“At least every other week drivers will either speed up when they see me legally enter a crosswalk or maintain their current velocity and blow their horn as I legally enter”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

In the last year, it seems like walking in this city has become more of a hazard than any other form of transportation. Pedestrian crossings seem to be less respected and completely unenforced in this city. Trying to walk to pick up take-out or even going to the gym seems to put my life in jeopardy. At least every other week drivers will either speed up when they see me legally enter a crosswalk or maintain their current velocity and blow their horn as I legally enter a half-block cross walk, never mind the sign that is cemented to the blacktop that says “stop for pedestrians”. This has happened even while the police have followed the offender through the crosswalk.

Is there any sort of way to get the MPD to actually enforce the city law of crosswalk observation? I’m sure this is very low on their priorities as they seem to fail at even the fundamentals of why police exist, as evidenced in the last few years of spike in murders, much less their solving of homicides that has tanked, but as a citizen that relies on their own two legs to get from point A to B, I feel as this is something I need to ask to get other citizen’s feedback on what I can do to limit my own life perials as I walk from block to block in this city.”

223 Comment

  • Where is this happening? I walk most places, and live in Columbia Heights, so I’m crossing 14th Street and other thoroughfares every day, multiple times. I’m not timid: I march right out and I expect traffic to stop for me. And I have NEVER had someone speed up or honk at me as I’m crossing.
    Which isn’t to say that yours isn’t a real issue. I’d be mad as hell. But I’m interested in knowing why this happens to some people and not to others.

    • It would be interesting to know your gender Anon X, as well as that of the OP. Things I have read in the past say that drivers (of any gender) are more likely to yield to a male pedestrian when they make eye contact, but less likely to do so for a female pedestrian if eye contact is made.

      • Er, I mean wdc

      • OP here: Early thirties male. The most egregious infractions occur crossing west->east/east->west at half blocks between 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th streets from K street to V street.

        • Ah, that make sense. I think that area would have a larger percentage of suburbanites and out-of-towners that aren’t used to pedestrians.

        • Yeah, these blocks (NW) are pretty bad. I make it a point to never cross anywhere that doesn’t have a light — and even then — I look all directions before crossing. I’ve seen too many close calls.

      • Middle aged white woman with a severe case of bitchy resting face. 🙂

        I don’t often make eye contact with drivers.

      • Here we go again. Sexism isn’t the explanation for everything.

    • I lived in CH until recently, and this happened to me all the time. I also had people turning right without stopping or looking, and to avoid being mowed over in the marked crosswalk, I’ve had to run out of the way and yank my dog away even when we had the walk sign. Many drivers don’t even notice as they come tearing around a turn, even when I run or jump out of the way.
      I’m actually started jaywalking across the middle of the block when there wasn’t traffic, just to avoid being run over in the legal crosswalks.

    • 16th and Corcoran, happens to us all the time.

    • Crossing on a green light may have something to do with OP’s issues?

    • This happens to me ALL THE TIME in the Farragut/Dupont area. I live in Carver and it happens less over here, although the Starburst Intersection is bad because of the design.

  • The signs, and as far as I know, the law states that you should stop for pedestrians “within” crosswalks. If a car has already executed it’s stop, is already within the intersection, or is approaching the crosswalk at such a speed and within a certain distance that a safe stop cannot be executed – I’m not sure what is reasonable for the pedestrian to expect.

    • That’s incorrect. Here’s what the law says:

      “The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within any marked crosswalk, or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, when the pedestrian is upon the lane, or within one lane approaching the lane, on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.”


      • So, it does say what I said it said… ok thanks.

        • You were close. You said the pedestrian needs to be “within” a crosswalk. The law says when the pedestrian is “upon the lane or within one lane approaching the lane.” So the pedestrian doesn’t need to be in the crosswalk. S/he could be approaching the crosswalk and cars would need to stop. Plus, the law doesn’t include your language about stopping safely. Considering the speed limit is 25 mph in most of the district, you shouldn’t be driving at a speed that it would be dangerous to stop for a pedestrian..

          • Upon doesnt mean what you think it means. This crosswalk law is actually interesting, because where I learned to drive you had to wait until the ped fully left the road. In DC, you may proceed if the ped has left your lane (possibly your direction, or in multi lane roads, maybe just your lane of travel).

            Thus, the law is saying that you must stop if the ped is upon the lane, meaning in your lane, OR if the ped is in another lane headed towards the lane you are in.

            I.e. the ped must be in the street and walking in such a way that their path will lead in front of your car.

            This is not the interpretation of the majority of pedestrians (or driers who slam on the brakes for peds who are 15 feet from the intersection).

            But, thats what the language above indicates.

            I suppose some people could interpret “upon” to mean approaching, but thats incorrect. “upon” is just a fancy word for “on”. thats a fact.

          • HaileUnlikely

            That’s covered elsewhere in the law. DC Municipal Regulation 18.2302.2 reads “No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb, safety platform, safety zone, loading platform, or other designated place of safety and walk or turn into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.” Yes, the driver is supposed to stop no matter what, but the law does not give pedestrians cart blanche to ask drivers to literally stop on a dime. E.g., if you arrive at the curb (“upon the lane”) when vehicles traveling at the legal speed limit are 2 feet away, you can’t just march on out and expect them to stop in a distance that human reaction time and physics will both tell you is impossible.

          • Good gosh this is quite the DC argument.

          • Being at the curb is not being “upon the lane”. If they wanted to say you had to yield to pedestrians approaching, they would have since they clearly had the word “approaching” in their lexicon as it was used only one clause later. They could have also said “in proximity” or “clear intention on entering the lane” but they didnt. They said “upon” which means “on” which for the purposes of this exercise means within the crosswalk.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Anon X – take s breath. Minor quibble about “upon” aside, I am agreeing with you and providing actual evidence to substantiate your correct but unsubstantiated assertion.

        • @anonx – you’re right that the law could be clearer. “Upon” is clear. What could be clearer is “within one lane approaching the lane.” I would interpret a lane to mean a parking lane or bike lane. So if a pedestrian is within one lane, including a parking lane or bike lane, from the lane of traffic, the vehicle would need to stop.

          @haileunlikely – nice handle. Yes, I agree that cars don’t need to stop for pedestrians who “suddenly” leave a curb. But I don’t think that’s what the OP was talking about. I think the gist of the comment is that cars do not stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, not that cars don’t stop for people who suddenly jump onto upcoming traffic.

          @johnH – hahaha. Totally.

          • I never said the law “could be clearer”. I understood it just fine. Perhaps you think it should be clearer – but to me, it seems abundantly clear. Yes, you’re right, if the ped is in an adjacent bike lane or parking lane and within the crosswalk (or at an intersection at an unmarked crosswalk) the car would be required to stop. Of course, the citation Haile posted above would dictate the circumstances for when the car would not be required to stop.

          • In my read, the DC law is written to codify what everyone’s mother/father/parent figure should have taught them at 3 years of age – “stop, look, and listen before you cross the street.” I am happy to stop my car for people who have stepped off the curb and are already crossing the street. I am more likely than not to blow my horn at someone who barges into a crosswalk when I’m already driving toward it yet didn’t either look or stop to see how much room I have to stop. Seems intuitive to me – don’t walk into fast-approaching, oncoming traffic or you could wind up being “dead right.” Somehow in this city of entitlement many pedestrians seem to believe they magically void the laws of physics by walking into the path of a moving two-ton vehicle.

    • “If a car has already executed it’s stop” — Are you talking about crosswalks that are located at stop signs?
      The OP is specifically talking about crosswalks that are NOT accompanied by stop signs or lights. So the only reason a driver would need to stop/slow down is for a pedestrian… which for some drivers is not sufficient reason.
      It looks from the D.C. Code posted by kenhatesspam that a car that has already come to a stop at a stop sign is (contrary to your assertion) NOT exempted from the requirement to stop/remain stopped for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

      • I should have been more clear, my list of scenarios were assuming the car’s presence was first and the pedestrian was angered by the fact that the car didnt wait. My experience, both while walking (even my friends/family are guilty of this) and as a driver is that pedestrians will enter a crosswalk with the express purpose of claiming the right of way (i.e. walking into the crosswalk with a car already in the process of moving out of its stop, walking into the crosswalk when a car had already entered the intersection, or walking into (and sometimes in front of) a car that is approaching at a speed they cannot execute a stop safely (which could even be within the speed limit, depending on distance).

