Vote on Crash Victim Fairness Bill Postponed

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Today, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a legislative mark-up session on a number of bills, including the Bill 20-884 “Vulnerable User Recovery Act of 2014″. The Committee voted to postpone mark-up until next Wednesday, November 12th to allow all involved parties one last opportunity to craft a bill that meets the needs of vulnerable roadway users and the concerns of other stakeholders in the legal community. Councilmembers Jack Evan, Mary Cheh, Anita Bonds, Tommy Wells and David Grosso (not a member of Judiciary Committee) were in attendance at this morning’s mark-up.

Councilmember Tommy Wells and David Gross with WABA and All Walks DC held a joint press conference and rally in support of the legislation before the DC Council. The bill, if passed, would move the District to a fairer negligence standard to enable crash victims to collect compensation from driver’s insurance.

Yesterday’s press conference was attended by dozens of local residents calling on the DC Council to move the bill forward to protect the most vulnerable road users. Following votes from next week’s mark-up, WABA will post the vote results and a legislative scorecard online. You can learn more about the scorecard here and more about WABA’s campaign to bring fairness for crash victims.

As we all wait until next week’s vote, take some time to read the press coverage from yesterday online here, here, here, here, here , here, here and here. Please also take a moment to contact your Councilmember to ask for their support of the bill.

Take Action: Ask DC Council to Support the Bill

Rally for Justice on Thursday at 10am

November 5th Update: Due to weather concerns, the location has change to Room 123 inside the Wilson Building. The press conference will still be held at 10 am.

Join DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, DC Councilmember David Grosso, WABA and All Walks DC on the front steps of the John A. Wilson Building for a press conference and rally in support of legislation to exempt bicyclists from the harsh and unfair contributory negligence standard. You can learn more about our campaign here and read more about this unfair law here, here and here. At the press conference, WABA will introduce our legislative scorecard for this bill ahead of mark-up on Friday. Learn more about the scorecard here.

What: Joint Press Conference and Rally
Who: DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, DC Councilmember David Grosso, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), All Walks DC.
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2014
Time: 10:00am
Where: Front steps of the John A. Wilson Building, Room 123, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Sign up on Facebook that you are planning to attend.

Can’t make the press conference? Please email, visit or call your Councilmembers and ask them to support the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014 (B20-884).

Take Action: Ask DC Council to Support the Bill

Keeping Score on DC Legislative Positions, Starting with the Contrib Bill

As many of you know, WABA is working hard to change the contributory negligence doctrine in DC. We have been publicly pushing for this change for years because of the negative effects the doctrine has on the District’s cyclists. Hundreds of you emailed your Councilmembers to show support for a bill that would change the doctrine to the fairer comparative negligence. However, the insurance industry and others oppose the bill, and have sent a swarm of lobbyists to work the Wilson Building and sway the votes of our elected officials.

So, it’s time to publicly hold those Councilmembers accountable for their votes and show everyone which officials use their power to support people who bike, and which officials bow to insurance industry lobbyists.

The Scoring System

We view it as our responsibility to educate our members and the public on  key votes by elected officials that affect cyclists in the District.*

On key bills affecting bicyclists, we will score each legislator’s Yes/No vote on a 0-100 scale. A vote in support of the bicycling position will receive a score of 100. A vote against the interest of bicycling will receive a score of 0. Individual votes will be averaged, and the legislator assigned the appropriate letter grade based on that score, using a quintile system. (So, 0-20 is F, 21-40 is D, 41-60 is C, 61-80 is B, and 81-100 is A.)

Results of scored votes will be shared with all DC members and supporters via email once the vote is complete, and maintained on the WABA website, both on the homepage and in the “Resources” section.

Scoring Votes on B20-0884, The Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014 

When over 600 DC residents email their legislators on an issue this important to crash victims and all bicyclists, we need those legislators to listen to those constituents–not to the paid lobbyists protecting their industry’s financial interests at the expense of justice.

