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When Demolition and Commuting Mix

There are few things more harrowing than walking or riding your bike alongside an active demolition zone.

In fact, it’s downright unsafe and should be avoided, if at all possible.

The District of Columbia has published guidelines on their approach to closing sidewalks and making other changes to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe near major construction and demolition sites.

“Closing walkways that abut a construction site is necessary during demolition; it’s less safe to be immediately adjacent to a building being razed, which is why DDOT allows for temporarily shutting down a sidewalk and directing pedestrians to sidewalks across the street, away from danger,” DDOT said in a recent blog post. “Although this might pose a burden to pedestrians, it’s a necessary safeguard to protect pedestrians from an extremely perilous construction process involving heavy, hazardous materials, which often leads to deaths.”

DDOT notes that in 2016, there were 991 people killed in the private construction industry, with a sizable number of those deaths caused by falling debris.

DDOT’s guidelines for how to deal with construction are as follows:

Building Being Razed - Full sidewalk closures.

Facade Demolition - Full sidewalk closure, or covered sidewalk or roadway if minimal overhead danger is present.

Concrete or Steel Frame Construction - Covered Roadway.

Streetscape or Sidewalk Work - Open walkway

Utility work - Open walkway, with flaggers present.

DDOT also said it loathes to close bike lanes during construction, and would prefer to close parking lanes and keep bike lanes open during construction. If necessary, it is open to shifting a bike lane on the same roadway, or even closing one lane for cars to allow for a bike lane to remain open. DDOT said it will detour cyclists to another road only as a “last resort.”

See the below published guidelines from DDOT.

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