MPD Conducting Pedestrian Safety Effort This Week

by Prince Of Petworth January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am 25 Comments

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From DDOT:

In order to spotlight pedestrian safety in the District, The Metropolitan Police Department announced that, from January 15 to 17, officers will be focusing on the intersection of 17th and K Streets with high visibility enforcement of safety laws.

In conjunction with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the initiative is the beginning of a quarterly campaign of specific, high visibility attention to pedestrian safety.

“We had more than 900 pedestrian crashes last year. The average is 653 people hit by a car every year,” said the Metropolitan Police Department’s Commander James Crane. “But no matter what the numbers are, it’s too many.” Crane said the number of citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian has gone up 87% in recent years, and citations for blocking bike lanes have quadrupled. With this high visibility enforcement, pedestrians will be a major focus for awareness and education. Police will be stopping pedestrians for infractions, citing some of those stopped, and handing out educational “tip” cards.

But, the responsibility does not only fall on pedestrians. Drivers need to be aware when turning to look for pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections. Drivers should always stop and give right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

In addition, with the impending Inauguration, when so many out-of-towners are not used to driving and walking around the city, the District has more pedestrian challenges than the suburbs. Data show one of every 10 DC residents walks to work every day. DC is ranked the 7th most walkable city by Walk Score. In fact, last year the number of pedestrians killed tied with 2002 for the lowest number on record since at least 1931. But, despite the decrease in pedestrian deaths, one death is still too many. Pedestrians need to be reminded to cross only in crosswalks, cross with the signals, avoid distractions while crossing roads, and to pay attention to drivers at all times, said Crane. And, drivers need to make sure they are aware of pedestrians at all times.

“We’re out there because we want to help save your life. Every death is preventable,” Crane said. “This isn’t about writing tickets. It’s about saving lives.”

  • Anonymous

    Crane said the number of citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian has gone up 87% in recent years, and citations for blocking bike lanes have quadrupled. With this high visibility enforcement, pedestrians will be a major focus for awareness and education. Police will be stopping pedestrians for infractions, citing some of those stopped, and handing out educational “tip” cards.

    I’m a little confused — if the issue is failure to yield to pedestrians and blocking bike lanes, why is the focus on ticketing pedestrians? Shouldn’t the focus be on ticketing drivers?

    • Yeah, I had the same reaction.

      The press release is really confusing. If the emphasis is going to be on ticketing pedestrians, then the text should focus on pedestrian error.

      Sure, there’s jaywalking, etc. in D.C…. but it seems to me that there are a LOT more instances of cars failing to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, etc. Focusing on pedestrians seems ill-advised.

      I’d be interested in learning the breakdown of those 900 pedestrian crashes — how many were caused by jaywalking, and how many by cars failing to yield appropriately?

      • Anonymous

        Agreed. No doubt there is a lot of jaywalking, but how much of it contributes to accidents and what percentage of pedestrian injuries/deaths are attributable to jaywalking.

        That said, I’d be skeptical of stats on this as well, as I know two people who were hit while crossing in a crosswalk with the right of way–thrown OUTSIDE of the crosswalk where they laid unconscious and were consequently ticketed in the hospital and only managed to see justice served when eyewitnesses came forward to defend them.

        I have a suspicion that the office worker lunch crowd jaywalking at 17th and K is responsible for zero pedestrian deaths, but it’s a lot of people concentrated in one place, and a place where lights are timed in such a way to encourage jaywalking. So…easy prey for your “safety effort.”

        • “lights are timed in such a way to encourage jaywalking”

          What a ridiculous thing to say.

          • Anonymous

            Maybe it’s ridiculous. But a lot of the lights are timed in such a way that there are periods of 20 seconds or so of “green” for a one way street during which not a single vehicle will pass because all traffic is stopped at a red light 1 block back.

            This is especially true outside of rush hour–and a lot of downtown/Farragut area intersections have this problem. I’m not saying they were intentionally timed to cause people to jaywalk, I’m saying the way they are timed creates a lot of openings for jaywalking and where there is an opening, many people are going to walk. So it’s an easy place to ticket people.

          • Interesting background info on the light timing, Anonymous.

            I have to say I don’t have a problem with pedestrians jaywalking IF there are no cars coming and they look both ways, etc. What I do have a problem with is people jaywalking when there ARE cars coming — often, not even looking before doing so — and expecting traffic to stop for them.

            Georgia Avenue used to be plagued with this phenomenon, but it seems to have decreased in recent years.

          • Anonymous

            wow this person sounds just like one of those bike riders trying to justify “filtering,” running stop signs, etc, as bike riders love to do and then complain when they’re in accidents.

        • Will they also have a radar gun for drivers on K? It’s a freakin race track under lighter traffic conditions.
          Focusing on the road user least likely to cause damage to anyone other than themselves is so misplaced. Focus on the 2+ton motorized boxes of metal and glass b/c those are the people causing the vast majority of injuries, property damage, and deaths.

