“About that accident at 11th and Girard”

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11th and Girard St, NW

“Dear PoPville,

I was happy to read about the positive response from emergency workers and bystanders after the four-car accident at 11th and Girard yesterday. As someone who lives nearby I find myself wondering why the obvious underlying cause of most accidents at this problematic intersection hasn’t been addressed: the lack of a four-way stop.

This is the only intersection on this stretch of 11th where there’s not a four-way stop or traffic light, which causes confusion for drivers going in all directions. Drivers on 11th will sometimes anticipate a stop sign that isn’t there and get rear-ended, and drivers crossing on Girard think there’s a four-way stop and often just drive out into oncoming traffic. There are frequent fender benders, near misses involving cars/cyclists/pedestrians, and every several months a major accident like the one yesterday. A car flipped at this intersection just this past November.

It’s not as if adding a four-way stop would have some major effect on traffic flow since there are lights or stop signs on every other block, and installing one seems like it must be cheaper than repeatedly sending emergency response teams.

I’ve put in a request for a new stop sign using DC’s service request site under Sign New Investigation. Has anyone used that service with any success? Any other advice on getting DDOT to install stop signs at dangerous and accident-prone intersections?”

22 Comment

  • “Any other advice on getting DDOT to install stop signs at dangerous and accident-prone intersections?”
    .
    See if you can get your ANC Single Member District rep (and any neighbors you know) to contact DDOT too.
    .
    I suppose it couldn’t hurt to loop Brianne Nadeau in on it as well, but I have to say that I’ve been really disappointed with her constituent services in comparison to Jim Graham’s.

    • You could tell her that you want to build affordable/section 8 housing at the intersection but won’t do it unless there is a four way stop. That might get her attention

  • Folks in the neighborhood recently got a 2-way stop converted to a 4-way stop at Kansas and Quincy. It got a fair bit of coverage here and elsewhere. Sounds like it took a long time to get it done, after many fender-benders and close calls, and with quite a bit of resistance from the city. I believe there was actually quite a bit of opposition from nearby residents as well. I guess I’m saying that although it may seem like an obvious, easy, and straightforward solution to an obvious problem, don’t fool yourself that it’s going to happen so easily. (It might, but don’t count on it.)

    • There was no local opposition at all for this stop sign. The issue was that DOT said that not enough vehicular accidents had happened. Who cares that pedestrians were nearly hit every day! Anyway… The amount of accidents that neighbors had witnessed first-hand did not match the data on file with DOT. What we discovered was that MPD actually encourages those involved in accidents to not file a police report unless public property (light pole, sign etc) or bodily injuries occurred. Damage to two cars doesn’t count. So nearly all the accidents that were happening weren’t even being pitted and therefor DOT did not have a record of it. Crazy, huh? I imagine this is a problem all over the city.

      • I may have overstated it (not intentionally), but there were nearby residents who posted on this website that they were opposed, so it’s not correct either to say there was “no local opposition”. In any case, it is just to underscore my point that what one thinks is “obvious” is not necessarily so to everyone else.

      • saf

        Yes there was. I am sick to death of every intersection being a 4 way stop. I opposed it. And I live a block away.

  • As someone who lives on this block, I would love to see a 4-way stop put in. I try to avoid using this intersection because of the fear of getting hit. It’s hard to see traffic if you’re trying to turn left without going out into the traffic completely.

    • I live a block and a half away on 11th street and absolutely hate this intersection. A 4-way stop sign would be a welcome improvement.

  • 10th and O is another intersection that’s inexplicably not a 4-way stop in an area where every other intersectino is a 4-way stop. I’m not sure it leads to accidents, but I’ve seen several pedestrians get spooked there when a car zoomed through.

    • Oh, it definitely leads to accidents. There were 2 in 2 days last year and the only change that was made was to add signs to inform 10th Street traffic that they had to stop for pedestrians in the cross walk, which is not why accidents are happening there.

  • I live at this house and my roommates have put in multiple requests for a 4-way stop after having multiple cars flip into our front yard. Our requests have been ignored for over a year, and the only action that has been taken is placement of the pedestrian crosswalk signs.

    I have seen almost daily accidents while sitting out on the front porch during the warmer months, and it sadly appears that nothing short of fatalities will spur the government into some sort of action. Please use extreme caution in this intersection, especially if you bike.

    • Seriously- this is a dangerous spot for cyclists trying to use the bike lanes normally because of how many drivers on girard don’t get that this isn’t a 4 way stop and decide to gun it through, and also because of drivers on 11th who stop unnecessarily and wave through drivers on girard- who then blast through without looking to see if the bike lanes are also clear.

