Walking around DC is great, but walkers also encounter many spots where it is just not as safe to walk as it ought to be. A new group, All Walks DC, is organizing to promote pedestrian safety through legislation and better street design. One of the biggest problems today is construction zones.
Connecticut Avenue. Photo by Joe Riener.
The law already requires construction companies to provide “safe accommodation” past construction sites that block the sidewalks, according to District Department of Transportation (DDOT) official Matthew Marcou. But many companies are simply blocking the sidewalk and posting a sign.
Over the weekend, volunteers photographed over a dozen construction sites, including the new American University Law School under construction at Yuma Street and Tenley Circle NW, where there are only signs saying “sidewalk closed.” DC pedestrians will not consider that “safe accommodation.”
Construction at Washington College of Law. Photo by Joe Riener.
At several sites, pedestrians were walking in the street, next to rapidly moving traffic. This was precisely the hazard that legislation sought to prevent.
Shaw. Photo by the author.
Do you know of some sidewalks blocked due to construction? Tweet them with the hashtag #DCblockwalk, and let @MaryCheh and @DDOTDC know as well! You can also follow us @AllWalksDC. We need to let our public officials know that DC’s developers are not being held accountable for safety.
This is just one of many issues All Walks DC plans to work on. We also will advocate for:
- Release of specific, detailed data about incidents where drivers hit pedestrians in DC. DDOT has such data, but does not give it to the public. Without this data, residents don’t know where the most dangerous intersections or streets are, and can’t advocate for changes where it would do the most good.
- Far greater use of traffic calming devices, like pedestrian safety islands in the middle of high-traffic streets, pedestrian-activated traffic signals, or raised crosswalks, particularly around schools and parks, to protect people walking.
- Stronger legislation for construction zones that would require construction companies to provide a scaffolding-protected path during construction.
- Greater enforcement of existing traffic laws, particularly those involving drivers yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.
- A Vision Zero policy where police, the transportation department, transit agencies, and elected leaders do what it takes to eliminate any pedestrian fatalities. No one should be killed while walking in DC.
- Additional traffic calming measures that would keep DC streets from being mere thoroughfares for suburban commuters during rush hours.