Does Vision Zero go far enough?

Does Vision Zero go far enough?

The pandemic has caused an increase in traffic fatalities across the country. In the second quarter of the year, statistics say that the U.S. had a 30% increase in traffic fatalities, due primarily to riskier behavior. Our region isn’t exempt; as of October, there were 29 traffic deaths in the District this year.

The District has been working to reduce traffic deaths for years. D.C. Council passed the Vision Zero Omnibus bill in September, beginning their mission to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024. Drivers will see changes like reduced speed limits and more red-light cameras. But are these changes enough?

Produced by Richard Cunningham

Guests

  • Alex Baca Housing Program organizer, Greater Greater Washington; @alexbaca
  • Jeremiah Lowery Advocacy Director, Washington Area Bicyclists Association
  • Jeff Marootian Director, District Department of Transportation

Transcript

  • 12:22:02

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. Over the past two decades, cities around the world have adopted and initiative known as Vision Zero aiming to completely eliminate traffic deaths. D.C. signed on five years ago, but bringing fatalities on our streets to zero has proved, well, challenging and measures taken so far don't seem to have worked. Traffic deaths have climbed in that period not dropped. In September the D.C. Council passed the Vision Zero Omnibus bill with the goal of putting teeth into the initiative including more traffic cameras and lower city speed limits.

  • 12:22:34

    KOJO NNAMDIBut is this initiative enough to end traffic fatalities in the District? We'd love to have you join this conversation. What do you do think? What do you know about the Vision Zero initiative? Joining us now is Jeff Marootian, Director the District's Department of Transportation. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:22:52

    JEFF MAROOTIANThanks so much for having me, Kojo.

  • 12:22:54

    NNAMDIJeff, for our listeners who may not have heard, what is Vision Zero D.C. and what are some of the goals D.C. is hoping to accomplish with his initiative?

  • 12:23:03

    MAROOTIANThanks, Kojo. Well, let me just say thanks and acknowledge all of our veterans in the District especially those that work for DDOT and that work for the District of Columbia government. Our vision zero effort is a program under Mayor Bowser's leadership to do everything that we can to ultimately eliminate roadway fatalities and serious injuries. And there are a number of different techniques and tactics that we've applied both as a transportation department, but also government wide to achieve that effort.

  • 12:23:34

    NNAMDID.C. first adopted Vision Zero five years ago. What exactly has been put in place so far and why do you think it doesn't seem to have helped? Traffic deaths are in fact higher.

  • 12:23:46

    MAROOTIANWell, Kojo, there are a couple of answers to that question and I will offer some and speak with more specificity about some of the projects that we've worked on over the years. But first and foremost, let me say that Vision Zero isn't just a strategy. It is a way of thinking about all of the work that we're doing across our transportation system to create a safer network of roadways, of sidewalks and of transportation facilities across the city. And what we've done is program out several years' worth of reconstruction work of mayor intersections of entire corridors. Much of that work is ongoing now.

  • 12:24:25

    MAROOTIANAnd what we look at in order to measure efficacy is not just the overall number of traffic fatalities, but looking at specific metrics for what types of improvements have worked. What's yielded results in reducing crashes and reducing the severity of crashes in the locations we've implemented them and how to scale those types of improvements across the District.

  • 12:24:48

    NNAMDIAlso joining us now is Jeremiah Lowery, Advocacy Director at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Jeremiah, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:24:57

    JEREMIAH LOWERYThank you so much, Kojo. It's a pleasure to be on today. I appreciate it.

  • 12:25:01

    NNAMDIJeremiah, we've seen a spike in fatalities during the pandemic. Why is that?

  • 12:25:08

    LOWERYAbsolutely, yeah. So far we've had 29 people unfortunately killed in traffic crashes compared to 27 of all of last year. And more than half of those traffic fatalities unfortunately have occurred in Ward 7 and 8. And the reason why I believe that is occurred in Ward 7 and 8 is because of years of underinvestment when it comes to infrastructure and this goes beyond Mayor Bowser's administration. Also when it comes to a lack of community engagement on new initiatives, so like when we passed Vision Zero we had to ensure that, you know, we have the partnerships in place to really partner with areas that have -- you know, partner with community groups and areas that have high traffic fatalities.

