not a crime nor should it be.
WABA is joining hundreds of individuals and organizations in signing onto this letter to halt evictions until encampment residents are connected to housing.
In September of 2020, The Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019 was unanimously passed by Washington, DC politicians. This amendment expands on a new technique to establish protected bike lanes that was initially used in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The premise behind the legislation is to require protected cycling infrastructure anytime road work is done. Washington, DC joined other cities around the country in signing up for the global traffic safety platform known as Vision Zero.
What is Vision Zero?
The Vision Zero law promises to modify the basic DNA of the District’s streets. It states, if a road segment is being rebuilt and has been identified as a possibility for a protected bike lane, bus-only lane, or private-vehicle-free corridor, that feature must be included. The bill prohibits right-on-red turns in areas with high pedestrian traffic. It also mandates the installation of sidewalks on both sides of a street and imposes stiff penalties on contractors who fail to install sidewalks, bicycle lanes, or marked crosswalks after completing work. Additionally, bike riders would be permitted to have rear lights and applicants who want to convert an out-of-state driver’s license must also pass a traffic rules and regulations knowledge test.
The District Department of Transportation Role in the Legislation
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is still analyzing what constitutes “major repair,” which is the term used by the bill. How they define it might have a big impact on where the law applies and when. The DDOT will also be obligated to analyze the city’s 15 most dangerous pedestrian and bike corridors and junctions ahead of time and report on changes. Supporters argue that this will ensure that the city focuses its resources on the most dangerous areas.
Traffic Fatalities Still Increasing Despite Vision Zero Law
Vision Zero has struggled to achieve its aim of fully eradicating pedestrian and bike deaths due to traffic violence. The DDOT responded to the pandemic by launching bus-only and Slow Streets pilot projects, both of which were included in the bill. Despite fewer cars on the roads, there were 36 total traffic fatalities in the city in 2020, which was up from 27 in 2019. These traffic deaths sparked a season of demonstrations, activism, and support for legislative change to be included in the bill. When the Black Lives Matter protests began in June, racial equity became a major focus of the proposed legislation. Wards 7 and 8, which are mainly African-American communities, accounted for half of the traffic deaths in DC this year. The pandemic revealed systemic inequalities that affect not only health and unemployment, but also transportation and the ability to move about safely in neighborhoods.
A Price Benowitz Bike Crash Attorney Can Help You
Although the District of Columbia is taking steps to better protect cyclists, the government’s efforts will take years to fully implement, even with the help of advocates and DDOT. Pedestrians and cyclists are still vulnerable to crashes and deaths involving cars in and around the capitol. If you have been a victim of a bike crash, you are entitled to file a claim against the negligent parties. A bicycle crash attorney from Price Benowitz can assist you in navigating DC’s complicated traffic rules and ensure you receive compensation for the damages incurred.
New traffic laws aim to reduce crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles.
More and more Americans are bicycling to commute, to exercise, or simply to take part in the fun. This increasing number of bicyclists on the street has led to more crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles than ever before. As bike safety is of constant concern, Virginia lawmakers passed two new laws to promote safer roads. These laws went into effect on July 1, 2021.
The first law requires drivers to switch lanes if they cannot maintain a proper distance when passing cyclists. This includes moving over double-yellow lines when necessary and to allow for a safe passing distance. Virginia’s roadways and trails are not always friendly and safe for cyclists. Thus, lawmakers want to ensure that cyclists have plenty of space on the road to travel, especially when there is no bike lane, sidewalk, or shoulder.
Furthermore, the second law allows cyclists to now ride side-by-side in pairs along a single lane. Previous law states that cyclists can ride side-by-side but must travel in a single line to let motor vehicles pass. In large biking groups, this law creates a shorter distance for a driver to pass the cyclists compared to the previous single line. The goals of these laws are to promote safer conditions for cyclists and reduce crashes between vehicles and bikes on the road.
