D.C.'s Official Pedestrian Advocacy Body

We're citizens working with Mayor Gray and the City Council to better our streets. Learn more about us here.

Next Meeting: July 28, 2014

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Police expand pedestrian safety stings

The Metropolitan Police Department announced it is initiating regular pedestrian safety “stings” at busy and dangerous intersections. These enforcement actions involve deploying a handful of officers to an intersection to hand out safety tips and citations to drivers and walkers over a two-hour period. In the photo above, for example, an MPD officer counsels a taxi driver who has obstructed pedestrians' path through a crosswalk. MPD is committed to holding at least two stings per month, Sgt. Terry Thorne informed the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council at its most recent Enforcement and Education Committee meeting.

At a pedestrian safety action on Connecticut Avenue in Woodley Park in early June, four MPD officers stopped drivers who were blocking crosswalks or obstructing pedestrian or vehicle flow through the intersection. They also stopped pedestrians who were crossing on "don't walk" signals. In addition to educating people passing through the intersection, the sting yielded nearly two dozen citations, including seven for driving with hand-held cell phones and five for failing to clear an intersection after the light turned red. Among those cited were two pedestrians. Officers also handed out education cards that explain key rules for drivers and pedestrians.

The intersection at Connecticut Avenue NW and 24th Street NW in Woodley Park is complicated and heavily traveled by drivers and pedestrians. At this "T" intersection, 24th Street NW is divided by an island, with marked crosswalks on each half. Pedestrians crossing 24th do not have a continuous walk signal; they must stop on the island. Although the island is fairly big, an overflowing crowd of pedestrians often gets marooned there for 45 seconds while turning cars wind around it. Adding to the complexity is the fact that drivers are allowed to turn right on red even though sight lines are limited for drivers and pedestrians. In addition, a poorly placed stop line and confusing voice signals cause confusion for drivers and pedestrians. D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council members Eileen McCarthy and Marlene Berlin and ANC Commissioner Gwendolyn Bole observed the Woodley Park sting and had a chance to discuss problems with the intersection with officers and a DDOT representative. Some of the problems can be addressed more quickly than others, the DDOT representative cautioned.

Similar enforcement actions were held in Tenleytown in May at the complex intersection of Albemarle Street NW and 40th Street NW near the Tenleytown Metro station. At this busy location, cars, buses, high school and college students, commuters and shoppers all converge on a five-legged intersection. While safety tips were discussed with drivers and pedestrians during a mid-day enforcement action, a follow-up sting during rush hour resulted in officers spending most of their time directing traffic.

District police already hold safety stings, but the commitment to hold two a month is new. Chicago recently enacted a similar approach. The PAC is working with MPD to schedule the next round of pedestrian safety stings in hopes of giving drivers and walkers, as well officers, more opportunities to learn safe practices on our busy streets.

Contact the PAC at dcpedcouncil@gmail.com to submit an intersection to be considered for a pedestrian safety sting.

MoveDC moving forward

The public is invited to give feedback until July 31 on moveDC,the District’s multi-modal plan for getting people around the city over the next 25 years. During a roundtable held by the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment to receive comments on the plan, several speakers requested more time to review the massive document. The comment period was extended more than three weeks to the end of July.

The significant aspect of moveDC from the perspective of the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) is that pedestrians are listed as the first priority in any decision-making around transportation. Filling gaps in the sidewalk network, prioritizing traffic calming and engineering safer crosswalks are all recommendations made in moveDC.

“Overall, moveDC presents an important step forward, and if fully implemented, the recommendations promise to improve conditions for walking across the city,” PAC chair Jason Broehm testified at the roundtable. Follow this link to Broehm’s full testimony. The PAC will submit feedback after its July 28 meeting.

Pedestrian, bicycle and transit advocates attending the June 27 roundtable were generally supportive of moveDC, but it got negative feedback from some residents and visitors who rely primarily on cars to get around the city. A AAA representative called cars “an endangered species” if the plan moves forward. Adding to the dissent were several speakers who brought up concerns with specific aspects of the plan, such as bus lanes planned for their residential roads and bike lanes that would remove parking, as well as overarching worries such as DDOT’s lengthy environmental review process and lack of data to prioritize projects. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, David Grosso and Muriel Bowser offered general support, and all noted the importance of planning for a future that includes hundreds of thousands of new residents.

The deadline to submit public comments on the plan is July 31. After the document is complete, DDOT will release an action plan. MoveDC should be updated every five years, DDOT Director Matt Brown said.

Roundtable tomorrow on moveDC

MoveDC, the city’s multi-modal transportation plan, will be the topic of tomorrow’s roundtable called by the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. The roundtable is scheduled for 11 a.m. on June 27 in Room 412 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

The plan prioritizes pedestrians and calls for the city to:

1. Reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities;
2. Prioritize pedestrians in transportation projects;
3. Create a pedestrian environment that accommodates people of all ages and abilities, with special attention to children and older adults;
4. Create a fully-connected pedestrian network.

In order to achieve these goals, the moveDC plan makes several recommendations, including some the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council has been advocating over the past year. Expanding the network of sidewalks, creating better systems for identifying and tracking needed sidewalk repairs, increasing automated enforcement, and adjusting traffic signals to optimize pedestrian safety are among steps moveDC lays out. The plan also urges improving the design of intersections, especially “high-hazard locations,” and improving access and safety at transit stops. Growing street trees would improve the walking environment, the plan states. In addition, MoveDC suggests creating a dedicated traffic enforcement unit within the police department.

Creators of moveDC are seeking public feedback on the plan by July 6. Visit the moveDC website at www.wemovedc.org to download the report and find a link to the survey.