The District expects to complete installation this summer of countdown pedestrian signals at its 1,500 intersections that have traffic lights and crosswalks. The city also has hired a pedestrian safety coordinator as part of a stepped-up campaign.
The countdown signals tell pedestrians how much time they have to cross the street. Bill Rice, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said 1,200 intersections will be completed by month's end and the more difficult ones by summer's end. "As far as we can tell, we are the leader, in cities our size and above, in putting countdown signals at every signalized intersection," he said.
The city's expanded safety effort aims to educate pedestrians and drivers, he said. A new city law requires drivers to make a complete stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
The D.C. Department of Transportation recently hired George Branyan -- who held a similar post for the Maryland Highway Safety Office -- as pedestrian safety coordinator. Branyan will help train police officers in pedestrian safety, will develop a pedestrian safety plan and will lead the city's participation in this month's regional "Street Smart" safety campaign.
According to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, 22 percent of people killed in traffic crashes from 1994 to 2003 were pedestrians. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for nearly one-quarter of those killed on the roads in the Washington region; more than 2,600 of them are injured every year and nearly 90 are killed.
-- D'Vera Cohn