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D.C. gets a dedicated Vision Zero office and director following spike in traffic deaths

Transportation expert Linda Bailey will head the office starting in March

A bike-lane sign in downtown D.C.
Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

As part of D.C.’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is setting up a new Vision Zero office that will focus on safety strategies, including through engineering, regulation, and community engagement.

Starting in March, the office’s inaugural director will be Linda Bailey, who was most recently the executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, a group of more than 60 North American cities, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last week. Bailey has helped shape policies around street design, bike infrastructure, public space, and sustainable stormwater systems, per Bowser’s office. Her resume includes “work on the accommodation of autonomous vehicles”—which Ford is anticipated to begin testing in the District this year.

In a statement, Bowser said people are moving around D.C. “in record numbers—using new types of transportation and visiting new areas of the city,” so it is important that they do so safely. D.C.’s population recently hit 700,000 residents, tourism has consistently increased over the past several years, and shared electric scooters and electric bikes are proliferating.

The announcement also comes after the District saw a spike in traffic deaths last year, to 34 from 30 in 2017 and fewer than that in the preceding years going back to 2011. The creation of the Vision Zero office fits into Bowser’s rejiggering of the initiative, originally launched in D.C. in 2015, last fall. Right turns on red will be banned at 101 locations, among other moves.

Traffic-safety advocates have continued to press Bowser’s administration to redesign streets and make other changes following several high-profile pedestrian, cyclist, and scooter-rider deaths in 2018. Bailey previously worked for New York City’s transportation department and helped develop is Vision Zero program. She also worked as a policy analyst, has a master’s in urban planning, and used to serve on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.