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DC Publishes Pedestrian Plan

The District government has published the final draft of its Pedestrian Master Plan and made it available online. (That's an 11 MB pdf file.)

Penn%20at%207th.jpg Two pedestrians were killed last year in wide crossing at 7th and Pennsylvania. (Thomson)

This is the plan, based on a year and a half of study, that the District hopes to put into effect over the next decade. There will be public meetings on it in June. The sessions will be held in Wards 3, 6 and 7, but will be open to everyone.

These are some of the important goals I see in the program's summary:
-- Improve safety at signalized crossings and intersections
-- Improve safety at uncontrolled crossings and intersections (those without stop signs or traffic signals).
-- Focus on improving eight high priority corridors, with sidewalk repairs and construction, better location of bus stops, changes in signals, enhancements to crosswalks and reduced crossing distances at intersections. (There's one corridor in each ward. Here's a map.)
-- Increased penalties for drivers who threaten pedestrian safety. (Example: Boost the $50 fine for failing to yield to pedestrians.)
-- Expand the photo enforcement program.
-- Broaden the Safe Routes to School program.

Release of the plan was previewed in Monday's Post by staff writer Clarence Williams.

I've been asking readers here on the blog and in my Dr. Gridlock column to name their own high priority points, and have gotten many interesting comments, including those on the entry about jaywalking. Keep them coming.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 20, 2008; 1:32 PM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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They'll increase penalties, but will they bother to start enforcing them? Doubt it.

Posted by: James | May 20, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

They have got to get more serious about jaywalking pedestrians. I cannot count, in the course of a week, the number of peds who will step out in front of me because they're distracted, in a hurry or just think that they can win in body v. car!

Posted by: Chevy Chase | May 20, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Every week, at least a few drivers drive through red lights at Washington Circle while pedestrians are in the crosswalk. I have never seen anyone ticketed. Many of these drivers are on cell phones, itself a violation of DC law. I've seen drivers stopped in the middle of an intersection at a red light screaming and threatening pedestrians attempting to cross. Where are the police when this is happening?

Posted by: M Street | May 20, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Here's my solution for what peds should do to drivers who bully them in crosswalks:

OK, that was sarcasm, but its a funny vid none the less.

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 20, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

M Street, the most shameful thing is that while those red light runners are illegally blocking traffic and yelling at the legal pedestrians, nobody even honks.

Posted by: get the fukc out of the road | May 20, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The Plan notes that bus stops should be located on the far side of intersections to encourage crossing behind the bus (thus allowing for the person crossing to see the traffic better). This is a great point, and it goes along with my comment in the thread about the Brentwood Road crosswalk where I said that putting a bus stop just before the crossing signal defeats the purpose of the signal because the bus blocks out the signal. Moving the bus stops would also eliminate the need for the law about not turning right in front of a stopped bus.

(Speaking of the right-turn law, has anybody else noticed that Metrobuses carry a sticker about that law, but it's small and it's placed on the RIGHT side of the bus? In a country where the driver sits on the left, that's a stupid place for the sticker.)

Posted by: Rich | May 20, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

i'd really like to see them do something about bicyclists. As a pedestrian i'm really tired of almost getting hit by bicyclists who are sure the traffic signals don't apply to them or decide it's better to whip onto the sidewalk in front of people instead of waiting for traffic to move.

Posted by: the ocho | May 20, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

What about busses that run lights? What kind of sh1theads drive these things? They think that a bus won't get in the way? They should all be lined up and shot.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

the ocho, bicyclists are better than you and the law does not apply to them

Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

how about instead of making more rules they get the cops out of the donut shops?

Posted by: Dave | May 20, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the DC government ought to address the double-parkers as well. Every day these vehicles infringe on everyone else's ability to traverse the city...

In addition, perhaps the DC government should start coordinating their construction permits so that the multitude of construction projects don't cause multiple lane closures block after block and the resulting gridlocks.

Moreover, in terms of disaster preparedness, the public's ability to efficiently evacuate the city in the event of a crisis is at least as important...