        The 3 instances above are what I see the most pedestrian anger over – I *rarely* see or experience a driver who honks, speeds up, or otherwise engages aggressively with a pedestrian who was pre-existing in the crosswalk. I’m sure it happens (I happen to get honked at all the time when I dont make a right on red when it says “no turn on red” or more egregiously when it says “right turn on green arrow only”)

        As a footnote: I will absolutely honk at pedestrians who are crossing against the posted sign if I have a green turn arrow and they have a do not walk sign. But that is obviously off-topic.

        • “pedestrians will enter a crosswalk with the express purpose of claiming the right of way” — Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do, though? I thought the upshot was that the pedestrian has to have stepped off the curb for the driver to be required to stop.*
          I agree that it’s unreasonable for a pedestrian to walk into a crosswalk and assume that cars already passing through that crosswalk will be able to come to a complete stop on a dime. But presumably the peds are “claiming” the crosswalk so that approaching cars further away will have to stop?
          *Not all peds know this, so IMO it’s best to employ “don’t be a jerk” thinking and stop for a ped who’s obviously planning to cross the street.

  • Have this same issue and I’m often pushing a stroller.

    • And ? You should be treated differently than another random human ?

      • No, I rather think what EJ means is that, when one is pushing a stroller (or otherwise mobility limited), one cannot cross a road in the same way as an adult or adults alone can.
        When you have a stroller, you’re likely to be slower, and to need more room. Effectively what this means is that you usually need drivers to see you standing on the sidewalk, and come to a complete stop while you go by. It’s sometimes hard to fit in a parking lane with a stroller. You can’t really cross the road frogger-style, waiting in between lanes if someone chooses to ignore you.
        Motorists could generally stand to be nicer to pedestrians in general, but there are practical reasons beyond simply not wanting to hit someone with a baby, that they should make extra allowance for someone pushing a stroller.

      • I interpret it to mean that even those of us with the lowest expectations for driver conduct have a basic expectation that drivers will exercise care, courtesy, and patience in the presence of vulnerable pedestrians (not limited to, but including: the elderly, individuals using assistive devices to ambulate, and [dare I say] children and/or the parents who are holding/pushing them. It’s less of a “special treatment” situation than a “use good judgment or common sense when driving even if you’re running late/hate X type of people/don’t agree with accommodating needs you don’t have” situation.

  • I completely agree with you. I feel endangered as a pedestrian every day (I am car-less and live downtown). As for getting the police to care/enforce the law regarding crosswalks, I’m not sure that can be accomplished, but if it could be accomplished I’d like to know how. I did try making a complaint on the DC 311 site about a particular 4-way stop intersection I use on my way to and from work where cars (and bikes) routinely fail to yield to pedestrians, but I was told it wasn’t a traffic signal issue. I also posted my concern on the email list for my police district, and got a similar response — not the right place to raise my concerns. I gave up.

    • The public employees who deal with quality-of-life issues like traffic and pedestrian safety moved out of the core DC a looooong time ago. They are, for the most part, car-reliant and do not identify with pedestrians. It’s the same reason why MPD looks to blame pedestrians and cyclists immediately when they are hit by cars. They don’t identify with pedestrians – you’re an inconvenience to their driving.

    • Yes, the bikes too. I’ve literally almost been hit by two bikes this week traveling at speeds that would have definitely knocked me down hard while I was crossing legally and they ran red lights.

  • I saw a cop pull over a driver who came close to hitting me in a crosswalk. He could have let the guy off with a warning, but at least they’re doing something when they see it happening.

    • OP Here: In my case I’ve had a cop watch (the car behind the offender) as the guy almost clipped me. I had to jump back but had enough time to hit the car pretty well as it drove off. I pointed and yelled at the cop that had seen it and he just shrugged and drove away.

      • I’ll do you one better. My sister was walking in a crosswalk AT a light in Dupont and the countdown immediately jumped from 20 to 5. The COP who was the first car at the light started revving his engine as he watched the the countdown in anticipation of the green light while she was crossing. My sister started running to get to the other end because she anticipated 20 seconds to cross. As she made it to the sidewalk, the cop raced off and screamed, “Next time, I’ll hit you!” She ended up calling DOT and reported the faulty crosswalk and they knew it was a problem already. She was shaken by the cop’s comment.

        • Jeez — that’s terrible.

          • But totally unsurprising given MPD’s lack of care about anything other than collecting a paycheck. Must be one of the easiest jobs in the world. You even get respect when from people when you say where and what you do….as long as you are far far far away from citizens of DC.

        • As long as she entered the crosswalk when legally allowed to do so, she can take as long as she needs to finish crossing the street, even if the lights turn against her. Not that any driver will recognize that.

    • Maybe two years ago I was trying to cross at 14th/Swann (crossing from west side of 14th to the east). Stood there, looked both ways and stepped out – as a car came up 14th and blew right through. Cop was sitting on 14th in a parking spot (probably just downtime) and he pulled the guy over half a block up. As I walked by the cop nodded at me as if to say “I gotcha”. Biggest justice boner as I looked at the driver and smirked.

      • Cops are always sitting there for the purpose of catching drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in that crosswalk.

      • Yeah, they get drivers there constantly. I’ve watched them pull people over for failing to stop for me twice there in the past year and I don’t even spend that much time in that part of town.

  • I walk from Bloomingdale to Farragut area every morning and night for work and this never happens to me. The only time I feel like a car might speed up or honk is when I’m crossing illegally (still have some NYC in me where when I see a roads open to cross, I cross it regardless of walk signs) in which case they probably should be honking at me.

  • Frankly, DC was way too many un-lighted, mid-blocks crosswalks for such a dense city. There is no good reason why mid-block crosswalks without lights or stop signs should exist on 14th, 16th Streets or Georgia Avenue – the major north-south thoroughfares into core DC. The blocks are short and drivers are already clipping along at a decent pace.
    If anything, DC needs to add traffic calming measures (i.e. add lights) and remove some mid-blocks crosswalks. I don’t want to jeopardize pedestrian safety but we also do not want to increase gridlock.

    • agree

    • I’ll add Rhode Island avenue to the list. We should light all mid-block crosswalks rather than remove any.

    • Picky point: 14th Street isn’t really a thoroughfare in D.C., since it’s interrupted by Walter Reed.
      Back in the day, 14th Street was actually a viable way to get from point A to point B, but the addition of DCUSA has added so much traffic/gridlock that I avoid it unless my route absolutely requires it.

    • Agreed. No crosswalks should be unsigned. Stop signs, at a minimum, should go at every single one.

      • That’s not a good idea at all! Having to come to a complete stop at every mid block crosswalk even when no pedestrians are present? Seriously?

        • People aren’t stopping when they need to for pedestrians. Make ’em stop 100% of the time if that’s what it takes.

          • Lights that turn to red after a pedestrian presses a button would be ideal. (Regular red-yellow-green lights — HAWKs are confusing.) That way, cars wouldn’t need to stop unnecessarily, and pedestrians would get the full stop when needed.

      • Agreed. Those crossings without stop signs on busy streets are hairy, when I’m a pedestrian, and when I’m driving trying to stop when there are pedestrians (I can’t always see the pedestrians if I am beind a bus or truck or van or big SUV.) And those HAWKS are really confusing to those who don’t drive through them regularly.

    • west_egg

      Or! Drivers could just follow the law. Most sidewalks are striped these days, i.e. clearly visible. Drivers who slow down and keep their eyes open shouldn’t have too hard a time.
      As an aside — I’m having trouble placing very many (if any?) mid-block crosswalks, at least on 14th and 16th (I don’t use Georgia very often).

      • From Q to U, there’s at least 7 on 14th – at all of the smaller side streets.

        • west_egg

          These are all at intersections, though.

          • I mean yes…but there’s 0 stop signs/stop lights at those intersections other than a crosswalk sign. It’s not an intersection where cars come to a stop ala a stop sign or stop light. Isn’t that what we’re talking about?

      • I’m most familiar with the ones on 14th and 16th between P and U streets, NW.

    • Yeah, I think a stop sign or lights at each one is a good idea.

