Are D.C.’s Streets Finally Getting Safer?

Author : Andrew Small
November 11, 2019

Last year in Washington, D.C., a pair of city council members grilled the head of the city’s department of transportation on the status of bike and pedestrian projects in the District. It had been three years since the city had committed to following the traffic-calming principles outlined in Vision Zero, the international movement to reduce the injury toll associated with cars and trucks in cities. But the results, so far, had been disappointing: By that point in the year, 34 people overall had died on the city’s roads—D.C.’s worst year for traffic deaths in a decade.

The council members, Mary Cheh and Charles Allen, wanted an update from Jeff Marootian, director of the District Department of Transportation, on what the city had been doing in its efforts to make the streets safer. But as the hearing wore on, his answers started to sound like a refrain: Almost every new bike- or pedestrian-infrastructure project, from a road diet on Maryland Avenue to an Eastern Downtown protected bike lane, seemed to be about six to nine months away. In fact, the city task force that was supposed to coordinate Vision Zero policy across city agencies had only just met for the first time the month before.

“Do you get why that’s frustrating to hear?”Allen said to Marootian. “I think we can do more, and I want to impress on you that I think we need to treat this with a higher level of urgency. Why aren’t we experimenting with all kinds of different ways to pilot different ideas? If we mess it up, it’s a can of paint.”

Last month, the city council reconvened with Marootian for a seven-hour redux of that hearing, and there were signs that this advice had been heeded. In 2019, DDOT established a Vision Zero Office, fast-tracked quick-build safety projects like adding plastic pylons at crosswalks to slow drivers turns, and piloted some new ideas, such as dedicated bus lanes or painted curb extensions, that could be executed with little more than a can of paint. So far, 21 people have died from road crashes this year in the District, putting the city on track for the lowest number of traffic fatalities since the city committed to Vision Zero in 2015.

It’s a modest sign of progress, to be sure, especially considering the campaign’s ambitious benchmark. But it’s progress all the same.

When D.C. joined 13 other U.S. cities in making the Vision Zero commitment, its goal—eliminating all traffic deaths by 2024—seemed ambitious but also somehow achievable. Transformative safety improvements and a new era of technocratic, data-driven mobility were said to be a few short years away; self-driving vehicle technology appeared to be poised to eliminate the error-prone humans who were racking up 40,000 fatalities a year in the United States. Instead, technology has arguably made drivers worse, by dazzling them with digital distractions that have made cars even more lethal to other road users. While driving deaths have declined, this year the United States is having its deadliest year for pedestrians and cyclists since 1990.

Democrats’ Baffling Blind Spot On Cars

Author Michael Hobbes         

Few objects symbolize America’s unique place in the world better than the automobile. Residents of the United States drive more than 37 miles per day, nearly twice as much as the average Swede or Norwegian. America has 1.16 cars for every licensed driver and spends roughly $534 per person each year building and maintaining its road network. Three out of four U.S. workers drive to work alone; fewer than 1 in 20 walk or bicycle.

America’s unique enthusiasm for the automobile has become one of the greatest challenges to solving climate change. Transportation is now the greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. And while utility companies are phasing out coal in favor of renewable energy, the auto industry is moving in the opposite direction. In March, the International Energy Agency reported that America’s oil use was rising more quickly than any other nation. In 2016, the average American drove 1,300 more miles than they did in 1992. Nearly every advance in fuel economy has been wiped out by more driving, bigger cars — or deliberate sabotage by the Trump administration.

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The fires in California have been big national news.

 

Author  Rick Coates

Many people have cancelled planed trips to California’s prime tourist locations in Sonoma, Napa and Marin Counties without knowing the full story.  Here are some facts that you should know:

The Kincade Fire was confined to the eastern portion of Sonoma County mostly in areas with limited habitation.  Although a few wineries and vineyards were burned east of Healdsburg, most of the wineries were unaffected.  Nor were the bulk of the redwood forest affected which are on the west side of the county.  The Sonoma Coast is just as beautiful as ever.  The air is now clear of smoke in western Sonoma County.  Power is now back on in the unaffected areas.

The SMART train is running from San Rafael to Santa Rosa and the Santa Rafael and is connected to San Francisco by the Larkspur Ferry and a free shuttle. The train runs through beautiful bird-filled estuaries along the Petaluma River and stops near the historic downtown Petaluma.  Santa Rosa Downtown SMART Station connects to several bicycle trails to western Sonoma County.  Fall is an excellent time to visit the coast with little fog, great views and wonderful food.  California is a big place with lots to discover.  Come see for yourself.

The ‘Superblock’ Revolution Is Making Cities Safer and Cleaner

Author : Wes Enzinna

On weekends, Calle de Postas in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, feels like a never-ending block party. Cyclists share the magnolia-shaded street with off-leash dogs and teetering toddlers. There are bustling cafe tables and families on benches eating ice cream. That’s life in this city of 200,000 in the Basque Country, where nearly half the streets have been converted into car-free zones over the past decade.

“This city is my test case,” says Salvador Rueda, a Spanish urban planner known for overseeing large-scale pedestrian conversions in Barcelona and Buenos Aires, among other places. Vitoria-Gasteiz, he says, is his “laboratory,” a city whose history as a center of auto manufacturing—it’s home to factories for Mercedes and Michelin—makes it an unlikely showcase. “If we can do something here, others can see it and replicate our results.”

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In Your Town for Oct. 29, 2019, Path on bridge to open Nov. 16

The long-planned pedestrian and bicycle lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is set to open on Nov. 16, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The bi-directional pedestrian path will be located on the third lane of the upper span of the bridge and will provide the first bike path connection from Marin to the East Bay.

The path will be separated from westbound traffic by a moveable barrier. The $20 million project’s planned opening date in May was delayed several months after falling concrete from the upper deck prompted months of emergency deck repairs by Caltrans.

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