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Ideas rule the roost at the Ward 7 transportation summit

Sometimes it's the little things that need the most attention. At last Saturday's Ward 7 transportation summit, residents offered many productive ideas. One recurring theme was to pay more attention to the low-hanging fruit, small projects that could make a big impact.

Ward 7 discusses bus performance. Photo by Neha Bhatt on Twitter.

The summit, planned and organized by Ward 7 residents Veronica Davis, Neha Bhatt, Kelsi Bracmort, Gregori Stewart, and Sherrie Lawson, focused on ideas from the community to improve transportation.

Attendees left energized and hopeful that more progress is coming regarding pedestrian and bicycle safety, equitable bus service, and better streets.

One of the best-received presentations came from students participating in the mayor's Youth Leadership Institute, who brought up a number of specific, solvable problems. They recommended reintroducing driver education classes in schools, and having WMATA meet with students to help them understand how the Metro budget works.

Crime against SYEP youth: The pay days for students participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) are well-known around the community, which has led to youth being targeted for robbery outside of Metro stations like Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue.

In response to this problem, the students said they would like to see an increased police presence. They also noted that police have a tendency to clump together and talk to each other rather than fully patrol the stations, so the students suggested that police spread out to cover a larger area.

Subsidized fares: SYEP paychecks will be cut by $2 per hour this summer. Therefore, the students recommended having WMATA or the District subsidize transit fares for SYEP participants. At the very least, the presenters asked for subsidized fares during the first two weeks of the program while participants wait for their first paycheck.

Councilmembers Tommy Wells (ward 6) and Muriel Bowser (ward 4, the Council's representative on the WMATA Board) asked DDOT and WMATA about the cost of a subsidy and what its fiscal impact would be, noting that youth who go to summer school already get a similar transit subsidy.

Youth advisory council: After last year's summit, WMATA was interested in establishing a youth advisory council to discuss activity on buses. Unfortunately, there had not been follow-up from the local councilmember, Yvette Alexander, to move this forward. At this year's summit, WMATA reaffirmed their interest in a youth advisory council.

Aging in place: One resident noted that the very young and the very old have unique needs when it comes to transportation, and asked how WMATA can help residents age in place, and how it can better accommodate strollers on buses.

Deaf riders: Other participants said that Ward 7 has an increasing population of the hearing impaired and deaf, and that transit employees should be trained to both recognize deaf customers and help them use the system.

Pedestrian safety: Organizer Neha Bhatt discussed pedestrian safety concerns at Benning Road's intersections with Minnesota Avenue and East Capitol Street. She had organized a recent walking tour with Ward 3 councilmember Mary Cheh, chair of the committee overseeing transportation, to look at problem intersections.

Capital Bikeshare: WABA executive director Shane Farthing raised the idea of subsidizing bike sharing for residents east of the river, and suggested changing Capital Bikeshare rules to allow younger members. Currently, one must be at least 16 years old to use Capital Bikeshare.

There was also an open house where community members could find information from DDOT, WMATA, Capital Bikeshare, and WABA, as well as discuss ideas with representatives from these groups.

The summit's two-hour timeframe turned out to be somewhat too short, so presentations and discussion were rushed at the end. The organizers are hoping to reformat for next year to avoid this issue.

Overall, residents came away with a widespread belief that working to pick the low-hanging fruit is a smart way to move forward and begin to bring positive change to Ward 7.

Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 
Veronica O. Davis, PE, has experience in planning transportation, urban areas, civil infrastructure, and communities. She co-owns Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting company in DC. She is also the co-founder of Black Women Bike DC, which strives to increase the number of Black women and girls biking for fun, health, wellness, and transportation. 


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Lot of exciting stuff happening EOTR. The fact that so many motivated young professionals are moving in and engaging with the existing culture of activist tradition gives a lot of reason for optimism.

by oboe on Feb 29, 2012 12:49 pm • linkreport

Great Job Veronica, Neha, Kelsi, Sherrie, and Greg S!!

You guys have and are providing a great service to our community! Just want each of you to know that your efforts and commitment to Ward 7 are deeply respected and appreciated!

Thank You, and I'm very proud of each of you!

by Greg Rhett on Feb 29, 2012 12:51 pm • linkreport

Day one of the SYEP should be "How to set up a checking account" with a field trip to the bank of the particpant's choice to actually set up the account. Then all pay should be direct deposited.

That cuts down on your crime problem, and teaches kids an actual life skill that many of them may not have.

by dcdriver on Feb 29, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

Great job!

by H Street Landlord on Feb 29, 2012 1:15 pm • linkreport

Sounds good Veronica! Keep it coming...You too GH!

@Dcdriver, that's a good suggestion..although I don't think it would have been the focus of this particular transportation summit.

by HogWash on Feb 29, 2012 1:16 pm • linkreport


I agree that financial skills should be a part of the program but it wouldn't necessary resolve the problem.

I was on the staff of SYEP in the summer of 2010 about four blocks away from Minnesota Ave and had a few of our students robbed at gunpoint a block from the police station (and late r in the program our meeting site was robbed) One student had about $100 on him which he actually had earlier in the day withdrew from the bank as he had set up an account earlier in the program.

Unfortunately there is a larger problem of lack of pride and reliance on others amongst some of the youth who participated in the program. With some of our youth saying that violence and theft was just how people interacted and was inevitable, even some of the police expressed similar views. That was what struck me the most.....

by Ryan S. on Feb 29, 2012 2:29 pm • linkreport

Oboe... there's a great energy in Ward 7.

Greg R... Thanks so much for the kind words. I'll share with the team

Hogwash... I'm going to try to find time this Spring to write for GGW with more regularity.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Mar 1, 2012 12:23 pm • linkreport

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