WASHINGTON - Cycling activists want to stop traffic during rush hour Wednesday. The group of D.C. cyclists are holding a memorial ride in DuPont Circle for the man killed on a scooter last week.
At 5:30 p.m., a few dozen bicycles and scooters are planning to roll through DuPont Circle. ThE organized memorial ride was planned to kick-off in the middle of D.C.’s evening rush, in one of the city’s busiest intersections.
The group is not sure how many will show, but the time and location are no coincidence. They're trying to send a message.
“Absolutely, we’re trying to prove a point,” said Rachel Maisler, a Ward 4 Representative on the DC Bicycle Advisory Council. “Cars need to slow down. DuPont Circle is unsafe, on foot, on a bike, on a scooter and even on a vehicle.”
Maisler empathically listed the number of changes she wants to see at DuPont Circle, but it goes beyond this one location for the cycling advocate.
“I do deserve, just like everybody else in this city, to get to where I’m going without dying,” she told said. “Since June 23, four people have died on two wheels. Four people have been struck by vehicles.”
Maisler and many bicyclists throughout the area are angry with the city’s promise to make D.C. streets more safe and accessible to all modes of transportation.
Traffic deaths are up this year. D.C. police recorded 27 traffic deaths so far. This includes at least three cyclists and a scooter rider. Police recorded 24 traffic deaths this time last year.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association says on its website, more than 25 percent of total roadway deaths in the Washington D.C. region are people walking or biking. This is according to information from a 2014 National Capital Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
The initiative to lower these deaths is called: DC Vision Zero. Planning began in 2016.
Maisler and other cycling advocates, including those at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, feel the city is not making changes fast enough.
“I want less cars on the road,” said Maisler. “And if the city doesn’t’ have the political will to do that, then we need speed enforcement. We need red light enforcement. We need parking enforcement … blocking a traffic lane during rush hour, that doesn’t endanger lives. Blocking a bike lane like this truck has the entire time we’ve been here, that endangers lives.”
Maisler and others plan to testify on exactly this at a planned Thursday D.C. City Council hearing.
Activists organized the Wednesday Memorial Ride to honor Carlos Sanchez-Martin.The 20-year-old was killed riding through DuPont Circle on a Lime scooter last week. They’re also working on a Ghost Bike memorial to honor Thomas Hollowell, the 64-year-old cyclist struck and killed by a vehicle running a red light on Constitution Ave. on Monday.
DC Department of Transportation Spokesperson Terry Owens wrote in a statement Wednesday:
“The Vision Zero proposed rulemaking reflects Mayor Bowser’s commitment to ensuring the safety of our transportation network. The Vision Zero Initiative is about accountability, but more importantly it’s about saving lives. The District is committed to accomplishing this goal through safer engineering of roadways, increased educational efforts and consistent enforcement.
In 2018, DDOT is on pace to install 5 more miles of bike lanes, including several protected lane projects and intersection safety improvement projects, fill over 20 blocks of sidewalk gaps, and install 3 Rapid Flashing Beacons, and (2) HAWK signals. We have completed 19 pedestrian safety modifications at targeted locations such as the Rhode Island/Newton Rapid Flashing Beacon, the South Capitol and Danbury HAWK signal and the Massachusetts/Macomb HAWK signal to name a few.”