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Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

For Immediate Release: 
April 23, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the deaths that occurred on the District of Columbia’s streets over the past weekend:

“This weekend two more people were killed on our streets by speeding cars: Dave Salovesh, while biking on Florida Avenue NE, and Abdul Seck, while walking in Anacostia. I am deeply saddened by these deaths, and my heart goes out to their families and friends. But as an elected official, my thoughts focus on how our local government could better prevent these deaths.

“Mr. Seck was visiting our city from New York, and, like fellow tourists Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adams who were killed on our streets in December, was a pedestrian. Mr. Salovesh was a long-time advocate for safe streets in our city, and I encountered him often over the years. He was passionate and persistent, but the Mayor and the District Department of Transportation have not listened to his pleas.

“The simple fact is cars are killing us. Since I joined the Council in 2013, we have passed laws and budgets that we believed gave DDOT the necessary tools to create a multimodal transportation network with safe sidewalks and protected bike lanes. The failure to actually complete these improvements is a result of many missed opportunities and deadlines. It’s no surprise to see we are no closer to our Vision Zero goals, especially when we consider that too much emphasis is placed on accommodating the needs of drivers. We need to shift our focus to building streets that cater to all modes of transportation and protect the well-being of our vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.

“Prioritizing automobiles creates a disastrous cycle for safety. Not only are our current bikers and pedestrians less safe, but potential cyclists and pedestrians opt for riding in cars due to safety concerns. Those additional cars then, in turn, make it even more dangerous for people to walk and bike in our city.

“We need to do more. Dave Salovesh had some ideas, like creating a continuous network of protected bike lanes. We could start there.

“At today's Committee of the Whole meeting, I joined Councilmember Mary Cheh as a co-introducer of her Mandatory Protected Cycling Lane Amendment Act of 2019 to accelerate the construction of protected bike lanes on our streets. I also joined Councilmember Charles Allen to co-introduce emergency legislation to improve safety for pedestrians and bikers by forcing DDOT to complete the Florida Avenue Multimodal Project.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues on whatever new laws and budget language we need to change the status quo in how we design, build and maintain our roadways. It simply should not be physically possible to go so fast on our streets that people can be so easily killed by cars. This means narrowing our roads and intersections and using that newly freed up space for wider sidewalks, bike lanes, plazas, and more.

“Our city has no excuse for the deaths of Dave Salovesh and Abdul Seck. These were not simply tragic accidents, but the inevitable result of prioritizing the speed and convenience of cars by failing to narrow our roads, paint our crosswalks, install stop signs, and make other changes to allow our residents and visitors to safely travel in our city.”

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Grosso urges quick implementation of protected bike lanes on 6th and 9th Streets NW

Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter last week to Director of the D.C. Department of Transportation expressing his disappointment at the lack of progress of protected bike lanes on 6th Street and 9th Street NW between Florida and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW.

Changes in the area, including the reopening of MLK Library and removal of bike and bus lanes, necessitate a speedy implementation of both these protect bike lanes to improve mobility and safety for cyclists on corridors that touch Wards 1, 2, and 6.

You can read the full letter below and here.

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Letter from Councilmember Grosso on New York Avenue Streetscape

On February 24, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to Mayor Bowser opposing Virginia Railway Express' request to build portions of their rail yard within the New York Avenue right of way, and to expedite the planning and construction process for the trail and greenspace in this land along with other pedestrian and bicycle connections to serve the Ivy City neighborhood.

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Grosso sends inquiry letter to DDOT on bicycle infrastructure East of the River

Today, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to the District Department of Transportation to inquire about studies and plans to bring more bicycle racks to Historic Anacostia. Councilmember Grosso noticed a complete lack of infrastructure for bicyclists while participating in the Peace Walk on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We will update this post when we receive a response from DDOT.

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Councilmember Grosso, Councilmember Wells, Washington Area Bicyclists Association and All Walks DC to hold joint press conference to push for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Thursday, November 6 at 10am

WASHINGTON, DC— On Friday, November 7, the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety will hold a mark-up and vote on B20-884, the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014,” which would remove the harsh and antiquated system of contributory negligence for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable roadway users who are injured in collisions with motor vehicles. The introduced bill is available here.

 “Pedestrians and bicyclists injured in a crash with a motor vehicle are frequently barred from recovering damages to pay for associated medical bills and damaged property,” said Councilmember Tommy Wells. “The District of Columbia and four other states are the only remaining jurisdictions in the nation with this outdated and unjust negligence standard. I am proud that we are finally taking the steps to change this unfair law.”

“Fairness, safety and equity are the basic principles of this legislation,” said At-Large Councilmember David Grosso who co-introduced the bill with Councilmembers Wells and Cheh. “Based on the testimony we received during the September hearing, the Committee was able to expand the bill to include vulnerable users from pedestrians, cyclists, those in wheelchairs and others.  This amendment significantly enhances the bill, adding a needed layer of protection for those residents who rely on alternate means of transportation to get around the city.”

The Committee worked with the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC), and All Walks DC to help craft the bill. “It is well past time for DC to join the majority of states in bringing fairness to the legal system for vulnerable roadway users, including bicyclists and pedestrians,” says Shane Farthing, WABA executive director. “The victim-blaming contributory negligence doctrine prevents blocks access to justice for people hoping to recover from roadway crashes and injuries. As bicycling continues to grow in the city, we count on our elected officials to make the necessary legal changes to protect people who bike, and we look forward the passage of this bill.”

"All Walks DC calls upon our elected representatives to make a stand against the legal status quo that protects drivers and insurance companies at the expense of pedestrians,” said Tracy Loh of All Walks DC. “This bill is an opportunity to not only make DC safer, but improve access to real justice for pedestrians who suffer traffic conflicts in our great walking city."

