D.C.'s Official Pedestrian Advocacy Body

We're citizens working with Mayor Bowser and the City Council to better our streets. Learn more about us here.

Next Meeting: April 27, 2015

Hear from city officials, help us develop policy recommendations, and learn about our work to upgrade the city's streetscape.

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Safe Streets are Everyone's Responsibility

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DDOT aims to resolve sidewalk repair requests within 25 business days. Contact them here.

Council tries again to compensate crash victims

Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced legislation on the first day of the DC Council’s new session that would make it easier for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists to receive compensation for injuries and losses after a crash involving a motor vehicle.

The new bill follows a debate during the last Council session over legislation to end contributory negligence, a legal standard which resulted in pedestrians and cyclists sometimes being denied compensation if they were partially at fault in a crash. The earlier legislation, introduced by Councilmember David Grosso, failed after insurance company representatives and trial lawyers objected. The main concern of trial lawyers was that ending contributory negligence would lead to ending joint and several liability, a standard that allows a victim to collect compensation from a responsible party with greater assets if another responsible party has no assets.

The new bill is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Grosso, Anita Bonds, Jack Evans and Charles Allen and was introduced on January 6. The bill would codify common law that says a non-motorized road user such as a pedestrian, bicyclist or wheelchair user is entitled to receive compensation if they are not more than 50 percent responsible for a collision. The act would not change or affect contributory negligence.

No hearings are scheduled at this time. Coverage of this issue is also available from WAMU and the Washington City Paper.

Bowser Names New DDOT Director

On the first day of 2015, incoming Mayor Muriel Bowser named her choice for Director of District Department of Transportation. Leif Dormsjo comes to the District from the Maryland Department of Transportation, where he served as Deputy Secretary for Planning and Project Management. Dormsjo replaces Matt Brown, who Bowser named as the new Director of the Office of Budget and Finance.

Background information about Dormsjo is available on the DDOT website. David Alpert of Greater GreaterWashington also weighed in on the appointment.

With winter weather ahead, D.C. Council considers plans for clearing snow

The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang predicts above average snowfall and below average temperatures this winter, and District government agencies are planning their response. The forecasters laid out their gloomy predictions and Department of Public Works Director Bill Howland laid out a strategy for clearing snow at a hearing earlier this month. Despite the bad news about the forecast, there was some good news for pedestrians. In locations where local government is responsible for sidewalks, pet-safe de-icer will be used more this year, Howland said. In addition, DPW is ready to deploy specialized equipment for clearing sidewalks along bridges. The challenge of clearing bridge sidewalks was tragically highlighted in February when a man was killed while he was walking along the roadway on the Sousa Bridge after a snowfall left the sidewalk inaccessible.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh seemed generally satisfied with preparations for this coming winter. “We’re ready, and we’re in good shape,” Cheh declared as she adjourned the Nov. 14 hearing.

A few days after that hearing, the D.C. Council approved Cheh’s sidewalk clearing bill. “The Winter Sidewalk Safety Amendment Act” would make it easier for the city to press homeowners and business owners to clear snow off their sidewalks. Currently, the District can fine homeowners who fail to shovel, but the law requires going to court to do so. The new law, which won’t go into effect until next winter, would allow the District government to issue fines of $25 to residences and $150 to businesses that fail to clear snow from sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall. Residents who are over 65 or are disabled would be exempt from the fine. The Council approved the bill with amendments by a vote of 10-3, with Councilmembers Barry, Bowser and Graham rejecting the plan because of concerns that elderly and disabled homeowners would receive fines.