The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) has issued a new action plan on traffic safety that calls for building 25 miles of bike lanes a year and reducing the number of vehicles that come into downtown D.C., perhaps through congestion tolling.
The plan also urged the city to impose stricter speed limits, crack down on distracted driving, increase the “absurdly low” residential parking fee, require drivers to be retested before their licenses can be renewed, and ban all right turns on red.
The group’s report says Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should also further streamline the bureaucratic process for redesigning and engineering the city’s streets and intersections, while reducing the influence Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other local groups have on the planning process.
WABA’s holiday wish list reiterates several long-standing goals, while urging the city to move further and faster to make its streets safer at a time when traffic deaths have increased. But the action plan also lacks a price tag and seems more than a little ambitious: Adding 25 miles of bike lanes a year would be about five times the current pace.
Several recent deaths have led some advocates and city officials to say the city has moved too slowly to update street design in ways that promote walking, mass transit and bicycling, even as innovations ranging from ride-hailing to rentable electric scooters have transformed urban transportation. Thirty-one people have been killed in traffic crashes this year, compared with 30 in 2017, according to D.C. police.
In 2001, less than three of the city’s 1,102 miles of streets had bike lanes, despite city planning documents as far back as 1975 that envisioned a 75-mile biking network. Last year, for example, the city added 3.3 miles of new bike lanes and expects to lay down an additional five miles this year.
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