“This is the latest in an ongoing pattern of crashes on our street made possible by unsafe traffic conditions”


“Dear PoPville,

There was yet another crash on the 4500 block of Arkansas Avenue last night. Our neighbor’s car was crashed into by an SUV, pushed 20+ feet off the curb onto the sidewalk and ultimately into a tree.

The SUV that caused the crash fled the scene leaving debris all over the street and police took over an hour to respond to the 911 call. When they did, they were unable to run the license plate due to a broken computer.

This is the latest in an ongoing pattern of crashes on our street made possible by unsafe traffic conditions, which was covered extensively in the news this spring and summer. DDOT made safety recommendations which have not been implemented, and the city has refused to eliminate the rush hour lane which encourages speeding on our residential street. We have been given no support in resolving this issue.

The family whose car was totaled last night has two young kids, and there have been others who’ve been gravely injured. I’m just a concerned neighbor who is trying to spread the word.

More information about our campaign to make our street safer is available here.”

47 Comment

  • That’s horrible. I’m sorry for that family. I have great friends that live on that block and they always advise me never to park on Arkansas Ave when I visit. Isn’t Muriel Bowser the council person for that area? Are you saying that she’s been unresponsive to your safety concerns? Surely that couldn’t be the case.

    • Accountering

      Bowser is the CM for W4. Suffice it to say she has been 100% useless in dealing with this issue. The problem is the one lane is a rush-hour lane only, and MD commuters get a bit crazy. It moves at 30-35, and then the lane abrubtly ends, or there are cars parked in it. It throws off patterns to have it as a rush hour lane, and it isn’t a dense enough street, so often even outside of rush hour, the lane is empty, until you come up on the few cars that park on that street, and then bam, MD driver ruins property or worse hurts someone.

    • “Isn’t Muriel Bowser the council person for that area? Are you saying that she’s been unresponsive to your safety concerns? Surely that couldn’t be the case.”

      Do you live in Ward 4? Because I do, and that Muriel being unresponsive is exactly why I won’t vote for her. Her office has never replied to any issues we have sent their way. Not even an automatic email reply saying “we’ll look into this.” If she can’t hire staff that responds to things at the Council level, how is she fit to oversee the city?

  • gotryit

    Yikes. Can you share the exact time that happened?

    I’m glad they took out the speed camera located right there. /s

  • I’ve read a few of these before and looked at that “blog” with the video and still don’t have an understanding of the issue.

    Maybe a neighbor can get a go-pro (or have a passenger film from car) and drive down the street in daylight showing the issue a little better. May help them get more attention sadly as it just seems confusing right now exactly what the issue is other than speeding cars which is a frequent problem just about everywhere.

    • tl,dr: If you look at the google maps street view, you’ll see typical daytime conditions: a few parked cars. The problem is that because there’s so few parked cars much of the time, many drivers don’t realize that it’s in fact only one lane of traffic outside of rush hour and wind up hitting parked cars. This happens depressingly often, sometimes severely injuring people. The neighborhood wants to fix the problem by eliminating the rush-hour lane entirely and building bulb-out curbs to both alert drivers to the fact that no, this is not a travel lane and also to shorten pedestrian crossings.

  • Was the SUV driver texting/cell-phoning?

  • What happened to the speed camera? It was just there a short time–although the speed limit was too slow. For some reason, out of dc drivers try to make that a two lane single direction street rather than one lane per direction.

  • I don’t understand. You got DDOT to do the study, they’re going to make a bunch of changes, and MPD is going to install a speed camera. How does that qualify as “no support in resolving this issue”?

    • DDOT is all planning and no action. That is the problem. The study was done months ago with no timetable for implementation. They continue to be unresponsive to neighbors in every way possible.

      • Fine, complain that DDOT is a painfully slow-moving bureaucracy, and I’ll be right there with you. But this is the second post on Popville I’ve read about this issue, and they’ve both been somewhat misleading.
        I understand and sympathize with the complaints. People, particularly commuters, drive way too fast on my road, too. But the claim that these residents have received no support is just not true.

        • Study =/= support. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a professional researcher, and I understand the necessity of doing a study before implementing whatever the residents of the block think would be a good idea, but I don’t have any delusion that any sane person actually perceives my collecting data, doing some analysis, and writing a nice little report as “support.”

