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Posts in category Public Spaces

Bicycling


Coming soon: Bikeshare in Prince George's County

Right now, there isn't bikeshare in Prince George's County outside of a small system in College Park. But that could change, as the county recently wrapped up a study on what kind of system should come in (spoiler: it'll be Capital Bikeshare) and where its stations could go.


Capital Bikeshare in Prince George's? It could be there this time next year. All images from Prince George's county unless otherwise noted.

Following a lengthy study, Prince George's officials are recommending that the county add a bikeshare system to the ATHA region, which extends along the Anacostia River Tributaries from Colmar Manor north to Greenbelt and west to Langley Park. It is also recommended to include bikeshare in the National Harbor region, near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge linking Prince George's County with Alexandria. These are the areas where there's the most demand for bikeshare (to determine this, planners look at variables like a place's population density and age, proximity to transit and existing bike facilities, and topography).

You can see projected demand for part of Prince George's on the heat map below (and the entire county if you click the map), with the lighter parts being where it's highest:

Based on the study's results, those making the recommendations for the county decided to start small, with 25 stations in the ATHA region in neighborhoods near the DC border as well as four at National Harbor. The idea is for the system to eventually grow to 67 stations, expanding outward to Greenbelt, Langley Park, and Bladensburg, among other areas. Specific station locations haven't been identified yet—that'll be up to what local groups tell the county further down the line.

This map shows how bikeshare could come to Prince George's in phases:


Going this route rather than installing all the stations at once will allow Prince George's to manage its resources, but this is just a preliminary plan. When it actually moves on bikeshare, Prince George's could choose to build more stations within the preliminary area, expand to other areas, or do something else entirely.

The decision to go with Capital Bikeshare

mBike, another bike share program, currently operates in College Park; it's currently Prince George's only bikeshare system. Although mBike is not directly compatible with the recommended Capital Bikeshare, the county envisions a blended system where mBike continues to serve local trips while CaBi would serve users traveling elsewhere.

A similar blended system exists in Columbus, Ohio, where Columbus provides a dock based bike share system called COGO while the Ohio State University, which is located in town, provides its own bike share service utilizing a bike based technology.

Ideally, the Prince George's bikeshare program would begin in the fall of 2017.

Public Spaces


Are public spaces really public when not everybody can use them?

All around DC there are structures designed for the public that aren't actually very pleasant or easy to use, like dog ears on ledges, third armrests through the middle of public benches, and ridges in common seating areas. These things are there for a reason, but do they actually limit people's ability to live in the environment around them?


All photos by the author.

In July, well-known radio producer Roman Mars invited authors Gordan Savicic and Selena Savic onto his podcast, 99% invisible. Savicic and Savic co-edited a book called Unpleasant Design, which looks at the idea that while some things are built with a purpose that might seem reasonable-- for example, third armrests on benches that keep people from sleeping on them and therefore giving more people space to sit-- accomplish a greater effect of shaping city environments and how citizens interact with them without those citizens' consent.

There are examples in cities across the world. For example, in Europe, some store owners deter teens from loitering out front by playing classical music or high-frequency sounds, or using pink lighting to make pimples on their face stand out (particularly cruel!).

Should our cities ban skateboarding? Should they ban homelessness?

In most instances, skateboarding is legal unless posted otherwise. But like many other cities, DC has incorporated "dog ears" to deter skaters from using public spaces. This is de facto prohibition, and even though it's subtle, it sends a clear message that skating is not particularly welcome.

Many people would argue that skateboarding is one of this country's longstanding forms of expressionit makes space more inviting, and it gives people a reason to come and sit and look. If you value skateboarding as a way of breathing life into a city, public design that bars people from doing it is problematic.


As you can see, this ledge restricts skating.

Beyond skateboarding, there are also designs that stop people from doing more basic, fundamental things. In fact, while DC is known for its expansive "public" spaces like the National Mall, Smithsonian Museums, and numerous parks and squares, some people might tell you that these places really aren't very public at all.

DC has a homeless crisis, with the homeless population having risen 30 percent in the last year. And while Mayor Muriel Bowser has stated that combating homelessness will be a staple of her tenure, those who are left out have to exist somewhere. More likely than not, the aforementioned public spaces make the most sense.

But check out these public benches and how they keep people—homeless or not&mdashl from comfortably and freely using them:


The two armrests on the end of the bench would only allow a very short person to lie down, but the third armrest through the middle makes it impossible for most.