What You Can Do To Keep Roads Safe for Bicyclists
Crashes between cars and bicyclists can occur when a biker is brushed by a passing vehicle, struck by a vehicle turning, or hit when a vehicle opens their driver’s-side door. These crashes can also occur at intersections and while bikers are riding against traffic. To avoid crashes between you and a bicyclist, it’s important to take caution and practice these safe driving tips:
Avoid distractions while driving. You should refrain from looking at your phone, texting, playing music too loud, or using anything that can distract you from the road and traffic.
Drive defensively and obey the traffic safety laws. You should obey the speed limit, adjust speed for road conditions, and drive defensively to help avoid a crash with a cyclist.
Use caution when turning, approaching intersections, or at stop signs and red lights. When you get to an intersection, it’s important to look both directions before making any turns. Bikers may not stop or may have to cross the street, so pay close attention to your surroundings before maneuvering. Also, double-check your mirrors and blind spots before turning.
Don’t drive, block, or park in bike lanes. Bike lanes allow cyclists a safe path to travel in. Make sure you are providing them with a clear path.
Check your mirrors before opening your door. If you are parking on a roadway, it’s important to check your mirrors before opening your door to avoid blocking paths and hitting any bicyclists.
As bicycle-related deaths peak in the summer months, cyclists and drivers are encouraged to take precautions and do their part to make roads a safer place for all travelers.
Contact a Car Crash Attorney TodayMotor vehicle crashes can lead to severe injuries and even death, especially when a crash involves a cyclist. An experienced car crash attorney at Price Benowitz, LLP may be able to review your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a crash or know someone who has been, contact our team today.
Mayor Muriel Bowser Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio Deputy Mayor Christopher Geldart Acting Director Everett Lott Senior Advisor Beverly Perry
September 14, 2021
To Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Babers, Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor Geldart, Director Lott, and Senior Advisor Perry:
Last night, another driver killed another child in our city. Another sudden, violent hole torn through the heart of a family. It did not have to happen. Today, we demand change as we begin grieving this devastating loss. Traffic violence has a profound physical, emotional, and spiritual impact on our lives, families, and communities. It doesn’t have to.
The District has the resources, the tools, and the expertise to make every intersection in this city safe for people—regardless of race, income, age, gender, or ability—to cross on foot, on a bike, in a stroller, or in a wheelchair.
Instead, we see the same grim pattern, over and over again: a violent crash, a public outcry, and a feeble, “tactical” response from the city—some marginal infrastructure changes at the site of the crash, with no plan to address thousands of other similarly unsafe streets and intersections across the District with the urgency that a five-year-old’s death demands.
In the wake of the 185th traffic death in the past six years, we aren’t asking for more funding or more planning for infrastructure. The administration went a long way toward addressing that challenge in the FY2022 budget. We thank Mayor Bowser for her historic investment in transportation improvements and look forward to the release of an updated MoveDC long-range transportation plan.
We see, however, that on street after street, project after project, the District drags its feet, implementing proven safety measures only reluctantly and after aggressive compromise.
Mobility is a human right. The first section of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the United Nations states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.” But the reality is that most American cities limit that freedom to people in cars.
The District can do better. We can and should interpret the right to freedom of movement to mean that people have what they need to protect and preserve their wellbeing as they move through the city.
Thus far, however, the District has only demonstrated that level of commitment to people who are driving cars.
We are asking for an ideology of safety from those leading the District: We want to see, and feel, that Mayor Bowser cares more about safety than parking, more about safety than driving fast, and more about safety than driver convenience. We want to see equitable policy and decisive action to create city streets that ensure no one else’s life is lost.
An ideology of safety will lead the District to do everything in its power to slow traffic through the reallocation of parking and driving lanes to multimodal infrastructure, increase investments in transit to ensure every resident has a reliable alternative to driving, advance automated enforcement, and, overall, to shift its culture to one in which lazy, reckless, and unsafe driving is not tolerated.
This will require constraining the privilege of individual drivers, and will no doubt be accompanied by public backlash. We think saving a person’s life is well worth that unpleasant endeavor.
