A Full Circle Approach: DDOT Aims to Take Lessons from Traffic Safety Gains in Grant Circle NW to Rest of District

A vehicle on southbound New Hampshire Avenue NW waits to merge into a newly-redesigned Grant Circle NW.

After almost a year of traffic studies and input from local community members the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) installed a series of safety improvements around Grant Circle NW. These improvements were swiftly installed – unburdening nearby residents from undergoing a lengthy construction process – and have proven to dramatically increase safety in the area.

Before DDOT installed safety improvements at Grant Circle, nearby residents expressed concern about motorists (especially on large thoroughfares like New Hampshire Avenue NW) making perilous, high-speed turns into the circle, and sometimes veering off course and crashing into the circle itself. To address these and other traffic safety issues without increasing congestion in the area, DDOT moved forward with a design at Grant Circle that retained two traffic lanes and included several improvements, such as a bicycle lane with a buffer, narrowing the New Hampshire Avenue approach to the circle to one lane, revised striping, shorter crosswalks and new flexposts. This “full circle” approach was intended to:

  • Reduce aggressive driving by tightening turning radiuses and narrowing entrances into the circle, which forces traffic to enter the circle at slower speeds;
  • Reduce conflicts between traffic entering, exiting and continuing around the circle; and
  • Improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The blueprints for the redesign of Grant Circle NW called for the installation of roadway markings and flexposts that would improve safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

DDOT started installing its recommended improvements to Grant Circle in late October 2017 and completed the project in under two weeks. The improvements reaped immediate gains in traffic safety. DDOT staff noticed a dramatic increase in compliance for motorists yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks: motorists were now twice as likely to obey posted traffic signage and yield correctly compared to before the installation of the traffic safety improvements. Additionally, the buffered bike lane around Grant Circle made it easier for bicyclists to navigate through the area, including for this DDOT cyclist who made a video of their (safer) bike trip around the circle.

DDOT installed new, buffered bike lanes around Grant Circle NW.

DDOT hopes to replicate these gains in traffic safety by installing the same kind of holistic traffic safety improvements in Sherman Circle NW, which the agency looked into along with Grant Circle and other locations as part of its Rock Creek East II Livability Study.

Moving forward, DDOT also aims to take its tried and true approaches to improving traffic safety to other areas in the District under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s DC Vision Zero initiative. In 2017, DDOT identified several locations for safety improvements under the Vision Zero program:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue and Good Hope Road SE
  • Southern Avenue and Wheeler Road SE
  • 3rd Street and D Street NW 
  • 9th Street, Florida Avenue and U Street NW and 9th Street, Florida Avenue and V Street NW
  • Connecticut Avenue R Street and 20th Street NW and Connecticut Avenue, S Street, Florida Avenue and 21st Street NW

Stay tuned for a more in-depth post about the short- and long-term improvements that DDOT has recommended for these locations.


About DDOT Blogger

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) develops and maintains for the District of Columbia a cohesive sustainable transportation system that delivers safe, affordable, and convenient ways to move people and goods - while protecting and enhancing the natural, environmental and cultural resources of the District.
This entry was posted in DC Vision Zero, General, Traffic Safety, Transit, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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