Show up for Biking in Bethesda on Oct 9

Big improvements are in the works for low-stress and safe bicycling in downtown Bethesda. Following public outcry from bicyclists and Georgetown Branch Trail neighbors over the trail’s closure and worsening bicycling conditions in downtown Bethesda, Montgomery County committed to fund and build a core, low-stress bicycle network.

On Tuesday, October 9, residents and advocates can finally see plans and give feedback on a slate of protected bike lanes, intersection upgrades, and trail improvements.

RSVP Here

Network map.

With only a few painted bike lanes, several multi-lane road barriers, and increasingly disruptive construction, Bethesda is a challenging place to bike, and a non-starter for parents with kids. The core bike network, pictured above, will significantly improve options for bicyclists of all abilities, correct some of the flagrant deficiencies in the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, and lay the groundwork for other improvements coming later with the completion of the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail.

The following projects will be discussed at the meeting:

Woodmont Ave. Protected Bike Lanes – a north-south two-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave. to Norfolk Ave.

Capital Crescent Surface Trail – a protected bike lane crossing of Wisconsin Ave. on Bethesda Ave. and Willow Ln. This project will rebuild the Bethesda Ave. & Woodmont Ave. intersection into a safe, intuitive, protected intersection.

Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway – Parks staff will present three designs for permanent fixes to this high-conflict trail intersection. See the original 12 alternatives here. WABA opposes any plan that restores Little Falls Parkway to four lanes because this would restore the perilous conditions that contributed to a fatality and multiple crashes. Read our letter for the full reasons.

Montgomery Ln/Ave Protected Bike Lanes -an east-west two-way protected bike lane from Woodmont Ave to Pearl St.

Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel – a new trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave. to seamlessly connect the Purple Line, secure bike parking, and the trail to Silver Spring.

Pearl St. Norfolk Ave. and Cheltenham Dr – bike lanes, traffic calming, and intersection improvements.

We need you there

Continued pressure and support are what make these projects possible. Will you show up to give county staff the support they need to get these projects in the ground? We need your voice to insist on safe streets for people who walk and bike. We need your help to counter those who will be there to insist that moving cars quickly is the only priority. Together, we can reshape Bethesda into a great place for biking and walking.

I’ll Be There!

Your Chance To Be Heard About Safe Streets in DC

It is no longer up for debate: the DC Government hasn’t been fulfilling its commitment to Vision Zero.

But because of your work, they have decided to move towards getting back on track. We’ve written letters, we’ve testified, we’ve ridden in memoriam—and last July, we rallied in front of the Wilson Building.

We are pleased to report, that since that time, WABA and advocates in the community have followed up—and they have heard you! Below is a partial list of commitments that the city is making right now:

  • The city is going to create an Office of Vision Zero, staffed by career professionals and safety experts, and focused solely on Vision Zero implementation. This is a great step!
  • The city is going to establish a Vision Zero working group of agency Directors to focus on implementation of commitments. This actually bumps Vision Zero up from a department commitment, to a city wide commitment. That is a good thing.
  • As a first step to address safety on H Street NE, the city will expand its signage and pavement markings at 3rd and H Streets and is doing testing to fill the streetcar tracks—which is good news, but unfortunately, that comes without a firm date for installation on the entire corridor.

Make no mistake: this is a win! But this is only one step. We’ve got to keep our voices high!

Adding to that list above, Councilmembers Allen and Cheh are holding a joint hearing on the city’s implementation of its Vision Zero commitment. Importantly, these are two DC Council committees with oversight over dozens of city agencies. It shows a key recognition that for the city to reach Vision Zero, it requires the efforts of the entire Wilson Building, not just DDOT.

And we are asking you to show up and let the city know how it’s doing.

Will you join us?

Who: Committee on Transportation and the Environment and the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety

What: Hearing on the Implementation of the Vision Zero Initiative and the Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016 (full notice here)

When: September, 27th, 2018 at 1:30 PM (show up early as you have to go through security)

Where: John Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (Room 500)

Why: Because you deserve to be safe in the city

Let us know you’re coming

Let’s show up for each other. Let’s show up for those that have been in crashes. Let’s show up for those that have been killed on our streets.