Chelsea Allinger, Executive Director Greater Greater Washington
Kristin Frontiera, Acting Executive Director Washington Area Bicyclist Association
Christy Kwan, Co-Chair DC Families for Safe Streets
Thanks to the advocacy of our supporters, this upcoming FY22 DC budget will fund major transportation initiatives in Washington, D.C.
So what’s in the DC FY22 budget that’s so major? Here are some key budget items that will have a transformative impact in D.C.:
Fully Funds the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act (Vision Zero Bill). Going forward theDistrict will dedicate 100% of new Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) revenue towards funding and implementing the Vision Zero Bill. The funds will be placed in a “Vision Zero Fund” and money from that fund will be used to implement the Vision Zero Bill. The Vision Zero bill includes initiatives that will lead to the expansion of sidewalks, bike lanes, and bus lanes in DC.
Permanent Funding Source for Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure. Once the Vision Zero Bill is fully implemented, funds from the “Vision Zero Fund” will be permanently used to continue infrastructure and safety improvements, road design, sidewalk repair, and more for years to come.
Funding for the Connecticut Ave NW and Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes. $2.2 million to support the full design costs of the Connecticut Avenue Reversible Lane study. The budget also includes funding for the 9th street protected bike lane project, set to be completed in 2022.
$1.7 million for pedestrian and bicyclist safety improvements on Georgia Avenue NW. $1.7 million has been earmarked for improvements to the Georgia Avenue corridor including likely changes at an intersection where a 4-year-old child was struck and killed in April.
Expanding Capital Bikeshare. The budget includes $19 million in the next six years to expand Capital Bikeshare, including $6.8 million in the coming year. The District will also add 80 new stations and 3,500 electric bikes, more than doubling the city’s e-bike fleet. Under D.C.’s bikeshare expansion plan, every city resident will live within a quarter-mile of a bike station. The plan also calls for a pilot program of adaptive bikes for people with disabilities.
$580,000 in the next budget and $2.3 million over four years to expand the WABA’s trail rangers program. The expansion of the trail rangers programwill ensure patrolling and maintenance of D.C.’s trails year-round.
Expansion of our Trails Network. The Budget also includes funding for 70 miles of trails by 2025.
We also want to thank the elected officials and partner organizations who played a role in pushing for these budget items alongside our supporters, ensuring that next year’s budget will have a monumental impact on transportation safety and infrastructure in the District.
This summer has been hot! Our advocacy team has been busy collaborating with partners on the ground to heat up the region with major victories and we are so excited to share these updates with you!
Check out the updates on key campaigns and projects we have been organizing the last couple of months throughout the region! If you have any questions feel free to reach us at email@example.com.
Washington, D.C. Advocacy Updates
Transformative Budget Victories
For the last few months, we marched, testified, and lobbied the D.C. Council to fully fund the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2020 in the FY22 budget.
And due to our collective efforts we won! Included in the FY22 Budget is a legislative act that will use future ATE funds to create a dedicated funding source for the Vision Zero Bill AND future bike and pedestrian projects. This is huge!
The vision zero bill will be a tool for advocates to use to expand the number of bike lanes, bus lanes, sidewalks, and more!
And here are other FY22 budget highlights:
Funding for the Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lane
Funding for the 9th Street NW Protected Bike Lane
Funding to expand and develop our Trails Network
Funding to expand our Trails Ranger Program – which means more people to support with trail maintenance.
Low Stress Bike Network
This year, DDOT has been busy expanding or planning the expansion of the number of protected bike lanes in the District.
The K St. NW, 17th Street NW, and 20th St NW protected bike lanes are substantially complete, and the protected bike lanes on Virginia Ave NW, Tunlaw Rd NW & New Mexico Ave NW, North Carolina Ave, 9th Street NW, and others are in the planning stages.
Despite our progress, there has been pushback! And the only way we counter the pushback is through organizing!
We’ve seen over and over that when neighbors get organized, bike lanes get built. That’s why we started a low stress bike network campaign, an advocate-driven attempt to build an entire network, block by block, in every Ward.
