In March 2023, the Capitol Hill Village (CHV) formed a Sidewalk Safety Team (SST) in response to two-thirds of their members expressing concern over sidewalk hazards. The team has met every two weeks since then to address this problem and is working with several Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), Councilmember Charles Allen’s office and personnel from the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) to find a solution.
In a survey done by ANC 6A, Commissioner Roberta Shapiro learned that out of the 473 Capitol Hill households responding, 305 reported a fall (sometimes multiple falls) in the last two years, with 263 injuries. The DC government paid $1.9 million in FY 2021-23 to settle claims citywide for sidewalk injuries.
Looking forward to the February 2024 DDOT oversight hearings – chaired by Ward Six Councilmember Allen – the SST hopes to show the need for an improved DDOT response to sidewalk hazards.
The Sidewalk Safety Team has four main goals:
- To increase the DDOT budget for sidewalk repair.
- To reduce DDOT’s timeline for implementing sidewalk repairs. DDOT currently tries to fix sidewalk hazard complaints as soon as weather and materials allow but it has up to nine months to do it, whereas it has only three days to fix potholes.
- To reduce the number of sidewalk problems that need to be fixed.
- To establish a DDOT program to monitor sidewalks.
The SST is gathering significant and reliable data to present at the hearing in February. It is receiving help from a George Washington University intern whose specialty is data crunching and analysis.
As it strengthens its case for the hearings, the SST looks forward to being joined by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, other Villages, ANCs across the city and many community organizations.
The SST has set up a system for people to report sidewalk hazards to CHV, which in turn reports the problems to DDOT’s 311 system and keeps track of the repairs.
The SST asks residents to take pictures of dangerous sidewalk conditions, label the picture with the closest house address (number, street, quadrant) and send the photos and information to CHVpedestriansafety@gmail.com. That email address has been posted on Capitol Hill Listservs, posters in parks and in various organization newsletters.
Resident reports are playing a vital role in helping Councilmember Allen and others to grasp the pervasiveness and seriousness of this problem. This is clearly an example of the community sensibly addressing a problem.