Posted by Karyn Le Blanc, DDOT Director of Communications
Something we learn from a very young age is how to share, to be fair and to try to make sure everyone has access to an equitable portion. We are taught to share toys, clothes, food, games, etc. with siblings, friends and other family members. It is a respectful means of communication we take with us through our lifetimes. As adults we try our best to continue offering that same sense of fairness to each other as a way to show our respect to one another.
In the District one thing that we all share is the public space and roadways. As we all realize, the city, as is any defined jurisdiction, has limited public space and limited roadways, and it is incumbent upon us to make sure what we do have is available for everyone to share in a safe and efficient manner. Safety is a number one priority for all of us. Even though numbers are showing a general decrease, any injury or fatality should be unacceptable and so many could be avoided if people just took their time and paid closer attention.
Our transportation systems are growing and as such there is more competition for the roadway and public space. Motorists, perhaps seen as the older sibling, historically have had the majority of access to the roadways, commuting, dropping off school kids, fitting in an errand before cruising to the office and then repeating on the way home. Buses are sometimes misunderstood as the big bully, plowing and plodding along the roadways, edging out and constantly vying with motorists who speed up so they don’t get stuck behind the big behemoth that may pull out and block their view or even worse, slow down precious travel time. There are pedestrians darting in and out of cars, not using crosswalks or not waiting for the walk signal and now a revitalized bike community, sometimes bobbing and weaving and asserting their place in the maze of District travelers.
The District sports some fantastic transportation options. The bus services receive high marks, both Metro and the DC Circulator, and the Metro rail system, while perhaps dealing with some specific challenges, is still considered one of the top rail systems in the country. There is also the recently launched and already very popular Capital Bikeshare system and soon, in 2012, the DC Streetcar system. Each of these systems is designed to complement the other and should not be viewed in conflict. Pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers all need to get to their destinations and move around the city. Everyone has the right to traverse in a safe and efficient manner.
Last month U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood along with his top administrators, DDOT Director Gabe Klein and MPD Assistant Police Chief Pat Burke held a press briefing to encourage people to be diligent in their safe travel practices, to not drive distracted and to share the roadways. Short of just not listening, you must have heard by now the Secretary’s unrelenting plea to the country to not drive while distracted. At the briefing DDOT’s Pedestrian Coordinator, George Branyan, narrated a live scenario where a “dummy” 10-year old boy was placed in the intersection while a car tried to break, first at 25 mph and then at 35 mph. At 35 mph the “dummy” was broken apart and laying in the roadway. Had that been a real accident the boy’s life would have most likely ended and the driver’s life and those of both families would never be the same. Automobile, pedestrian, transit and bicycle accidents and deaths have decreased but will only continue on a downward trend if we stay vigilant in our respect for each other and our transportation choices.
Already you may have noticed our “share” campaign posters currently being rolled out on bus shelters, Circulators, billboards and on Metro buses. We hope these serve as a reminder to move safely and to be respectful, conscientious and courteous to other travelers. Obey the traffic regulations, do not drive distracted and please be safe.
“Ride it, Drive it, Walk it, Share it!