Content Warning: This post contains multimedia content related to traffic violence
- 20th St NE is a road in the center of our neighborhood, that bisects Langdon Park along a particularly dangerous sloped stretch adjacent to many child-centric destinations
- Neighbors have been advocating for speed mitigations here for many years, but there have not been any significant changes
- In February 2023, Andy Cariño crashed his car after collecting high speed on this stretch, and died on-scene from his injuries
- After a traffic fatality, DDOT conducts a Vision Zero investigation into possible mitigations that can be implemented immediately, to prevent recurrence of such a tragedy. This investigation is ongoing.
- Many likely and theoretical mitigations were discussed at a February 15th site visit, and some mitigations are already being installed.
- You can help advocate for more mitigations; some (evolving) instructions below.
- I also testified to the Council about this roadway and crash.
20th St NE in this area is 32 feet wide, with no center-line markings except immediately adjacent to intersections. There is parking available on both sides, and travel runs in one lane in each direction, making four theoretically four 8-foot wide lanes.
February 2023 crash
Andy Cariño crashed his car around 11:40pm on Friday, 2/3/2023; impact with parked cars occurred on the 3000 blk of 20th St NE after accelerating through the 2800 and 2900 blocks of 20th St NE. MPD Press release here. Some media from the neighborhood shared on social media here.
Since the crash, I’ve learned a lot about Andy and met with his family at the crash site. I encourage folks to read his obituary and watch the video his family made. Andy was a victim of our own incapacity to act on our unsafe roadways and our unsafe relationship with cars, and I welcome folks to advocate for better in his memory, and for all victims of traffic violence.
Vision Zero response
A Vision Zero investigation follows a similar protocol to ddot’s Traffic Safety Input/Investigation process, in terms of what mitigations and factors would be considered, but it has its own prioritization outside of the standard priority scoring/queuing.
The Vision Zero investigation is ongoing. I’d like to organize an email campaign to focus on a few attainable asks, namely:
- raising the Rec Center crosswalk, which the DDOT VZ coordinator indicated was likely
- also flexpost-daylighting the Rec Center crosswalk; DDOT was less firm/committal on this point
- installing a stop sign camera at 20th/Hamlin; the DDOT VZ coordinator indicated this was possible but not guaranteed
- flexposting the crosswalk in front of Woodridge Library to prevent drivers from parking in it and taking the <90-degree turn off RIA so fast; the DDOT Ward 5 liaison indicated this was possible
I welcome any ideas for firming up these asks, drafting a template, and determining recommended recipients. These emails would likely be directed to DDOT’s community engagement folks, the Vision Zero coordinator, and select community affairs folks at the Mayor’s office and Council.
I’ll also work on drafting a parallel letter from myself to the DDOT director, and seeking 5C endorsement for it at 5C’s April 19th meeting.
Our goal should be having these mitigations installed this paving season, which runs from roughly May until October. It’s too cold to perform these tasks in winter months.
envisioning the new crosswalk
An example of the two crosswalk mitigations can be seen in various places in Ward 3, such as the below photos from in front of Janney Elementary School, crossing Albemarle St NW (which is four feet wider than 20th St). If you find more examples around town (or on Google Streetview); let me know! We would ideally form a small collection to diversify the campaign.
We can also start thinking about ways to decorate this new infrastructure, possibly with Chuck Brown/go-go imagery painted through DDOT’s Arts in Right-of-Way program.
On February 28th, 2023, as part of the Vision Zero response, DDOT installed two flashing pedestrian signs on either side of the Langdon Rec Center crosswalk.
I’ll be tracking these and other mitigations as they pop up. They’re green pins on the map at the top of this page.
Feb 15th site visit
This is meant to be a memorandum of a meeting, so I’m switching to third-person/formal titles
On February 15th, 2023, at 2pm, members of the community, Councilmember Parker’s staff, and DDOT met at the site of Andy Cariño’s fatal crash.
