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

We asked...

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?

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.


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