The ridges on this one aren't conducive to lying down and it is curved.

Unpleasant design negates usable public space, which is the hallmark of a thriving city

To be fair, unpleasant design, as a whole, is well intentioned. The risk in any public space is that a few people acting out can make the space unusable to everybody.

When it comes to the dog ears on ledges, skateboarding can damage property and possibly put people in harm's way, and lying down uses up more park bench space so fewer people can sit. In those ways, unpleasant design can make public space more inviting.

But where is the line? Who decides what should be forbidden and what shouldn't? Why not tell someone that if they want to eat lunch, they need to go to a restaurant rather than sit and eat in the park? Or that if they want to read, they need to go to a library rather than sit and do it on a public bench?

Skateboarding is an art form and organic culture in its own right, and limiting skateboarders use of public space is counterintuitive to why public space exists—to bring people together and allow cultures to thrive.

And regarding the homeless, it is entirely unfair to restrict access to an individual who literally has nowhere else to go. It is especially unfair when design restricts access to the very harmless activity of lying down.

So at what point does restricting human activity take the "public" out of public space? I'd say that it's when something gets built into the environment; at that point, it becomes non-negotiable. Laws can restrict activities, but you can protest and repeal those.

We should be mindful of what we build, what effect it has, and on whom If you restrict people's ability to use public space too much, then nobody goes there at all. I would argue that if space is truly public, then people on skateboards or people without homes are as entitled to use it as anyone else.

Development


A tree I planted in Shaw 20 years ago was recently chopped down. I see that as a sign of life.

Twenty years ago, I planted an elm tree on the sidewalk near my house. Despite the relatively high chance that a driver would run their car into it, that never happened. It did, however, recently come down as part of a construction project. To me, my tree being gone perfectly captures just how much DC has changed.


I planted the big tree in the middle of this photo! Image from Google Maps.

Back in the spring, Greater Greater Washington ran post about how drivers just can't seem to keep from running into a building at the intersection of 6th and Penn Street NE, on the western side of Gallaudet University. It got contributors talking about 7th and Q Streets NW, where there's been a similar problem for years.

The conversation caught my attention for two reasons: First, I used to live on that block, and it was a fairly regular occurrence for drivers coming southbound on 7th and turning left onto Q to lose control and crash. I think it happened four times in the six years I lived there; a decade ago, a Metrobus plowed into the building at the southeast corner of the intersection, which is the reason it doesn't have a second story (In fairness, it wasn't the fault of the Metrobus driver, he had swerved to avoid a car whose driver had lost control in the intersection.)

But I was also drawn to a tree that's in a picture of the intersection that someone emailed out.

It was an elm, and I planted it 20 years ago.

Back then DC wasn't really planting trees. In fact, it wasn't doing all that much of anything. The city was broke and had just been taken over by the federal government because it couldn't govern itself.

But there it was, an empty treebox there. Every DC street has a designated species of tree, and for 7th NW, it's elms. So I ordered a bare-root elm seedling from a mail-order nursery, and wondered how the UPS guy was going to bring my tree— the picture in the catalog was something the size of what you see in the photo. I was crushed when it came and was about the length and thickness of a pencil and looked indistinguishable from a dead stick.

Undeterred, I planted it in my yard, where it took, and after a year or so, when it got to be a few feet tall I transplanted it out to the street. And for 20 years, as you can see, it thrived. Miraculously, an out-of-control driver never ran it over!

This corner has undergone enormous change in the past two decades, with a major mixed-use development replacing the old Kelsey Gardens on the other side of 7th Street, Dacha Beer Garden on the opposite corner, and a number of new business nearby. For nearly all of the time since I planted the elm, the corner has been in a state of semi-demolition.

And this is happening all around DC: buildings going up, roads getting paved, trees getting planted. I look around and DC isn't perfect now, but it's not bankrupt anymore either.

Last weekend I went back to my old neighborhood for the first time in a while and saw a flurry of construction: street work, new sidewalks, utility work. It even looks like the corner building might finally be redeveloped.

But I noticed something else as well: The elm is gone.

A neighbor told me it didn't survive the latest round of utility work, so it came down, along with a sycamore around the corner on Q Street (sycamores being the designated species for Q Street). It's funny to think: back when I lived there, if a tree died, it just fell over. Nobody came to properly cut it down because there was so much disinvestment going on.


