Are people using DC streets closed to traffic during the pandemic?

A number of D.C. roadways have shut down or partially closed to traffic during the coronavirus pandemic — and a new study has examined the impact.

Between April and September, activity on restricted roadways in the District rose from 32% to 52% of pre-pandemic levels, according to traffic data firm Inrix.

data graph
Activity on restricted roadways in D.C. rose from 32% to 52% of pre-pandemic levels between April and September, according to an Inrix study. (Courtesy Inrix)

Its study found statistics on D.C.’s unrestricted streets were about the same: 32% to 50%.

D.C. had “the lowest utilization of any city, activity citywide was on-par with restricted lane
use,” the report said.

The study compared “activity levels on restricted streets to activity across the respective city.”

New York, Minneapolis, Seattle and Oakland were the other cities the study focused on.

The report showed Minneapolis saw the largest jump in activity on their restricted streets, “with activity levels in July one-third higher than pre-COVID.”

Restricted streets, which aim to promote social distancing and activities that don’t require automobiles such as outdoor dining and exercise, started appearing in D.C. and parts of Maryland and Northern Virginia over the summer.

But the Inrix report said there may be an unintended consequence as the elimination and restriction of parking and thru-traffic may keep people from outer neighborhoods from “frequenting restaurant districts and other street-based activities.”

Read the full study online.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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