Page 2 of 2   <      

I-95/395 sluggers deserve protection

I saw three separate incidents of vehicles turning right onto H Street from Seventh (heading east): two cars, one motorcycle. I worry that the new pattern encourages pedestrians to relax their vigilance at this intersection because cars aren't supposed to be turning. But, of course, some drivers will - either because they haven't noticed the change or they figure no one will stop them.

What may be needed is a new kind of traffic light when the signals are red for cars but on "walk" for pedestrians. Most cars read a red light as "turn right as soon as you can." If they haven't noticed the "no turns" sign, the red lights won't deter them. What about prominent new traffic lights that say "no turns"? Coupled with intermittent policing, it might possibly work. (Though I'm still skeptical.)

- Rachel Shaw, Rockville

Regular drivers in the area are starting to get the idea. The District does deploy police and traffic control officers to enforce the new rules barring any turns at the intersection, where the city now allows pedestrians to cross in all directions during one light cycle. A traveler wrote in recently to protest a ticket he received at the intersection. He saw a half dozen people wearing yellow safety vests around the intersection but didn't see the no-turn signs and made an illegal right turn. One of the traffic control officers pulled him over and wrote a ticket.

The officers can't be there all the time, and even when they are, I've noticed that quite a few drivers slip through and make right or left turns. Drivers always should be looking for signs regulating turns, but there's certainly plenty going on at this busy intersection near the Verizon Center to overload the senses.

Shaw makes a good suggestion about creating a new, more prominent form of traffic light to support the new crossing system.

Dr. Gridlock also appears Thursday in Local Living. Comments and questions are welcome and may be used in a column, along with the writer's name and home community. Personal responses are not always possible. To contact Dr. Gridlock by mail: Write to Dr. Gridlock at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. By e-mail: On the Dr. Gridlock blog: On Twitter: drgridlock.

<       2

© 2010 The Washington Post Company