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Get Ready to Dance Columbia Heights!!

by Prince Of Petworth June 15, 2017 at 9:30 am 20 Comments

Photo from 14th and Irving St, NW by DDOT

And by dance of course I mean cross the street in new (and hopefully safer) way.

From DDOT:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will activate the District’s newest “Barnes Dance” traffic signal operation at approximately 11:00 am Thursday, June 15, at the intersection of 14th Street and Irving Street, NW, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Also known as a “pedestrian scramble,” a Barnes Dance intersection allows pedestrians to cross diagonally while vehicles on all sides of the intersection are stopped. The new traffic signal timing features an all-red pedestrian-only phase and “No Turn on Red” restrictions designed to improve operations and create a safer intersection for all users.

“A Barnes Dance signal operation can be an effective solution for intersections where pedestrians outnumber vehicles,” said DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo. “This new signal operation also supports our efforts to achieve Vision Zero, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries in our transportation system by 2024.”

The intersection at 14th and Irving Street NW was selected for a Barnes Dance because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic. Approximately 3,500 pedestrians use the intersection during the busiest hour of the afternoon rush compared to approximately 1,500 vehicles.

When this imbalance occurs, a shift in the signal operation can reduce conflicts caused by turning vehicles and pedestrians as they attempt to cross the street during their designated “Pedestrian Walk” signal phase.

During the first few days of implementation, DDOT Traffic Control Officers will be on site to direct traffic.Special signs in both Spanish and English will be posted. Additionally, DDOT staff will distribute informational cards to advise users of the new traffic operation at the intersection.

Pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are urged to follow their designated signals within the time allowed.

Pedestrians are expected to cross only when the pedestrian signal indicates a walk signal.
Drivers must obey the signals as right turns on red signals are not allowed at any time. They are advised to drive at the posted speed limit and to not block the box.
Cyclists may proceed on a walk signal, but they must yield right of way to all pedestrians in the intersection.

DDOT urges users of the corridor to be mindful of the changes and to be alert at all times.

The following graphic explains how the new Barnes Dance will work.”

  • AnonV2

    That “No Turn On Red” from Irving southbound to 14th is going to be ignored ALL THE TIME, and usually blindly in front of a stopped bus. I hope this doesn’t put Barnes dancers in too much danger. They will need TCO stationed here for at least a couple of months during the day.

    • stacksp


      I agree regarding the no turn on red. I don’t trust these crosswalks. I am not trying to get hit by a car.

    • kanon

      Cars violating the no turn on red will also endanger people using the traditional crosswalk. In my experience as both a driver and a pedestrian at that intersection, I was rarely ever to make a turn on red bc there were too many pedestrians jaywalking across 14th anyways. I think this will be great! But sure, some growing pains to be expected, as with many traffic pattern changes.

  • Gallery Place NW

    Happy to see the no pedestrians go when cars go on Irving.

  • _____Woods

    i feel like this will not solve that many problems. That bus stop right infront of metro causes so much traffic.

    • iwdc

      I’ve often wondered why the bus stop is right at the corner. If the goal is to transfer to the metro, it makes sense to pull it back a hundred or so feet so that you are closer to the top of the escalators. Plus it would hopefully help with the cars-turning-right-in-front-of-a-stopped-bus problem mentioned above.

  • stacksp

    I don’t trust these Barnes Dance crosswalks. Feel like a sitting duck crossing in the middle of the street like that. At lunch time in Gallery Place, I use the traditional crosswalk for that very reason.

    • kanon

      This really doesn’t make any sense to me. I can understand saying that you may not trust it initially, because cars may not be used to the new pattern. But it really doesn’t require any different degree of trust than using a regular crosswalk, in fact, I would argue it’s safer because any car violating the red light would first have to go through pedestrians using the traditional crosswalk (e.g., you) before it would get to any pedestrians in the barnes/diagonal. Change is scary, but often times, good.

  • Nancy

    They had this downtown by Woodies when I first moved here in ’80. Thought it was the oddest thing at first but grew to love it. Was very efficient in getting people across the streets.

    • saf

      I remember those too.

  • I’m excited about a pedestrian scramble here

  • BikerDriverWalker

    All in favor and if it doesn’t work it can be changed back. I like and comfortably use the one in Chinatown. I don’t think regular pedestrians at this intersection will be as timid as ones in Chinatown which a large part are out of towners. As a driver I usually avoid this intersection because of high volume of pedestrians and bottleneck when 14th changes to single lane. Plus more times than not, it’s a standstill on Irving between the bus stop, cars hazard to drop people off/pick up at metro and cars who can’t turn due to pedestrians crossing. Hopefully the new crosswalk will deter drivers at this intersection. Honestly this area would be a good candidate for a pedestrians only superblock… ha if only.

    • stink eye

      Love this idea! Based on the amount of traffic through here, it blows my mind that people chose to drive up 14th through Columbia Heights.

  • *

    I first saw this type of crosswalk when visiting New Zealand many years ago and wondered why we don’t use this in the US more often. I use the one in Chinatown and think its great there and look forward to it at this intersection.

  • Anonymous

    I am glad to see that, unlike the Chinatown intersection, they are allowing cars to turn on green. By prohibiting all turns at the Chinatown intersection, DDOT was taking the very cynical approach of designing the intersection to push all the pedestrian/turning vehicle conflicts to other nearby intersections so that their study of accidents at that particular intersection would show a decline without taking into account the risk that they shifted to the neighboring intersections.
    My first encounter with this type of intersection was downtown by Woodies, and it worked very well, and like this intersection, allowed vehicles to turn on green (this was before turning on red was a thing).

  • KenyonDweller

    The real confusion will come from the third graphic–when some cars go, some pedestrians go.

    • Anonymous

      Well, you’re probably right, but there should be no confusion at all. If people go when the signal says go, and stop when the signal says stop, there’s nothing to be confused about.

      • saf

        If, yes. But we all know how likely that is.

        • KenyonDweller

          I predict chaos.

  • P Phelps

    I remember a community meeting with DOT before DC USA opened where Jim Graham was present and expressed total delight at this barn dance idea. In the intervening years I’ve often wondered why it wasn’t implemented. And now it is happening and Jim is not here to see it. Maybe we should consider it the Jim Graham memorial barn dance nevertheless!


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