New Scorecards Compare DC Candidates on Pedestrian Safety Issues

As the District of Columbia’s new citywide pedestrian advocacy organization, we advocate for citywide solutions to make DC a place where walking is celebrated and respected as a basic human right.

Why walking? Everyone is a pedestrian at some point – whether while walking to the bus stop, to work, or from a parking spot to a store entrance.

Making our city safer for walking makes our city safer for everyone. 

That’s why All Walks DC asked candidates for mayor, city councilor at-large, and attorney general to share their views on walking and pedestrian safety issues.

We hope you’ll join in engaging our elected officials to build a sense of urgency for a safer and more walkable DC. When making your decisions about who to support in the 2014 municipal elections, consider using the below scorecards as a reference. Volunteers with All Walks DC will be handing out these scorecards at Metro stops throughout the city over the coming week.

1. Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral candidates David Catania Muriel Bowser walking pedestrian safety scorecard
Click here full mayoral candidate answers. 

1. City Council At-Large Candidates

 

Council candidates Anita Bonds Elissa Silverman Robert White Brian Hart Kishan Putta scorecard walking pedestrian safety

Click here for all full city council candidate answers.

3. Attorney General Candidates

Attorney General candidates Lorie Masters Edward Smitty Smith Paul Zukerberg Lateefah Williams

Click here for all full attorney general candidate answers. 

DCision 2014: DC’s Candidates for Mayor on Walking and Pedestrian Safety Issues

All Walks DC surveyed candidates for mayor, council, and attorney general. We will use candidate’s responses to compile scorecards on candidates’ perspectives on walking issues.

Today, let’s take a look at how the mayoral candidates stack up. We received responses from four candidates: Muriel Bowser, David Catania, Carol Schwartz, and Bruce Majors.

The MoveDC plan states that DDOT should build streets with a “pedestrian first” policy. Will you work to ensure that DDOT prioritizes walkability and pedestrian safety as outlined in the MoveDC plan?

David Catania: As Mayor I will prioritize walkability and pedestrian safety as part of the District’s overall transportation and transit plan. As recommended by the MoveDC plan, I will address issues of traffic control, intermodal connectivity, accessibility, and aesthetics to help promote a “pedestrian first” policy. I will also pursue a safety agenda consistent with the Vision Zero Initiative, which calls for the elimination of deaths for all those that use our roads – pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers alike – through innovative street design, enhanced traffic management technologies, and public education campaigns.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. Whether your primary mode of transportation is car, bike, bus, or train, each of us is a pedestrian at some point in our travels. But, providing safe walking conditions is about more than transportation. It also contributes to health, economic development, and the overall quality of life of District residents. That’s why in addition to developing and implementing a Vision Zero Plan, I will appoint a strong DDOT director who shares my emphasis on making the District more walkable and who can ensure that MoveDC becomes a reality.

Carol Schwartz: Absolutely. Most of us are pedestrians, whether we also ride a bicycle, ride metro or drive a car. As our neighborhoods become more vibrant and our population increases daily, we must continue to ensure the safe walkability of our city. Most areas of our city, especially around downtown, have sidewalks on both sides of the street. But we must expand that and make sidewalks universal throughout DC. Also crucial is ensuring that our sidewalks and streets are in good condition. When I was on the Council and the Chair of the Department of Public Works, I created a perpetual fund for street, pothole, and sidewalk repair. Sadly, the fund was eliminated when I left the Council and the results are evident. As Mayor, one of the first things I will do is reestablish this fund to ensure our sidewalks and streets are kept in good condition.

Bruce Majors: I would not pre-commit to plans drawn up by commissions or groups before I was elected. I generally disapprove of the various groups that circulate candidate questionnaires that are basically requests to endorse their pre-conceived spending plans, sometimes subsidies to their own organization. That said I will read through your document when I have time and perhaps amend this answer. I have lightly perused the plan and would be willing to incorporate aspects of it. However I favor many new policies that are not part of the limited current discussions, and so make any plans that are part of that discussion obsolete. In particular I favor (1) more local and neighborhood control of streets and sidewalks, (2) deregulation and legalization of more forms of transportation including vans and jitneys, and (3) eliminating the height limit so that there are more urban centers with tall buildings and a density of shopping, jobs and residences that they become easily walkable, as well as creating enough commercial space that more parking garages are built on the lower floors of tall buildings. I also favor making at least one car on Metro trains available to bicyclists at all times, so that bicycling is not discouraged. In addition I would like to see some way of addressing the sexual harassment problem on the Metro. I suspect legally we cannot have an option of single sex cars on each train so that women (or men) could choose a single sex car. But perhaps we could at least have a car available only to children and people travelling with children.

