Dear PoP – How Do I Get Speed Bumps on my Street?

“Dear PoP,

I just found this letter in my mailbox, from DDOT…

It’s regarding construction on 1st St NW right next to the dunbar football fields..

DDOT letter

and here’s my Rant:

I’m planning on calling them today to ask why they can’t put in speed bumps at the same time – people speed down that street so fast, and there are cross walks where little kids going to the charter school nearly get flattened every morning and afternoon… that’s unless it’s gridlocked by the NY ave traffic… and bringing this down to one lane during construction will be a nightmare…

how do i get them to do a traffic study or something? I don’t know if a four way stop sign at 1st and N is possible, since traffic would back up into NY AVE, but my dog and I and every family in the area would sure love some speed bumps – it’s a school zone twice over! I’ve seen altercations after people fail to stop for pedestrians…”

I think you have to get a number of signatures from people on the block in order to get speed bumps/humps installed. I’d def. pursue the matter with your ANC as a possible first step.

Has anyone successful had speed bumps/humps installed on their block? Does it help with speeding?

57 Comment

  • Talk to your local ANC (Pinkney or Thomas) or go to your Hanover or Bates civic association meetings. If you did, you would learn that there have been attempts to put bumps on 1st st NW, however due to the hospital it’s not possible. What can be done and is being pursued is to get stop signs at intersections w/o lights. Since Dunbar is being redeveloped next year and moving to 1st & M/N st, I would encourage you to attend the local meetings as there will be people from DCPS discussing traffic concerns.

    • I have sent emails to Pinkney on many occations with no luck getting a response. HT’s office is much more responsive.

      • if pinkney doesn’t want a bicycle stencil on r street, what do you think the chances are of her helping out with speed bumps.
        ya’ll need a new rep.

  • Anyone know how to get speed humps removed from my street?

    • Same way you ask for them. Fill out the app, get 75% of the households on the block to agree, and then wait for DDOT to do an assessment. I linked to the page with the application and criteria below.

    • @Anon; many residents in Chevy Chase were anger, the District put speed bumps in their community. Not everyone like speed bumps.

  • andy

    how do you weigh in to oppose speed bumps on roads where rapid travel should be expected but nearby neighbors do not desire it?

  • Under Fenty, all you basically had to do was ask.

    No idea how it’s done under Gray. I’m hoping that you at least have to do some sort of cursory traffic study first. Many of the newer speed bumps are far too high, and many of them were routinely installed on streets that are heavily trafficked by ambulances.

    • I hate speed bumps in DC — mostly for this reason, they are poorly designed and there has been no apparent rationale for where they kept popping up under Fenty.

      Speed bumps shouldn’t make you slow down to 3 MPH to traverse them without damage to your car. Yet many are so high or so sharp that they do, and if you don’t happen to notice them (because they are poorly marked) and you are traveling even well under the speed limit, you risk serious damage.

      We have one on my street and it’s pointless in the first place, since my block is one-way, and the first block of a street so traffic must enter after turning. The speed bump is less than 100 feet from where cars enter. Nobody would ever be going that fast. Because it’s so odd that there’s a speed bump there, people don’t expect it, and frequently bottom out.

      The result is lots of noise as cars hit it, or lots of noise as they slam on their brakes and accelerate again, wasted fuel, and probably even worse safety as drivers frequently deal with something unexpected.

  • Speed bumps also slow down ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars. Think about that before asking.

    • There’s this street that runs parallel to 1st Street called North Capital that is designed for faster traffic. Every other street surrounding Dunbar has speed bumps, and this is a real safety concern in the neighborhood. Think about that before posting your snark.

      • andy

        Everybody chill and acknowledge that safety is a good thing and it is annoying to go over speed bumps block after block.

        In addition, First Street NW in that area has large sidewalks on both sides of the street, lighted intersections, crosswalks and a double-yellow line in the middle of the street to define lanes for drivers.

        • “cross-walks and a double yellow line”
          Hazzah! Problem solved!

          The problem is the cars don’t stop for the crosswalks.

          They whiz by 6 year-olds at 40mph so they can make the green light to get onto NY ave.
          They are good at staying on the right side of the double yellow, just not good at keeping kids alive on their way to school.

        • Just curious, do they have speed bumps in New York City and other major cities? DC is a major city and you cannot put speed bumps on every residential neighborhood.

      • every other street around dunbar isn’t an ambulance route.
        also, nj ave doesn’t have speed bumps.

        face it, first st is not a side street.

        • Do you drive an ambulance? North Capitol is a faster way to get to Washington Hospital Center, which is 1.5 miles away. When you’re an ambulance traffic moves… 1st street on a block with two schools on it, 1.5 miles away from the hospital has nothing to do with ambulances… when cars don’t stop for cross-walks with kids in them, something more should be done. This has nothing to do with hospitals.. did an EMT tell you they can only drive on 1st street to go north, or that their ambulance can’t drive over speed humps??