20 years later, my elm is gone. Photo by the author.

It's almost paradoxical, but I see the death of this tree as a sign of life. That's how it goes: a never-ending dance of growth, destruction, and rebirth.

Public Spaces


Student protests in Montgomery County show why public space matters

Suburban communities designed for cars don't always have obvious places for people to gather and assemble. So when students at several Montgomery County high schools and Montgomery College walked out of class in protest this week, they headed onto highways and into shopping malls—and their community supported them.

Suburban protesters make space to assemble where they can

Over five days last week, students in Montgomery County, Prince George's County, and the District protested the election of Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric towards minorities and immigrants. In DC, student protesters marched downtown on Pennsylvania Avenue, a street lined with major buildings of both local and national significance. But as a large, mostly-suburban county, Montgomery County doesn't have an obvious "main street" or downtown for public assembly.

When people have a message or a cause, whether it's a religious meeting, a sports club, a writing workshop, or a huge protest, they need a place to gather. In Montgomery County, student protesters gravitated to whatever large, visible spaces they could find. That mostly meant big suburban highways not designed for lots of pedestrians; being there often put protesters on foot at odds with angry drivers.

In Germantown, students at Seneca Valley and Northwest high schools kept to the sidewalks of Great Seneca Highway, a 50-mile-an-hour road. In East County, students at Blake High School (where I went) marched down one lane of Norwood Road, a rural road with no sidewalks at all.


Blake High School students protest on Norwood Road. Photo from NBC4.

Some protests took place at malls and in town centers, which were built and conceived as places for shopping and entertainment, and maybe some public events like concerts and festivals. Though many of them are privately owned and the right to free speech there is murky, their prominence makes them good places to have political actions.

Student protesters at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville marched on Maryland Avenue through Rockville Town Square, a lifestyle center built in 2007. The town square is officially a public space, but it uses private security who haven't always respected First Amendment rights.

In downtown Silver Spring, protesters at Blair, Einstein, and Northwood High schools marched through Ellsworth Drive, a public street that the county leases to a private company who manages it. Ten years ago, photographer Chip Py was nearly arrested for taking a picture, and the protests that followed resulted in the county defending the right to free speech there.


Students protesting outside the old Montgomery County courthouse. Photo by Dan Hoffman.

Community leaders made the space for protests to happen

What made these student protests successful is that the "mental space" existed for them; community leaders trusted and supported students. School officials allowed the students to leave campus largely unsupervised (though MCPS superintendent Jack Smith says they won't be given excused absences) and county police provided escorts and blocked off roads. Other adults lent a hand to guide the protesters without dictating to them.

During the first protest on Monday, protesters at Montgomery Blair, Northwood, and Einstein high schools walked out of class and headed down University Boulevard, a state highway. Community organizer and MCPS parent Jeffrey Thames joined the group, estimated at a thousand protesters.

Montgomery County police blocked the road, allegedly worried for the students' safety after a driver flashed a gun at protesters and drove through the crowd. He asked the students where they wanted to go, and one of the leaders said, "Take us to Wheaton Plaza."


Student protesters in downtown Silver Spring. Photo by the author.

With a police escort, he led them to the mall, where students peacefully gathered on a parking garage, waving signs and yelling chants. Owner Westfield allowed the demonstration to proceed, and the police blocked Georgia Avenue to allow the protesters to march to Silver Spring. Some students wanted to go onto the Capital Beltway and block traffic, as protesters have done in several other cities, but Thames coaxed them away.

Instead, he led the marchers to Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring, a fully public space. It and the adjacent Silver Spring Civic Building is where county residents go to vote, for public meetings, and to meet with government officials. "That's my comfortable place. That's where we have the freedom to demonstrate," says Thames. "You show up in force, you make the officials making the decisions aware that you are there and you are participating."

What do these protests mean?

The teens who walked out of class this week were making a statement against bigotry and hate and for love and compassion, and with one unfortunate exception the five days of protest were peaceful. The students also made a statement about the importance of public space and free speech in their community, and the adults around them affirmed it.

Over the past few years, Americans across the political spectrum have confronted the social and economic inequality that persists in our country, which have often resulted in civil unrest. Now, more than ever, we need our streets, downtowns, and squares for people to speak out and be heard. In Montgomery County, teens and adults alike are working to make sure those spaces are there.

