Striped Cross Walks Coming to New Hampshire and Quincy St, NW – Do they work?

Some new striped crossings are going in on both sides of New Hampshire Ave and Quincy St, NW. While I appreciate the effort, in my walkabout experiences – these striped crossings don’t work any better than regular crossings. The only thing that I’ve found to work is a traffic light or stop sign. What have your experiences been like? Do you find that cars are more likely to slow down for you if you are crossing the street in a stripped crossing (without a traffic light)? Maybe we should get some Crosswalk flags?

41 Comment

  • When driving they are definitely more visible than standard crosswalks. So I don’t see why it’s a bad idea.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      No, no – I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I think it’s a neutral idea. I think it’s better than doing nothing, I’m just curious if they work for others.

      • Hmm, if it’s better than nothing, it’s not neutral, no?

        I personally think that striped crosswalks enhance awareness significantly and am therefore in favor.

  • I know in other countries, but am unsure of here: striped crosswalks are supposed to signal that pedestrians, when present have the right-of-way. Sort of like a yield sign?

    Could anyone tell me whether this is true in DC?

    If it is, then this is a definite improvement.

    • Pedestrians always have the right of way in any crosswalk

      • I guess I meant, perhaps, priority.

        As has been mentioned below, a “Don’t Walk” signal at an intersection (which generally doesn’t have the zebra pattern?) means the pedestrian can be in the wrong — and ticketed — but that doesn’t give cars license to hit them (Friday near the convention center notwithstanding).

        But at un-signaled crossings, zebra-striping indicates that pedestrians not only have the right-of-way, but some sort of priority. That is, cars should be on the lookout for them, and it would not be inappropriate for them to stop for a person waiting to cross.

        Non-zebraed, non-signaled spots, then, would be the lowest pedestrian-priority. (Aside from totally unmarked crossings.)

        This is my idea, anyway, and how things have worked, roughly, in some other places I’ve lived. I tend to treat the crossings as such, anyway, and have yet to come to harm! It’d be nice to know the rules, though. (And to know that drivers know, or should know, them.)

      • Unless they’re crossing against the light and a car is with the light. If you get hit in a crosswalk and you don’t have the walk sign, good luck trying to win that one in court.

        • And I should qualify that with stating that I am a huge advocate of pedestrian rights and I hate all cars.

          • And I apologize to all for forgetting that bit about stoplights. I meant that pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks at non-stoplight intersections.

            Elle, I’m still not understanding the distinction you’re making between priority crosswalks.

    • There is no legal difference between striped or unstriped crosswalks. (Actually there is even such a thing as an “unmarked” crosswalk which isn’t there at all, yet still gives pedestrian right of way).

      The only difference is the visibility to drivers. So why are they not ALL striped? Maintenance costs. More paint = More $$$.

  • andy

    I have heard, but not personally verified, that Stikman needs to come by and lay down some serious juju, as well as a sweet stikman street petroglyph, before your crosswalk striping reaches maximum effectiveness.

  • Yes, when I’m driving, they are more visible and I am a little more cautious.

    I also don’t know about the priority question Elle mentioned above. I sort of feel like in “zebra crossings” pedestrians have the right of way, more than in the type pictured above.

  • I think they’re more visible to drivers and the drivers are going to me more wary of anyone standing on the sidewalk looking potentially crossy.

    • If I had a penny for all of the times I’ve gotten that potentially crossy look while waiting on the sidewalk.

  • as a pedestrian you should yield to a vehicle already in the intersection but once you set foot in the street you have the right of way. i use them all the time, and sometimes i have to give an oncoming driver direct eye contact or a wave, but i haven’t been hit yet! indirectly, they help remind drivers that they’re in a populated area and should watch their speed and the road.

  • They don’t work because no one enforces the law which is that drivers are supposed to yield to pedestrians in an unsignalized crosswalk. I am trying to get a raised crosswalk at my intersection in Petworth.

    • Having been nearly run down while while in a sriped crosswalk this weekend, I would say the more visible crossing makes only marginal difference.

      The city needs more enforcement of traffic laws, especially at rush hours.

      CAPTCHA: FKWD – pretty much describes the BMW driver who yelled at me to “GET OUT OF THE WAY” when she turned left and barreled through the intersection I was crossing.

  • Drivers are going to drive through it without a second thought. I feel these are comparable to the raised crosswalk but neither deter stopping.

  • and peds don’t have the right of way in “any crosswalk” if its signalized they are required to follow the signal or else they can be ticketed. This is never enforced. its only unsignalized intersections where peds of ROW.

  • In ground flashing lights are probably the best solution for crossings like this – unfortunately they are expensive so the hashing is a cheap alternative.

