D.C.'s Official Pedestrian Advisory Body

Appointed by the D.C. Council to advise the Mayor, the D.C. Council, DDOT and other agencies.

Next Meeting: June 10th, 2024

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

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“Dangerous by Design” report documents vulnerable pedestrians

More than a third of the District’s traffic-related deaths between 2003 and 2012 were pedestrians, and older adults and people of color were disproportionately the victims in those crashes, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Complete Streets Coalition.

To prevent future deaths, jurisdictions must design better roads, the authors of the “Dangerous by Design 2014” urged. “We can build our roads to protect us while we’re walking,” said Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, which is part of Smart Growth America.

Suggestions for making streets safer for pedestrians included:
-slow traffic by reducing the number and width of travel lanes;
-shorten crossing distances for pedestrians by installing medians or adding bulb-outs at corners;
-Give pedestrians a head start crossing intersections before allowing cars to turn.

“Dangerous by Design” reported that 133 pedestrians were killed from 2003 through 2012 in the District and that certain groups were more vulnerable than others. For example, adults aged 65 and older made up 11.6% of the District population during the time period studied, but they represented 17.4 percent of traffic-related deaths.

The study also showed that black and Hispanic pedestrians in the District fared worse than those nationwide, while white pedestrians in the District were safer. The pedestrian fatality rate for black and African-American people was 3.6 per 100,000 people in the District, compared to 2.65 nationally. For Hispanic people of any race in the District, the pedestrian fatality rate was 3.74, compared to 2.37 nationally. But for non-Hispanic whites, the rate was 1.59 in the District, actually better than the 1.66 rate nationally for that group.

To download a copy of the full report or view the webinar, visit the Smart Growth America website. WAMU and several other news outlets reported on this story.

"Thank goodness" for photo enforcement

Red light and speed cameras have been making D.C.’s streets safer for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists for a decade. The implementation of this initiative, formally titled the Automated Traffic Enforcement program, has corresponded with decreased speeding and traffic fatalities. To highlight the importance of D.C.’s traffic cameras, the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) is sharing success stories from Washingtonians who have benefitted from the program. Our first interviewee is Ms. Gladys Graye, a senior and Hillcrest resident, who spoke with PAC’s Krystle Okafor.

Please describe the transportation conditions in your community.

I am bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue, entering into the District of Columbia or exiting the District of Columbia. We have a major, major problem with traffic. In my neighborhood, we have people who are blind, we have a lot of people who ride in wheel chairs and use walkers, and don’t forget the children that have to cross. So having these cameras and an additional street signal light has helped my neighborhood. It has helped and slowed traffic down. Thank goodness for that program!

How did you personally get involved with the traffic camera program and working with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)?

I was just so concerned with the blind people in my neighborhood trying to cross the street at Fort Davis and Pennsylvania Avenue. And so I asked my lieutenant, which is Lt. Hodge, about who would be in charge of the cameras and that we would like to have cameras in our neighborhood. So he gave me [MPD Program Manager] Lisa Sutter’s telephone number. She came out and did a walk. And it was thorough; it wasn’t just picked out of a hat. We spent at least an hour and a half watching the traffic before she, I guess, made a determination that it would be needed.

How was MPD responsive to your needs? Did MPD work well with your community?

Oh, yes! We got the best lieutenant, Hodge, and all of the other officers that service Hillcrest. If you can come to his [police service area] meetings, it’s normally the third Wednesday, you’ll see how many people show up. That’s how we think about our police department. And Chief Lanier comes out to speak to us whenever there’s a need. And our commander, Cmdr. Robert Contee. It’s a community.

How have the traffic cameras impacted your personally?

Well, at 70 years old I don’t have to run across the street. I can walk because the traffic slows down and they don’t run the traffic lights. Now cars are not racing. So that helps me and my neighbors. I would tell the councilmen that I applaud that program. That program needs to be in neighborhoods where you have major thoroughfares. It’s definitely needed. It’s saving lives.

Cheh recommends funding sidewalk repairs

This morning Council Member Mary Cheh released recommendations from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment to the DC Council that include funding sidewalk repairs. Cheh’s report states support for the section of Mayor Vince Gray’s FY 2015 – FY 2020 capital budget that would increase spending to address the backlog of sidewalk repair work:

“A core function of DDOT is maintaining the District’s transportation assets. Although not as prominent as other projects, repairing and rebuilding assets such as curbs and sidewalks can have a profound effect on residents’ quality of life. In recent years, however, funds to maintain our local transportation assets have been insufficient to meet the growing backlog of requests. The Committee is very pleased that the Mayor’s proposed budget triples funding to almost $38 million for curbs and sidewalks over the next three years. The Committee supports this increase and believes that this funding will improve pedestrian safety, make it easier for children to walk to school, and make it safer for seniors to walk around their neighborhoods.”

The DC Pedestrian Advisory Council thanks Cheh for her support for fixing sidewalks and is hopeful the entire DC Council will approve the funding when it votes on the budget on May 28. The Committee for Transportation and the Environment holds its budget mark-up meeting for DDOT today, May 15.