With only a handful of legislative days left in this Council session, let’s find out who’s listening to whom and make our officials accountable for their decisions that directly affect our safety.

A vote in favor of the bill will receive a score of 100. A vote against the bill, or a procedural vote that would have the effect of delaying the bill past the present Council session (causing it to fail without voting against it) will receive a score of zero.

We will release the initial report card to members, supporters, and the public–based on votes on B20-0884–the day after a vote is taken. As the Council votes on other relevant legislation, we well include those votes on the scorecard as well.

If you haven’t yet, write your councilmembers today:

Take action

* We’re testing this advocacy tool in the District. If it proves effective, we’ll try adding our other jurisdictions.

 

Move DC is a Big Vision with a Slow Start

Shiny new protected bike lane on 6th St NE

Shiny new protected bike lane on 6th St NE (photo: Mike Goodno, DDOT)

DDOT released the final Move DC transportation plan last week. The District plans to make a significant investment in bicycling to support growth over the next 25 years. Along with the final plan, DDOT produced a two-year action agenda to get a jump start in implementation. The Move DC plan is giant step forward for bicycling in DC, but the document’s Action Agenda is a timid start.

The final plan is over 173 pages so we haven’t dug too much into the details yet. The final plan looks a lot like the draft plan from June. With the city projected to add 100,000 new residents in the coming years, DDOT  acknowleges that the District can’t accomodate that many new cars, and sets a 25% mode share for walking and bicycling.

To accomplish this growth, DDOT proposes to expand the bicycling network by more than 200 miles over the next 25 years. The complete network would be over 343 miles of dedicate bicycle infrastructure. Beyond trails and bike lanes, Move DC calls for a range of other initiatives including:

  • expanding bikesharing,
  • more public education,
  • increased coordination on enforcement,
  • and lots more policy recommendations beyond physical infrastructure.

Released alongside the Move DC plan, the Action Agenda is a two-year blueprint for the agency. Bike elements include:

  1. Complete Klingle and Kenilworth Anacostia Riverwalk Trail projects and advance Rock Creek and Metropolitan Branch Trail projects (Item 1.5)
  2. Install or upgrade 15 miles of on-street bicycle facilities (Item 1.6)
  3. Study east side of downtown bicycle facility improvements (Item 2.2)
  4. Determine East-West Crosstown Multimodal Study needs and identify solutions (Item 2.4)
  5. Complete review of existing bicycle laws and identify opportunities for changes (Item 3.1)
  6. Complete revisions to the Design and Engineering Manual (Item 3.40
  7. Create TravelSmart program to develop tailored transportation choices for District residents (Item 4.5)
  8. Fully train DDOT staff on multimodal design (item 6.4)

We are glad to see several long-planned trail projects moving forward (item 1), but it’s worth noting that they would likely follow a similar timeline in the absence of the Move DC plan.  Expectations for new on-street bike infrastructure (item 2), on the other hand, have been scaled down, from 10 new miles of bike lanes per year in the District’s 2005 Bicycle Master Plan to 7.5 miles per year in the Move DC Plan. This is a disappointment, but also a realistic average of what the agency has been able to get done over the past few years. That said, as you can see in the photo above, the new bike lanes are both better —more of them will be physically protected from car traffic— and harder to build, as the District has captured most of the low-hanging fruit, and many new bike lanes will require more comprehensive street redesigns that will involve reducing car lanes or parking spaces.

All told,  Move DC is a comprehensive, well vetted plan for improving and encouraging bicycling. DDOT began the public process 18 months ago and made extraordinary efforts to involve the community. Move DC represents a shared vision for transportation. We’re glad that the District has invested in developing such a robust plan, and we look forward to its implementation.

Also

The Bicycle Segment of this plan is good because bicyclists showed up and shared their thoughts at every step of the process. A huge WABA thank you to all of our members and supporters who submitted comments, testified at hearings, showed up at public meetings, and participated in the process!

