Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence


Nearly 40,000 people are killed on our streets and roads every year – the equivalent of a major war that America fights annually, endlessly and always loses.

You or probably someone you know has been impacted by traffic violence.

Several years ago, while in a crosswalk near Dupont Circle, I was hit by car. Traffic stopped for me as a I crossed but then a driver decided to whip around the stopped cars and hit me. Luckily, it was a little Porsche that just scooped me up on its hood, leaving me unharmed.

Others, like my friend Dave Salovesh, weren’t so fortunate. Traffic deaths have increased every year in DC since 2015.

A Plea for Safe Streets

On Sunday, DC Families for Safe Streets spoke in front of the Wilson Building on a day of remembrance for loved ones lost to traffic violence. Survivors, loved ones and allies marched from Chinatown to the seat of the DC government in a plea for safe streets in the nation’s capital.

A poem was read to mark the solemn occasion. As we bowed our heads in remembrance, a huge flock of starlings took flight, traversing the sky in vast circles as the day came to an end. It felt like a sign that we weren’t alone.

There is a simple solution to the problem of traffic violence: return space to pedestrians.

Ban Cars in DC

Washington, DC would be a good place to start. Designed in the 1700s, the nation’s capital was never meant for cars. With narrow streets and short blocks, it’s a city that was built for pedestrians.

Yet, we’ve let cars go nearly everywhere in the city. And not just people who live here, but anyone in any kind of vehicle is allowed to drive into the middle of this densely-populated urban environment.

The result is frustration for all – drivers, pedestrians, cyclists – forced to fight for limited pavement in an increasingly lawless environment.

Mayor Bowser has stated that she wants DC to be a world-class city. Then do what other world-class cities have done: ban cars.

Cities from Madrid to New York have begun to ban or limit cars. Washington should do the same. We have public transport – the Metro. There is no reason anyone should drive downtown.

If the Mayor wants to reverse the trend of traffic deaths and make Washington a truly world-class city, then she can demonstrate her commitment by banning cars from downtown.

40,000 traffic deaths a year is not something we have to live with. Change is possible. It is time to end the silence on traffic violence.

Open Streets DC Opens Eyes

yoga on Georgia Avenue

Georgia Avenue is a street that I actively avoid. I live close to it – less than a mile – but I do everything in my power to avoid walking, biking or driving there.


Six Lanes of Hell

Georgia Avenue is a traffic sewer designed to benefit Maryland car commuters rather than the people who live in the neighborhood. It is six lanes of hell, filled with angry drivers rushing from traffic light to traffic light but getting nowhere fast.

With narrow sidewalks blocked with utility poles, it’s not fun for pedestrians, either. And the few times I’ve biked on the street, it was only due to a navigational error on my part.

Until Saturday.

Open Streets Georgia Avenue

Georgia Avenue went car-free on October 5, 2019, for Open Streets DC. For a few hours on Saturday, anyone could use the street and they did! Thousands of people came from around the region to experience this fleeting pedestrian paradise.

In addition to the simple joy of walking, running or biking down the wide avenue, people enjoyed yoga, a climbing wall, bands, DJs and anything else that they could dream up on this open stretch of asphalt.


But it was the kids who enjoyed it most. Everywhere you looked, you saw children on scooters, bikes, trikes and even unicycles. Parents could safely let their children wander the wide lanes without worrying about crazed car commuters.

It opened my eyes – literally. Without the fear of being run over, I could pause and look around, discovering new delights everywhere I turned.

Open Your Eyes

My day was spent saying coasting down Georgia Avenue on my bike with friends and saying, “I didn’t know that was there…” It’s really a majestic avenue, filled with neighborhood shops and a wonderful tree-lined stretch near Howard University, one that is revealed only when cars are absent.

For example, last week, I walked by a new beer garden – Hook Hall. Yet, I barely noticed it for I was trying to get across Georgia Avenue without being hit by a car. Even with a marked crosswalk, drivers didn’t want to stop for me.

Hook Hall

With Open Streets DC, I was able to peer into the beer garden, leisurely stroll in, and enjoy a stein of beer. I also had pizza at Sonny’s, another place I had walked by but not seen due to the distracting presence of drivers.

Call Your Mother was another place I had read about but hadn’t seen, because it is on inaccessible Georgia Avenue. There was a block-long line for a bagel! And I discovered a new coffee place, Colony Club, and I am always up for new coffee places.

Open Streets DC opened my eyes – literally. Without the danger of cars, I could lift my head up and look around. The area I thought of as “hellish Georgia Avenue” is actually the lovely neighborhood of Park View.

Alas, after a few short hours, Open Streets DC came to an end. By 4 PM, massive SUVs and double-parking Ubers had replaced pedestrians. Parents took their children home before they were hit by a car.

Georgia Avenue was hellish again. I crossed the street and biked home via 11th St, a much safer route but also one that avoids Hook Hall, Call Your Mother, Sonny’s and all the other retail establishments of Park View.

