Comments for Vision Zero Roundtable 9/27

On Wednesday, September 27 Council Members Mary Cheh and Charles Allen will hold a public roundtable on the implementation of Vision Zero. Below are my comments since I won’t be able to testify in person.

Committee Chairpersons Cheh and Allen,

Due to schedule constraints, I am unable to testify at the Public Roundtable on the Implementation of the Vision Zero Initiative and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016 on September 27, 2018. I submit the following written testimony and hope if informs your discussions and decision making resulting from the roundtable.

When the Mayor announced the Vision Zero Initiative in 2015, I was enthusiastic. There was a lot of work to be done, but I believed declaring vulnerable road users the priority would lead to wholesale changes quickly in the city. There have been many successes since then, of course. I’m sure your government witnesses will highlight those, but I want to single out the Open Data work done by OCTO and data folks from the agencies. It’s simply outstanding and the folks at OCTO are incredibly responsive to issues I’ve encountered. Related, the number of geographic layers and geocoding of crashes and violations is simply outstanding and credit must go to the agency partners and their data folks.

With the niceties out of the way, I want to point out two glaring problems with the implementation of the two acts.

The first problem is easy to spot and easy to diagnose. In December of 2015, DDOT released proposed rule makings to implement further Vision Zero. After extending the comment period on that first rulemaking, DDOT didn’t release final rulemaking; instead, DDOT released a second rulemaking in January of 2017. DDOT twice extended the comment period on this second rulemaking and guess what happened next? Nothing. For almost three years, DDOT and the Mayor have refused to move forward on these critical rule changes.

Second, I want to push DDOT on the purported use of data to find dangerous intersections and to put safety of vulnerable road users first. As a member of the ANC 6B Transportation Committee, I used the OCTO open data to examine safety at our two-way stop signs. In 6B, there are 63 4-way intersections with all way stops and 17 4-way intersections with two-way stops. In the OCTO crash datasets, at those 63 intersections with all way stops, there are 591 crashes with an average of 9.4 per intersection within 109 feet of the intersection. At the two-way stops, there have been 227 crashes for an average of 14.2. Clearly, this data points to two-way intersections being more dangerous than four-ways.

So what happens when ANC 6B asks for the most dangerous two-way intersections to be converted? Traffic studies and pedestrian counts that say there’s not enough cross traffic for a four-way stop. But there’s less cross traffic because the intersections are dangerous. Anecdotes aren’t data, but on both bike and in a car, I avoid 12th/G St SE despite it potentially being a quicker route for some of my trips. This process repeats itself at 17th and A. At 10th and South Carolina. At 18th and East Capitol. At 16th and Massachusetts. At 5th and Independence. You get the idea.

I’ve used open data to determine the most dangerous intersections and have presented this data to DDOT. At the four-way intersections, by far the most with crashes in 6B is 17th and A streets SE with 52 crashes. The next closest was 35 crashes, at the four-way stop of 7th and E. 17th and A is a two-way stop. 17th and A is constantly cited by it’s SMD as the most dangerous intersection. 17th has speeding problems. This is not a complicated problem. Everyone will be safer with a four-way stop. Data shows this. But DDOT is unwilling to recognize this and fix this problem. If safety won’t be improved, DDOT should say this. But all we hear about is cross traffic and level of service and all sorts of things that make clear FHWA money and commuter times are priority number one and vulnerable road users aren’t.

Good luck crossing here

This is not to complain specifically about this intersection, but to show that the data portions of Vision Zero are working. The implementation is failing. I encourage you to bring this example up with your government witness and push them to use data to implement safety improvements.

Thank you for hosting this roundtable.

(I’m currently cleaning the data referenced above and will post it to the Data Analysis when it’s ready)

September 2018 Transportation Committee Meeting Report

ANC 6B’s September Transpiration Committee meeting only had two items on the agenda. One, a public space request by Academy Bus LLC for an intercity bus stop located in the 700 block of D St SE. The other, discussion about potential comments on draft guidelines on placement of small wireless antennas on light poles from the Office of the Chief Technology Office.

Item 1: Eastern Market Intercity Bus Stop
The operators of Go Bus made a brief presentation on their company and business model ending with their proposal to add a stop at Eastern Market for their DC-to-New York service. Adding service would require a year long public space occupancy permit of four parking space for the exclusive use of the operator.

The initial proposal was for a stop on the 700 block of D Street SE (red box in map above). That proposal was rejected out of hand by commissioners before the meeting and the applicant quickly sought a different location. After discussing with DDOT, they proposed the four sports at the end of the south side of the 600 block of Pennsylvania (green box). The commissioner of the area, James Loots, discussed some of the shortcomings with that location. The loss of parking spots, effects on the existing street vendor, and potential for double parking (most double parking in that block occurs mid block, this would be at the corner and more dangerous for pedestrians crossing and making right turns southbound on 7th) were all sticking points.

Instead of supporting a permit for the proposed curbsides, the committee suggested the applicant work with DDOT to move the stop to one or both of the mirrored triangle parks at 8th street (yellow and purple boxes). Both spots have concrete pads from bus service that doesn’t run anymore. Both spots aren’t or shouldn’t be used for parking now. Both spots are near existing business that would likely welcome stops before/after a bus trip. Both spots have congregation areas outside of the sidewalk. If there are no safety issues for turns from D street onto Pennsylvania, these curbs are undoubtedly the best place for an intercity bus stop and I would enthusiastically support a permit.

There’s was a short discussion on the need for a stop in the first place. I generally support the idea of an intercity bus stop at Eastern Market, with the regulations DDOT is imposing. The spots are reserved for one operator (so we won’t be seeing a number of other companies using the spot). The operator is not going to use the spot as a layover and expects to be there for 10 minutes of less a few times per day (currently they’re running three buses per day, but that could obliviously increase with demand). And the permit lasts only a year before coming back before the ANC for renewal.

I believe having a stop is a good thing for the neighborhood and I would enthusiastically vote for supporting a spot in the purple or yellow boxes in the map.

Item 2: Draft Guidelines on Small Cells
This discussion was dominated by those with technical knowledge of the antennas and cellular technology. In the end I voted with the consensus to support the guidelines allowing small wireless antennas to be place on telephone and traffic signal poles.