"The Pedestrian Advisory Council advises the Mayor and Council, and in this role we voted to recommend that pedestrians be included in the bill and testified to this at the September hearing," said PAC Chair Jason Broehm. "We're pleased that the bill was amended to do this."

To rally support for the bill, Councilmembers Wells and David Grosso will hold a joint press conference on Thursday, November 6 at 10:00am in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building. Wells and Grosso will be joined by All Walks DC and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association which will unveil its official voting record scorecard for DC Councilmembers. B20-884 is the first bill on which Councilmembers’ votes will be graded.

 

PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS

WHAT:                   Joint Press Conference

WHO:                     DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, DC Councilmember David Grosso, Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), All Walks DC.

DATE:                     Thursday, November 6, 2014

TIME:                      10:00am

WHERE:                  Room 123

                                John A. Wilson Building

                                1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

                                Washington, DC 20004

 

 Both Councilmembers will be available for questions immediately following the presentation

 

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Ensuring fairness for bicyclists involved in collisions

By Nikko Bilitza

Councilmember Grosso recently introduced the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014.” This bill would make it easier for cyclists to get compensation for damage sustained in accidents with cars, by ending the legal use of contributory negligence in automobile-bicycle collisions. Contributory negligence is a legal defense that argues that the plaintiff in a negligence case cannot receive compensation if they are even one percent responsible for the damage. For example, Driver A is making a left turn and hits Driver B, who was driving over the speed limit through the intersection.  Driver B sustains injuries and sues Driver A for negligence but loses because Driver B was driving over the speed limit, which contributed to the injury.

Only four states use contributory negligence, a legal defense that is unfair for traffic cases considering that plaintiffs often have to pay off expensive medical bills or vehicle repair bills. This bill will help cyclists who often get the raw end of the deal in traffic cases due to jurors or police misunderstanding how laws apply to cyclists. According to a study by the League of American Bicyclist, only 12% of fatal cyclist accidents resulted in any form of punishment for the driver or compensation for the family of the victim. These cases spurred  Councilmember Grosso to propose legislation switching to a comparative negligence standard, which stipulates that the plaintiff is compensated in proportion to their responsibility for the damage. This change is especially timely, as DDOT and Howard University recently reported a 130% increase in collisions involving cars and cyclists in the District from 2010 to 2012.

Source:  Traffic Safety Statistics Report for the District of Columbia (2010-2012) , D.C. Department of Transportation and Howard University.

Source: Traffic Safety Statistics Report for the District of Columbia (2010-2012), D.C. Department of Transportation and Howard University.

We need to make sure that cyclists affected in these accidents will receive fair and proportional compensation. The Councilmember is pushing to move the bill forward when the Council reconvenes after the summer recess on September 15.

*This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso.

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Performance Oversight Hearing recap for March 21, 2014

The winter weather has decided to stick around a little while longer and as a result of the snow, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment rescheduled the performance oversight hearing of the Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) several times.  Finally, on Friday, March 21, the hearing got underway, and ran for six hours.

Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC):

  • In FY13, the BAC was unable to access the $10,000 budgeted for them due to a lack of clarity on the process to access the funds.
  • Frequently, the BAC makes recommendations to DDOT as it relates to bike safety and infrastructure.  BAC’s facilities committee is working to develop a mechanism to track their recommendations and whether or not DDOT has made progress to implement them.  The BAC noted that there is still not strong follow-through on the part of DDOT.

Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC):

  • In FY13, the PAC created the Enforcement & Education Committee as well as the Walking Environment Committee.  These committees work to increase awareness around pedestrian safety.
  • The PAC is continuing their efforts to advocate for more traffic control officers and expressed support for photo enforcement.
  • The PAC still has concerns with the slow progress of DDOT on addressing sidewalk gaps.

District Dept. of Transportation (DDOT):

  • For residents living within the District’s 68.3 square miles, parking can often be a challenge.  DDOT is reviewing the District-wide residential parking program (RPP) and making changes to the wards that were re-districted, as well as updating their files.  The review process is 95% complete.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to tweet confusing parking signage to DDOT and get a response immediately?  Well Councilmember Grosso recommended this and DDOT explained that they currently receive pictures and complaints via Twitter and emails, as well as, receiving calls through 311.  DDOT officials noted that there is a 311 mobile app that allows users to upload pictures, which are then submitted to DDOT’s work order management system and assigned a ticket number.  DDOT continues to make improvements to streets signs, working block-by-block to fix confusing signage.
  • Food truck advocates expressed that while few signs do exist for street vendors, more are needed and all signs should specify the times for which vendors can park.  DDOT explained that the rollout of the Mobile Roadway Vending (MRV) locations has, overall, been good; however, they are trying to work out a few kinks.  Specifically, DDOT explained that there is a challenge with creating permanent signage (currently they provide temporary signs) because once a permanent sign goes up, it is increasingly more difficult to go back and make any adjustments to them.
  • Safety is always a priority and each year DDOT works to identify 50 dangerous intersection locations, a process that tends to take 2 years to address with the first year dedicated to design plans and the 2nd year devoted to construction.  This year, DDOT is working to provide pavement markings, high visibility signs and more.
  • More construction is on the way!  Councilmember Grosso explained that the intersection located at 4th Street, Massachusetts Avenue and H Street NW is extremely dangerous and confusing.  The Councilmember requested that a traffic control officer be placed at this location; however it won’t happen.  DDOT expressed their concerns with this intersection but stated that in a few weeks massive construction will be taking place at this site.  To assist residents with their daily commutes, DDOT stated that they will be able to produce some site maps informing residents of where major construction is taking place and offering alternative routes.

 

 

 

 

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