Posts about One-way Streets
DDOT has made a number of changes to its design for New Jersey Avenue NW between H and N Streets from its previous draft in late July, but the main elements remain
DDOT hopes to begin work in late September 2013, according to Michael Randolph of STV Incorporated. The goal is to create a "more residential feel" for the road, as the 2006 Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project recommended. DDOT will not widen the road south of New York Avenue, but will widen it somewhat north of New York Avenue to accommodate the switch to two-way traffic.
The team made a few significant changes to the design which you can see on the above diagrams.
More marked crosswalks (drag the scrollbar to line up with the point marked B): Pedestrians will now have crosswalks on all 4 sides of the New Jersey/New York Avenue intersection. The previous plans provided no crosswalk across New York Avenue on the west side of the intersection.
This is a smart move, since pedestrians would and could legally walk across the intersection whether there's a marked crosswalk or not. Better to put some high visibility zebra striping there to let drivers know pedestrians should be expected and have the right-of-way.
New York Avenue median gone (also point B): The median island on New York Avenue has been removed and replaced by a new westbound traffic lane. Randolph said this was part of an attempt to separate traffic headed into the tunnel from traffic that intended to stay on New York Avenue earlier in order to relieve congestion.
This appears to be a loss for pedestrian safety. An island would allow half the road to be crossed at a time. Now, the elderly and other slow-crossing individuals will be forced to cross 7 lanes of traffic in one cycle.
Innovative bike lane corner treatments: The corner of K Street and New Jersey Avenue (point C) will no longer get the "innovative" bike lane treatment that routes cyclists next to the crosswalks at corners. Meanwhile, at New York Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, instead of having the tiny islands to route the bike lanes at all 4 corners, there are only 2.
Randolph said that DDOT determined there wasn't enough space in the intersection for this treatment. It's not clear why that is the case, and is unfortunate, given that DDOT plans a major cross-town bike lane for K Street NE/NW.
Slightly shorter bike lanes (point A): The dedicated bike lanes on New Jersey Avenue have been truncated somewhat. Instead of running the entire length of the project from H to N Streets, the lanes would stop at Morgan Street (which is located between M and N Streets).Randolph said, "The bicycle lanes were eliminated in this section to better match the typical section of the roadway to the north of N Street and to provide a transition zone for the cyclists between intersections." This answer doesn't really explain why it had to change.
A bay of angled parking spaces was added just north of I Street (to the right of point C), cutting into the sidewalk on the west side of New Jersey Avenue. This means reducing an area of green space to make room for the sidewalk that will now be farther from the street edge.
A sharper right turn onto 3rd Street is included in the design (point A). This will force drivers to slow down more before they make the turn which crosses a bike lane and crosswalk, and should make this corner safer. It also gives pedestrians a more direct path to cross 3rd and stay along New Jersey Avenue.
In addition to these specific changes, the project team talked about a few general issues.Pavement quality: Residents complained that rear-end crashes occur often on New York Avenue because of poor pavement quality. The project team will conduct a "geotechnical investigation" of the pavement on New York Avenue, from 1st to 4th Streets NW, to provide a "10- to 20-year fix" for the pavement.
A traffic analysis will be done for that stretch of New York Avenue, as well as New Jersey Avenue from H to N Streets. Residents hope this will determine the best way to get traffic headed towards the convention center through the neighborhood.
Overhead signs that direct traffic onto I-395 are large, highway-style signs that make the area feel more like a freeway and less like a neighborhood. DDOT will evaluate these in hopes that the city can remove at least one of the 3 that currently exist.
Leading pedestrian intervals: Residents asked about the possibility of having the walk sign come on before the green light at New York Avenue, so those walking across the street would have a chance to get a jump on vehicular traffic. Residents raised concerns about seniors having enough time to cross a road as wide as New York on foot.
Pedestrian bridge: A request for a pedestrian bridge over New York Avenue was quickly shot down due to both cost and practicality. The ramp to such a bridge would likely have to begin more than a block from the intersection for the slope to be gentle enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
DDOT will present additional alterations to the plan online sometime in January of 2013. There are currently no plans for further public meetings to discuss the project. Residents with questions or comments can email Abdullahi Mohamed, the project manager.
