Letters to the Editor • Opinion
We already know how to prevent pandemics
The District has temporarily closed the Connecticut Ave NW service lane, between Macomb and Ordway streets in Cleveland Park. It is one of five locations where the city is expanding space for foot traffic during the pandemic. (Robb Dooling)

The District is expanding sidewalks in five locations this week, adding more space for pedestrians in front of grocery stores and other businesses.

Earlier this month, the city closed three parkways to traffic to allow walking, jogging and scooter riding. Some residents and advocates called for more space in neighborhoods to allow for better social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pressure grows on D.C. to close roads to give residents more room for walking, jogging, biking during covid-19 shutdown

The city is expanding sidewalks Thursday and Friday at the following locations:

  • North side of Irving Street NW, between Hiatt Place and 15th Street. Expected to be installed Friday.
  • West side of Georgia Avenue NW, between Quincy and Randolph streets (installing Thursday).
  • East side of 25th Street NW, from Pennsylvania Avenue NW to the Trader Joe’s driveway (installing Friday).
  • North side of H Street NE, between Third and Fourth streets NE (installing Thursday).
  • Full closure of the Connecticut Avenue NW service lane between Macomb and Ordway streets (installing Thursday).

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said the sidewalk extensions will give pedestrians enough space to practice the recommended social distancing during the public health emergency.

“While staying at home is a crucial part of flattening the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic, we do recognize residents need to make trips to essential businesses like grocery stores, and sometimes existing sidewalk space makes social distancing a challenge,” Bowser said in a statement. “This tactic will allow for better social distancing as we all work together to flatten the curve.”

D.C. has region’s highest rate of covid-19 deaths

Local and federal guidelines advise people to keep at least six feet apart from each other.

City transportation officials said they are evaluating more locations and are accepting suggestions from advisory neighborhood commissioners, business improvement districts and residents. Residents are asked to submit their requests to their respective ANCs or BIDs.

Other cities have been more aggressive in recent weeks in expanding pedestrian access. Some have created miles of temporary bike lanes and closed lanes of traffic to widen the space for pedestrians and bikes.

In the District, some residents are using orange cones and other obstacles to close roads or lanes of traffic in their blocks to nonresident traffic. The “pandemic protected sidewalks” have popped up in at least nine locations across the District.

The city said it plans to have sidewalk extensions in all eight wards.

Coronavirus news in D.C., Virginia and Maryland

The latest: More than two years into the pandemic, covid cases in the D.C. region are rising again, , while liberal Montgomery County asks who deserves credit for its robust covid response. Meanwhile, Black funeral directors still face a daunting amount of deaths from covid and the omicron wave has had an unequal toll in the DMV.

At-home tests: Here’s how to use at-home covid tests, where to find them and how they differ from PCR tests.

Mapping the spread: Tens of thousands have died in the local region and nationwide cases number in the hundreds of thousands.

Omicron: Remaining covid restrictions in the D.C.-area, plus a breakdown of variant symptoms and mask recommendations.

Get the latest local news: Sign up for the Morning and Afternoon newsletter