Greening the District with Traffic Cameras

Pedestrians and cyclists can breathe easier on Washington, DC’s streets, according to Mayor Vincent Gray, because of what he describes as a plan to “cover the entire city” with traffic cameras. Cameras slow down traffic, and slower cars would make it safer to walk and bike around the capital.

In many ways, DC is already leading the country in bike and pedestrian friendliness. The bicycle infrastructure includes the largest bike share program in the country and 100 miles of bike trails and bike lanes in the city, including one of the most used trails in the country.

Will this new emphasis on peds and cyclists move cars out of the city? Probably not -- and that's ok. But as a regular cyclist, I hope it will at least slow drivers down so that they can be more aware of others on the street.

There are a lot of different types of road users. Not just cyclists and pedestrians, but joggers, dog-walkers, rollerbladers, food trucks and pedicabs. Drivers are the most lethal of the bunch and therefore have the greater responsibility to operate safely on the streets.

“Traffic cameras save lives” by slowing vehicles down, writes Marlene Berlin, a blogger for Greater Greater Washington. "A driver traveling 30 mph who hits a pedestrian is only 45% likely to kill that person, but at just 10 mph faster, the odds jump to 85%."

By encouraging alternative ways to get around Mayor Gray hopes to tackle the 22% of DC’s carbon footprint that comes from transportation. The DC government’s share has been reduced since the implementation of DC FleetShare, a Zipcar-like program for government employees. The District’s fleet was ranked among the top 20 green fleets, which includes 78 compressed natural gas (CNG), gas-electric hybrid and E-85 (15 percent gasoline/85 percent ethanol) vehicles.

Washington DC, however still only ranks as a silver in the League of American Cyclists’ annual ranking of cities.

Mayor Vincent Gray is scheduled to join fellow mayors Mark Mallory of Cincinnati and Tommy Battle of Huntsville Alabama to talk about how cities are sustainability incubators at the upcoming GW Moving the Planet Forward conference.

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