To the editor:
I’m responding to the letter “Vision Zero may save your life” in the Jan. 31 issue of the Alexandria Times. I have no doubt that Vision Zero — as asserted in the letter — may reduce automobile accidents and pedestrian injuries. However, in his effort to advocate for safety measures, the writer avoids the fundamental purpose of our roads: the efficient movement of people and goods to their intended destinations. We cannot lose sight of this primary purpose in the pursuit of an unrealistic goal of “no risk” use of the roads, sidewalks and bike routes in our city.
Of course it is optimal to make the routes — particularly where there are crosswalks, bus stops, schools and hospitals — as safe as is feasible under the circumstances. But our safety goals must be balanced against the imperative of an efficient flow of traffic. We will never reach zero risk because not only can we not eliminate vehicles from the road, we need those vehicles to be moving efficiently. And this doesn’t even address the issues of jaywalking, distracted driving and the persistent and ubiquitous neglect of traffic signals by cyclists that no amount of “road dieting” will alleviate.
I am in complete agreement with the writer that speeding on Seminary Road — as well as Quaker Lane, Braddock Road and other secondary roads — is a huge problem in Alexandria. As a resident of Seminary Hill, I suffer no greater angst than watching Maryland commuters, commercial trucks and even Alexandria city government vehicles flying through the 25 mile per hour zones. It is truly maddening. But we have many better options to slow traffic, enforce the speed limit and make the roads safer than the irrational plan of reducing vehicle lanes, clogging up existing arteries and then installing bike lanes where no sane cyclist should be riding in the first place.
I invite all of my fellow Alexandrians — particularly policy makers and program directors in our city government — to avail themselves of the literature that outlines the unintended and detrimental consequences of Vision Zero implementation where it has already been tried in other cities. See “Vision Zero, a ‘Road Diet’ Fad, Is Proving to Be Deadly,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18, 2019. We have been warned.
-E. B. Darden, Alexandria