The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been running experiments throughout the District like a team of overzealous transportation scientists with DC as their lab. First the bike lanes on 15th Street, then the pay by phone parking meters and now a 29-second pedestrian free-for-all played out every few minutes at the busy intersection of 7th and H Streets in Chinatown. Starting Wednesday at 10 a.m., the lights at the intersection will turn red for cars in all directions and allow pedestrians to legally cross the streets, even diagonally. Diagonally!
Apparently, the new arrangement is one of several changes the agency is carrying out to increase pedestrian safety. The 29-second period, part of a 100-second cycles, will halt all vehicles in every direction for pedestrian crossings and then traffic will split the remaining 71 seconds for vehicles to go their merry ways. Another change of note for drivers, you will no longer be able to make any turns at the intersection. At all.
John Lisle, DDOT spokesperson, said the experiment will last several months to allow people to get used to the new pattern and to help the agency determine the effectiveness. DDOT has data that recorded the length of time it previously took a vehicle to pass through the intersection and will compare the old times with the news times to see if there are any efficiencies. Additionally, the intersection last year had a total of 35 accidents, 4 of which involved pedestrians for a total of 9 injuries. Other jurisdictions, such as San Francisco, have used this model with success for its busiest pedestrian intersections.
"It may work really well" said Lisle, "and then we'll consider doing it at other intersections. And if it doesn't work, we'll roll it back." Lisle admitted that the plan would not work at every intersection. For instance implementing a no-turn policy at Wisconsin and M Streets in Georgetown would be a total nightmare.
Now we'll wait for someone to organize a flashmob dance party at 7th and H. A Lady Gaga song clip of 29-seconds would work just fine.
Washington, DC real estate development news