  • 12:26:01

    LOWERYAnd so also a part of that reason is because I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that people are speeding more. Speeding is actually up throughout the region.

  • 12:26:12

    NNAMDIThis is since the pandemic started?

  • 12:26:16

    LOWERYAbsolutely. So speeding just throughout the region has like unfortunately kind of skyrocketed, not just in D.C., but also in Maryland and Virginia because people have open roads and so they have less traffic. And so the mentality of a lot of drivers right now unfortunately is to speed. And so we've also experienced a biking boom, a walking boom and so I think it's kind of an unfortunate mix when we have high speeding. But it's a good thing we have people biking and walking more. But, again, like we have folks who are speeding more, which unfortunately will lead to more crashes and fatalities, and so I think we need investment to lead to behavior change, enforcement to ensure that we hold also drivers acknowledgeable.

  • 12:27:10

    NNAMDIJeff Marootian, we'll talk more about this. But one big change in the past five years, there are a whole lot more types of wheels on the roads, scooters and bike shares, electric vehicles of all sorts, mopeds. What kind of challenge has that posed for your department?

  • 12:27:25

    MAROOTIANSure. Well, let me first, Kojo, say that I agree with several of the points that Jeremiah made and that's why Mayor Bowser has made record investments in infrastructure projects across all eight wards of the District of Columbia with the aim of improving safety for everybody. And with regard to speeding we've absolutely seen an increase not just here in our region, but across the country in speeding during the pandemic. And that's why we've taken a number of steps during the mayor's leadership to reduce our default speed limit and to put in place new measures aimed to get drivers to slow down.

  • 12:27:58

    MAROOTIANWe have a number of new modes of transportation on our city streets and sidewalks than we did a few years ago. And it's important that we create a safety culture that keeps all of those new modes in mind.

  • 12:28:12

    NNAMDIJoining us now is Alex Baca, who is with the Greater Greater Washington. Alex, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:28:20

    ALEX BACAHi, thanks so much for having me.

  • 12:28:22

    NNAMDIAlex, the D.C. Council passed the Vision Zero Omnibus bill back in September with a whole lot in there aimed at making Vision Zero more successful. So what's in the bill?

  • 12:28:33

    BACAThe bill is an omnibus. It's a big package of a number of different policies that are enforceable by the Council. So they're things that the Council can legislate, and to move some of these Vision Zero goals forward. So, you know, Jeff is able to talk about sort of the agency side. The Council also has a role in this as well. And the things that they have taken on in the provisions in the bill are able to I would say shift some of the approaches that we have legislatively especially around reporting for DDOT that like can actually give this bill -- or the concept of Vision Zero some legislative teeth.

  • 12:29:22

    NNAMDILet's go to Christina in Washington D.C. Christina, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:30

    CHRISTINAHi. Thanks for having this show about this topic. I heard while I was waiting one of your guests I think from DDOT mention an existing enforcement. And I couldn't agree more. But I'm very frustrated, because I have before the pandemic relied on public transportation. I now have a bike. I walk. I'm certainly not driving, and cars -- people drive so aggressively. It's terrifying to be a pedestrian and it's terrifying to ride a bike, and I appreciate that, you know, Mayor Bowser supports Vision Zero, but then it's been a year's long effort to try to get Beach Drive close to car traffic.

  • 12:30:13

    CHRISTINAAnd although, I think that has been successful largely it is only in the pandemic and it is something that even so didn't start immediately and she's been -- keeps trying to reopen it. So I hear mixed messages from the District in terms of like, yes, we would like people not to die, but we aren't really willing to do what we need to do to make sure that happens.

  • 12:30:34

    NNAMDIJeff, care to respond to that?

  • 12:30:38

    MAROOTIANSure. Well, I appreciate where Christina is coming from. And let me say that prior to the pandemic we took a number of steps. The mayor took the step of lowering the speed limit to 15 miles per hour around schools and senior centers and rec centers. And during the pandemic we've taken a number of steps as well. There's more work to do. We're committed to doing it. But I do think it's important to acknowledge that we've done a number of things with the goal of reducing speeds making drivers aware that they share the road with pedestrians and with cyclists. And there are a number of enforcement measures that we've taken as well including the use of automated traffic enforcement, which is a particularly effective tool in getting drivers to slow down.