DDOT is on a roll changing roads from traffic sewers to multimodal neighborhood streets. It's remaking New Jersey Avenue, and now you can add New Hampshire Avenue in Foggy Bottom and the West End to the mix.
An upcoming streetscape project will add bike lanes between Washington Circle and Dupont Circle, bulb-outs at some corners, and change the one-way segment north of Washington Circle into 2-way.
The project will start in September and last until about March 2014. It includes a complete reconstruction from M Street to Dupont Circle, and just resurfacing from H Street up to M.
Washington Circle will get new crosswalks and traffic signals, which we discussed in March. Right now, Washington Circle is extremely unfriendly for pedestrians, and that will change with the project. In addition, the intersection of 22nd and K, just east of the circle, will get new pavement, crosswalks, and ADA-compliant curb ramps.
A lot of District streets were last reconstructed with a cars-only mindset. Engineers optimized all of the public space to maximize traffic, give pedestrians only the scraps left over, and make bicycles an afterthought at best. The changes, especially to Washington Circle, restore more of a balance and create a street for all users.
The sidewalks will stay brick south of Washington Circle, but the sidewalks north of Washington Circle will be concrete aggregate. Other Dupont-area streetscapes, like on 17th and 18th Streets, have chosen concrete with a brick strip along where the tree boxes are. It doesn't look like that brick strip is part of this one.
One concern I've sent to DDOT is to make sure the bulb-outs on M Street don't interfere with a future cycle track, as DDOT has promised to add. A cycle track on M would go along the curb lane. It might replace parking on one side, as it is on L, or if there is parking, the parking should go between the cycle track and the street. Either way, a bulb-out immediately adjacent to the current curb isn't right for a cycle track street. I'll update the post if I hear back.
Here is the presentation DDOT showed to community groups last night. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it; was anyone there who can relay any comments or concerns from the ANCs or other residents?
Much of New Jersey Avenue NW through the Mount Vernon Triangle area has essentially been a one-way off-ramp for I-395 for years. DDOT wants to turn this broad avenue back into a 2-way neighborhood street, add bicycle lanes, and have the bike lanes cross the intersection in a way that would be new to DC but is common in the Netherlands.
Currently, New Jersey Avenue NW is a 2-way street north of New York Avenue and south of I Street. In between, it's one-way northbound. Traffic getting off I-395 north at Massachusetts Avenue takes 2nd Street NW to New Jersey Avenue, which has 4 northbound lanes at I Street.
Drivers then race far above the speed limit to try to make it through the traffic light at New York Avenue, either continuing north into Shaw or turning right to get onto New York Avenue eastbound. Since MPD added a speed camera on 395, some cars use New Jersey Avenue as a de facto replacement for the interstate highway to avoid tickets.
As part of the Mount Vernon Triangle Action Agenda, DDOT is returning some 1-way streets in the neighborhood to 2-way. As new businesses and residents move into the neighborhood, the city wants to make the streets safer for all modes, instead of just being extended on- and off-ramps for the interstate highway stub.
Since 2006, DC has done this on the 400 block of L Street NW and 4th Street between L and Massachusetts. New Jersey Avenue is the next road in the neighborhood to get the two-way treatment, and the intersection with New York Avenue is the trickiest part of that project.
Proposed design includes 2-way traffic and bike lanes
As part of the presentation last Wednesday, the traffic engineers who have been working with DDOT presented 3 plans for that busy corner. The first plan did not include dedicated space for cyclists, but bike lanes were added to produce the third plan, DDOT's preferred choice.
The second plan, which was produced in-house by DDOT, essentially added slip lanes to all four corners of the intersection. This plan, which thankfully appears to have been thoroughly rejected, would have sacrificed pedestrian and cyclist safety in favor of moving automobiles through the intersection as quickly as possible.
