Greater Greater Washington – I Need Your Help

DSCN0960, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

16th Street just south of Park Road, NW is blocked to pedestrians. I understand that there is a turn lane here. But can’t they put up a yield to pedestrian sign or something like that? First of all the (not so) temporary barricades look terrible. But secondly, and perhaps I’m just being lazy, it’s a pain in the ass to walk all the way around when you just want to proceed north on 16th Street. Am I crazy? Or should they come up with some type of solution to remove these barricades?

25 Comment

  • Complaint is seconded! It forces pedestrians to walk in the street, which is even less safe. A crosswalk and yield sign is a no-brainer.

  • I at least agree that this corner is weird.

    Especially on the weekends, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic here and perhaps the idea is that it isn’t safe for them to have access to the street. But since the barricades only extend for a few feet past the intersection, it isn’t really stopping anyone from crossing here. I cross all the time by cutting in between the cars past the barricades.

    The parallel parking on both sides of this narrow street also make it dangerous for pedestrians. But then why not eliminate the parking on one or both sides of the street so potential crossers are more visible to vehicles turning?

    And if the intent is to prevent pedestrian crossings forever, something more permanent needs to be erected. These look like they were put up for a festival and the city forgot to retrieve them.

  • Those barricades went up during the Mt Pleasant riots in ’91 – been there so long they’re just part of the scenery to me. That said, they really should go and a more pedestrian friendly setup for that area should be designed.

  • yeah, those things have been there forever.

  • many cities (london springs to mind) have these sorts of barricades all over the place. actually kind of weird that DC doesn’t now that I think of it.

  • I used to make that turn via this access road to go west on Park about 10 years ago, but I no longer do. Pedestrians just walked and stood in the street and one time when I honked, the guy just pointed to the church like, “I’m going here. I’m doing god’s will. Why are you honking me?” That access road is usually filled with parishoners and park attendees on weekends so it’s not a “normal” intersection.

  • Eric in Ledroit:

    European street barricades are controversial:,1518,448747,00.html

  • oh Europe! you guys are so hilarious!

  • Complaint seconded. Although, I wonder other reasons it could have been put there….. for general safety, especially for children?

    As much as zebra lines and yield signs clearly indicate rules for cars, they aint stoppin Joe McGetouttamyway

    What could have put these barracades there in the first place? Maybe an incident?

  • I’m confused by the title of this post. Does it somehow relate to the very good blog “Greater Greater Washington” or am I’m being dim this morning?

  • An incident? Yes. As I posted above – the ’91 Mt Pleasant riots:,_D.C._riot_of_1991

  • My guess is that they’re there to keep the pedestrian traffic, which can be sizable during the weekeknds, from spilling into the street. I don’t mind them.

  • This is right in front of Sacred Heart. On the weekends that sidewalk turns into a somewhat crowded latino market. I speculate that the overflow into the street could make it nearly impossible for cars to use that section. You must go onto that little road to turn left onto Park so there is potential for great disaster.

    Is it really that difficult to cross at Park? If you are going north you just continue in front of the church and cross at Park – maybe 10 feet out of the way. If you are going south, cross and Park and continue on your way. This is much ado about nothing!

  • As someone who lives across the street from this corner, I find it very annoying as a pedestrian. I think a yield to pedestrian sign would be great and some sort of opening so you don’t have to go completely around the barricades. When you are a pedestrian commuter and time is the essence it can become really annoying. And I agree, it looks like some sort of street festival leftovers.

    On the other hand….I no longer have a car, but when I did, I found the crowds on weekends to be pretty horrible there and potentially dangerous. I second the elimination of street parking on the tiny road in front of Sacred Heart. And really, not that many drivers use that road to begin with right?

  • This intersection along with several others were to be redesigned and reconstructed under the Columbia Heights Public Realm Plan and the CH Mt.P Traffic Study Recommendations. DDOT and city leadership decided to focus on more politically advantageous projects and set this to the side. This area remains untouched primarily as a matter of neglect.|32399|

  • Where such barricades are used in Europe, the formwork is more attractive than these temporary steel things and pedestrians are given a designated crossing point elsewhere.

