Photo by Gold41.
It was reported last week that DDOT is planning on bringing the Barnes Dance to Chinatown, specifically the intersection of 7th and H. A Barnes Dance (or all pedestrian phase) is a system whereby a certain portion of the crossing light pattern shuts down all car traffic and enables pedestrians to cross from whatever side they want. This even enables pedestrians to cross diagonally.
Traditionally, Barnes Dances would restrict pedestrian crossing to only when the all pedestrian phase was on. DDOT apparently wants to institute a modified Barnes Dance whereby pedestrians will still be able to cross when cars are traveling (as they do now).
While 7th and H may have displaced Wisconsin and M and the most busy intersection in the city, a Barnes Dance would be a great addition to the center of Georgetown. In fact, a study commissioned by DDOT specifically recommended the addition of a Barnes Dance to the intersection of Wisconsin and M. Part of that proposal also called for eastbound traffic to turn left from M up Wisconsin (thus alleviating the traffic on 33rd and 31st). At the last ANC meeting Ron Lewis announced that DDOT was finally moving forward with the left turn portion of the plan. GM asked him whether that meant the Barnes Dance was getting implemented as well, but he responded that they would focus on the left turn plan first (not the first time that automobile movement gets prioritized ahead of pedestrian movement).
Notwithstanding the delay in implementation of the Barnes Dance in Georgetown, it would seem that a successful roll-out of the program in Chinatown would make it much more likely that it will be brought here next. This would make walking through that intersection significantly less annoying. As it is, the timing of the crossing lights is confusing and frustrating. Allowing a diagonal crossing, in particular, would make a huge difference as it potentially could cut your wait in half.