Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, May 25, 2019

Walk signs added to Ward Circle to improve pedestrian safety

After community meetings in 2016 and 2017, D.C. transportation department decided to install signs

Walk signs added to Ward Circle to improve pedestrian safety

Walk signs have been added to the northwest and southeast sides of Ward Circle on Massachusetts Avenue to improve pedestrian crossing, said Terry Owens, a spokesperson for D.C.’s Department of Transportation.

The project, which will add full signalization to all sides of Ward Circle, was created in June after residents in the area expressed concern over the safety of the northwest and southeast crosswalks. 

“The full signalization will improve safety for pedestrians crossing Massachusetts Avenue by providing them with a protected phase to cross the street,” Owens said in a statement.

University spokesperson Mark Story said AU is in support of implementation of new walk signs.

“We support any improvement to Ward Circle safety as members of our AU community drive, use our shuttles buses and walk to and from campus using the circle,” Story said via email. 

Owens said that DDOT held two community meetings on Ward Circle in November 2016 and April 2017, where AU students, faculty and staff expressed concern about the safety of the circle.

Courtney Rozen, The Eagle’s editor-in-chief for 2017-2018, acquired and analyzed data from the Metropolitan Police Department of all traffic accidents at Ward Circle from the start of 2015 until the end of 2017. Within those two years, Rozen found only once accident occurred with a pedestrian.

When asked about accidents involving students, Story added that he wasn’t aware of any but added that an AU student spoke about issues of the circle with Public Safety and MPD in fall 2017. 

The data shows that the number of accidents within the circle increased annually. Ten accidents, the highest amount recorded, happened in a three-month period between October to December 2017. This time period roughly coincides with the fall 2017 semester. 

Three accidents, the lowest number recorded, occured in a three-month period between January and March 2016. Accidents usually occurred between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to the data. 

However, Owens said traffic circles have different characteristics in the District “which can make comparison difficult.”

While the University doesn’t have the jurisdictional authority to regulate traffic at Ward Circle, Story said that the University is involved with MPD, the Community Liaison Committee and D.C. Council of Governments to ensure safety concerns are addressed. 

“We take the safety of our community very, very seriously,” he said. “Safety at Ward Circle has been part of an ongoing conversation among AU Public Safety – both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. “

mcarrasco@theeagleonline.com 


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