Bicycling


Three ideas to make it easier to bike to and from the Mosaic District in Fairfax

Merrifield is a growing part of Fairfax County with a number of bike routes. I've got three ideas for making them easier to use.


Merrifield is getting better for walking, but it's still not very easy to bike around. Photo by Dan Reed.

Merrifield is an area of Fairfax County located between the independent cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. Older residential neighborhoods, suburban strip malls, and light industry are still prevalent in the area, but newer mixed-use development has sprung up close to its Dunn Loring Metro station on the Orange Line. This includes the Mosaic District, one of the region's newest town centers outside of the urban core, similar to Reston Town Center or Kentlands in Gaithersburg.

Gallows Road and Lee Highway, the main "local" roads, are both very wide and can be intimidating to cross or bike along, even on the sidewalk. Both roads were also widened to make room for new exits along I-495's HOT lanes, which can mean long waits to cross the road on foot.


Merrifield. Photo from Google Maps.

But the area also has some great bike infrastructure. Two very popular trails, the W&OD and the Cross County Trail (CCT), run close to or through Merrifield. There are also existing low stress and bike-friendly options, which are routes and streets that cyclists tend to use because they feel safer or calmer riding on those streets compared to others.

The issue is that riding a bike to those trails and other routes is not all that easy. Not many people know the most direct routes, some of the streets are more dangerous than they need to be, and there are places that don't connect to trails that they could easily could connect to.

Signs, road diets, and some new connections would easily stitch the area's pedestrian and bike network without the need for huge capital projects.

One easy way to make biking in Merrifield easier: signs

Merrifeld has a number of great bike routes, but unless you study a map, there's really not a way to know about them. For riding a bike to be a viable option, people need good signs, and signs that make sense for people traveling by car aren't necessarily sufficient.

The Cross County Trail, which runs north to south across Fairfax County, passes through Merrifield. The Mosaic District is less than two miles from the trail at its closest point, and from there it is only a little farther to the Dunn Loring Metro or the W&OD Trail's intersection at Gallows Road. It's far easier to get to those places from the CCT by cutting across an easy-to-miss side trail through a parking lot and then going through a few neighborhoods, but a lot of people simply don't know that.

A few signs pointing pointing people from the CCT toward the Mosaic District or the Metro (or a number of other destinations, like the hospital on Gallows Road) would instantly make biking a reliable way to travel.


Simple and direct signs can be a big help for cyclists looking for the best routes. Photo by Dan Malouff.

When SafeTrack began on the Blue and Orange Lines, a lot of new signs went up around Fairfax and Arlington telling new bike commuters where to go for the best routes around town and across the Potomac. The same should be done wherever we can to help people easily bike without having to rely on maps or trial and error to find the best routes.

Some roads could be a lot more bike-friendly

Another thing Fairfax could do with no new infrastructure is look at where existing roads could be resized to encourage more cycling in the area.

Merrilee Drive/Eskridge Road parallels Gallows Road through the area, but fewer people drive on them since the two roads do not actually leave the area. That makes them ripe for more cyclists, especially people who are "interested but concerned" when it comes to riding a bike.

Below is a shot of what Merrilee Drive looks like today. Parking is actually allowed along the street but it is never very busy, and the lack of lane markings can confuse drivers and encourage speeding.


Merrilee Drive today.

There's more than enough room for bike lanes and parking, or a turn lane. Adding these in would create a bike connection between Mosaic and Dunn Loring that's nearly arrow-straight. Paint can make a big difference in how people use a road; in this case, it could help people know that there are actually two lanes. Also, painting bike lanes themselves can really help cyclists without totally reconfiguring the road's layout.

The current road is around 40 feet wide. That's plenty of room for two driving lanes, two bike lanes, and a parking lane. The sidewalks along the curb would not even need to be touched.


What Merrilee Drive could look like. Image/design from Streetmix

New trail connections

Some new connections between Merrifield's current bike routes and its nearby trails would make biking easier as well. These would require some capital spending and other steps like acquiring permission to use certain rights of way for these connections, so they're the hardest of the options I'm putting forward.
But even then, the key word here is "connections". These are not brand new trails that go on for miles and miles. These would be localized improvements aimed at improving the existing network first.