As mayor, will you support adequate resources and funding for traffic enforcement by Metropolitan Police Department officers?

David Catania: Yes, I will support adequate resources and funding for traffic enforcement by MPD officers.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. I will work with Chief Lanier to identify exactly what resources MPD needs for traffic enforcement and make sure they are funded. That includes more officers, automated traffic enforcement cameras, and other tools.

Carol Schwartz: Yes. It was recently reported that our revenues from traffic cameras has declined dramatically over the last year and may end up $70 million under projection. This means that the cameras are changing people’s behavior. Thus, I would keep current resources to continue this trend. Additionally, I do believe we need to make sure bicyclists follow the street rules as well to avoid creating hazards.

Bruce Majors: DC has more than adequate funding for everything already, as the DC budget has expanded by billions in the past few years. It is simply mis-allocated. Of course I favor adequate funding for the police, as everyone would. I do favor expanding the amount of parking off street in DC, which might mean we could reduce the number of parking enforcement employees.

Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?

David Catania: Speed and red light cameras have contributed to the overall safety of our streets and I support their continued use. However, in some instances deployment of these cameras raises questions about whether the goal is to improve street safety or simply to raise additional revenue. This concern is reinforced by the recent Inspector General report on the camera programs, the Chief Financial Officer’s concerns about our reliance on ticket camera revenue, and the District Department of Transportation finding that only 2 of the District’s top 10 hazardous intersections have traffic enforcement cameras. As Mayor, I will require a proper safety analysis be conducted so that speed and red light cameras are targeting street and pedestrian safety concerns.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. Recent studies have shown that MPD’s Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program has resulted in fewer collision-related fatalities and injuries, and it has reduced speed-related traffic collisions across the District, even as the city’s population has increased. That said, the recent Inspector General’s report demonstrates that some reforms need to be made. Drivers deserve due process to ensure they don’t receive tickets in error when a license plat doesn’t match the car’s registration or it’s unclear which car in a picture violated the law. I also believe MPD needs clear standards for determining when a location has safety problems to merit a traffic camera. That will not only make the ATE program function better, but also build public and political support for the program as well.

Carol Schwartz: As indicated above, I believe traffic cameras have been effective in increasing driving safety. However, I would consider removing those cameras that don’t function as safety but are traps solely used to drive up revenue.

Bruce Majors: I am not against traffic cameras simply but I am against their use as a revenue tool.

Do you support the bill introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Wells, and Cheh to replace the contributory negligence statute as it applies to pedestrians and bicyclists with comparative negligence?

David Catania: Yes.

Muriel Bowser: It’s an issue that deserves further consideration. I know a lot of states have a comparative negligence standard and it gives bikers legal protections so they have some redress even when they were partially at fault for an accident. But, I’m also interested in knowing why bikers deserve unique treatment compared to victims in other personal injury cases. There are also other solutions to help protect bikers. MPD needs to be better trained on the laws in place to protect bikers. We need more protected bike lanes throughout the city so accidents never happen. We also need to train both drivers and bikers to share the roads and drive/ride safely.

Carol Schwartz: My initial inclination is to say yes, as it takes into account degree of fault, but I would need further examination and more discussion to provide a definitive determination.

Bruce Majors: I believe I do support this change, though I have not studied how each has worked in different jurisdictions.

Do you support funding for the MoveDC plan, including its proposed transit and pedestrian improvements?