    • Georgia Ave and 14th don’t have mid-block crosswalks. They are all extended from an intersecting street. Sometimes the crosswalks are at streets that aren’t through-streets, so from one side of Georgia/14th they look like mid-block crosswalks, but they’re not.
      I agree, though, that the city ought to just put a light on those half-intersections.

      • Agreed.
        I think what’s most confusing to drivers is when there are a whole bunch of striped crosswalks within a relatively short span of road, and some of them are signalized and some of them aren’t. This is the case with Georgia between about Euclid and Princeton.
        It can get even more complicated with a street like Georgia Avenue, where there’s a long tradition of jaywalking. (It seems to be less prevalent than it used to be… or maybe I’m just driving less.) As a driver, you have to figure out if the person in the striped crosswalk up ahead is someone jaywalking while you have the green light, or someone in an unsignalized crosswalk for whom you need to slow down and yield.

  • You’re making this all about you, but it’s possible the drivers are too busy looking out for other things to see you until the last minute. I’m not saying they’re being great drivers, but in a busy city environment there’s a lot to watch out for all at once from all different directions.

    • Wow. Please tell me you’re being sarcastic.

      • Sounds like he is being honest though.

        • I’m just saying, I don’t think this is some conspiracy among (most) drivers to terrorize pedestrians like the OP is implying.
          I was in a car once with a normally careful driver who got suddenly distracted by another car coming from the left, and meanwhile almost ran into some pedestrians (had I not noticed and screamed).

          • Yeah I agree. The blowing of the horn thing is not typical at all. There may be some sort of circumstance that we are not privy to surrounding this whole ordeal. At the end of the day, everyone just needs to use proper judgement and courtesy when possible while accepting that fact that drivers have a lot to be looking out for in addition to pedestrians and may not always see someone entering a crosswalk until late which is why i dont chance it.

          • OP Here: If you have enough time to blow your horn and gun it you have enough time to stop. The way your comment is written I would put money that you own a car or at minimum reliant on vehicle transportation from week to week. If it happened to you once you’d change your opinion but when it happens multiple times to the same pedestrians in a year they don’t take it lightly.

          • So people are deliberately trying to mow you down? That’s just bizarre (not saying it didn’t happen, but that’s obviously different than the more common incidents I’m talking about).

          • There were mentions of actively hostile drivers in this thread from February about drivers (not) yielding to pedestrians:

      • Ok, the point I was trying to make was obviously misunderstood. Just ignore me and go back to hating the poor people who have to drive in the city.

    • No really. What are you talking about? A driver in a car is far less likely to be in danger than a pedestrian being struck by a car. Same goes for cars striking bikers. It is your OBLIGATION as a driver to not strike other people and things on the road.

      If you can’t handle driving in a city, then don’t.

      • I don’t drive in the city (except for two blocks to get on the highway to get to work) but not because I can’t handle it. You’ll be SHOCKED to know I’ve never been in an accident in my life.

      • “It is your OBLIGATION as a driver to not strike other people and things on the road.”
        Did I EVER say it wasn’t?? My goodness, find something else to direct your rage at.

      • Actually its not the obligation solely of the driver to avoid an accident. The driver can be at fault, but so can another driver, a pedestrian, or a biker. Sharing the road means sharing the responsibility. I am not speaking of the current hot topic of contributory negligence, because that seems to be an extreme version. But, the point is, the driver, by virtue of operating the largest machine, is not the one in possession of all the obligation, or even a majority of the obligation. The obligation is divided depending on exactly what the situation is.

    • HaileUnlikely

      If you find yourself so overwhelmed by all that there is to pay attention to that you fail to notice when somebody is legally entering the crosswalk, you need to drive more slowly, to give yourself more time to process the information that you have admitted being unable to keep up with.

      • I never said I was overwhelmed. I’m just saying humans are humans, and we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads and on the sides of our heads and on the tops of our heads to effectively see everything all at once. That’s why everyone needs to move slowly and pay attention to everything they possibly can when navigating the city.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I agree with what you say here. I don’t mean emotionally overwhelmed, I mean cognitively overwhelmed. And no I’m not calling you dumb or inferior to any other driver here. I mean that your attentional resources are literally overwhelmed by the complexity of the driving task at that moment, and slowing your vehicle so that you have more time to process all that there is before you crash into it is an appropriate way to remediate that problem.
          That said, OP is describing a scenario in which the approaching drivers have obviously seen him and acknowledged his presence, by honking and accelerating toward him. It is clearly a fundamentally different scenario than the normal human error that you are describing here.

          • “And no I’m not calling you dumb or inferior to any other driver here.”
            Well it sure sounded like you were!

          • HaileUnlikely

            Sorry. I meant overwhelmed in the most literal sense of the term. It happens to the best of us. Slowing down is an effective way of mitigating its consequences.

          • Good thing I drive very slowly, despite what you assumed.

          • Anon, I’m not ganging up on you but I didn’t get the sense that Haile was calling anyone dumb. (And unfortunately this chain of comments shows what can happen when you play devil’s advocate on the internet.) Glad you have clarified some of your comments.

          • Seriously. BOOOO DRIVERS! Is that better?

          • Well, he did lecture me on how to drive.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Your original comment was in the third person. When I used the second person in my reply, I didn’t mean you, personally (I’m not sure what difference it makes if I did mean, you, anonymous person using the name “Anon,” personally, but anyway, I didn’t). In your original comment, you said, “it’s possible the drivers are too busy looking out for other things to see you until the last minute.” If this is the case, I assert that the driver is by definition doing it wrong, and no matter how slowly they’re going, they should have been going even slower. If they weren’t going too fast in relation to the complicated interaction of their ability and the demands of the task, they would have seen the pedestrian before “the last minute.” No further comments from Haile on this.

        • Good thing you have eyes in the front of your head and are driving 25mph tops and assuming you are driving forward down streets as opposed to gunning it in reverse, the two eyes you need should be more than sufficient…unless I’m missing something here. Take responsibility for your lack of respect and safety to your fellow citizens.

          • Who said I don’t have respect for my fellow citizens? As someone who drives only if I absolutely have to I know what it’s like to be a pedestrian, but I also recognize that drivers have as much to watch out for as we do when we’r walking around, and that it takes two to have a close call.

      • I was speaking more generally about other drivers, not myself. Don’t jump to conclusions.

      • Is it possible that you both are right? Sure, there are plenty of cars going over 25mph on 14th. But using my Trader Joe’s example, when cars/delivery trucks double park in the right and or bike lane(s), all of a sudden drivers in the south bound lanes on 14th have to zipper merge into the left lane all while looking out for bikes leaving the bike lane to enter the traffic lane, plus the cars going in and out of the TJ garage and 2 unsignalled crosswalks within 15 feet. That’s a lot of information for anyone to process during rush hour going even 10 mph. And 50 feet in either direction is a signalled crosswalk…which begs the question of whether some mid-block crosswalks are more dangerous than their convenience is worth.

  • 19th Street NW between Penn and H (crosswalk opp the IMF and the Edward Murrow park) – trying to cross the street in the crosswalk there is like having a death wish. I cannot count the number of times I have crossed that street and had drivers honk at me, or speed right by me while I was crossing.

  • My solution is to avoid using unsignalled crosswalks, honestly. I can’t think of a mid-block crosswalk near me that isn’t half a block away from a signalled crosswalk. Also, using 14th St near Trader Joes as an example, it can be difficult for cars in the right lane and bicycles using the bike lane to see a pedestrian in the crosswalk if the car in the left lane is an SUV or larger. Further, we are both looking to the right because there is the garage for TJ and cars double parking creating a perfect storm of too many things to keep track of before adding in 2 mid-block crosswalks. Obviously, I stop for pedestrians, but it’s often not easy to see them on a busy 4 lane road until they hit the double yellow line.

    • +1 – The non-signalled crosswalks are a poor adaptation to the friendly cohabitation of cars and pedestrians for the very reason you mention: Vehicle driver CAN NOT see the pedestrian to a host of visual blocks. Also, having been a pedestrian, only, DC inhabitant for my first 15-year in town, and now a driver, Pedestrians also must learn to give a little more common sense as they enter all/any crosswalks, in fairness to the traffic.

