Dear PoPville – Who Painted the “Look Both Ways” on the Sidewalks of 11th Street?

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11th and Lamont St, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Does anyone know who has been painting the “Look both ways” on the sidewalk. It doesn’t help make the neighborhood feel any nicer and makes it look trashier. Individuals taking things into their own hands is not the answer and this could have been done in a more professional way.

There are 14 places that were painted between 11th and Irving and 11th and Park.”

86 Comment

  • I saw the first one at Bloombars, so I assume it was the Bloombars guy. I disagree that it looks trashy.

    • you’re wrong. it looks trashy. there is all sorts of overspray on those letters. not a clean edge to be found anywhere here. piss poor job on the painters end.

      • “Trashy” is a matter of aesthetic opinion, so there no right or wrong. I like that it doesn’t look like it was made in a factory somewhere. I find it interesting and funky, not trashy. You are entitled to a different opinion. Frankly, I find OP’s (and your) objection a sad statement on the stuffiness of this town. In many other cities, something like this would be embraced.

        • Agreed. If this is the biggest problem you have in your neighborhood, count your blessings and enjoy a glass of wine. Don’t come on a website to bitch about vigilantes who are concerned about public safety.

        • although i dont necessarily want to condone graffiti, +1 to KenyonDweller on the subjectiveness of “trashniess” … and i kinda like it!

        • Another +1. It definitely looks better than the “look left” and “look right” signs painted on the streets of London. I wonder if OP finds those trashy too or royalty.

        • So it’s a matter of opinion, Kenyondweller, but your opinion is correct, and the OP’s opinion is a sad statement on the stuffiness of people?

          • Well, I didn’t say that I think my opinion is correct, though of course I do. Otherwise, I would have changed my opinion. Duh. My point was that I wouldn’t accuse someone else of being “wrong” for having a different opinion, as Anonymous 3:31 did. As for stuffiness, yes, I think that someone who views these signs as trashy is stuffy. Again, my opinion. You can think what you want.

      • Seriously. Grow up. There are people with actual problems in the world.

  • The professional quality of these tells me that DDOT definitely placed them there.

  • Personally I don’t think we should need to remind people to look both ways before crossing the street. Especially if it involves this ugly paintjob on the sidewalks.

    Weren’t we taught this when we were kids? And for those that still haven’t gotten it they should be weeded out anyways.

    • Totally agree, yet I’m consistently amazed by the number of people walking/talking obliviously on their cell phones who step into traffic without looking. It happens all the time. Perhaps that accounts for what seems like an increase in “accidents involving a pedestrian” that I hear on the morning traffic reports.

      • brookland_rez

        And it’s not just crossing the street. It’s while driving, walking in the mall, everywhere. We have these great smart phones, but unfortunately the user of the phone is stupid.

    • relax man, what’s the worst that could happpppppppppppppp

    • It is also painted before alleys, which I find helpful. I remember (usually) to look both ways before crossing a street, but I forget with alleys.

      • If you’re on a sidewalk that goes past an alley entrance, you have the right of way. It doesn’t hurt to be looking out for cars with drivers that aren’t paying attention, but with alley entrances the onus is really on the driver to be looking for pedestrians, not vice versa.

        • As someone who drives out of an alleyway, I agree. As someone who walks near an alleyway, I’d rather assume the responsibility and be alive than be right.

    • I think the intent is to preserve those who “still haven’t gotten it”. And their children.

      I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve witnessed couples with young children in tow crossing against the light, not even at the intersection, and not paying any attention at all on weekend mornings. Just grab a cup of coffee and read the paper and check it out some time. It’ll really blow your mind.

  • seriously? there are plenty of things that make the neighborhood look trashy and need cleaning up. this is not one of them.

  • I like stuff like this. Less sterile than a professional message and it shows that people in the community care.

  • These are really poorly executed and look awful. I’m fine with the artist making themself feel better through this completely worthless, faux community outreach project but really wish they had had enough respect for their neighbors to practice using spray paint first.

  • I’ll go ahead and say that TRASH made a neighborhood look trashy.

  • “cell off” is good advice too… although the people that need to get off their cells would be too engrossed in them to see this.

  • I don’t love the way it looks, but I LOVE the “cell off” message!

  • I assumed that the OP was already walking that stretch an counted them on his/her walk.

  • I think they are meant as an educational tool for young parents, which are increasing in numbers in the neighborhood, to teach their youngings to look both ways. The first one I saw was right next to the baby dance party place. My thoughts.

    • Wait. Baby dance party? Where. When. I want to dance, yet I don’t because I have a baby. I want in on the toddler dancing action.

  • This is clearly vandalism and is wrong. If this goes un-punished then this gives justification for EVERYONE to paint whatever they want on public property.

  • To answer the OP’s actual question – I know who did it.

    • …but you’re not going to tell us because that’s not what OP actually asked, right? I see what you did there. Phrase your questions carefully, people, if you want to get the information you seek!

  • The point is, you can’t just spray paint wherever you want on public property.

    • Allison

      Yeah, it’s mildly annoying, illegal, but not really anger worthy. The more irritating part is if the city spends public money scrubbing it off, then I just feel like some entitled guy with a message to spread wasted my tax dollars.

