This morning, DC officials released their plan for Vision Zero, the campaign to eliminate all deaths on the roadways. It lays out analysis about crashes and strategies to make roads safer.
The Vision Zero team collected a lot of data about actual crashes, and also asked people online and at events where they felt unsafe. For pedestrian safety, the most crashes are (not surprisingly) downtown where there are lot of pedestrians. However, people seemed to talk about some other places where the road design or other factors might deter them from walking, like Pennsylvania Avenue SE and the Hill East area.
For bicycling, respondents seem to have talked a lot about places like the 15th Street protected bikeway, where a lot of people are riding and drivers frequently block the box at corners, but crashes happen in some other real hotspots like Connecticut Avenue and Columbia Road.
Driving crashes basically seem to happen everywhere people drive, in approximate proportion to how much traffic there is. Drivers seem to be concerned on H Street/Benning Road NE and in a variety of trouble spots in places like Takoma and Petworth. South Capitol Street, Barney Circle, and a lot of spots on Capitol Hill also got many mentions.
More than half of pedestrian and bicycle deaths happened in the 15 high-crash corridors in this map. (Much of the traveling happens there too, so this isn’t a huge surprise). But these identify places where changes could have the most impact.
This map shows where camera tickets happen in relation to crashes. There are a few very high-ticket cameras in spots, like the K Street underpass under Washington Circle, but it’s not clear from this map that the locations correlate that much with danger spots.
What to do about this?
The report lists a lot of strategies to reduce and eliminate road deaths. You can read them all in the report, but here are a few highlights:
- Fill sidewalk gaps on 40 blocks.
- “Install or upgrade” 20 miles of bike lanes and bikeways. At least five miles would be protected bikeways.
- Build two “protected intersections” as a pilot project. This concept was proposed for New Jersey Avenue and M Street, but wasn’t put into effect.
- Create an Urban Design Unit in the Office of Planning. Have it redesign some dangerous public spaces to be safer and also more inviting.
- Pilot some lower speed limits, including two major streets with 25 mph limits, two neighborhoods with 20 mph limits, and some 15-mph limits around schools and other spots with youth and seniors.
- Revise the manual engineers use to design streets so that it mandates designs that accommodate all users, not just cars. There would also be a Complete Streets law requiring this. Mandate that a road’s “design speed” as well as the speed limit are right to ensure the street is safe, rather than designing a fast street and posting a low speed limit.
- Organize some “hackathons” to get residents engaged in analyzing safety data and devising solutions.
A lot of the plan is about tracking more data: Data about sidewalk maintenance, bike traffic with authomated counters, Capital Bikeshare crashes, construction closures, seat belt usage, and more. The plan calls for more data to be collected and also more to be publicly released.
Increased enforcement, especially against unsafe behaviors, is another real focus. One area the plan calls out is U-turns through bike lanes, dooring, passing cyclists too closely, and other dangerous behaviors around cyclists. It also recommends enforcing good behavior for everyone around work zones and parking garages.
It will be the responsibility of DDOT and other agencies going forward to turn this plan into actual action on the ground. That will require residents continually pushing agencies and also insisting that politicians take the principles seriously.
What do you think about the plan?