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Meeting Tonight on D.C. Pedestrian Plan

The District Department of Transportation will host a citywide public meeting tonight on its final draft of the Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan, developed over 18 months, lays out safety improvements for each of the city's eight wards over the next decade.

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

It designates eight high priority corridors -- streets across the city that have many pedestrians and too many pedestrian injuries -- to receive special attention. Many of the plans in those corridors will affect the movements of drivers as well as walkers.

Some examples: Right turns on red would be restricted, signals of various types added, sidewalks improved, curbs and medians added, traffic enforcement cameras positioned and bus stops relocated. See our Commuter page feature on the plan.

Tonight's session will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 at the University of the District of Columbia's Van Ness Campus, Building 46 East, 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW. The Red Line's Van Ness Metro station is the closest subway stop.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 24, 2008; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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Next: Meeting Tonight on Rockville Interchange


Cars need real bumpers and pedestrians need to carry spray paint.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 25, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

We have had three pedestrian fatalities in my neck of the woods in the past year. The Mayor, through DDOT, has been touting this expensive plan which includes the utilization of special signals for pedestrians. Yet on Monday, the Director himself announced that DDOT was going to discontinue a pedestrian signal in Chevy Chase, DC.

Where is the disconnect? Who knows. It doesn't make any sense to have a plan for pedestrian safety and simultaneously exchange a pedestrian signal for a car-centric one in a heavily walked commercial corridor.

Someone ought to do a story on how or why this signal was removed. It certainly wasn't based on cutting edge transportation management or engineering principles.

It looks more like a continuation of the same old catering to whims and vehicles over practice and pedestrians.

If this Mayor and transportation agency were serious about this issue, they would STRONGLY reconsider this decision.

Posted by: NW Resident | June 26, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

In *my* neck of the woods (loosely, downcounty MoCo) we've had far more than three peds get hit in the last year. Two observations I've made:

1) The most dangerous places are wide, relatively high speed roads. In MoCo, that's New Hampshire, Georgia, University, and the like. In the district, that's North Capitol, Rhode Island, New York, and the like. Correct me if I am wrong, but the 7th & Penn accident, while tragic, was an anomaly.

2) No Turn on Red signs (as have proliferated at seemingly every intersection in Silver Spring and Wheaton, but strangely, not Langley Park) make the situation worse, not better. You have cars directly competing for space with pedestrians in a much shorter period of time. Pedestrians generally cross the street at the beginning of the light cycle, and cars making a right turn on green also do so at the beginning of the cycle. But cars making a right turn on red cross at the END of the cycle, when there are fewer pedestrians. I think this is the safer way to do it.

The short version of this - No Turn on Red signs make things worse, not better.

Posted by: Joe in SS | June 26, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Joe in SS. It sounds like it's backwards, but really the logic is sound.

Although, I think the best solution is to do an all-way stop at the major intersections to allow an all-way pedestrian crossing. There's an example of this at Seminary Rd. and Library Lane in Alexandria.

Even better would be to build some pedestrian bridges or underpasses in strategic locations.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"... an all-way stop at the major intersections to allow an all-way pedestrian crossing."

This is sometimes known as the "Barnes Dance." It's fairly common in downtown Denver, probably because Mr. Barnes had some role in the city's transportation department at some point. Seems to work pretty well there (signs are posted to clarify it for out-of-town types).

I don't know that the Barnes Dance would necessarily solve the problem of people crossing against the light, though.

Posted by: Rich | June 26, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The short version of this - No Turn on Red signs make things worse, not better

Most drivers in DC just ignore those anyway - almost been hit by a few of those a##holes.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Barnes Dance lights were located in downtown DC in the 1950s and 60's (13 and F area).

The fact of the matter is that with higher gas prices, more people are getting out of their cars to walk/bike for their commuting and errands.

Our transportation policy needs to be on par with these broader trends.

Discontinuing a pedestrian signal in these times in favor of a car-centric model is simply absurd.

DDOT needs to wake up and the Mayor needs to trump this decision.

