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: April 8th, 2024

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Council considers safety measures

The DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a hearing on December 8 on bills that may improve conditions for pedestrians.

Following is the list of and links to the four bills being discussed, the first three of which could impact pedestrians directly:
  • B21-0335, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015;
  • B21-0383, the Vision Zero Act of 2015;
  • B21-0021, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015;
  • B21-0029, the Failure to Yield for Emergency Vehicles Amendment Act of 2015

Among other topics, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015 would address:
  • crash data reporting by DDOT
  • moving infraction reporting by MPD
  • notifications about sidewalk closures
  • traffic calming requests
  • creation of pedestrian and bicycle priority areas
  • adoption of a Complete Streets policy
  • for-hire vehicle operator training
  • increasing penalties for repeat offenders of moving violations
  • creating an aggressive driving offense

The Vision Zero Act of 2015 would:
  • adopt a Complete Streets policy
  • enhance penalties for all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes
  • increase penalties for impaired driving
  • increase the fine for distracted driving from $100 to $500

The Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015 would escalate fines for multiple distracted driving offenses within 18 months from $100 to $200 to $400.

A member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council will testify on behalf of the PAC at the December 8 hearing. The testimony will be available on the PAC website following the hearing. See the minutes from the PAC's November 23 meeting to read about our discussion of the four bills.

The hearing on the four bills will be at 11 a.m. on December 8 at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 500. The hearing is open to the public. If you would like to comment on the bills, you may sign up to testify by contacting Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at abenjamin@dccouncil.us. Comments may also be submitted in writing.

Alcohol and speed were significant factors in traffic deaths nationwide

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released findings from its study of 2014 crash data and reported that 4,884 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways last year.

In total, 32,675 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. Among those:
  • Alcohol-impaired driving was reported in 31% of the fatalities
  • Speed-related crashes caused 28% of the fatalities
  • Distracted driving was reported in 10% of the fatalities

In the District of Columbia, 12 pedestrians were killed in 2014. The DC Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) learned at its November meeting that the 2015 statistic will be higher. Of 26-28 traffic fatalities so far in 2015, 75% have been pedestrians.

In a news report by WTOP on the NHTSA, PAC Co-Chair Tony Goodman said clearer crosswalk signs and striping might help keep pedestrians safer. “That’s something that could really help pedestrians and, of course, also helps drivers to have more awareness and better visibility for the pedestrians, too,” he said.

Proposed legislation being considered by the DC Council in December would increase penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and for distracted driving. None of the legislation being considered would lower speed limits or increase penalties for speeding.

For more coverage of the NHTSA findings, see reports by WAMU and The Washington Post.

Dozens of drivers cited during Tenleytown traffic enforcement

MPD officers cited more than 40 drivers during traffic safety initiatives on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Department cited dozens of drivers during two enforcement initiatives in Tenleytown in November.  The enforcement activities were part of the StreetSmart campaign aimed at educating road users about safety. On November 10 and 18, officers stationed near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street NW wrote tickets to drivers for distracted driving, failing to wear seatbelts, ignoring signs, and running red lights, among other infractions. Police issued 23 tickets on November 10 and 19 tickets on November 18.

The busy intersection is frequented by students from local elementary, middle and high schools and American University, Metro riders using the Tenleytown station, residents of the area, drivers commuting up and down Wisconsin Avenue, and people coming in and out of the alley leading to the Whole Foods parking garage. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission has cited concerns about red light running, blocking the box, blocking crosswalks, failure to come to complete stop before making a right on red, and using cell phones while driving.

Enforcement action educates drivers at 43rd and Military

MPD's Capt. Sledge and Officer Carruth cite drivers for stop sign violations near the intersection of 43rd and Military. 
Metropolitan Police Department officers from the Second District recently issued warnings and tickets to drivers during a pedestrian safety enforcement action at the intersection of 43rd Street NW and Military Road NW. This "T" intersection is controlled by stop signs on all sides, and MPD's focus was on education. Officers issued 10 tickets or warnings for stop sign violations during a two-hour period during the afternoon of September 29.

The enforcement was operated by Captain Sledge and Officers Carruth, Jaeger, Deruvo, Holman and Coletti. The enforcement was observed by Ward 3 Pedestrian Advisory Council representative Eileen McCarthy and ANC 3E Commissioner Tom Quinn, both of whom noted that the presence of officers slowed down drivers.

Officers also helped a group of children cross the street safely.

Mayor proposes Vision Zero Act of 2015

Mayor Muriel Bowser submitted the Vision Zero Act of 2015 last week for consideration by the Council. "This ambitious legislation, which was prepared by an interagency task force, will help ensure greater safety for people walking, biking, and driving across the city," Bowser wrote in her comments to Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. The Act includes provisions for ignition interlock devices and stronger penalties for impaired drivers, a Complete Streets law to make street design safer for all road users, and increased penalties for all-terrain vehicles. Click on this link to read the proposed legislation. Last spring Bowser announced that the District would pursue a Vision Zero initiative and aim to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2024.

Shovel that walk!

