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New paint helps makes Florida Avenue NE a safer road

A few months ago, I made a plea to DDOT to spend a few dollars on road paint, specifically to make crosswalks and bike lanes more visible for drivers. Here are some examples of visible progress.

At the corner of Florida Avenue and New York Avenue NE, DDOT repainted the crosswalks. Before, they had been marked with a type of thermoplastic tape which had rubbed off and rendered the crosswalk much less visible.

At Florida Avenue and N Street NE, the crosswalk includes a stop bar for traffic on N Street to supplement the stop sign at this intersection (which is out of the frame).

Bright, wide crosswalks mark the intersection of Florida Avenue and 4th Street NE next to the entrance to the Florida Avenue Market and Two Rivers Public Charter School.

The centerlines have also been repainted. This was taken looking west from Florida Avenue and 6th Street NE.

Previously, there was no crosswalk at 7th Street NE at Florida Avenue. Now the corner is properly marked for pedestrians.

Here's another view at Florida Avenue and 7th Street NE.

The corner of Florida Avenue and West Virginia Avenue NE is heavily trafficked by automobiles and pedestrians, since it serves as the crossroads of Gallaudet University, Trinidad, and folks heading to and from Capitol Hill and Near Northeast. All the lanes and crosswalks are now well marked here.

Finally, here's a shot of Florida Avenue at 11th Street NE. There are now well-marked crosswalks at every corner along the southern edge of Trinidad.

I've seen simple improvements like this on roads all over the District, not just on Florida Avenue. More roads could use this level of attention, and Florida Avenue needs more than just the cosmetic treatment of a new coat of paint to make it a complete street for all types of users. But it's great to see the city taking this simple step to make sure roads are properly striped.

Geoff Hatchard lived in DC's Trinidad neighborhood. The opinions and views expressed in Geoff's writing on this blog are his, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. 


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That looks great!

by David Garber on Nov 21, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

Not only is it good for safety in terms of visibility, it also makes a place seem less run down and more cared for. That decreases crime just like repairing broken windows or removing graffiti decreases the sense of lawlessness in an area.

by Falls Church on Nov 21, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

Fantastic improvements! Now we just need to get Florida NE narrowed to create ADA compliant sidewalks (and adding a few trees would be nice).

by Tony Goodman, ANC 6C04 on Nov 21, 2011 11:48 am • linkreport


Any thoughts on also narrowing some of the neighborhood streets? The sidewalks on 6th St NE between K and Florida are barely wide enough for a person, let alone a wheelchair. I'll agree though, that Florida Ave is one of the worst offenders, and still one of the worst streets in DC.

And, yes. This was a welcome improvement. I walked by the crews a few weeks ago while they were installing the new striping. I was amazed by how fast and simple the process appeared to be. The "paint" is actually a solid material that is melted onto the street, presumably so that it lasts longer, and takes almost no time to dry.

by andrew on Nov 21, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

I completely agree with Tony and Andrew -- both Florida Ave NE and 6th Street NE (between K and FL Ave) would benefit greatly from narrowing and adding of street trees. Both of those streets have narrow side walks and fast traffic. Wider sidewalks would help slow down traffic as well as give pedestrians added safety.

by Cody on Nov 21, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

@andrew & Cody,

One of the other major issues with 6th Street NE is that it is a designated truck route (same as 4th). Joe McCann, the chair of the 6C Public Space Committee, has been active in trying to get this designation changed.

For Florida Avenue, a road diet has been endorsed by NoMa BID, Gallaudet University, ANC 6C, CHNNA, and others. This is an important public space improvement that has even been included in several DDOT and OP plans, but hasn't yet made it to the formal design stage or into a construction budget. It just makes no sense to have six lanes of motor vehicle traffic here, especially when it comes at the expense of trees and sidewalks.

Narrowing Florida Avenue (and making other simlar transportation improvements in NoMa/Near Northeast) will probably be on the ANC 6C agenda for December or January.

by Tony Goodman, ANC 6C04 on Nov 21, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

If you want to know what else is wrong with NY and Florida Ave., they serve as a barrier to bicycles. You can't ride on them and you can't really cross them easily, so they box in cyclists. Just look at a bicycle map of DC and you'll know what I mean.

by Ward 1 Guy on Nov 21, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport


Oh, neat. I'll need to get to one of these meetings. 6C04 runs itself so well that I've never felt compelled to need to attend one.

My ideal dream would be to make 6th St one-way, all the way from the Southeast Freeway, up to Penn St, and to use the reclaimed space for wider sidewalks and street trees (these blocks are currently treeless).

The current southbound portion only exists from K NE to Penn, and makes very little sense in the overall scheme of things. Southbound traffic on 6th isn't even allowed to turn left onto K.

There's a strong safety argument to be made as well for traffic calming on 6th. The area is home to an elementary school and a church with a very large and active congregation. There was an accident a few years ago that claimed the life of a young pedestrian, which resulted in a number of traffic calming measures and low speed limit. However, the street's width, double-yellow line, and lack of greenery all seem to make drivers ignore the speed limit.

