Speed management at forefront as DC pledges to achieve ‘vision zero'

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Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser presents the city’s innovative program to teach all second graders to ride bicycles, in an effort to promote non-motorized transport safety and equity.
Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser presents the city’s innovative program to teach all second graders to ride bicycles, in an effort to promote non-motorized transport safety and equity.
Panelists discuss the importance of focusing on children in road safety efforts.
Panelists discuss the importance of focusing on children in road safety efforts.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington DC has committed the US capital to achieving ‘vision zero’ at the first Vision Zero Summit for the Washington DC region.

The event was hosted on 31 March by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the George Washington University Hospital, and AAA Mid-Atlantic. It focused on Vision Zero as a data-driven initiative to end traffic deaths and injuries through safer streets, effective traffic enforcement, and increased public education and outreach.

The FIA Foundation was featured in the closing panel of the Vision Zero Summit, which featured lessons learned from cities across the world in various stages of implementing Vision Zero. Panelists echoed the FIA Foundation’s focus on children as an important way to drive life-saving initiatives. The panel, moderated by Caroline Samponaro, Deputy Director, Transportation Alternatives, included: Eva Hunnius Ohlin, Trade and Economic Affairs, Embassy of Sweden; Carrie Sanders, Deputy Director, Department of Transportation & Environmental Services, City of Alexandria; Natalie Draisin, Manager of the North American Office and United Nations Representative, FIA Foundation; Sabrina Sussman, Senior Policy Advisor, New York City Mayor’s Office of Federal Affairs; and Sam Zimbabwe, Chief Project Delivery Officer, District Department of Transportation.

Natalie Draisin presented UN Global Road Safety Week, 8-14 May as an opportunity to advocate for speed management, which lies at the foundation of Vision Zero. She encouraged starting with school zones to gain acceptance for speed reduction. “There are plenty of ways to engage in Global Road Safety Week, including hosting a Bike to School Day on May 10. It’s a chance to invite your Mayor to bike to school with children, celebrating the importance of safe cycling, but also seeing first-hand the safety challenges they might encounter. This can spark long term change,” she said.

Washington, DC Mayor Bowser participated in Bike to School Day last year, and signed on to Vision Zero for Youth, a commitment to strive for zero fatalities on roads by starting with children. “We commit to getting to zero by 2024,” she said at the Summit. Washington, DC is striving for this goal in innovative ways, for example by teaching all second-graders how to ride bicycles. This initiative helps close income and racial gaps in the community, promotes non-motorized transport, improves child health, and draws attention to road safety.