One big connection would be a proper pedestrian bridge across I-66 at the Dunn Loring Metro. There are sidewalks across the Gallows Road bridge but there are no bike lanes until you are farther down the road. A pedestrian bridge would make it easier for people to get from the Metro to the neighborhoods north of I-66, and existing trails could be extended to link up with a new bridge.


The maroon line is a potential place for a pedestrian bridge across I-66, near one of Merrifield's low-stress bike route (the blue line). Image from Google Maps.

Another bridge might be explored for crossing Arlington Boulevard near Gallows. There, you have existing park space that is close to the road, but the road itself is hard to cross. Plus if the Arlington Boulevard Trail is completed between Washington and the City of Fairfax then a bridge would be a great addition to a third major trail in the area along with the W&OD and the Cross County Trail.


The maroon line is a potential place for a crossing over Arlington Boulevard. Image from Google Maps.

Finally, there could be a connection between the Cross County Trail and Highland Lane which leads to Williams Drive and Eskridge Road, both of which travels through the Mosaic District. That would be a much straighter shortcut than the existing route via Beverly Drive which twists and turns.


The maroon line is a potential connection from the Cross County Trail (in green) to Highland Lane. Image from Google Maps.

Together, these kinds of changes could have a big impact on helping knit together neighborhoods and destinations throughout Merrifield. That would help people identify with the area and discover that there are options to getting around that do not always require getting in a car.

Pedestrians


Maryland shouldn't outlaw this type of pedestrian crossing signal, says a Montgomery County Councilmember

Proponents of a new type of walk signal that's gaining popularity in DC and Virginia say that the technology makes walking safer. In Maryland, though, the State Highway Authority (SHA) prohibits their use. That shouldn't be the case, according to Montgomery County Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chairman Roger Berliner.


A HAWK signal in DC's Cleveland Park. Photo by Eric Fischer on Flickr.

HAWK (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK beacon) signals tell drivers to stop at pedestrian crossings that are in the middle of a block or where there isn't a traditional traffic light. People who want to cross press a button, which activates a yellow light that tells drivers to slow down and then a double red light telling them to stop.

One reason engineers like HAWK signals is that they have a low "warrant threshold," meaning there are generally fewer barriers to putting them up than a normal traffic light. Another is that they allow drivers to proceed after the people who pushed the button have crossed.

But while HAWK signals can be an effective means of improving safety at crosswalks, they aren't without criticism. They don't look or light up like normal traffic lights, which can confuse drivers. And because they remain completely dark until activated by a pedestrian, some drivers may think the HAWK signal is not working and treat the intersection as a stop sign.

The fact that HAWK signals stay dark until activated is the primary reason Maryland's SHA does not permit their use on state or local roads. Under the Maryland Motor Vehicle Code, a dark signal should be treated as a stop sign. It appears SHA has determined that HAWK signals are applicable to this section of the code.


A HAWK signal in Pentagon City. Image from Google Maps.

In a letter to the Montgomery County Delegation to the 2017 General Assembly, Roger Berliner questioned the logic of Maryland's restrictive amendments on "pedestrian hybrid beacons," especially in light of what he sees as clear federal guidelines on how to install and use them. He asked the delegation to consider introducing legislation that would allow HAWK signals in Maryland:

"The reasons for this change from the federal guidelines are not clear to me. What is clear to me, however, is that HAWK signals can improve pedestrian safety on SHA-administered roads. I am asking that you give serious consideration to introducing legislation during the 2017 General Assembly that would require the state to adopt either 1) the Federal Highway Administration Manual or 2) the specific language of Chapter 4F in the Federal Highway Administration Manual."
Noting that multiple Federal Highway Administration studies have shown that HAWK signals improve safety and compliance at pedestrian crossings, Berliner continued:
"I was the lead sponsor of legislation requiring Montgomery County to establish a framework and deadline for a Vision Zero campaign to achieve zero traffic deaths. The work of the County's Vision Zero Working Group is ongoing, with a recommended action plan expected early next year. We have already seen too many tragedies occur in crosswalks, making improved crosswalk safety critical in the Vision Zero effort. HAWK signals are a proven solution in this regard that I believe we must embrace."
Read the whole letter here.

Transit


Sexual violence isnít uncommon on Metro. Hereís what WMATA is doing to fix that.

More people experience sexual assault on Metro trains and buses than you might think, and the victims are often women, trans people, and people of color. Metro just launched a new campaign to combat that, and it's a great first step (but is just a step) toward a safer ride for everyone.