Posted by: AM | May 20, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Dr. G, have you ever posed the question of traffic enforcement as a priority to Chief Lanier/MPD? Honestly speaking, its rare to see an MPD officer making a traffic stop. Enforcement seems to have been passed on to other DC agencies or police agencies. For example, parking enforcement is passed on Public Works; Park Police or Capitol Police are more than anxious to pull someone over;...but it seems MPD rarely makes any enforcement efforts especially at busy traffic intersections, ped heavy crosswalks, or of constant offenders such as taxis. Can you provide any insight? Thanks!

Posted by: Pondering Minds | May 21, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Secret Service does more traffic stops then MPD around here....

Posted by: meeee | May 21, 2008 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see more signals which bring all traffic to a stop. Seems like most of the danger comes with cars turning left into pedestrians crossing the street.

That or ban all left turns and "right on red". The stoptionals that come with the "right on red" provisions seem to have really diluted driver diligence over the years.

This Pedestrian Plan is a great first step, but there is a lot more work to do.

Posted by: Name | May 21, 2008 5:55 AM | Report abuse

the ocho, push them over

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Is there anything in the plan about construction companies being able to close sidewalks instead of making a pedestrian tunnel like most other major cities?

As for the MPD enforcing traffic laws, they do if the community really wants it. Talk to your PSA Captain. Personally though I would prefer them going after an assaulter than an expired registration. Also most violations are not practically enforceable. For example, if a motorist failed to yield right of way to a pedestrian on 14th street in rush hour. An officer pulls them over. Imagine the grid lock. So I think the police take the no harm no foul approach. Maybe bike patrols are a better solution, but then its more hazardous to officers. Ultimately its up to the individuals to play by the rules. The police can't be everywhere.

Posted by: Sivad | May 21, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"ability to efficiently evacuate the city"? Surely you are joking. We cannot leave in a timely manner when there is inclement weather. If there is ever an actual need to evacuate this poorly designed swamp that claims to be our nation's capital, I hope you have your cell phone with you to say goodbye to your loved ones as you crawl an inch an hour.

Posted by: @AM | May 21, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Law enforcement would interrupt doughnut time.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

OK, so they want people to stop entering the crosswalk after the flashing "don't walk" signal starts. But, geez, some of the signals go from "walk" to flashing "don't walk" in the space of THREE SECONDS, and then they go to steady "don't walk" in barely enough time for me, an able-bodied adult who is not pushing a stroller, to cross the street. How the heck are older people, people on crutches, or people leading small children by the hand ever supposed to cross the street????

Posted by: Dupont Office Worker | May 21, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

For practical purposes, the MPD is not engaged in traffic enforcement.

A Freedom of Information Act request found that in a recent 29-month period, the DC Police wrote only 17 tickets for failure to stop at a crosswalk: 1 in all of 2005, 3 in all of 2006, and 13 in the first five months of 2007.

To put those numbers in perspective, DC Police issued about 1600 jaywalking tickets in 2005.

Posted by: Washpost4 | May 21, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

They could issue 1600 jaywalking tickets on one block in DC in a year. Where is this happening?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock:

Can you explain local government's approach of blaming pedestrians when they get hit? After MWCOG's infamous "Metal versus Flesh" campaign, we are again seeing disproportionate blame for pedestrian deaths being put on pedestrians themselves. Is there some statistic that suggests that more deaths are the result of jaywalking than driver error? Two of my former colleagues were by a Metrobus failing to yield as they crossed legally. I imagine the statistics would show that drivers yield less frequently at crosswalks than pedestrians crossing in the face of oncoming traffic.

Perhaps it's more expensive or politically difficult to ticket drivers for every infraction or to increase the cost of infractions so much that they go down. Yet, NHTSA has shown that driver infractions - not stopping at red lights before turning, not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, etc. - have gone down substantially in the months following enforcement campaigns. Unlike similar signs in New Jersey, the new DDOT crosswalk signs do not even mention fines for failing to yield. Virginia's driver's manual only mentions pedestrians in the context of children or the intoxicated in the middle of the streets. In most industrialized countries, drivers face substantial fines, loss of license or even jail time for endangering pedestrians. In our region, however, the cost of potentially hitting a human being is less than the cost of littering. If Virginia does approve a "stand your ground" gun use law, where individuals are exculpated for shooting to protect their own lives, I wonder if pedestrians will cross each intersection armed to protect against unrestrained drivers. After all, in the "wild west" of the DC area, it appears that each person has to his take safety in his own hands.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

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