D.C.'s Official Pedestrian Advocacy Body

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Next Meeting: September 28, 2015

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Police focus on pedestrian safety

An MPD officer summons a pedestrian crossing the street in the middle of the 600 block of H Street NW.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Traffic Safety and Specialized Enforcement Branch continued its pedestrian safety efforts last week, issuing 69 citations to vehicle operators or pedestrians. MPD’s focus was primarily on violations at or near the intersection of 7th and H NW as well as along H Street NE.  Approximately 40 citations were issued to pedestrians and 29 to vehicle operators. In addition to issuing citations, the officers provided educational cards, spent time ensuring that the crosswalks were not obstructed by vehicles, and spoke to delivery truck and other drivers about the dangers posed when they park illegally next to a crosswalk.
An MPD officer instructs a driver blocking the crosswalk at 7th and H Streets NW to move.
In issuing citations to pedestrians, MPD’s relevant General Order (GO-303.01, https://go.mpdconline.com/GO/GO_303_01.pdf) states that officers should put primary emphasis on “those offenses where the pedestrian, through violation of existing statutes, creates a danger to himself, other persons, or the motoring public.” Of the 40 citations issued to pedestrians, the majority (29) went to people crossing midblock between signalized intersections, which is prohibited by DC Municipal Regulation (DCMR) 18-2304.1 (see http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/ChapterHome.aspx?ChapterNumber=18-23) (“Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.”)  Most of these citations were issued to people crossing H Street NW between 6th and 7th Streets NW or crossing 7th Street NW between G and H streets.  In both cases, the adjacent intersections are signalized and enforcement took place during fairly heavy midday traffic. 

The remaining 11 pedestrian citations went to people crossing against the “Don’t Walk” signal. Vehicle operators received 29 citations, including 15 for failure to stop and give right of way to pedestrians. Under DC Code 50-2201.28(b) (http://dccode.org/simple/Title-50/Chapter-22/), at a signalized intersection, vehicle drivers are required to stop and give right of way to a pedestrian “who has begun crossing on the ‘Walk’ signal”; DCMR 18-2302.3 (http://dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/ChapterHome.aspx?ChapterNumber=18-23) prohibits pedestrians from beginning to cross on a “Don’t Walk” signal (“No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of a "DON'T WALK" or "WAIT" signal”).  Vehicle operators also received 14 citations for distracted driving, seat belt, or other (e.g. driving in the 7th Street bus lane) violations.

MPD is planning to continue enforcement efforts this week.

Police ticket drivers at site of fatal crash

An MPD officer cites a driver for failing to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk at Veazey Street NW on Wisconsin Avenue.
Led by Sgt. Terry Thorne of the Traffic Safety and Specialized Enforcement Branch, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers continued their pedestrian safety work last Tuesday, citing almost 20 vehicle operators, including one bicyclist, for failing to stop and give right of way to pedestrians in a Tenleytown crosswalk. The two-hour mid-day enforcement activity took place at Wisconsin Avenue and Veazey Street NW, which was the site of a recent pedestrian fatality.  George Mina, an employee of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital pediatric clinic, was struck while crossing the street in the crosswalk on June 10 and died from his injuries on June 16. 

The unsignalized crosswalk where Mina was struck is located near Sullivan’s Toy Store, the pediatric clinic where Mina worked, the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, and various other businesses frequented by area residents and employees in nearby office buildings. In addition to ticketing drivers for failing to stop and give right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk, the officers also handed out citations to drivers who were holding cell phones (8 citations), not wearing seatbelts (4), driving at an unreasonable speed (1), or who committed other violations (7). Two pedestrians also received citations for illegally crossing the street outside the crosswalk. 

The video included below shows Sgt. Thorne crossing Wisconsin and the driver of a truck failing to yield to him. Under DC Code 50-2201.28 (http://dccode.org/simple/sections/50-2201.28.html), vehicle operators are required to “stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within any marked crosswalk, or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, when the pedestrian is upon the lane, or within one lane approaching the lane, on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.” 

