Friday Question of the Day/Dear PoP -Traffic Light Edition

Traffic Light Tree, originally uploaded by zakgollop.

“Dear PoP

I think Georgia Avenue could really take off once the economy turns around — as a business intersection with a great mix of old and new businesses. Hopefully if done right, it can be revamped, rebuilt and renovated to keep much of the old neighborhood’s interests at heart. But I think a huge problem is how many intersections there are long Georgia Ave south of the Metro station that don’t have street lights, only those intersections with the signs telling cars to stop for pedestrians. These are frightening intersections to cross — most cars treat Georgia Ave like a highway. I think if the area is to reach its potential, it needs to have street lights to make pedestrian traffic safer.”

I think this is an interesting question for Georgia Avenue and DC in general. Do you think Georgia Avenue would benefit from more traffic lights? Do you think other avenues would benefit from more traffic lights?

20 Comment

  • This was obviously posted by a non-driver. I think the solution to traffic is to put a stoplight at every intersection and alternate the signals so traffic moves one block at a time and the world is safer for…blah…blah…blah.

    The last thing Georgia Ave needs is another stoplight. Besides, when is the last time you have seen someone actually using a crosswalk on Georgia Ave? Most people seem to just meander across the street oblivious to oncoming cars. I figure if they can use any part of the road to cross I should be able to drive around them on the sidewalks…hehe.

    In all seriousness though drivers should check out the increase in fines and points for ignoring pedestrians. Something like $250 and 3 points for not stopping at a crosswalk. (not that is is ever enforced…Heck I see cops swerve around peds.)

    Last…everyone should check out a book called “Traffic, why we drive the way we do, and what it says about us” by Tom Vanderbilt excellent book that tackles this and many other issues.

  • I agree that drivers treat Georgia Ave like a highway. They treat Sherman Ave the same way. I think it would be beneficial to slow down traffic on both streets and try to direct traffic to North Capitol. That should be the main thoroughfare from Maryland into the city. Commuters should not be racing down either of the avenues.

  • A little off topic…but has anyone experienced the traffic light(s) at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Aves? Specifically, has anyone tried to make a left onto Missouri going northbound on GA? There are no less than 6 different traffic lights there and it is incredibly confusing to figure out which is the advanced green light….

  • I have no problem with adding traffic lights, as long as they’re timed so cars aren’t stopping at every single intersection (as is the case on numerous other streets in DC, save for 15th Street NW above Massachusetts Avenue, the only street in the city where the lights are timed in a sane fashion).

  • As a pedestrian, I like the idea of mandatory stops for cars at crosswalks, whether it is an ENFORCED fining/points system or physical signs and lights. As a driver, however, Georgia Avenue makes me livid. The measly few blocks I drive between Park and Princeton is littered with crosswalks, and this seems to make pedestrians feel comfortable stepping out into any old part of the road. Afterall, they really are never more than ten or fifteen feet from the crosswalk lines, right? Maybe if drivers are made to sit through lights, able pedestrians should be made to sprint across the road. My patience to the handicapable and those wrangling children.

  • georgia ave already takes fffoooorrrreeevvvveeerrrrr to get down… even up to onley maryland.. the lights are in synce at all! please no more traffic lights … it will then take me 20 minutes to get a couple of blocks!!

  • On that stretch of Georgia there is a school yet no school zone! Why is that?

  • Instigating a fight between pedestrians and drivers – come on man, it’s Friday.

  • Whatever happens, synchronizing the lights, as Matt B says, is essential. I drive way out of the way to use 16th St and 14th St, just to avoid the ridiculous and wasteful necessity of having to accelerate and stop at almost every light on Georgia. I imagine that frustrating experience adds to the problem of drivers’ not respecting pedestrians’ right to cross safely.

  • I think the other posters miss the point. This writer is saying that for BUSINESS to improve on Georgia Ave, more traffic lights are needed. There are too many case studies that confirm this to bother mentioning.

    OF COURSE it would be less convenient for drivers. That’s the point. To get rid of drivers who treat a neighborhood like a freeway and who provide nothing of value to the community they pass through.

  • Worst pedestrian AND car crossing = New Hampshire and Quincy

    Utterly impossible to navigate. Infuriates me every day.

  • I don’t drive much, but when I do, I certainly don’t treat GA as a “freeway”. It’s quite rare to get over 25mph without running a red light. If that’s what people are doing anyway, what would more red lights accomplish?

    Also, making businesses a huge pain to get to from other parts of the city (face it, a business there or anywhere needs some cross-town clientele to really thrive) may not be the best way to stimulate development.

  • I agree that should just be more enforcement. tickets for both the drivers that don’t stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, and for pedestrians who can’t walk 20 feet to the crosswalk and cross at the intersection.

  • Some of the blocks are too short to add traffic lights. Even if timed right it could potentially be insane to drive down Georgia Avenue. I have lived in Petworth all my life and have not had any problems crossing or driving down Georgia Avenue. I am mean, you are more opt to get hit crossing a damn crosswalk downtown then you are crossing the middle of GA at its busiest part. I do think that people drive a bit to fast down GA, but trust, lights will not help that situation at all…because there are some lights on GA, and yes it does depend on the time of day, that people run.

    A possible suggestion could be the traffic speed cameras similar to the ones on New York Avenue. I know people will slow down before they hit it and speed up after they pass it. But they can be placed strategically throughout GA and then and only then will people respect the speed limit. Sad but it is ture.

  • Speed cameras would be a help, but imagine how many pictures would be of police cars and buses. Also, please install U-turn cameras. U turns in the blocks by The House strip club are frequent. No school speed limit by the new charter school? Maybe because it is a charter school, which also allowed siting adjacent to Lion Liquor.
    The “sculpture” pictured reminds me of those bristly fake trees (“monopines”) that hide cellular antennas.

  • Again, we have a school at GA and OTIS but NO SCHOOL ZONE. Why is that?

  • Well, if we are going to push for lights on Georgia Ave and try to redirect traffice to North Capitol St as the main drag for getting in and out of the city, then we’d want to oppose the ‘proposed’ traffic circle on North Capitol, as that works against that goal.

  • I live on Georgia by Walter Reed, and the lights between my place and the Maryland border are absolutely ridiculous. Good timing or bad, it’s a pain in the ass to have 6 stop lights within a 10 block stretch of road.

    Not Telling points to stop lights being good for business, but I don’t buy that crock. People will still drive to the farther businesses if they can get to them quicker than the close ones. And just to get a mile into DC on Georgia takes 20+ minutes. As you can tell, I think that adding more lights is a terrible idea. Boo-urns.

  • Has anyone noticed how cars completely ignore the no left turn signs at Georgia + New Hampshire Ave? I’ve seen three cars in one change of the lights turn illegally.

    Also where the new trees are planted nex to the metro station the ground is already totally bare of grass b/c so many people are jaywalking. They either need to put up a fence on the median so people have to cross at the light or do something to protedt the dirt or all those trees will die from the soil getting compacted.

  • I agree; I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands every time I cross the Ave. on foot. The solution for pedestrians and motorists alike is the combination of more lights + synchronization of said lights (like on 13th St in off-peak) so everyone gets the age-old idea of _taking turns_. I go. Then you. We both get where we’re going alive.

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