          • i was told by ddot at a neighborhood meeting when we talked about various projects, including a block party on first street. that, apparently is impossible because of the “ambulance route” reason.

            they didn’t say that ambulances can’t drive over speed bumps, but come on, think about that for a bit. of course they, and patients in the back would prefer no speed bumps.

        • Of course NJ Ave does not have speed bumps; it’s a main street with four lanes. First street is absolutely a side street since it has 2 lanes and only parking on one side (where the OP is speaking of). It is not meant to be a major thoroughfare, but people use it as such to avoid other streets.

          The sidewalks and lighting are an asset, but if people don’t stop at crosswalks in a school zone, and people have been killed at the intersection as stated above, something needs to be done.

          Look, as a driver, I hate speed bumps. But they serve a purpose. If there is a real danger, as there is in this case, where there are 2 schools within a block, then city needs to change things before a child gets killed. THINK OF THE CHILDREN. But, seriously. Do.

      • You don’t live off 1st st do you? It is the main ambulance path up to washington hospital. I’m not sure why N.Cap doesn’t work for them, but I see probably ~10/night fly up first.

        I think stop signs would work. No ambulance worries, It may break up the drag race than happens between the O/P/Q st lights. The crosswalks don’t to jack, btw. You’ll lose a leg if you think people will stop for you.

    • austindc

      And think of how much air those Duke Boys will get in a high speed chase!

      Seriously though, DDOT will think about the emergency vehicles when they do their assessment of the street. If you want speed humps, go ahead and ask. If DDOT says no, they probably will have a good reason. You got nothing to lose by asking politely!

  • My neighbors parents were killed at the 1st and O st intersection. It is a miracle that none of the little kids that go to CAPS have been yet.

    andy I hope you aren’t implying that rapid travel on a neighborhood street should be expected. We get speeds in the 40-50MPH on a street that has 25MPH speed limit.

    • andy

      everyone, please obey all posted speed limits. that is all.

    • that’s horrible. how? did someone run a red light?

    • I see drivers speed through that intersection all the time. I think it’s poorly timed to the point that a stop sign might deter more speeding. It’s a long red — nearly impossible to catch green, so I think people get frustrated and gun it to make it in the short time they have to pass through. It’s def one of those road rage inducing lights. Personally, I think it might be better if drivers always had to stop and pause — as they would have to at a sign — as opposed to barrel through a green at 40. As a ped, it’s super annoying to cross there — all the drivers are zooming through until the second -after- it’s red. Maybe a sign and some 15 mph blinking lights during school hours.

  • Ugh, and can we get a damn 4-way stop at 13th and Quincy and Kansas and Quincy! And speed humps on everything between 14th and Georgia between Quebec and Upshur.

    Narrow two-way residential streets with both-side parking are not 40mph cut-throughs for MD commuters.

    • Email/send letters to Bowser and d. for this. I lived up in that area and we got stop signs placed at 13th and Taylor by asking – bugging. The more the better.

    • This! David says it’s been requested, but I guess we just need to pester someone. It’s hard to not get run over just crossing the street with all the Maryland drivers barreling through the intersection without consideration. not to mention the drivers who wrongly assume the other direction has a stop sign and make this intersection a symphony of horns.

    • saf

      There’s a stop sign at EVERY other street along here. We don’t need any more. Nor do we need any more damn speed bumps.

      Enforcement would do wonders.

      • As much as I hate adding unnecessary traffic controls, the problem with 13th and Quincy is that visibility is poor for some reason (parked cars?) and as a driver – I hate trying to cross there and avoid it like the plague. That works for me, but of course, people will use it since it’s there.

        It’s also a single street that happens between a stretch with 4-way stop signs or lights at every corner (from Randolph on up), transitioning into the central Columbia Heights area where very street has a traffic light. So there’s no easy way across it as a driver unlike every other intersection.

        Adding stop sign there would make no difference for traffic, for this reason – all the intersections for a mile in either direction are already controlled. There is no reason for this one to be an exception.

        • saf

          I’ve lived a block and a half away since long before the stop signs were there (thanks ever so much to Adrian for putting up stop signs and speed bumps everywhere in lieu of actually DOING something useful).

          There are many more stop signs and speed bumps than necessary and no enforcement. We would be much better off with enforcement and fewer stupid stop signs and speed bumps. (Yes, I walk, I drive, I talk the bus, and I ride a motorcycle. I’m not JUST looking at this as a driver or as a pedestrian.)

  • I do know there is a petition process to have speed humps put in. I beleive you have to have the majority of the homes on the street you want the speed humps placed to sign the petition.

    From there d. considers the petition.

    Good luck.

  • None of our residential streets should be 40 mph highways for Marylanders. Twice recently I have been irately honked and gesticulated at at for gasp! slowing down to parallel park in front of my own home. Let’s just say my words were not kind.

    And don’t get me started with the absolute disregard of people in marked crosswalks. Personally, I think roving cameras (like the red light cameras or speeding cameras on N Capitol and 16th St) giving tickets for violations on more DC streets would be great. And make people think before blowing by grandma in her walker as she crosses the street.

    So sorry Trux, regarding your neighbor’s parents.

