Barnes Dance starts Wednesday
May 12 Update: And let the dancin' begin: Dr. Gridlock reports on the first day of the Barnes Dance. | Gridlock Report
Original post: You don't have to bring a fiddle. All you have to do is walk across the street. But that's going to take some getting used to, at least for people who weren't in Washington as of several decades ago when the diagonal crossings disappeared from D.C. intersections.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the District Department of Transportation will create a new pattern for vehicles and pedestrians at Seventh and H streets NW, one of the city's busiest intersections.
This style of crossing is called a Barnes Dance, after Henry A. Barnes, the traffic commissioner who made it popular back in the middle of the 20th century by using it in Denver. (Barnes also served as traffic commissioner in Baltimore.)
The basic idea is that at a certain time, all the lights turn red for vehicles, and all the pedestrians have walk signals, to cross any way they want. The District's plan for the Chinatown intersection is a variation on that idea. It will have the all-way crossing, lasting about half a minute, but it also will have cycles in which pedestrians can cross in the usual way, directly across Seventh or H street. At no time will vehicles be allowed to make turns at the intersection.
"Nearly 27,000 pedestrians use this intersection on an average day and about 26,000 vehicles," District Transportation Director Gabe Klein said in a statement Tuesday. "We believe by utilizing the Barnes Dance we can minimize conflicts and create a safer environment for everyone."
There were 35 crashes at the intersection with nine injuries, including four to pedestrians, in 2009. From 2005 to 2008, according to city statistics, 15 pedestrians were injured there.
DDOT traffic control officers will be at the intersection for a while to make sure people get the idea. Drivers and walkers also will see variable message signs announcing the change. There are new walk signs and new markings on the pavement. Brochures will be handed out to explain how the intersection works.
May 11, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Safety | Tags: District Department of Transportation, Dr. Gridlock
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