“The new rules require any construction site that blocks a sidewalk or bicycle lane to provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists through or around the work zone”

Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

From DDOT:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the adoption of the final rules to implement the provisions of the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013. According to DDOT Director Matthew Brown “The implementation of these new regulations will ensure that all users of the transportation network are provided safe passage as the District continues to grow and develop.”

The new rules require any construction site that blocks a sidewalk or bicycle lane to provide a safe route for pedestrians and bicyclists through or around the work zone. This safe route must be equal to the accommodation that was blocked, such as providing a bike lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic if a protected bike lane is blocked. Also, the safe pedestrian or bicycle route must be free of obstructions and surface hazards such as loose gravel or uneven surfaces and must follow the path of the original pedestrian or bicycle route as closely as is practical.

Additionally, the rules define the term “safe accommodation” and require that signs used to direct pedestrians or bicyclists along a detour route display a message that is specific to bicyclists or pedestrians. The DDOT Director may revoke a permit if the permittee fails to comply with these rules or the approved traffic management plan issued with their permit.

The final regulations may be viewed here.”

22 Comment

  • Excellent rule. It is a bad hallmark of DC that pedestrians are regularly shunted into traffic with no warning. Can’t recall this being the case in any other city I have lived in.

    • Good rule perhaps, but I am not sure how they can make it work. There are only so many lanes of traffic, so if they keep extending outward, it will destroy the traffic.

      • Bummer for traffic. This is so appropriate and needed.

        And visit Chicago if you want to check out a city without this requirement (and if they have it, it’s completely overlooked). Chicago is so pedestrian-unfriendly it makes DC look awesome.

        • I don’t think there is a great reason to disrupt traffic when the pedestrian could walk down the other side of the street and bikes can travel in car lanes for the two seconds it takes to get passed the construction. Maybe the key is putting a sign at the beginning of the block so you don’t make it almost the whole way to find the sidewalk blocked off. I metro or walk to and from work so even though the rule benefits me, I am not sure it is necessary. The real problem is the pedestrians (and I have done this too) who see a blocked sidewalk and just walk out into the road instead of crossing the street.

          • I concur with what you say copied below. This is the problem. You are halfway down the sidewalk and only then realize you have to walk into the street:

            Maybe the key is putting a sign at the beginning of the block so you don’t make it almost the whole way to find the sidewalk blocked off

          • Blaming human nature does zero to solve any problem.

            Besides, your premise that it’s ok to disrupt pedestrians and bikes at the expense of cars makes little sense. In most places where this applies, more people are getting around using these modes than cars.

          • That is not my premise at all. Last time I checked, this is sidewalk work, so yes it is the pedestrians and cyclists who suffer just like the cars suffer when there is road work. Do you see the difference? When we have road work, we do not allow cars to drive on the sidewalks so they are not inconvenienced, so why must the cars be inconvenienced when the pedestrians cannot walk on their preferred walking route. Like I said, walk on the other side of the road it’s not a big deal. What is a big deal is the gridlock that occurs in a city when roads are condensed for no apparent reason. It is safe to say that I have never seen a back-up of pedestrians and cyclists on a sidewalk. I have, however, seen many traffic back-ups, so yes, I think it is fine for you to walk slightly out of the way to get where you are going when there is construction on the sidewalk, just as I think it is fine for a car to have to go slightly out of its way when there is road work. Sometimes in life we have to be slightly inconvenienced for the great good, but there is no reason to cause a greater disturbance than is otherwise necessary.

          • You are talking about convenience vs. safety. I don’t think pedestrians or cyclists have any problem being inconvenienced by construction. A construction zone which creates an unsafe condition for them is a different story. Construction rarely poses a safety risk to cars, but frequently does to bikes/pedestrians.

      • This works in every other city I’ve lived in too. Larger, denser ones than DC. It can be made to work, it’s really just a lack of trying.

  • Someone needs to enforce this at the NW corner of M and 20th NW.

    • And at 16th and I NW.

      • And up and down 14th Street.

        • And Connecticut south of Dupont. I work near Shake Shack, and if I obeyed all the “sidewalk closed” signs, I would have to go 3-4 blocks out of my way.

        • +1 14th Street between Harvard and Spring is one of the worst streets for biking in DC, even with bike lanes. Trouble here is that the bike lanes give one a false sense of security. It’s ridiculous the number of people who idle in the bike lanes on this street, and it’s not all delivery trucks and “understandable” things like that. I’d love to see some tickets handed out, because it’s getting ridiculous.

      • And on Mount Pleasant Street. That street is almost unwalkable / unbikeable due to construction, and yet you get yelled at if you bike on the sidewalk

        • Are you kidding? The west side of the street has no construction and the east side only has one short section. There is no impediment whatsoever to biking. There is a short half block impediment on one side of the street if you are walking, and the traffic is so slow moving it’s never really a problem.

    • And at 10th and N.

  • My guess is that the municipal government and utilities are exempt from this rule, since they are not required to pull permits. This really only applies to development sites. They are only half of the “bad actors”

  • This has been badly needed for some time.

  • I will *never* understand why we allow construction sites to block traffic or parking lanes, instead of just adopting the NYC method of the covered sidewalk with the construction trailer on top. It’s so much easier.

    • Yes, I was shocked when I moved here from NYC and was constantly finding the sidewalks closed. It really irritates me still, as I know it doesn’t have to be like this. But NYC streets are far more pedestrian dense, so that may be why attention is paid there.

      But If they can enforce it in NYC, which has about 16 times the population of DC, they could do it here. They just don’t have the will. DC city government is not strong in many ways.

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