ANC urges DDOT to explain potential traffic signal issues at scene of recent cyclist death

Media Credit: Media Credit: Grace Chinowsky | Staff Photographer

Commissioners said the traffic signal's lights at the intersection were not visible at the time of the collision but appeared to be functioning shortly after, placing the city's operation of the signals in question.

After a fatal traffic collision in Foggy Bottom Wednesday, a local governing body demanded that the District Department of Transportation answer to its potential cause hours later Wednesday night.

The Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging city officials to explain potential traffic signal issues at the intersection of 21st and I streets during the time of the traffic death Wednesday. A Mack truck driver struck and killed 40-year-old cyclist Shawn O’Donnell, who was riding alongside the truck as it turned onto I Street outside of Lafayette Hall.

Officials also voted in support of a resolution requesting DDOT to revamp safety measures on Virginia Avenue and backed a bill that expands the right to vote in local elections to permanent residents who are not yet citizens.

Here are a few of the meeting’s highlights:

Investigating the cyclist death near campus
Commissioner Yannik Omictin introduced the resolution that the ANC passed, pressing DDOT Director Everett Lott to explain the factors that contributed to the collision that took place at the intersection of 21st and I Streets Wednesday.

Before the ANC could hear the resolution, the commissioners took part in a 30-second moment of silence in honor of the victim, which a constituent attending the meeting proposed.

Commissioners said the traffic signal’s lights at the intersection were not visible at the time of the collision but appeared to be functioning shortly after, placing the city’s operation of the signals in question. The resolution calls on DDOT to explain the status of its installation and activation of the intersection’s traffic signal, which can prevent road collisions like Wednesday’s fatal accident.

Omictin said commissioners are “sick and tired” of their constituents dying in potentially-avoidable traffic accidents and called for a special meeting to discuss the subject August 8. Commissioner Trupti Patel proposed a walkthrough of the intersection with other commissioners next week to identify potential causes for the accident.

“This is really hard, so I definitely want to make sure we proceed very thoughtfully and carefully,” Patel said during the meeting. “I do think we need to be as aggressive as possible in making sure we get all the answers on this.”

Tightening safety measures on Virginia Avenue 
The ANC unanimously voted to request that DDOT addresses pedestrian and driver safety concerns along several intersections on Virginia Avenue during ongoing construction of a protected bike lane.

Commissioners asked for an expedited timeline for the completion of the project, which includes adding signals to the G Street intersection, and a DDOT analysis of the pedestrian conditions at the avenue’s intersections. The resolution also proposes lengthening crosswalk times at the New Hampshire Avenue, 25th and 27th Street intersections.

Commissioner Joel Causey, the ANC’s chair, said the protected bike lane project wasn’t “fully thought-out” in a way that could accommodate differently-abled pedestrians because of the city’s rush to complete the protected bike lane. He cited the lack of “refuge islands,” which create space for a pedestrian stopgap in the middle of a wide intersection, as part of the city’s failure to fully furnish the avenue with appropriate protections for locals like elderly residents.

“I believe that in a rush to get the bike lanes in and claim victory for bike lanes, they failed to understand that we have constituents who are elderly,” Causey said.

Expanding voting rights to non-citizen residents
Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution backing a bill that Ward 1 D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau proposed last June to allow non-citizen permanent D.C. residents to vote in local elections.

The resolution amends D.C.’s Election Code of 1955 to include permanent residents in the definition of the term “qualified elector” for mayoral, D.C. Council, State Board of Education, ANC and attorney general elections. Council member Brooke Pinto of Ward 2, which encompasses Foggy Bottom, co-introduced the bill along with five other Council members last year, but it has made little progress because of issues creating an additional registry for non-citizen voters.

Commissioner Trupti Patel said the bill was necessary in the District because of the city’s high population of immigrants. She said the D.C. Council bill has continually gained traction after Mayor Muriel Bowser first proposed it when she was a Ward 4 Council member.

“Basically what this resolution is stating for the record is that one out of every seven D.C. residents is an immigrant, one in nine has a parent that is an immigrant,” Patel said.

Pre-registering for Monkeypox vaccines
A spokesperson for Bowser said about 7,600 individuals have pre-registered to receive the Monkeypox vaccine, and the city has offered 2,500 appointments since last week’s preregistration launch.

Pablo Velasquez Rodriguez, a representative for Pinto’s office, said while individuals who aren’t currently eligible to receive the vaccine may still pre-register, the District is currently prioritizing the vaccinations of those most at risk – individuals over the age of 18 in the LGBTQ community – while actively requesting more vaccines from the federal government.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.