        • DDOT has a history of studies sitting on the shelf. This is one of those cases. There is a plan with no plan for implementation. In essence, they have walked away. No follow through. My kids play on this street, so you will understand if we are growing impatient with DDOT.

  • That’s terrible. I travel AK Ave all the time. I have read through the links, what are the resident’s recommendations? I see repainting the rush hour lane down to a single lane (seems like a no-brainer). Speed Cameras (yes, we need more than just the one at Buchannan), and Pedestrian Pylons (which just based on the ones on GA Ave look more like SUV target practice than actual deterrents).

    I also see a lot of people northbound who when seeing they will be stopped at 13th street will turn right on Decatur, Left onto 13th, then Right to Continue onto AK. What if that spot right there were turned into a traffic calming circle?

    • “What if that spot right there were turned into a traffic calming circle?”
      That would be a (relatively) huge and expensive project and is unlikely to happen ever, let alone any time soon. I also don’t think it’s the main issue that needs to be resolved.

    • You know, AK is Alaska, not Arkansas.

  • Time for civil disobedience. Have everyone on the block put obstructions in the rush hour lanes, every day, until that piss-poor excuse for a leader Muriel Bowser starts to listen.

    • I actually kinda like that idea – if the city won’t do something, have the neighbors organize and do a trial run themselves. I knew someone who lived up that way who did something similar to deal with frequent crashes in the alley behind their house – they took a day and a couple guys and dug up a strip across the alley and built their own speed bump. It pretty much immediately solved the problem of people using it as a cut-through.

  • Did this happen during rush hour? The picture looks like it was taken after rush hour, so I’m trying to figure out if the rush hour lane really did have something to do with this or if it is a safety concern separate from what happened to this car.

    • The rush hour lane contributes to problems outside of rush hour by teaching people who don’t live on the block that it’s a travel lane, even though it isn’t always a travel lane. They come back another day at another time and think it’s still a travel lane, but it isn’t.

      • I think the bigger issue is you are dealing with MD drivers at a high rate. MD drivers suck. Horribly. I live right off Harvard in CH and that too is a rush hour specific lane. While I would not argue that people speed on the street, I have not heard any complaints about cars getting hit. Maybe the street needs better signs or painted lines?

        I think I will stick with MD drivers being horrible.

  • love that the popo’s computers didn’t work…but hopefully they can run the plates later and get the driver no? or you can’t prove who the driver was (driver can say he loaned it out to a friend?)?

  • As both a driver of this stretch, and a frequent dog walking pedestrian on the same stretch, I can say this area is very hazardous at all times, but especially during rush hour.

    It seems like a no-brainer to make it one lane each way at all times, with traffic calming curbs (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Curb_extensions_at_midblock_crosswalk.jpg) to help pedestrians safely cross, a clear parking lane marked, and possibly bike lane markings if there is space. There is a ton of stop and go when traffic turns from pseudo-two lanes into one lane to get around a parked car. There really isn’t room for two lanes, particularly around the intersection with Decatur. A stop sign at Arkansas and Illinois could do a lot to slow folks down as well.

    • I dont know if i’d say it’s a no brainer. This really needs to be studied, because a removal of a rush hour lane can disrupt a whole neighborhood. Maybe the removal pushes cars south on 13th, then back west on Upshur to get to piney branch/RCP.. this route is already a nightmare and more cars would gridlock the whole neighborhood, not to mention force more frustrated drivers to pass in front of Powell Elementary posing additional injury risks. There’s a balance between local neighbors, and those using the streets to commute, not al of whom are from MD by the way. I commute from Petworth across Upshur to go over to MD every day. It can already take 10+ minutes to get from GA to Arkansas (about 5 blocks). Maybe this issue and similar ones are why DDOT is taking its time?

      • So here’s the problem: the assumption that taking a lane away limits traffic volume. In fact it can work the other way. Check out this article about how dedicated lanes make traffic flow efficiently: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/8/6121129/bike-lanes-traffic-new-york

        One driving lane, one parking lane, with visual clues on the road for intersections, crosswalks, etc. would improve efficiency and safety. It is a no-brainer. As things are now, there is an unmarked 22 ft of “lane” which in spots is wide enough for two lanes (Arkansas and Allison) and isn’t wide enough for two lanes in other spots (Arkansas and Decatur). This leads to anarchy, and in this case, an avoidable collision.

