Best and worst of this week’s headlines

While recent changes to GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus are no doubt improvements, this week’s headlines are a reminder that progress isn’t so simple. The newly-opened Tatte Bakery and Cafe is a welcome addition to the community’s dining scene, and high-tech upgrades to the University’s parking garages should make them and their users safer and more secure.

But a fatal collision between a truck and bicycle on I Street – just steps from Tatte’s shiny new front door – means that Foggy Bottom’s streets are still as dangerous as ever. Meanwhile, the hospitalization of three construction workers at Thurston Hall makes for an inauspicious end to the residence hall’s ongoing renovations.

Here’s the best and worst of this week’s headlines.

Thumbs Up:

Tatte’s Foggy Bottom location opened to the public last week, offering a bakery, all-day brunch menu and coffee bar to the University community and locals alike. Tatte’s scrumptious, albeit somewhat pricey, selection of comfort and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is worth trying, especially given its location just across the street from District House, where GW scrubbed its plans for an all-you-can-eat dining system last month. And with Tatte planning to accept GWorld, I can see the establishment becoming something of a more laidback community anchor on the otherwise busy I Street corridor.

While Tatte may sate your appetite, new security measures at GW’s parking garages should hopefully put your mind at ease. A new scanning system, high-speed doors and light detection and ranging cameras are meant to allow students, staff, faculty, contractors and non-University-affiliated drivers to park their vehicles while keeping unauthorized pedestrians out. After a man assaulted a GW staff member in the G Street Garage last year, the University is addressing its vulnerabilities – better late than never.

Thumbs Down:

The driver of a Mack truck struck and killed 40-year-old bicyclist Shawn O’Donnell at the intersection of I and 21st streets Wednesday morning. The collision comes less than a week after a dump truck driver fatally struck 65-year-old bicyclist Michael Gordon at 7th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW. O’Donnell’s and Gordon’s tragic deaths add to the hundreds of traffic fatalities and injuries that have occurred across the District this year. My sincerest condolences to their friends and family.

What’s so infuriating about these collisions is that we know how to stop them – don’t mix automotive and non-automotive traffic. This crash and others like it stemmed from institutional failures as much as the driver’s decision making. Photo and video taken from the scene show traffic lights at the intersection covered in what appears to be a fabric-like material, making them seem out of use. Coincidentally, local officials greenlit Tatte’s new location – adjacent to the site of Wednesday’s tragedy – and called on the D.C. Council to pass an act improving pedestrian and bike crossings at the same Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in February. After its only public hearing in March, it seems the act – the Walk Without Worry Amendment Act of 2021 – is still under review. At that same February meeting, ANC members identified dangerous street locations that could benefit from raised crosswalks, which would reduce the speed of traffic and make crossing the street easier. And you better believe I and 21st made the list.

Also on Wednesday morning, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services rescued three construction workers at Thurston Hall. The workers lost consciousness after inhaling concrete sealant in a confined space, and all three were transported to local hospitals with serious but non-life threatening injuries where they’ll hopefully make a quick recovery. While it’s currently unclear whether the University bears any legal responsibility for what happened, working in a confined space is no joke. Fortunately, the future residents of Thurston Hall will likely be fine since this accident was construction related, but it’s worth remembering that buildings don’t spring up from the ground fully-formed – it takes people to get a job done, but it shouldn’t take their lives.

Ethan Benn, a rising junior majoring in journalism and communication, is the opinions editor.

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