The Wash

Proposal from Logan, DuPont ANCs for 15th Street safety draws mixed reviews from locals

Residents support the intent behind the resolution but don’t agree with all aspects.

ANC members for Logan Circle and Dupont Circle want to fix the parts of 15th Street NW they say pose “great danger,” but some residents in the area say that the proposed changes would make matters worse.

The resolution, which the Logan Circle ANC released on Sept. 20, addresses 15th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue NW and U Street NW. It calls for the one-way, three-lane street to be reduced to two lanes. It also calls for traffic cameras, a reduced speed limit, increased signage, more stop signs, raised pedestrian crosswalks, and fixes to any unpaved bike lanes.

ANC 2F, which represents Logan Circle, and ANC 2B, which represents DuPont Circle, say that the street as currently constructed encourages drivers to speed recklessly in a pedestrian-heavy area where people bike frequently. 

But residents felt that lane reduction would create more potential for accidents. They also felt that riders of scooters and bikes were just as much to blame as drivers for dangerous conditions.

“It’s pretty unusual,” said ANC 2F Commissioner David Rubinstein when speaking about the layout of the street. Rubenstein is ANC 2F’s Public Space and Transportation Committee chair.

“It allows traffic to go faster than the speed limit,” said Rubenstein. “There’s a potential for a lot of conflict.”

The issue is not new and has persisted for some time, according to Rubenstein. He said his ANC has made prior resolutions to no avail.

Rubenstein said that this time ANC 2F has banded together with ANC 2B, which released a nearly identical resolution for 15th Street NW on Sept. 27, and that as a result, the resolution had gained traction.

A rider bikes down the bike lane on 15th Street NW. (Riley Ceder/The Wash)

He said that DDOT has acknowledged the resolution.

Jeremiah Lowery, advocacy director for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, commended the resolution as a net positive for safety in the area.

“Those measures that they’re proposing are proven to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries,” said Lowery.

However, he said that WEBA is not satisfied with the pace of change.

“The ANC shouldn’t have to pass this resolution. The changes they’re proposing should be on every intersection,” said Lowery. “DDOT occasionally needs some pushing.”

He said that getting drivers to slow down and respect all road users directly benefits bikers.

Enforcement tools and street design are key ways to make a street safer, according to Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who chairs of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

“Research shows that speed cameras do slow down drivers, but people have to believe that cameras are there for safety – not revenue,” Allen said in an emailed statement.

Resident Juliette Wilder disagreed with the resolution’s proposed implementation of speed cameras. She said the cameras are “super predatory,” but that signage wouldn’t hurt.

Reducing the number of lanes from three to two was also a nonstarter for Wilder. She said she didn’t understand how it would lead to a reduction in reckless driving, adding that it could lead to a back-up of traffic that could cause accidents.

She also said that riders of bikes and scooters were not blameless, noting times she’d been driving where she almost got into accidents with people drunk scootering.

Frank Albinder, another resident, also called out bike riders.

“I’ve seen bicyclists get hit when they were not in the right, like someone had a green arrow and the bicyclists ignored,” said Albinder. “So nowadays scooters and bicycles and motorcycles, they pretty much ignore all the lights.”

Resident Frank Albinder said that reducing the number of traffic lanes on 15th Street NW would add to congestion. (Riley Ceder/The Wash)

He similarly didn’t see how a reduction in lanes would help safety.

“It’’ll just make congestion much worse,” said Albinder.

He acknowledged that drivers sometimes go well above the 30 miles per hour speed limit and that, at night, pedestrians are in danger of getting hit.

According to a written statement from DDOT provided by its Public Information Officer German Vigil though, the area is not as high-risk as others.

“It is worth noting that this corridor is not featured in our High Injury Network as one of the most dangerous corridors in the District, nor is it on the BicycleFreight, or Transit Priority Network. While there will always be additional work to meet the needs of District residents and visitors, we always have to make the difficult decision to prioritize areas that historically do not have the same level of investment,” read the statement.

Rubenstein said the ANCs are waiting to hear back from DDOT.

“We will give DDOT time to digest it and then get back to us with their thoughts before we decide on any next steps,” said Rubenstein.

Riley Ceder

1 comment

  • As a resident of DuPont and. Car owner that needs to drive for my job in sales, I vote for better signage and maybe those flashing lights for the crosswalks. The city has taken away a lane on 16th buses (which $100 tickets will now be given this month). And 14th street took lanes away too with the new set-up, so delivery trucks now have to park in a lane. Many Bikers and scooter driver are careless and run lights and make illegal turns. Maybe we should start to ticket bikers for illegal traffic violations too! I see bikers break the law on a daily basis.

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