    • I think you mean Arkansas and Iowa. Arkansas doesn’t intersect with Illinois. I agree, though I think a stoplight would be better.

      • Yup, Arkansas and Iowa. Thanks! A light would work too, though there is pretty much no traffic on Iowa so that would just lead to traffic waiting for no reason (another reason I’d like to see more European-style roundabouts, but that’s a debate for another thread…). A stop sign would get the result (slowing and stopping traffic momentarily) while maintaining traffic movement.

  • Don’t feel bad, you arent the only people continuing to be stonewalled by DOT. There is a large group of people trying to get a stop sign at a dangerous intersection at Kansas Av & Quincy St for over a year. It’s a major hazard for pedestrians and cars. I’ve seen people nearly get run over. DOT cares more about traffic patterns and commuters than the safety of the families that live in our neighborhood.

    • I completely agree with this. I live on a busy, though completely residential, street in DC as well. The posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour but it is not uncommon to see cars going 45 mph or more. In the three years I’ve lived there, I’ve witnessed or seen the aftermath of numerous serious traffic accidents, including one that led to a fatality.

      I requested a traffic calming study through DCDOT and was told that my street didn’t qualify for it because it was “designated (as) a minor arterial roadway segment, which means that it is designed to provide the highest level of service.”.

      I took that as a pretty big f*** you to the residents of our street who simply want to live in a safe environment.

    • Nothing seems to be getting done at DDOT these days. Our ANC passed a resolution asking for traffic calming along I Street from South Capitol to 1st (lots of baseball traffic by foot, bike, and cars, plus a lack of a crosswalk between a rec center and a McDonalds so people jaywalk) and hasn’t heard anything in months despite followups.

      Even pothole repairs seem to have slowed down.

  • Get NBC on the case. They just added dividers to separate lanes on Key Bridge as a result of NBC doing a story about drivers cutting in line.

  • Its been this way for years with city DOT departments. All the people who work there live outside the city, so they empathize with commuters, not local residents. Unless there is a strong push at the top to ensure that the resident’s needs are prioritized, staff will always try to minimize impacts to commuters.

    • “All the people who work there live outside the city, so they empathize with commuters, not local residents.”
      This is a major issue with much of city government. It’s why you don’t see illegally parked churchgoers ticketed on Sundays. Or why DOT won’t respond to homeowners earnest concerns about traffic safety. Or why cops let commuters off scott free when they hit a cyclist. The empathize more with the needs and desires of people who live outside the District.

  • DDOT: I assure you we have top men working on it right now

    OP: WHO!?

    DDOT: TOP……men

  • So sorry to hear about this.

    In Ward 1, Jim Graham has been incredibly response over the years for similar situations. About 10 years ago, we got 13th St between U and Fl from two lanes to one. Council member Graham personally responded and stewarded through the change. Ms. Bowser and her staff should similarly roll-up their sleeves and help these folks.

  • What was done to get all of those plastic posts put up @ MD ave, & D st ne?? i didnt hear many complaints publically but they completley changed the intersection by simply not letting cars cross MD & D driving up 7th
    i used to cut up 7th all the time while driving because it was quicker than 8th but that is no more

  • Not sure if this will do much but I figured I would reach out to the At Large Council members if there isn’t much response from CM Bowser’s office. CM Bonds at least tweeted at @DDOTDC asking them if they were installing a red light. I know it is not the bulb-out referenced but maybe it is a start. Our At Large Council members also represent Ward 4 so maybe we need to get creative with relying on them for help.


    • But it’s kind of annoying to have peeps chime in with so called solutions without knowing the background. Anita Bond’s solution is to install a red light. Really? There are lights at some of these Arkansas intersections and people try to speed up to make the yellow, or they stop and hit the gas as soon as it turns green. Why can’t we design for safety? The road is wider than necessary. The study shows this and makes some good recommendations. Please let’s be Informed of the issue and the work that’s been done before throwing out random ‘solutions’.

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