The Wash
Flowers and signs mark a memorial for Nina Larson, a 24-year-old American University alumna who was struck in November by a car at the intersection of Columbia Road NW and Biltmore Street NW in Adams Morgan. (Sophie Austin / The Wash)

Adams Morgan neighborhood commissioners echo District-wide traffic fatality concerns

The neighborhood commission unanimously passed a resolution calling for DDOT to implement more safety measures as 2021 crash deaths surpass 2020.

Weeks after a 24-year-old was fatally struck by a car in Adams Morgan, neighborhood leaders are yet again calling for D.C. officials to take more aggressive measures to ensure traffic safety.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C, which represents Adams Morgan, voted unanimously in favor of a resolution Dec. 1 calling for DDOT to install more protective measures along Columbia Road NW, from 16th Street NW to Connecticut Avenue NW and along 18th Street. Those measures would include raised crosswalks, rectangular flashing beacons and bike corrals.

“This is something we’ve harped on at various points during my tenure on the ANC,” said Amir Irani, chairperson of ANC 1C. “I don’t think Adams Morgan has gotten the attention it deserves from DDOT or from the city in order to implement the safety infrastructure that is needed around Adams Morgan.”

In mid-November, Nina Larson, a resident and American University alumna, died after being struck by a car at the intersection of Columbia Road NW and Biltmore Street NW. By the end of the month, the District reached 39 traffic fatalities for 2021, according to the District’s website for Vision Zero, an initiative aimed at reaching zero traffic deaths by 2024.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser launched Vision Zero in 2015, but 2020 and 2021 saw the highest annual traffic fatalities in more than a decade, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

In September, the Office of the D.C. Auditor announced an investigation into the initiative, WAMU reported.

Peter Wood, a commissioner for ANC 1C, said DDOT has made some recent strides in communicating with residents and placing speed humps in the neighborhood. He wants the agency to continue responding to resident concerns.

“Hopefully it’ll be more than just a few small things, but we can really make it so that Adams Morgan is a place that people think of as pedestrian oriented,” Wood said.

While traffic safety is a concern throughout the District, Adams Morgan is an activity-heavy neighborhood filled with bars, restaurants and parks that attract residents, Wood said.

Wood said traffic safety concerns stem from a broader issue.

“There’s a lot of prioritization of motor vehicles being the core of how the city functions in terms of our planning, in terms of our grid, in terms of just the way that so many things are constructed,” Wood said.

Wood said District officials should move away from enacting policies that reinforce D.C.’s dependence on cars, which he views as a “big-picture” issue.

Wood said DDOT seems “to be making strides” in addressing traffic safety concerns by coming to commission meetings and placing speed humps in the neighborhood, for example.

DDOT did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Benjamin Butz, an ANC 1C commissioner, said at the meeting that he’s happy the commission is working to hold the District accountable with the resolution.

“Everyone wants safer streets,” Butz said. “It’s one thing just to talk about it. But I think this will really hopefully help move the ball forward.”

Sophie Austin

Sophie Austin is a master's student studying journalism and an American University fellow at the Center for Public Integrity. She has interned at The Dallas Morning News and PolitiFact. Austin completed a Dow Jones News Fund data journalism residency with Investigative Reporters and Editors instructors.

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