Councilmember Allen introduces Vision Zero Omnibus bill

Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) introduced a bill overhauling the District’s approach to reducing the number of deaths of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.

The bill focuses on creating streets with safe accommodations for pedestrians via improved sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections and more protected bicycle lanes for cyclists and other non-car users. These improvements will also mean safer streets for drivers. The bill steps up enforcement of existing laws and plans for a future that reduces the District’s greenhouse emissions around traffic.

Following the death of a 24-year-old man who was struck in a crosswalk Friday night in Ward 7 and the death on Sunday a 34-year-old woman who succumbed to injuries from an April 21 accident, 10 people have now died in traffic collisions this year.

“Safe streets are for everyone and need to be in every neighborhood in DC. I don’t care if you’re walking, riding, or driving, you deserve to get from point A to point B safely,” said Councilmember Allen. “What can I say? Our streets are not designed for safety. They’re designed to move cars. They aren’t welcoming to pedestrians or cyclists. They don’t prioritize our buses. It’s too easy to speed and plenty of intersections are a tragedy waiting to happen based on their design.”

Councilmember Allen continued, “We can’t talk about transit equity without addressing basic road safety. Safe travel, especially without a car, shouldn’t be a perk of living in a given neighborhood. It should be the standard in every part of the city that’s safe to walk or bike to school, to the bus stop, or to work.”

The Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019 makes proposals in a few areas (click here for a guide on where to find these bullet points in the legislation):

Better Infrastructure Faster

  • Requires DDOT to certify plans for private developments that include new sidewalks, marking unmarked crosswalks, and adding protected bike lanes that are in the Transportation Plan
  • Requires new developments of 10 or more units plan for ride-share and deliveries that do not block the right-of-way of sidewalks or bicycle lanes
  • Requires sidewalks on both sides of all streets and connections be made to any existing sidewalks within .1 of a mile
  • For residential intersections of two-way streets, all-way stops are the starting point for design
  • Speeds up approval process for DDOT to make critical infrastructure repairs at high-risk areas
  • All DDOT Capital Projects must increase traffic safety or transit equity
  • Requires annual progress report on all projects or recommended projects in the Transportation plan, including explaining recommended projects were not advanced.
    • Creates space for DDOT to ensure prioritization of projects based on equity needs for underserved neighborhoods or ones experiencing high traffic injuries and fatalities

Stronger Enforcement of Existing Law

  • Bans right-on-red turns in the District of Columbia
  • Creates a Citizen Traffic Safety Enforcement Pilot program to test training and empowering citizens to enforce parking laws in crosswalks, bicycle lanes, fire lanes, and bus stops
  • Limits speed limits to 25 mph on most minor arterial roads and 20 mph on local roads
  • Clarifies the Mayor can impound cars parked illegally in crosswalks and bicycle lanes and allows parking enforcement staff to mail tickets when a driver leaves before receiving the ticket
  • Requires all applicants for a new or renewal driver’s license to take a written test
  • Levies a $10,000 daily fine on contractors who do not restore crosswalks and bicycle lanes within 24 hours of completing work
  • Allows parking enforcement to target repeat reckless drivers by impounding parked cars with five speeding violations at 31+ mph over the speed limit or violations for passing a stopped car yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk

Planning for a More Equitable Future with Fewer Car Trips

  • Requires DDOT to update the Transportation Plan every two years, that will be approved by the Council, and include:
    • A plan to get to 50% of commutes by public transit and an additional 25% by bike/ped by 2032, in line with goals set by the landmark Clean Energy DC law
    • Identify areas in need of improved transit access
    • Identify high-risk intersections
    • A list of one street or one bus line in each ward that will get a dedicated transit lane
    • Allows the Council to direct additional elements for the next plan in an approval resolution
  • Requires Complete Streets Policy laying out standard project delivery processes for projects managed by DDOT
  • Adds requirement for DDOT to aggregate crash and speed data in one publicly-accessible site

The bill is being co-introduced by Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Kenyan McDuffie, Elissa Silverman, David Grosso, Robert White, Brandon Todd, and Anita Bonds. The bill was co-sponsored by Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Vince Gray.

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