    • I think there ought to be a lot more stop signs or traffic lights to accompany crosswalks… but DDOT (which seems to prioritize traffic flow way above pedestrian safety) refuses to add them unless/until there have been multiple accidents.
      If you can’t change people’s behavior (not yielding to pedestrians), then you need to add something that they _will_ obey.
      A stop sign was added in my neighborhood recently. Although a lot of drivers merely slow down or do a rolling stop, I find (as a driver, crossing from a side street) that it’s handy because at least it means that cars have to slow down through that intersection.

  • Also – the crosswalk on Florida Ave (near 5th St and T NW), opposite Bistro Bohem. Cars will just park in the crosswalk or try to inch by blocking access for pedestrians (regardless of if they’re able-bodied, in wheelchairs, with strollers, etc).

    • Yeah that’s a mess. For a while they had people directing traffic in the morning, but they’ve been gone for quite some time.

  • There are several pedestrian crossings on Florida Ave. (between Georgia Ave. and First Street NW) that I would never cross, especially pushing a stroller. And don’t get me started on drivers blowing through red arrows. But I still prefer pedestrian commuting to any alternative.

  • This happens to me (and everyone else I know who’s ever walked here too) at the insane intersection in Petworth of New Hampshire-Quincy-8th St. People (in cars) get so angry that I would dare to make them stop. This intersection is just terrifying, but I don’t really have another way of getting to the Metro. So I’ll continue to stare them down, yell, and flail my arms impotently. *sigh*

    • I’m always amazed people try to cross NH there – although it makes sense from a practicality standpoint – because the traffic can be moving so quickly on NH. It’s even worse at a circle like Sherman, where I live, because there are so many crosswalks and most cars simply ignore the signs. I’m actually more worried when a car does stop to let me cross, because I keep checking behind it for the idiot who either 1) is going to go around them and threaten me in the cross walk, or 2) cause an accident because they’re not paying attention and don’t realize a driver has stopped for a pedestrian.

      I try to follow my driving instructor’s key philosophy: “Don’t be dead right,” about who has the right of way and wait for the street to be empty or cars are stopped by traffic before crossing at an intersection that is not governed by lights or an all-way stop.

      • Oh, definitely agreed. I don’t take my life into my hands knowingly there, but I live at that corner so crossing anywhere else doesn’t make sense. Your point about the idiot drivers coming from behind: YES! I’m constantly vigilant for that

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Yea, I purposely avoid using those crosswalks because it’s so dangerous.

    • west_egg

      Just piling on to agree that this intersection is THE WORST. Wide boulevard + Maryland drivers speeding into/out of the city + proximity to Metro entrance = disaster waiting to happen. I’m not always in favor of traffic calming but this intersection definitely needs something.

  • I always run when i cross streets. friends will laugh at me, but nah man…..I don’t want an impatient driver nearly (or actually doing) mowing me down

    • SAME! Everyone is like “Why do you walk so fast?” and I’m just like “Well I’d rather them not swipe me trying to turn while I’m crossing even though I have the right of way!”
      Other times if it looks like someone is turning, I’ll just stop and wait, even if I have time left on the crosswalk signal. Mostly because I was once screamed at by a man for a full block (until I turned around and walked back the opposite way to try to get rid of him) when he tried to turn and I was legally crossing in his path.

  • As a personal rule, if a car is approaching, I let them past. I would rather not be hit than be right. Without actually seeing the scenario in question, its hard to make a call as it depends on the rate of speed at which the car is traveling and if its really feasible to execute a stop.

    • Thank you for your common sense here — this sense should be taught to all new residents to DC – is often too lacking in most city’s. Also, a little hand gesture to the oncoming traffic so they see you and more keenly note your presence, also proves helpful.

      • Or drivers could pay more attention to their surroundings and, if they’re not capable, consider not driving.

        • But that’s going to happen. So you’d rather be right, than uninjured?
          I guess there’s always someone willing to push their sense of self-righteous pedantry to a higher level.

          • I don’t see any indication that anon was advocating being right at the cost of being injured — only that he/she was saying that the greater responsibility rests with the DRIVER to yield, not with the pedestrian to get the driver’s attention.

        • Seriously…… Shit happens people pop out of ill list areas, between cars, misjudging of distance, etc. brains and reflexes don’t always catch up as fast as is needed. Safety on the streets is everyone’s responsibility (and no I am not blaming the victim).

          I am 47 and have been driving since I was 18 and haven’t been in an accident so I consider myself a reasonably decent driver, but I have had a few close calls and luck was the only thing that prevented worse.

      • A hand gesture? Like what? Drivers might think you’re trying to hail a cab.
        A lot of drivers in D.C. (this includes drivers from DC/MD/VA) honestly don’t give a f***. Their priority will always be themselves. Actual enforcement would help to curb this behavior.

        • I now put my hand straight out in a STOP motion at drivers when crossing the street and they are creeping into the crosswalk. And I always make direct eye contact. It works wonders.

          • Take a second to make sure the driver is looking at you and not someone/something else. If they can see you and know you’re crossing they’re not going to hit you.

          • west_egg

            Making eye contact is the key. I won’t cross in front of a car until I’m sure the driver can see me.

          • U translated my French, exactly. Thank you.

          • Holding up your phone, like you’re taking a video of them about to fail to yield to a pedestrian, works wonders. Especially for cab drivers.

          • I HATE when people do this. It strikes me as so f-ing entitled.

    • I agree, stacksp.

    • Agreed. Thank you for this. When I’m a pedestrian, I mostly avoid crosswalks without stop signs or traffic lights. But if I’m going to use one, I look for a natural break in the traffic.

      Why not treat everyone — drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, alike — as human beings just trying to get where they’re going.

      • The problem with your approach is that, applied broadly, it creates a culture of car privilege no better than a Dallas or Phoenix.

        We should take pride in being a pedestrian city. Cars should be constantly looking for pedestrians. Many of us walk, drive, and bike, so it’s not pitting one against another. It’s just saying, “we do not let 2,000 enclosed capsules define our culture here.”

  • I was once trying to cross at a crosswalk in Adams Morgan. The first car didn’t stop. The second car didn’t stop. The third car was a police car, so I thought, “Oh, good! Finally, someone who will give me my pedestrian right of way!”
    I crossed. The police car stopped and yelled something at me about how I shouldn’t have crossed. Dumbfounded, I yelled back, “But it’s a CROSSWALK!”
    Unfortunately, a lot of people in D.C. are jerks with regard to (not) yielding to pedestrians, and MPD doesn’t seem to have much interest in enforcement. For specific problem crosswalks, you could try complaining to the Lieutenant for that PSA (Police Service Area) or the Commander for that police district.

    • Columbia and Belmont? Because that intersection is a mess. People will not stop there, and I always make myself visible on the roadside and give them enough room to stop when crossing, but plenty of cars continue to blow by me.

      • *Biltmore mixed up my Bs

      • Nah — on the 1700 block of Columbia, between the (former) Radio Shack (roughly) and the triangular concrete park across the street (the park at the intersection of Columbia, Champlain, and Euclid).

        • Oh yeah that one is pretty bad as well. Similarly positioned on Columbia with a big gap between crossings at lights

    • OP Here: I wish contacting your PSA would help. However, I learned a year and a half ago when I moved into this city. I called 911 as some large overbearing guy was screaming and dragging this smaller girl on her back by her hair down 13th and T NW. As she was pleading with him to stop he continued dragging her around the corner and down the block. When the police didn’t show up after 15 minutes I left. I saw an officer standing at the intersection of 14 and R a few days later and asked is that normal that they don’t show up for calls. His response was that if I want MPD to show up I have to say “I think I see a gun or knife”. Otherwise it’s labeled a low priority call and they may or may not show up.

      • I wonder if some of the blame for that lies with OUC (the Office of Unified Communications).
        I agree that it’s really discouraging when you move to D.C. and discover that — surprise! — the police here are often obstructionist jerks with no interest in helping residents.

        • Yeah, I know it was well-intentioned as an explanation, but the Anon MPD comment on the fireworks thread yesterday basically boiled down to, “Yeah, it’s against the law, but if it’s really too much trouble to bust them. You really don’t want me to bust them, do you? And if I confiscate the fireworks, I’d have to do paperwork, and wouldn’t THAT be a tragedy.” Really left a bad taste in my mouth.

