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Where in Ward 3 needs sidewalks most?

Sidewalks are more than a way to get from one place to another on foot. They connect us to our neighbors and neighborhoods. And they become even more crucial as we age.

Children from the Franklin Montessori School enjoy the new sidewalk on Brandywine Street. Photo by George Branyan.

Iona Senior Services has spearheaded a pedestrian advocacy effort to focus on filling priority sidewalk gaps in Ward 3. This effort and has focused on updating the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT)'s 2008 map of sidewalk gaps for Ward 3 and proposing new procedures for closing gaps.

The Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2010, initiated by Councilmember Mary Cheh, establishes routes to schools, recreation and park areas, and transit stops as priority areas for filling in missing sidewalks. And when streets with no sidewalks are due for reconstruction or new curbs and gutters, the law requires building a sidewalk on at least one side.

Sharon Bauer, a former traffic analyst from Austin, Texas, with the assistance of DC Office of Planning, has put in many hours of work to update the DDOT map. She based her changes on the latest Google Street View data. The map includes quarter-mile radius zones (light blue circles) around schools, recreation areas and Metro stops. This is an approximately 5 to 10-minute walk, which we propose as the highest priority areas for filling missing sidewalks.

We have three categories of streets denoted by different colors:

We need your input

If you live, work, or spend time in Ward 3, please download the PDF file of the map and zoom into the areas you are familiar with—your ANC, schools, etc.

Focus particular attention on priority areas—the quarter-mile circles around significant pedestrian features such as schools, Metro stops, rec centers and playgrounds.

Check for inaccuracies on the map, especially the streets marked in RED (no sidewalk on either side) and GREEN (partial sidewalk on one or both sides or difficult to tell).

Then, go to this survey form to provide feedback or recommendations for areas that should receive high priority for sidewalk installation, or in some cases, point out areas where no sidewalk is needed or reasonable. You may also email your feedback to use at

Cross-posted at Forest Hills Connection.

Marlene Berlin is a community activist who has lived in DC since 1975. She is the editor of Forest Hills Connection, which covers the Forest Hills/Van Ness/North Cleveland Park communities. She is also on the Van Ness Main Street board.  


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I think this is great and well thought out. My one quibble is that sidewalks are not needed directly adjacent to park areas. For example the section of 42nd st in Glover Park is listed a yellow but the only sidewalk it's lacking from what I recall would be right next to the park and really it's not necessary. Including those areas makes the make too busy and excluding would really help hone in on needs especially in the target areas.

by Alan B. on Jan 31, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

@Alan B.

The fact that there aren't sidewalks in/adjacent to the park is a big problem actually. In lots of places you can't actually walk INTO the park.

by MLD on Jan 31, 2013 3:45 pm • linkreport

In a lot of places there are only sidewalks adjacent to the built portions of the area. There is no need to have a sidwalk on the other side of the street. No one would use it. The example I gave was where I used to live, so I spent a number of years watching people move around in the area. I'm totally in favor of having paths that go into parks, but that's not what this is about. This is about getting around neighborhoods on foot. A more effective map would hone in on the critical infrastructure needs. As it is it comes off a bit busy.

by Alan B. on Jan 31, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

We all know sidewalks will bring... you know... "undesirables" to this area of the city. Just like accessory dwelling units.

Two four six eight we don't want to integr... I mean, we must preserve the character of the neighborhood!

by Nick on Jan 31, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

Huh, Nick? Like "undesirables" are going to drive around and find sidewalks buried deep in the middle of Spring Valley?

The issue is, putting aside previous funding availability, is that in many of these areas there's not a lot of traffic, not a lot of cars parked on the street, and a fair amount of gardens built right up to the road, so the perceived need for sidewalks is not very high. One can disagree with it, but look at the biggest area of "deficiency"--Spring Valley. That's pretty suburban and the need for sidewalks is less there than other parts of the city (it is fair to debate how much less).

by ah on Jan 31, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

Would be nice to do this in other Wards of the city who have as much need for walkable streets.

by Some Ideas on Jan 31, 2013 5:01 pm • linkreport

If new sidewalks are built, how about undergrounding the electrical wires at the same time?

