1 year after first fatal e-scooter crash, Dupont Circle site of safety push

About a year after 20-year-old Carlos Sanchez-Martin died — the first person in D.C. to be killed while riding an electric scooter — local officials gathered at busy Dupont Circle to remind people about safety on roads and sidewalks.

“Carlos was killed while crossing Dupont Circle on a scooter, by a car that had made an illegal turn,” said Area Neighborhood Commissioner Mike Silverstein, standing near the spot where Sanchez-Martin, of Silver Spring, Maryland, had been killed on Sept. 21, 2018.

“Carlos was one of five people who have been killed in the past 37 months, in or adjacent to my district, all of them killed by cars or trucks,” Silverstein said.

During the Friday morning rush, D.C. police officers in yellow vests warned pedestrians crossing on red lights, and increased enforcement of vehicles navigating through the maze of islands, turn lanes, signage and pedestrians.

“We have so many cars, so many scooters, so many bicycles and other means of transportation,” Silverstein said. “There’s so many visual cues that people have to pick up in the circle itself, that we all have to take care of others and also be careful for ourselves.”

Many of those walking through and around the circle crossed in front of traffic, as if by rote. “Pedestrians need to know it’s a good idea not to be staring into your smartphone as you’re crossing the street,” Silverstein said.

With several dockless e-scooter rental services in the District, Silverstein said they pose a challenge: “The scooter situation is a very difficult one, because it’s dangerous for pedestrians if scooters are on the sidewalk, but it’s also dangerous for scooter riders to be on the street.”

“How do you balance this?” Silverstein asked. “We’re going to need to improve our infrastructure, and that’s not something you can do overnight.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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