Where In Ward 3 Are Sidewalks Needed Most?

by Marlene Berlin and Sharon Bauer

Sidewalks are more than a way to get from one place to another on foot. They connect us to our neighbors and neighborhoods. And they become even more crucial as we age.

Children from the Franklin Montessori School enjoy the new sidewalk on Brandywine Street. (photo by George Branyan)

So Iona Senior Services has spearheaded a pedestrian advocacy effort to focus on filling priority sidewalk gaps in Ward 3. This effort, which came out of Iona’s series of advocacy workshops, is led by Marlene Berlin, Iona’s pedestrian advocate, and Sharon Bauer, a former traffic analyst from Austin, Texas. This pedestrian advocacy group has focused on updating the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) Sidewalk Gap Map of 2008 for Ward 3 and proposing new sidewalk gap closure procedures (more on that Thursday).

The Priority Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2010, initiated by Councilmember Mary Cheh, establishes routes to schools, recreation and park areas, and transit stops as priority areas for filling in missing sidewalks. And when streets with no sidewalks are due for reconstruction or new curbs and gutters, the law requires that a sidewalk be built on at least one side.

Sharon Bauer, with the assistance of DC Office of Planning, has put in many hours of work to update the DDOT map. She based her changes on the latest Google Street View data. The map includes quarter-mile radius zones (light blue circles) around schools, recreation areas and Metro stops. This is an approximately 5 to 10-minute walk, which we propose as the highest priority areas for filling missing sidewalks.

We have three categories of streets denoted by different colors:

Now, we need your input.

1) Download the PDF file of the map by clicking the image below. Open the PDF and zoom into the areas you are familiar with – your ANC, schools, etc.

2) Focus particular attention on priority areas – the quarter-mile circles around significant pedestrian features such as schools, Metro stops, rec centers and playgrounds.

3) Check for inaccuracies on the map, especially the streets marked in RED (no sidewalk on either side) and GREEN (partial sidewalk on one or both sides or difficult to tell).

4) Using the survey form below, provide feedback/recommendations for areas that should receive high priority for sidewalk installation, or in some cases, point out areas where no sidewalk is needed or reasonable. (Each text box can be enlarged by clicking on its lower right hand corner, holding, and dragging downward.) Alternatively, you may email your feedback to us at info@foresthillsconnection.com.

The map’s legend can be opened and printed separately by clicking here.

We will present our findings to DDOT and to the Ward 3 communities by the end of March. Make sure that your comments and priorities are included by completing the form below by March 1st. If you have any difficulties with the form, you may also try this link: surveymonkey.com/s/sidewalkpriority.


  1. Claudia Phelps says

    We DO NOT need sidewalks in the park: on Broad Branch, Grant, Glover, Oregon, Ridge, Ross, and Beach. Repeat we DO NOT NEED!

    Also, the map maker has marked ANC 3F and 3G as having boundaries inside the Park; they do not have jurisdiction there, so remove the boundary lines within the Park.

    Also, you have marked a sidewalk on Clara Barton Parkway that shows it going through NPS land. Don’t do that. It’s not DC’s to build without permission from NPS. And they shouldn’t give it. To create a 6+ foot wide sidewalk and the necessary buffer between people and drivers would require destruction of a significant amount of Parkland – not acceptable.

    Also, sidewalks in many of these areas should be small trail-type sidewalks, not 6+ foot-wide asphalt gouges that are incongruous with the surrounding neighborhood. Good luck getting DDOT to agree with that!

  2. Heather Gustafson says

    The sidewalk that goes in front of Key Elementary School on the Hurst Terrace side is VERY bad. It is in intense disrepair. You cannot use a stroller never mind a wheelchair along this stretch, and the poor landscaping on the steep hill going up to Key School means that the bad sidewalk is also usually covered by dirt and sand washing down the hill. This sidewalk really needs attention as it is a high-traffic area.

  3. Elisa Braver says

    We do have considerable difficulties gaining pedestrian access to Rock Creek Park trails from some neighboring streets. For example, getting onto the Soapstone Trail off of Beach Drive is problematic and involves walking in the street with cars zooming by. Also, people who live near the park, such as those in Forest Hills, often have no safe way (i.e., a trail) of getting into the park unless they live near the Melvin Hazen or Soapstone Trails. In contrast, Montgomery County makes sure that any road adjacent to a county park has a route (trail, boardwalk, steps) leading into the park. We may not need sidewalks everywhere, but we need to make park access easier.

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