The Department of Public Works released draft regulations for new rules forclearing snow off sidewalks. The new rules require residential and commercial property owners to clear snow within eight hours of daylight after snow has stopped falling. Homeowners who fail to shovel their sidewalks can receive a $25 ticket, and business owners can get a $150 ticket. Senior citizens and people with disabilities are exempt. Comments on the proposed rules will be accepted until September 20.

Cheh introduces “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015”

Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) introduced the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015” on September 16. A link to the proposed bill B21-0335 is available here. The text of Cheh’s press release is below.

Councilmember Cheh Introduces “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015”

New safety bill the result of collaborative effort by Councilmember Cheh, DDOT, MPD, DISB, and advocates representing bicyclists, pedestrians, motor vehicle operators, the business community, and the insurance industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, September 16th, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D – Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on Transportation & the Environment, introduced the “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015.” The bill provides a comprehensive update to the District’s laws and regulations as they pertain to motorist, bicycle, and pedestrian safety.

“Earlier this year, I convened a Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group to foster a deliberative, thoughtful, and open discussion on how to best update the District’s approach to motor, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015” is the end result of months of collaboration between my office, District agencies, law enforcement, and transportation advocates. By gathering everyone around the same table, we were able to debate and discuss what safety measures have been successful and what needs improvement from a variety of perspectives. This bill is a comprehensive and inclusive approach to making the roadways and sidewalks safer for all,” said Councilmember Cheh.

The bill would make a significant amount of crash, traffic violation, and closure data more readily accessible to the public; establish the Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Area Program to designate safety enhancement priority areas across the District in locations with heavy bicycle and pedestrian traffic; incorporate a Complete Streets policy within DDOT to ensure that the construction,  reconstruction, and maintenance of roads includes infrastructure that accommodates all multimodal users, including those with disabilities; and require the Mayor to study the feasibility of a remediation and deferred disposition program that would enable a person guilty of a moving violation to take a safety course in lieu of paying some or all of the associated fine.

“The “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act” changes the way our agencies address and prioritize safety concerns in the built environment, and it also encourages users of our transportation system to engage in safer behavior –in this way we can establish a system of mutual accountability. For example, one aspect of the bill includes greater oversight of DDOT’s infrastructure improvements and traffic modifications, while another section of the bill prohibits aggressive driving, and creates an escalating fine system for repeat offenders of moving violations directly affecting bicyclists and pedestrians. The bill also establishes a universal street and bicycle safety education curriculum for District schoolchildren,” said Councilmember Cheh.

The Bicycle & Pedestrian Working Group was co-chaired by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and AAA Mid-Atlantic throughout six open forum meetings in May and June. Other members of the fourteen member working group include: All Walks DC, Bicycle Advisory Council, DC Surface Transit, Department of Insurance, Securities & Banking (DISB), District of Columbia Insurance Federation (DCIF), District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Mayor’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Pedestrian Advisory Council, PULSE Issues & Advocacy, and the United Spinal Association. The Working Group is currently composing a final report of recommendations to be presented to the Committee on Transportation & the Environment.

“In addition to the Working Group meetings, I also coordinated site visits with DDOT, the relevant ANCs, MPD, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates to the top five most dangerous intersections in the District to evaluate what short-term and long-term changes can be made to mitigate safety concerns. Being on-site with residents and connecting them with the agency decision makers was an incredibly helpful way to evaluate the infrastructure and behavioral challenges we face when attempting to improve our transportation system. This bill, the Working Group report, and dangerous intersection site visits are all components of a larger effort to reform and modernize the way the District responds to safety hazards on the roadways. The input we received from the community has been invaluable throughout this evaluation process, and I encourage residents to remain engaged and invested in this continued effort,” said Councilmember Cheh.


Kelly Whittier | Director of Communications & Scheduler
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
(202) 724-8062 (office) | (202) 431-5697 (press contact) | (202) 724-8118 (fax)

Visiting dangerous intersections

WABA's Greg Billing talks with DDOT's Greer Gillis and other District government staff and safety advocates about hazardous conditions in front of Union Station 

Representatives from the District Department of Transportation, Councilmember offices and pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups gathered at five dangerous intersections across the District at the end of August to observe pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic patterns and discuss possible safety improvements. At the first meetup, in front of Union Station during the morning rush, the group observed the complicated layout and multiple demands on the area that make it a perilous spot for all road users. DDOT Deputy Director Greer Gillis took notes and gathered feedback from those gathered, including Pedestrian Advisory Council member Eileen McCarthy, representatives from the Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and All Walks DC, and ANC Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler. The agency and advocacy representatives were convened by staff from the office of Councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, and gathered the following week at four other locations in the District that also have had a high numbers of crashes: Minnesota Avenue & Benning Road NE; 14th Street & U Street NW; New York Avenue & Bladensburg Road NE; M Street & Wisconsin NW.

In related news, the Washington City Paper published an article earlier this week on dangerous intersections in the District. Also, NBC 4 News reported on possible improvements in front of United Medical Center on Southern Avenue SE.

14th Street & U Street NW
M Street & Wisconsin NW

New York Avenue & Bladensburg Road NE