Mayor Fenty Releases New DC Pedestrian Plan
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty this morning released the final version of the city's plan to improve pedestrian safety.
The primary goals: 1) Reduce the number of people hit by cars. 2) Make walking a way of life again by making it easier and safer to do. [See map of District's most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.]
The master plan challenges a century of car culture. It infuses city planning with the concept that pedestrians have as much right to the streets as motorists. The plan, under development for two years, includes recommendations that raise consciousness on safety issues. But it also sets guidelines for engineers to follow as they design street and sidewalk projects.
These are among the many safety recommendations to D.C. agencies and organizations:
* Ensure all transportation and real estate development projects include safe and convenient pedestrian facilities.
* Construct new sidewalks where missing on streets in the District.
* Improve pedestrian access and safety at uncontrolled crossings and intersections.
* Improve pedestrian access and safety at bus stops.
* Revise the DDOT Design and Engineering Manual to better address pedestrian safety and accessibility.
* Train roadway planners and designers to make sure they understand these new safety policies and practices.
* Increase penalties for motorists for infractions that impact pedestrian safety.
* Expand the speed camera enforcement program.
* Teach people the rules of the road and the benefits of walking.
To unveil the plan in its final form, Fenty chose a site a few blocks east of the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metro station that provides an example of the safety challenges and potential solutions. Here, a Home Depot is on one side of four-lane Brentwood Road NE and the Department of Motor Vehicles office is on the other, in a small shopping center. There are plenty of people walking and there's plenty of traffic.
This isn't a good spot for a traditional traffic signal. There's heavy north-south traffic on Brentwood that might not see the light in time.. So while it was developing the pedestrian master plan, the District Department of Transportation experimented with a different approach to keeping pedestrians safe.
The crosswalk, set up more than a year ago, is quite visible. It has prominent signs alerting drivers that they must stop for pedestrians in the crossing. What makes the setup unusual is that on either side of Brentwood, a walker can hit a red button that sets amber lights flashing as a warning to motorists. (You can see it in a file photo at the top of the page. I took the picture last May.)
Pedestrians waiting to cross see these instructions:
1. Push button to alert motorist.
2. Wait for vehicles to stop.
3. Cross carefully.
4. Thank the driver.
I like that last one. The plan makes specific references to the value of encouraging good behavior on everyone's part.
This map shows the location of the enhanced crosswalk on Brentwood.
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