A sign from Metro's new campaign to curb sexual violence. All images from WMATA.

On April 12, a woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint on the Red Line. It was morning rush hour.

This violent attack shocked local news outlets and the general public. "I don't know many people who would have thought this would have happened in such a public arena—and that somebody would have the audacity to do that, particularly at 10 am," Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Haynos told the Washington Post.

But for those of us who have been tracking similar incidents of harassment and assault on DC's public transit system, this incident fit a pattern. Metro Transit Police data showed that most incidents of public sexual harassment and assault occurred on the busier Red and Orange lines, most frequently during rush hour, just like the April 12th attack.

One in five Metro or Metrobus riders have experienced sexual harassment on the system. That's according to WMATA's first comprehensive study of sexual harassment on a city's public transit system, which the agency partnered with Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) and Stop Street Harassment to conduct in January 2016.

Of the people who were harassed, 75% experienced verbal harassment, 26% had been touched in a sexual way, and 2% had been raped.

Metro has worked on this issue in the past, but it's beefing up its efforts

CASS and Stop Street Harassment have worked with WMATA to address the problem of sexual harassment since 2012. The two agencies have helped WMATA train its staff and track verbal and physical harassment through an online reporting portal, as well as run an awareness campaign with anti-harassment messaging across the system and annual outreach days at Metro stations to let riders know how to report.


One of the signs from Metro's 2012 campaign.

Now, WMATA is working with CASS and Stop Street Harassment on a new awareness campaign to demonstrate its commitment to serving those who are most marginalized and most likely to be targeted by sexual and gender-based harassment. This is because women of color, and especially trans women of color, experience street harassment differently, often by the people meant to protect them; this happened in a recent incident in which Metro Transit Police arrested and assaulted a young black woman at the Columbia Heights station.

On November 4th, an awareness campaign launched with ads featuring the faces of trans women of color and Muslim women. The ads, which appear on trains, at Metro stops, and on buses, come on the heels of incidents where these identities were targeted at DC's Shaw Library and Banneker Pool.

Some versions of the ads are directed toward people who experience harassment, with a simple message of support: "You deserve to be treated with respect." The remaining ads encourage bystanders to speak out and report harassment.

The new campaign has three goals:

  1. Support people who experience harassment with messages letting riders know they deserve to be treated with respect.
  2. Promote a culture of bystander intervention, where everyone is responsible for speaking out against harassment and making public transit safer.
  3. Elevate our city's most marginalized identities by featuring the faces of people who are part of marginalized groups, such as trans women of color and Muslim women, who face harassment most severely and most frequently.
This is a great start, but there's a lot more work to do

Learning to stop harassment on its own is not enough if WMATA does not take steps to ensure that its staff and police force are applying their anti-harassment training to communities of color, and especially trans women of color, who are most likely to be targeted.

CASS, in partnership with Stop Street Harassment, continues to keep pressure on WMATA to step up its efforts to address violence against DC's most vulnerable communities. Here are the latest recommendations from local advocates to make public transit safe and welcoming for everyone:

  1. Expand anti-harassment training currently required for frontline staff to include supervisors, who are responsible for building a culture of safety and respect.
  2. Disarm Metro Transit Police to reduce violence and remove barriers for bystanders who want to intervene to stop police harassment. There's a case to be made that disarming Metro Transit Police will reduce violence against riders, foster an environment where police can build relationships with community members based in mutual respect rather than fear and the threat of violence, and that it would make officers safer, too.
  3. Expand trans cultural competency training to all frontline staff. Recently, training to better understand and serve trans communities was piloted for Metro Transit Police. Local advocates still receive many reports of harassment by WMATA employees and station managers who are hostile toward trans riders. Trans cultural competency training can help WMATA better understand and serve DC's trans communities.
  4. Train all frontline staff, supervisors, and Metro Transit Police to address implicit biases, and specifically to address officers' hidden prejudices that may cause police to disproportionately stop and harass communities of color. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended this training for many police departments and already implemented it for its own law enforcement agents and lawyers.
  5. Make anti-harassment materials available in DC's eight most common non-English languages: Spanish, Amharic, French, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Bengali.
WMATA has taken an excellent first step with the new awareness campaign to demonstrate its commitment to marginalized communities. Now, it needs to back the campaign with action steps to ensure that anti-harassment advocacy serves everyone.
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