  • 12:31:20

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation. But you can still join it by calling 800-433-8850. Do you bike or walk regularly? What do you think about Vision Zero? Do you think it will keep cyclists and pedestrians safer? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:31:54

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about the District's Vision Zero Initiative with Alex Baca, who is with Greater Greater Washington. Jeremiah Lowery is advocacy director at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. And Jeff Marootian is director of the District's Department of Transportation. Jeff, sorry I mangled your name earlier. I should know better, since you've been on this show before.

  • 12:32:16

    MAROOTIANNo problem, Kojo.

  • 12:32:17

    NNAMDIBut we got a tweet from a listener who says: Do traffic cameras actually make the roads safer? My expectation is that they increase compliance only at the intersections where they are installed, but don't even make those intersections safer, overall. To which, Jeff, you say what?

  • 12:32:35

    MAROOTIANWell, Kojo, if you look at the number of fatalities that we had as a city before automated traffic enforcement, it was dramatically higher. We've seen the incidents of speeding and traffic fatalities, on the whole, go down with the use of enforcement. And one of the tactics that we're putting in place at the mayor's direction is being more nimble in our approach to automated enforcement and ensuring that we're using all of the tools that are available to us now to make sure that our automated enforcement strategy is as effective as it can be.

  • 12:33:09

    NNAMDIJeremiah Lowery, making streets safer requires the participation of everyone. What has WABA, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, been doing with the Vision Zero Initiative?

  • 12:33:21

    LOWERYAbsolutely. So, at Washington Area Bicyclists Association, WABA, we do have a Vision Zero team. We have two individuals that work on Vision Zero, and so they're actually, you know, placed, you know, throughout the ward. They organize and they bring residents to the table to educate them about Vision Zero, about initiatives that are being rolled out to inform community members of, you know, traffic safety laws.

  • 12:33:50

    LOWERYBecause we definitely believe that education is key, plays a role to ensure traffic safety, as well as we advocate, as well. And so we get residents involved to really push the D.C. Council and the mayor's office, because we just passed this Vision Zero Omnibus bill, but we need to ensure that it's actually fully funded, implemented properly and implemented equitably, as well. So, that's really important.

  • 12:34:13

    LOWERYSo, we organize our residents. We inform them, educate residents to get involved in the process, because Vision Zero, you know, it's a program that's going to -- you know, that works across multiple agencies, but also, it's a program that's only going to work when residents are engaged or involved and actually know what's going on. That's the role that we play.

  • 12:34:32

    NNAMDIJeremiah, we mentioned the fact that there are a lot more two-wheel vehicles on the roads and sidewalks now. How do electric bikes and scooters, regular bikes and scooters and mopeds figure into all this?

  • 12:34:45

    LOWERYAbsolutely. I think they're just part of the, you know, broader multimodal goals of Washington, D.C. You know, because I own five bikes, (laugh) but, you know, I scooter all the time and, you know, I take the bus. And so, I think it's part of our advocates' long-term vision to build a multimodal society. And so, scooters, electric bikes, they play a vital role in assuring that people have non-car transportation to get around. And so, you know, they're really important. We've also seen a boom in the number of residents scootering and a boom in the number of residents getting by by electric bikes.

  • 12:35:29

    NNAMDIMy bike's getting kind of old. Are you thinking about selling any of yours?

  • 12:35:33

    LOWERY(laugh) You know what? Actually, I have five, and I'm thinking about selling -- well, actually, I have an electric bike, too. So, if anyone's interested, I'm always interested in, you know, folks need -- just giving away a bike. So, I would love to give away some of my bikes to anyone who would like a bike for free.

  • 12:35:45

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Yeah, I'm definitely going to get back with you. You may want to respond to Susan in Vienna, Virginia. Susan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:35:55

    SUSANOh, hi. How are you today?

  • 12:35:58

    NNAMDII'm doing well.

  • 12:35:59

    SUSANI have an idea about bicycles and cars that came about one day when I was -- had parked near a curb and -- I mean, yeah, I had parked near an intersection. And I was checking, I checked my rearview, I checked my side view. No cars and no bicyclists, and I went over to grab my purse, and I could swear, it was no more than 10 seconds and a fast bicyclist came around that corner. And I nearly hit that man when I opened my car door. It's that fast.

