Dear PoP – Pedestrian hazards on Q St, NW

1400_Qst_NW_8-23-09, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

Hazards on the streets and sidewalks are nothing new in DC, but when new obstacles develop it can be a painful experience for pedestrians. This sign on Q street NW near 14th is one such example. While walking with friends last night, I happened to look down to check a message on my phone, when BAM! I smacked into the bent sign pole. There is a debate about the problem of distracted pedestrians, however one expects to have a relatively free and clear path on the sidewalk. Hazards such as broken, low-hanging signs, and sinkholes can be dangerous and even deadly to the visually impaired, joggers, and yes, even to those distracted momentarily with phones, groceries, and pets. We should all be alert on the streets for such hazards, but sometimes when our senses fail us, it can lead to a painful impact.

DC is rife with hazards popping up on the roads and in neighborhoods, as covered many times by PoP. Often times the city government finds itself behind the curve in identifying, tracking and fixing these hazards. Other cities are meeting the needs of the citizens with innovative technology. The city of Pittsburgh, for example, recently introduced iBurgh, an Apple iPhone app, to help citizens report hazards and document problems on the streets by easily uploading pictures, location and descriptions of problems. DC should look to providing tools, such as iBurgh, to help citizens ensure government is responsive to problems. In the long run these tools will help DC government be more effective and nimble at addressing problems, and it could even save money and headaches by addressing problems before they develop into something worse.

The current web service request site for DC is here.

Info on “iBurgh” is here.”

I have to admit when I first read this I chuckled a bit. But the reader asks a good question – should DC have more up to date technology like the iphone app “iBurgh” to report problems like this?

37 Comment

  • lol at someone blaming the city government because they were distracted texting and walked into a signpost.

    i stepped on the end of a rake which swung up and beaned me in the nose. i blame fenty.

  • @Eric: If the city can collect fines for someone parking illegally at that sign, I think they should just as speedily fix it. Especially when its in the way of people walking, though there’s no money to be gained from that, is there. Government should be about keeping the city safe.

  • Hey PoP, I don’t think the link to the iBurgh app works. But I googled it and found an article about it here:

    Apparently it is designed by “YinzCam Inc.” of Squirrel Hill, which made me LOL.

    Honestly, though, I don’t think fancy web gadgets make or break city responsiveness to citizen complaints. It could be good if used well, or it could be a waste of money.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Thanks L. Link should work now.

  • Use a little common sense and pay attention instead of expecting Government to solve that problem for you. What most would like from Government is to reduce crime. That would keep the city safe.

  • oh i agree they should fix it, i just find this particular situation kind of comical. people running into signposts is for better or for worse always a source of much hilarity. also parking meters.

  • You can always call 311 to report hazards like these! Most of us carry our cell phones all the time– might as well use them.

  • What if while walking down the sidewalk and registering a complaint on the city’s iPhone app, you again bump into something and fall down and hurt yourself? Do you then use the iPhone app to register a complaint that the iPhone app caused you to hurt yourself? Hmm…

  • I’m guessing the writer is short. if you are on the taller side, you know to always look in front of you in DC or you walk into tree branches constantly.

  • Push the sign back…..
    ill do it this weekend….

  • I suggest planning your route, about 10 steps ahead of where you are

  • The city is actually responsive with things like this. You can twitter them (DDOT) or call 311 and put in a service request. The city is NOT behind in technology at this point thanks to the most recently departed head of the DC tech office (now an Obama admin guy).

    Also, this sign thing isn’t really that much of a hazard. Bend that thing back into place or just avoid it. It’s not some horrendous hazard to most people that needs immediate resolution. Just one person’s opinion here…


  • I love these people who absolve the lazy-*ss bast*rds in the DC government from doing work because the person who screwed up was texting. You numbskulls are why I am desperate to leave DC. You’re all a bunch of whiners who don’t deserve good things.

    This reminds me of a friend who used to b*tch and moan about liver transplant waiting lists for people who were alcoholics. A doctor once told me that ALL liver transplants were for alcoholics. That’s who needs a new liver.

    Once you get that. Once you understand that. Once you accept that then you can grow.

    Until then you’re a bunch of juvenile whiners who point fingers rather than do something with your lives.

  • Definitely call it in or do an online service request. You’d be doing everyone a favor. I’ve called in several of those spike-like stubs of street signs that were just waiting to impale a drunk on their way out of the 930 club, and the city will come out and fix it.

  • This is some kind of spoof post, like an April Fools edition of PoP, right?

  • T.n makes a really key point – why not just bend it back?

  • Actually Neener, my best friend died while waiting for a new liver, she was 17 and not an alcoholic… but I digress….

