Posts about Street Fairs
Most events on the National Mall or Pennsylvania Avenue have an open and inviting atmosphere, helping make DC a great place to live or visit. The annual Barbeque Battle, however, creates a fenced enclosure on Pennsylvania Avenue that makes downtown DC very difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate.
This year's enclosure fenced off 5 blocks as well as side-streets, forcing pedestrians on up to a 20-minute detour in place of what should have been a 30-second walk across the street from the Old Post Office.
An entrance fee of $15 precluded people from crossing. Worse, it also closed parts of the side streets, which further increased the walking time for those who thought they could just follow the fence line along Pennsylvania Avenue.
This is one of many special events that take place near the Mall that involve closing roads. Most events like races only require closing roads for a short period of time, and detours for motorists, especially on weekends downtown, do not tend to cause serious issues. Events that fence off whole sections of the city, however, impose real burdens on cyclists and especially pedestrians in a very high-foot-traffic area with many tourists.
As I took a detour over and around Freedom Plaza, I helped many confused (and, in some cases, angry) tourists navigate around the closure. At one point, a group of about a dozen people followed me, and later I had a line of about a dozen people waiting to ask me for directions. In addition, MPD officers were serving more as direction-providing guides than in their intended roles.
At 13th and E, a fire truck blocked the detour path such that pedestrians stepped over sign stands and sandbags between the truck and fence. An elderly woman visiting from Pakistan fell to the ground after tripping over a sign stand. She was all right, other than a bruise and a sore wrist.
Signs would help people navigate and find attractions
For a local, the detour is not particularly confusing; for a tourist, it is bewildering. Summer is certainly the time for DC to put its best foot forward in accommodating visitors and the revenue they bring. Standard pedestrian detour signs and highly visible guides would have helped unfamiliar visitors understand how to continue along their intended path.
Signs and guides might also suggest attractions along the way. For example, if you're already swinging all the way out to 14th Street to get around the festival, why not continue just a little bit more and check out the White House? Or if it's a toasty day (as it was during the BBQ Battle) perhaps highlight a local café along the route or a nearby CVS or 7-Eleven to get a drink.
Require regular openings for events
Similar to construction sites, enclosed events need ADA-compliant paths around fences. Closed sidewalks require pedestrians to walk around three sides of an intersection instead of one. People will often continue to make their way across the closed sidewalk and put themselves at risk.
I recognize that events cannot provide openings at every single block. Staffing costs as well as additional security barriers at checkpoints would likely make this infeasible. Furthermore, customers would feel it to be a hassle to have to repeatedly enter and exit through every gate, breaking up the continuous feel of an event.
Guidelines for these events should have either a maximum distance or number of block faces which may be closed to pedestrian movements along a single path. My suggestion is for a maximum 7-minute detour, which per the MUTCD-established walking speed of 3.5 ft/s would equate to a maximum detour of approximately 1500 ft. At the BBQ Battle, a single opening across Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th Street would have sufficed.
Some events will be unable provide for short detours, such as the inauguration. Those large-scale events are in a league of their own, and only the most unfortunate of tourists will be unaware of the event. Meanwhile, the more numerous and less epic events need to coexist with large numbers of tourists and locals.
Cross-posted at Philatransport.
Columbia Heights Day, featuring local music, food, family activities, a bike ride and more.
Remaking les écoles non-historique: Renew Shaw imagines how Seaton Elementary and Shaw Middle School, both at 9th, Q, and Rhode Island, could better integrate with the community and the street grid if and when DC overhauls these outdated buildings.
Marriott looking good: 14th and You attended a community meeting about the planned Marriott Marquis Convention Center. They're actually constructing two boutique hotels along with the main hotel, with a sports bar, coffee shop, and two restaurants at street level.
MoCo Residents Against Pesky Trees: The Gazette prints another letter from AAA's anti-tree lobbyist Lon Anderson and one from a resident on the Road Code. Just Up the Pike covers this increasingly ridiculous debate.
Those silly injured pedestrians, ha ha: A driver in New York got confused, "clipped two pedestrians", and ran through a plate glass window. The Post thinks it's hilarious. Streetsblog reminds New Yorkers that even non-critical injuries are no laughing matter.
[Autoposted while I'm in France]
As I write this, I don't know how Car-Free Day went. However, (assuming it didn't get canceled for some reason), we should thank and applaud DC officials for making it happen.
Nevertheless, we can and should do more next year. How about, instead of one small lightly-used block, we close one street (Pennsylvania Avenue? I Street? Some but not all lanes of K?) through downtown during lunch and have a big citywide picnic for office workers, accompanied by music and arts? How about (as suggested by commenter Tom) keeping the rush hour restrictions and setting up temporary street furniture in the parking spaces I know some of you will say it's crazy and will cause too much traffic. But all we need is to get enough people to go car-free, even just for lunch, and knowing that one of the several roads is closed will give people reason to do it. Besides, we close Pennsylvania for inaugurations, the Pope, etc. already.
I know some of you will say it's crazy and will cause too much traffic. But all we need is to get enough people to go car-free, even just for lunch, and knowing that one of the several roads is closed will give people reason to do it. Besides, we close Pennsylvania for inaugurations, the Pope, etc. already.
[Autoposted while I'm in France]
Unless something changed since I went off to France for the week, the Car-Free festival should be starting right now at 7th and F streets. Enjoy the free music, yoga classes, try out a SmartBike or get a bike tune-up.
Hie thee to Gallery Place between now and 3 pm! There's free valet bike parking, and the Circulator is free all day.
Say hello to the Ministry of Bicycling, or help them wave flags and hand out flyers. They're planning to arrive around noon.
Want to hold an outdoor festival? You have to get signatures of 90% of the businesses and residents within 500 feet (that's about two short blocks or one long block). In many other cities, street fairs are a regular sight on warm weather weekends. Vendors take over a few blocks of a major street, selling food, clothing and accessories. It's fun (and convenient) to serendipitously run across these fairs.
In DC, we have Adams Morgan day and a few others, but they are relatively few and far between. Does the high regulatory bar keep away more street fairs? Is that what we want?
Other cities' street fairs do have their problems. In New York, most street fairs are exactly the same because a small number of street-fair-organizing companies manage them all, but neighborhoods are starting to insist on changes. The ideal fair features neighborhood cuisine and diverse, interesting, local merchants.
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