          • Anonymous

            “This person” drives more than she uses any other form of transportation. I’m not trying to justify jaywalking, I very much dislike it when people step out in front of my car or bicycle. I’m just saying, a lot of people do it, and the annual “ticket a hundred folks in Farragut” festivities don’t seem to be doing a thing to stop it.

            Seriously–they roll out this enforcement at one intersection or another in that general area once a year like clockwork. It doesn’t seem to have an impact on pedestrian injuries or fatalities. But it’s high visibility and gets people talking because everyone comes back from lunch and is all indignant that they got a $50 ticket for jaywalking in a crowd of 25.

    • Driver behavior is only part of “the issue.” Pedestrian behavior is another part of “the issue.”

      But I am also confused by that paragraph, it seems very poorly written to me.

  • Anonymous

    Not totally related, but last night I was giving a report to an officer because someone broke into my car. The officer had me stand in the street while he sat in his car writing down details. Granted, I live on a pretty quiet street, but he really couldn’t have gotten out of his car so that I wasn’t standing in the middle of the street?

  • i’d love to see “roving” targeted enforcement year round. Maybe every two-three months they’d spend a week at a (problem) location doing high intensity enforcement. Enforcement of pedestrian, cycling, and driving regulations.

    • Identified

      Agreed. Don’t do this on occasion – do it year round.

      And ticket everybody: cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

      Everyone needs to follow the laws, and enforcement should focus on everyone who doesn’t.

      • The police prefer to ticket pedestrians, because they’re ever so much easier to catch.

  • AngryParakeet

    That corner (and also I and 15th) may be the very worst for pedestrians not obeying the red hand intended to give a few cars a chance to turn right on the green, I think that’s what the focus of police will be. So why don’t they just say that?

    • louc

      Personally, as a pedestrian, I and 15th is one of my least favorite intersections. Perhaps you’re not aware, but basically that signal only lasts for 11 seconds for pedestrians. You have only time to step of the curb and it turns to a red blinking hand. It’s literally only white for 3 seconds.

      And cars ignore it anyway. I’ve waited until cars cleared the turn to walk across the street because of the way they kept rolling into the crosswalk as I’m going across the street.

  • Rick

    It’s insulting that the focus of their press release in on correcting pedestrian behavior. As someone that works near Farragut Square, I can attest that the intersection of I and 17th is a death trap for non-jaywalking pedestrians. Almost every morning, I feel like I have to walk in front of oncoming traffic (cars rushing to make the green light) to get the cars to stop and respect my right-of-way as I cross the street. If I didn’t take that approach, I wouldn’t get a chance to cross. Also, buses and large trucks consistently block the crosswalk, making legal crossing difficult and dangerous.

    • Why is it insulting? Should pedestrians only be asked to follow the rules if everyone else follows them first?

      • jen

        actually yes. cars first. then bikes. then pedestrians. because cars have the most potential to kill or injure. so they actually DO need to be the most aware, and should be held to a higher standard. driving is a PRIVILEGE. not a right.

        • Anonymous

          Actually, no. The crosswalk signals are there for a purpose. Use some common sense people and obey thee law and cross the street when it is legal.

    • Anonymous

      It is equally as insulting that a driver has to slam on brakes or swirve to dodge a lunatic who is crossing the street illegally!!!

  • jen

    this is complete BALONEY. i love how this pedestrian safety initiative seems to be mostly about slapping down the people jaywalking, and whereas cars are just an afterthought, despite the fact that their infractions are way more dangerous.

    if they are really serious about this then they need to hand out tickets to the drivers on their cellphones, the ones that don’t seem to realize they have to stop before they make a turn and wait for people crossing, the ones that intimidate pedestrians in the road, never use their turn signal, speed and run red lights.

    • Exactly, though some jaywalking behavior does bother me as well (especially parents with small kids or strollers!) so I understand it’s worth mentioning. I commute (bus/walk) through 16 & K every day so I’m going to keep an eye out. We definitely need to raise hell if this ends up being some kind of anti-pedestrian bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    It’s about time this city cracked down on jaywalking! Some of the morons have no business walking the street — they are more concerned with looking at their iPhone rather than the “do not walk” signal. Thank you MPD for writing tickets to these idiots who think they are above the law.

  • louc

    A lot of the problems with jaywalking would calm if the city would treat pedestrians as equally important as cars.

    For example, why not freeze all traffic at some of the circles — Dupont or Washington for instance — so pedestrians don’t get stuck in skinny little medians or ultra-small islands as they’re trying to cross?

    Or give pedestrians time to get entirely across Connecticut Avenue at T street when crossing Ct from west to east. The light is timed so that you’re stuck in the median between cars rushing 45 mph before you can get all the way across the road — if you were to obey the crossing signals.


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