  • Does the iPhone app also force the city to come out and fix the problem. Just because you report something doesn’t mean anyone is going to respond to the complaint. It’s even easier to hit delete than wad up a piece of paper and hit a three pointer into the trash bin.

  • Neener, your split personality thing is happening again. Put Rage!ARRGG!HULKSMASH! Neener away, and bring out the nicer Neener.

    No one is absolving the city of anything. But I think that it’s good to exercise some basic due diligence to keeping yourself from harm, like keeping your eyes in front of you.

    I’m not sure why a program like iBurgh would be needed when we can call or email in service requests. It’s cool an all, but it seems like it would have a relatively limited audience — people who see hazards who also have iPhones with that app installed. Is the poster involved with the iBurgh product?

  • On the subject of pedestrian hazards that are the responsibility of the District, what about the messed-up sidewalks all over town? I see people tripping on them all the time, but I have a hard time imagining the District acting very quickly on complaints about this problem.

  • The letter writer does make a valid point about disabled or vision impaired pedestrians.

  • I agree that this poster is what is wrong with most people (everywhere). People will post on a message board rather than perform a google search, or email PoP rather than email City Services. Ridiculous. Asinine. Running into a sign is foolish. Emailing a blog with a complaint about running into a sign explaining your inability to find one of the myraid, and widely available, ways to register your service request is uber foolish.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    @Anon 10:15 he did call city services. He was just raising the issue of whether an iphone app like “iBurgh” would also be useful. So breath, relax, everything’s gonna be alright.

  • emailer: “I love my iPhone!!! My iPhone is the greatest thing ever! Everything should be on the iPhone!!! I have an iPhone!!!”

    I’m half-surprised this person didn’t start some stupid Facebook group (“People who have run into signs b/c they aren’t paying attention and then can’t report the problem via an iPhone app”).


  • The issue isn’t that he walked into a sign… he’s right that this could be a hazard to someone who is disabled or visually impaired. Any technology that could help address problems like these is a good idea and would help make the city a safer place for everyone. Kudos to Pittsburgh for being innovative and its citizens for being responsible and reporting hazards.

  • When I first saw the title of this blog post, I thought “Pedestrian Hazards on Q St NW” was referring to guys with knives, not signs that lean.

  • I actually think that having a way to report this stuff immediately when you see it is great (even if it only works for people w/ iPhones). All sorts of things happen when you’re not in front of a computer, and (at least for me) by the time I’m back in front of it I’ve usually forgotten about that stuff. Knowing that you can just take a quick pic, type a few words, and send while you’re standing right there is kind of neat, if you ask me.

    Also, kudos to the guy writing in for just admitting he did something dumb. I walk into sh*t all the damn time (no need to be texting; I’m just clumsy as hell).

  • Oh, and yay for my hometown being all techy and innovative. I guess that’s what you get with a bunch of CMU nerds and a 29 year old mayor. (I use the term “nerds” lovingly.)

  • Episode 1 of The Park View

    Neener: GGGGRRRRR. You’re all just a bunch of finger pointing whiners!

    its be a huge hit, i tell ya.

  • Maybe the more logical neener personality should use the name ‘neener’ when posting, and then neener’s other personality should use another name like ‘reneen’.

  • Has anyone noticed all the crosswalk signs that are no longer facing the correct way so you don’t know if you have a red hand or walk signal? How does this happen? They are a good 15 feet up! Is this something to call 311 about?

  • With due respect to those who are visually impaired and whatnot, yet more evidence that 90% of DC pedestrians are so completely unaware of their surroundings that they would be immediately consumed by lions if released into the wild.

    311 is pretty unresponsive on signs if they aren’t totally missing, I’ve been reporting a misplaced parking zone sign for months and it’s still there.

  • I’d use an iphone app to report problems **like** thisto the city. I think I would be more concerned about the pics being taken if the app supported that, or the drunkards out and about turning every little thing they run into or stumble upon as a problem.

  • There is an iBurgh like tool for DC to use, SeeClickFix.

  • oh, i think you should definitely report it. just don’t text it in whilst walking…

  • Awesome iPhone app: the phone. It’s also cross-platform compatible – works on blackberries, smartphones, and even old-school land-line phones.

    It’s really quite simple — and requires far fewer keypresses than almost every other iPhone app.

    You just press “3,” then “3,” then “1, ” then “Send.” It uses the highly advanced “audible communication” interface which miraculously can relay information without any typing all! Once your iphone and larynx complete the link-up protocol (it usually goes like this:

    “Hello, DC citywide call center, how can I help you?”
    “I’d like to report problem.”

    …you can use this advanced technology to report the problem.

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