David Catania: MoveDC provides a strong foundation upon which we can build a world-class transportation system that promotes all modes of transit – walking, bicycling, driving and our public transportation options. I support MoveDC’s vision and will support funding for its key initiatives.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. MoveDC is the product of a lot deliberate work and public input, and should be considered a living document. The next step is for DDOT to develop an implementation plan with specifics about project priorities, costs, timelines for completion, and performance metrics for tracking progress. We’ll also need good leadership in the relevant agencies to make sure the work gets done. For the District to continue to grow and prosper sustainably, we have to improve our transportation options and MoveDC will help us do that, especially when it comes to the proposed transit and pedestrian improvements.

Carol Schwartz: I support many of the proposed improvements. Pedestrian safety should be a dominant focus of transit plans. I would need to look more closely at all the recommendations before committing to a complete buy-in. For instance, considering the revenue projections from traffic cameras, I am more inclined to believe that our current system is working and to keep it steady. But I would take input from advocates like yourselves before making any conclusions.

Bruce Majors: See my first answer on how my own innovations in transportation would be my primary goal and I would only incorporate aspects of other plans into them as they could be made workable.

The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement, speed limits, traffic calming investments, and policy that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?

David Catania: Yes. As stated above, I will pursue a transportation plan that is in line with the Vision Zero initiative so that we can eliminate loss of life or serious injury within our transportation system.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. I wholeheartedly endorse the adoption of a Vision Zero Plan. Adopting a comprehensive, holistic approach to transportation safety will not only place the District at the forefront of transportation safety efforts across the United States, it will ensure that the District addresses every factor that makes our streets dangerous – from behavior to road design – in a thoughtful, deliberative manner. As Mayor, I will focus on key areas including engineering, education, enforcement, and policy formulation, to eliminate dangerous behavior on our roadways, in all communities.

Carol Schwartz: Yes. I would certainly support the initiatives for safety that are currently in place and take input from advocates to enact strategies which move us to Vision Zero.

Bruce Majors: I don’t think it is possible to eliminate all risk, so I would have to have a better understanding of what this slogan means to you. That safety should be a priority I agree with.

Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?

David Catania: During my tenure on the Council I have made increased transparency a top priority. I have improved public access to District laws, ensured that budgets are prepared in a reader-friendly format, and shed light on agency practices. Together, these efforts promote accountability and help improve District practices. As Mayor I will continue to promote transparency and support the release of more complete data surrounding traffic crashes in the District.

Muriel Bowser: Yes. Transparent data and thoughtful performance analytics are vital to achieving progress on any issue, and transportation safety is no exception. As Mayor, I will make data about traffic accidents easily accessible to the public via an online clearinghouse in the most useful format with as close to real-time updates as possible.

Carol Schwartz: Of course, I would support full and regular release of data about traffic crashes and would push for the data to come from a single government source to ensure transparency as well as eliminate redundancy and waste.

Bruce Majors: This is a much larger problem. Almost no DC data – including budgets, graduation rates, truancy rates, etc. – is made available to the public. I favor making almost all if not all government data available on the internet for any DC resident to view. One of the few things I would be willing to spend more money on are servers and IT employees to keep this data published.

DCision 2014: DC’s Candidates for Attorney General on Walking and Pedestrian Safety Issues

All Walks DC surveyed candidates for mayor, council, and attorney general. We will use candidate’s responses to compile scorecards on candidates’ perspectives on walking issues.

Today, let’s take a look at how the attorney general candidates stack up. We received responses from four candidates: Edward “Smitty” SmithPaul ZukerbergLorie Masters, and Lateefah Williams.

Do you believe that civil suits involving traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists should be judged by comparative fault rather than contributory negligence?

Lorie Masters: Yes. Pure contributory negligence is a dated practice and is only used in four states (Alabama, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina) and the District of Columbia—it’s time we changed this practice. And further, I support the bill introduced by Councilmembers Cheh, Grosso and Wells because I strongly believe it’s time to make the District of Columbia a comparative negligence jurisdiction in cases involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: D.C. is a contributory negligence jurisdiction, which means that any form of contributory negligence establishes a complete bar to recovery. I believe that D.C. should join the vast majority of the rest of the country in judging civil suits by comparative fault as opposed to the “all-or-nothing” contributory negligence. Contributory negligence has rightly been criticized as unduly harsh and unfair and as providing inadequate recognition of the often-shared fault between two parties to an accident. I agree with implementing a system such as comparative fault which compares the fault of the parties and reduces the injured party’s recovery by their own percentage of fault.

