Alumnus plans safety improvements for busiest campus streets

Media Credit: Samuel Klein | Senior Photo Editor

Patrick Kennedy, a member of Foggy Bottom's Advisory Neighborhood Commission, proposed to have a traffic light installed at the intersection of 22nd and H streets, a high-volume traffic area on campus.

The leader of Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy group is proposing a string of improvements to two of the busiest intersections near campus, such as adding signs, a traffic light and crosswalks.

Patrick Kennedy, the chairman of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, wants to add a traffic light at the corner of 22nd and H streets near Gelman Library’s Starbucks and more signs and crosswalks on Virginia Avenue. Kennedy, who graduated from GW in May, will pitch the ideas at neighborhood meetings this fall.

Kennedy said he is concerned traffic on campus will become “more concentrated” when the Science and Engineering Hall opens on 22nd street in 2015. He will request a traffic study of the building’s surrounding streets to see if the city should install more stoplights or crosswalks.

“The overwhelming mode of transportation on Foggy Bottom is on foot, and that’s where we have to focus our attention,” he said. Kennedy is running unopposed for reelection to the ANC this fall.

In 2012, crashes in D.C. involved more than 900 pedestrians, according to a March report by Howard University, an 18 percent jump from 2010. Cell phone use and distracted driving caused most of the city’s car accidents in 2012.

Martin Balaban, a forensic expert who studies the cause of car accidents, said the District’s foot traffic distinguishes it from other cities like Los Angeles, where “the sidewalks are clean because nobody walks on them.”

Last September, GW launched a pedestrian safety campaign, which used yellow and red stickers to remind students to look up from their cell phones when crossing busy campus intersections. GW will place the stickers on sidewalks again this semester, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said.

Thomas Lacek, a pedestrian safety expert, said intersections can be more dangerous on college campuses because of distracted students.

“Lately, driving through college towns, you see they forget that they’re on the sidewalk because they can cross any time, anywhere,” Lacek said. “If you said what the most effective pedestrian control would be, once your foot leaves the curb, your cell phone shorts out.”

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