  • This page has all the info you need. Basically, you apply to DDOT, they do an assessment and inform you and the ANC of the decision. The request has to be endorsed by 75% or more of the households on the block.

    It’s the same procedure to apply for removal.

  • Let’s ban speed bumps right after we impose jail time for folks operating cars at 10+ mph over the speed limit. They’re there because 90% of drivers aren’t mature enough to be trusted to drive in a safe manner, and so are endangering everyone else.

  • I wonder if anyone in DC has considered “Speed Cushions” which are designed to slow normal cars and trucks but allow emergency vehicles and busses to pass over without effect. They are narrow so normal “smaller” vehicles have to slow but wide ones don’t… here’s a picture, they’re gaining popularity…

    • austindc

      Yeah Greg! I saw something like this in Arlington, but it was sort of an inverse. It was a big speed hump, but it had two ruts cut into the middle of it, one on each side of the yellow line. The idea was that if you were a normal car you would have to slow down, but if you had someone bleeding out in the back, you could drive down the center of the road, siren’s blazing, and cruise right through those ruts while shouting, “Don’t you die on me dammit! You’re going to make it! Stay with me now!” and other cool things that EMTs get to yell.

      Another option that I saw in NW that really excited me in a special, deep down way was a traffic light in the middle of a street–not at an intersection. It was green all the time unless you came speeding down the road. Then it turned red. I guess it was triggered by some speed sensor or something. I think that is the coolest thing I have ever seen for speed management.

      • That sounds like the one on Porter street just west of Connecticut Avenue. The light is not at an intersection and (as far as I can tell) is triggered to turn red if approaching cars are speeding (> 25mph) or if a pedestrian wants to cross. Seems to work pretty well.

        • Well, except that light on Porter isn’t triggered if cars are speeding. That light on Porter is triggered if cars are traveling any faster than about 7 mph. Which is just asinine.

          • that’s not true. if you are going 25 or under, it won’t trigger.
            unless the car coming he other direction is speeding.

  • Remember many people protest by honking at each hump

    • i used to do that, till my neighbors got together and put one on my street, the bastards.

      i hate speed bumps.

  • I wish they would just start putting in more speed cameras, instead of more speed bumps. Speed cameras just punish the people breaking the law. Speed bumps punish everyone.

  • I’m pretty sure that the hottest spot in hell is reserved for people who install speed bumps (it’s a shared space, co-occupied by the people who install “no turn on red” signs where they’re not needed, such as where a “no turn on red when pedestrians present” sign will do). And not just because speed bumps suck for every single type of roadway user (cars, bikes, first responders, school buses, paratransit…) and are demonstrably ineffective, but also because there are more effective, less problematic approaches available. It’s great that the OP is engaged enough with their community to want to tackle an issue like this–kudos!–but how about following the proper channels to raise the issue and then letting the traffic engineers do their jobs? I know it’s hard to believe, but you might just end up with something that both a) works and b) is neither an obsolete nuisance nor a safety hazard.

    • i don’t get the “no turn on red when pedestrians present.” oh you mean you aren’t allowed to run over pedestrians in a cross walk in this particular intersection? no shit. should they add a “no going straight when light is red” sign as well?

    • forget speed bumps, I have a spike strip ready to lay down for you. what time do you speed through my street in the mornings again?

  • Would love to know what the alternatives are. I live on a bumpless street, and the guys with the souped up cars just loooove it. It’s one block long, and just barely two cars wide. As soon as they turn onto the block, they redline it to see how fast they can go before needing to slow for T intersection at the other end. It’s pretty much just a matter of time before a kid darts out from between the parked cars, or the speed demon can’t slow enough to squeeze past an oncoming car. What’s the solution here?

    Agree with Austin that the speed triggered red lights are great. Not suitable for my block, but good for the longer roads.

  • I’d be all for speed bumps if it was physically possible to over them at speeds of over 10 mph. So many of these bumps are so big that I scrape the bottom of my car even if I go over them from nearly a stop.

  • Speed bumps are not the answer, better traffic enforcement is! Speed bumps slow down our emergency responders but do not slow down the speeders. Those speeding either fly over the bumps or speed from one speed bump to the next.

    Until MPD consistantly enforces traffic laws people will contunue ignore traffic laws.

    • Agreed.

      Too bad DC doesn’t have a police force that gives a rat’s ass about moving violations, and instead decides to enforce them using a combination of speed cameras that are barely disguised as ATM machines (see: the ones on New York Avenue after Bladensburg, the ones in the I-395 tunnels) and “solutions” like speed bumps that are, in many cases, not needed and at worst actively detrimental to the city’s first responders.

  • It has been stated here before. It merits repeating. Speed humps are simply not going to be installed on 1st Street NW. The End.

  • Thanks Scott!

    Speed humps are annoying and unsightly. These people just need to obey the damn stop signs!!

    • @Bloomingdalian — remind the kids not to bleed on the street when they get run over too. So unsightly…

  • This city is terrible. Just terrible. A pox on the Earth.

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