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“Pedestrian Only” Street in DC

Enough is enough. So many pedestrians are being struck–and injured or killed–by vehicles on the streets of Washington, DC and the surrounding areas, that there is a Twitter account called Struck in DC that is actually dedicated only to pedestrian and bicycle accidents in the District!

Pedestrian Deaths Keep Rising

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 6,516 pedestrians were killed and another estimated 55,000 pedestrians were injured nationwide in 2020. In Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, the number of pedestrian deaths in 2020 totaled 130, 10, and 111, respectively. How many more of these tragedies do we have to see on the news and read about online until something is done? Hopefully, not much longer.

Yet Another Pedestrian Fatality in DC Area

Just before Father’s Day, a drunk driver killed a pedestrian in the Woodbridge area of Prince William County, Virginia. Prince William County police said that the incident occurred just before 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, near Old Bridge Road and Cape Cod Court. The preliminary investigation revealed that the driver of a Ford Focus veered off the road and hit a pedestrian who was walking his dog. Luis Alfredo Perez of Woodbridge tragically died at the hospital from his injuries at the age of 45. Sadly, his dog died in the crash as well. The driver, Banze Mwenze Gentil of Woodbridge was intoxicated and was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including involuntary manslaughter.

Is a Pedestrian-Only Street the Answer?

The idea of a pedestrian-only street has been debated in DC for years, but the possibility of it becoming a reality is getting closer. Now, this wouldn’t be a permanent situation or a lengthy stretch of road but turning a notoriously pedestrian-heavy portion of a busy road into an area where pedestrians can freely walk about without fear of motor vehicle traffic is an intriguing idea.

The portion in question is 18th Street NW, between Kalorama and Columbia Roads, in the popular Adams Morgan section of DC. Since this area is teeming with bars and restaurants, the idea of transforming this section of 18th Street NW into a pedestrian-only zone on a recurring, temporary basis makes sense.

The idea of a pedestrian-only zone came about in 2017 after a truck ran into three pedestrians, two of whom were police officers. It gained traction in June 2020, when DC officials opted to close part of the street for a day to provide patrons and citizens with some space to socially distance and eat outdoors during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Would a Pedestrian-Only Street Work?

The Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District received a $525,000 grant from the District’s Office of Planning as part of its “Streets for People” program, which is designed to retrofit public rights-of-way to allow streets to be used for pedestrian-based activities within the city. The idea would be to close the area on 18th Street NW one weekend per month, with the road temporarily blocked off by dump trucks and water barriers until a more efficient method is constructed.

Of course, since this would be a recurring street closure, the DC government would need to issue permits, a process which is still ongoing. But if this occasional street closure has the potential to save lives, hopefully the powers-that-be find a way to make it a reality.

Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in the Metro DC Area

Should you or a loved one become the victim of a pedestrian accident in Maryland, the District, or Virginia, you’ll want a personal injury lawyer on your side who has decades of experience handling pedestrian accident cases. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, call The Lapidus Law Firm at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. At The Lapidus Law Firm, you’ll always be treated with the utmost dignity and respect, and we will fight hard to get you justice, because we are committed to making justice work for you.

Written by Larry Lapidus

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