Stop Sign Quest Part 1: Slowing It Down in Brookland

Brookland is a quaint, cosy, suburban-ish, neighborhood in Northeast Washington, DC where I’ve lived for two years. The center has a bit of a small town feel with brightly painted storefronts; people talking constantly, calling out to each other.

There’s a Taekwondo studio that brings lots of kids to the block; a chain pharmacy that drove out and took over an old fashioned fancy movie theater; several quicky type restaurants; the best hardware store in the city; several centers that serve the large, vibrant deaf population of DC. This brings a fascinating and very unusual element to the streetscape as it’s almost impossible to walk down the street without seeing a flurry of gorgeous sign language.

I had never spent any time on this side of town before moving from Northwest where I’d lived for five years. I was afraid I would feel isolated from the rest of the city, but I’ve grown to love it. Something that would make me love it more would be to have safer, slower streets.

I want a stop sign at the corner of 12th and Newton NE.

We need one.

At the corner of 12th and Newton NE.

It’s dangerous.

Hundreds of people cross it daily, dodging speeding traffic, to get to the Brookland Metro Station a block away which is also the hub for an incredible fifteen buslines.

Cars speed through the center of Brookland, in the middle of all this activity, frequently traveling well above the posted 25 mph. But why shouldn’t they? Everyone else does and there are five blocks uninterrupted by stop lights and stop signs, just open road. Why not press the pedal a little harder, just get through this section a little faster?

The street design encourages it by failing to limit speed with speed tables, speed humps, stop signs, stop lights, or other creative measures. 12th St would be so much more pleasant and safer for everyone if the traffic was slowed with a stop sign, or some more lovely methods like plantings in curb extensions. Chicanes filled with new street trees and large plants or sunflowers would also be quite nice.

Sign placement is a major problem on 12th. Sure, there are some yield signs. I saw this one when I was looking up, standing right in front of a street tree:

 

But ten feet from the crosswalk the yield sign is completely obscured by the tree.

(Note: the solution is better signs, and better sign placement, not less trees).

 

And if I’m in the road, on a bicycle, or in a car, I can’t see the yield sign at all.

 

So while we all live in the same city, share the same air, water, roads, and other public space, why don’t we just make sure that our resources are safe for everyone to use? I don’t think pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists need to argue. There’s plenty of space for all of us and in order to prevent someone from being killed cars need to slow down and this needs to be enforced.

****

On another note:

There are several things in that last picture that I plan to address in the future: the sharrow bike symbol in the bottom left corner, and the gaping U-shape of what would be a gorgeous shade providing tree if the electrical wires were buried underground as they are in many parts of the city.

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