  • 12:36:42

    SUSANThat's sort of a fundamental difference between cars and bicycles, and bicycles are nimble and quick. And people use them to their advantage in that they don't always stop at stop signs, especially if they're going uphill. They can turn a corner when they sort of feel like it. They don't always stop for stoplights and they're silver, right.

  • 12:37:11

    SUSANSo, you can miss them. They're so fast and they're so sort of tiny and nondescript, you cannot see them really well. So, I had this idea after that, because it scared me so badly, that it would've helped if he had had like a sort of yellow parasol on his bike, something that was taller than him and brightly colored and that actually came around the corner if he had had something on his bike that made a noise.

  • 12:37:50

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Well, well, well, wait, I've got to interrupt for a second, because we don't have a whole lot of time. I'm sorry, so let me have Jeremiah respond to you. We have a driver who complains that bicycles are too fast.

  • 12:38:02

    LOWERYWell, let me say, I'm glad she's didn't get hit. I think that's really important. We don't want anyone to get hurt out there. I'll also say that, you know, I would encourage any biker to follow the rules of the road, but I think it's a false equivalence between bikes and cars, you know. Unfortunately, a lot of bikers out there, they don't have the infrastructure they need, protected bike lanes, to actually commute safely.

  • 12:38:28

    LOWERYSo, I would say if anyone is concerned about, you know, bikers in the street, I think the first thing they should be advocating for is actually protected bike lanes where bikers are able to, you know, move around the city and actually have the infrastructure they need to separate themselves from vehicles and from people. That's really important, and we don't actually have a protected bike lane that works in the District, but we need to actually move towards it.

  • 12:38:50

    LOWERYLet me give a plug to the move D.C. plan. We need to ensure that the move D.C. plan includes a protected bike lane that works throughout the city where bikers are safe from cars and are able to commute safely around the city. And so, I think that's really important. But, again, I think the biggest issue that lies in that response is the fact that, you know, bikers just don't have separation from anything. They don't have separation from cars. And so, it's dangerous. And so, we need to ensure that we build protected bike lanes to keep not just bikers safe, but, like, keep the roads safe, in general. So...

  • 12:39:27

    NNAMDIAlex Baca, one thing you've looked at, and it has been mentioned before, there are more fatalities in some parts of the city than others. And a lot of that, however, has to do with what the streets and sidewalks look like. Can you talk about that?

  • 12:39:42

    BACASure. And I think, you know, that actually kind of relates to a lot of the things that we've been talking about, is that so much of the design of our streets really encourages super-unsafe behavior. So, much of Vision Zero -- not much of Vision Zero, but, you now, it's not entirely about enforcement. A lot of it is actually about infrastructure and design to get people to slow down and pay attention.

  • 12:40:07

    BACAA lot -- you know, the majority of traffic fatalities are actually driver-on-driver. So, while it's very tempting to jump into cyclists are moving too fast -- which is something that I find a little bit specious, because the maximum speed I've ever hit on my bike is, like, 30 miles an hour. And, you know, when you drive, you're routinely traveling at about 65. (laugh)

  • 12:40:26

    BACABut, you know, all that said, so much of this does have to do with street design. And Jeremiah mentioned that a disproportionate number of traffic deaths are tilted towards the east side of the city. I also work on housing and land use at Greater Greater Washington. And the connection between neighborhoods and where people live and how they get around is very, very intimate.

  • 12:40:46

    BACASo, you know, when you're looking at the east side of the city, Ward 7, Ward 8, Ward 5, much of that built environment really engenders a lot of speeding. There's not a lot of visibility or care. That's a large part of the city that was kind of rammed through with highways. And a lot of people were displaced in that process, that have led to arterials that just let people zoom in and out of D.C. without consequences. And sometimes they take people's lives.

  • 12:41:16

    NNAMDIJeff Marootian, how is the District addressing the fact that poorer areas of the city are far less safe than wealthier wards and have fewer traffic safety features?

