Location: 3100 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. SE Washington, DC 20032
Building: Old Congress Heights School
Room: School Auditorium
Details: DDOT is announced the project of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Corridor Safety Study.
DDOT's goal is to address all traffic and safety issues, collaboratively identify solutions with community stakeholders, and provide feasible recommendations and concept designs at the end of the 6-month process.
We hope you will join us for this important public meeting. Your input is essential to making the Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Corridor a success.
This is a second meeting.
In the Move DC plan, MLK Ave has bike lanes south of Alabama Avenue.
This bill does several things geared towards making DC's roads safer.
Like Cheh's bill, it would codify a Complete Streets policy as law
It would ban the use of dirt bikes and ATVs on DC streets (I thought this was already the law)
It establishes an Ignition Interlock Device Program that repeat offenders or 1-time offenders with particularly high BAC will be required to install.
It changes the fines and jail sentences of drunk drivers
It Increases the fine for distracted driving from $100 to $500 and adds 2 points
So, not as sweeping as Cheh's bill and the distracted driving part isn't as good as the Mendelsohn's Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Act of 2015, but it represents a growing consensus that safety legislation is needed - specifically with respect to Complete Streets and distracted driving.
By 2024, D.C. aims to end all traffic fatalities and serious injuries using a combination of public strategies and funding.
According to police statistics, D.C. has seen 16 traffic fatalities as of Sept. 9, a decrease of 23.8 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Last year’s total of 26 fatalities was down three from 2013 but up seven from 2012. Overall, traffic deaths have gone down 58 percent during the last two decades. Roughly half of the annual fatal crashes involve drivers; the other half pedestrians, and some cyclists.
With more than 20 District agencies participating in Vision Zero, coordination presents a huge challenge. D.C.’s Department of Transportation is effectively spearheading the initiative, so much of the praise or blame will be directed at the agency. Thus far, DDOT has organized a series of publicity events for Vision Zero, launched a crowd-sourced safety map, conducted internal meetings with other agencies, and begun drafting an action plan to guide how the District is to transform a utopian idea into a lived reality. D.C. had scheduled the action plan to come out this month, but as of this week it hadn’t settled on a firm release date.
The story covers one of the intersection visits CM Cheh organized at five of the city's most dangerous intersections.
At one point, a black SUV heading north made an illegal U-turn and nearly clipped a cyclist heading south on a designated bike lane; at another, a blaring ambulance quickly turned right onto U Street and drove farther east.
I went to some, but not all, of these visits and it was a mixed bag. At some the DDOT personnel already had construction in the pipeline, but it didn't do much to improve pedestrian or cyclist safety and they weren't really interested in hearing about deficiencies. At others, DDOT staff wrote down every idea people threw at them and asked a bunch of questions. It kind of depended on who showed up and what the status of the intersection was.
Last week's Pedestrian and Bike safety bill was a part of Cheh's effort to move the needle on Vision Zero. DDOT's Vision Zero action plan should represent theirs.
study of a remediation and deferred disposition program
escalating fines for repeat offenders
tougher distracted driving law
a new penalty for aggressive driving
required side-underrun guards and blind spot mirrors or cameras on trucks
study of pedestrian alert devices on District-owned large vehicles
access to video for crash victims
creation of a major crash-review task force
Thanks to Greg Billing to proving me a link to the bill.
Unpacking it a bit.
1. DDOT will have to regularly publish crash data, sidewalk closure information and information on citizen petitions for for traffic calming measures on its website, MPD will do the same with moving violations. DDOT will also report annually on dangerous locations. Every 5 years DDOT will report with recommendations on how to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety.
2. DDOT is instructed to create Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Areas (at least one per ward) where right-turns-on-red can be abolished, speed limits lowered and more TCO and camera-enforcement can be utilized.
3. DDOT will adopt a complete streets policy. [They have one now, but is one issued by the DDOT Director, and thus can be removed by them at any time. This one will be law.]
4. The law will be changed to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, just as pedestrians do. DC would adopt an Idaho Stop law. (I had to reread it to catch it) Cyclists approaching a stop sign or stop light will be required to slow down, and if required for safety, stop before entering the intersection. After slowing or stopping, the cyclist will yield the ROW, after slowing and yielding the cyclist may proceed through the intersection.
5. Dooring will be redefined to explicitly include bicycles.
6. Bicycle insurance will be governed by the same laws as motor-vehicle insurance, and bicycle insurance providers may require policy holders to register their bikes.
7. All schools will have a curriculum available to them on safe cycling and walking.
8. For-hire vehicle operators will be required to learn about issues related to bicycle and pedestrian safety as part of existing mandatory training. And those using digital dispatch will require additional training.
9. The Mayor is required to study a remediation and deferred disposition program for people committing moving violations.
10. Repeat offenders will see larger fines - up to 5 times as much for 4th time offenses. This will be true for speeding offenses, crosswalk violations, right-of-way violations, stopping or standing violations (including in a bike lane, sorry UPS).
11. Drivers will no longer be able to use the phone when the car is not moving.
12. Drivers who commit 3 or more or a set of violations (like speeding or improper lane changes) can be cited for aggressive driving, which carries a penalty of $200 and 2 points and mandatory driver education.
