DC Stakeholders Need to Send "Slow Streets" Feedback ASAP

Street Justice Newsletter: Vol 2, Edition 86 (7/5/2020)

Editor’s Note: I’m sorry for the uneven and infrequent publishing of Street Justice reports recently. I totally relaunched the Street Justice Company/Brand Sponsorship program (see the new sponsor slots above and below. I’m doing my very best to continue producing high-quality reports while working on all the business administration/start-up logistics work of non-profit formation. Also, I stumbled into an online dating app sex work scam story on Friday night that is getting complicated and interesting — like Down the Rabbit Hole, Alice. That’s a big piece I’ll publish next week on it. I want to get sourced up for a consumer protection feature with legal, financial, and social justice angles. Next week, I’m going to do a NoVA and Maryland news recap, also.

DC DOT Requests “Slow Streets” Feedback ASAP

This week, staffers at DC’s Department of Transporation (DDOT) sent a list of more than 70 candidates for “slow streets” to the District’s Bike, Pedestrian, and Multimodal Accessibility Advisory Councils. These road segments qualify for a program of low-traffic, low-speed streets to be temporarily closed to thru traffic of vehicles. Mayor Bowser announced the idea in a June 8th press release, but it was only last week that DDOT had prepared a list.

On Tuesday evening, I created a chart of those suggested openings, which builds on the list of eight open street segments the city announced as a first wave in that June 8 release. According to Twitter comments to the Street Justice chart, and emails Street Justice reviewed, most of that first wave isn’t installed yet. “Do you have any inclining as to when the first seven streets will be installed?,” wrote DC Bike Advisory Chair Rachel Maisler via email Tuesday evening. “I biked up 8th St NW yesterday and there was still nothing.” DDOT bike planner Mike Goodno responded that “progress is already being made on the first group of streets” and tagged in the Vision Zero team to explain further. They did not respond with a progress report by publication time today.

DDOT’s Vision Zero team is running this slow street effort and is soliciting public feedback directly via email here — due by Friday, 7/10. They’ve created a map of Phase I street segments and have an FAQ here. Unlike most DC street change projects — DDOT did not give notice for these modifications via Notice of Intent. Unlike Mayor Bowser’s previous COVID-related street changes (e.g., widened sidewalks and establishment-specific parklets), her transportation agency did not reach out practively to ANCs or BIDs for ideas or official resolutions with requests.

DDOT has not issued a press release or given any formal notice to any of those ANCs or BIDs about the additional slow streets ideas. The list isn’t on the Slow Streets website. Street Justice reporting is the only reason they’re spread now beyond the public-but-rarely-spread proceedings of citizen advisory boards. Since the agency is asking for public feedback within a fortnight of it being public, most elected representatives of DC neighborhoods and their businesses won’t have a chance to weigh in officially beyond email.

Street Justice reviewed emails where ANC commissioners reached out to DDOT staff with frustration about the lack of notice on that big list and those DDOT staff responded with a link to the June 8th press release and only an excerpt from the big list from those commissioner’s ward. Like most of DDOT’s activities during COVID, the agency — led by senior staff directed more closely by the Mayor — the slow streets execution isn’t collaborative with the neighborhoods that created ambitious plans with neighborhood loops (e.g., LeDroit Park, Adams Morgan, Ward 1 CM Brianne Nadeau).

DDOT put constraints on their slow streets installation that rules out many of the local roads you’re probably considering in your head. And it’s not clear why these slow streets are being installed where and how they are. Sure, it’s to reallocate expansive car space to pedestrian and bike space for greater ability to travel while socially distant from others. But, commuting travel for key sticky wickets don’t seem to be thought of in the execution of slow streets. “Do you why the slow streets are just focused on the goal of recreation and not commuting?,” wrote DC resident Stephanie Damassa. “It seems like DCPS is leaning toward reopening so safe passages to school seem important if the city is actively discouraging public transit.”

We do not know why these streets seem to think of thru travel for school PUDO as an afterthought. It seems most clear that DDOT wants to both give more street space to pedestrians and not to interrupt bus routes that WMATA has casually fucked with on a daily basis with near-zero proactive public engagement. If the city and regional bodies will discourage transit use for families traveling to/from school, then why are they paying so much mind to bus routes? People have to get to school and work somehow. This is a recipe to maximize private car use come September: scare people out of transit and don’t give them lots of direct, all ages, all-ability walking/biking routes near schools and employment centers.

“I am on the ANC 6E Transportation Committee … as a member of the public and not a commissioner. I live in the City center,” wrote John Shaw in an email. “While I am most happy for the N Street and S Street slow designations, I find it curious that there are no north-south streets in the City center thus designated. This is a populous area of high concentration of citizens and high bicycle use. We are also many years now waiting for the design and implementation of bicycle lanes on either 9th Street or 6th Street (or both). Could we not propose 12th Street and 6th Streets as slow streets as well?”

Send Slow Streets Comments to DC

P.S. Thanks to upper NW blog Forest Hills Connection for reading and linking back to Street Justice reporting. They’ve been covering slow streets up by the Montgomery County border.

New 📷 🎥🎙️ 📊

  • CHART - DC Slow Streets Under Consideration - 6.30.2020

  • DOC - FAQ about DC Slow Streets - 6.30.2020

  • MAP - DDOT Slow Streets - 6.30.2020

News Tidbits

> “Let me say the quiet part loud: In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job.” ~ Deb Perelman, NYT

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Events Calendar

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  • I hope to cover the public events highlighted below in person.

Thurs 7/16: ANC Candidate Training, hosted by Greater Greater Washington [Details]

Upcoming Street Justice Livestream Broadcasts

Wed 7/8: ABC & Public Safety Committee to NC 1C (Adams Morgan) [Details | Livestream Link]

Wed 7/15: Planning, Zoning, and Transportation Committee to ANC 1C (Adams Morgan) [Details | Livestream Link]

Wed 7/22: Public Space and the Environment Committee to ANC 1C (Adams Morgan) [Details | Livestream Link]

Mon 7/27: ANC 4B (Takoma/Brightwood Park) July Meeting [Link]

Wed 8/5: ANC 1C (Adams Morgan) August Meeting [Details | Livestream Link]

DISCLAIMER: Street Justice is subjective journalism. We produce factually accurate, thoroughly reported content. We write with a personal and opinionated voice, contrary to “view from nowhere” journalism that produces an unrealistically symmetrical portrayal of matters in dispute. Where there are power dynamics, Street Justice applies greater scrutiny to agents and stakeholders with greater privilege and more questionable motives.