by Bob on Jan 31, 2013 5:16 pm • linkreport

I'm all for sidewalks, but rather than trying to build sidewalks on every tiny street, it would be good to focus first on important routes where existing sidewalks are downright unsafe and inadequate for pedestrians. My first nomination is Reno Road/34th Street between Tilden and Porter Streets. There's no sidewalk on the east side south or Rodman (but there is a path along the parkland). More important, the sidewalks between Rodman and Porter are painfully narrow and further blocked/obscured by road signs. These walks are heavily used by school kids and other pedestrians and there is no treebox or other buffer from passing traffic. It's impractical to widen the sidewalks into the narrow front yards of adjacent homes which themselves closely hug the street. The most practical solution is to eliminate the mostly useless center turning lane on Reno/34th, to narrow the roadway and pedestrian crossing distances and provide more buffer between the traffic lanes and wider sidewalks. The center turning lane encourages drivers to drive faster because it gives them a "highway-like" sense of median separation. And, except perhaps at the most major streets, the center lane is not needed. Indeed, Reno has no turning lane between Fessenden and Western and 34th has none between Garfield and Mass. Ave., and the traffic moves there at a saner, quieter pace.

by Bob on Jan 31, 2013 5:32 pm • linkreport

Guys, this very exercise is meant to show where to prioritize putting the sidewalks.

by Drumz on Jan 31, 2013 5:48 pm • linkreport

@Some Ideas: Yes. This should be an exercise done District-wide. It's great that Ward 3 folks are agitating for more sidewalks. But, this evaluation should be done District-wide.

by EMD on Jan 31, 2013 9:28 pm • linkreport

To Marlene Berlin,

You have done a great service as both an advocate, by taking action and asking for feedback. But...

So, who is going to step up and do this kind of review for the other wards of our city? Your organization, DDOT, GGW? The entire District of Columbia deserves the same level of effort.

by Some Ideas on Feb 1, 2013 7:50 am • linkreport

@Some Ideas

I know Marlene has tried to catalyze this city wide. Maybe this is the spark to try to get more involved, both with on-the-ground knowledge, advocacy and funds needed to complete the technical prototype and evaluation?

by Andrew on Feb 1, 2013 7:58 am • linkreport

It's Ward 3 because Mary Cheh is being the advocate for her district here. Why not make this exercise a success by contributing and then having a reason to expand the process to the other Wards?

by Alan B. on Feb 1, 2013 8:39 am • linkreport

@Bob - yes! I run on that part of Reno/34th frequently and would appreciate a sidewalk there as well as on the west side north of Huntington.

by andy2 on Feb 1, 2013 10:02 am • linkreport

They ought to do this kind of survey in every urban environment. Not that every street needs a sidewalk, but if we are serious about pedestrian safety, combating obesity, and promoting community, this is an essential step (Haha) to retrofiting our communities for a positive outcome.

by Thayer-D on Feb 1, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

Bob, Undergrounding lines is not in the same league as putting in a sidewalk.

by Christine on Feb 1, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

The section of 42nd Street NW in question, from Tunlaw Road to the point where it becomes "W" Street, is problematic with respect to sidewalks on the west side of the street. Much of the right of way was cut below the existing hillside grade, or was built up to standard street grade because the land dropped away at that point. On some stretches of the street, if you park on the west side and try to exit the passenger's side of your car, you will either walk into a steep hillside, or, after a few steps, tumble into the abyss. There are entries into the park at the Tunlaw Victory Gardens, at the intersection of Davis Place, and at various other places where the street grade is level with the natural lay of the land. Another factor here is that the right of way owned by the District extends only a few feet into Glover Archbold Park, and the Park Service routinely denies DC requests for improvements that encroach on the Park.

by Publius Washingtoniensis on Feb 1, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

Private schools, for example Our Lady of Victory, Sidwell Friends and American University, are not identified.

Major recreation areas are omitted such as Battery Kimble park and Fletchers Boat House.

Public libraries should be included.

W Street Park is hardly a recreation area.

The 2300 block of Nebraska Ave has at least one good sidewalk its entire length and should therefore be yellow.

by PhilGP on Feb 1, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

On the source of the helmet information -- The Bike Helmet Research Foundation -- the main info i could find about them on the web is that they are "a clearinghouse for cyclicsts who doubt research on that points to the effectiveness of helmets." Not exactly a credible source? Certainly a possibly misleading name

by Tom M on Feb 1, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

PhilGP: That is very helpful feedback - can you please copy and paste into the survey form?

by TJ on Feb 1, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

I live on a street that has very narrow front yards. Two years ago, when people on the street were asked whether they wanted a sidewalk, the majority declined. Traffic is low and the street is a dead end. At the same time there is a street nearby that has no sidewalks and is a block from a school. There are also many other wards with heavy traffic and no sidewalks where people desperately need them. In a time of limited funds it seems sensible to make these our first priority.

by MB on Feb 10, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

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