DC was not designed for cars; it was meant for people. Open Streets DC was more than just a successful urban experiment, it reawakened the idea that the streets belong to everyone.

the #BikeDC crew

DC Walkabout: Meridian Hill and Millie & Al’s

Millie and Al's - soon to be something new

As mentioned in my previous post, it’s time to walk. Walk hard. I pulled a muscle in my calf so I can’t run for a while. Instead, I’m going to walk around this city – a different direction each time – and blog about the things that I see. This week’s adventure: Meridian Hill and Millie Al’s.

I had to visit Millie & Al’s one last time before they closed. Millie’s is an iconic dive bar that’s been on 18th Street in Adams Morgan for decades.

Leaving my Logan Circle apartment, I set off up 15th Street on Wednesday after work. Musical choice was the excellent new album from Blur, The Magic Whip.

Spring is a funny season in DC. Warm one day, freezing the next. I happened to catch Mother Nature on one of her nice days, mild and overcast.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have Tulipmania. I’m just in love with these splashes of color that blossom all over the city in April. Sometimes, they appear in the most unexpected places, like behind the mysterious Scottish Rite Temple on 16th St. I’m sure the flowers are used in some sort of mysterious ritual. Or maybe they’re just for the neighborhood to enjoy.

Tulips and the back of the Scottish Rite Temple #igdc #walkdc

I passed the apartment where I used to live, back in the 90s, pre-Whole Foods, when the neighborhood was transitional. At that time, 14th Street was to be avoided, unless you were looking for crack or hookers. Other than the Black Cat, most everything else along the street was boarded up. However, the neighborhood was cheap enough that a recent grad like me could afford to live there.

my old apartment building

When I lived at 15th and Swann, I liked to walk up to Meridian Hill Park. Back then it was more commonly referred to Malcolm X Park, but demographic changes have made that moniker seem absurd. People do yoga in that park now. Boot camps drill bridesmaids in the morning. Bros throw frisbees around. Malcolm X Park is no more.

Meridian Hill Park - looking good with spring colors! #walkdc #igdc

One place that remained from the 90s was Millie & Al’s. I mean literally the same, down to the same Star Trek models hanging from the ceiling and the filthy, cramped bathrooms – part of its charm. It was not a fake dive bar like hipster-friendly Showtime. It was the real thing, a place to sit in a booth and drink pitchers of beer, while you waited for the $1 jello shots sign to turn on.

dudes didn't like me talking this picture

Jello shooters - light is on!

Millie’s was the first bar I ever went to in Adams Morgan. In the rough and tumble DC of Marion Barry, 18th Street still had a residential character to it – there was a hardware store along the street. The only bars were Millie’s and the even more divey Dan’s. I used to drink with my roommates Bob and Colin after taking the 92/96 bus from our apartment near National Cathedral.

I liked taking people there – it was cheap and had a feel of real DC about it. Broke foreign students particularly liked it. You could go to Adams Morgan on a weekend until around 2003 before you felt like you were entering a riot zone. 18th Street turned into Bourbon Street with brawls and vomit predominant. But I guess must’ve made some impression at Millie’s because I ran into one of the bouncers about five years ago and he remembered me.

the bar

Millie & Al's sign

Millie & Al’s closed on April 7. This dark drinking hole where beer was sold in plastic pitchers and you had to navigate a stairway to reach a couple of cramped toilets – it fetched a cool $1.8 million. Drinking is big business in DC.

As a lover of dive bars, it would be easy to be melancholy. Gentrification claimed Millie & Al’s. However, this same force revitalized 14th Street and made Meridian Hill Park safe to visit. Progress is a good thing, even when you lose an iconic drinking institution.

DC Walkabout: Sunsets, Tulips and Barbies

sunset after a rainy day at Dupont Circle

I have a calf strain, a sharp twinge that occurred when I was playing soccer about a week ago. It’s prevented me from running. I can only go about a mile before the twinge forces me to stop and walk. The only remedy for this pain is time. Instead of running after work, I had to come up with a new activity.

I decided to do evening walkabouts, ambulatory strolls around downtown Washington. I started last night, just as the rain was tapering off.

My destination: the White House. There I discovered tulips, their petals closed up and sparkling with rain drops.

red tulip after the rain by the White House


After taking some tulip pics, I headed for Farragut Square. The rain had stopped and the clouds had cleared in the west. Suddenly, the streets were suffused with a warm, golden light.

The light was amazing tonight #igdc

And then, in the sky over the office buildings, a rainbow appeared – a good luck sign, blessing the idea of evening walkabouts.

rainbow over Farragut Square

I continued my way up Connecticut Avenue to Dupont Circle. It’s a destination that I’m drawn to again and again. Not only is it a pretty spot, but it represents something to me – it’s where I first got a taste of urban life after coming to DC for college. It was where we went to eat Greek food at Zorba’s (still there) and drink in local bars (most of which are gone or changed names). The sun was just beginning to set as I arrived.

sunset after a rainy day at Dupont Circle

Listening to the Pixies, I headed east on Q St. There was one more destination I wanted to check out: the Barbie Pond Garden. This is a local institution that I have somehow missed. The owners of this house at 15th and Q decorate their garden with naked Barbies. This month’s theme was Easter.

an Easter theme at the Barbie Pond Garden

It’s going to be a while before I can run again. The only remedy for pain is time. Instead of running, I’m going to walk in different directions – north, south, east, west – and write and take photos of what I discover in DC.