WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — D.C. Council is moving forward on a proposal that could affect your commute. The Safer Streets Amendment Act of 2022 would effectively ban right turns at red lights across the District. It’s proving to be pretty controversial to both pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers. Some say it will only wreak havoc in the city, while others are all for the new measure.
George Washington University freshman Ethan Levy says the proposal is the wrong move for the city. He says the city already has enough traffic and the walk sign period is already too long.
“It just creates so much more traffic in the city and the city gives us a minute to cross the street so no turn on red, that’s just going to create more traffic and it’s just not good for the city,” Levy said.
Despite that unanimous vote, some council members raised concerns about the proposal, questioning whether more research is necessary before putting the plan in place. Jessica Cicchino, the Vice President of Research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says updated data is the best way to proceed, but sometimes it isn’t always available.
“Sometimes we have to make decisions with the information that we have and that seems like that’s what D.C. is doing,” Cicchino explained. “We have data showing that banning right turn on red has been affected in the past and there’s reason to think that it would still be effective now.”
Some community members questioned whether this ban will be effective. Others doubted whether people would even follow the measure if it was implemented. Zo Jackson recently moved from New York City where right turns on red are allowed. He says if the traffic pattern can be safely executed in the Big Apple, it should be allowed in the District.
“In New York, I believe in the last ten years, fifteen years, we got the ability to turn on red lights, I don’t really see the problem with it,” Jackson said. “If a driver has to wait a couple more seconds to let people pass on their bikes or turn, I don’t see a problem in that.”
Others say the measure will protect residents but also visitors navigating the District.
“Well as an international city where there’s people coming from all over the world that don’t really know our own specific laws, I think just added safety for them, I think that would be beneficial,” Nickey Alana, D.C. driver said.
One community member says both drivers and pedestrians are responsible in order to make the streets safer. Kurt Ellison explained that the responsibility falls on both parties to pay attention when making their way around the city.
“I think that there are measures that bicyclists and pedestrians can take on their own to make everybody safer, like walking with the light, riding in a lane of traffic not mixing through cars, it’s going to make everybody safer,” Ellison said.
There are many discussions that have to take place before this proposal can even be implemented which could be as early as 2025.