Paul Zukerberg: Yes, I believe that comparative fault is the better system, properly allocating risks and providing appropriate compensation to victims.

Lateefah Williams: Civil suits involving traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists should be judged by a modified comparative fault rule. Many states follow either the 50 percent Bar Rule or 51 percent Bar rule. Pedestrians and bicyclists cannot recover damages if their degree of fault is at, or above, the set bar, but if it is falls below, they can recover, although their recovery is reduced by their degree of fault.

Do you support vigorous enforcement of DC traffic and related criminal laws?

Lorie Masters: Absolutely.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: DC traffic and criminal laws are crucial in ensuring safe streets. As Attorney General, I will support MPD’s robust enforcement in keeping the streets safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and automobile drivers.

Paul Zukerberg: Yes, as attorney general I will vigorously enforce traffic laws and regulation to provide greater safety to the community.

Lateefah Williams: Yes, I support vigorous enforcement of DC traffic and related criminal laws. It is important to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, and that is what the traffic laws are designed to do. While I support enforcing the related criminal laws, I also want to balance the actual sentence against my goal of diverting more people away from the criminal justice system. However, diversion would come after an arrest and only if certain conditions are met.

Will you work with MPD and the US Attorney to ensure thorough investigations of, and appropriate consequences for, drivers who commit traffic offenses that result in injury or death?

Lorie Masters: I will work closely with MPD, the US Attorney, the Mayor, the Council, DC residents, the Departments of Transportation (Local and Federal), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and any other entity that can help in the process of ensuring that drivers who commit traffic offenses are thoroughly and fairly investigated; and where appropriate, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: Fatal traffic accidents occur far too often and, when a car strikes a pedestrian, the outcome is often tragic. As Attorney General, I will work with both the US Attorney and MPD to ensure our streets are safe. That means investigations and prosecutions for not only fatal traffic offenses, but also other traffic offenses that are a danger to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike.

Paul Zukerberg: Yes, I look forward to a close and daily working relationship between the AG office, MPD and the US Attorney’s office, and the community to investigate, prosecute and provide strict consequences for serious traffic offenses.

Lateefah Williams: Yes, I will work with MPD and the US Attorney to ensure thorough investigations of, and appropriate consequences for, all who commit traffic offenses that result in injury or death. All individuals should feel safe traveling throughout the District and if a traffic offense results in injury or death, it is imperative that there is a thorough, open, and transparent investigation. I will work with the necessary parties, including MPD and the US Attorney, to ensure the District government enforces appropriate consequences, if that is what the results of the investigation warrant.

Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?

Lorie Masters: Yes I do support the continued use of cameras to enforce traffic laws. I understand that the rate of collision-related fatalities and injuries has dropped dramatically since we initiated the use of cameras. So it’s clear to me that the cameras are effective with respect to enhancing safety for drivers and pedestrians alike (and I think it’s important to reiterate that fact that this drop has occurred even as the city’s population and traffic have increased). On the other hand, I’d also like to point out that the cameras have been put in place to ensure safety, not as revenue generators. So, as Attorney General I’ll work to keep the focus of the use of cameras on keeping DC safe and making sure that they ae used fairly to fine the actual violator.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: MPD resources are stretched thin. Traffic cameras are a key resource for MPD to keep our streets safe for all who travel them, especially vulnerable pedestrians. I support the continued use of traffic cameras because they save the city money and allow us to allocate resources elsewhere to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Paul Zukerberg: Yes, I support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws, while assuring that due process rights are provided and that the systems is administered fairly.

Lateefah Williams: Yes, I support the use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws. Traffic cameras allow the resources of the MPD to be utilized in other capacities. We currently employ the use of over 200 traffic camera in all quadrants of the city. The District of Columbia has seen marked reductions in traffic offenses with results in improved safety in our pedestrian friendly city.

Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?