13. All heavy-duty vehicles registered in the District will be required to have side under run guards, reflective blind spot warning stickers and either blind spot mirrors or cameras. This is currently the law for District-owned vehicles.
14. The Mayor is instructed to report to the council as to whether Circulator buses and District-owned heavy duty vehicles can be equipped with pedestrian alert technology.
15. If a District owned camera captures video of a crash all vehicle operators involved in that crash will be informed that the footage exists, the footage will be preserved and the parties will be assisted in acquiring the footage.
16. A Major Crash Review Task Force will be established to review every crash investigated by the Major Crash Investigation Unit and as a result, recommend changes to reduce the number of major crashes.
17. The Kitchen sink
This would represent a major improvement in the safety of DC streets for vulnerable users and put DC at the forefront of American cities with respect to pedestrian and cyclist safety. It's ambitious, but everything on here represents something for which consensus existed among the Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force (which was co-chaired by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and AAA Mid-Atlantic).
I don't have time to write about this now, but as one who was on the Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group I find this welcome news. (bolded part broken out by me).
Today, September 16th, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on Transportation & the Environment, introduced the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015.” The bill provides a comprehensive update to the District’s laws and regulations as they pertain to motorist, bicycle, and pedestrian safety.
“Earlier this year, I convened a Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group to foster a deliberative, thoughtful, and open discussion on how to best update the District’s approach to motor, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015” is the end result of months of collaboration between my office, District agencies, law enforcement, and transportation advocates. By gathering everyone around the same table, we were able to debate and discuss what safety measures have been successful and what needs improvement from a variety of perspectives. This bill is a comprehensive and inclusive approach to making the roadways and sidewalks safer for all,” said Councilmember Cheh.
The bill would
make a significant amount of crash, traffic violation, and closure data more readily accessible to the public
establish the Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Area Program to designate safety enhancement priority areas across the District in locations with heavy bicycle and pedestrian traffic
incorporate a Complete Streets policy within DDOT to ensure that the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of roads includes infrastructure that accommodates all multimodal users, including those with disabilities
and require the Mayor to study the feasibility of a remediation and deferred disposition program that would enable a person guilty of a moving violation to take a safety course in lieu of paying some or all of the associated fine.
“The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” changes the way our agencies address and prioritize safety concerns in the built environment, and it also encourages users of our transportation system to engage in safer behavior –in this way we can establish a system of mutual accountability. For example, one aspect of the bill includes greater oversight of DDOT’s infrastructure improvements and traffic modifications, while another section of the bill prohibits aggressive driving, and creates an escalating fine system for repeat offenders of moving violations directly affecting bicyclists and pedestrians. The bill also establishes a universal street and bicycle safety education curriculum for District schoolchildren,” said Councilmember Cheh.
The Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group was co-chaired by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and AAA Mid-Atlantic throughout six open forum meetings in May and June. Other members of the fourteen member working group include: All Walks DC, Bicycle Advisory Council, DC Surface Transit, Department of Insurance, Securities & Banking (DISB), District of Columbia Insurance Federation (DCIF), District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Pedestrian Advisory Council, PULSE Issues & Advocacy, and the United Spinal Association. The Working Group is currently composing a final report of recommendations to be presented to the Committee on Transportation & the Environment.
“In addition to the Working Group meetings, I also coordinated site visits with DDOT, the relevant ANCs, MPD, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates to the top five most dangerous intersections in the District to evaluate what short-term and long-term changes can be made to mitigate safety concerns. Being on-site with residents and connecting them with the agency decision makers was an incredibly helpful way to evaluate the infrastructure and behavioral challenges we face when attempting to improve our transportation system. This bill, the Working Group report, and dangerous intersection site visits are all components of a larger effort to reform and modernize the way the District responds to safety hazards on the roadways. The input we received from the community has been invaluable throughout this evaluation process, and I encourage residents to remain engaged and invested in this continued effort,” said Councilmember Cheh.
We found that bicyclist fatality rates per trip were higher for males than females and for adolescents and adults than children 5–14 years of age, which is consistent with studies that used amount of time spent cycling as the primary exposure measure (21). Although children spend more time on bicycles than adults do (21), they may be less likely to travel on roads with high traffic volume or high speeds or during nighttime hours, which are more dangerous settings in which to cycle. On the basis of amount of time spent cycling, Rodgers (21) found increased bicycle fatality risk for those who rode after dark. Such differences in exposure to different traffic environments were not captured in our analysis.
A few interesting tidbits jumped out at me.
1. While motoring gets safer as you move into middle age (25-64), walking and biking get more dangerous. This is probably because the data includes single car fataliteis, but not single bike fatalities - and becaue single bike and single pedestrian fatalities are probably much more rare per capita than single car fatalities are - meaning that youthful operator failure may be more of an issue for driving.
2. For women, biking is safer than walking, but for men it is not - and significantly so. But when considering injuries, biking becomes much more risky than walking regardless of sex.