  • 12:41:27

    MAROOTIANThanks, Kojo. I agree with much of what Alex and Jeremiah have shared. Fundamentally, we have a task at hand which involves rethinking how our infrastructure works, making it safer across the board, and that includes intersections. It also includes corridors, such as I-295, where, over the years, we've seen a disproportionately high incidence of fatalities and serious injuries.

  • 12:41:53

    MAROOTIANAnd, right now, we've got a multiyear project underway to help really rethink how I-295 works, to make it safer, to make it more accessible for local residents. And that's the type of work that we've prioritized under the mayor's leadership across all eight wards of the city. That includes deploying dedicated protected bike lanes. We've got an aggressive plan to deploy 20 miles over the next three years, which is work that our friends at WABA and Greater Greater Washington have helped in partnership with.

  • 12:42:24

    MAROOTIANBut I also do want to make a plug -- and I appreciate Jeremiah making a plug -- for move D.C. Your listeners can visit wemovedc.org to contribute their ideas to how we, as a city, think about the next several years of transportation planning across the District.

  • 12:42:40

    NNAMDIMichael tweets: Jeff, that Vision Zero is just a pipedream as long as there isn't traffic enforcement with mass deployment of cameras and redesign of streets. Why do we have highways called streets in D.C.? Why does Benning Road exist with three lanes on each side? Your turn, Jeff Marootian.

  • 12:42:59

    MAROOTIANWell, you know, this is a question, Kojo, I get a lot about a number of roadways, of intersections. One of our most troubled intersections, the Dave Thomas Circle at New York and Florida Avenue, Mayor Bowser has taken a bold step to committing to fixing that type of intersection, that intersection in particular and others like it. That's the work that we're doing.

  • 12:43:19

    MAROOTIANI can't speak to what decisions might've been made long before our tenure in office, but I can talk about the work that we're doing to fix them, and to do so equitably across the city.

  • 12:43:31

    NNAMDIHere's Matthew in Rockville, Maryland. Matthew, your turn.

  • 12:43:35

    MATTHEWHi, Kojo. I wanted to talk about traffic lights and how the timing is a disincentive to slow down. There's many streets -- or intersections, rather -- where I find that a light will turn green and then the next intersection, it'll turn red after that light has turned green. For me, that just seems like it's an incentive to speed so they can catch the light. And I wanted to know what's -- whoever's in charge of timing, whoever does that, that needs to be improved, I feel like.

  • 12:44:06

    NNAMDIJeff Marootian, care to respond to that?

  • 12:44:09

    MAROOTIANYes. That's a great question. And we recently announced that we are in the process of completing an effort to retime several hundred traffic signals across the District. It's an effort that's been underway already in light of the reduced speed limit, from 25 to 20, and also, to prioritize pedestrians. We've added leading pedestrian intervals, which give pedestrians more time to cross, and to do so safely at a number of intersections. And that is the type of priority that we are working on across the city, to create a safer roadway network for everybody.

  • 12:44:42

    NNAMDIAlex Baca, how would implementing Vision Zero more fully and more successfully make getting around easier for those with disabilities?

  • 12:44:52

    BACASo, you know, I think one of the great things about Vision Zero, you know, Jeff has talked about how it's really a shift in our approach to getting around -- you know, to moving around holistically. And that's really important, right. You know, we have about 100 years, almost more so, of car-centered planning. And it's going to take us a long time to get out of that.

  • 12:45:16

    BACASo, there's a lot of stuff baked into Vision Zero that shifts that balance from the sort of driver-centric, to a more people-centric approach. Not just in concrete policies, but as a mentality. You know, the example of timing lights to be a little bit more appropriate for pedestrians is something that really benefits anybody who's (laugh) moving slower, using a mobility device, even just carrying a lot of things, pushing a stroller.

  • 12:45:42

    BACAThat's something that's really -- you know, moving around in that way is very much advantaged by even something as small as shifting light timing or requiring more reports from an agency on how they're actually making those changes. So, it is a really significant shift and, you know, all of these policies in total may not sound like they're really, you know, earth-shattering or really moving things. But I do think that that sort of, you know, very, like, small-scale experience has a lot, you know, to do with how people are safe and how safe they feel.