The crosswalk on Wisconsin at Veazey can be particularly frightening for pedestrians because of the speeds at which drivers move along the 30 mph arterial road, because the crosswalk has no traffic signal to stop drivers, and because multiple lanes of traffic may block drivers’ views of crossing pedestrians.  During the course of the enforcement effort, at least ten people, including several of Mina’s co-workers, expressed appreciation for MPD’s efforts and their concern about safety at the crosswalk.  The crosswalk may be the site of a future pedestrian-activated HAWK signal.  It is currently undergoing a District Department of Transportation traffic study.

The Veazey crosswalk effort by MPD was one of several taking place over the last few months. MPD officers also visited locations along 14th Street NW in the Logan Circle area last Thursday and issued 48 citations to drivers and pedestrians.  Citations issued to drivers included 13 for failure to stop and give right of way to pedestrians crossing in the unsignalized marked crosswalk at 14th and Corcoran NW, four for distracted driving, two for seatbelt violations, and two for blocking the bike lane.  Sixteen citations were issued to pedestrians for crossing against a “Don’t Walk” signal or for illegally crossing mid-block.  Earlier this spring, MPD officers issued similar citations to drivers and pedestrians near the 14th Street Trader Joe’s and at locations along Good Hope Road SE.


Watch video of drivers failing to yield to Sgt. Thorne in the crosswalk on 14th Street NW.

The Veazey crosswalk enforcement action by MPD followed a week in which three pedestrians died in the District.  In addition to Mina, Margaret Ruth Dickie was struck by a delivery truck turning right onto Calvert Street NW from 37th Street NW, just off Wisconsin Avenue, on June 11. Dickie, 79, was a resident of nearby Carillon House in Glover Park.  Four days later, on June 15, James Gary, 73, of Northeast Washington was struck by a streetsweeper backing up on the 4000 block of Clay Place NE. The section of road was being repaved at the time.  Investigations of all three fatalities are continuing.  

All Walks DC (www.allwalksdc.org), in coordination with members of ANC 3B and 3F, led a memorial “Vision Zero” walk from Veazey Street to Calvert Street NW on June 18. 

“Vision Zero,” which has been embraced by Mayor Bowser (http://ddot.dc.gov/page/vision-zero-initiative) and other mayors across the United States, began in Sweden (http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/en/) and holds that serious injuries and loss of life from traffic crashes is unacceptable and the design of our streets must take human fallibility into account. DC’s Vision Zero objective states: “By the year 2024, Washington, DC will reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system, through more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering.” 

DDOT hosts public meetings on two busy streets

Photo courtesy of Forest Hills Connection. This unsignalized crosswalk on Connecticut Avenue at Ellicott Street NW could get a HAWK signal.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host meetings next week on proposed improvements for pedestrians along two busy corridors. Below are details provided by DDOT.

Upper Connecticut Avenue Crosswalk Safety Project

Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Forest Hills Senior Living Center, 4901 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Details: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites the public to a meeting to take questions and comments on proposed crosswalk safety improvements on Upper Connecticut Avenue, NW.

Marked crosswalks at intersections without traffic signals along Connecticut Avenue, from Appleton Street to Legation Street, have been the source of safety and accessibility concerns for residents. Fourteen pedestrians have been injured and one killed in un-signalized marked crosswalks on upper Connecticut Avenue in the last nine years.

The proposed plan would add two HAWK pedestrian signals, relocate or remove some bus stops to better align with existing signal controlled crossings, and remove some crosswalk markings at remaining unsignalized crossings. Information about the proposed crosswalk safety project will be available for review at the meeting.

Photo from the corner of East Capitol Street and Benning Road NE courtesy of dcshrines.blogspot.com

East Capitol Street-Benning Road Intersection Project

Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Location: Metropolitan Police Department Sixth District Community Room, 100 42nd Street, NE

Details: DDOT staff will be present at this meeting to take questions and comments on proposed changes to the East Capitol and Benning Road intersection.

The intersection of East Capitol Street, Benning Road, Texas Avenue and Central Avenue is a busy and complex intersection in the District. From 2008 to 2010, there were 102 traffic crashes that injured 54 people, including 8 pedestrians. DDOT began a planning study in 2011 to look at safety and access changes to the intersection and the larger corridor. At this meeting, DDOT will present proposed changes, the planning study information and proposals for review.