Lorie Masters: I will support any effort that lends itself to ensuring a safe and effective transportation system for DC. More specifically, I will fully employ the powers of the Office of the Attorney General to ensure the safety of our city’s pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. In so doing I will work to develop a more comprehensive and centralized source for data submission and retrieval. I am also in favor of the release of all information regarding crashes and the resulting injuries, in any instance in which the release of that information does not infringe upon or violate any rights or rights of privacy to others involved.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: Transparency is key for an effective government and I have committed to making transparency a central feature of my office. Key information such as crash data is important for the safety for all road users. As Attorney General, I will support the regular and full release of the data. We need credible and measurable data to determine the best course for our city, and this includes compiling and releasing statistics on traffic crashes in a timely fashion.

Paul Zukerberg: Yes, I support the release of data about traffic crashes, improved data tracking and evidence- based solutions to traffic safety.

Lateefah Williams: Yes, I support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes. I believe in an open and transparent government. Thus, the public has a right to review data to gain a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding pedestrian crashes, and the injuries and fatalities that result.

The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?

Lorie Masters: Yes, I will support changing/enhancing laws, rules and regulations around enforcement in an effort to move us closer to a “Zero Deaths” model. As I noted above, I will work closely with anyone who can contribute to the reduction of traffic related deaths in our city. Equally important, I’m certain that by calling on DC residents to engage in existing “Toward Zero Deaths” practices like those found in DC Driving 101 we can and will further reduce deaths on our roadways.

Edward “Smitty” Smith: I stand strongly behind “Vision Zero,” which is premised on the notion that no pedestrian injury or fatality is inevitable or acceptable. As Attorney General, I recognize that my job is to protect the public. Our citizens deserve and expect safe streets. Preventable injuries cannot be tolerated and, as Attorney General, I will strive to make our city a more pedestrian-friendly city. I will commit to improving street safety by expanding enforcement against dangerous moving violations like speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians.   Finally, I will vigorously monitor the safety of streets and take appropriate measures as needed.

Paul Zukerberg: I fully support the concept that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable and that zero loss of life is the goal.

Lateefah Williams: Vision Zero and “Toward Zero Deaths” have similar goals; they both aim to eliminate traffic fatalities. The current plan, “Toward Zero Deaths,” is comprehensive and is tailored to address the intricacies of our respective city. The changes needed to fully enforce Vision Zero do not take into account the architecture of our city plan. Our streets are peppered with circles and lined with historical buildings and green spaces. Our city welcomes throngs of tourists that walk, ride and drive within our boundaries. Due to these reasons, I support DC’s “Toward Zero Deaths” initiative, but I am open to discuss how to make the necessary changes to implement Vision Zero, while taking DC’s unique characteristics into account.

DCision 2014: DC’s Candidates for At-Large Councilmember on Walking and Pedestrian Safety Issues

All Walks DC surveyed candidates for mayor, council, and attorney general. We will use candidate’s responses to compile scorecards on candidates’ perspectives on walking issues.

Today, let’s take a look at how the candidates for at-large councilmember stack up. We received responses from nine candidates: Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Brian Hart, Michael Brown, Kishan Putta, Khalid Pitts, Calvin Gurley, and Graylan Hagler.

1. As a councilmember, would you support adequate resources and funding for traffic enforcement by Metropolitan Police Department officers?

Anita Bonds: Yes

Elissa Silverman: Absolutely. This is a tremendous issue across the city, as we add density to neighborhoods and encourage our residents to walk, bike, and get out of cars. In my neighborhood of Northeast Capitol Hill, fellow residents worked with DDOT and MPD to create a better traffic pattern at 7th Street NE and Maryland Avenue NE, where there have been many pedestrian incidents. Because of those efforts, it is now a safer intersection for all–including drivers. My understanding is that MPD is supposed to have a traffic enforcement division in every police district. I will ask Chief Lanier whether there is adequate funding for this in the budget. I am a strong supporter of adequate resources for public safety, which is one of the reasons I have earned the support of the Fraternal Order of Police D.C. Police Union.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Yes, our police officers should have the necessary funding and resources for traffic enforcement.

Michael Brown: Yes

Kishan Putta: Yes. I believe the MPD is generally understaffed and facing the very real threat of a shrinking force, with a potential wave of retirements on the near horizon, all the while our city’s population continues to grow. As the population and the number of pedestrians and cyclists continue to grow, it is imperative that everyone is kept safe on our streets. Ensuring strict enforcement of parking and moving violations has proven to be effective, and we must give the MPD the adequate resources and training it needs to carry out this enforcement. In particular, I believe we should seriously consider funding a separate division within the MPD to focus exclusively on traffic enforcement.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes.

