Members of DC Families for Safe Streets meet with Councilmember Charles Allen

Members from DC-FSS steering committee met with Councilmember Charles Allen and other councilmembers and staff from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment on May 8, 2023.

DC-FSS members at the Wilson Building ahead of a meeting with Councilmember Charles Allen.

DC-FSS member Jessica Hart sent the following letter to Councilmember Allen following our meeting.

Read below for the main points of the conversation.

Dear Councilmember Allen,

On behalf of DC Families for Safe Streets, thank you for inviting us to meet with you yesterday and for making the time to have such a robust discussion. We truly appreciate your commitment to a city that allows all residents to safely move and travel, and recognize that there are many demands on the District’s limited funds. But as victims and family members, we know too well the price paid when we fail to prioritize complete street design and traffic enforcement. 

Our conversation highlighted for us the importance of working towards a budget that reflects the right goals and priorities for DC. Part of that is undoubtedly Vision Zero. If we are to have any hope of meeting the Mayor’s stated goal of reaching Vision Zero by 2024–next year–then addressing the number of fatalities and injuries on DC streets is imperative. We know that you know this, and we stand ready to support Council initiatives that will help ensure that other families don’t experience the trauma and tragedy that we carry. 

On a personal level, I appreciate your insight on where we can focus greater effort to try and bring about change. I speak out because I cannot accept–cannot fathom–that my five-year-old daughter was killed in a crosswalk and nothing else changes. As a parent, and as someone who has lost friends to traffic violence, I’m sure you recognize the incredulity, outrage, and agony that our family endures on a daily basis.

You noted in our conversation that driving is a privilege. I would add that safely moving around the city is a right. Allie should have been able to ride her bike down the street. Karthik and his sister Su should be able to ride a bike to work without suffering horrific injuries. The significant number of trauma victims that arrive at GW Hospital due to traffic violence should be able to safely move about the city–especially if they are not encased in several tons of steel. To change the narrative and the mindset from “driving as a right” to “safely moving around the city as a right” is an uphill battle, but it is a cause well worth the effort. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out if DC-FSS can be of any assistance in promoting legislation that helps DC meet its goal of achieving Vision Zero.

With gratitude,

Jessica Hart