61 Comment

  • As a frequent ped who has to drive the 16th St speedway from Columbia Heights to Silver Spring to/from work, I try always to stop. I wish more of these had the flashing lights that peds could trigger because it is sometimes hard to tell whether someone is trying to cross. What really worries me though is when I am stopped in the lane near the curb for a ped and a car blasts by in the inner lane. I can’t count the number of folks I’ve nearly seen run over in this situation.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      I always try and do the same, because I run/walk frequently as well. My girlfriend and dog were almost hit at Grant Circle because one car stopped and another tried to blow past them on the other side (because you stop in the middle of the road for no reason?). I was already across the intersection, and it got me pretty heated.

      • I have seen this happen so much – one car stops, and the other veers around them and blows through nearly hitting someone. Very, very dangerous.

        • It’s actually a much higher fine – $250 – than for just failing to yield to a ped, which is only $75. http://mpdc.dc.gov/node/403192
          Of course, I haven’t seen a cop pull anyone over for either in the 15 years I’ve lived here, so it doesn’t really matter. DC needs about 300 cops on motorcycles spending all their time enforcing traffic laws.

          • +1 to “DC needs about 300 cops on motorcycles spending all their time enforcing traffic laws.”

          • And thanks for the link/info on the fine for “overtaking a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian” — interesting that it’s so much higher.

          • figby

            There was a big DC cop effort to crack down on crosswalk scofflaws awhile back and I saw the funniest thing — an angry police officer tell a speeding UPS driver that he hoped he got hit by a FedEx truck.

  • I had a northbound Cadillac, Maryland plates, actually try to roll right through me on 14th just below U St. I had a chance to speak with him at the light. He believed — and still believes — that unless the crosswalk has one of those little yellow signs, he doesn’t have to stop. So he would’ve been fine to hit me. And he’s still out there.

    • Actually that was 13th.

      • The crosswalk with one of the little signs at 14th just below U st. is also pretty bad. I never try to cross there — except for last weekend when the new construction opposite trader joe’s had the whole sidewalk closed with no warning. Of course, several cars blew through the crosswalk without stopping even after I had started crossing :[ I would love if DC was able to put cameras or cops at those crosswalks periodically just to get the point across that cars are legally obligated to stop for pedestrians.

        • The crosswalk to Trader Joes? I always wonder if the cookie butter and mini tacos are worth risking my life for. So far, I’ve decided yes.

    • “He believed — and still believes — that unless the crosswalk has one of those little yellow signs, he doesn’t have to stop.” Wow. Those signs are supposed to be a reminder of the law re. crosswalks everywhere! Yikes.

    • Was it red? If so it’s the same guy who did this to me at the intersection of H and 8th in Chinatown. If not, there are two of them out there.

      • I’m inclined to believe there are several. Even at a normal light one time, I had a guy who was turning while I had plenty of time left on my crosswalk light not stop (requiring me to stop and step back in the middle of the road to avoid being hit) and then proceed to yell at me and call me a bitch for walking in front of his car in the crosswalk all the way down the block…

  • And so is the story of my life. PoP I would say you’re doing pretty well if they stop 1 out of 50 times. SMDH. I wish the District would look into those crosswalks that light up when a pedestrian is in them. I’m sure it would be too costly to do it for all intersections, but definitely at some of the busier ones that don’t have lights.

  • Undoubtedly in the trash because it was laying in the middle of the road or sidewalk after a plow took it out. It’s where those signs belong anyway, they only give pedestrians a false sense of security and do nothing to alert drivers. If DC wants crosswalks in the middle of a block, they need to put flashing lights up that are triggered by the pedestrian. If not, you’ll just keep having car/human confrontations.

    • Why wouldn’t drivers expect pedestrians to cross in crosswalks? It’s like saying it’s okay to run a red light because there was no way of knowing that the green light would eventually change. In addition to these signs, crosswalks have the yellow diamond street signs. Drivers (at least the ones who aren’t drunk, texting, or just plain stupid) should be prepared to stop when they see a crosswalk. If they don’t like it, try to change the law.

  • gotryit

    Don’t throw those away! I love loose ped crossing signs. I can hold it out in front of me as I try to get people to stop for the crosswalk.

  • I always wonder why I’ve never seen any enforcement over these signs. I want the enforcement so I feel safe getting to and from the Metro or walking the dog. But the City! DC could make thousands an hour from a couple weeks enforcement of these laws. It’s a win for everyone except the jerks who don’t stop!

    • gotryit

      I’d like the city to deputize me and my cell phone. I’ll just send the video evidence with a sworn statement, and the city can ticket them. I’ll work for free too.

  • Oh I never cross in those signed intersections. I’d rather walk an extra block or two for a light and live to see another day.

  • I wish the city would remove the mid-block crosswalks on 14th near U St. I don’t feel safe using them and when I’m driving or biking it’s really hard to see someone dressed in dark clothes at night about to cross.

    • I always slow down because I’m pretty familiar with that strip of crosswalks, but some lights or something would be great.

    • I suppose inconveniencing pedestrians is one possible solution to the problem, but I wish the city would aggressively enforce crosswalk yielding so that it became the norm rather than the exception. This is not an insolvable problem. Lots of places all over the world have instilled a culture of yielding. We could do it here, too, if we made an effort.

      • I inconvenience myself all the time by crossing at the light. It takes about an extra minute to avoid playing chicken with cars. Of course I yield to people in the crosswalk but it’s a busy 4 lane street with bike lanes in a commercial area so perhaps the area has outgrown unsignalled crosswalks.

