Keeping Our Streets Safe
Excerpt from Justin's October Newsletter
In 2012, a drunk driver killed a child walking along the road near Landmark Mall.. His mother was also seriously injured.
In 2013, another child, while trick-or-treating, was hit by a vehicle on Russell Road. While seriously injured, he fortunately survived.
Each of these tragic incidents change the lives of the victims and their families in dramatic ways. But for each tragedy, there are also countless close calls and near misses.
In Alexandria, we are fortunate to have pedestrian scale, walkable neighborhoods with urban amenities throughout our City. Yet if residents do not feel they can safely traverse the streets of our City, then all the urban amenities are for naught.
The City has invested millions of taxpayer dollars in attempts to improve pedestrian safety throughout our community. Those resources have included improving pedestrian access to schools, building and improving sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic calming efforts, bike lanes, new signalization, and more. With the recent large increases in road resurfacing budgets, the Council has also steered new dollars into our "Complete Streets" efforts, the City's program for improving non-vehicular infrastructure.
Yet there are still areas of our City where sidewalks are non-existent or unusable, intersections are unsafe and unsafe driving is rampant. We must improve the safety of our streets for all users.
In the aftermath of last month's fatal accident, the Police Department and the Transportation and Environmental Services Department hosted a community meeting at Maury Elementary to solicit feedback from the community. The result was a lively meeting resulting in great feedback from City residents on ways we can make Alexandria's streets a safer place for all. We continue to solicit input from residents.
The most recent tragedy has made the City's on-going updates to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan all the more important. We have an opportunity, with the adoption of significant revisions to the plan, to change the mindset on our streets.
One of the concepts being discussed by the citizens involved in the process is the adoption of a Vision Zero initiative for Alexandria. While such an initiative would involve significant resources and planning, it simply means that we would design road spaces, traffic regulations and operations to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries.
While eliminating fatalities and serious injuries is a bold and ambitious agenda, we must take steps now to make sure Alexandria streets are safer for all users.