Thursday, May 13, 2010

Major Changes at Key Intersection

Yesterday, the intersection at 7th and H NW in Chinatown took up a new set of rules. In a pilot program by the District Department of Transportation, pedestrians are now allowed to cross diagonally through the intersection while all cars are stopped at red lights. In additional, all turns are prohibited at all times.

There were up to five DDOT traffic controllers at the intersection at times yesterday. I don't think that is a permanent solution, but they sure helped. Crossing diagonally; we can learn to do that. The hardest part will be teaching the drivers that turns are no longer allowed here. Not from H onto 7th and not from 7th onto H. I observed several light cycles and this was the biggest problem. There is some signage on the corners, but maybe some overhead signage is necessary? Something that is front and center to the drivers line of sight that says "NO TURNS." Most of the denied turners were attempting to turn right, eastbound onto H, from northbound on 7th.

DDOT estimates 27,000 pedestrians and 26,000 vehicles use this intersection each day. That's more than 1 person for every car. Pedestrians are given an exclusive cross signal for about 30 seconds every three cycles. That means they can cross 7th, H, or diagonal while ALL vehicular traffic is stopped. Pedestrians also get to cross with the vehicle lights as they were before. The difference now is that there are no turns allowed, so the traffic, in theory, will flow much faster through this area.