Two additional benefits of this project are more usable park space and fewer traffic lights. The short stretch of 3rd Street between New York Avenue and M Street will be closed, allowing the small open space nearby to become a larger park. In addition, there will no longer be traffic signals at 3rd and New York, reducing confusion at a point where traffic lights are less than 100 feet apart on one stretch of a major road.
DDOT suggests different bike lane arrangement
The project team further refined the 3rd plan to add in a bike lane configuration new to DC, where the bike lanes follow the curb at intersections and bicyclists cross near the crosswalks. DDOT is proposing this at the 2 busiest intersections, New York Avenue and K Street.
WashCycle pointed out this video, which describes this type of bike lane arrangement and why it could be safer and better than the classic setup. The video says that the Dutch have stopped building bike lanes that continue straight through in favor of this configuration.
At a meeting last week where DDOT presented the plan, some people worried that the small islands that would separate the bike lanes from automobile lanes at these corners would make it difficult to plow in the winter or utilize street sweepers in the warmer months.
Here's a map of the final recommended alternative.
Valley Place SE stretches only two blocks in Anacostia, but the street maintains 5 houses (4 of which are occupied) that date back to Frederick Douglass' early morning walks through the neighborhood.
According to diligent researcher and mapmaker Brian Kraft, the five houses in the above photo were built in 1885 by Henry A. Griswold, a prominent developer and President of the Anacostia & Potomac Railroad Company.
This small, one-way street, despite being in the heart of Historic Anacostia, retains its bucolic charm. And just as they have for the last half-century, the resilient residents of Valley Place patiently wait for the neighborhood's renaissance to arrive.
Cars and streetcars could flow counterclockwise around a Mount Vernon Square enlivened with retail, seating and events in the park and along the Convention Center's façade, under draft recommendations the DC Office of Planning unveiled last night.
Mount Vernon Square resembles Dupont Circle in many ways. It carries just as much car traffic and sits at the crossroads of several major thoroughfares and transit lines. Yet as an urban space, few would rank Mount Vernon Square as successful. The Office of Planning (OP) hopes to change that.
The proposal recommends mid-block crosswalks to connect the square to the Convention Center on the north and to 8th Street on the south. This will help fuse all three sections together. In the square itself, OP recommends reprogramming the walkways and for a more intuitive pedestrian flow through the square and adding two small retail or food pavilions and outdoor seating.
Concept sketch showing streetcar path and retail pavilions.
On the north side, OP wants to rethink the south entrance to the Convention Center. The building is massive and has the potential to host more permanent attractions like a "mini-Smithsonian" or something similar. To enliven the south façade more, planners envision the construction of small cafes or retail spaces at the southwest and southeast corners of the building.
Much as the old Convention Center site now hosts temporary events, 8th Street from the Portrait Gallery/Museum of American Art to the square could likewise become programmed into an active public space. The study team said that the owner of the adjacent Techworld Plaza is amenable to accommodating more events.
DDOT will ultimately decide the traffic flow configuration, but the planners recommend a counterclockwise loop, much like the configurations at Stanton Park and Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill. The loop configuration will allow expanding the interior sidewalks of the square and would eliminate the terribly congested two-way stretch of 7th Street on the east side of the square.
The loop configuration will also accommodate extending the H Street streetcar line onto K Street from NoMA to Washington Circle. Streetcar stops along the edge of the inner square will enliven and activate the space throughout the day. If the streetcar uses "grass tracks" around the square as proposed by this video, the streetcar lane would also visually expand the park.
Under the recommended option, 7th Street south of the square would become one-way northbound, to match 9th Street which is one-way southbound. However, one-way streets have drawbacks. They tend to serve more as through highways than serving the local area, and downtown, especially on 7th Street, there is plenty of local activity. One-way streets force drivers to circle more to reach a destination, and reduce connectivity.
This study doesn't look at 7th and 9th farther south, but if such a plan were coupled with widening the sidewalks on crowded 7th Street, adding cycle tracks to 7th and 9th, and perhaps building bus lanes that aren't susceptible to the rampant violation the current ones experience, that could be beneficial; if it simply makes 7th into 3 or 4 lanes in the same direction and it becomes a high-speed northbound artery, it wouldn't be.