How to Testify

If you wish to testify (and you should), email Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at abenjamin@dccouncil.us (and cc Advocacy@Waba.org so we know you’re coming!). Witnesses should bring eight copies of their written testimony and should submit a copy of their testimony electronically. You will have three minutes to speak.

Not sure what to say? Read through our talking points to get you started. Talk about your experience on DC’s streets. Keep it personal.

    1. What do you think is unsafe about the city’s roadways?
    2. Have you been in a crash? Do you know someone who has been in a crash? What about near misses? What was that like? How did it make you feel?
    3. What are some things that the city could do in your neighborhood on your commute that would make you safer?

If you can’t make it,  we still want to let council know your thoughts. Email Ms. Benjamin at the email address above and cc us by October 11, 2018.

This is your chance to be heard!

Together, we can move this city forward.

Yesterday was an emotional day.

Yesterday afternoon, more than 120 of us gathered across from the Wilson Building to demand that Mayor Bowser deliver on her 2015 promise to put an end to traffic deaths on DC’s streets.

Together, we mourned the loss of more than 100 members of our collective community — mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, recent high school graduates — who were taken from us since that promise was made. We heard from the mother and brother of Malik Habib, sharing a story no family should have to tell.

And together we said enough is enough. “We’re doing the best we can” isn’t good enough. Mayor Bowser has the power to stop this, if she makes people not dying her priority.

Following the rally, we took our message to the Mayor’s office, where we met with Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, Kevin Donahue. We hope to report more concrete updates from the Mayor and Council in the coming days.

Can we count on your to get involved in next steps? Join our DC Advocates email group and keep the pressure up!

Count me in!

Thank you to everyone who rallied with us, to our speakers, and to all who will continue to hold our elected leaders accountable to their promises.

Thank you for joining us in this fight.


A Memorial Ride for Malik Habib will be held on Tuesday, July 31 at 5:30pm.

If you missed the rally you can find video coverage on WABA’s Facebook Page and media coverage from WAMU, Greater Greater Washington, WTOP

To stay in the loop on WABA’s Vision Zero work and do your part to make streets safe for everyone, sign the Vision Zero Pledge.

Sign the Pledge


Here’s a gallery from yesterday’s rally:

DDOT Breaking Promises on C Street NE

Image from Google Street View

At a public meeting late last month, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff announced an alarming change of plans for their C St. NE rehabilitation project that cuts critical safety improvements for people walking and biking to speed more cars through the neighborhood. We are baffled by the changes and what they mean for DDOT’s commitment to its Vision Zero principles and ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2024.

Demand That DDOT Reverse Course

C St. NE is a relic of DC’s long-past highway building days. At five lanes wide, it was designed to funnel rush hour commuters through the neighborhood into downtown DC. But highways make terrible neighborhood streets during rush hour. When uncongested the rest of time, empty lanes tempt drivers to step on the gas. In 2013, when the 11th St. bridge was completed, drivers found different routes, leaving C St. NE empty even more of the time. Today, C St. NE is overbuilt for cars and underbuilt for the people who live, work, play, bike and walk along it.

The critical long-term solution has been in the works since 2006 when Rosedale residents started organizing to demand solutions to chronic speeding, unsafe crossings and stressful biking. DDOT responded with over a decade of studies — the Capitol Hill Transportation Study, C St. Traffic Calming Study, C St. Multimodal Corridor Study, and MoveDC Plan — which helped create a vision for a calm, multimodal street with fewer travel lanes, more frequent, shorter crossings, green space, and protected bike lanes where moving cars is not the priority.

C St. NE 65% plans presented in February

In 2017, DDOT started work on plans which promised to deliver on that vision. In February 2018, staff presented 65% design plans that would:

  • Remove a travel lane from each direction to help reduce speeding
  • Add curb extensions at nine intersections for shorter pedestrian crossings
  • Add new crosswalks at 17th Pl and 20th St
  • Create 11 raised crosswalks at cross-streets to encourage slow-speed turns
  • Add curb-protected bike lanes on C St. and North Carolina Ave NE
  • Create five “floating” bus stops that keep buses and people on bikes separated
  • Add dozens of new trees, green space, and improved river-friendly stormwater management
  • Preserve full-time parking on every block

These plans reflect a decade of study, community discussion, and consensus building around the safety concerns on C St. NE. Residents and experts in traffic safety have been engaged and actively participating in support at every step. Indeed, this project promised to deliver a safe, complete street that would have set a new bar for Vision Zero projects (view the full plans here).

