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Final Sessions on D.C. Pedestrian Plan

The District government this week is holding the last two public meetings on its pedestrian safety plan, which will help restore some of the lost balance between the needs of walkers and drivers in the city.

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New crosswalk safety system on Brentwood Road NE. (Thomson)

Post writer Eric Weiss noted in his Sunday story (Drivers Feeling Shunned by D.C.) that many suburban drivers interpret such plans as a city attack on them.

Here are some of your views on the various efforts to create a more walkable city. These are drawn from comments that I was not able to post Monday while we were having computer trouble with the online discussion.

Capitol Hill: There's a lot of anger out there over the commuter thing. I would like to point out though that a lot of these [traffic] calming measures are in residential streets. The average speed on Constitution Ave in NE was 40+ mph before it went to 24-hour two-way. This is a narrow tree-lined street with small houses and an elementary school. Suburban communities implement these kind of traffic calming policies all the time. It's considered common-sense, and it never even merits a mention in the Post.

D.C. and suburban commuters: I live in D.C., and would of course love having no traffic from the suburbs. But it just seems ridiculous to choke off commuting routes into the city. Doesn't the mayor realize that even without an income tax on MD/VAers, employment in the city is a lot better with them than without them? High taxes already make D.C. a less hospitable place for business than the suburbs -- if the mayor got his way, we'd have no traffic problems just like a ghost town.

Washington, D.C.: I'm tired of having my life in the hands of impatient narcissists who seem to believe that they are more important than the red lights they drive through and the pedestrians who may be in the streets. What, if anything, can be done to wake these people up and help them realize that they are putting people's lives at risk with their driving?

Washington, D.C.: You get a lot of griping from drivers who are (rightfully) mad at jaywalkers who get in their way. Here's a story from the other side. I tried to post this last chat, but I didn't get it in soon enough.
A couple weeks ago, I was standing at a four-way stop in the morning. I waited a little bit to let the cars in or near the intersection to pass, then stepped out into the crosswalk. When I was halfway across the street, I saw an SUV coming towards me. When I realized the driver had no plans on stopping (again, at a four-way stop), I was already in front of him so I ran to the other side of the street. When I turned to look back at him, I saw he was texting someone while driving -- no hands on the wheel, no eyes on the road. The guy had no clue that he'd nearly hit me.
The SUV had Virginia tags on it. This was not the first time I'd nearly been hit by a driver when I'd had the right of way (I've also seen drivers try to bully their way in front of me or other pedestrians while turning, when we had the cross signal). Note to those driving in the city: we will be more friendly to you when you stop trying to run us over.

Dr. Gridlock: The pedestrian plan, to be implemented over a decade, will inconvenience drivers: It will require them to slow down, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the streets. It will not choke off access to the city. (See our map of pedestrian safety corridors.)

Public comment sessions:
-- Tonight, from 6:30 to 8:30, at St. Peter's Church, 313 Second St. SE.
-- Wednesday, from 6:30 to 8:30, at the Columbia Heights Recreation Center, 1480 Girard St. NW.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 8, 2008; 7:31 AM ET
Categories:  Safety  
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