The other options the planners examined include making both 7th and 9th two-way, including through the square, while only turning the east-west roads into one-way roads, or making all roads two-way.
Finally, no lively public spaces project can work without permanent management. OP recommends something on the order of a business improvement district (BID) or a smaller management entity to clean and plant the square and adjacent triangle parks. This entity would also facilitate events on the square and manage leasing the Carnegie Library to a potential co-tenant of the Historical Society, which currently occupies the entire building.
To simplify jurisdictional issues, they suggest transferring the park and adjacent small spaces, like the "bow-tie" parks, to the District. Current NPS rules make it more difficult to enliven spaces, like their concession procedures which would greatly slow if not prohibit the proposed food pavilions.
OP will release its full draft recommendations next week, but you can view the 10 priority projects (PDF) now. What would you like to see at Mount Vernon Square?
DDOT is recommending pedestrian improvements, bike lanes, consolidating bus stops, two-way streets, a Wisconsin Avenue median, performance parking and more in their recently-completed Glover Park Transportation Study.
Toole Design Group conducted the study on behalf of DDOT. They conducted a survey of residents, which found that 33% commute by bus compared to 20% by car, and 75% walk to shops along Wisconsin Avenue compared to 25% driving. Here are some of their most important recommendations:
Pedestrian improvements: The study provides recommendations to improve pedestrian safety at various intersections, especially along busy Massachusetts Avenue. They include new graphic "turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" and "stop for pedestrians in crosswalks" signs, leading pedestrian intervals that let people start crossing before turning traffic, new crosswalks near bus stops, and HAWK pedestrian signals.
Sidewalks: The report also recommends completing sidewalks on both sides of every street, starting with parts of Cathedral Avenue, Watson Place, and Fulton Street.
Bike lanes: The report proposes creating new bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road. A bike lane on the northbound side of New Mexico Avenue heading towards American University would let cyclists more comfortably climb the steep hill more slowly than traffic, while southbound cyclists can merge with traffic as they go downhill at comparable speeds.
Another recommendation is creating a new bicycle route from 39th Street to Idaho Avenue and Porter Street. Additionally, the report recommends adding new bike racks along the Wisconsin Avenue commercial corridor and other key locations in Glover Park.
Consolidate bus stops: The study recommends consolidating some duplicate bus stops on Wisconsin Avenue. This could greatly improve the reliability of the 30s buses. It suggests repositioning "the bus stop on the southbound side at the Chevron gas station to the near side of the intersection with Calvert Street. Northbound and southbound bus stops on Wisconsin Avenue between Edmunds Street and Davis Street (adjacent to the Russian Embassy) should then be eliminated."
Currently, along the 30s line routes, some locations have multiple bus stops on the same block. This reduces the operating speeds of the buses as they have to merge into/out of the curbside lane to pick up passengers. Frequently, the buses also get stuck at traffic lights after picking up just one or two passengers at these redundant stops. Additionally, the merging buses create congestion for other vehicles in the traffic flow, further slowing down other buses along Wisconsin Avenue.
Combining these stops in Glover Park would also result in a higher number of riders at the newly consolidated locations. This would justify improved passenger infrastructure like covered bus shelters at these stops, further encouraging new ridership.
Off-board fare collection: Another important transit recommendation is to work with WMATA to install off-board fare collection equipment at busy bus stops. Such locations include all stops at the Massachusetts/Wisconsin Avenue intersection and all stops within the Glover Park commercial district on Wisconsin Avenue. Cities with successful bus rapid transit have installed ways to pay prior to boarding the bus, improving the operational efficiency of these routes.
Two-way streets: The Glover Park study also recommends converting one-way streets into two-way streets. In more suburban neighborhoods, cul-de-sacs increase vehicle miles traveled and walking distance by prohibiting direct access to major arterial streets. One-way streets create the same issue. Motorists have to drive farther with one-way streets since more direct routes to their destinations are not possible. Additionally, the study notes that the one-way streets in Glover Park create wider lane widths, encouraging people to drive faster than they would with two-way streets and narrower lanes.number of alternatives for the road, and settled on a configuration adding a median along the entire length, with the median ranging from 6' without trees to 10-11' with trees, and 4 travel lanes in most sections with some non-rush-hour parking, some full-time parking, and some center turn lanes.
