TPB Nov 2023 Board Comments

November 14, 2023

Hon. Reuben Collins, TPB Chair
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board
777 North Capitol Street NE, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20002-4239

Re: Unacceptable road fatality trends; Safety benefits of narrower lanes

Dear TPB Chair Collins and Board members,

The Coalition for Smarter Growth brings your attention to:

1. Disturbing rise in traffic deaths, especially for vulnerable road users, on TPB agenda
These five-year regional trends go back to 2018, before the pandemic:

  • 26% increase in Road Fatalities 
  • 26% (but likely higher) increase in the Fatality Rate 
  • 15% increase in Nonmotorist Fatalities and Serious Injuries (with almost 23% increase last year)

While it is heartening that there has been a slight decrease in injuries of 2%, people walking, biking and accessing transit are overall increasingly threatened in the TPB region. 

We ask TPB members to make safety investments for vulnerable road users a higher priority in your Visualize 2050 project submissions and in your local plans, budgets, and project designs. Please see our joint letter with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association in the meeting packet. 

2. Johns Hopkins study shows safety benefits of narrower, 9-10 ft-wide, lanes
Johns Hopkins just published a major study finding that reducing lane widths from 12 feet to 9-10 feet has measurable safety benefits. Their report has received national coverage on NPR and other outlets. We hope our state Departments of Transportation and some local departments will reconsider their resistance to narrower lanes and prioritize safety over speed.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

Bill Pugh, AICP CTP
Senior Policy Fellow
Coalition for Smarter Growth

1 Depends on final regional VMT numbers for 2022. The estimated 26% increase in the fatality rate 2018-2022 conservatively assumes VMT in 2022 was back to pre-pandemic 2018 level. However, 2022 VMT in the TPB region was likely still a little lower than pre-pandemic levels, which would mean a higher fatality rate increase.