I often use the 2800 block of Davenport Street to hike in and out of Rock Creek Park trail system, and find it dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. The block’s residents are working together to make it safer. – Marlene Berlin
by Dennis Blumer, Tansy Blumer and Joe Bous
The neighbors on the 2800 block of Davenport Street NW have recently written and agreed on a formal request to the city to employ traffic calming methods and physical improvements to ensure a measure of safety to those who travel there on foot, by bicycle, by stroller or by car. This agreement was reached after individual residents, alarmed at many near-misses to pedestrians as well as hair-raising close calls among cars speeding up and down the street, began holding meetings of all the residents to formulate a proposal to the city urging important safety improvements to the street.
The neighbors, some of whom have lived on the street for over 35 years, and some who have babies and young children, had all become increasingly alarmed at situations that are clearly crashes waiting to happen.
This block of Davenport is unusual because it is believed to have been carved out of a Rock Creek hillside as a Civil War transportation route between forts. It has not been kept up to date despite a traffic load which has grown exponentially in recent years. It is a picturesque but steep, winding, narrow roadway lined with large trees and punctuated by several blind curves. The street has no curbs, no sidewalks and is littered with broken remnants of ancient guardrails. These remnants have proven a safety hazard to walkers who have been forced off the roadway by speeding vehicles who either do not see them or do not care to slow down.
Despite the many dangers to pedestrians and cars, this section of Davenport Street has long been treated as a cross-town shortcut and raceway by hundreds of cars during rush hours. Such drivers apparently prefer the narrow, inadequate street to other more adequate roadways that are intended and equipped for commuter traffic. Half of the cars which use Davenport Street during rush hours are, by DDOT count, from neighboring states. Excessive speeds in all types of weather, and dangerous driving practices such as passing on the blind, narrow curves top the list of grave concerns to the neighbors.
The residents on the block have individually tried for many years to get the District to take some action for protection from traffic and have won minor improvements like the addition of a four-way stop at Davenport and Broad Branch, blind curve warning signs, and recently, the addition of 15MPH speed limit signs which have already proved disappointingly ineffective.
Hoping that success will come to greater numbers of supplicants, the residents as a group have banded together to work with the Council member Cheh, ANC 3F, DDOT, MPD, and the National Park Service.
The 2800 block of Davenport neighbors have agreed that the overriding concern they share is safety and they hope to see real progress towards a safer and calmer neighborhood in this uniquely beautiful section of northwest DC.