Performance parking: To strengthen the commercial district, the report suggests a performance parking district for Glover Park. Residential streets would be resident-only (no 2-hour free parking for non-residents) on one side and metered on the other, while commercial streets would be metered on both sides.
When a group of residents on 15th Street asked DDOT to find ways to slow traffic on their "urban highway" of a street, DDOT planners created four alternatives. 15th street is much wider than necessary, with four northbound lanes that suddenly funnel into only one after New Hampshire Avenue. One neighborhood historian told me that this road was meant to connect to the east-west freeway at S and T streets. Without that freeway, we ended up with a high-speed expressway to nowhere. What to do?
DDOT created four alternatives: reduce the lanes to three, and add a single northbound bicycle lane; put a physically separated, two-way "cycle track" beside three lanes; convert the street to two-way operation with two lanes north, one lane south, and bicycle lanes on each side; or two-way with one lane in each direction and a center turn lane, plus the two bicycle lanes.
The two-way proposal stirred up significant debate, both here, at the local ANCs, and at the public meetings. According to DDOT's summary of feedback, 55% of emails supported two-way operation, while the rest preferred one-way (either existing conditions or one of the one-way alternatives). When asked to rank their preferences, the two-way choices earned a total of 230 "points," and the one-way alternatives 224.
Without a clear consensus, DDOT apparently doesn't feel comfortable changing the street to two-way. Besides, such a change would require new traffic signals, as would the cycle track. With little money, what can we do? Along with the feedback summary, DDOT planner Chris Ziemann sent a new, fifth option, for three northbound lanes, one northbound bicycle lane, and a southbound contraflow "cycle track" style bicycle lane:
From DDOT's letter:
The southbound bicycle lane would be temporarily separated with quick-curb and flex-posts with spaces between them for ADA accessibility, drainage, etc. At the intersections, there would be a sign indicating to bicyclists to use the pedestrian signal. This option has been used in many cities, including Montreal, Madison, New York, and Santa Cruz, but would be the first in the District and would serve as a model for others. It would also complement the request from businesses south of Massachusetts Avenue to maintain two-way traffic throughout the day. This could be a short-term solution that would not prevent the other alternatives from progressing, if it is deemed in the future that alternatives 3 or 4 are preferred.I'd still prefer two-way operation, but this is a good compromise. We get two-way bicycle lanes, and DC's first separated cycle track, like those that have been so successful in New York. A narrower travel area for cars will slow traffic, and we don't foreclose the option to make the street two-way in the future.
Last week, DDOT presented mostly-final plans for the 17th Street streetscape redesign in Dupont Circle, from Massachusetts to New Hampshire Avenues. This busy commercial street could use a facelift. And the project will make some valuable improvements and repair run-down elements to make a positive difference for the street. Unfortunately, though, the plan is more notable for the potential improvements it doesn't contain than those it does.
Much of the discussion at the ANC focused around brick versus concrete, which I don't feel strongly about; ANC members pointed out that brick costs a lot to maintain, can be slippery in winter, and individual bricks tend to pop up and create hazards. While brick is pretty, my street has concrete sidewalks, and looks very inviting because of two things: attractive buildings and trees. 17th's buildings are more mediocre, but with a better tree canopy and well-maintained sidewalks, it can be a more pleasant place to shop.
Unfortunately, some proposed improvements (like artistic sidewalk designs) were cut in the face of resident opposition. Meanwhile, the project's scope started modestly from the beginning, excluding some more meaningful improvements like two-way operation or narrower crossings at R Street.
What the plan does:
- Fixes the sidewalks. 17th Street's sidewalks are a motley patchwork of brick and concrete, some in bad shape. Everything will be redone, primarily as scored concrete. The commercial core, from P to R, will have more intensive scoring to distinguish it from the residential ends.
