Today could be one of the deadliest of the year... seriously. According to the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, or WRAP, nearly half of all traffic-related fatalities on Halloween can be attributed to alcohol. Last year there was a 15% rise in fatalities in the District and that certainly catches people's attention.
To counter this rise in drunk driving and alcohol-related deaths WRAP is once again sponsoring the SoberRide program, what I think is one of the most creative and surest ways to keep our streets safe. SoberRide is all about giving an option to those who've had too much to drink. Simply, if you or a friend have had too much all you have to do is call 1-800-200-TAXI. The dispatcher will then send the nearest cab from a large number of companies to pick you up and take you home. That cab will take you from wherever you are to your home up to a $50 fare. If the ride is so far that it costs more than that (and that would be a pretty lengthy ride) then you are responsible for the amount in excess of $50. Oh yeah, you have to be 21 years of age or older to use this service. You can call beginning tonight at 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Since it's inception in the early 1990's SoberRide has given free rides home to tens of thousands of people who have had to much to drink. That means that these people were not trying to drive home and risking their lives and yours out on the highways. It's a great program because you don't have to plan ahead to use it... if you or someone you care about shouldn't be driving, then don't. Just call 1-800-200-TAXI and make the streets a little safer. By the way, don't forget to give the driver of the SoberRide cab a nice tip for their effort.
Not sure if you saw this but late last week District officials announced that the city is on track to complete 40 miles of bike lanes. That would be like riding from here to Annapolis on dedicated bike lanes. In all, 8 miles of bike lanes will have been installed in 2008, more than any single year to date according to DDOT officials. They say that that keeps them on track to meet their goal of installing 60 miles of bike lanes in 10 years. At the same time they announced that cyclists should have a secure place to park their bikes now that DDOT workers have installed the 1000th bike rack within the city. Congratulations to all and keep up the good work. Now, if I could just figure out a way to stay warmer while hitting 30 miles and hour going down hill on Connecticut Avenue.
Don't forget to "Fall back" this Saturday night, Sunday morning when daylight savings time kicks in. The beauty of this is that if you forget you'll be an hour early to that meeting on Monday morning. The downside to the time change on both ends of the year is that it changes the way the sun hits the eye and leads to a suprising number of crashes out on the roads.
Steve Eldridge is a long-time reporter, observer and commentator on the Washington region's transportation issues. You can contact him directly by writing to: Steve@SprawlandCrawl.com. Unless otherwise requested, letters or portions of letters can be used within future columns. Letter writers will be identified by their first name and city/neighborhood.