Who will you pick for DC Council at-large on April 23?

Question 6

We asked the candidates:

Residents who walk and bicycle often feel our streets are not sufficiently safe for them. Others feel that projects to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians have impeded quality of life for those who must drive. Is there a way forward that can bring peace among all road users? What would you say to each of these groups?

Here is how you rated the candidates' responses:

Matthew Frumin responded...

Diversifying our transit system to incorporate bicycles and to create livable, walkable communities pays clear health and environmental benefits. We have appropriately committed as a city to such a multi-modal system.

That said, there is a pattern that when new infrastructure to accommodate bicycles or pedestrians is introduced there are concerns about adverse impacts on those who rely on cars. Once the various users get used to the new infrastructure, the complaints subside.

In the meantime, where such infrastructure is lacking, we have the greatest conflicts between bicyclists, pedestrians and cars. I have for years commuted on my bike, so I understand fully the dangers of roadways that do not properly accommodate both bicyclists and cars.

A key first step to facilitate the shared use of our roadways is to build out the necessary infrastructure — bike lanes, sharrows and sidewalks — to minimize direct physical conflicts. Even where the necessary infrastructure exists, though, we all know there will still be conflicts. Many bicyclists feel at risk from hostile drivers. Many drivers feel endangered by what they consider reckless bicyclists. Too often pedestrians fear both bicyclists and drivers.

To address these challenges, we need clear rules of the road, including protection for bicyclists from reckless or hostile drivers, and consistent enforcement. That can and should involve training for our police and public education. It could be useful, for example, for MPD to issue something like a "bill of rights" for bicyclists and pedestrians as has been done in other jurisdictions. We should also focus enforcement methods, including evolving technologies like traffic cameras, in places where they provide the greatest public safety benefit.

As we move towards a shared, "complete streets" system, the message to each group will be the same: Respect. Bicyclists must respect the rights of pedestrians and comply with all relevant traffic rules to avoid inviting conflicts with cars. Pedestrians must respect the rules governing their behavior and the danger posed to them from both cars and bicyclists if they do not. And, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians must respect the fact that our transportation system is increasingly a shared one.

Transit is not an either/or proposition. With proper infrastructure, clear rules of the road, consistent enforcement and respect, we can and should be able to share.

Elissa Silverman responded...

Two terms you will never hear me say are "pro-car" and "anti-car." I don't support the divisive framing of our policy discussions: drivers vs. bikers, job training vs. bike lanes, and so on. As a former budget analyst and reporter, I know these characterizations only cause division and don't move us toward productive solutions. We need to make the District safe for all modes of transportationfor travel by four wheels, two wheels, and foot.

I went without a car for six years in this city for primarily one reason: Owning a car is expensive. I wanted to save for a house, and I made the decision to squirrel away money by riding my bicycle everywhere possible. Last year I decided to be a car owner again for a variety of reasons; I must admit that weekend track work on Metro had something to do with it.

There are three basic facts we must deal with when it comes to transportation:

  • D.C. is growing fast. Right now, 1,100 new residents move into D.C. every month. This is good for our city and our tax base, but it also means more cars, more bicycles, and more pedestrians. I want to look at intersections where we have the highest number of accidents involving all of theseplus buses, motorcycles, and scootersand work with the MPD, DDOT, the Office of Planning, and other agencies to determine how we make these places safer for everyone. I will ask these agencies tough questions at their performance oversight hearings and demand data so we can make informed decisions.

  • Cars take up space. We need to be realistic: Many residents will want to own a car. But we should make every effort to create reliable, efficient public transportation so a household might find that only one is enoughor choose not to own one at all. That means we need to make good strategic investments in Metrorail and Metrobus, in innovative programs such as Capital Bikeshare, and expanding options for being car-free, such as Uber.

  • We need good communication, community engagement, and planning around transportation issues, none of which is happening consistently right now. Transportation studies shouldn't gather dust on a shelf; they should be key documents to inform decision-making. Steps forward must be tailored to each neighborhood, designed in consultation with each community, and followed through with consistent communication and education.

I will hold DDOT and other agencies accountable and ask hard questions about the data involved in decision-making, as well as the commitment to community engagement and involvement. On something like the L Street bike lanein which I've almost gotten hit on my bike and almost hit a cyclist while driving my carI will push for outreach and education to ensure we all know the new rules of the road. And I will demand follow-up studies, which rarely happens today, to measure whether road changes had the promised results.

John Settles responded...

Our transportation planning should focus on making DC a multi-modal transportation mecca where pedestrians are kept safe; bicyclists are protected in their own lanes; and alternative options that offer comparable trip times without the hassle of parking are provided to motorists.