          • Same. Now I’m going to read every criminal complaint with a mental “But arresting him would take officers off the streets, soooo….” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          • I could sympathize with some of her (his?) point of view… but definitely not about the paperwork.
            The upshot is “If people in D.C. decide en masse that they want to disobey a given law on the same day, we’re not going to do anything about it.”
            I’m interested in the prevalence of legal/illegal fireworks in other major U.S. cities, and how the police in those cities handle things. There’s got to be a better way than what D.C. is currently (not) doing.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I think he had a valid point, even if he didn’t put it eloquently. It’s not that paperwork isn’t fun and he didn’t want to do it, but rather that protocol would require him to complete the paperwork associated with any enforcement action regarding fireworks [or anything] before he would be able to make himself available to respond to another call. If the expense of busting somebody for fireworks is no officer available to respond to a robbery, that is a problem. [And assigning half the force to patrol a stupid parade and concert on the night when they are most needed in the neighborhood obviously does not help]

          • Big +1 to “assigning half the force to patrol a stupid parade and concert on the night when they are most needed in the neighborhood obviously does not help” — why can’t the U.S. Park Police (I assume it’s their jurisdiction) get police from somewhere else to help them out?

          • Or the Capitol Cops or Secret Service, or one of the dozens of other police forces in the city.

    • Up until this incident I’d had (thanks to white female privilege) the belief that “the policeman is your friend.” Not anymore — the policeman is (sometimes) just a jerk on a power trip.

  • How can I possibly be expected to noticed people in the crosswalk when I’m busy checking my work email on my phone and eating my breakfast.

    • Haha! As someone who crosses Rhode Island and Florida twice daily, I appreciate this!

    • …or taking selfies.
      …or applying their make-up.
      …or turning around in their seat and screaming at their kids in the back of the car.
      …or fumbling with their coffee.
      …or singing and dancing along with Queen Bey.
      …listening to that stupid Kane show and freaking out when he says something that appeals to the humor of a 12 year-old.

      • LOL sometimes WHILE DRIVING, I see some of the silliest selfies being snapped that I almost have to take a peak at.

        • This was years ago before full-feature smartphones were common, but after mobile wi-fi became a thing (at that time, it was expensive and used, largely, by professionals who often worked outside of their office…and entitled jerks). I was on a *busy* highway coming back to DC after a major holiday (but not particularly close to DC) and got stuck in a stop-and-go jam. It was pretty stressful going, with traffic going from 50 to zero and then back to 50 rapidly. At a moment of close to zero (I was probably rolling along at 5-10 MPH), I saw a weird light from the car next to me in the right lane (I was in the left lane) out of the corner of my eye. When we came to a complete stop again, I glanced over and saw the driver was CHECKING HIS FACEBOOK PAGE ON HIS LAPTOP. No one else in the car. I actually decided to get off at the rest stop a mile or so up the road and take a break to put some distance between me and him, since his behavior was so dangerous. Even if I got stuck in the jam that would result from him wrecking into someone, that was preferable to BEING THE PERSON HE HIT while “poking” someone on Facebook.
          To this day I have friends who text/check email/etc. and drive, and I just don’t get it. I’ve been conditioned to check my email/texts immediately as much as anyone else, but when I’m driving, the phone is basically off-limits. Mine has a “driving” mode that will answer any call automatically (after 3 rings) on speaker and read text messages to me, so I *sometimes* answer the phone if I’ve engaged that, but I don’t turn it on for short city trips (if whoever is calling/texting me can’t wait 10 minutes…), I’m not touching the phone, and I usually hang up after saying “I’m driving, let me call you back.”

    • Hahaha yes! Then again, as a pedestrian, I can attest to other pedestrians eating breakfast and checking their email when walking, which is equally as bad. And people need to stop.

      • How is that equally as bad? It’s definitely much worse to not pay attention when you are driving a 4,000 lb machine that will likely kill someone if you crash into them.

        • It’s equally as bad if you’re the pedestrian that crosses without looking and then gets hit. I don’t care whose fault it is in that case, both people involved are in deep crap. (And yes, I have actually seen people walk out into the street without looking up from their phone when they did *not* have the right to cross.)

          • If you are a pedestrian, you can kill yourself and maybe someone else in very rare circumstances. If you are driving a car, you can kill dozens of people. So, it’s not equally as bad at all. It’s like saying a knife and a nuclear bomb are equally as bad because they both have the ability to take a life.

  • HaileUnlikely

    The spots that I find most problematic are where a minor side street crosses a main road, vehicles on the main road do not have STOP signs or a light, and vehicles on the side street have a STOP sign. At locations such as these, I think a lot of drivers honestly [incorrectly, but honestly] believe that pedestrians are also required to wait until the coast is clear to enter the intersection, i.e., follow the STOP signs like the cars executing the same maneuver are required to do. I’m not sure how to fix this. DDOT has put up those stop for peds in crosswalk signs, but I think a lot of drivers really truly believe the pedestrians have entered the crosswalk illegally.

  • niceflipflop

    Not necessarily one where drivers intentionally act like asses, but the dual crosswalks at Connecticut and Wyoming are so damn dangerous because of the incline of CT right there. Drivers coming from the south simply can’t see people in the crosswalk until it’s too late. And so they slam on their brakes and it usually ends up in a mini-conflict. At the end of the day, during rush hour, those people are hauling ass from work and I see so many close calls. It’s a miracle there isn’t an incident there every month.

    • DDOT just added a light at Wyoming and CT Ave! It’s triggered by the pedestrian pressing the WALK button. It’s awesome – I used it a few weeks ago. I hope they install them everywhere. The drivers were definitely caught a bit off-guard by it.

      • niceflipflop

        Whoa really? Okay, yeah now realizing I haven’t been by there in awhile. That’s great news. 🙂

        • Yeah, it’s pretty cool. That said, the countdown timer starts at 90+ seconds for the north-south traffic. It’s a bit too long between pressing the button and actually getting the cars stopped so you can cross. I’ve also only used it at off-peak time (on a Saturday morning) so I’m not sure how it’s calibrated during rush hour.

      • Can’t wait for the greater greater washington blog demanding ESP sensors being installed so people don’t have to press a “beg button”

  • First let me say these half street crosswalks are a real hazard in the city. People crossing on 14th across from El Centro are playing frogger as the cars speed past. With that said … can’t you just walk the extra half block to a crosswalk at a stop light? Is it that much of an inconvenience to avoid, as you put it, putting your life in jeopardy? There are posts on here routinely talking about armed robberies, shootings .. and your concern is a crosswalk?

    • IMO, a better solution would be to add traffic lights to the mid-block crosswalks, not to get rid of them completely.

    • Or, you could ask why drivers are willing to risk other peoples lives in order to shave 90 seconds off of their commute. “I want to save 10 seconds by not stopping at this crosswalk so pedestrians should spend 5 minutes walking to the next light, waiting for it to change, then walking back.” Why do you feel so entitled, ddd?

      • I actually think its the other way around. I have every legal right to walk in those half street crosswalks, but I think they are dangerous, for pedestrians and cars alike. I don’t mind inconveniencing myself to walk the extra block or so to cross at a light. That is the easy and simple solution to the OP – again, in his/her words – putting his/her life in jeopardy. We complain about the police response all the time for serious crimes that take place in the city and now we want them to monitor crosswalks for the potential to catch someone? Crazy talk.

        • Again, you think the police should inconvenience themselves by monitoring crosswalks and disregarding other crimes. You think pedestrians should inconvenience themselves by walking out a block out of their way and a block back. But, you don’t think drivers have any responsibility to obey traffic laws. That is crazy talk.

  • Can of worms, right here!

  • This has become worse and worse as we increasingly cede police duties to traffic cameras. Especially from Maryland drivers who don’t fear the tickets since they never pay them. If we want action on this, we must demand more from our elected officials that THEY demand more from cops. I’ve never seen cops lazier than MPD. Whether it’s drivers intentionally terrorizing pedestrians, open air drug dealing at the Columbia Heights metro, or kids destroying property and setting off explosives all weekend, MPD cops seemingly don’t care about this city.

