Pedestrian Right of Way in DC

All the talk about the new contraflow bike lanes and signals at 16th, New Hampshire, and U Streets, NW brings to mind another issue at the same intersection: pedestrian right of way.

Between New Hampshire and the south west corner of 16th and U is a crosswalk that is not controlled by any signal:

16th, New Hampshire, and U. Photo courtesy of Stephen Miller

According to DC law, pedestrians have the right of way “within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection (un-signalized crosswalk).”

Similar crosswalks exist all over DC, including around Union Station and L’Enfant Plaza. MPD lays out the penalties and fines for motor vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrian right of way:

Failure to STOP and give right of way to a pedestrian who has begun crossing on the WALK signal (signalized intersection): $250 and 3 points

Failure to STOP and give right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection (un-signalized crosswalk): $250 and 3 points

Overtaking a vehicle from the rear that is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway: $250 and 3 points

Failure to give right of way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk (e.g., alleys and parking lots): $250 and 3 points

Penalty for colliding with a pedestrian leads to a double fine:
* $500 and 6 points
* criminal charges are possible

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Pedestrians and cyclists are hit in the District every day. We're advocating for better reporting to make DC safer for all.
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One Response to Pedestrian Right of Way in DC

  1. Sarah says:

    I remember a number of years ago buying these little leaflets to leave under the windshield wiper of a car w/a dog inside, warning the owner of the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot car. I would love something similar, defining the pedestrian right of way laws to hand to a-hole drivers as they practically drive over me. Ever seen anything like that?

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