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Why Don't You Walk More?

Recent changes to traffic patterns around Thomas Circle in Northwest have made the area much more pedestrian-friendly.
Recent changes to traffic patterns around Thomas Circle in Northwest have made the area much more pedestrian-friendly. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

Twelve percent of D.C. workers walk to work, 33 percent ride Metro trains or buses, 2 percent bike and 38 percent drive, he said.

DDOT has set aside $250,000 for development of the plan, but there is no separate budget for improvements it would recommend, Branyan said. "We will incorporate more pedestrian friendly features on reconstruction already slated to be done."

Officials laid the groundwork for the project last year, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) is supporting it.

Branyan pointed to the recent $6 million redesign of Thomas Circle in Northwest as an example of what DDOT wants to accomplish elsewhere in the city. The work there included redirecting motor traffic to the perimeter of the circle, eliminating cut-through lanes and easing traffic flow for pedestrians and vehicles.

DDOT is seeking residents' input on what needs to be done through public meetings in the spring and an online survey that is open until Feb. 9.

The survey, which is at http://www.tooledesign.com/projects/dc, includes questions such as "Which of the following factors make it more difficult or unpleasant for you to walk in the District?" and offers a choice of answers such as "No sidewalks or gaps in the sidewalk," "Drivers not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks," and "Worries about personal safety (from crime)."

It also asks which areas of the District need the most improvements. DDOT already is looking at 10 high-crash corridors, including Georgia Avenue NW and the intersection of Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue NE.

In the past three years, DDOT has installed 1,300 countdown devices at signaled intersections showing pedestrians how many seconds they have to cross safely. About 200 more are planned.

Some simple adjustments have reaped benefits. Eliminating rush-hour parking restrictions on busy 13th Street NW, for example, reduced travel to two lanes from Logan Circle to Florida Avenue, Branyan said. Traffic was forced to slow down, and pedestrians are now able to cross more safely.

"Speed is the critical factor in the severity of injury to pedestrians," Branyan said. "If you hit a pedestrian at 40 mph, they have a 90 percent chance of dying. But conversely, if you're going 25 mph, they have an 80 percent chance of survival.

"This is not a case of reinventing the wheel," he said. "There are a lot of good ideas out there."


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