  • 12:46:16

    BACAYou know, I can say, I am an able-bodied person. I feel lucky every day that I can walk. And I can also count the amount of times that my life has almost been taken out by a driver in a crosswalk just because I'm not moving as quickly, or I'm not visible to them. And if that puts, like, me, a person who can run and scream and yell at risk, that really does not have good effects for anybody else.

  • 12:46:42

    BACASo, the idea of shifting to people, you know, whether they're on a scooter, using a mobility device, on foot, whatever, rather than making it centered around driving, parking, getting out of your car and getting in and out of the city and to your destination as quickly as possible while you're driving, I think has just, like, immense benefits.

  • 12:47:04

    NNAMDIHere now is Walter in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Walter, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:47:10

    WALTERThanks for having me. So, my suggestion would center around education. In 2019, I authored a research project that looked into how city residents are being educated about transportation needs, or driving as a whole. And, you know, it's commonplace to see that people come from Maryland to D.C. to take their driver's license, because apparently, the restrictions -- there are not a lot of restrictions. The tests are very lenient.

  • 12:47:41

    WALTERSo, how does the (unintelligible) from that research look at how the city can actually enforce education on city residents and make sure that once people go through this rigorous process, then they recertify every year to keep their driver's license intact? This would help people get educated more about the means of the city and the responsibilities of the citizens as they drive along the roads. Driving in this age is a difficult task, and the pandemic and all of that in place makes it extra difficult. People are just anxious.

  • 12:48:20

    NNAMDIOkay. Okay. Let me ask Jeff Marootian: how bureaucratically challenging, how administratively challenging would it be to have people have to renew their driver's licenses every year?

  • 12:48:34

    MAROOTIANThat's a really good question, Kojo. And one of the things that we've done under the mayor's leadership of our Vision Zero program is bring all of our agencies together that have some contribution to driving in our city, and that includes the DMV. And we've taken a number of steps to better educate drivers so that they're getting their license, but also as a part of the renewal. And just as a part of the overall communications that our DMV is issuing, to ensure that drivers are consistently aware of new regulations and existing regulations throughout the District.

  • 12:49:10

    MAROOTIANI can't speak to the distinction between Maryland and Virginia, as Walter described it, but what I can say is that the most important thing that we're doing, and why I'm appreciative of the opportunity to be on the show today, is talking about this and making people aware of it.

  • 12:49:23

    MAROOTIANEverybody wants to think that they are a good driver and that they are a safe driver. And we know that it's very easy to get behind the wheel of a car and to speed without even thinking about it. And we want people to really think about it. That includes redesigning and reengineering our roadways, rethinking how they operate. But it also means consistently educating people about the dangers of speeding on our streets.

  • 12:49:45

    NNAMDII want to get Peter in D.C. on this topic. Peter, your turn.

  • 12:49:52

    PETERHey, thank you, Kojo. I have a question about a dynamic that I'm sure all of the guests are pretty familiar with, which is that when conversations about bus lanes or bike lanes come up, they pretty quickly devolve into a cyclist-versus-driver debate. And it's a limited pie, and everybody has to claim their piece.

  • 12:50:16

    PETERAnd the truth of the matter is that's not -- it's everybody benefits from these improvements. Less traffic, less congestion means that, you know, drivers benefit from bus lanes and bike lanes. Having a clear place for everybody on the road means that everybody benefits from (unintelligible) street. And if you go to a neighborhood association meeting to an AMC (sounds like) meeting to a DDOT presentation, you would think it's just all-out war.

  • 12:50:50

    PETERAnd so, my question is: How do we, at an organizational institutional level, start to make that case? And, specifically, to drivers. Driver's happen to be the loudest voices in the room a lot of times, pushing back against any proposed change. How do we make the case that improvements to our infrastructure benefit every single person who (unintelligible) ?

  • 12:51:19

    NNAMDIWell, that's the whole case that Vision Zero is trying to make, is it not, Jeff Marootian?

  • 12:51:25

    MAROOTIANIt is. And I agree with the caller that these are the types of steps that we need to take deploying car-free lanes, accelerating the work that we're doing to prioritize bus transit, in particular. And that's the work that we're doing. And it's important for us to engage with communities, so that they have input. And we use that input to help make these projects better and to build the capacity to do more of them.