But in April, DDOT announced drastic design changes, striking many of the most critical safety features of the plan. See the new plans here. The changes would:

  • Remove seven of the nine curb extensions at 16th St, 17th St, 17th Pl, 18th St, 18th Pl, 19th St, and 21st St, making pedestrian crossings longer and more risky especially for children and seniors
  • Add back the third travel lane planned for removal on six blocks. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially in off-peak hours, in exchange for less driver delay at rush hour. Ironically, DDOT staff are now considering adding traffic signals at two crosswalks because the new proposed design makes these crossings less safe
  • Eliminate full-time parking on six blocks either during rush hour or at all times to make room for turn lanes. Residents will lose access to as many as 50 parking spaces for the convenience of moving cars quickly
  • Eliminate some raised crosswalks
  • Reduce the size of bus stops to move buses out of the travel lane

All of these changes are required, DDOT staff claim, because traffic models show that removing a lane in each direction will create unacceptable delay for drivers by 2040. But traffic models only tell the driving part of the story and they are notorious for overestimating future driving habits. We should not compromise safety today to avoid theoretical delay in 20 years.

Revised April plans. Pink shows curb extensions cut from the plan. Blue cars indicate parking restrictions.

DDOT’s new plan to preserve the C St. NE speedway is simply indefensible. It dismisses a decade of work towards an inclusive design that meets community needs. It contradicts four studies that show lane reductions are needed. It trades away critical safety features for greater risk to vulnerable road users. And it cuts residential parking used today to speed more cars through the neighborhood.

But worst of all, the plan is a glaring contradiction to Mayor Bowser’s commitment to end traffic fatalities by 2024. In December 2015, Mayor Bowser released her Vision Zero Action Plan, and pledged that her administration “will do everything in our power to eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, because no loss of life is acceptable.” To achieve this, the action plan promises that “streets should be designed for all users and need to be built to account for inevitable human errors.” It declares that “streets must be engineered to self-enforce a safe speed,” and that “design speed limit and posted speed limit must both prevent serious injury.”

In March 2018, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen worked with MPD to put a targeted focus on traffic enforcement along the C Street NE corridor near Eliot-Hine Middle School and Maury Elementary. After about an hour each day for three weeks, MPD issued 76 speeding tickets to people driving 11-30+ mph over the speed limit.

Drivers ticketed going 11-15 mph over the speed limit: 25
Drivers tickets going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 6
Drivers ticketed going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 7
Drivers ticketed going 21-25 mph over the speed limit: 10
Drivers ticketed going 26-30+ mph over the speed limit: 34

Read that again! 34 people going 50+ mph in a residential neighborhood with not one, but two schools where the posted speed limit is 25 mph. For seven blocks, DDOT’s plan would do little to curb this speeding.

DDOT has a moral imperative to do everything in its power to reduce speeds to safe levels. The February version of the plan does exactly this. The April plan is a mockery of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero commitment.

We call on DDOT to drop these indefensible changes and instead return to the inspiring, community supported vision presented in February. Last week, ANC 7D voted unanimously to urge DDOT to do the same (read ANC 7D’s letter here). As this plan moves towards construction next year, it must prioritize safety for people walking and biking and actively slow drivers down. While staff have indicated revisions may already be in the works, it is imperative that safe design, not driver delay, is guiding the plan. Please join us in taking a stand for Vision Zero by sending a letter to DDOT.

Take Action

Recap: Second Annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit

In the three years since DC Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to eliminating all roadway deaths and serious injuries by 2024, the city has actually seen an increase in traffic deaths. Attendees of second annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit gathered to discuss strategies and policies to reverse this trend.

One of the goals of the Summit is to to foster  a sense of urgency around Vision Zero – so that governments honor their commitments and use their action plans to create immediate, substantive change on the roads. One life lost on the road is one life too many.

The Summit, presented by WABA and Uber, featured speakers from diverse sectors across the Washington Region. Elected officials, policymakers, civil rights and disability rights advocates, public health experts, and tech companies spent the day exploring systemic ways to end traffic fatalities.