If you are interested in joining us, head to waba.org/network, click on Join the Campaign and fill out the form! Let’s complete the whole network!
Campaign to Keep Beach Drive Open to Pedestrians and Bikers
WABA’s campaign with People’s Alliance For Rock Creek (PARC) to keep Beach Drive Open to Pedestrians and Bikers is at a critical point and we are on the edge of victory. But how did we get here? Check out some of the organizing successes that has helped put us on the cusp of a huge victory:
Since April, we have gathered over 6,000 petition signatures, 24 organizations, and passed resolutions from the DC and Montgomery County Council all calling on NPS to make the upper Beach Drive car-free zones permanent, 7 days a week after the pandemic.
So what’s next? NPS began an Environmental Assessment (EA) of future management of Upper Beach Drive and committed to keep things as is until the end of 2021.
We are seeking formal comments (due 8/22/21) from supporters, organizations, and elected officials. After the comment period is over, a decision is expected after another 30 day comment period in December. Click here to support the growing movement to keep Beach Drive car-free!
ANC Vision Zero Caucus
A few months ago WABA started the Vision Zero Caucus to create a space for ANC Commissioners to collaborate on sustainable transportation campaigns, as well as provide support and resources to Commissioners.
Our Commissioners have been meeting on a bi-monthly basis so far, and they have been able to accomplish a lot!
Our Commissioners have drafted a “fund vision zero in the FY22 budget” sign-on letter and MoveDC resolutions, as well as held a training on using data for transportation advocacy and best practices for developing traffic safety assessments.
Our ANC Vision Zero Caucus is continuing to grow as well! If you are a Commissioner or know of a Commissioner who is interested in joining our Caucus please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, The DC Transportation Equity Network, led by Greater Greater Washington and a steering committee (of which WABA is a member) has brought underrepresented voices to the table on transportation issues at the intersection of climate change through their micro-grant initiative.
Through the initiative, we awarded micro-grants (up to $2,500) to the following organizations:
DC Families for Safe Streets (DCFSS) is using grant funding to collect (video) stories from families impacted by traffic violence
Prime Ability Bikes used grant funding to buy bikes for youth at Dunbar High School, they also held a transportation related conversation with youths at the end of a scheduled bike ride.
The Future Foundation Youth used grant funding to develop a transportation equity comic book.
MLOV (Many Languages One Voice): MLOV hosted two transportation related roundtables with DC residents who are immigrants. One in English, one in Spanish .
HIPS DC used grant funding to host a transportation related roundtable with employees and will hold an additional roundtable with clients who are sex workers at a later date.
Stay tuned for the next round of our micro-grant intativie! We look forward to working with our partners on new projects this year.
In addition to being a steering committee member of the DC TEN, WABA recently joined the Fair Budget Coalition!
The Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that seek to address systemic social, racial and economic inequality in the District of Columbia. They work to accomplish these goals by leveraging the collective power of their member organizations and impacted community members, particularly those from Black and other communities of color.
Through this coalition we hope to develop intersectional campaigns that connect housing, transportation and economic justice.
The 2021 legislative session was a busy one, hampered by COVID restrictions but productive nonetheless. The following are the transportation related bills WABA and other bike advocates from around the State, including BikeMD, followed and worked to pass:
HB 118/SB 293 – Vehicle Laws -Injury or Death of Vulnerable Individual Penalties
HB 562 – Montgomery County –Speed Limits –Establishment
PEPCO Trail paving funded
To read more detail about these bills and our 2021 Maryland General Assembly advocacy check out our blog post here.
For the first time ever, Maryland State Highway Administration is placing on-road bike lanes with physical barriers on a State Highway, MD-193, University Boulevard from Arcola Avenue (near Northwood HS) to Amherst Avenue and the Wheaton downtown business district. The bike lanes will run curbside on both sides of the road, repurposing one driving lane in each direction.