        • Where is there a mid-block crosswalk? The only unsignalled crosswalks I can think of near 14th and U is at the intersection of 14th st and Wallach and the intersection of 14th and Swann. Even if the paint were removed for these crosswalks, cars would still need to stop for pedestrians. The lay in DC is that all intersections (even small streets that don’t have signals) are a crosswalk whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked. It sounds like you want to add more signals, which I am sure would draw the ire of motorists.

        • That’s fine, but you shouldn’t have to. There’s a problem with cars not stopping for peds, so you can solve it two ways: get rid of the peds, or make the cars stop. I say we should make the cars stop. We can do that with enforcement or a light, but either way it’s very doable. I think cities should prioritize for pedestrians’ needs, and the denser the area the more that priority should matter.
          It’s not a hard problem. Put a cop or a camera there and soon people will stop there.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Agreed with this (that that stretch of 14th has probably outgrown unsignalized crossings). I do not even own a car and drive very rarely, but here are many unsignalized crosswalks on Georgia Avenue and 16th St north of Walter Reed that you would have to be out of your m*f* mind to cross at because there are multiple lanes in each direction and people driving extremely fast.

  • I love the Maryland drivers who are always in front of me who treat those signs as stop signs. When there isn’t a pedestrian in site.

  • I cross a few times a day with my dog from Belmont over 15th into MHP and back out at 15th and Chapin. I usually have to wait till a DC tag comes along and stops to let us across. Maryland tags don’t even slow down if you’re in the crosswalk first. Last week I had a women lay on the horn at me waving her arms like I was doing something wrong by crossing in her path. Of course I stood still in the middle of the street, banged on her hood and pointed up to the sign “Yield to Pedestrians” (which is way to high up the pole). Her facial expression changed immediately. It sucks that MPD doesn’t sit there and ticket away. There are a lot of peds, (adults, kids, dog walking) in and out of the part every day of the week. A lot of tickets could be issued.

    But then again all traffic enforcement is left to cameras nowadays.

  • For all those that feel the police should enforce any traffic laws: MPD does not have a traffic enforcement division (outside of automation), like other cities. I believe that they can enforce traffic laws if they see an infraction, but don’t actively enforce traffic laws. The enforcement of traffic laws is in the hands of DDOT, which tries to automate most of it. The result of this arrangement is weird. For example, if a driver commits multiple traffic infractions and almost hits you (but doesn’t) you can take the plate information to the cops and they’ll tell you that they can’t do anything because the police wasn’t witness to it. It’s infuriating and it allows a lot of crazy drivers to basically do whatever they want, as long as they don’t actually hit you. Drivers that yell and curse peds out are all over this city and there is really nothing you can do about it. The police definitely won’t.

    The thing that will change the culture of driving and enforcement is if we elect politicians that walk and/or bike. Current city pols (see Jack Evans and the Mayor) don’t walk and they don’t realize the constant threat that drivers are, especially the crazies. The other thing is that the police needs to resurrect the traffic enforcement division and have these guys actively enforce traffic laws. Lastly, and I believe they have this program in MD, is they need to let you call/text/post plates of cars that are commit flagrant violations. Once a plate shows up again and again, the police could put that car on their radar. It would go a long way to identify scofflaws.

    • I’ve seen a program for reporting unrestrained kids in another state. It was similar in that you report when you see a car with a kid who isn’t properly belted/restrained. I think some nonprofit (rather than the police) took on the task of sending a brief educational letter to the registered owner.

    • I’ve said this so many times over the years. We need a funded traffic enforcement division. Until we have that nothing is going to change. Yes we can make improvements to infrastructure, and yes we can continue to jack up fines, but automated enforcement (which I happen to like, but think is insufficient) is never going to solve the problem, because it very rarely takes people by surprise and it is very hard to automate enforcement of things like harassing pedestrians or making right turns on green into a pedestrian with the ROW.

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Pretty frustrating. This explains the blatant traffic violations all over this city.

  • phl2dc

    I actually got cussed out once while crossing at a crosswalk that had one of those signs.

  • These signs may benefit pedestrians, but at whose expense? The cyclist!

    As a driver, I have to veer into the bike lane each time I pass these crosswalk signs.

    I always check for cyclists when maneuvering around the crosswalk signage, but most drivers do not. Here is the irony: as I am checking for cyclists (over my right shoulder), less attention is given to the crosswalk!

    Moreover, cyclists are at risk of getting hit by drivers, as the drivers maneuver around the signage.

    • What kind of wide-ass car are you driving that you can’t fit in the lane with half of a 12 inch wide sign protruding into it?

      • jcm: To answer your question-
        This is a not-so-wide audi sedan. Consider that allow another 6 inches to avoid the sign… do the math. I’m also a cyclist as well. On a bike, one inch too far could be all the difference.

        • OK, I will do the math. An Audi A8 is 83.1 inches wide, including mirrors. The minimum width of a lane in DC for a residential road is 9 feet (for roads classified as collectors or higher the lanes must be 10 or 12 feet wide, but lets take the worst case). The signs are 12 inches wide, and should be placed in the middle of the road, such that 6 inches protrude into each lane, but lets assume that DDOT screwed it up and placed the whole sign in your lane. So, worst case scenario you have 108 inches of lane, minus 12 inches of sign, leaving you with 96 inches of lane to pass through with your 83 inch wide car. More often, DDOT will put the sign where it goes, and the lane will be 10 or 12 feet wide, and you’ll have 2.5+ feet of clearance without moving into the bike lane.

  • Come to the intersection of Maryland and 7th NE during the morning or evening rush hour. I felt safer crossing the street under fire overseas than this place. I’m sure folks here can “insert” their particular DC intersection in the above sentence.
    God forbid you are hampering MD drivers coming in or out of the city…they gotta get where they need to g…like RIGHT NOW!!

  • figby

    The worst is when one car stops and the rest just keep speeding by — so dangerous and aggravating.

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