From Allison Acosta. Email her at allison[AT]borderstan.com.
A new report from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) shows that many of the crashes involving injury to pedestrians and cyclists in 2010-2012 took place in Borderstan’s neighborhoods. The DDOT report analyzed the top 5 percent high hazard locations using data from crash reports over the last three years.
Of the 24 hotspots for pedestrian crashes in DDOT’s report, 10 were in the Borderstan area. Four of the most dangerous intersections for cyclists were in our neighborhoods.
The stretch of U Street and Florida Avenue between 6th Street and 18th Street NW seemed to be particularly dangerous, with 15 crashes involving pedestrians and 13 involving cyclists.
The city’s most dangerous intersection was at 14th and U Streets. Pedestrians were struck by vehicles seven times and cyclists six times at this corner, adjacent to the Reeves Center. This corner has long been one of the most hazardous in the city.
DDOT spokesperson Monica Hernandez said the U Street Streetscape project will include work to smooth pavement and sidewalks between 9th and 14th Streets along U Street NW. It will also make the sidewalk on the south side of U Street between 13th and 14th Streets ADA compliant, under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the project does not include plans to improve signage or pavement markings at these intersections.
According to the report, the intersection at 18th and Florida Ave has already undergone construction to improve safety and an improved design has been completed for the intersection 13th and K Streets. Improved pavement markings and signage were recommended for several of the other intersections in our area.
On March 13th, Noah Smith (ANC 2B09) plans to introduce a resolution on the recently introduced Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013 at 2B’s ANC meeting. Smith’s amendments will aim to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists in the bill originally introduced by Council members Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells.
From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
Last Thursday, the ANC 2B/Dupont and ANC 2F/Logan Advisory Neighborhood Commissions ANCs held a joint meeting to discuss bicycle safety (Dupont-Logan Bicycle Safety Meeting Thursday Night). Dupont ANC 2B Public Safety Liaisons Kishan Putta and Noah Smith and Logan Circle ANC Crime and Public Safety Chair Chris Linn provided Borderstan with this recap of the meeting.
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Residents told transportation and police officials that bike lanes need to be smoother and safer and that more enforcement against unsafe biking on sidewalks is needed, at a Dupont-Logan bike safety meeting last week.
The meeting, attended by more than 50 residents, was the first of its kind in Borderstan and was organized by Dupont Circle ANC safety liaisons Kishan Putta and Noah Smith and Logan Circle ANC liaison Chris Linn.
Putta and Smith held a general community safety meeting in June, where bike safety concerns were aired (Dupont Safety Forum: Homicides, Bikes, Smartphones, Bias Crimes) and that led to last week’s robust discussion.
According to Putta, “It is instructive that the number of neighbors who attended increased from our first general safety meeting. This points to the importance of pedestrian and road safety on the minds of our neighbors and they can count on us to work to address their concerns.”
Mike Goodno and George Branyan from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) explained what the transportation agency is doing to improve road safety pertaining to bicycle-related issues, such as new bike lanes on N Street NW, 13th Street NW, New Hampshire Avenue NW, L Street NW and a potential lane on M Street NW that requires further study of the other lanes.
The DDOT officials were asked about the heavily used 15th Street NW two-way “cycle-track” and said that it is possible that the city could repave it if there was enough interest and concern. Yolanda Strachan, a meeting attendee, said, “I really hope Kishan [Putta], Noah [Smith], and Chris [Linn] will help us get the 15th Street lanes smoother. Right now, the southbound lane is so bumpy that I’m always switching lanes – but that’s not safe for the northbound bikers.”
Some residents raised concerns about bikers riding on sidewalks, especially where bike lanes are available. Police Service Area 208 Acting Lieutenant John McDonald clarified that biking hazardously on sidewalks is illegal everywhere, but otherwise, District law allows sidewalk biking in neighborhoods outside of the Central Business District. He admitted that “what is hazardous” is a subjective determination.
Shane Farthing, president of the Washington Area Bicycle Association, said that his organization “takes the long view” on these issues, and said that the recent biking boom in DC is going to take adjusting by all parties: bikers, pedestrians, and drivers.
Strachan (the attendee) said she believes Putta, Smith, and Linn “have a real opportunity to improve community safety if they keep listening to residents and getting them involved and working with the District to make changes.”
Putta, Smith, and Linn said they plan to follow up with their ANCs later this month and then start working toward next steps on both bike and pedestrian safety issues this fall and winter. All three are running for ANC seats on their respective commissions.
From Maggie Barron. You can reach her at maggie[at]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @maggiebarron.
Despite DC’s high marks in pedestrian and bike safety, there are still some intersections where we should tread cautiously. In a new performance review, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) identified 24 of “the most dangerous intersections for pedestrian crashes over the past 3 years.” Two of those are in the Borderstan area, and another 11 are directly surrounding us — any guesses as to where they are?
If you picked 14th and U Streets NW, you’re on the money. The other one to be aware of is at 12th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. This isn’t surprising for anyone who has tried to cross there as aggressive northbound vehicles turn left onto Massachusetts.
In terms of other nearby hotspots, 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights made the list three times at Columbia Road, Irving Street and Park Road. And those walking along K Street should be extra-alert, as the intersections of K and 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Streets NW all made the list.
In a hearing last Friday before the City Council, Neha Bhatt, chair of the Pedestrian Advisory Council, testified that over 10% of DC residents walk to work. According to data in the DDOT performance review, since 2005 the number of crashes involving pedestrians has ranged from 567 to 782 per year, with a much smaller number of incidents (14 to 25) resulting in fatalities. (Hat tip to TBD’s John Hendel for covering the hearing, which was apparently poorly attended by DC council members).
