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Evaluating D.C.'s Progress Toward Vision Zero

Vision Zero is an ambitious goal, but it's impossible if traffic safety ideas aren't tested and implemented on the street.
November 13, 2019, 10am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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The proposed Florida Avenue cycle track.

Andrew Small reports from D.C., where the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) finally seems to be making progress on traffic safety programs after years of delays and frustration among Vision Zero boosters in the District.

Last year, the news three years into DDOT's Vision Zero was not good: "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," according to Small. Meanwhile projects were still several months away in the development pipeline and members of the District Council were getting frustrated with DDOT officials at a public hearing.

Fast forward to November 2019, and it's possible to report some progress. "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," reports Small. The traffic safety statistics have also improved: "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."

The article includes a lot more detail on the local political context for Vision Zero, the projects moving the needle for traffic safety, and the challenges for a true commitment to traffic safety, beyond the positive public relations benefit of announcing a Vision Zero campaign.

Full Story:
Published on Monday, November 11, 2019 in CityLab
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