|Linda Bailey||DDOT||Vision Zero Coordinator|
|Dalando Baker||DDOT||Community Engagement Specialist for Ward 5|
|Miheret Dirirsa||DDOT||Transportation Specialist|
|Rachelle Roberts||CM Parker’s Office||Chief of Staff|
|Carlos McKnight||CM Parker’s Office||Constituent Affairs Coordinator|
|Oliver Stoute||CM Parker’s Office||Constituent Affairs Coordinator|
|VJ Kapur||5C07||ANC Commissioner
resident, 1800-1900 blk RIA
|Yolanda Odunsi||5C07||former ANC Commissioner
resident, 2000-2100 blk Franklin
|Katherine Brown||Langdon Elementary PTO, 5C07||PTO Advocacy Lead
resident, 1700 blk Franklin
|Allison Clausen||Langdon Park Neighbors||resident, 3400 blk 20th|
|Eli Staples||Friends of South Dakota Ave, 5C07||resident, 3100 blk SDA|
|Benjamin D.||5C07||resident, 2900 blk 20th|
|Sami H.||5C07||resident, 3000 blk 20th|
|Theresa W.||5C07||resident, 2800 blk 25th|
|Dana Y.||5C07||resident, 1800-1900 blk Hamlin|
There were many ideas thrown out during the walk, which covered the subject area of 20th St north of the mid-block crossing, as well as the block of Hamlin immediately west of 20th (by Woodridge Library).
Many mitigations and concerns were shared about the wide crosswalk that connects both sides of Langdon Park across 20th St. This crosswalk is at the nadir of two downwards slopes on either side, which makes it particularly dangerous as drivers tend to lose track of the speed they’re going downhill. This also makes it a common place to attempt unsafe speeds, especially after the roadway was repaved in October 2021. We saw some commonplace speeding occur in the crosswalk as the meeting started.
The crosswalk was recently moved south slightly to avoid conflict with curbside catch basins and allow for accessibility ramps on both sides, which were installed concurrent with a cycle of sidewalk maintenance work days after Cariño’s crash.
- raised crosswalk: Ms. Bailey shared that DDOT does plan to raise this crosswalk. Ms. Dirirsa shared some specifics of what it may look like, with the width of the crosswalk possibly shrinking a bit to around 10 feet. Ms. Bailey noted that the new accessibility ramps would be integrated into the design. Concerns were expressed about the height of the raised crosswalk, citing the shallow crosswalk on Varnum St NE; Ms. Dirirsa noted she’s working on mitigations to improve that crosswalk now, and we can rework a new one on 20th as needed.
- flashing pedestrian signage: Ms. Bailey also shared that some consideration is being given to adding light-up pedestrian signage to the crossing, though this was not sure to occur at this point. Horizontal mitigations: Ms. Clausen asked about adding a “choke point” to the crosswalk. Many folks concurred that horizontal mitigation around the crosswalk would both further slow drivers down as they passed through the area bisecting the park, as well as park the crosswalk from being parked near and over, which occurs very commonly. DDOT personnel stated consideration would be given to installing flexposts around the crosswalk to this end. In further conversations, Ms. Dirirsa noted that drainage would complicate hardened curb extensions in this area.
- continuous sidewalk: Commissioner Kapur asked if any consideration was given to making the crossing a continuous sidewalk, but Ms. Bailey and Mr. Baker stated this was not in DDOT’s toolkit at this time. While provisions related to this were recently passed by the Council and are in the DC Code, they are not yet available at this time.
- grade separation/overpass: Ms. Westover raised the possibility of grade-separating pedestrians and vehicles in this area of 20th with a pedestrian bridge or vehicle overpass, to allow free traversal across the whole of Langdon Park without a conflict zone. Commissioner Kapur remarked that it would be a policy failure for us to not create safer vehicle operation here so that wasn’t necessary.
- park connecting/street closure: Commissioner Kapur also remarked that if making 20th St in this area safe was impossible, perhaps a true safety-focused course of action would be to expand the park through what’s currently 20th St, and allow the street to dead-end on both sides. Former Commissioner Odunsi strongly disagreed with this idea, citing the need for drivers to use 20th St, and the responsibility of parents to protect their children from drivers. Commissioner Kapur stated that any adaptation could occur to accommodate safety, and noted we would all like to live in a city where we do not need to grip our children’s hands that tightly.
2800-2900 blk of 20th
This is the block surrounding the mid-block crossing, and is steeply downhill towards the mid-block crossing on both sides. Cariño collected speed throughout this area of roadway, upshifting multiple times. Residents noted that the wide open roadway and visibility of the distant light on Franklin if coming southbound further induces drivers to speed up to make the light.
