When University officials submitted GW’s campus plan to the city in 2000, they inquired about the possibility of closing off H Street between 21st and 22nd streets because of student safety concerns. This is an idea worth revisiting, as the growing student population increasingly flows onto the block as if it were part of an isolated campus. However, the area is a busy metropolitan street. This mix creates a serious safety concern for student pedestrians.
City planners do not take lightly the closing off of a street in the middle of the District, and that is probably why the University’s request was not taken seriously. However, students are in danger every day because of heavy traffic flow, and they are not always aware that most of the time when they cross at the middle of H Street from the Marvin Center to Kogan Plaza, they are actually jaywalking.
The hazardous situation was made clear Tuesday when a young woman was hit by a car going through this section of H Street. Luckily, she only suffered minor injuries, but it is only a matter of time before a student is seriously hurt.
The administration should make this a priority for student safety, and if the city will not even consider closing off this block, additional safety procedures should be implemented beyond the one painted crosswalk nearly totally ignored by cars and pedestrians. There should be more painted crosswalks mid-street, perhaps with the addition of speed bumps and “reduce speed” signs. Another interesting idea is limiting the parking options on the block, which often cause safety problems when students dart out from behind parked cars, surprising motorists. Whatever the change, something must be done, because the current situation puts students at risk and motorists in a compromising situation as students on this block do not follow typical street behavior.