Late in June DDOT implemented several improvements to the intersection of 5th, Eye and Massachusetts Avenue NW targeted towards increasing pedestrian safety. Nine crosswalk segments were widened and striped with fresh paint. Additionally the pedestrian refuges on the northwest and southeast corners were expanded with striped paint to reduce crossing distance and disjointed traffic flow on the Eye Street stubs.
These upgrades seemed to reflect an evolution of DDOT into a more agile organization. New DDOT director Gabe Klein, who comes from an entrepreneurial background, recognizes responsiveness is often best achieved with rapid delivery of functionality that is both important and sufficiently executed. Delivering small low cost improvements quickly, evaluating the effects of the change, then incrementally making further upgrades can yield better outcomes than waiting years to make permanent improvements while studies are conducted and funds are raised. This is a paradigm that could produce many great things for the district.
While this intersection did represent a prime opportunity to take swift action on a small budget I feel the project has been executed poorly. Striped paint alone is not enough to change the traffic flow of cars. Complicating matters DDOT did not remove the Stop signs that serviced the now striped off lanes thus sending mixed messages to drivers. The result is unpredictable behavior from cars that creates chaos and places pedestrians at more risk than before DDOT introduced these changes.
DDOT needs to finish what it started by removing the contradictory Stop signs and installing quick curbs or bollards to prevent the flow of cars into the paint striped areas. Anything less endangers pedestrians at this intersection and harms the credibility of the new agile path DDOT would like to travel down.