11 Feb 2020


Street Justice: DC Accidentally Reversed Traffic Fines it Claimed Necessary for Safety

A shared, electric bike from operator Helbiz parked in DC’s Kingman Park neighborhood (Photo by Gordon Chaffin)

I’m Gordon Chaffin, a journalist in Washington DC. I cover transportation & urban planning in DC, Maryland, & Virginia for Street Justice. I explain what’s happening in the street and why. Below is a summary of last week’s transportation news. I produce reports delivered every weekday afternoon for paid subscribers and Sunday mornings for free subscribers. HillisHome readers can subscribe for a 20% discount.

DC Reversed Bike Lane Safety Fines from $150 back down to $65

DC’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) may have never written $150 tickets for bike lane violations after DC’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) increased the fine from $65 last year. This week, DPW Director Chris Geldart wrote in an email that “DPW is only authorized to issue a $65 fine.” That message, obtained by Street Justice, seems to describe a serious of communications blunders within DPW and DDOT which caused the accidental reversal of a fine increase made to increase safety in the bustling areas of ride-hailing pick-up/drop-off and online package deliveries where paint-only bike lanes provide additional space to double park and harm public safety.

[Full Story]

DC Shows Near & Medium-Term Goals for Ward 5 at Open House

Yesterday, DDOT held an open house at Trinidad Recreation Center for projects and programs happening in Ward 5 — the jurisdiction covering Northeast DC above Florida Avenue NE, to the Maryland Line, and bordering Ward 4 roughly up North Capitol to the Fort Totten Metro Station. I call this jurisdiction home, as do a growing number of 25-50-year-olds who seek affordable apartments and homes in the stretch-but-not-insane price range.

Ward 5 is a heavily driven-through spot: Maryland-to-DC commuters using New York Avenue NE, Rhode Island Avenue NE, Riggs Road, Michigan Avenue NE, and Bladensburg Road NE. A critical job for DDOT to create a more livable, equitable future for Ward 5 is to greatly improve the walkability and safe bike infrastructure along these arterial roads.

Overall, DDOT seems focused to make it safer to walk and bike around the flatter, more near-term growth areas of Union Market & Trinidad. However, Brookland and Michigan Park/Riggs Park don’t seem to be targeted for bike projects to improving bike/walk comfort in the next 2-3 years.

[Full Story]

Street Justice Reports Induce DC Agency Action

On Monday, DC’s Office of Attorney General confirmed Street Justice reporting from last week by warning residents of auto theft risk when offering your vehicle up for rental on the Getaround car-sharing app. “OAG has learned of more than 75 recent auto thefts in the District that we believe are connected to the use of this app. … Vehicles listed on Getaround could be at increased risk of theft because keys are left inside of the car and the car’s location is visible to anyone searching the platform.”

It’s very likely OAG was already investigating Getaround when Street Justice published last week’s report. DC Police already believed it was connected to several thefts to a half-dozen thefts in one ANC.

It’s uncouth for journalists to boast of their importance. It’s dangerous for reporters to invest belief in their own influence beyond a healthy self-image and confidence. But, I want to note these two stories and the subsequent government agency actions. I’m working my ass off so DC has high-quality local journalism about transport, energy, and infrastructure. I need you to spread the word so that more people know about Street Justice. Tell them it’s important to subscribe at any price they want and can afford.

This “print” journalism start-up may not pay a living wage yet, but events are showing Street Justice is a force in the DC area — compelling and persuading powerful people. Tell folks they/their firm should sponsor SJ. Tell your friends with news industry connections that their news organization should invest in/partner with SJ. I’m gonna keep working hard and having faith that the reader support, the funding, and the public awareness will come.

HillisHome readers can subscribe to Street Justice for a 20% discount.

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