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Making Connecticut Ave Safer for Pedestrians
The wide lanes of Connecticut Ave, combined with heavy traffic and short pedestrian crossing times, make for a dangerous environment for walkers.  Photo: mad african! (broken sword).

The wide lanes of Connecticut Ave., combined with heavy traffic and short pedestrian crossing times, make for a dangerous environment for walkers. Photo: mad african! (broken sword).

Have you had an accident or a close call when walking along Connecticut Avenue? If so, you’re not alone. The arterial, one of Washington’s main streets, has some of the highest car speeds in the District, some of the shortest pedestrian crossing times, and many dangerous, unsignalized crosswalks. The street’s wide lanes accommodate heavy traffic during rush hour but allow drivers to go too fast at other times. As a result, Connecticut Ave has a history of pedestrian crashes (see map below).

A high number of pedestrian injuries have occurred on the Woodley Park/Cleveland Park section of Connecticut Ave between 2000-2008.  Map: CAPA.

A high number of pedestrian injuries have occurred on the Woodley Park/Cleveland Park section of Connecticut Ave. between 2000-2008. Map: CAPA.

In response to these issues, residents along Connecticut Ave. from Woodley Park to Chevy Chase have created the Connecticut Avenue Pedestrian Action (CAPA) project to improve pedestrian safety along this important corridor.

CAPA is overseeing a pedestrian audit of the avenue and engaging the community through an online survey and interactive map. The map allows users to input frequent destinations, frequently used crossings, difficult crossings, poor street lighting, and needed bike parking. So far, problems are concentrated around the Van Ness and Cleveland Park areas, as well as the intersections with Calvert Street and Columbia Road. (You may wonder how this map differs from SeeClickFix. It is slightly less open-ended, soliciting more specific information, and it encourages contributors to propose solutions for trouble spots. SeeClickFix, it should be noted, currently shows no pedestrian issues on this section of Connecticut Ave., though we know it’s a dangerous one – perhaps evidence that interactive Web tools benefit from community organizers like CAPA to get people more involved.)

If you ever walk on that section of Connecticut, take a moment to complete the survey and identify trouble spots on the map. And if you’d like to get involved in a more substantial way, volunteer to do a pedestrian audit. CAPA is recruiting people to collect and enter data on the presence and condition of curb ramps, crosswalks, and sidewalks; barriers, such as obstructed walkways; timing of traffic lights; and pedestrian and driver behavior. This information will serve as a baseline for the study, and will inform recommendations to improve pedestrian conditions throughout the corridor.

With technical assistance from Toole Design, CAPA plans to work with the District Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Police Department to develop a pedestrian plan for Connecticut Ave. by the fall of 2010.

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