3. For women, biking is not that much more dangerous than motoring (7.2 fatalities per 100 million trips compared to 6.3 for motoring), but for men it is more than twice as deadly. Which means that much of the difference betweeing motoring and cycling fatality rates is being driven by male cyclist behavior.
The overall mortality rate for males was six times greater than the overall mortality rate for females. In 2012, males accounted for 87% of total bicycle deaths in the United States. This proportion increased over the 38-year study period, from 79% in 1977 to a peak of 90% in 2001.
One could conclude that if men biked more like women did, there would be fewer cyclist deaths.
Again, the study only suggests possible countermeasures
Measures that prevent crashes and injuries for pedestrians and bicyclists are needed, especially given the recent focus on increasing physical activity through active travel. The benefits of physical activity, including prevention of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, must be balanced against the increased injury risks for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on roadways. Effective countermeasures for these road users include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, bicycle helmets [Here it cites a 1995 recommendation - probably based on one of the discredited studies], reductions in vehicle speeds, and engineering measures such as traffic signals at high-speed intersections; exclusive walk signal phasing; refuge islands and raised medians on multilane, high-traffic-volume roads; and increased intensity of roadway lighting to reduce nighttime pedestrian crashes.
As noted yesterday, a lot of the difference in risk might be due to cycling outside of the urban environement - riding on bike-unfriendly highways or shoulders next to 55mph lanes. DC, the most urban "state" in the country, certainly seems safer than others. So while biking in generaly might be more risky than motoring nationwhide; in an urban area - and one with bike facilities especially - that may no longer be true.
At a recent DC Bicycle Advisory Council Safety Committee meeting, Helaina Roisman, GWU Hospital’s Outreach Coordinator for Trauma Services and Injury Prevention informed the committee that all DC hospitals are required to collect trauma and injury data (Which I suppose is part of the Injury Surveillance and Trauma Registry). This data includes designations as to which injuries relate to bicycle crashes.
There are four trauma centers in the District; however, data are not compiled from each facility and no comprehensive trauma registry exists. Information related to hospital records, both emergency department and inpatient, was not available to the assessment team.
They listed the development of a District trauma registry that receives data from all four trauma centers as a top priority.
This information, assuming it can be released in compliance with HIPAA, etc..., should be made publicly available for study and analysis. Having reliable injury data would enable the city to set benchmarks and evaluate progress over time on injury prevention, and to build safety education programs that address the real risks in DC.
GWU, and other hospitals, reportedly have a legal obligation to try to prevent the injuries that they treat and it seems that making data of this sort available to researches - and even data nerds in the public - would be a great way to meet that obligation.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced that it is holding 10 public events spanning all eight wards to kick-off public engagement for Vision Zero, an initiative to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries to users of the District’s transportation system by 2024.
3 of these events have already happened, but there are seven more still to occur, including one tonight in Takoma.
If McLaughlin's son had been older, and had a permit, it's not even clear that he would have been guilty of the crimes he's been charged with. That's because while someone with a learner's permit must be accompanied by a qualified supervising driver who is 21 years or older, and has held a license for a minimum of 3 years. The person must be seated beside the new driver at all times, with no other front seat occupants, there is no requirement that that person be sober.
Back in 1997, Judith Marie Flannery, a world-class triathlete and mother of five from Chevy Chase, was struck and killed by a car driven by a teen who was driving in place of his intoxicated father. While both the son and the father were charged with serious crimes, they were both found not guilty. In the end the father, Ronald Milton Rinehart, pleaded guilty to permitting an unauthorized person to a operate a motor vehicle and permitting a vehicle to be driven in violation of title; crimes that stemmed from the status of the car and the teen driver (who didn't have a learner's permit) but not the condition of the intoxicated driver.
I had always assumed that this incident, rising awareness of drunk driving and stricter drunk driving laws had led to the law in Maryland being changed so that an adult driver who was supervising an unlicensed driver (permit-holding or not) would be subject to a drunk driving violation if they were in fact over the limit. I guess I was wrong.
The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas. This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015. Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.
As part of the campaign, which runs from March 23 to April 19, regional law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who break traffic safety laws. Violators on foot, bicycle, and behind the wheel will be ticketed and face fines up to $500, and drivers may also get points on their driver record.
Street Smart officials launched the spring initiative at College Park City Hall. Several pedestrian fatalities in College Park last year led officials to reduce the speed limit for MD Route 1 from 30 mph to 25 mph and to add improvements such as median fencing and signals to help pedestrians safely cross the roadway. Officials shared the message of awareness and accountability at today’s gathering.
This year they are again using the pictures showing people with tire tracks on their face, with the clever lines "Make eye contact, not body contact." I would love to find some evidence that the ad campaign side of it works. I'm skeptical. There is a scene from a TV show that I recall when I see these. Two characters at an ad agency are talking about a splashy TV ad they just made and one asks if it will improve sales. The other says no, but that the print and radio ads will. "Then why make the TV ad?" the first asks. "It's artsy, it will win awards and we'll make more money" is the response. These ads feel a little like that.
I'd rather have ads that explain the law to people who don't know it. Like the 3 foot law. Or mandatory bike lights.