DDOT Needs New Sidewalk Gaps Procedures

by Marlene Berlin and Sharon Bauer
for Iona Senior Services Pedestrian Advocacy Project

Sidewalks are a network to get us from one place to another, just like roads. But the procedures DDOT uses to identify and fill sidewalk gaps take a piecemeal approach that sets up barriers to completing the network.

Currently, DDOT requires that 51% of households on a single block approve the addition of a sidewalk, and that the neighborhood ANC file a corresponding resolution. If we consider sidewalks to be roadways for pedestrians, then we need to treat them as such. The default position should be that neighbors have to put forth the effort to oppose a sidewalk, instead requiring supporters to petition for one.

Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act

For roadways that are missing sidewalks, but are not undergoing major construction, sidewalk installation shall be prioritized for the following areas:
(1) Missing sidewalks in school areas;
(2) Routes that provide access to parks and recreational facilitiees;
(3) Transit stops;
(4) Locations where the absence of a sidewalk creates substantial pedestrian
safety risks; and
(5) Roadway segments for which residents petitioned to have sidewalks.

In other words: If folks wanted a sidewalk, they would contact DDOT, and those who opposed it would have to organize against it. The community would have to jump through fewer hoops to get a sidewalk built.

The DC Council’s Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2010 (see inset) moves us in this direction, but DDOT procedures need to be updated.

Iona‘s Pedestrian Advocacy Project has studied the issue and has come up with the proposed procedures below. In addition, we will request that DDOT develop a five-year plan to fill sidewalk gaps in priority areas throughout the District of Columbia, as part of the agency budget to be presented to the Council during its budget approval process this spring. (Click here to help the Iona project pinpoint Ward 3 priority areas that need to be brought to DDOT’s attention.)

We would like you to rate and comment on these procedures by March 1st, so your input can be considered and included when the pedestrian advocacy group presents the proposals to DDOT at the end of March. If you have any trouble with the form below, please try this link:


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