The waiting game: Two intersections now safer for pedestrians
Delayed implementation of curb extensions at the deadly intersection of 15th and W, NW didn't stop DDOT from finishing strong. The intersection did not receive the quick-curb called for in the draft plan and hastily installed in July to slow drivers like the one that killed a pedestrian in May while turning from 15th onto W. Instead, DDOT has installed more permanent curb, and filled some of the bulb-outs with asphalt.
While the plan for temporary improvements at this intersection could have gone further to protect vulnerable road users by closing the slip lane from 15th to W and Florida, DDOT's implementation of the approved plan, though belated, provides a good sign that DDOT is serious about protecting pedestrians.
Still missing from the intersection are signals for pedestrians crossing 15th on the south side of W Street, forcing crosswalk users into a dangerous guessing game to cross multiple flows of automobile and bicycle traffic. To fix this problem, DDOT is currently working on an engineering design, which it anticipates will take another month. Installation would happen by mid-November, nearly six months after Ana Marie Canales was killed in another of this intersection's crosswalks. The real test, however, will come in the next six months: DDOT has stated that it will study these temporary improvements and then hire a consultant to completely redesign the intersection.
Another improvement for pedestrians comes at the intersection of 5th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, where DDOT had restriped two short sections of I Street to become one-way. That provided more space for crossing pedestrians and reduced the number of locations where drivers can make dangerous left turns from Massachusetts Avenue. However, as at 15th and W, drivers easily ignored striped pavement, creating a more dangerous situation for pedestrians not expecting drivers to travel against traffic on a one-way street. DDOT has since placed a large "Do Not Enter" sign, along with orange barrels and posts on the striped area. DDOT has an order for more permanent curbing but cannot say when it will be installed.
Residents and this blog hassled DDOT for moving slowly to implement promised changes at both intersections. Now, it seems, they have started to move more quickly, at least in these cases. While a lengthy planning and engineering process can be valuable for large projects, a NYC DOT-style approach to small projects like these can make a quick, targeted difference for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
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