This pilot project, funded by a research grant from the Federal Highway Administration, will run 4-6 months beginning in June and will include data collection on use of the on-road bike lanes, car speeds and pedestrian counts on the narrow University Blvd unbuffered sidewalks.
Please demonstrate your support for these lanes by using them before the pilot is over! Here is a map of the bike lanes!
Prince George’s County advocacy training
WABA and Black Women Bike held a Prince George’s County Advocacy Training in May.
Are you a Prince George’s County resident and want to learn more about how to advocate for better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure? Do you ever feel like you want to report a maintenance issue, but are not sure who to contact? Are you curious to learn more about what the county is doing to make it safer for walking and biking? Check out a recording of our advocacy training here.
Virginia Advocacy Updates
2021 General Assembly Organizing
As part of our 2021 VA General Session wrap-up, WABA hosted a virtual town hall for WABA members.
Speakers included Wyatt Gordon, Policy & Campaign Manager for Land Use & Transportation, Virginia Conservation Network; and Brantley Tyndall, President, Virginia Bicycling Federation.
During the Post-VA General Assembly town hall, our speakers reflected on the successes and lessons learned from this past session. We also discussed upcoming policies and initiatives that advocates should be pushing in upcoming general assemblies.
The Active Transportation Plan introduces a framework for advancing active transportation that includes an overarching vision statement, goals, objectives, action items, and evaluation metric.
A draft of the plan’s Vision, Goals and Objectives will become available after July 30th.
Also a draft framework for Fairfax County’s Safe Streets for All Program will be released after July 30th. The program is designed to address systemic transportation safety issues with a focus on vulnerable road users and equity.
The framework includes proposed education, policy, planning, programmatic and design strategies that can be implemented in a phased approach.
WABA has been attending stakeholder meetings over the past few months to help draft these plans. If you have any questions please email us.
Capital Trails Coalition Updates
The Capital Trails Coalition, in partnership with a team of experts, has developed a report that quantifies the economic, health, and environmental benefits of completing the region’s 881-mile multi-use trail network.
So far the impact report has received 38 endorsements from elected officials throughout the region! The Impact Report has also received media coverage in the Washington Post, WTOP, and NBC
In addition, the Capital Trails Coalition developed a resolution in support of the goal to complete the remaining top 40 priority projects identified by the Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) by 2025. On June 22nd, the Prince George’s County Council adopted the CTC Resolution and on July 13th, Montgomery County passed it unanimously!
The CTC has produced some monumental wins in the past few months! You can read more about those wins in their quarterly newsletter. Also, subscribe to their newsletter and keep up to date with all the amazing trail developments throughout the region.
Vision Zero Summit Recap
This year’s summit was more important than ever! This year’s theme was Transportation Equity in Practice and participants discussed the systems, tools, and processes that need to change to make our transportation network more equitable.
Like previous year’s summits, this event brought together elected officials, decision-makers, advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to share best practices, insights and innovations to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our region’s streets and highways.
WABA has been busy collaborating with our Families for Safe Streets chapters throughout the region. Over the last couple of months the chapters have been working on innovative projects to center the voices of residents most impacted by traffic violence. Check out some of their updates below:
Northern Virginia Families for Safe Streets (NoVA FSS), with chapters in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax, is identifying locations across Northern Virginia where pedestrians and cyclists have experienced near-miss incidents and other dangers.
DC Families for Safe Streets (DC-FSS) is currently working on an initiative to share stories of those who have been impacted by traffic violence.
They invite those who have been personally impacted by traffic violence in the greater Washington, DC, region to share their story as a loved one or the survivor of a serious crash. Their goal is to build a collection of stories that tells about the personal impact of traffic crashes. Sharing stories can offer comfort to other victims and loved ones and strengthen the case for life saving changes. Please feel free to email them if you’re interested in participating in the group or would like to share your story.
Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets (MoCo FSS) informally launched at the Montgomery County Vision Zero Town Hall on January 21, 2021.