    I have no problem with barricades for public safety, but I fail to see how this intersection warrants a greater need for safety than any other intersection in the neighborhood or city, and if pedestrians shouldn’t cross there, they should be given a crosswalk further up the block.

  • I assumed they were there to keep the Sunday pedestrian traffic from being all over the street. Also so that cars can easily come off 16th Street for the left turn onto Park without stopping in the middle of 16th Street for random pedestrian traffic.

    They do not “force you to walk in the street.” There is a perfectly good sidewalk there and the barriers add maybe 50 feet to your walking distance along that stretch on 16th Street (i.e. you have to walk an extra 50 feet to get from the corner of the church & Park back to 16th.)

    If you feel like it’s dangerous to walk in the street or cross in between parked cars I have some advice for you – use one of the crosswalks that is half a block away.

  • When I run south along 16th Street and the sidewalk in front of the church is full of people, this barricade fencing forces me out into oncoming traffic on 16th Street. Good times.

  • It does seem kind of silly, as that turn lane is nothing more than a jughandle for people trying to take a left onto park from 16th street. It would be easier just to use the barricades to close off that turn lane from 16th street on market days and not use them at all during the week, no?

  • Heh, DCMom says it’s 10 feet added to the crossing (by following pine street rather than going straight up 16th) Anonymous guesses that it’s 50 feet. Google maps says it’s 130 feet. Something tells me the wild guesses above reflect about how far the commenters themselves are willing to walk without driving .

  • Look, it’s quite simple: driving is normative behavior. Walking is for freaks and malcontents.

    Starting from that position, since there is nothing that we can do to make drivers slow down and pay attention–at least nothing that won’t be a slight inconvenience to them–I’m afraid we need to put up these barricades. Otherwise, drivers will run down pedestrians here.


  • By DC statute, drivers are required to stop and give pedestrians the right of way at both “marked” and “unmarked” crosswalks at unsignaled intersections (as well as when peds start with a “green” or “walk” signal at a signaled intersection). Crosswalks exist at all intersections, regardless of whether there are any markings — see for the definition. The relevant DC Code provision is 50-2201.28 (available online at

    The barricades in the photo appear to be obstructing pedestrian access to an “unmarked” crosswalk at the unsignaled intersection of Park and 16th. Assuming that’s correct, this is yet another case of the DC government abusing its authority by burdening the rights of pedestrians, rather enforcing the law as it is written, which would require that public safety be protected by ticketing and/or arresting drivers who break the law.

  • My guess is that DDOT erected the barricades to prevent pedestrians from crossing a dangerous intersection. The wide angle at Pine and 16th, coupled with the turn lane, encourages drivers to make the turn at 30 mph or above, leading to potentially deadly conflicts with pedestrians. The plans that W Jordan posted would correct this problem by decreasing the curb radius and allowing for left turns onto park from northbound 16th St.

    Until those plans or something similar get implemented the walk up the east side of 16th St. will be unnecessarily tortuous.

  • If 16th Street traffic wanting to turn left onto Park Road could do so from 16th Street, instead of doing the circuit of the park, then there would be negligible traffic on Pine, and those wretched bike-rack barricades could come down. The Mount Pleasant ANC has been pressing for this change for a few years now, and reported DDOT is ready to make the change. It’s time we arranged things for the benefit of pedestrians, and residents of the neighborhood, instead of designing everything solely to expedite commuter traffic racing out to the suburbs.

  • I should note also that this change was written into the Columbia Heights Traffic Study, issued more than five years ago. One of the objections raised to making this change is the reversible traffic lane on 16th Street, switching direction on one lane to expedite rush-hour traffic to and from the ‘burbs. This sort of complicates the left turn from 16th. But that’s an illustration of DDOT’s insistence on expediting commuter traffic flow, at whatever cost to pedestrians and residents.

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