  • 12:51:49

    MAROOTIANI'll also say, we're talking specifically about roadway fatalities, but much of the work that we're doing is also about environmental sustainability, as well, in reducing carbon emissions by incentivizing (word?) transportation and public transportation.

  • 12:52:02

    NNAMDIPeter, I've got to use the words of the famous, late Rodney King: Can we all get along? Because you're right, it often devolves into an argument between bicyclists and cars and pedestrians and scooters and everybody else blaming on another for these things. But, Jeremiah Lowery, what are slow streets, and how effective are they at reducing traffic deaths?

  • 12:52:24

    LOWERYAbsolutely. So, slow streets is an initiative that DDOT has wrote out. Slow streets are aimed to reduce the speed limit and D.C. reduce the speed limit to 15 miles per hour, to support neighborhood-based safe social distancing while walking or running and cycling. Drivers are shown to use, like, dedicated slow streets, if their destination is within two blocks of a street. And residents, emergency vehicles and deliverables and trash collection have access to slow streets, as well.

  • 12:52:59

    LOWERYSo, it’s kind of rolled out, and its intended purpose is to give folks just more space to walk and run and cycle during the pandemic. Currently, right now, DDOT is installing slow streets around the city, besides Ward 8, because Councilmember Trayon White introduced an amendment to prevent installation of any slow streets in Ward 8.

  • 12:53:22

    LOWERYAnd so, there's actually a hearing coming up for slow streets, and WABA will be participating in it. We have some questions. You know, we want to learn, you know, a little bit about how the program is being evaluated. Is it useful? Are residents actually using slow streets? We also would love to hear more about DDOT's outreach and engagement east of the river, because there's a lot of misconceptions about slow streets, and that's the reason we don't have slow streets in Ward 8 right now.

  • 12:53:50

    LOWERYIs outreach being done and education being done to really connect with community organizations and residents east of the river to inform them about slow streets and what actually its intended purpose is for? And we'd love to hear more about some of the feedback DDOT's been getting on slow streets. And so, you know, while we really appreciate DDOT for taking initiative for slow streets and, you know, I was just biking yesterday, and I saw the big sign that DDOT put out there. So, appreciate that one, Jeff, on a slow street sign to inform people about what slow streets is.

  • 12:54:24

    LOWERYThere's still a lot of, you know, on our end, as advocates, that we would love to see, you know, to program evaluation and if it's actually effective. Because I think I've only used slow streets maybe a couple of times. And I think I still have, you know, bikers who haven't used it or just don't know about it yet.

  • 12:54:43

    NNAMDIJeff Marootian, we only have about 30 seconds left, but a lot of people worry that lower speed limits will mean even more congestion on our streets and slower commutes. Will there be a ripple effect of all this on drivers?

  • 12:54:56

    MAROOTIANNo. The most important thing that we're doing here is making it safer for everybody, and to the point that Alex made earlier, that includes drivers. We want people to drive the speed limit and to treat each other as if they are sharing the roads the way that they are.

  • 12:55:12

    NNAMDIJeff Marootian, Jeremiah Lowery and Alex Baca, thank you all for joining us. That's all the time we have. Today's segment on Veterans Day was produced by Kurt Gardinier. And our segment on Vision Zero was produced by Richard Cunningham.

  • 12:55:25

    NNAMDIComing up tomorrow, promising vaccines are on the horizon. We'll talk about plans to distribute a vaccine in our region. Plus, for many COVID survivors, a range of symptoms remain. They're referred to as long COVID survivors, and we'll talk with one. And before we end today, I want to mark Veterans Day and the family members of the Kojo team who have served.

  • 12:55:45

    NNAMDIJulie Depenbrock's grandfathers Ben Depenbrock and George Batka (ph) both served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Ben Privot, our engineer's grandfather Rodney Johnson, served in the Marine Corps in the 1950s. Kurt Gardinier's father, also named Kurt Gardinier, served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

  • 12:56:05

    NNAMDICydney Grannan's father, Dave Grannan, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Gulf War. Ingalisa Schrobsdorff's brother, Christian Schrobsdorff, served in the Navy during the Gulf War. Tom Sherwood served in the Navy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And my son, Pierre Paul, served in the U.S. Army also during the Gulf War. So, we'd like to thank all veterans for their service. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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