  • I always ensure that the car has time to stop before stepping out, but, nonetheless, i have 2x or 3x close calls a week. Usually it’s the driver in the lane that I haven’t reached yet speeding up to blast through before I am on his/her side of the street. One driver stopped to yell at me and insisted that because she didn’t hit me, what she was fine!
    There are a couple of crosswalks on Arkansas Ave where southbound traffic goes through the light at 13th, but then has two quick crosswalks. I think that drivers feel that since they have a green light (for the prior intersection) that they have some sort of immunity for the next two crossings. I had complained to 4D about these before, and get the “we’ll increase patrols in the area” but I certainly have never seen a patrol car sitting watching anything.

  • OP, does your path include Grant Circle or Sherman Circle? I think there’s been past discussions on PoPville (and neighborhood Yahoogroups) about how drivers in those areas are particularly bad about yielding to pedestrians.

    • OP Here: I’m referring more to the Dupont/Logan/14th St/U Street Corridor. However, I would imagine that it would be similar in other parts of the city.

    • I’ve actually noticed that on the whole, drivers on Sherman Circle seem to have gotten better about stopping for pedestrians, although there are still more than plenty who don’t do it. My best guess is that it’s because there seems to be more pedestrian traffic in general, but who knows. I don’t use Grant Circle enough to know about there, but since NH Ave is such a thoroughfare I imagine it’s still a sh**show for pedestrians.

  • On a tangent, does anyone else feel like the elimination of the left-turn signal onto U St. (driving north on 14th, turning towards the Reeves Center) is an accident waiting to happen? Cars were always overly eager to turn at that light and now that they don’t get a turn arrow at all I pay special attention to make sure no one just flies through towards pedestrians.

  • The unsigned cross walks on East Capitol from Lincoln Park all the way to the Capitol Building are a nightmare. Maryland commuters are pushing through a pedestrian-heavy residential neighborhood every rush hour with aggression and reckless disregard for the people who live there. They know they’re supposed to stop, clearly see the pedestrians that are several feet into the intersection trying to cross, and just plow ahead with not a care in the world. It’s shameful.

    • I live a couple blocks from East Capitol and walk across it a lot, and personally haven’t noticed a problem with that street.

  • Grab a beer and come share it on my stoop….watch the daily fun at Maryland/7th Ave NE intersection. It’s a non-WALK/DON’T WALK signaled intersection that is a major in/out route for the morning/afternoon MD commuters. I call it the Maryland Speedway. Believe a member of the NE library staff was hit there when I was overseas a few years back.

    I don’t blindly walk into the crosswalk(s), that is just dumb because the law of gross tonnage will win. Granted…the letter of the law says I should be able to…but life over limb in this case. I normally stop and let the fast paced traffic pass. What sometimes worries me is one lane of traffic stops for me, the person in the other lane of same-way traffic won’t. I ease out waving thank you but always look upstream/peak around the stopped car to sometimes find an auto at full speed still headed into the intersection. That is just what it has come down to around here IMO.

    What I don’t like is a lady walking straight into crossing traffic in a marked crosswalk (Penn and 6th NE) with the orange/DON’T WALK sign steady state in her face. She proceeded to yell at me (in the middle of the intersection) on my green light that she had a right of way in the crosswalk. I did stop, barely…then pointed to the don’t walk sign. I checked the MPD language and in a signaled crossing…you don’t have (what some DC residents think) the right to just walk blindly into the intersection as she tried to justify loudly/un-ladylike way.


    • “Unladylike”? What does her gender have to do with it? And what’s up with having different standards for men’s manners and women’s manners?

      • When Hill Res wants our opinion, he’ll give it to us. It’s unladylike for us to stand up for ourselves.

        • think you’re reading way too much into that.

          • Thanks Marty. Glad you were here to set me straight.

          • I’m not sure how else to read it, really. What other definitions of “un-ladylike” are there?

          • Yeah, unladylike was a particularly poor choice of words. As a woman, I also think the woman sounds … rude. I have seen both men and women do this same thing and it pisses me off every time. Unless they actually *do* have the right of way, of course (meaning the light tells them to walk).

        • I consider a 50-60 year old woman giving me the finger and telling me to F-off in the middle of a busy intersections un-“ladylike”. If it were a man, it would have been un-manlike. Not an opinion…an observation.

          • The masculine equivalent for “(un)ladylike” is “(un)gentlemanly.”
            I still don’t see the need for a gender-specific word here. “Rude” oughta cover it.

      • justinbc

        I don’t believe he ever implied different standards, it just happened that in his/her example it was a woman. There was no male example given, so no reason to extrapolate a biased opinion.

        • Did you read the original post? “I checked the MPD language and in a signaled crossing…you don’t have (what some DC residents think) the right to just walk blindly into the intersection as she tried to justify loudly/un-ladylike way.” He’d already mentioned that the pedestrian in question was a “lady.”
          This grates with me because the whole concept of “ladylike”/”unladylike” has involved women being held to higher/more stringent standards than men — expected to be more polite, more meek, more elegant/graceful, etc.

          • FWIW, it wasn’t the original “lady” that bothered me — it was the “un-ladylike.”

          • “This grates with me because the whole concept of “ladylike”/”unladylike” has involved women being held to higher/more stringent standards than men — expected to be more polite, more meek, more elegant/graceful, etc.”

            Wow…I stepped in it with you didn’t I. Not the intent.

            I was brought up thinking everyone was capable, should be polite, gracious, and nice…gender never an issue. I chose that description because it was better than “a-hole”. As pointed out…”rude” may have been a better word but just didn’t fit the description of the over-the-top reaction in the intersection.

            Respect your opinion textdoc, glad to defend it. Have a terrific evening everyone.

          • justinbc

            @textdoc, yes, I’m aware that he mentioned it was a woman, what I’m saying is without any male example counterpoint which puts the man off the hook for bad behavior there’s no sense in assuming the worst of this poster because he chose a word that’s pretty common language but happens to personally offend you. Could a “better” word have been used, possibly, but how often do we as regular posters always choose the ideal word in every situation?

    • You seem to contradict yourself on this matter: “I don’t blindly walk into the crosswalk(s), that is just dumb because the law of gross tonnage will win. Granted…the letter of the law says I should be able to…but life over limb in this case.”

      In case youre wondering, your later interpretation was correct – you’re not permitted to blindly* walk into the crosswalk.

      * – assuming that by blindly you meant with tunnel vision/little regard to your surroundings/blissfully unaware of approaching vehicles. If you meant, as a blind person – you are, in fact, permitted to use crosswalks if you are blind or severely vision impaired.

      • “– assuming that by blindly you meant with tunnel vision/little regard to your surroundings/blissfully unaware of approaching vehicles.”

        I see this all the time, hence the term “blindly”.

        Just this morning: I rode my bike into work. Approached the intersection at Md/7th and stopped, traffic was buzzing by since the light(s) were green. A young man in a nice blue suit with a baseball cap on was coming up on the intersection and just walked right into the crosswalk (can I say “young”, and “nice” without offending anyone on here?). Didn’t look either way, just looked at me (still stopped and waiting for the last of the traffic to clear) and turned into the crosswalk (and kept going). Lucky for him the few remaining cars speeding up to Stanton Park were able to stop. That is my simple example of “blindly” walking into the intersection.

  • topscallop

    I’ve experienced drivers speeding up to run the red light at New Jersey Ave and 4th NW, heading toward toward Rhode Island/Florida, as I’m about to step into the (signaled) crosswalk. It’s happened enough times that I make sure they’re really stopping before I start crossing the street. And that’s with the light on my side! I wish a cop would park there or we could get a traffic camera…

  • This might be an out-there theory, but it seems like this mostly happens to me on the major commuter thoroughfares, like RI or NY Aves. On neighborhood streets, motorists typically stop and give way to pedestrians, but people who are used to going 35-40 mph on the way out of town have no time to stop.

    • Agree John…I see the same thing.

    • Should be going like 25 though, right? That’s part of the problem. If they were doing 25 MPH they’d have a lot more time to see pedestrians and would also have a much easier time stopping.
      As they go, 40 MPH down the hill it makes it very much inconvenient for them to heed crosswalks.

  • I’ll also add make sure you wait 3-5 seconds at any of the crosswalks on Penn ave from 23st NW to the Capitol. People driving 40 mph to leave the city (pm) or to enter the city (am) often times speeding thru red lights. If DC had red light cameras at some of these intersections, they would make some serious dough.