MoCo FSS dual purposes are to 1. provide support and resources to families and friends of crash victims who died or were seriously injured by traffic violence, and 2. advocate for redesign of our roads to make them safe for all transportation modes.
In the past few months, the group, supported formally by WABA, has continued to hold memorials for pedestrian and cyclist crash victims. MoCo FSS is currently planning the group’s first event, tentatively scheduled for Sunday November 21 as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
If you are interested in getting involved please email us!
Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA
DDOT’s Vision Zero division is looking to speak with members of the public who have been involved in car crashes in DC (either as drivers, passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians) or who have lost friends or family due to a crash. Their stories will be incorporated into a section of the Vision Zero website that will help show the human stories behind the statistics. If you’re interested in this project please email Caitlin Buckley.
MoCo FSS is currently planning the group’s first event, tentatively scheduled for Sunday November 21th as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Email us to get involved!
The Corridor Forward Plan will evaluate transit options that could serve communities along the I-270 corridor based on Montgomery County’s three core values: 1) community equity; 2) environmental resilience; and 3) economic health. Please take this brief survey, which will help planners understand your values and prioritize transit options.
Virtual Town Hall: Wheaton Pedestrian Safety Town-Hall hosted by the District 18 Delegation (Senator Waldstreicher along with Delegates Carr, Shetty, and Solomon), July 27th, 7:00pm-9:00pm.
Prince George’s County Active Transportation Advisory Group is hosting its next meeting on September 13, 2021. The quarterly meetings are opportunities to discuss general issues impacting bicycle, pedestrian and shared use paths in Prince George’s County.
The Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is hosting its next meeting on October 22, 2021.
Arlington County and VDOT are studying the possibility of providing a context-sensitive multimodal connection between Crystal City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Fill out this survey and let officials know you want a connector (a bridge, not a tunnel) that supports walking, biking and connects directly to the Mt. Vernon Trail via ADA-compliant ramps!
The 2021 legislative session was a busy one, hampered by COVID restrictions but productive nonetheless. Below are the transportation related bills WABA and other bike advocates from around the State, including BikeMD, followed and worked to pass. We will renew the fight for the ones that did not pass next January in the 2022 session and also make a concerted effort to significantly increase the level of State funds for all active transportation projects.
HB 118/SB 293 – Vehicle Laws -Injury or Death of Vulnerable Individual -Penalties – text here. This was the main focus of efforts by the BikeMD advocates and will become effective law on October 1, 2021. The new Vulnerable Road User law will save lives by encouraging safer driving with stronger penalties for those who hurt or kill pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, wheelchair users and other vulnerable road users lawfully using or crossing our roads.The law mandates a court appearance by any motor vehicle driver who causes a crash with a vulnerable road user who is killed or seriously injured. In the past, such drivers usually were issued a traffic citation or ticket. Now, such drivers must appear in court and face stiffer penalties including higher fines, a driver safety program, community service and license suspension for up to six months. This will provide greater support to victims and friends of crash victims knowing the driver involved will face a greater penalty. The law helps fill a gap between traffic citations and higher offenses such as criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle.
HB 562 – Montgomery County –Speed Limits –Establishment – text here. Montgomery County and any local jurisdiction in the County can now decrease the speed limit on a street down to 15 mph after performing an engineering and traffic study. This seems to include State Highways ( such as Georgia Avenue/MD-97) as long as the change is approved by MD State Highway Administration. This bill will be effective October 1, 2021.
PEPCO Trail paving funded – more detail here. $10 Million was appropriated to Montgomery Parks to pave 7 miles of an existing 13 mile natural surface trail that runs along an electric powerline right of way from South Germantown to Cabin John Regional Park. The trail goes along a electric powerline right-of-way.
Passed but Vetoed by Governor Hogan
HB 114 – Maryland Transit Administration – Funding and MARC Rails Extension Study – establishes and funds a Purple Line Grant program for businesses along the light rail corridor and funds a study on extending MARC service to West Virginia. It is likely the veto will be overridden by the legislature in 2022.
