No parking by Claire Uziel used with permission.

Seventeen (and counting) Advisory Neighborhood Comissioners are pledging to give up their free parking passes, making them our latest Urbanist Heroes of the Week. Signees are urging the DC Council to prioritize making the city better for people bicycling, walking, and taking transit, and to do more to address climate change.

“Crises in climate change and affordable housing demand action to reduce our over-reliance on cars. The environmental and land-use impacts are too great to ignore any longer,” Robb Dooling said in an email.

Four ANC commissioners—Dooling, Erin Palmer, Matthew Sampson, and Evan Yeats—drafted the letter and are collecting signatures right now. They're planning to submit it to DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson on January 11.

“Rejecting our parking passes is both a statement that more urgent action on climate change is necessary, and that our government needs to ensure that residents across the city can easily, affordably, and safely travel by public transit, bike, and walking,” Palmer said in an email. “Public officials should model ethical behavior, and I take issue with any elected official who misuses parking (or other privileges).”

You can read their full letter below:

January 11, 2019

Phil Mendelson, Chair
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chair Mendelson,

We, the undersigned Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, pledge to hand in our DC government-issued parking passes. We believe government resources should support accessible and equitable public transit options for all DC residents, as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We further believe that Commissioners and other elected officials should not abuse government-issued parking passes.

Over-reliance on cars raises serious environmental and safety concerns that we as elected officials cannot ignore. According to UN scientists on the International Panel on Climate Change, we only have 12 years to reverse human-made effects on the climate before the point of no return.[1] As of 2013, 23% of DC’s carbon emissions came from transportation, the vast majority of which came from personal vehicles.[2] Car drivers killed 35 people in DC in 2018, the highest number since DC instituted its Vision Zero plan in 2015.[3] At least ten of these deaths occurred in Ward 8, and Ward 1 was the only Ward in the city without a traffic fatality.[4] Rejecting our parking passes is one small change that we, as leaders, can make toward protecting the environment and DC residents as they travel throughout the city.

Our city government needs to do more to encourage people to reduce their reliance on driving in favor of walking, biking, and public transit, and it needs to do so in a way that is accessible and equitable for residents in all DC neighborhoods. One of the goals of the DC Department of Transportation’s MoveDC Plan is to reduce auto travel mode share to 25%. As of 2010, it stood at 40%, and that does not take into account thousands of out-of-state drivers.[5]

We know that a car-free or car-light lifestyle is possible in DC[6], but government policies and action do not go far enough to promote safe walking and biking and support robust public transit networks for all DC residents. We, the undersigned Commissioners, call for more protection for pedestrians through curb extensions, wider sidewalks, and road diets. We call for a protected cycletrack network that will allow more District residents to choose to commute safely by bicycle. And we call for robust public transit that serves the needs of residents in all neighborhoods in DC, regardless of their age, race, income, or ability.

Finally, we reject the notion that serving as an elected official entitles us to disregard any laws of the District of Columbia, including parking or traffic laws.[7] We encourage other elected officials to join us in recommitting to ethical, legal behavior in all that we do, and leading by example as we push for a safer DC through all modes of transportation.

We believe turning in our parking passes is one small step we can take to protect our environment and public safety, support accessible and equitable public transit as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and encourage ethical behavior by all elected officials.

Sincerely,

Dan Winston, Commissioner, ANC 1B12
Bridget Pooley, Commissioner, ANC 1C02
Damiana Dendy, Commissioner, ANC 1C05
Michaela Wright, Commissioner, ANC 1C06
Japer Bowles, Commissioner, ANC 1C07
Trupti Patel, Commissioner, ANC 2A03
James Harnett, Commissioner, ANC 2A08
Matthew Sampson, Commissioner, ANC 2B01
Aaron Landry, Commissioner, ANC 2B04
Michael Sriqui, Commissioner, ANC 3D04
Evan Yeats, Commissioner, ANC 4B01
Erin Palmer, Commissioner, ANC 4B02
Jonah Goodman, Commissioner, ANC 4C10
Amber Gove, Commissioner, ANC 6A04
Corey Holman, Commissioner, ANC 6B06
K. Denise Rucker Krepp, Commissioner, ANC 6B10
Robb Dooling, Commissioner, ANC 6C06

*If you are an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who wants to sign onto this letter, please fill out the form here: https://goo.gl/forms/OsaAphOc8CqhqUiR2.*

cc: Mayor Muriel Bowser
At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman
At-Large Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr.
Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember Jack Evans
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Brandon T. Todd
Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie
Councilmember Charles Allen
Councilmember Vincent C. Gray
Councilmember Trayon White, Sr.


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Julie Strupp is Greater Greater Washington's Managing Editor. She's written for DCist, Washingtonian, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and others. You can usually find her sparring with her judo club, pedaling around the city, or hanging out on her Columbia Heights stoop.