Southbound trafic could be accommodated by funneling all southbound traffic from the Brentwood Parkway onto 4th St NE via Penn St. 4th allows southbound traffic along its entire length. For whatever reason, southbound traffic on 4th is fairly light compared to northbound traffic on 6th (and the lights are configured with the assumption that 4th receives way more traffic than it actually does). I think you could do it add a few extra cars without causing too much trouble, especially if you modified the 4th & Florida and 4th & K intersections to handle a bit more traffic.

by andrew on Nov 21, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

You can bike on Florida. I wouldn't recommend it, but I've gone northbound on FLA a few times when I've been in a hurry, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. If you've got more time, it's a lot safer to wiggle through the Dave Thomas Circle (on crosswalks), and head west on R St. The lack of a dedicated bikelane on R east of FLA isn't actually all that bad, since it's a pretty quiet street. Crossing Florida is another story entirely, although that's apparently being worked on(?).

There are also a handful of spots where you can safely cross NY Ave on a bicycle, although those take a lot of trial & error to find (and should be marked much more clearly). 4th, 5th, and to a lesser extent, 1st are all decent places to safely cross. However, sadly, there's no good way to get onto M St from the north.

by andrew on Nov 21, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

Andrew: While I agree with you that trees and wider sidewalks would be nice on 6th Street, I'm opposed to the idea of turning the road into a one-way street for the rest of its length. On the contrary, one-way streets simply encourage faster driving. When automobile drivers know that they don't need to worry about oncoming traffic, they tend to "zone out" and speed up.

That said, it's obvious that the traffic on 6th Street south of K knows that it's on a neighborhood street, while north of K, the lack of trees creates something of a signal that it's OK to go more quickly. So you have a good point that narrowing could help things out here.

The problem, of course, is the truck designation for the road, and the fact that southbound Brentwood Parkway traffic has to go somewhere. It seems like routing trucks onto Penn and 4th really just moves the problem elsewhere, making traffic in the market even more dangerous than it is now. Should the move be pushed further north, making trucks get onto New York Avenue after crossing the 9th Street bridge, if they're not for local deliveries?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Nov 21, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Andrew, please don't push too hard to make 6th one-way northbound all the way to Penn. 6th is the best connection from Brentwood/RIA/Brookland to NOMA. Otherwise, we'd have to go down to W Va Ave. or take NYA, the first of which is out of the way and the second is already overcrowded and takes forever. At least keep it 2-way to Florida. There's plenty of road space there to narrow the street if you get rid of the nose-in parking on the West side of the street, which isn't needed now that the funky flea market is much less funky. There's enough room in the northbound lanes for people to have attempted to pass between me and the parked cars (and have enough room to do it if I weren't quick on the uptake and cut them off'm stuck in traffic, you don't get to pass me, Maryland). That should be plenty of space to add lots of sidewalk and trees and bike lanes.

by Ms. D on Nov 21, 2011 2:27 pm • linkreport

@Ms. D

How would that change traffic patterns that significantly? Coming off of the Brentwood Parkway, you'd simply end up on 4th instead of 6th.

Narrowing 6th north of Florida would more likely be done along with the (perpetually-impending) redevelopment of the Florida Market, and actually makes a fair bit of sense given the proposed traffic plan for the area that was floated a few years ago. Moreover, it would help achieve the stated goal of uniting the Gallaudet campus with the redeveloped market.

by andrew on Nov 21, 2011 5:04 pm • linkreport


Heavy traffic isn't really the problem that I'm trying to solve. We're talking about a street that was widened at the expense of foliage and pedestrian amenities, in order to accommodate levels of truck traffic that no longer exist.

Right now, 4th St is capable of accommodating truck traffic, and receives fairly light traffic volumes. Diverting southbound traffic away from 6th St (for the 2 1/2 whole blocks where it's allowed south of Florida) shouldn't put too much strain on other roads.

4th is also a narrow street with stop signs and traffic lights. I don't think you'd see the "one way speedway" phenomenon that you do on streets like Constitution, which are wider, straighter, and have synchronized lights.

by andrew on Nov 21, 2011 5:38 pm • linkreport

Andrew: Understood completely about the levels of traffic, and I totally agree with you that 6th should be reverted back to where the houses/churches have front yards, a decently wide sidewalk, and trees. Just like exists south of K Street.

I was mostly making my comment about one-way streets becoming speedways just because I felt the need to get that on the record here in this thread! :)

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Nov 21, 2011 5:41 pm • linkreport

andrew, I guess that wouldn't make much of a difference, I just never take 4th because 6th is an option. My point still stands, though, that 6th is so wide that it could easily accomodate MUCH better sidewalks (I also walk in the area because I play ball at the Brentwood field occasionally), bike lanes, AND 2-way traffic.

by Ms. D on Nov 21, 2011 6:07 pm • linkreport


by Sue on Nov 22, 2011 11:49 am • linkreport

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