Red Lights Optional at the new Intersection 18th, U and Florida Ave, NW?

Dear PoPville,

About a year ago the intersection of Florida, U & 18th was reconfigured to make it safer for pedestrians to cross U Street (among other reasons). Prior to the reconfiguration, motorists traveling east on Florida Avenue turning onto U Street rarely yielded to pedestrians who had the “walk” sign. Today, there is a right turn light that was supposed to force motorists to stop. I live in the area and cross the intersection several time a day and I can attest to the fact that at least 50 percent of the time motorists blow through the red turn light without stopping. As a sometimes motorist, I agree that the intersection is confusing. However, the worst offenders are Metro bus and taxi drivers who most likely drive through the intersection daily and should be familiar with it.

This is a video I shot yesterday morning. I saw the bus stopped at the light on 18th and from experience I suspected it would run the light after making the turn onto Florida. I was correct. After crossing the street at the next light cycle, I shot the next segment showing a taxi running right through the red turn light.

I know to watch closely before stepping onto the crosswalk, but others unfamiliar with the intersection may just start walking when they see the “walk” sign and might get hit. I’m not sure what the answer is, but someone in authority needs to address it.

29 Comment

  • It’s a new traffic pattern and people don’t like change? Road users can be real dicks to save 5-10 seconds of their time? Probably both contributing equally here.

    • If pedestrians can’t look before stepping into the road every time, Darwin’s law will have no mercy on them. Plain and simple, they get broken bones no matter who’s at fault. Don’t pitty them.

      • Trolling much?

      • Right. We’ve all learned how to look both ways when we cross a street. For those who don’t know nor remember, two girls got killed by a car that hit them on that intersection, simply waiting to cross the street, hence the “new design.” In a city, pedestrians need to be WAY more vigiliant and not be so up in arms about “having the right of way.” You’ll be dead with your “right of way” trying to challenge a car.

        As for the drivers, DDOT will simply put up red light cameras and then that will stop the running through lights with a quickness.

  • I 100% agree that that intersection is ridiculous.

    I’d even go so far as to say DDOT has the intellect of my hamster.

    I’m not really getting what’s going on in the video, but it doesn’t matter because I already agree with you.

  • I agree that the intersection can be confusing (for the record – I REALLY hate this intersection, even after the reconfiguration) but it does become obvious after going through it a few times that the light is there, so they should indeed be familiar with it.

  • Stuff like this happens several times a week at this intersection, though usually with the southbound 18th Street lanes right in front of the Duplex Diner. The odd placement of the first set of lights seems to confuse drivers.

  • The bus I was on nearly hit someone at that intersection yesterday turning from 18th onto U. Thankfully, the bus driver took the time to yell “retard!” out of the window so the pedestrian could be informed that he was in the wrong. Sometimes it’s those little extra touches that make the Metrobus experience so special.

    That intersection is confusing, though, even for pedestrians. The timing of the lights is unpredictable.

    • jburka

      So did you bother filing a complaint with WMATA? I do that pretty regularly when drivers suck. Does it help? Dunno. But it sure can’t hurt.

  • Two solutions here:
    1. Needs a “no turn on red” sign.
    2. Probably the right turn green arrow needs to be just a couple seconds longer, so traffic that turns left from SB 18th can make it through. If they can’t they will just continue to run the light anyway.

  • I live a block from that intersection and no one stops to make a right turn. The worst offenders are cabbies who almost always are on their cellphones and have the nerve to honk at you if you dare cross at a crosswalk when you have a green and they have a red.

    If an officer would stand there and give out tickets, I’m sure in less than a week they have enough to pay for the entire federal deficit.

  • Tthe 3rd District HQ for MPD is 2 blocks away from this cluster. Seems like a pretty simple fix to have an officer stand at the intersection on the U Street side and stop people who run the red light. Why not bring this up with the 3D Commander Jacob Kishter at (202) 673-6820?

  • I think we can all agree the real problem is the bikes.

  • Drivers ed people… my high school required it to graduate.

    No turn on red sign- absolutely no turn on red
    Wait for green sign- a warning to wait for green but allowed to turn
    Red light turn arrow- absolutely no turning
    Green light arrow- may proceed through turn at safe speed.

    No signs or arrows. Here is the important one. You have to have your vehicle come to a complete stop. Not a stop in the cross walk, not a slow down, COMPLETE STOP. If it is safe to proceed you may turn right.

    All of these rules imply that your right of way has a red light.

    Not sure why I learned these rules at 16. Busses, cabs most dangerous drivers in the city, and break these rules every minute

  • I live nearby as well, and frequently navigate this intersection as a pedestrian, cyclist and driver. I can attest that it is still extremely dangerous. DDOT should absolutely take another look at this traffic pattern and possibly alter the timing of the lights and crosswalk. As it stands now, cars frequently run the light and pedestrians are tempted to jaywalk because of the extremely short crosswalk timing. I think we all agree that common sense should dictate that we don’t exercise this dangerous behavior…but I see it at this location all the time. And if you’re looking for stories of people exercising common sense, you probably shouldn’t be reading PoP.

  • It’s a proven FACT that ONLY bicyclists and pedestrians disobey the law. A FACT!

  • Add my voice to the choir of neighbors who walk through this intersection multiple times daily and witness vehicles running the red lights every single day. In addition to vehicles running the red arrow as they turn to eastbound U Street, vehicles also frequently turn left from southbound 18th Street against the light (usually after a green/yellow cycle), coming up against pedestrians who then have a walk signal to cross north/southbound and may not be aware of turning traffic coming from from behind. I appreciate DDOT’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety with the redesign (which was a significant improvement from the points of view of the driver and pedestrian) but now we need to enforce the laws.

    Further, I am not the type to constantly berate Metrobus drivers because more often than not I am a passenger in the bus and appreciate the driver getting me to my destination as quickly as possible. That said, I completely agree that in the case of running the red lights at this intersection, Metrobus drivers are some of the most frequent offenders.

    Thank you to the poster who made the video and is advocating for better enforcement here.

  • I think pedestrians in the city should be able to carry a length of steel pipe or rebar to retaliate against dangerous drivers. If they can threaten me with 2-3 tons of steel, I should have at least a few pounds.

    • compact umbrellas with heavy handles work well. i’ve dented several cars as they’ve tried to run me down while i have the right of way (green light) on the crossing.

      • Dent my car and I’ll have you arrested.

        • totally agree – don’t take your life into your own hands – it’s not worth it – you don’t know who is behind the wheel and if they have a gun, gang member, on meth, etc.. it’s not worth your life to dent a car.

  • Add me to the list of neighborhood folks who think this “redesign” has not helped.

    Put a light in the road on U St – drivers turning right don’t look at the light for Florida, and the light on U is at an off angle to see -whether you are turning from 18th onto Fl/U or coming east on Florida.

    I usually cross U at 18th to avoid the FL/U block – even though I then have to wait on the island.. I feel safer than trying to cross U at Fl.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I’m told MPD has increased enforcement here.

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