Risky Crossings, Unwise Pedestrians

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I am saddened that my distinguished neighbor, Charles Atherton, suffered serious injuries that led to his death while he was attempting to cross Connecti-

cut Avenue ["D.C. Man Struck

by Car Dies," Metro, Dec. 6]. Unfortunately, his injury was predictable.

Connecticut Avenue between Ordway and Macomb streets is lined with stores, bars, restaurants and a movie theater, but the only crosswalks are at the Ordway and the Macomb intersections, which are quite far apart. As a result, many people cross illegally in the middle of the block.

Just painting a mid-block crosswalk would not make the situation safe, however. Traffic is usually so heavy that traffic signals do not provide a long enough break to allow pedestrians to cross all four travel lanes. Moreover, legislation enacted by the D.C. Council requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks has not changed motorist behavior. We need a pedestrian-activated traffic signal in this area and on other busy streets to afford people a safe crossing that heavy traffic otherwise prevents.

At its regular monthly meeting, our Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution asking the D.C. Transportation Department to review the portion of Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Porter to improve pedestrian safety there. As a neighborhood commissioner whose district includes the west side of Connecticut Avenue, where Mr. Atherton was injured, I regret that this action came too late to save him. I hope that the city will act promptly to prevent future tragedies along this section of Connecticut and in similarly dangerous locations across Washington.



At first glance, the D.C. police officer's ticketing of a mortally injured pedestrian might appear callous.

But the officer's action illustrates that pedestrian accidents are not necessarily caused by drivers who are speeding, drunk or otherwise careless. The primary reason why I dread having to drive in the District is the number of pedestrians -- tourists and residents alike -- who think they are immune to traffic laws.


Upper Marlboro

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