Friday, May 07, 2010

Pedestrian Party in Chinatown


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

13 comments:

Jordan on May 7, 2010, 4:24:00 PM said...

Please stop calling Chinatown, H Street. Its just going to confuse people further. When I tell NW people I live on H street they all seem to think I live downtown.

Shaun on May 7, 2010, 4:30:00 PM said...

It is on H Street though! But point taken, title changed.

Anonymous said...

on the penn quarter living blog, they have it as 8th and h. are you sure its 7th?

Anonymous said...

PQLiving has it listed as 7th and H also.

The new intersection will be in place by next Wed.

http://pqliving.com/?p=8509

Mike Licht on May 7, 2010, 5:58:00 PM said...

This crosswalk pattern is also known as a "pedestrian scramble," "X Crossing," and a "Barnes Dance."

Anonymous said...

Think this is going to be a jolly pain in the ass!

Anonymous said...

This plan was in effect in Baltimore approximately 50 years ago. It was called the Barnes Dance after Mr. Barnes who was the traffic person in Baltimore at the time. It worked then, not sure why they stopped. I look forward to seeing it in effect again. As a child, it made me think I was in the big city, almost like New York.

StreetsofDC on May 10, 2010, 9:21:00 AM said...

This is not the first time this arragnement has been in effect in the District. I remember as a child that other intersections in the old Downtown--specifically at 11th and F streets, by the old Woodies--had this setup. Washingtonians called it a "squirrel cage."

Jonathan L on May 10, 2010, 2:55:00 PM said...

I live in Penn Quarter and work in Chinatown so this is a fairly exciting change for me. I want to post this to FB... but can't.

Jules said...

Sounds like a great idea from a pedestrian stand point. The only issue as a driver I can see is not being able to turn. But either way, right now turning is nearly impossible at times with the heavy pedestrian traffic. It will be interesting to see if this alleviates the nonstop traffic in and around this intersection.

Nice work Shaun!

pandaboy on May 10, 2010, 3:58:00 PM said...

I saw this in Denver? Seattle? I can't remember, but it worked just fine. It wasn't confusing and it alleviated the pressure points for pedestrians which cut down on jay walking.

Anonymous said...

So big question for the DC Government, why did you ever stop doing this kind of pedestrian crossing in the mid 1980's anyway? In those days no one blocked the box with their cars and pedestrians didn't feel the need to jaywalk and walk in front of on coming traffic because they could cross the street quickly and efficiently. Seemed like a good idea then and one now.

Ms. Miel on May 10, 2010, 6:11:00 PM said...

Very exciting. They used to have some of these diagonal intersections when I was growing up and I thought it was so much fun. If it saves on accidents, I think it makes sense.

Cheers,

Miel

 

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