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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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Second letter sent to DDOT, DGS regarding lack of sidewalk outside Wilson Building

Councilmember Grosso sent a follow up letter to the District Department of Transportation and the Department of General Services to inquire about the lack of sidewalks in front of the Wilson Building; his initial letter received no response.

Councilmember Grosso believes access to adequate sidewalk space, especially around government buildings that the public should be able to access easily, is a public safety concern.  Pedestrians have been observed walking into the street while multiple lanes remain available to cars.

A sidewalk should be established in the roadway immediately to allow for pedestrian safe passage.

Here is the councilmember's letter sent today:

Here is Councilmember Grosso's initial letter, sent December 7, 2016.

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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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Safety First Initiative

By Aaron Pritchard, Chief of Staff

Yesterday, WAMU reported that D.C. has a higher rate of pedestrian fatalities than the national average. With the news coverage during the first half of 2013 this should come as no surprise.   On consecutive days along Councilmember Grosso’s commute several pedestrians were hit near Union Station and another just up the street on 4th and Massachusetts NW.   After the second accident he came into the office distraught about the dangerous situation for pedestrians in our city. Our office hatched the “Safety First” initiative on that day in mid-June.

The “Safety First” initiative focuses first on improving the safety of our most vulnerable and common users of transportation – our pedestrians. Yes, many people drive, others take the metro or ride buses, and a growing number of residents bike to work – but pedestrians are everywhere, all day. Grosso’s question was: how could we begin to improve pedestrian safety in the District of Columbia immediately? We started with legislative and oversight efforts focused on pedestrian safety.

First, we inserted Budget Support Act (BSA) language that mandates that DDOT (D.C. Department of Transportation) create a safety nexus for speed cameras throughout the city. Grosso’s theory, created after months of campaign questions about speed camera’s, was that if DDOT were to incorporate speed cameras into its safety calculus, then we could use that analysis to reduce the number of serious pedestrian/car collisions in D.C.  The desired result would be that D.C. residents would trust that when speed cameras are installed, the government was motivated by improving safety, and not just increasing local revenue. D.C. residents support speed cameras, and red light camera’s, in their neighborhoods and on streets near their homes, because they understand that reducing the speed of cars creates safer communities. Our office anticipates that a safety nexus for speed cameras, rather than focusing our limited camera resources on generating revenue, will improve pedestrian safety.

The second idea came when Councilmember Grosso heard about the successful reduction in pedestrian injuries when Traffic Control Officers (TCOs) were deployed in a pilot project on Wisconsin and M Street NW. The officers issued enough tickets to cover the cost of their time working while also improving traffic flow and, most importantly, improving pedestrian safety at the intersection. We had heard of rumors of political and other reasons (not including safety) driving decisions on where TCO’s were located so we included language in the BSA that would require DDOT to identify the top ten most dangerous intersections in D.C. and to prioritize the placement of TCO’s at these intersections.

With TCO’s covering the most dangerous intersections, a secondary impact can be realized in identifying and publicizing the most dangerous intersections in our city. It is Councilmember Grosso’s hope that local activists, once notified of a dangerous intersection in their neighborhood, will pressure the D.C. Council and the Mayor’s office for more safety resources at that location. These efforts may include: educating pedestrians of the dangerous locations; implementing traffic calming devices and enforcing traffic safety laws.

Finally, during the DDOT performance oversight hearing Councilmember Grosso noticed that DDOT was not using pedestrian safety data in their agency performance measures. As a result, they were also not reporting pedestrian safety data in their yearly performance report to the D.C. Council. Councilmember Grosso raised this at the performance and budget hearings noting that pedestrian safety should be a top priority at DDOT and he requested that they include pedestrian safety data in their annual performance measures for the agency. 

Our office recognizes that there are many transportation priorities in D.C. – the streetcar, bike lanes, and other various modes – but we are keenly aware that focusing on pedestrians must also drive DDOT’s policy decisions and performance measures. Everyone, regardless of age, disability, or choice of locomotion is a pedestrian at some point. We must do better to ensure that our pedestrians are our highest priority. DDOT agreed to include pedestrian safety this year in their performance measures as a result of Grosso’s questions.  Our office looks forward to analyzing this data next year in the performance hearings.

Councilmember Grosso’s “Safety First” initiative is just a small first step, but we will continually use it to focus DDOT’s efforts on improving pedestrian safety in D.C. and on making our communities safer places to walk. If you have any suggestions or ideas for improving pedestrian safety, please contact me at apritchard@dccouncil.us .

*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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