Councilmember Nadeau's Letter to Mayor Bowser on Street Safety and Vision Zero
Dear Mayor Bowser,
The recent deaths of Dave Salovesh on Florida Ave NE and Abdul Seck in Anacostia are tragic reminders of the stakes when the we delay implementation of infrastructure improvements that keep all road users safe. Dave was a strong advocate for safer streets and expanded bicycle infrastructure across the District, and if his and Abdul Seck’s deaths are to mean anything, I hope it is the more focused attention of the Council and your administration on how we save lives on our streets.
Let us not forget Daniel Olaya, Troy Sandy Austin, and Willie Ulysees Williams, who were also killed on our streets just this year.
I am looking forward to meeting again soon with DDOT Director Marootian and the new Vision Zero Director Linda Bailey, who have shown that they are ready and willing to take decisive action on achieving Vision Zero and creating a more sustainable DC. But after meeting with various DDOT Directors over the years, I also know that their action can only go as far as you enable them to go.
Just when we should be following through on the 2006 Bike Master Plan recommendation to install ten miles of protected bicycle infrastructure every year, we are instead installing a mere ten miles total by 2024. As cities across the country are proactively expanding dedicated bus lanes and Bus Rapid Transit improvements, we are just now getting started on pilot programs.
During my time on the Council, and before that on the ANC, I’ve strongly advocated to DDOT for better cyclist infrastructure, driver education, and safer pedestrian crossings.
I am thankful for the infrastructure projects being installed in and around Ward 1 in the next year, including the Crosstown Cycletrack, a pilot bus/bike lane on 14th Street NW, and completion of the long-awaited bus lanes on 16th Street NW. I will be proactive in allocating funding for and conducting oversight of the many other projects that have been planned and abandoned or tabled indefinitely. I know this is a frustration many of my colleagues on the Council share.
Additionally, if we are to really achieve our goals of Vision Zero, reduced use of single-occupancy vehicles, and a sustainable and carbon-neutral city, we need to be much bolder in our thinking. I know in addresses on transportation and bicycle infrastructure you have mentioned that we are out of “low hanging fruit,” i.e. streets where a bike lane can be painted without disruption to car traffic or parking. I argue that what we need to do next is address the challenge at hand and change what “low hanging fruit” means.
To these ends, below are a few policies I will be advancing as Ward 1 Councilmember. I hope you will stand with me, so that we don’t see any more ghost bikes and memorials on our streets:
- Passing a robust Complete Streets policy, requiring accommodations for all modes of transportation when redesigning streets.
- A statutorily mandated number of miles of complete streets infrastructure built per year.
- A comprehensive network of dedicated transit lanes and protected bicycle infrastructure, serving all wards and neighborhoods.
- Planning and installing our protected bike infrastructure as a connected network rather than studying it street-by-street.
- Concrete and enforceable targets to reduce car ownership and parking utilization across the District.
- Ending the outdated “Level of Service” model of traffic analysis and moving towards a system that looks at all road users and vehicle miles travelled.
- Aggressive expansion of Automated Traffic Enforcement to stop behavior by drivers that endangers pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
- More robust and frequent driver education and testing.
- Downtown congestion pricing, akin to what is being currently implemented in New York City.
- Working with neighboring jurisdictions to oppose highway widenings that would increase commuter volumes and traffic fatalities on DC’s streets.
Just outside my office window in front of the Wilson Building is a statue of Alexander “Boss” Shepherd, who installed more than 150 miles of paved streets and sidewalks and facilitated DC’s first public transit system. That statue should be a constant reminder that if you’re looking to create a lasting legacy in this city, one could certainly do worse than focusing on creating safe and livable streets for our residents.
Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember, Ward 1