The District Department of Transportation announced five new pickup and drop-off pilot locations for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft at locations across Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26.
The designated pickup and drop-off locations will be implemented at centrally located, high-traffic areas where there is high demand for ride-hailing services. The locations are the nightlife hub of 14th and U Streets, NW; the Smithsonian National Zoo; the Wharf on Maine Avenue, SW; Georgetown at the 1200 block of Wisconsin Avenue, and NoMa/Union Market, NE, according to an Oct. 26 news release.
DDOT hopes that by ensuring that loading and unloading is done curbside rather than in bike lanes, crosswalks, or travel lanes, these zones will improve pedestrian safety as well as traffic flow, DDOT Public Affairs Specialist Lauren Stephens wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“With the growing popularity of ridesharing, the lack of designated curbside pickup drop off spaces has led to unsafe driver and passenger behavior as well as increased congestion,” Stephens wrote. “With the creation of these zones, DDOT will reduce potential conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, address traffic congestion, and improve safety in the District’s most popular neighborhoods.”
These locations will be exclusively used for passenger and commercial loading 24 hours a day. Following a 30-day notice and comment period, drivers who block the zones by parking may be issued a citation or have their vehicles towed, according to the news release.
The new designated loading zones are a part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) Vision Zero commitment, Stephens said. The Vision Zero initiative aims to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries among travelers of D.C.’s transportation system by 2024.
Lyft supports the creation of designated loading zones to increase pedestrian safety, Lyft Communications Manager Darcy Yee wrote in an email toThe Hoya.
“We believe this is an innovative and creative solution to make D.C. a more multimodal city and to redesign our streets to prioritize people rather than cars,” Yee wrote. “Efforts like this make D.C. a national leader in Safe Curb Access.”
These 24-hour zones come as an extension of the successful nightlife zone pilot program launched near the Dupont Circle area Oct. 2017. The pilot involved restricting parking on the busy street of restaurants and bars during peak hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to the DDOT website.
Although the creation of this zone eliminated public parking spaces and came with parking restrictions carefully enforced by the Department of Public Works, the Dupont Circle pilot program began per the request of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, which includes the business district from the front of the White House to Dupont Circle, itself, according to DDOT Communications Director Terry Owens.
“This was something that was driven by the community,” Owens said in an interview with DCist.
Other cities are following D.C’s lead. San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., unveiled test programs for designated Uber and Lyft pickup spots last year, according to CNN.
The prevalence of these pick-up zones emerges from a growing nationwide effort to improve safety and address issues caused by the rising popularity of ride-sharing services, Emily Castor, senior director of transportation policy at Lyft, said in an interview with CNN.
“I’ve noticed this conversation starting to emerge rapidly in most of the large cities where we operate,” Castor said.