The outreach portion of Vision Zero is underway in D.C., and the initiative is now assisting in police stings that work toward the program’s goal: zero traffic fatalities by 2024.
Last weekend, the Metropolitan Police Department ran a “step-out sting”—officers literally step out of their vehicles to enforce traffic laws—at Georgia Avenue and Lamont Street NW with the goal of enforcing yielding for pedestrians in the crosswalk. The operation resulted in 26 total citations to both drivers and pedestrians, including 12 for failure to leave the right of way.
This isn’t MPD’s first step-out sting, but it’s the first that’s used Vision Zero data. While the stings are currently conducted on a monthly basis, the plan is to increase their frequency in the near future, says Jonathan Rogers, a policy analyst for D.C. Department of Transportation who is leading D.C. Vision Zero.
“We’re trying to step it up with Vision Zero, taking that enforcement strategy that MPD has been doing, but really targeting it to a location that we’re seeing vulnerable travelers being endangered,” Rogers says.
MPD, led by Sgt. Terry Thorne, and Pedestrian Advisory Council Secretary Eileen McCarthy determined the location of the most recent sting. Rogers says they consulted the Vision Zero crowd-sourced safety map to confirm that road users found the area problematic.
The map is a good way to gauge “people’s perceptions of safety,” Rogers says, which factors into Vision Zero’s analysis.
“Otherwise it’s hard for the D.C. government to realize that, if there isn’t a high number of crashes or something else going on there,” he says. “We really are relying on people to help us.”
At five of the first six public outreach events, held in areas with heavy foot traffic, Rogers says they received more than 300 completed surveys per event. Rogers says participants were representative of a wide array of transportation users, and that their top three concerns were people driving too fast, being distracted while driving, and ignoring traffic concerns.
Rogers takes issue with the assumption that transportation will naturally result in casualties. With Vision Zero, he says, D.C. can end traffic-related fatalities. “That’s the big philosophical shift that we want for not just the agencies but everyone who travels around in D.C. and the region.”
Photo by Andrew Giambrone