  • I live on Corcoran at 15th St. NW. Because 15th is a one way three lane street it has become an insane racetrack. I have largely given up trying to cross at the Corcoran St crosswalk because of all the super aggressive Maryland drivers speeding on 15th. And yes I have had people honk and curse at me repeatedly.

  • The solution, peds start carrying water balloons with colored water in the, Driver gets close, toss the balloon on their window, DEF will wake them up!

  • I live on a marked but not signed crosswalk on a moderately busy street (Montana Ave; I mean, we have those “stop for pedestrians” signs that get run over and flung to the curbs once a week, but no stop sign). I’ve had interactions with police go both ways — one turned on lights and sirens and pulled into the intersection to stop cars so I could cross, others keep going at speed, causing me to jump and yank my dog back. I emailed our distract commander, saying it’s so great when the officers do stop, but also they could be better at setting an example and scanning the corners and stopping. We’ll see if it has much of an effect…
    But I’m also a little worried — there have been cases where I’m driving, and see a pedestrian, and so I slow and stop, and the jackass behind me swerves into the oncoming traffic lane to speed around me – almost clipping the pedestrian. I’ve been known to lay on my horn to alert the pedestrian, because I don’t want them to get hurt and there’s sort of a limited list of things to do at that point.
    You can request a traffic calming study via 311 – which has the benefit of a tracking number if you need to escalate it to the councilmember or mayor’s constituent services. You can also pre-emptively fill out the petition, and send it straight to DDOT, paperwork here (ddot.dc.gov/node/545412). I know DDOT also has stop-sign cameras, not just stop-light cameras, and I believe also has midblock pedestrian cameras, although I can’t find request forms via 311 or ddot’s website.

  • My problem is drivers constantly running red lights. I cross MD Avenue at 6th Street NE everyday, at Stanton Park, and the red light running is out of control. One car will run the yellow, fine, the next car runs the red, and then an additional 1 or sometimes even 2 cars blatantly go through the light, which has now been red for several seconds. This intersection definitely needs a red light camera!

  • NH Ave Hiker

    my favorite is when people treat a right turn on red like a green light, and almost hit me when I’m walking through the intersection.

  • Or bus drivers. I frequently use the crosswalk at 16th and Corcoran NW and I’ve had bus drivers who were actually stopped for passengers decide that they didn’t need to wait for me to complete crossing the street before they hit the gas and run me out of the way, all while maintaining eye contact with me. I’ve been run back into the opposing lane several times. My favorite incident was when the driver ran us back into traffic while giving me the “no no no” finger wag. Luckily the drivers in the other lane were still stopped and we didn’t get hit. No excuse for that.

  • It’s not just the crosswalks at half-blocks. (though I can’t count how many times I’ve seen cars blow through the pedestrian red light SIGNAL on Connecticut Ave at Uptown Theater).

    Dog legs are a nightmare for pedestrians too. Cars going north turning off New Hampshire onto 21st NW routinely ignore the pedestrian signal. (though so do cars turning north off L onto 21st). Cars turning south off North Carolina SE to Independence Ave ignore the crosswalk. Those are just ones I think of off the top of my head.

    And stop signs at certain intersections are especially egregious. I was halfway across 2nd Street NE at E when a car rolled up to the stop and started passing even though I was walking in front of her. She yelled at me as though I deliberately ran from the sidewalk to be right there. Uh, no. I was already in the crosswalk when you pulled up and you need to stop for me.

    • “(though I can’t count how many times I’ve seen cars blow through the pedestrian red light SIGNAL on Connecticut Ave at Uptown Theater)” — I believe when it’s a _blinking_ red light, you’re supposed to come to a full stop and then proceed if it’s safe to do so.
      IMO, HAWKs like that one are unnecessarily complicated and confusing. DDOT should just use regular red-yellow-green traffic lights and connect them to a walk-signal-request button.

    • That HAWK signal on Connecticut is an unmitigated diasaster. To put one of those on a 6 lane road that gets 33,000 vehicles per day, right in between two signalized intersections not 200 feet away in either direction (i.e, 1/3rd the length of a metro platform) is not only incredibly dangerous but pretty disruptive to traffic, especially during rush. There is no coordination between the HAWK and the two adjacent lights, so one person can halt traffic for 6 lanes of traffic while the two adjacent signals not 200 feet away are still showing green. The traffic backups during both rush hours because of that HAWK are unlike I’ve ever seen and can be pretty epic because then it takes 2 or 3 cycles of the other two signalized intersections to clear things out, at which point someone else activates it.

      As someone who lives in Cleveland Park and is a frequent patron of businesses on both sides of Connecticut along that stretch, that signal has only worsened traffic and made it more dangerous to cross. I never use it.

  • As a rule, I don’t count on drivers to either know or obey the law. So I won’t start walking in a pedestrian crosswalk until I am sure the approaching cars are slowing down. Most of the time drivers do slow down. In fact, I’ve had to waive off drivers a few times because I wasn’t quite ready to cross. In terms of enforcement, if police see someone almost run over a pedestrian, it’s obvious that they should do something. Other than that, the best bet is to replace crosswalks with stop signs at problem intersections. No one expects police to be stationed at an intersection to monitor a crosswalk.

  • I am not discounting this happens, I am sure it does. But I will say (as a biker, pedestrian and driver) that I am shocked on a daily basis about how “bold” and pedestrians seem to be in DC, far more so than I’ve seen in any other US city I’ve been in, especially with the signalized crossings.

    If I am driving the speed limit and you walk off the curb from behind a car when I am only a couple car lengths away from you then it results in me or someone else having to slam on our brakes to avoid killing you.

    The worst are the people who stride into the crosswalks, eyes on their phone, never having looked up and then glare at the car that only gets stopped a few feet from them (as happened this morning on 13th).

    Every user of the road could be a little more thoughtful in the way they interact with the other users, including pedestrians. Perhaps waiting 5 seconds for a natural break in the traffic flow rather than jumping out in front of a line of cars at the last minute would be good first step.

    • As someone who walks long distances in the city, it never ceases to amaze me how people walking with traffic stroll in to crosswalks without even the slightest neck crane to see if anyone is rapidly approaching. Spare me the “they shouldn’t have to!” because no party is more responsible for personal safety more than that person.

    • Natural break in traffic ? hahaha you must be new here
      It may work in Glover Park but you could roast in the sun for hours if you were waiting for a “natural break in traffic” during rush hours on NY Av or Mass

    • “If I am driving the speed limit and you walk off the curb from behind a car when I am only a couple car lengths away from you then it results in me or someone else having to slam on our brakes to avoid killing you.” If you’re driving 25 mph, shouldn’t it take only 2.5 car lengths for you to stop?

      • Not even close.

        At 25 MPH, it takes a little over 4.5 car lengths (or 59 feet) to stop your average sized sedan., and that is slamming on the brakes.

        Cars don’t stop on a dime.

        • Ahh… I thought the multiplier was one car length per 10 mph, but perhaps that only applies at higher speeds (like with highway driving)?

          • HaileUnlikely

            The 1 car length per 10 mph is an often-repeated fiction that might work out to be right or close for some car at some speed but has no basis in fact. Stopping distance is proportional to the square of the speed, so a linear model will invariably be wrong most of the time. At the low end it’s actually not too far off, but at higher speeds its not even close (because the amount by which the square of speed exceeds the speed gets larger as the speed gets higher)

          • Ahhh — good to know.
            I guess that must mean that cars following other cars too closely on highways are doing something even more dangerous than I thought. 🙁

  • I am pretty sure the OP is the type of person to crosses at crosswalks at light intersections when they are not supposed to. Routinely I see people cross R St NW, on the west side of 14th, where traffic has a GREEN LEFT TURN ARROW and people just walk out when the crosswalk signal says do not cross!

    Also, if you are those crosswalk vigilantes, don’t be that jerk who runs out into the crosswalk when YOU can clearly wait 3-5 seconds to let a car take a left/right turn at an intersection. You are backing up traffic and making the roads more congested because only 1 or 2 cars can make a left/right-hand turn at traffic lights. Just because you cannot wait a couple of seconds to let cars turn, you will see less angry people on the road. This comes from someone who walks to work every day.