Proposed but Not Passed
HB 564 – Montgomery County –Automated Traffic Enforcement – the bill would have allowed Montgomery County to transfer the automated traffic enforcement program (Speed and red light cameras) from the police (MCPD) to the transportation agency (MCDOT), thus placing this program with the agency primarily responsible for Vision Zero and any redesign of the roads. In addition, removing this program from police responsibility could be an initial step towards removing armed police from traffic enforcement overall and thus reducing friction (often racially motivated) between the police and drivers. This bill passed the House of Delegates, but failed to get a floor vote in the Senate.
HB 0067 – Maryland Department of Transportation Promises Act – bill would have placed restrictions on public-private partnerships and aimed to hold the Maryland Department of Transportation and Hogan Administration to many of the promises made during highway expansion planning. The bill would prohibit the Board of Public Works from approving a phase public-private partnership agreement for the I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership Program unless the payment of the toll revenue is transferred to a certain special fund; it also would authorize a public-private partnership agreement for the Program to require a bidder to agree to initiate a community benefit agreement. This bill did not pass either house.
On Thursday, June 24th WABA hosted the 5th annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit virtually.
Dara Baldwin, MPA Director of National Policy, Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR), Co-chair of the Transportation Equity Caucus delivered the keynote address highlighting the institutional racism around which our transportation systems are structured, (including the Vision Zero framework) and the historic to present day negative impacts the system has on Black and brown people.
In the first plenary session, moderator Jeremiah Lowery, Advocacy Director, WABA, and speakers Priya Sarathy Jones, National Policy Campaigns Director, Fines & Fees Justice Center and Jay Beeber, Executive Director, Safer Streets L.A. took a deep dive into the topic of Fines, Fees, and Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE). We heard how disproportionately damaging fines and fees can be to individuals with low income. Then we heard about some of the shortcomings and damage caused by automated traffic enforcement. Neither fines and fees nor ATE have shown significant impact on behavior change, and both negatively impact BIPOC and low income folks. So, we’re left with a tough question: why do we use methods that hurt some people and do not create safer roads?
In the third plenary session, Traffic out of Law Enforcement, panelists Regan F. Patterson, Ph.D., Transportation Equity Research Fellow, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Dara Baldwin, MPA Director of National Policy, Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR), Co-chair of the Transportation Equity Caucus; and Joe Reinhard, Activist, Young People for Progress (YPP) in Montgomery County laid out their visions of what it means for people of color to feel safe walking, biking, and using public transit, in addition to outlining how important it is to think about traffic safety and Vision Zero wholly. In this timely and critical conversation, moderated by WABA Advocacy Director Jeremiah Lowery, panelists discussed the case for taking law enforcement out of traffic, how to decrease reliance upon policing and increase our investments in alternative solutions.
The Closing Plenary capped off the day with a multidisciplinary conversation centered on the idea We’re All In This Together. Jonathan Stafford, WABA’s Culture and Engagement Manager led the conversation, which highlighted the necessity of collaborating across sectors to move Vision Zero forward equitably.
Panelists included At-Large Councilmember Hans Riemer, Montgomery County, Maryland; Kori Johnson, Program Support Manager, Safe Routes Partnership; and Christine Sherman Baker, AICP, Principal Planner/Vision Zero Program Coordinator, Arlington County. Each panelist spoke on the institutional or systemic challenges they’ve had in creating an equitable transportation network but they also touched on the ways we can work across sectors to repair it. To view the speaking sessions for yourself, check out the 2021 Washington Region Vision Zero Summit page, which has recordings of all the sessions.
Thank you to our Planning Committee!
Sonya Breehey, Heather Foote, Les Henderson, Chenille Holloman, Blake Herbold, Kori Johnson, Regan Patterson, Kyle Reeder, Ron Thompson and Leah Walton
Every spring, in the before times, we’d host an awards event to to celebrate a few folks that have done amazing work to make our region a better place to bike. Couldn’t do that this year.
