I had my first Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) meeting as the Ward 2 representative on Monday, March 24th in Capitol Hill. The meeting was chaired by Jason Broehm, a former 2B08 resident (from the Meredith).
I learned some interesting details about how the District handles pedestrian safety and enforcement (and traffic safety and enforcement generally):
- Traffic Captains: While the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) doesn’t have traffic safety division, each police district does have a designated “Traffic Captain.” The traffic captain from the 7th District attended the PAC meeting.
- Major Crash Division: The MPD also has a special division covering “major crashes,” which is defined as crashed which result in a fatality (or may result in a fatality). Sergeant Terry Thorne of the major crash division reported at the PAC meeting indetail on the 4 fatal pedestrian-related crashes so far this year – one on the Sousa bridge, one at 13th & I Streets NW, one on I-695, and a construction worker that was killed by falling construction equipment and material when a driver crashed into the construction site.
- Special Prosecutors: The District has two special prosecutors for traffic enforcement, paid from grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The PAC is split up into two committees, a “Walking Environment Committee” and an “Enforcement and Education Committee.” The report from the Walking Environment Committee had some interesting items:
- Sidewalk Repair Backlog: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has an $28 million backlog of sidewalk repairs, which the Mayor covers in his FY 2015 budget.
- Traffic Signal Optimization: DDOT is going to be posting a new PowerPoint presentation on traffic signal optimization, including data collected at hundreds of intersections (# of pedestrians, # of right turns, etc.). The report will not deal with Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), where pedestrians are given a few seconds to begin walking before turning cars are given a green light.
- ANC / DDOT / PAC Collaboration. The Committee Chair, Marlene Berlin, would like to focus on collaboration with ANCs. There is an ANC in Ward 6 that has a particularly good relationship with DDOT, and representatives from that ANC and DDOT representatives are going to talk about this at the next meeting.
Regarding the PAC itself, there were a few items of note from the March meeting:
- The full PAC meets every other month, with Committees meeting in the off months.
- The last PAC vacancy (Council Chair Phil Mendelson’s appointee) should be filled shortly.
- The PAC has access to some limited funding through DDOT.
- The PAC just hired a part-time program/administrative associate.
I’ll be joining the “Walking Environment Committee,” which is going to be discussing ANC collaboration and outreach at its April meeting. If you have any comments or questions related to pedestrian issues, please let me know.