    • “don’t be that jerk who runs out into the crosswalk when YOU can clearly wait 3-5 seconds to let a car take a left/right turn at an intersection. You are backing up traffic and making the roads more congested because only 1 or 2 cars can make a left/right-hand turn at traffic lights.”
      I see your point, but isn’t the problem really with the timing of the walk signal? If cars are having a hard time turning right because of the volume of pedestrian traffic, it would make sense to either start the walk signal early to give pedestrians a head start, or give right-turning cars a right-turn arrow to give them a chance to turn without pedestrians crossing.

      • (I realize that DDOT moves with glacial speed when it comes to something like changing light timing, adding lights, adding stop signs, etc.)

    • Often the problem at that particular intersection is that the first-in-line driver waiting to turn left onto R Street totally fails to start moving when the green arrow comes on, and pedestrians, who abhor a vacuum, start to fill the crosswalk.

  • The odd things is, when I visited NYC a few months ago, this behavior rarely happens any more. No longer are people typically allowed to ignore pedestrians there.

    People in DC tolerate it for some reason. Here are a few: 1) A lot more people drive here so they may think this behavior is ok. 2) I have never seen police interact with drivers who do not yield to pedestrians or run red lights. 3) DC also has poorly designed streets that make bad driving behavior easier to get away with. DDOT has very little incentive to change their designs.

    It is maddening. It’s one of the reasons I plan to move.

  • OP, I agree with you that drivers appear to have become more aggressive and/or less attentive over the last year or two. I regularly dodge drivers turning at 30+ MPH without yielding to me as I’m crossing straight. And I’m walking in the crosswalk, with the light, having looked first. I walk several miles a day between commuting, walking my dog, and errands, and while I certainly see plenty of pedestrians who need City Walking 101 classes, as a pedestrian who survived many years in New York, I feel that my safety is at risk daily from overly aggressive drivers (and cyclists), and the situation is definitely deteriorating due to a lack of enforcement of moving violations. Parking, sure. But red light running, texting while driving, turning on a red arrow with pedestrians in the crosswalk, turning without yielding, etc., etc., seem to be accepted behaviors here. I did write an email to this effect to the Councilpersons who were reviewing the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Act, but absent any true effort by MPD to enforce pedestrian safety laws, I don’t think anything will happen until someone important gets killed.

  • As you learn in grade school, look both ways prior to crossing. I get annoyed when people just walk out and there is no time to stop. Don’t be an idiot and use good judgement when crossing.

  • Disclosures:
    1. You’re more likely to remember bad events than good, so I freely admit that there have been more drivers who have (properly) yielded my right-of-way as a pedestrian than those who have (wrongly) indicated that they were not willing to yield the right-of-way.
    2. I am not perfect and can even name 2 events where, because I was not doing what I was supposed to as a driver, put a pedestrian with the right-of-way in danger. My fault, and in both cases I stopped and apologized to the pedestrian.
    3. To stop a car from 25 MPH should take about 130 feet, or about 1/4 of a “standard” block. Your opinion of “darting out” may be influenced by a perception that it takes longer to stop a car.
    I know of several crosswalks where the beeping/speeding up/other indications that the right-of-way will not be yielded is commonplace. Or at least that the driver is mad about giving you the right of way (yelling, in that case). I’m not saying those who claim to have “never” experienced aggression from drivers as a pedestrian are lying, but my experience is that it happens quite often. I’ve been beeped at, headlights flashed at me, engines gunned, and even aggressive lane changes or “jumping out” (pulling into the crosswalk from a stop when I enter the intersection) executed *towards* me. Mostly in a handful of *well* marked but uncontrolled (no stop sign/light) intersections, but occasionally at controlled intersections (where the driver is stopped, sees me coming, and pulls into the crosswalk so I have to walk behind them).
    Just last week, I was pretty sure a guy was going to get out of his car and attack a woman who crossed in front of him at a marked and signed but uncontrolled intersection, where he had PLENTY of time to stop, because he was salty (to put it mildly) that he had to slow down (didn’t even have to come to a full stop, but did to curse her out). I stopped in the median and stared at him to indicate that he was being watched and he flipped me off, said “someone needs to knock that smug look off your face, b****,” and squealed his tires as he tore off. That’s just one of many incidents I’ve had or witnessed at that intersection, and, sadly, not the most dangerous or aggressive.
    The police are hit-or-miss on this issue, as others have indicated. I’ve seen a few tickets issued, or at least stern warnings and wasting of time delivered, when cops witness drivers failing to yield the right-of-way. I’ve also had the cops follow the lead car right through the intersection as I stand in the parking lane doing my best “what the actual f” throwing of arms in the air.
    Lots of good solutions from the level-headed folks. Hawk lights would be something, on-demand signals would be better. Good, professional, driver education would go a long way, but we saw how well *that* went over!
    In the end, it’s mostly a matter of attitude when things like OP and I described happen. The drivers know they’re supposed to stop, but don’t want to, and because they are in command of something that could hurt us, they can force their will to not stop/slow on us. As someone else said: “if you have time to beep or gun the engine, you have time to stop.” They’re not doing those things because they are afraid they won’t have time to stop, they’re doing it because they don’t *want* to stop.

    • Oh, also, my personal solution to drivers being fairly aggressive about not stopping at crosswalks is to use the strobe light on my phone to announce my presence. Yes, even during daylight hours. It’s REALLY bright, and catches the attention of drivers. I think it just catches them off-guard and they’re FAR more likely to stop. I turn it on a few feet before I get to the intersection/crosswalk, aiming it towards oncoming traffic and slightly down (so as not to be directly in the driver’s eyes and blind them…think like you’re aiming it at their headlights). Not a 100% panacea to aggressive drivers, but a little disruption to their thought process seems to go a long way. Kind of like how school buses often have strobe lights on top these days.
      The types of strobe lights used on bikes or something like one of those strobe light dog tags would work, as well, if you want something separate from your phone. My dog has one of those strobe-light tags, and I’ve seen many people slow at intersections I’m walking near with him, even when I’m not crossing, since it grabbed their attention.

    • On my way home this evening I witnessed a quite satisfying and amusing resolution to a potential road-rage incident. A little white guy in a great big pickup truck (like an F-250 or F-350, not a measly little F-150) was making a left turn from Georgia Avenue onto Kalmia Rd NW. There was a white Mercedes stopped in front of him, at a different light, which was red. (There are two lights way too close together there – it’s a very poorly designed intersection, but that’s not the point). The little dude leaned on his horn, rolled his window down, and shouted “what the hell?” The driver of the Mercedes reached a very impressively muscular brown arm out the window, pointed at the light, and said, completely calmly, without even a hint of anger or aggression, “There’s a red light.” The little dude in the big truck shut his mouth and stopped honking.

  • Over time, I’ve learnt not to trust cars, cyclists, buses, etc. to stop for pedestrians at any cross walk. I value my life more than my right to legally enter a crosswalk. It is always best to wait until it is clear that I can cross without being run over. Too many close calls in this city.

  • This has been happening to me a lot lately (particularly speeding up when I’m in the crosswalk because they don’t judge walking speeds properly and then I stop because I don’t want to get run over and then they get pissed because they stop right before hitting me) and I was about to ask something similar. A lot of comments are saying that this is people crossing when they shouldn’t, but this is happening when I do have the walk signal. Additionally, I’ve seen an increasing number of DDOT patrols along K Street, but not surprisingly, they favor cars over pedestrians to the point that they’ve pushed me out of the way when I have the right of way so that a car can turn. I’m sick of this.

  • Thats just DC culture. Either get with it or get lost. You cant walk around in DC like its Ohio. Green light means go, yellow light means speed, red light means stop. No need for a cross walk, jay walking is what we do. If this is what makes you out of town bamas leave the city, then i hope more cars speed in your direction

  • I really miss the flag system that was in Chevy Chase (I hadn’t seen it anywhere else in DC). I thought it was a great, simple, low cost solution to help make pedestrians more visible to drivers and to convey the pedestrians intent to cross to drivers (rather than just stepping out into the street for a view, flagging down a taxi, etc).

    I am not a fan of the crosswalk light system that was put in Cleveland Park, in front of the Uptown Theater. I felt like it was confusing for me both as a pedestrian and as a driver. Maybe I’m just slow 🙂


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