Our streets are not safe enough.
Last Thursday night, a four year child was killed at the corner of Kennedy St and Georgia Ave NW in Ward 4. The lives of the family, the driver, and bystanders who heroically attempted lifesaving aid will never be the same. This is unspeakable trauma.
This tragedy was preventable. Humans make mistakes, but it’s the design of our streets that makes those mistakes deadly. We know what it takes to make our streets safe for everyone, including kids. It takes slower speeds, less driving, and more space for people outside of cars. The solutions are not complicated, what’s missing is the political will to implement them. Please join me in writing to the Mayor and Council demanding immediate action.
I live a few blocks away from Georgia and Kennedy, and hurried to the scene when I heard the news of the crash. We all live near and travel through dangerous intersections and hostile streets. Last week’s deadly crash could have been blocks away from your home, work, a place of worship or a school.
Despite a dramatic drop in driving and commuting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities are unacceptably high. People walking make up a disportionately high percentage of the fatalities and serious injuries, with communities of color bearing the burden of most traffic violence. These unjust outcomes are the result of decades of disinvestment and broken priorities.
As I stood at the corner of Kennedy St and Georgia Ave NW on Thursday attempting to comprehend the pain of a family losing a child, across town advocates, residents, and civic leaders were pleading with city officials in a public meeting to make another dangerous corridor, Connecticut Ave NW, safer. We should not have to plead, block by block, project by project, for streets that don’t kill people. The system is broken. It’s deadly and it’s unjust. Our elected officials bicker, and our agency leaders keep their heads down and hide behind bureaucracy, and our city fails to make sufficient progress. Why is it so hard? We know what it takes to make our streets safer, and it might appear unpopular, but here it is:
It will take longer to drive places. It will be harder to find a parking space.
That’s it. That’s why people keep dying on our streets. I don’t think that’s a good enough reason.
Please join me in calling for urgent action by Mayor Bowser and the entire DC government to address the continued harm of dangerous streets in our city. The pace and scope of the District’s current safety efforts are inadequate. Five years ago, Mayor Bowser committed to ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024. The numbers continue to move in the wrong direction. To save lives, we need commitments to the following:
The Department of Transportation must immediately implement aggressive traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures on every arterial street in the District. Speed limits, and design speeds, should be 20 miles per hour or lower.
Further, DDOT must immediately dismantle its internal, systemic barriers to implementing safer streets, including, but not limited to:
- Rejecting the Level-of-Service engineering standards, which prioritize driver convenience over safety.
- Setting a maximum Speed Limit and Design Speed of 20 miles per hour on all streets that are not limited access highways.
- Explicit directions to all agency staff to prioritize pedestrian safety over parking in every single instance.
- Drastic and immediate improvements to the agency’s pace of Project Delivery. The status quo—safety projects that take years, and deliver piecemeal, mediocre, results—is deadly and unacceptable.
The District’s 2021 budget must include complete funding for all elements of the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019, as well as any additional funding DDOT needs to immediately overhaul pedestrian safety on every arterial street.