  • Oddly, I had an open request for a 4-way stop at that intersection on the 311 website (or some website with a weird connection with 311 called ClickFix I think? I’m not sure exactly what the relationship is) from when I lived on that block 3 years ago that just a couple of days ago got marked as resolved. I was planning to check whether they had actually put a stop sign in the next time I was in the area but I guess this answers my question!

    • HaileUnlikely

      I don’t think they use “SeeClickFix” to handle things like requests for a brand new traffic control device that was not previously present. It’s more for things like a sign that has been knocked down, a light that is out, stuff like that.

    • Over the last few days they have been going through and closing out any open issues that are a couple years old. I had a bunch of old bike issues that were all closed within a couple hours of each other.

  • I have requested a stop sign here for years because this intersection has been incredibly dangerous as long as I’ve been in DC. I go out of my way to avoid it. Maybe something will happen this time. Maybe.

  • It is possible, but probably difficult without patience, persistence, and the full support of your councilmember (to get that, you probably need your ANC+loud community engagement). Technically, DDOT handles this sort of thing through an investigation, but really it’s a combination of DDOT and politics. You therefore should try DDOT first, but it is likely you will fail. First off, familiarize yourself with the federal highway manual rules for a four-way stop. The primary justification IIRC is to control conflicts between vehicles. Sounds like this accident will serve as one justification. There’s some minimum number of accidents per year for DDOT to count the intersection as having sufficient conflicts. Additionally, the volume of use plays a role. Figure out who at DDOT is responsible for handling this sort of thing in your area and start communicating. Base your requests off the federal manual.
    .
    In the meantime, you should investigate the history of the Quincy and Kansas stop sign installation. It’s well documented. Popville, Petworth News, Greater Greater Washington all published multiple articles about the issues at that intersection, I suggest reading them. To summarize: the neighborhood was fully committed to advocating for 4-way stops over the course of 6-8 months (actually, more like 10 years, but the heat was really turned up in the 6 months prior to installation). A large, loud contingent of homeowners was involved in making requests and complaining to DDOT, the ANC and the councilmember. When DDOT inevitably concluded that there weren’t conflicts b/w vehicles or b/w vehicles and pedestrians, the neighborhood protested. A few weeks later there were two accidents on the same day. Politics took over at that point and a stop sign was installed a week later.

    • It’s really sad that the agency in charge of safety (DDOT) is so opposed to these safety measures, and that it takes multiple crashes and a petition to get politicians to intervene.

      • It’s not just DDOT, it’s basically the entire transportation engineering profession. Many of today’s engineers were educated and trained in a time before factual knowledge about the relationship between roadway design and safety existed. Many components of professional standards still in use today regarding the design of roads were developed largely on the basis of what “experts” thought made sense, in a time when factual knowledge about the effects of those designs versus alternative designs did not yet exist (pro tip: when systems involve humans, what seems like a good idea on the surface is often wrong), and engineers are trained to follow those standards, at risk of jeopardizing their professional licensure if they deviate from them and do something crazy like put a stop sign where the aforementioned standards do not call for one. The profession is slowly improving in this regard, with factual knowledge about how the things that they do actually affect safety slowly coming into existence and infiltrating the folklore-based design standards. Being an engineer who is bright enough to comprehend the inadequacy of existing professional standards for road design is a difficult thing to be. (And being the supervisor of an engineer who is bright enough to comprehend the inadequacy of existing professional standards for road design surely sucks even more.) Thus, DOTs everywhere are staffed with engineers who blindly follow the standards, most out of ignorance (“These wouldn’t be the standards if they weren’t known to be the safest, would they?” Actually yes.) and the remainder out of fear (“I know this is wrong but I’ll lose my PE if I do it another way.”)

  • It seems that consistency leads to safety. If you have aberrations from what people expect, that’s when crashes happen. DDOT seems to fight the addition of stop signs at places where people expect them. It’s not impossible to overcome this, but they don’t make it easy. The intersection of Kansas & Quincy and 13th & Quincy was a big win for consistency and safety, but it took a string of crashes and a petition to make it happen. In a Vision Zero city, it really shouldn’t be this hard:

    http://www.popville.com/forums/topic/petition-for-4-way-stops-at-13th-and-quincy-quincy-and-kansas/
    http://www.popville.com/2015/07/yet-another-accident-at-dangerous-kansas-and-quincy-intersection-over-the-weekend/
    http://www.popville.com/2015/04/another-accident-at-kansas-and-quincy-st-nw/
    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/27485/finally-the-stop-signs-residents-pushed-for-along-with-some-startling-news/?id=27485

  • Acknowledging all the engineering unkowns and convolutions – why would erring on the side of caution ( putting in a 4 way stop without a multi-years long study) be a bad thing? An additional minute delay?

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