Posted by: DC Guy | June 26, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

They need a Barnes Dance set up at Duke and Holland Street in Old Town Alexandria (by the Whole Foods). Most days, people making a right onto Duke from Holland just do NOT yield to any pedestrians trying to cross Duke right there. Additionally they block the crosswalk so that those crossing Holland have to weave around them to cross when they have the signal. I'd love to see that intersection NO TURN on red and all red walk signal. I've complained about this to the City, Yon Lambert has my email...but no go. Will it take a fatality for them to take this dangerous setup seriously? People are walking there all the time to go to Whole Foods and on up to the USPTO complex.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | June 27, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The Duke and Holland intersection is also tricky because of the close proximity of the other light at Reinekers Lane and because the lights don't change at the same time. It seems to confuse the heck out of a lot of people (both drivers and pedestrians). I routinely parallel-park on Reinekers to go to that Fresh Fields (or Whole Foods or whatever), and even though I'm used to the lights there I still find myself wondering when the heck the pedestrian walk signal will come on.

I hate to say it, but right turns on red are becoming a problem all over the DC area, and not just because of pedestrian concerns. (I don't count lefts on red as a problem because very few people seem to know they're legal in certain instances.) People have forgotten that they are at a RED LIGHT and that they must yield. Turning on red is supposed to be a limited exception to the rule that red means stop. Ever since Alexandria got rid of the "No U-Turn" restriction on northbound Van Dorn at Edsall, that intersection has become extremely dangerous. Lots of people make U-turns there on a green arrow to go to the McDonald's; because they have a green arrow, people making rights on red off of Edsall are required to yield to them (because a green arrow trumps a red light). Yet very few of the right-on-red people yield. I'm just waiting to see either a t-boning or a rear-ending there (and I hope I'm not involved in either).

A similar problem happens at Guinea Road and 236. Traffic coming from the north side of 236 (from the Ridgelea Hills neighborhood or the Jewish Community Center) gets a green arrow for the left turn towards Annandale and has two left-turn lanes. People coming the other way from Guinea who want to go right on red often do not yield. (Likewise, when people on Guinea get the left-turn arrow to go towards Fairfax, patrons of the JCC often go right on red without yielding.) There used to be a warning sign on Guinea, but it was typical VDOT silliness....get said "Opposing Dual Left Turns Ahead." OK, I know what that means, but do you think the average driver will take the time to figure it out? What's wrong with a sign that says "Right Turn on Red YIELD to Oncoming Traffic" (which is what you're supposed to do anyway)?

Posted by: Rich | June 27, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Why are people crossing at Duke & Holland? There's a pedstrian tunnel one block away.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Where is this tunnel? I don't know anything about it. (That's a genuine question, not a flame.)

I cross at Duke and Reinekers because, as I noted, I like to parallel-park on Reinekers when going to Fresh Fields and then I just cross the street to the store's entrance.

Posted by: Rich | June 27, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

The tunnel is one or two blocks west near the King Street Metro station. If you're walking any notable distance, it's an option.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The tunnel you speak of is primarily for folks coming and going between the USPTO complex and the King Street Metro stop. People up that way use the tunnel. But why would I cross up there to go to Whole Foods from east of Holland? Say I'm at Peyton St or West Street. I have to cross Holland and/or Duke to get to my destination of Whole Foods, etc. Lots of people cross from Table Talk across the street. So the tunnel four blocks west and well out of my way does no good :-)

I agree with Rich that the timing of nearby signals makes the whole area tricky. They really have to many lights along this whole stretch of Duke as is!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | June 29, 2008 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Or simple solution, part at your destination's parking garage instead of expecting lowest common denominator crossing signals.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The idea is to make it safer and more viable for modes of transportation other than single occupancy vehicles.

People will not be able to afford to drive so it makes sense to ensure there are reasonable alternatives. For those who can drive, the idea is to make it less attractive.

The sooner our transportation officials adopt this philosophy, the better it will be for our society.

Posted by: DC Guy | July 2, 2008 6:52 AM | Report abuse

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