 

Fairfax County Bike Master Plan Passes Unanimously!

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Last night, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in support of the Fairfax Bike Master Plan (read the official county press release). The plan recommends 1,130 miles in new on-street and off-road trails to create a connected network across the county. This is first bike master plan for the County.

17 speakers testified at the public hearing in support of the proposed plan. Only one person spoke in opposition. “By giving me [transportation] choices, you literally have changed my life” said Jenifer Joy Madden, a County resident speaking about connecting to new bus and Metro service in Tysons on bicycle.

Building a bike-friendly community starts with a plan and strong commitment from elected officials. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors made a important endorsement of bicycling for recreation and transportation. Chairman Sharon Bulova said, “bicycling is not only for recreation, but for transportation” citing the full bike racks at the new County bike parking facility at the Wiehle Ave Metro Station.

Thank you to all 700 local residents who signed our petition in support of the Bike Master Plan. Congratulations to the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), including a special shout-out to Bruce Wright, for tireless efforts on this campaign. FABB is a sponsored project of WABA. We worked together on this advocacy effort.

WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today.

Trail Tours a Hit!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been taking a close look at some exciting developments for trails in DC and the surrounding Washington Area.  In September and early October, we invited trail neighbors and curious advocates on three trail tours (each on our advocacy priority list) to see the trails, build some context, and explore options for moving forward with rehabilitation and extensions.  In case you missed the tours, read on a for a recap.  While many of these projects are progressing forward, continued public support and pressure are crucial to seeing them through.

Feeling like you missed all the fun?  Join us on November 15 for our Future Trails Celebration to celebrate our region’s trail’s and learn about the next ones.  This trail tour series, and our ongoing trail advocacy work, was made possible thanks to the generous support of REI!

Metropolitan Branch Trail

Traveling by foot, we toured the future northern route of the Met Branch Trail between the Fort Totten and Takoma Metro Stations, now in design.  This phase will connect directly to the existing trail on John McCormack Road and extend the trail almost to the DC boundary through a combination of wide sidepaths, separated trail, and possible on street improvements.  Click here for more details.

Southeast DC’s Unbuilt Trails

This time by bike, we toured two of the District’s existing trails in Ward 8, experiencing the needs, barriers, and possibilities for better mobility by bike and foot.  In particular, we discussed the new South Capitol St. Trail, the Oxon Run Trail Rehabilitation, and improved connection ot the Suitland Parkway Trail coming with the Douglas Bridge replacement project.

Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail

For our third field trip, we took a leisurely ride on the WB&A Trail, a rail trail that runs more than 10 miles in two sections between PG and Anne Arundel Counties in Maryland.  With quiet wooded stretches and luxurious bridges and tunnels, this trail is a delight to ride and would be a crucial connection from DC to Baltimore and Annapolis, if the ambitious plan is completed.  More on extension possibilities to come.

Ask the DC Council to Support the Bicycle Bill

John A. Wilson Building, Washington, DCAs we speak, the insurance industry is lobbying hard to kill proposed legislation aimed at helping injured bicyclists. They like the status quo, which allows them to easily deny claims by bicyclists who have been hit by drivers. But the present system leaves too many injured people without recourse after they’re hit—and it especially affects bicyclists after crashes with automobiles.

It’s time for the DC Council to hear your voice. A proposed bill would make it possible for bicyclists involved in crashes to have their medical bills and damaged bicycle covered by a driver who crashes into them. Under current law if a person contributes in any way to the crash, her claim can be denied. Forty-five states abandoned this doctrine years ago. It’s time for DC to catch up.

Tell the DC Council to update our unfair and out-of-date law.

Last week, the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing for the bill. There was overwhelming support for the bill by local residents. Many people testified in favor of expanding the protection to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

This is a rare chance for real change. Please take a minute and contact your Councilmember.

You can learn more about this campaign and read our answered to the 10 most common questions about this proposed law.