A combination of bike lane expansion, car-sharing servicessuch as Zipcarand dedicated bus lanes that provide express service, can create greater connectivity particularly in transportation islands such as Hillcrest, and Palisades that are underserved by Metrorail.

The tension between motorists and cyclists is unfortunate, but the reality is that we need both cars and bikes. Folks who live near Metro stations, Circulator routes, are within walking distance to work, or who bike to work, provide a great benefit by reducing their carbon footprint.

However, those neighborhoods with few or no public transportation options; people who for health reasons can't walk or ride a bike to work; or families with children, may have to drive cars. But, more carpooling, expansion of car-sharing services and additional metro bus and rail services can alleviate commuter traffic in and around the District. I personally drive a Zip car periodically and have found car-sharing a great option. However the city needs to explore options for those who can't afford the rental fee.

The city should consider incentivizing transit oriented development projects which combine residential units with employment centers so that more people have the option of walking to work.

Over the past 5 years there has been an average of 653 crashes involving pedestrians and 334 involving cyclists each year in this city. The city needs to develop better metrics for aggregating bike use counts, making the case for bike lanes and essential safety improvements based on accurate numbers. Additionally a public information campaign promoting the environmental, health, recreational and transportation benefits of bike riding, should be waged concurrent to a campaign educating cyclists and motorists on safety precautions, rules and etiquette of the road.

Cyclists need to understand that some people drive a car because they have no other options. Motorists need to be better informed on how to share the road with cyclists.

Anita Bonds responded...

With DC's recent recognition as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, peace amongst cyclist, pedestrians and drivers is of the utmost importance in this diverse and flourishing city. I have family and friends who ride bicycles, drive cars and are frequent pedestrians. I always remind them to use caution when engaging in either mode of traveling throughout the city. We've witnessed a huge increase in the number of people opting to ride bikes since the District opened the first automated bike-share system in the country. We've also experience a steady increase in traffic congestion; therefore it's become imperative that pedestrians, cyclers and drivers are mutually respectful of each other on the open roads. I've always encouraged each of these groups to observe and obey the laws that govern the road. However, I believe it's equally important for city officials to ensure that the public receives more education about traffic and bike laws coupled with an increase in visible signs that promote traffic and bike safety. This way we won't continue to have confusion as we've experienced with the L St. bike lane and the legalities around making U turns for drivers. Finally, I'd also express to each of these groups that we should accompany our adherence to traffic and bike laws with common-sense decency and respect. I'd continue to encourage city officials and cycling advocacy groups to work together towards developing solutions aimed at getting all road users on the same page. This way cyclist, pedestrians and drivers in this great city can begin to live the example set by citizens like those from Chicago to Copenhagen and other bike-friendly cities around the world that live harmoniously and peacefully enjoy the open roads without impeding on the quality of life for one another.

Perry Redd responded...

The primary principle is one which I believe is best for DC's residents: .One City.. Mayor Gray coined the phrase which is admirable and workable. It's been a challenge getting there though. Road use is just another of those hurdles we must overcome.

I err on the side of safetyfor all. Danger for bike riders is danger for all. An auto accidentwhether with bike or another caris something we all seek to avoid. Whether for reasons of liability, humanity or piece of mind, we must invest our time and efforts in making it the primary objective.

I espouse choice in methods of travel for all DC residents. Some prefer Metro, bus, bike or walk, and some even prefer car. Which ever choice, none should be punitive. Even though we're experiencing a boom in bicycle ridership, not all residents desire to bike. We shouldand mustrespect that. That does not negate the need for safety and protection of our biking community.

To the biker, I like the concept developed that places bikers in the middle of the street with designated lanes. I understand that that's not uniformly possible throughout the city (like on Sherman Avenue in northwest with it's newly re- designed configuration).

To the driver, there is unequivocally the principle of yielding to pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclistsunder any scenario. Though inconvenient, its non- negotiable. It is what it is.but I do not dismiss the argument of the auto motorist.

I would advocate for localized discussion groups and dedication of $230,000 to a city-wide [re-]education campaign. It appears that bikers and motorists aren't on the same page, causing mounds of frustration that can very likely, be avoided.

Michael Brown responded...

As we continue to grow as a multi-transport city we must respect all types of transportation, whether u take metro/ride a bike/drive a car/moped/scooter/motorcycle/walk etc. Our streets are now not just for cars, we must share the road with respect. As I talk to drivers, I suggest that they be very alert and cognizant of our bikers/walkers/scooters users. Obey the bike lane rules and most important a car out weighs a bike. As I talk to bikers, I would suggest that they follow the rules of the road as well, that includes our messengers that we have all seen zipping in and out of traffic. Ultimately this multi-transport city that we now live in will improve our quality of life. Especially now that we have one of the worst if not the worst traffic congestion in the US. So let's all be more understanding and patient and respectful as our city continues to grow. Thank-you