Mayor Bowser released the Vision Zero Action Plan earlier this month as the administrations playbook for the first few years of Vision Zero, which is the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by 2024. [I have a complimentary post at GGW about how the DC council and the administration are both pursuing policies towards safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians and how this represents the most significant effort in this regard that I know of]
The first part is about the process of putting the plan together and includes a lot of data visualization and raw data. For example, the vast majority of bike and pedestrian fatalities occur on roads with 25 mph speed limits, but this doesn't mean that drivers are going 25mph or slower at the time.
And the 15 most deadly roads in DC accounted for more than half of all cyclist deaths.
The second part of the plan includes over 50 strategies, some of which echo other plans, from four categories, for making roads safer followed by specific actions to carry them out.
The strategies include
- Increase enforcement and protection for pedestrians and people on bikes in work zones and in parking garages. Educate development/construction stakeholders and develop green building code elements for safe transportation. (Target Completion December 2016)
- Install or upgrade 20 miles of on-street bicycle facilities. Prioritize improvements using injury and crash data. Install five miles (of the 20) of separated/protected bikeways. (Target Completion December 2017)
- Protect people on bikes with enhanced enforcement that focuses on improper U-turns through bicycle facilities, parking in/blocking bike lanes, improperly entering mixing zones, dooring, and failure to observe three-foot passing law. Utilize subject-matter-expert police officers on bicycles. Publically report citations issued on a regular basis via open data on the Vision Zero website. (Target Completion October 2015)
- Compile and analyze pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle safety and injury data at all DCPS and DC public charter school locations. Complete improvements at no fewer than three locations per year, beginning FY17 (Target Completion June 2016)
- Specifically track Capital Bikeshare safety data and publish targets and trends on Vision Zero website. (Target Completion January 2016)
- Complete first full cohort of universal bicycle training for all DCPS 2nd graders in every traditional public school. Identify opportunities to expand bicycle education in public charter schools.(Target Completion June 2016)
- Deter dangerous parking behavior of commercial and delivery vehicles: parking in bicycle lanes, crosswalks, parking abreast / double parking. Publicly report violations monthly via open data on the Vision Zero website.(Target Completion October 2016)
- Develop region-wide special events, including “safe streets” events that promote the use and awareness of bicycles, and bicycle education. (Target Completion October 2016)
- Accelerate use of bicycle counting stations to determine the number of bike trips made in the District per year in key locations to better understand exposure rates. Establish pedestrian counting stations to determine the number of pedestrian trips made per year in key locations. Utilize private sector partnerships and smart-phone applications to enable crowdsourcing of data and encourage resident participation. Evaluate impact of new facilities. Make data publicly available on Vision Zero website.(Target Completion July 2017)
- Establish public repository on the Vision Zero website for crowd-sourced video of behaviors that are dangerous to pedestrians, people on bikes, transit users, and drivers. Disseminate safety education tools using videos, and inform enforcement and engineering strategies accordingly (Target Completion December 2016)
- On a weekly basis, target illegal loading/unloading and unauthorized vehicles in loading zones, erratic behavior, and dangerous interactions with bicycle facilities by drivers of public vehicles for hire. Focus on commercial corridors, entertainment areas, bike lanes, and areas near hotels. Specifically analyze crashes involving bicycles and vehicles for hire. Explore driver incentives for voluntary participation in vehicle cameras, data-recording devices, passenger facing speedometer pilot programs.(Target Completion October 2017)
- Every other year, continue updates to the DMV driver manual and test materials to refresh emphasis on dangerous driving and bicycle and pedestrian safety (Target Completion April 2017)
- Complete DCMR Title 31 Compliance Audit to address public-vehicle-for-hire driver misconduct that threatens motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. Conduct related education and outreach for all vehicle-for-hire drivers. (Target Completion October 2016)
In order to put these strategies into action, there are some real policy initiatives that go along with it.
There's the Vision Zero Enforcement Act which codifies a Complete Streets law, strengthens impaired and distracted driving rules, and addresses the safety concerns caused by On-Street ATVs and Dirt Bikes.
New to the plan is the announcement that the District’s FY16 budget will include a $500,000 Vision Zero Fund. This will spend $156,000 on side underride prevention devices for the DC fleet - something WABA pushed for and that became required, but unfunded, back in 2008; $103,000 on 50 workshops to increasing access to safe bicycles for underserved communities, conducted in conjunction with DCPS bicycle education; and $80,000 for an education program related to truck blind spots.
All things considered, it represents a good start, especially when combined with everything in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. Slower streets, more enforcement, more education, safer trucks, better laws. It probably won't get us to zero deaths, but it will save lives. Hopefully the initiative on side underride guards will encourage Maryland and Virginia to follow suit, since a large number (perhaps the majority) of trucks on DC roads are from out-of-state.