Calvin Gurley: Not to be difficult, is adequacy based upon the amount of annual revenue collected or that the number of “reported” traffic and pedisterian accidents have decreased in number? Our MPD Officers need a “signed” negotiated City Government Contract and an increase in pay.

Graylan Hagler: Yes, it’s outrageous that the MPD traffic unit has been disbanded.

 

2. Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?

Anita Bonds: Yes, I support the existing traffic cameras but I do not think installing additional cameras will yield a significantly different result.

Elissa Silverman: While oversight is needed to ensure that our traffic cameras are being deployed effectively and accurately to increase public safety, traffic cameras have been successful in changing behavior and increasing safety, not only for pedestrians but for drivers and cyclists as well. I am concerned that we are overly reliant on revenue from the cameras to fund our needs — if they are working well, then they should change behavior and we should see a decline in revenue because people are driving slower and obeying our traffic laws. And that is exactly what we are seeing.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Yes, traffic cameras are effective tools in enforcing traffic laws, as long as they are used in a transparent, appropriate, and moderate manner.

Michael Brown: Yes

Kishan Putta: Yes. While traffic cameras are not perfect, and the bugs in them need to be addressed to ensure that the technology is accurate and drivers are treated fairly, ultimately traffic cameras serve as an effective deterrent and make our city safer. Despite the population of the city continuing to grow, the number of fatal accidents in the city is rapidly decreasing due to the use of traffic cameras. The safety of everyone utilizing our streets and sidewalks has to be the primary concern of everyone working on traffic policy. But I do feel that we do not need to charge such high fees to have effective deterrence and safety benefits.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes.

Calvin Gurley: Yes.

Graylan Hagler: Traffic cameras may help with safety but they raise serious issues regarding the propriety of mass surveillance in a society that pretends to be democratic.  In addition, many District officials, including  some councilmembers, see the cameras as providing revenue rather than safety, while wealthy drivers may see them as a license to speed.  Thus we should move back to human rather than mechanical enforcement of traffic laws.

 

3. Do you support the bill introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Wells, and Cheh to replace the contributory negligence statute as it applies to pedestrians and bicyclists with comparative negligence?

Anita Bonds: Yes, I do support this measure, however it is my understanding that the bill will have a few changes once it goes through the mark-up process in committee.

Elissa Silverman: Yes. A move to comparative negligence would modernize D.C. law, bringing us into line with the vast majority of jurisdictions. The current system makes it unduly difficult for cyclists to recover from insurance companies when they are injured in a crash.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Yes, comparative negligence allows for more reasonable outcomes in which a pedestrian or bicyclist, for example, would not be completely barred from recovering a remedy in the event that he or she contributed to an accident.

Michael Brown: Yes

Kishan Putta: Yes, absolutely. As a simple matter of fairness the comparative negligence standard makes sense and I fully support the bill. It is a far more equitable legal doctrine for apportioning fault and distributing damages than our current contributory negligence statute. An overwhelming majority of the States as well as the federal courts have adopted the comparative negligence standard and it currently applies to railroad workers in the District, so I see no compelling reason why we should not extend it to pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes.

Calvin Gurley: More study and review is needed in this draft legislation.

Graylan Hagler: Under a contributory negligence system, a plaintiff may be denied damages even if they are only one percent at fault.  Comparative negligence, which allocates damages on the basis of the percentage at fault, is much fairer.

 

4. Do you support funding for the MoveDC plan, including its proposed transit and pedestrian improvements?

Anita Bonds: Yes, I have been briefed on the plan and support its initiatives.

Elissa Silverman: Yes, I support funding for the MoveDC plan.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Overall, yes, MoveDC is an important plan that will transform the city’s transportation network into a world-class system that can meet the city’s rapidly growing population and expansion.

Michael Brown: Yes

Kishan Putta: Yes, wholeheartedly. Moving people around DC is a crucial issue, as transportation access is directly related to job access. But it will take strong leaders with experience to prioritize and push DDOT to follow-through.

