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Every Street Designed for Safety

While growing up in the suburbs of Florida I was surrounded by cars and highways. Before I could afford my own vehicle, I used my trusty bicycle to get to work, the shopping mall, and friends’ houses. Bike lanes – even the basic painted ones – were unknown. I rode on sidewalks when available, but often had to carefully squeeze along the curb of busy roads – my grip tight from anxiety as cars whipped by at 60 miles per hour. It’s no surprise that fatal car collisions were a regular part of the evening news.

Safety of our streets is especially important around our schools, hospitals, and recreation centers. Well-designed streets protect drivers and their passengers just as much as cyclists, pedestrians, and wheelchair users. Creating a complete network of frequent bus routes, low–stress bike lanes, and a functional Metro is needed for a truly safe community.

An interactive map of every traffic-related injury and fatality in Arlington

Arlington is clearly better than where I grew up, but there are too many glaring failures to ignore. We have numerous dangerous intersections where injuries and fatalities regularly occur.  Our build-out of protected bike paths is far behind DC’s progress, our buses are consistently unreliable, and of course Metro is still a “dumpster fire”. Our leadership needs to do better.

“To finally eliminate injuries and fatalities we must design every street and transit system so taking the bus, metro, biking, and walking are the obvious safer options for everyone – especially our children, elderly, and people with disabilities.”

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOLS

Too many of the streets around our schools are sites of crashes and near-misses for our children. It’s long past time to drastically slow traffic using every tool available, expand protected bike lanes, and raise all crosswalks while adding high-visibility markings – especially along South Carlin Springs Road with its three public schools.

ACCESS FOR ALL

All members of our community must be treated as equals with accessible infrastructure. Repair broken sidewalks, promptly de-ice pedestrian bridges, and automate crosswalk signals. Also fight “e-scooter litter” on sidewalks with plenty of convenient docking stations everywhere and ensure pedestrian detours are provided around construction. No-one should have to put themselves at risk because of broken infrastructure!

EXPAND RIDERSHIP

Help more people ride the bus by adopting dedicated bus lanes, signal-priority at intersections, and off-board ticketing for a faster bus system. Expand routes for direct access to more parts of the county and increase frequency. Maximize our transit system by shifting high school students over to using public transit to downsize our bus fleet and teach the next generation about public transit.

BONUS BENEFITS

A wonderful additional benefit of reducing the number of trips by personal vehicles is improving fossil fuel consumption. Passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks (SUVs and pickups) accounted for over 15% of all greenhouse gasses. Every trip done by bus, bike, or Metro helps our climate in addition to public safety.

FINALLY FIX METRO

Metro has long been a debacle in safety, reliability, and cleanliness due to constant maintenance and planning failures by its leadership. Real change can only come from those who control its financing: the many state and local jurisdictions it serves. It’s time for Arlington County to step up and use the only threat that works: impacting WMATA’s wallet.

COMPREHENSIVE IMPLEMENTATION

Create an “implementation committee” for bike and sidewalk infrastructure to provide accountability and guidance from the public on such projects. Ensure the Department of Environmental Services (which oversees streets and mobility) plans for comprehensive bike path networks and a county-wide traffic signal policy.

SMARTER TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT

Our police can’t be everywhere, so begin carefully building automated systems that use smart cameras and other sensors to enforce parking, traffic, and also noise ordinance violations. These systems must uphold the highest levels of privacy and cybersecurity protections, never have biometrics such as facial recognition, and be isolated from government agencies that may misuse the data.

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