FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – Immigrant advocacy organization CASA and the Coalition for Smarter Growth hosted a press conference and rally outside of Bailey’s Elementary school as part of the Bailey’s Crossroads Safe Streets campaign. At the public hearing, CASA members who reside in the area then shared with the Board of Supervisors the issues they face walking, biking, and riding the bus to get to work and their daily activities.
CASA Member Viviana Valverde is a single mom who cleans houses who shared: “The area around the Route 7 highway is where we regularly travel to get to our jobs, go shopping, do our laundry, and eat at local restaurants; this part of town has become more dangerous due to the lack of street, pedestrian, and cyclist signage. The immigrant community that calls Culmore home has suffered great damage from the high-speed traffic and lack of visibility in the area. I am especially concerned that there are still crashes that unfortunately claim so many lives. It is even more worrisome now that I have a one-month-old baby and have to transit this area with her in a stroller. We will no longer accept this and changes need to be made.”
The campaign is dedicated to making Bailey’s Crossroads safer, which is home to a large immigrant population. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) have identified that Route 7 corridor as a high-risk corridor for vulnerable road users based on years of data showing the high numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. Yet, not enough has been done to stem the traffic fatalities and injuries that plague residents trying to navigate their community on foot or by bike.
CASA Member Aurora Lopez shared, “I work at a laundromat in the area. As a resident of Culmore, I travel through the area to purchase groceries, work, and other activities. I have seen an increasing number of accidents since drivers speed in the area. Culmore lacks signaling for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, lives have already been lost due to the concerning issue. Therefore, as part of the community, I am here to raise awareness with the sole objective of obtaining a change in our community. Now we request you as the County authority to take action on the problems we face as a population that circulates on said road.”
“We face an epidemic of dangerous roads across northern Virginia where moving cars is priortized over people’s safety and Route 7 here in Culmore is a perfect example. Since 2015, along the one-mile stretch of road that essentially serves as the community’s Main Street, there have been 18 pedestrian crashes, 4 of them fatal and 14 with serious injuries, says Sonya Breehey, Northern Virginia Advocacy Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We are calling on VDOT and Fairfax County to act with urgency to make the road safer before anymore lives are lost.”
In June, CASA and Coalition for Smarter Growth released a report from data collected by surveying Culmore residents. This Northern Virginia community has a high housing density within walking distance of grocery stores, restaurants, schools, religious institutions, and other services. Overwhelmingly, Culmore residents indicated they do not feel safe, citing poor lighting, lack of connected sidewalks and safe crossing options, no bike paths, and concerns about crime.
“About five months ago, we launched this community-powered campaign to get FCDOT, VDOT, and Supervisor Penny Gross to change the Culmore or Bailey’s Crossroads area to save the lives of countless immigrants. Today, CASA members have the opportunity to share their stories and also express their concerns. We will continue to fight and uplift their voices until some change happens,” said Eduardo Zelaya, director of Virginia organizing. “Let’s make it essential that everyone gets home safely.”
With over 122,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington, DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to advocate for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the region to grow and provide opportunities for all.