CM Charles Allen Pushes His Vision Zero Bill – Acknowledges Controversy
By Larry Janezich
CM Charles Allen appeared before ANC6A last Thursday night to support his Vision Zero Omnibus bill. Allen said that an omnibus designation means the legislation contains a bunch of different ideas – 25 in this bill.
To emphasize urgency, he pointed to the traffic related deaths the day before of two residents who were killed as they sat on a park bench near GW Hospital when a driver lost control of a vehicle. He also referenced three deaths caused by vehicles on April 19, including that of DC bike advocate Dave Salovesh.
Allen asked, “How do we assure safer space for our neighborhoods and stop these deaths?” Some of the answers, he believes, are in the proposed legislation:
- build a better infrastructure by requiring developers and businesses to institute curbside management plans to prevent parking in crosswalks and bike and bus lanes
- speed up the process for DDOT installing significant traffic safety improvements
- require contractors to restore crosswalks and bike lanes after street construction under penalty of at $10,000 a day fine
- revise guiding traffic safety documents every two years
In addition, there are some more controversial provisions:
- ban right turn on red consistently across the area and lower the speed limit to 20 mph
- require re-testing (written) for driver license renewal or transferring from another state
- institute a one year citizen enforcement parking pilot program
Regarding the controversial parts, Allen says his approach is, “Try something – if it doesn’t work, go back and fix it.” He says he doesn’t want a fight over policy issues to result in paralysis.
Later, during Q&A, Allen said that earlier this spring the city council funded a DDOT study to evaluate congestion pricing – imposing fees on downtown driving, for example – and to make recommendations. (In New York City, drivers will be paying more to drive into downtown Manhattan starting in 2021.)
The night before the ANC6A meeting, ANC6C bordering on the west, had taken up the Omnibus Vision Zero Bill and were generally supportive, although Commissioner Joel Kelty was adamantly opposed to the citizen enforcement pilot program, on the grounds that “citizens should not be tasked with enforcing the law – the city is paid to do that.”
Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler backed the program, calling it a creative proposal which would do more good than harm, and stating that he could see no harm in a one year pilot program. The ANC subsequently voted 5- 0-1 to support the bill, with Kelty abstaining.