In a keynote address, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered an update on the District’s efforts to eliminate traffic deaths.

DC Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Charles Allen, Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, and Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson participated in panel discussions about regional collaboration and protecting vulnerable road users.

Region-wide, DC,  the City of Alexandria and Montgomery County, have made commitments to Vision Zero.

Our region has an opportunity to be an example for the country as a place that prioritizes people over vehicles. D.C. should be leading this charge to save lives – and that’s why the Vision Zero Summit is important.  

Find a gallery below featuring pictures from the daylong summit!

Special thanks to our Vision Zero Summit Sponsors!

Title Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Bronze Sponsor

Meet Jonathan Stafford, our new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator

Hello!

I’m Jonathan Stafford, one of the new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinators. Back in 2016 I worked as an intern at WABA, exploring the intersection between Faith and Public Policy in transportation. I am extremely blessed to return to WABA and to take up the important work that connects each of us to D.C.’s plan for zero traffic related deaths in all of our communities.

While serving as a police officer in Texas, I found that I really enjoyed being assigned to the bike patrol for Mardi Gras festivals. After I left the police department and moved to Nashville, I began cycling more often – eventually commuting to school and work by bike. Social justice was my focus and cycling became my passion. Putting on a suit and getting around town by bike was just a way of life. In Rochester, NY, where I’ve lived for the past few years, I‘m know as the minister who rides his bike to Sunday worship services.

As a Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator here at WABA, I get to mix my love of bicycles and social justice work, advancing conversations about race, gentrification, injurious policing, and other justice related issues. This is work that can not be done alone and I look forward to working with residents of DC to make our streets safer for everyone.

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: Trees, fresh air, not too many hills and less than 15 miles.

My style of riding: I mostly commute. But I have started bike camping and look forward to taking a few trips when the Spring arrives.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: my Panasonic Tourist named “Forrester”. Vintage styling, full fenders, and British racing green. Named after the title character from the film Finding Forrester!

Meet Hannah Neagle, our new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinator

Hello everyone, I’m Hannah Neagle, one of the new Vision Zero Campaign Coordinators. I’m thrilled to join the WABA team and family!

While I have always enjoyed bicycling, I didn’t fall in love with it until I joined the Peace Corps in 2008. My only means of transportation was a pink and silver Trek mountain bike, and I became a true bicycle commuter.

Back in the states I pursued a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development in Washington, DC and commuted on our region’s bikeways everyday. It has been exciting to see the transportation system evolve as protected bike lanes and trail connections spring-up.

I recently returned to D.C. from Hawaii where I worked with a bicycle organization on grassroots community outreach, pedestrian and bicycle safety education, and a Vision Zero campaign. I believe Vision Zero—the idea that traffic injuries and deaths are 100% preventable—links directly to equity, complete streets, and livable communities. I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with community members and partners to achieve our shared Vision Zero plans and goals.

This week only: “How’s My Driving” Scavenger Hunt!

Help us make a case:

We’re looking for pictures and videos of professional drivers behaving unprofessionally. You know, blocking bike lanes, passing unsafely, blocking sidewalks and crosswalks. Stuff you probably encounter every day. We’re also on the hunt for photos of professional drivers parking, stopping, or unloading correctly on streets with bike infrastructure, and driving safely around bicyclists and pedestrians.

So we’re hosting a scavenger hunt and keeping a scorecard of sorts:

To sweeten the deal. We’ll be giving away a WABA t-shirt to the person who submits the most photos or videos. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, October 5th.

Here’s how to participate::

  • Post a photo or video of a Fedex, Mail, UPS truck in a bike lane (Or parked appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • Post a photo or video of a driver in a bike lane picking up or dropping off someone(Or discharging passengers appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • Post a photo or video of a delivery truck in a bike lane (or unloading appropriately next to a bike lane) (1pt)
  • You can post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #StreetsForPeopleDC , and tag us (@WABADC) when you post
  • Double points for photos and videos in NE, SE, SW (unsurprisingly, we have a lot of photos of 14th St NW)
  • You can also submit pics with your name or Twitter handle via email to renee.moore@waba.org

Get your submissions in by Friday, September 29th at 6 pm

Here’s what we have so far:

 

How to report construction blocking your bike lane in DC

You may have noticed. . . the bike lanes we’ve worked so hard to get built over the years are frequently closed or unusable because of construction, road maintenance, and utility work. Beyond being annoying and scary, these closures are also frequently illegal.