A brick stripe will separate the outdoor seating parts of the sidewalk from the walking parts, and brick will also fill the space between the tree boxes. Essentially, that will create a visual walking "lane".
- Adds a bike lane. 17th will now have a bike lane along the west side.
- Replaces light fixtures. The intersections will get new teardrop light fixtures, with upright "Washington globes" along the rest of the blocks.
- Rebuilds tree boxes. All tree boxes will have a consistent appearance, and contain cobble paving atop sand. Water will seep through the cobbles and then into the sand where the tree can soak it up.
- Squares up the Q Street intersection (maybe?) Q Street widens slightly as it approaches 17th. This gives cars more space to turn, meaning cars turn at higher speeds and make pedestrians cross a wider space. From the diagram, it appears that Q will get normal square corners. However, once source tells me that the project is only doing the sidewalks, not the curbs, so it might be an error.
What the plan doesn't do:
- Square up R Street. If Q is a little pedestrian-unfriendly, R is much worse. The intersection was rebuilt fairly recently to create very wide turning radii and push the sidewalks way back at the corners. We should undo that mistake asap, but officials said they couldn't fix that intersection since it was redone too recently.
Left: 17th and Q with squared corners, as planned(?) in the streetscape design.
Center: 17th and R, unchanged. Right: 14th and U with bulb-outs and decorative
pavement markings, from the 14th Street study.
- Add bulb-outs. Why stop at just squaring up the intersections so the intersection is no wider than the street... we should make them narrower, with bulb-outs at all intersections along such a pedestrian-rich street. The 14th Street plan has many bulb-outs, but this plan has none.
If DDOT only had the money to repair the sidewalks, won't touch any curbs and won't even fix Q, that makes sense, but is disappointing. But will we be unable to improve the curbs in the relatively near future, once we've spent a lot of money on the sidewalks?
- Restore two-way operation on 17th. 17th was originally two-way, as was 15th, but both were converted to one-way during the move-as-many-cars-as-possible era. One way streets are worse for business, since people can only drive past the stores in one direction. But restoring two-way was never presented as an option, despite my hearing some participants suggest it way back at the first meeting about a year ago.
Making it two-way would require finding space for loading, since right now many trucks load for the surrounding stores by double parking in one of the two travel lanes. We could accomplish that by replacing some parking with loading zones, though some people always object to losing any parking spaces.
- Add street furniture in the huge voids. 17th between Corcoran and R is perhaps the street's hub, with Safeway on one side and the hardware store (and McDonald's) on the other. But it's one of the street's least engaging sections, with huge empty expanses of brick and pavement on both sides. The consultants suggested benches and planters, but at last week's community meeting, most of the 40 people frowned on the idea, saying that homeless people already hang out around the McDonald's, and benches will just create a place for them to put their belongings and sleep.
There are ways to build benches that don't cater to sleepers, such as armrests dividing the bench into individual seats and downward-curving surfaces which are a little less comfortable but difficult to lie on. Even if benches aren't the answer, we should put something in this space to break up the visual void and engage people in a greater sense of place at this corner.
- Do anything more attractive. The consultants initially suggested a variety of design elements such as decorative seasonal banners or swirly sidewalk markings. As far as I know, all of these ideas disappeared in the face of criticism from some group of residents or another.
Left: One option presented in December 2007. Right: The recommendation presented last week.
The benches have since been removed from the plan.
- Employ modern stormwater technology. At last night's Capitol Hill Town Square meeting, landscape architects presented an impressive array of more environmentally friendly tree systems which also help the trees grow better, from permeable pavers which let the rainwater soak into the tree roots, to systems that direct stormwater from the roadbed into the tree boxes. (I'll post more about that as soon as I get the presentation.) This design has nothing like that.
We'll get another crack at this street in maybe 10-20 years. Maybe then we can fix R, get bulb-outs and even two-way operation, and cover the sidewalks with something just a little more artistic than pure unadorned concrete squares.
In the meantime, the issue of street furniture in the voids isn't closed. Perhaps there is a bench design that won't create the problems residents worry about. Or perhaps we can fill the space with something else, like public art.