Instead, last week, we rode around and gave people cookies. Please join us in this post of appreciation and celebration.
Super Volunteer Award: Laurie Williams- Black Women Bike
We’re so happy to present the 2020 Super Volunteer Award to Laurie Williams. In her work with Black Women Bike, Laurie has introduced a host of new folks from across the county to the nuts and bolts of bike advocacy, in addition to being a vocal and energetic supporter of the Henson Creek Trail. We are honored to celebrate all that Laurie does for our community!
Public Leadership Award: Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Lusk and Supervisor Alcorn
We’re excited to present Fairfax County Supervisors Rodney Lusk and Walter Alcorn with our 2020 Public Leadership Award for their work to make Fairfax County a safer place to walk and bike, and roll. At their urging, the Board of Supervisors required the County Department of Transportation to establish a timeline for implementing its ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan, evaluate its current approach for funding pedestrian improvements, and establish measurable safety goals.
Community Advocate Award: Gregg Adams, DCBAC
We’re pleased to present our 2020 Community Advocate Award to Gregg Adams. Gregg is the At-large Bicycle Advisory Council representative for At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds. Gregg has been a fierce and vocal advocate for a safer Suitland Parkway, for the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane project, and for safety improvements across Ward 8. You may have seen him at public meetings, or leading rides to highlight infrastructure gaps in Ward 8.
We’re very happy to present our 2020 Trail Champion Award to Liz Thorstensen. Liz is the Chair of the Capital Trails Coalition, where she has been an invaluable partner in developing the Capital Trails Coalion’s Impact Report, which provides a detailed, data-driven explanation of all of the ways that completing the regional trail network will be amazing (check it out at capitaltrailscoalition.org/report).
Biking for All Award: Sweeetz Labamba, Seasoned Settlers
We’re pleased to present the 2020 Biking For All award to Sweeetz Labamba and her educational entertainment program Seasoned Settlers. Seasoned Settlers organizes bike rides in Ward 8 neighborhoods, creating inclusive opportunities to learn life skills, explore the outdoors, and learn about trails and bike safety.
Heart and Soul Award: Kristy Daphnis and Alison Gillespie – Open Streets Montgomery
We are pleased to present the 2020 Heart And Soul Award to Kristy Daphnis and Alison Gillespie, for their work forming Open Streets Montgomery. These two veteran advocates were instrumental in opening space on County streets and park roads for people walking, biking and rolling during the pandemic. If you enjoyed riding or walking on car free street in MoCo in 2020, Open Streets Montgomery probably had a hand in making it happen.
Vision Zero Award: Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker, Prince George’s County
We’re pleased to present our 2020 Vision Zero Award to Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker, for her work to prevent crashes on Indian Head highway and change the driving culture in the County and regionally with her #DrivingItHome initiative. Councilmember Walker has been a consistent voice for safety-focused policy changes in Prince George’s.
Educator of the Year Award: Robyn Short
We are excited to present our 2020 Educator of the Year Award to Robyn Short.
Robyn is a WABA instructor and is a part of the Black Women Bike leadership team. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robyn continued to find opportunities to share her love of biking and teaching with others. She developed multiple webinars for Black Women Bike and WABA, was interviewed by CNN and WAMU on the 2020 bike boom, and has been an excellent spokesperson for bicycle education and COVID safe riding in our region. She brings so much enthusiasm, confidence and warmth to her role as an instructor and a leader.
Youth Leadership Award: Alex Clark, Prime Ability Bikes
We’re pleased to present our 2020 Youth Leadership Award to Alex Clark, of Prime Ability Bikes.
Alex is a high school Health and Physical Education teacher and team sports coach at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC. He is also the creator of Prime Ability, with the mission of building communities and inspiring the lives of young people through fitness. Program participants “train at an elite level for their prospective sport, as well as enhance the way they think, make decisions and plan for their lives.” Alex launched the Prime Ability biking program during the pandemic to provide students with a space to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and professionally. He is passionate about using bicycling as an outlet for fun, character development, and community-building.