As far as transportation goes, DC often gets a bad rap. Sure, we have the country’s worst drivers, and we may be approaching “metrogeddon” with the 8-month closure of the Dupont Circle southern escalators.
But there’s good news. We also rank among the top U.S. cities in terms of our bicycle and pedestrian programs, according to a study out this week from the Alliance for Biking & Walking.
Of the 51 largest U.S. cities, the District boasts the highest per-capita funding for cycle and pedestrian facilities and education. The report, Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, says DC spends approximately $9.82 per resident to promote biking and walking. Nationwide, states spent on average just $2.17.
Not surprisingly, the report identified a virtuous cycle of infrastructure investment, improved safety and increased bike and pedestrian commuting. Among those 51 cities, DC also had:
- the second highest share of commuters who walk to work (after Boston).
- the seventh highest share of commuters who bike to work.
- the second lowest rate of car ownership (after New York).
- The sixth lowest rate of bike/ped fatalities.
In a press release, Mayor Vincent Gray celebrated the news:
I have made it clear I want the District of Columbia to be the most sustainable, walkable city in the nation. It’s great to see where we stand among our peers and that we are making real progress toward that goal.
This report gave me quite a bit to think about. We often hear about drivers acting aggressively towards bikers, or of problems with pedestrians and cars. Getting around in DC is far from perfect, but think about how much worse it must be in other cities. If we are sixth in bike/ped safety (and I still can’t get a car to stop for me at the crosswalk at 14th Street and Wallach Place NW), then what’s it like in Fort Worth, Texas, which ranks 51, or Phoenix (#48) or even San Diego (#23)?
Another thing I found particularly interesting in the data was that the share of commuters biking and walking seemed to have nothing to do with the weather. The number one state for biking and walking was Alaska! Number two was Vermont. Eight of the 10 top states have snow on the ground pretty much all the time, while states like Florida and Texas ranked dismally. So as I bundle up to walk to work tomorrow, at least I’ll have my pride to keep me warm.
Welcome to the second edition of Urban Etiquette. Every two weeks Borderstan contributor Mike Kohn will be writing about some common-sense rules of etiquette with an urban twist. Why? We live in a densely populated area of a big city, which makes treating others with basic respect and thoughtfulness even more important. We welcome your ideas for future columns.
Let me paint you a picture.
You’re walking down the street. You’re a Borderstan resident, so you’ve got a political function to attend, a media party you’re stopping by, a happy hour you’re meeting friends at, etc. You did your best to get out of work on time, but that last minute crisis took longer than expected, so you’re of course running a few minutes late. You approach the light at Dupont Circle and you see the white man just about to change to the red hand and you think to yourself, “I’m gonna make it!” And then it happens.
One rule of the sidewalk: If you’re with a group, instead of forming a giant wall, break into smaller pieces to walk together. Don’t be those people who take up the entire sidewalk. It’s annoying.
From Michelle Lancaster. Got news for Michelle? Send her an email.
Sad But True Stories: Bike and Pedestrian Safety Hearing
TBD liveblogged the entire hearing, and there are some stories you shouldn’t miss. If you ride a bike, there are some horror stories to make you feel better about your own experiences. As a pedestrian, I am nervous of a few key intersections in Borderstan — the dog park at 17th Street in between Swann and S Streets in particular — and the stories of cars hitting people in crosswalks does little to alleviate that concern.
From Michelle Lancaster
What Does $32K Get You In DC?
New Economic Security Survey Says Quite a Bit
A new cost-of-living analysis for the region reported in The Washington Post indicates that for single people without kids, DC is surprisingly the cheapest living option. Though the report includes some assumptions that may not be true for all DC residents – not having a car, for instance – and most Hill staffers will admit that their first paycheck doesn’t go that far at all, the report suggests that the District is the cheapest jurisdiction in the metro area.
Going one step further, the report also includes key data on the growing gap between top earners and bottom earners that could (and should) shape future city policies to improve economic security.
Pedestrian Safety in DC
DDOT and USDOT Intervene After Rash of Pedestrian Deaths
As DC ponders ways to improve streets, the last two weeks indicate that something is amiss for those traveling on DC streets. We reported on Kiela Ryan, the young woman hit and killed in Dupont, in last week’s round up. TBD on Foot has a full recap of the additional tragedies from the past several days and today’s DOT discussion, which placed much of the blame on cell phones.
14th and U Streetscape Plan
What’s There & What’s Missing
Greater Greater Washington has the most detailed review of the proposed plans for sidewalks and streets around the 14th and U intersection. Bus bulb outs and bike lanes have garnered a lot of praise and attention, but do the plans go far enough to provide residents a better streetscape for travel and civic space? Check out the comments for a microcosm of how residents view the Reeves Center area.
‘Sex Test’ Raises Furor
Or Does It?
Georgetown Dish filed the initial report, citing parental outrage at the “graphic” nature of a “sex test” survey administered to Hardy Middle School students. TBD’s Amanda Hess has the response from sponsor Metro TeenAIDS, whose director takes issue with the number of complaints. Check out both reports. What do you think about the survey? Let us know in the comments below.
Top DC News Out of the Borderstan Area
DC Cop Hits Transformers 3 “Bumblebee”
The filming of several scenes for Transformers 3 has several city streets shut down this week. Despite posting all the closures, it appears that a DC police SUV made it through the closures while responding to reports of a suspicious package. While en route, the SUV was T-boned by the yellow ‘Bumblebee’, one of the “good guys” (or Autobots, for those of you watching cartoons in the ’80’s). I am trying to ignore the irony, since in the first movie, a “bad guy”/Decepticon was a police cruiser. DCist has the video and report.