I am the only candidate in my race with a record of achieving significant improvements in transportation citywide. I have worked extensively over the last two years with both DDOT as well as WMATA to improve public transportation in the city – meeting, testifying, emailing, and calling weekly until I got results for residents:

  • More buses and bigger buses on heavily utilized routes (such as 16th Street NW and Georgia Ave)
  • Repaving the most popular bike lane in DC (15th Street Cycle Track)
  • Pushing the agencies to create dedicated bus lanes and improve/enhance traffic signal technology. I have met with both Councilmembers Catania and Bowser about bus lanes and am proud they both chose to mention this proposal in their mayoral platforms. But I will make sure that the next administration makes it a priority.
  • Most recently, I pushed for more bus service in underserved areas of Wards 7 and 8 (connecting the to each other and to cross the river quicker). WMATA has subsequently proposed to implement such improvements and I will make sure they do.

NOTE: If elected, I would push for more coordination between WMATA and DDOT. One reason this does not happen enough is that their oversight at the Wilson Building has been split between two committees. I have seen how this leads to delays and inaction and would push for consolidating oversight into one committee in order to foster coordination as well as greater accountability and responsiveness.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes.

Calvin Gurley: (No answer)

Graylan Hagler: Congestion is a huge problem in the District, and the MoveDC Plan is a major step in attempting to deal with it.  Congestion pricing for cars entering downtown is a no-brainer: it works in London and It should work here.  The result should be increased revenue as well as less traffic on streets outside of as well as in the downtown area.  This should free up space for bicycle and bus lanes, which could then be added.   New Metro and streetcar lines involve substantial costs, which, in the absence of major Federal subsidies, would have to compete in the District budget with other priorities.

 

5. The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement, speed limits, traffic calming investments, and policy that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?

Anita Bonds: Yes, pedestrian safety and the use of multiple modes of safety precautions are very important to me. DC’s goal is to build world-class communities of diverse populations with innovative applications while maintaining the connectivity of neighborhoods with opportunities for all that wish to make the District their home and travel using it’s transportation system. That being said, I believe we can achieve zero deaths within the District’s transportation system and we should strive to meet that goal.

Elissa Silverman: I support Toward Zero Deaths. The radical improvement in automobile safety in the United States over the last 50 years is one of the great public health achievements of our time, but there is more to be done. Transportation-related fatalities are preventable, and Toward Zero Deaths recognizes that every life matters, and we should not accept these deaths as inevitable.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Absolutely. It’s a bold and ambitious vision, and certainly worth striving for. Public safety should be the number one priority of our transportation system. We must ensure that, as much as possible, people will be able to travel safely in their daily lives without risk of serious injury or loss of life.

Michael Brown: Absolutely

Kishan Putta: I fully support the Vision Zero goal. Achieving this goal will require resources, and as a Councilmember I would propose hearings with transportation officials to gather technical advice, and support funding for making the required investments and implementing the required changes to enforcement and policy. We should employ all of the various tools necessary to make it safe and accessible to drive, walk and bike across the city, including using traffic cameras to deter speeding and creating more raised and visible crosswalks as well as protected bike lanes.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes.
Calvin Gurley: (No answer)
Graylan Hagler: Clearly human life should take priority over the other objectives of District government. The most effective application of Vision Zero has been in Sweden, where there was a 13 percent decline in traffic fatalities between 1997 and 2007.  In the District, by contrast, there was a 14 percent decline over the same period and a whopping 54 percent decline between 1997 and 2013, to a 2013 total of 29 traffic fatalities.  Thus the District is doing well in meeting the goals of Vision Zero and new efforts will have do compete with efforts to reduce premature deaths from infant mortality, homicide, and the simple lack of adequate health care.
 

6. Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?

Anita Bonds: Yes, I support efforts to maintain better transparency in the recording of traffic accidents. This data is important in obtaining more comprehensive information about the district’s safety.

