Photo by Daquella manera on Flickr.
West Virginia Avenue forms the boundary between Gallaudet University and Trinidad. A fence lines the university property, making diffusion between the school and the neighborhood difficult. Were it not there, crossing West Virginia Avenue would still be very difficult, because traffic doesn’t have to stop anywhere along this boundary.
The road is often busy with Maryland commuters heading to and from Capitol Hill and downtown, buses coming from and going to the Bladensburg Road bus garage, and municipal vehicles coming from the DPW garages north of the neighborhood.
Neighborhood traffic looking to leave the neighborhood often has to wait a long time for a break in the traffic, and cyclists run the risk of riding on a street, though designated as a bicycle route, full of large trucks and buses doing well over the 25 mph speed limit.
It made me wonder if there was any place in DC other than freeways, parkways, and other limited access roads like Military Road or North Capitol Street north of Michigan Avenue, where traffic has such a long stretch without having to worry about stop signs, traffic lights, or even yield signs. Here’s what I found:
The only stretches longer than West Virginia Avenue (between Florida Avenue and Mount Olivet Road) that I found are on Massachusetts Avenue SE (east of Randle Circle), Ridge Road SE (along Fort Dupont Park), and Hayes Street/Jay Street NE (around the Mayfair neighborhood).
All of these examples are streets that lie between a neighborhood and adjacent institutional land, whether a park or a school. West Virginia Avenue is unique among the four in that it is the only one to border a gridded neighborhood.
I’m currently participating in the Ivy City and Trinidad Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative, which is looking to leverage grant money for better housing, neighborhood services, business development, and greening in the neighborhoods. At one of the meetings, participants brought up the dangerous nature of West Virginia Avenue, and some of us recommended traffic calming (preferably some stop signs) along the road to slow traffic and create breaks and give cars on neighborhood streets a better chance to exit Trinidad. With the potential for increased connectivity between Gallaudet University that was also discussed, traffic calming will be a necessity so cyclists and pedestrians can safely get from homes in the neighborhood to classes and jobs at the school.
Can you think of any longer stretches of city street in DC where traffic doesn’t have to worry about pedestrians legally crossing the street or having to slow down for a traffic light or sign? If so, please, describe them in the comments.