- vertical mitigations: DDOT expressed that mitigations along the sloped sections is not permitted under their guidelines due to the grade of the slope. Ms. Dirirsa stated that the threshold for this is eight degrees slope.
- horizontal mitigations: There had been some discussion among residents before the meeting about reducing the width of the roadway and adding horizontal mitigations to reduce how straight it is, using chicanes, though there may not be an implementations in DC. There was some brief discussion about using bike corrals (of which there is one already on 20th just north of Hamlin) to create these fixed horizontal movements. There were many instances where the drainage issues related to any hardened curbside adjustments were mentioned.
Andy Cariño drove straight through the four-way stop at this intersection, with some back-of-the-envelope calculations using video timestamps and intersection width putting their speed at 87-109 mph. Residents remarked on poor stop sign compliance at this intersection generally, and we stopped to observe a lot of driver behavior in all directions. There are several Traffic Safety Inputs open for this intersection, including ones opened for the mid-block crossing (which resolve to 20th/Hamlin): 22-00441341, 22-00515611, and 22-00439881.
- stop sign camera: DDOT plans to explore installing a stop sign camera, but Ms. Bailey was not sure it was likely to end up in the priority list of intersections for it.
- daylighting: DDOT plans to explore expanding the no parking zone and possibly installing a stop sign camera
- physical daylighting: residents noted the importance of physical barriers to enforce any no parking zone, as compliance seems unlikely
- vertical mitigation: the idea of raising the crosswalk or other vertical mitigation was mentioned; Ms. Bailey noted DDOT does not currently consider this to be in its toolkit at this time.
1800-1900 blk Hamlin
As we observed at 20th/Hamlin, the discussion turned to driver behavior through this intersection when coming from the west. Drivers make a less-than-90-degree turn coming off Rhode Island Ave right in front of the library, and usually proceed at high speed through this intersection, likely attempting a shortcut through the neighborhood between Rhode Island Ave and South Dakota Ave.
- fortifying existing speedhumps: Two speedhumps on this block were installed in February 2021. However, residents remarked on how shallow they are, so they’re insufficient to slow down drivers. DDOT expressed that improving those speedhumps might be possible.
- library crosswalk: There was discussion about driver behavior surrounding the crosswalk directly in front of Woodridge Library. In addition to taking the turn at high speeds, drivers frequently park in the middle of the library crosswalk while stopping by the library, a condition we readily observed during the walk. Commissioner Kapur pointed out in the parallel area north of Rhode Island Ave, a small sidewalk extension exists into the crosswalk to make this more difficult. Mr. Baker remarked that perhaps flexposts could be used to create similar in front of the library.
- vestigial connector closure: In addition to being a less-than-90-degree turn, the intersection of Hamlin St, Rhode Island Ave, and Queens Chapel Rd here creates vestigial connectors that operate like a slip lane to allow faster turns. Commissioner Kapur remarked that he had put in a TSI request (SR 22-00414831) seeking to close the portion of Hamlin directly in front of the library entirely, as it had been the case for months during library construction and as DDOT did as a safety measure for 9th St. NW in front of Truesdell Elementary last year; this would create a large pedestrian area in front of the library, and allow a portion of Queens Chapel to serve as two-way traffic with more rigid 90-degree turns on and off the arterial. DDOT did not seem particularly receptive to the idea.
20th and Franklin is where Cariño crash movement began, as he accelerated from a stop through this intersection going north. While we didn’t visit the intersection on the walk, there was some discussion about mitigations that could occur there. There is a Traffic Safety Input in the pool for this intersection: SR 23-00018643.
- horizontal mitigations: There are already turn-hardening and centerline-hardening flexposts at 17th/Franklin and 18th/Franklin. Commissioner Kapur remarked to Ms. Dirirsa that any addition of these to 20th/Franklin, where there are none, could be helpful.
At one point, a discussion of the one nearby Traffic Safety Input that had risen to 2023 Quarter 2 priority came up. TSI SR 22-00487048 is for 17th and Franklin Sts NE. This would not have much direct impact on the circumstances of Andy Cariño’s crash, but could go a long way to making the neighborhood safer.
- four-way stop: The intersection is currently a two-way stop, with traffic on Franklin St not stopping. This traffic is coming off of Rhode Island Ave. NE and heading towards a light