The project started out with great potential to beautify the street, even if its scope didn't include more significant fixes. Unfortunately, it's morphed into basically a repair project. That's important. Still, it could have been so much more, and once we spend a lot of money on 17th, it'll be a while before we can again.
This evening is the DDOT public meeting about 15th Street. It's from 6-8 pm at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, 15th and R. The format will be an "open house" style, where you can peruse the materials and leave comments but don't need to sit through a whole long meeting; there will be presentations at 6:15 and 7:15 about the options.
WABA, CSG and other organizations support Alternative 3, which is two northbound lanes, one southbound lane, and two bicycle lanes, replacing the current configuration of four northbound lanes and no bicycle lanes. Alternative 4 is also good, with one lane in each direction and a center turn lane, but that will probably create more traffic than alternative 3.
Here are some reasons to support the change:
- It's safer. Traffic speed is the top factor in whether crashes are fatal; a 40-mph car hitting a pedestrian will kill that pedestrian 85% of the time, but at 30 mph only 45% are killed, and at 20% only 5%. Skeptics of the change say that it's safer because traffic going only one way is easier to see and avoid; with only three lanes instead of four going slower, it won't be hard to see and avoid traffic, plus a lower chance of death is much more important.
The biggest safety impact is at corners; when traffic is moving at high speed, drivers tend to whip around corners. Also, the faster you drive, the narrower the field of view that your brain pays attention to (because it's focusing more as objects come at your faster). That means that when turning, it's easy not to see people crossing at the corners. Some CakeLove/Love Cafe employees were hit crossing U Street recently, and the high speed on 15th is likely a factor.
- Neighborhood feel. Right now, walking across town, there's a big perceptual barrier when you get to 15th Street. Even though 16th has more traffic and is a more major road, somehow 15th feels like the barrier instead. Some people are used to the road the way it is. That doesn't mean it can't be better. Our neighborhoods should feel like neighborhoods, not freeways.
- Bicycle facilities. Bike lanes are good. We need more of them. This change will create them.
- Lower collateral traffic. One-way streets create extra traffic by forcing people going to or from that street to circle the block.
- Improve the 15th and Florida intersection. When 15th Street goes from four lanes to one at Florida Ave, everyone speeds and jockeys to get in line or make their turns, which is dangerous.
- It's even OK by LOS standards. Since there's so little capacity north of Florida, narrowing 15th won't substantially lower the overall road capacity (to the extent we're paying attention to LOS).
- Two-way will create morning traffic. It will just have one lane going southbound. Few people will get off 16th or 14th and go a few blocks crosstown just to take a one-lane street southbound. Maybe a few will, but not enough to make it feel like "traffic".
- I like the predictability. It's easy to cross against the light on 15th now because the traffic comes in waves and since the road is too wide, it's empty the rest of the time. But if just a couple people get hit because crossing against the light is so inviting and speeding drivers aren't expecting people due to the freeway feel, their injuries will be more severe.
- 16th and 14th have more pedestrian crashes according to the Pedestrian Master Plan. According to the map, the difference is very small, and 14th and 16th both have a lot more foot traffic because of the destinations on those streets. Therefore, it looks like 15th is worse per pedestrian-mile or person-crossing or by some such metric.
- Change the light timing instead, or put in red light cameras to cut speeding. Light timings don't really slow down cars; most cars just speed, then brake, then speed again, then brake. Red light cameras have some influence but not much. The biggest factor that influences drivers' speed is their perception of the street. The wider the road and the straighter the street, the faster they go. More red lights on a super-wide street lead to frustrated drivers; if the street feels narrower, you'll get slower drivers.
Jim Graham says so. Whether excessive hyperbole or not, his comment led to an ABC News story about speeding commuters, especially on 15th Street, and even a mention of the proposal to make it two-way. Via DCist (who thinks Graham was spot on).
Speaking of the 15th Street project, there's a public meeting on the proposals next Thursday (one week from today) from 6-9 pm at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church on the corner of 15th and R. It's an "open house" format, so no need to go for the entire thing; they plan presentations at 6:15 and 7:15.
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