DC lawmakers want to transform crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety

Days after two children were hit and injured by a driver in Northeast, D.C., lawmakers are taking action by proposing a drastic change to crosswalks across the city.

Eight council members have co-introduced the Walk Without Worry Amendment that would change how crosswalks look in D.C.. One proposal is a bright yellow, ramped platform that rises to the height of the sidewalk.

Elevated crosswalk
Proposed crosswalk elevation. (Graphic Global Designing Cities Initiative)

The proposal comes after a deadly few weeks for pedestrians in the city where, just this week, two children, ages 6 and 3, were hit by a driver in Northeast.

“So what this legislation does is it standardizes a safer design for crosswalks. Raised crosswalks and raised intersections literally forced cars to slow down as they approach because they are elevated above the road level. And that is what we need,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau.

The city could utilize funds allotted in the budget for infrastructure improvements to increase pedestrian safety, starting with the intersections and roads currently under construction.

“The idea is that anytime an intersection is being redone, you would have to follow these standards or otherwise explain why you haven’t,” Nadeau said.

By standardizing the safety measures city-wide, it would change the District’s current speed bump installation process, which is usually lengthy and by request.

“A resident will request an enhancement, it’ll take months to years to implement it. And it’s completely inequitable because it’s only the folks who have time to organize around safety that can get these interventions,” Nadeau said.

“The key here is we’d be standardizing this so that this would be the norm for intersections in the District of Columbia.”

As an enforcement mechanism and accountability measure, Nadeau said the legislation includes a reporting requirement. In its public annual paving plan, DDOT will need to disclose locations where the agency will not be installing one of the new standard treatments where they would otherwise be called for.

DDOT will also have to outline other safety measures being taken in those locations in lieu of the new standards.

The bill requires DDOT to incorporate the designs for the continuous sidewalks, raised crosswalks and raised intersections 180 days after the legislation is enacted.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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