Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Sandra Sitar

“Dear PoPville,

I just moved back to the area and am lucky enough to have my car. I live right in between DuPont, Logan, and U street. I’m very grateful to have my own method of transportation to get around, however: my frustration with the traffic and street layouts in this city are insurmountable. I get frustrated even just thinking about it, my nerves are totally shot every time I get in the car. Instead of this just being an unhelpful rant, I’ve thought a lot about this post and instead want to write about not only the problems, but possible solutions.

Lack of leading green arrows at traffic lights

The most prominent example of this in my life is when I drive from my boyfriends house over on H street NE back to my apartment. I take Florida Ave NE to Florida Ave NW to U Street, and then make a left down New Hampshire. Let me tell you, trying to make a left in this city is virtually impossible, and usually results in a chorus of honking, pissed off cars. I’ve noticed that the city put up the “no left turn” signs between certain times of day, but less than half of them are lit up for us drivers to see, and nobody listens to them anyways. If someone needs to make a left turn, they’re going to do it, because everyone’s got somewhere to be. But in the process of waiting for the opposite lane to clear, the light turns yellow, resulting in a line of cars behind the turning one who were just trying to drive straight. Does this make sense? Pair this with a saturday night on U street and the busses making constant stops (don’t even get me started on lack of bus lanes, it’s atrocious), and we’ve got a traffic jam backed up for blocks. Does this all make sense, can you visualize it?

So now I am speaking to the DC city government directly: can you please just put more leading green arrows on the streets? This would allow for the cars who want to make a left hand turn do so successfully and safely, without crossing oncoming traffic and without holding up traffic behind it. I know there are a few green arrows dotted here and there, but not nearly enough. Between H street NE and my apartment in DuPont, there is only one leading green arrow on U street, at 16th and U and New Hampshire — and the green arrow only lasts long enough for one car to make a left turn — I’ve counted and watched it turn yellow as I’m turning. If you have to chose just one new place to put an arrow, can I suggest U street and 14th? The metro stop is right there and the 14th street corridor is bustling, so there are always people on it, so there are always cars who need to make a left hand turn onto it. Please — please please please please PLEASE — consider what I’ve said here. Not only will it ease up traffic and my nerves, it will be much safer for everyone!”


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