Elissa Silverman: Absolutely! I am a strong proponent of data integrity and transparency in all D.C. government operations. It is crucial that legislators, law enforcement, advocates, and all citizens have access to the data they need to make good decisions about public policy. And this data should be available in an open format that makes data analysis and the development of data tools as easy as possible. There are many committed citizens in D.C. with the skills to dig deeply into this kind of data, and I look forward to working with them on the Council to make D.C. government decisions more data-driven.

Robert White: Yes.

Brian Hart: Yes, I believe deeply in transparency in government. Transparency, among other advantages, establishes trust and credibility with the public, enables constituents to engage and contribute to government, and prevents corruption and abuse of power. In this instance, data transparency would serve the public good by allowing review and analysis of data to inform transportation and public safety policy.

Michael Brown: Yes

Kishan Putta: Yes, to the extent feasible. I am a firm believer in greater disclosure and transparency and would support efforts to encourage cross-agency coordination to make a reality the regular, timely release of accident data that is readily accessible and searchable for the general public.

Kahlid Pitts: Yes – however no personal data on the person such as names and addresses. I believe in protecting all residents privacy.

Calvin Gurley: Yes. However, the resources you have mentioned in question 1# will be needed here in order for the MPD Police to add more workload activities to their daily operations.

Graylan Hagler: Yes we should release the data more promptly, even if it must be released in a raw but redacted form for others to compile and analyze.

How Do DC’s Candidates for Mayor, Council, and Attorney General Stack Up on Walking?

DC is a walking city. We walk to the bus, to Metro, to the store, to the park, to school, and even from our parked cars to our final destinations.

But in order to make our city stronger and safer, we need to do more to accommodate pedestrian access and comfort.

As DC’s new citywide walking advocacy organization, All Walks DC is holding a survey on walking and pedestrian issues for mayor, council, and attorney general candidates. We will use candidate’s responses to compile scorecards on candidates’ perspectives on walking issues.

All Walks DC welcomes responses from all candidates for mayor, city council, and attorney general in the District of Columbia. Email responses to AllWalksDC[at]gmail[dot]com. Responses are due on Wednesday, October 15. 

Mayor

  1. The MoveDC plan states that DDOT should build streets with a “pedestrian first” policy. Will you work to ensure that DDOT prioritizes walkability and pedestrian safety as outlined in the MoveDC plan?
  2. As mayor, will you support adequate resources and funding for traffic enforcement by Metropolitan Police Department officers?
  3. Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?
  4. Do you support the bill introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Wells, and Cheh to replace the contributory negligence statute as it applies to pedestrians and bicyclists with comparative negligence?
  5. Do you support funding for the MoveDC plan, including its proposed transit and pedestrian improvements?
  6. The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement, speed limits, traffic calming investments, and policy that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?
  7. Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?

Council (ward and at-large)

  1. As a councilmember, would you support adequate resources and funding for traffic enforcement by Metropolitan Police Department officers?
  2. Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?
  3. Do you support the bill introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Wells, and Cheh to replace the contributory negligence statute as it applies to pedestrians and bicyclists with comparative negligence?
  4. Do you support funding for the MoveDC plan, including its proposed transit and pedestrian improvements?
  5. The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement, speed limits, traffic calming investments, and policy that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?
  6. Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?

Attorney General

  1. Do you believe that civil suits involving traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists should be judged by comparative fault rather than contributory negligence?
  2. Do you support vigorous enforcement of DC traffic and related criminal laws?
  3. Will you work with MPD and the US Attorney to ensure thorough investigations of, and appropriate consequences for, drivers who commit traffic offenses that result in injury or death?
  4. Do you support the continued use of traffic cameras to enforce existing traffic laws?
  5. Currently, it can be difficult for the public to learn about the causes and effects of traffic crashes because comprehensive and complete data are not maintained by a single DC government source. In addition, the limited data that are published may not be published for more than a year after the crash occurred. Data transparency is an important aspect of ensuring an effective and safe transportation system. Do you support the regular and full release of data about traffic crashes, including information about locations and causes of pedestrian crashes and the injuries and fatalities that result?
  6. The main principle behind Vision Zero – initially implemented in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco – is that no loss of life or serious injury is acceptable within a given area’s transportation system. DC has adopted the similar concept of “Toward Zero Deaths.” Do you support changes in enforcement that would be necessary to achieve Vision Zero in our city?