  • I live on Connecticut by Wyoming, and there’s a crosswalk on Connecticut with those “Yield to Pedestrian” signs on the center lane on both sides. It does nothing to help pedestrians, even when they are in the middle of crossing the street. I doubt this will make any difference. While I understand that a lot of drivers couldn’t even stop if they wanted to, since there’s so much tailgating going on, most of them are just being dicks.

    • That’s the crosswalk where I was nearly run down! (see above)

    • Exactly. Even those neon signs saying “District law: Yield to pedestrians” don’t help. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been run over, or how many times I’ve actually put a hand on someone’s car. And how many times I’ve yelled at people and pointed to that sign (drivers’ reaction there is usually to flip ME off).

      I’m a pedestrian and a driver. I always look out for pedestrians at crosswalks … because I’m not an asshole and I recognize that there are more people in this world than just me.

      Nothing will change — nothing — until MPD decides to enforce these laws. (I’m also waiting for them to crack down on FedEx and UPS trucks parking curbside during rush hour, but I’m not holding my breath)

  • I’m more aware and I always stop if a pedestrian is in one of those crosswalks. It makes them easier to see; I slow down and check to see if anyone’s crossing when I approach one – visibility and driver awareness of pedestrians is always good. That said, pedestrians shouldn’t take them as any kind of increased security when crossing.

  • The one at the intersection of Florida and R NW, which even includes a huge sign in the middle of the crosswalk indicating to drivers that they have to stop when a pedestrian is in it, is effective on some mornings, but ineffective most others. I often end up yelling and pointing at the sign to cars refusing to slow down even as I am in the middle of the crosswalk, and I know of other pedestrians and bikers who have had similar experiences. Perhaps the angle of the crosswalk makes it difficult to read as one, but the sign in the middle of it shouldn’t.

    • claire

      Ugh, crossing there is the worst! I got stuck in the middle of the street there for probably 5 – 10 minutes once, as many many cars zoomed past in front and behind me (so I couldn’t even retreat back to the side of the street I had previously been on!). I’ve only seen a car stop for a pedestrian in that crosswalk twice – and once it was an out of area plate (New York, I think).

  • I use this crosswalk every day… I highly doubt it will make a difference to traffic on NH… and in spite of my right to cross, I would never do it unless I could make it without them having to slow down or the cars approaching clearly signaled that I was allowed to go. But it’s better than what we have now.

  • Are the striped crosswalks better than non-striped? Yes, but only marginally. Drivers will still ignore the right-of-way for pedestrians as they blow past. Any crosswalk to be effective on a road with heavy traffic requires a stop light and perhaps a lighted crosswalk.

    Putting out crosswalk flags is tantamount to admitting there is a problem but refusing to address it. However, I am not very sympathetic to the Chevy Chase crosswalk situation, since it is situated in between two other intersections with traffic lights about a half block away.

  • In my experience, little short of snipers with highly visible guns and bullhorns would stop D.C.-area drivers from barreling through crosswalks and almost hitting pedestrians.

  • They won’t make any difference until the citywide speed limit is lowered to 5 mph and cars are required to bear down-filled bumpers to virtually eliminate harm to any pedestrians who dash out in front of moving traffic anyway.

  • I think it’s a good idea and will at least make drivers more aware that there is a crosswalk there.

    In contrast to some other posters, I think the “Yield to pedestrian in crosswalk” signs in the road actually DO help — I’m convinced that some people don’t know this is the law.

    I would also advocate for the “yield” signs between the traffic lanes at this particular intersection (1 sign between the 2 northbound lanes and 1 between the 2 southbound lanes). I think that getting something out in the middle of the street would send a clearer message.

  • I initially thought maybe this enhancement was to re-direct people to actually use the crosswalk. All the buses that stop on the southbound side of Georgia Avenue here do so between New Hampshire and Quincy. When people get off the bus here, many just walk right across Georgia Avenue without going to the corner to cross. Its pretty dangerous and only a matter of time before someone gets flattened or causes an accident.

    • Georgia Avenue does seem to be a magnet for jaywalking, although it’s not anywhere near as bad as it used to be.

      Years ago, I would frequently see people crossing New Hampshire at Georgia, in the crosswalk but completely against the light, WITH oncoming traffic… and not even looking. Just ASSUMING people would stop.

  • The problem is no where else that I know of, other than Maryland, does this. When you have a place full of people from other places who don’t know the rules, they’re bound to disregard them. It’s not safe. At least a stop sign, if not a light, would be much better.

  • What we need are crosswalks lined with those severe-tire-damage metal spikes that pop up when pedestrians have the walk signal. I have a feeling that would deter motorists from trying to run down peds.

  • No definitive answer to the original question, but here is a study regarding crosswalk visibility from the FHWA.

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