What does the law require?

DC law requires that when a bike lane or sidewalk is closed for construction, an equally safe accommodation, free of hazards and debris, must be provided. This has been the law since 2013. Unfortunately, we know from experience that violations occur around the city on a daily basis.

This has real consequences. Closing a bike lane— especially without adequate signage— forces bicyclists to quickly merge into a shared traffic lane with motor vehicles, putting bicyclists in danger, upsetting drivers, and discouraging less confident bicyclists from riding at all.

The District is experiencing a construction boom with no end in sight. Bicycling is more popular than ever. It is essential that the city keep bicyclists safe where construction impacts bike infrastructure. That won’t happen without advocacy.

We’ve created an online reporting form to walk you through the information DDOT needs to investigate the suspected violation.

report a problem

Why report violations?

Short term, we want dangerous conditions on the roadways fixed as quickly as possible so no one gets hurt, and so bicyclists have confidence that when they set out by bike, the protected lanes they rely on will be available and safe.

Long term, WABA and DDOT will use this reporting data to help identify recurring problems and repeat permit violators. This will help with developing systemic solutions— like trainings, permit guidance and targeted enforcement.

Things to report:

Any time construction closes a protected bike lane, trail or sidewalk, the contractor must provide a route through the construction area that equivalent to the level of protection of what is being closed (subject to a few exceptions covered below). So, in the most basic sense, if it’s a protected bike lane, like this:

it should have a protected accommodation, like this:

Note on the far left behind the fencing is the original protected bike lane. Everything has been shifted right to make a sidewalk and bike lane from taking over a lane of traffic.

 

If it is a striped bike lane like this:

There should be a separate place on the road for the exclusive use of bicyclists.

In the example above, the bike lane is shifted to the left, marked by traffic cones.

The accommodation should be free of obstructions and debris.

unlike this…

and this:

and this.

Exceptions:

Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough space to provide an equivalent accommodation. However, before providing a less than equivalent accommodation, the city must first close an adjacent lane of parking (if there is one) or close a lane of traffic.

So, if an equivalent accommodation has not been provided, but there is still an adjacent row of parking, or more than one lane of vehicle traffic open in either direction, the Safe Accommodations law is being violated.

Should I report this? A flow chart:

(click image for a larger version)

 

Don’t overthink it. The point of the law is to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe. If it seems unsafe, it probably isn’t compliant with the law.

How to report violations in DC

We’ve created an online reporting form to walk you through the information DDOT needs to investigate the suspected violation.

Fill out the required questions (email, date, construction site address, etc).

When you submit the form, it will send you an automated email response. If you are able to snap a few pictures of the site you are reporting, reply to that confirmation email and upload your photos as an attachment.

The form will generate a report to the Public Space Regulatory Administration staff, who are responsible for approving and inspecting the traffic control plans in public space permits. They have the authority to shut down a construction site if it is violating the safe accommodations law.

You can use the email chain from the confirmation email to follow up with WABA and DDOT as-needed.

report a problem

Want to know more?

Check out the slides from our Safe Accommodations Training:

Still have questions? Send an email to advocacy@waba.org.

Regional Vision Zero Summit Recap

Driver Training and Accountability Panel

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

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

Dr. Babak Sarani

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

Gregory Billing, Executive Director, WABA

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

Dr. C.Y. David Yang, AAA Foundation

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

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

Emiko Atherton, Smart Growth America

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

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

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

Opportunities for Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation Panelists

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

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

Vision Zero and High- Risk Users Panelists

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

Mayor Muriel Bowser

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

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

Vision Zero and Public Health Panelists

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

Human Impacts of Traffic Fatalities Panelists

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

Vision Zero and Enforcement Panel

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

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

Winning Over the Public to Vision Zero Panel

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

Infrastructure: Designing Safe Streets Panel

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

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

Driver Training and Accountability Panel

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

 

Lessons Learned from Other Cities Panel