Just down the road from 8th and Wilson streets sits a curious foot bridge. Without any sign to warn drivers of the development, it abruptly ends in a street without a sidewalk.
In the nine-months I’ve lived nearby, I’ve ridden my bike and walked on the sidewalk — putting myself in the crosshairs of cars and in the center of conversations with people in parked cars. The bridge and its end pose a significant safety hazard for people walking or biking in the area. It has no building to block traffic, and is quickly shut down when there’s not enough space for two walkers or two bicyclists. Those without a building to accommodate them are on their own — and at times, not safe enough to stay on the sidewalk.
On a busy Washington road in a city that must cut down on traffic fatalities, this bridge offers a stark glimpse of how it might not take much to create something difficult to reach in a park-like setting. The city’s design agency, HTA, told The Washington Post that it is not aware of other such footbridges in the District and states that it’s not responsible for bridges other than existing infrastructure. So, what are the city’s options?
Walk to the end of the bridge, no really.
Take down the bridge, which would cost around $1 million to replace. But doing so means closing Eighth Street to traffic; the street would be torn up, clogged with shrubbery and dangerous for pedestrians. Placed next to the nearby King Street, this would be a street for cars only. Plus, HTA does not agree that the crossing is safe or attractive.
Use the money to create a better path for people walking and biking. This is a worthy option, especially considering that the MTA already rebuilt this portion of King Street to bring it up to standards. Walk on the other side of the bridge, which would still require pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate a private, closed street. Build a sidewalk in the middle of the road, a step that would only take about $350,000.
This study would seem to be an answer for this sidewalk, but it’s not. Anyone with a car, business or apartment knows that one way or another, foot traffic gets buried on King Street during the day. The city offers little real solution. This report will just draw more attention to what many people already know to be true: King Street is the no-man’s land of DC — an oasis for pedestrians and, at the same time, mostly unavailable.