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DC Moves for Safer Sidewalks

This is good news for people who walk in Washington: D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Transportation Director Emeka Moneme announced this morning that the city has a new pedestrian safety standard that requires either covered walkways or protected open walkways at most construction sites.

In general, the District policy says, traffic control plans at construction sites should replicate the existing pedestrian walkways as nearly as possible. You can see all the rules at this link on the District Department of Transportation Web site.

Fenty and Moneme, joined by D.C. Council Member Jim Graham and Terry Lynch, a longtime advocate for people who live and work downtown, announced the new standard from underneath a covered walkway near 20th and L Streets NW. We need more such walkways and fewer streets where pedestrians confront signs that say, "Sidewalk Closed."

Fenty began his remarks by noting that people often ask him why it's so difficult to walk at construction sites. In developing the new standard, the District used New York City's rules as a model and consulted with the D.C. Building Industry Association, several officials said.

"The era when sidewalks were blocked for months on end is over," Fenty said, and Graham later added: "This is very good news for anyone who walks."

As the District's downtown and many of its neighborhoods have prospered in recent years, more people are walking to work, shop, eat and be entertained. But there's also been a lot more construction, closing off sidewalks and street lanes.

The District officials also acknowledged today that they need to make it tougher to take away lanes for construction projects.

The new rules apply to new construction projects. Moneme also noted that the District plans to unveil a master plan for pedestrian safety this year.

[Join me at 1 p.m. today for an online discussion about our region's traffic and transit issues. Here's a link to the discussion. If you'd like to submit a question or comment ahead of time, you can use this link. We can walk about topics in the news, like pedestrian safety, speed cameras and Dulles rail, or any other transportation topic that's on your mind. ]

By Robert Thomson  |  February 4, 2008; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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Next: New Pattern on GW Parkway Bridge


Yes! About time.

Posted by: Tim from Silver Spring | February 4, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Start with the E. side of 17th St. NW btwn. H & I ... Blocked for "months on end?" Try "years without end."

Posted by: bc | February 4, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's see the follow-up by the District government. Will the news media and the public examine how the Fenty administration is doing in actually enforcing the new sidewalk rules?

Posted by: Jeff | February 4, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Too bad this only applies to new buildings. The new condo at the corner of 15th and P NW doesn't seem to be anywhere close to being finished and the construction equipment still takes up the sidewalk and part of each street.

Posted by: Adam | February 4, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

About time is right. It seems like such a basic concept, it's amazing there were no rules in place until now. As for retroactive application, that's too bad, but it will be irrelevant in a year or so. Yea DDOT.

Posted by: ah | February 4, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

How about protecting people on the sidewalks from willy-nilly driving from drunken Marion Barry holdovers, Britney Spears' security guards, Presidential motorcades, and people pulled over for having BAC of 0.0?


Posted by: Damn time | February 4, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

What about the dangers of bike riders on the sidewalk? I have seen bike messengers knock people down and take off!!

Posted by: Ed A. | February 4, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Those who want to point their finger at the construction industry need to rethink their opinion. This is not a construction issue, but instead a government issue. For any construction that impedes into public space (sidewalks, roadways, green space, etc...), construction engineers are required to submit detailed traffic controlled plans to the District. Those plans are often scrutinized and have to reconfigured dozens of time before they're approved. This "approval" process is nothing more than a money-making scheme for the city since every failed application requires an additional fee for successive submittals. Fenty talks a big game, but in the end the DC traffic control agency need to make money, and nothing is going to change in this respect.

Please do not blame the construction guy standing near a fence watching a truck because you have to cross the street to get by a construction zone. I just love these people who whine and complain about the inconveniences of construction, yet complain because they're neighborhood is deteriorating. Talk about hypocritical!

Posted by: Hardhat | February 4, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

As someone who does a fair amount of walking in D.C., this is wonderful news. A big thank you to everyone who helped implement this.

Posted by: swissmiss | February 4, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

This is indeed great news. The next step would be to crack down on construction workers' vehicles that monopolize street parking all day long around work sites.

Posted by: Tom T. | February 4, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

they should just walk out in the street with everyone else

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Now they just need to make crossing streets safer.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The builders/owners of the condo under construction at 15th and P Streets near the Whole Foods should be fined/ticketed/prosecuted for blocking the street for over 2 years now. The Empire State Building took only ONE year to build. Their incompetence is appalling!!

Posted by: John K | February 4, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Boy, do we need a law like the D.C. one out here in Montgomery County. The construction in Bethesda on Arlington Road between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street (the old Giant Food site) has left us without sidewalks for well over a year (heading up to 16 months on the Arlington Road side, probably longer on the side streets). It's also wreaked havoc with car traffic. What a nightmare! This sort of thing wouldn't be allowed in New York City or San Francisco, but it looks like it suits the powers that be out here just fine.

Posted by: chevy chase, md | February 4, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

pedestrians have the right of way in the streets so we don't need this law because we can just walk in the streets the cars have to stop for us because we are saving the planet and they are killing it

Posted by: DC | February 4, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

It's about time! Let's hope this is actually enforced.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 4, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: PersonL | February 4, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

why would anything be enforced? are you a nazi? law enforcement is for nazis

Posted by: progressive | February 5, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse sounds as though there will be barriers separating the pedestrian walkways from the traffic (sort of like the barriers that recently went up around Rosa Mexicano at 7th & F across from Verizon Center). An ancillary benefit of these would be that they would make it harder for people to cross the street at mid-block.

Posted by: Rich | February 5, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Rich, maybe I cross the street at mid block because I am too lazy to follow the law. Did you ever think of that? No, because you're a NAZI.

Posted by: DC pedestrian | February 5, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

What difference does it make if people cross at mid-block or at the intersection when they have to walk inside a traffic lane because the sidewalk is closed?

Posted by: Woodley Park | February 6, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"Rich, maybe I cross the street at mid block because I am too lazy to follow the law. Did you ever think of that? No, because you're a NAZI."

I'm a Nazi? Fine. If that's the way we're going to play in this thread, then I guess you must be a Jew, because I won't hesitate to exterminate you if you walk out in front of me at mid-block.

Posted by: Rich | February 6, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

is that like a wandering jew?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 7, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Run them all down

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Run down the jaywalking cops while you're at it.

Posted by: uggg | February 12, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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