  • This is vandalism and I’m surprised that a local organization claiming to try to “help” the community felt it was appropriate or legal to paint this on the sidewalks. As a resident of this neighborhood I would have no right to paint something of this sort on a public sidewalk – why should bloom bar?

    If bloombar wanted to help the neighborhood, they could have done many other things, including a trash pickup. I do my part to pick up other people’s trash, but unfortunately I cannot undo this trashy spray paint job. Way to ruin neighborhood relations!

  • Actually, they remind me of the painted signs on London streets. Those signs aren’t particularly neat either. But they are distinctive.

    • You mean the “LOOK LEFT” / “LOOK RIGHT” messages painted in areas with high foot traffic from tourists?
      Those are much more professional-looking — they’re in all-white lettering, not a mix of colors — and they’re officially sanctioned, not graffiti.

  • The OP may not need signs telling him/her to look both ways when crossing the street but the OP obviously needs signs to nearest medicinal marijuana dispensary so he/she can chill the heck out.

  • I don;t see how this is better than graffiti

  • … reinforcing the idea that vehicles should have rights over pedestrians. did you know that automobile drivers killed 4,000 pedestrians in the US last year? pedestrians talking on phones killed…… 0 ?

    let’s stop blaming people walking and talking on their phones, and start dealing with the real problem – people racing down the streets, whether it be in a car or on a bike. 11th street is in the middle of a quiet community, it’s not a freeway, but people go out, get jolly, and then start cruising around. if there is such a big problem here that we need spray paint, why not a mandatory stop at every intersection, and 15mph speed limit???

    • And the Thread Hijacking Of the Day Award goes to…

      • My comments are directly related to the thread, and I don’t think it is in any way ‘hijacking’. I had more to say than “i don’t like graffitti”, and if we only have comments here so that people can make such simple statements, then I really do not understand why people bother to read them.

        • Pedestrians need to be careful crossing the streets whether cars are going 50 or 15 mph, so your comment is not really pertinent to this discussion.

    • +1

      There is no law against walking and talking on a cell phone, but the spray painted message implies that it is not permissible or justifiable to do so. I am perfectly capable of crossing the street safely while talking on a cell phone. In fact, on many occasions I have crossed the street while talking on a cell phone and had to stare down careless drivers turning left through the crosswalk who don’t even look in my direction until the last second. Something tells me the spray painter has seen some pedestrians who were talking on cell phones and who were also not paying attention and has made the lazy and inaccurate generalization that people can’t talk on the phone and cross the street at the same time. And then of course appointed him/herself patronizing bossypants graffiti “artist” of the neighborhood. Because it is totally legit to spray paint messages about your personal pet peeves any where you damn well please.

      • Just because you can do something well doesn’t mean everyone can. If you haven’t seen any oblivious cell-phoners walking around town then you’re clearly not as aware of your surroundings as you seem to think you are. I agree with you about the spray-painters though, I’d rather they not do it.

  • I think I’m more likely to not look for passing cars b/c I’m too busy reading the message.

  • “Individuals taking things into their own hands is not the answer and this could have been done in a more professional way.”

    we should wait for professionals to do everything.

  • I think this is awesome. It’s terrifying driving through Columbia Heights. The number of people looking at their phones that step off the curb is amazing. I stop at all the cross walks and make every effort to be a responsible driver but if you appear from between two parked cars reading your phone, it’s so dangerous for everyone.

    Also, agree with the general sentiment that everyone really needs to lighten up.

  • It was probably painted by a bike commuter that is tired of nearly clipping pedestrians on 11th Street. If people were to do as the signs say in the first place (“look both ways”) then maybe we would not have the ugly paint job to complain about. Instead D.C. pedestrians feel entitled to amble all over the place while being distracted by cell phones.

  • Yeah so trashy.

    When I look down I just want to see cigarettes, gum, dog shit, and maybe some trash. But words make those otherwise classy gray squares on the ground look so common, ugh.

  • I saw these around Columbia/Champlain. Considering that I yanked a guy back from oncoming traffic, I think it’s fine. He continued his conversation, “Oooh, this lady just saved me from being hit while I’m running my mouth.”


  • Honestly – I’ve lived all over the world and most major cities have this painted on every single street corner. While this isn’t an effort by the city to keep pedestrians safe, good on someone to give it a try. And definitely not trashy… I’ve seen much worse up there (used condoms are trashy, chicken bones are trashy, chunks of WEAVE are trashy…)

    • What major cities would these be?
      I’ve traveled pretty widely, and I can’t remember any major city that has “LOOK BOTH WAYS” painted on street corners. London has “LOOK LEFT” and “LOOK RIGHT” in the more heavily trafficked areas, but that’s all I can think of. (I can’t remember whether major Japanese cities have something similar, given that they too get a lot of foreigners who are used to a drive-on-the-right-side traffic pattern.)

  • I’m pretty sure these look-both-ways “signs” were designed for people fiddling with their cell phones (since you would likely see them in your peripheral vision if you were looking down at your phone). Since I have actually seen people fiddling with their phone as they step into traffic, I would say these “signs” are a public service.

  • i must inquire OP, do you still have fun?

  • The funny thing is…the people who need to see this sign are the ones looking at their phones and walking right over it.
    Now lets talk about weeds! Now those are an eye sore!

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