Safety First on Q And R Streets NW / NE

Recent progress has been made in building protected bike lanes on north-south routes across the city. Thank-you DDOT!

Meanwhile the essential east-west links intended to join these facilities — narrow, painted lanes on Q and R streets — present serious danger to hundreds of bicycle and scooter riders each day. 

Those who use these lanes must navigate stopped vehicles, drivers veering into the bike lane, inch-close dangerous passing, and the constant threat of being “doored.” Unsurprisingly, these lanes do not meet DDOT’s own low-stress bikeway design standards.

Crash statistics back up our lived experiences: First responders report an average of 1 crash every week on Q and R Streets over the past 5 years – resulting in injuries to 53 bicyclists, 31 pedestrians and 171 vehicle drivers and passengers. There is no accounting of the unreported crashes and near misses that users experience every day.

We urge DDOT to fix these dangerous routes by building protected bike lanes on Q and R streets from Connecticut Avenue NW to the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) so people of all ages and abilities can be safe when they bike or scoot to work, to school, to go shopping, or for recreation. 

A protected east-west route will benefit communities across a wide swath of our city – stretching from the MBT in Eckington to Bloomingdale, Truxton Circle, Shaw, Logan Circle and Dupont Circle. Pedestrians will benefit from the traffic calming effects of the PBLs, which also will safely separate bicyclists from the main roadway.

People choose to bike when it is safe, convenient, and low-stress. Even when most of the route is blissful, it is the most stressful blocks that turn someone away. These narrow painted bike lanes squeezed next to high-volume driving lanes are no substitute for a truly low-stress and safe bikeway.

We, the undersigned, call on DDOT and our elected representatives to support the construction of protected bike lanes connecting Eckington and Dupont Circle.

Map: Q and R streets NW / NE from Connecticut Avenue NW to MBT with PBL Connections

Bring the Bicycle Safety Stop to DC

Update: The hearing record closed at the close of business on Thursday, May 19.

The DC Council is considering two important changes to the rules of the road for drivers and people who bike in DC. The Council’s Transportation Committee held a hearing last week and advocates have until May 19 to send in written testimony to be included for the record.

The Safer Intersections Amendment Act of 2022 makes two changes. First, it adopts the Bicycle Safety Stop in DC, allowing a person riding a bike, scooter or ebike to treat a stop sign as a yield at intersections and treat a red light as a stop sign. This change would give a bicyclist greater visibility to drivers and reduce the time they spend in the intersection when no other road users are present. The bill also prohibits right turn on red for drivers at all signalized intersections unless permitted by signage.

So far, nine states have adopted stop as yield, including Delaware, where reported crashes at intersections involving bicycles dropped 23% in the 30 months after the change. For more information on the Bicycle Safety Stop, read our blog post explainer or this fact sheet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Read the full bill text here.

Speak up for better bike lanes at Hains Point

The National Mall and Memorial Parks, a division of the National Parks Service (NPS), is proposing transportation improvements on Ohio Drive in East Potomac Park to improve visitor safety and access to Hains Point. The proposed changes would create a dedicated space for bicyclists and pedestrians on Ohio Drive from the golf course to Buckey Drive while maintaining vehicle access and parking. It would also create new buffered bike lanes on part of Ohio Drive from Buckeye Dr to the inlet bridge. Check out the design alternatives here

NPS is looking for your feedback, now through Thursday, May 19th. 

The upside: NPS is looking to move quickly on this project with new traffic patterns in place by the fall. The downside: the proposed options are somewhat limited, created mostly with paint and without the kind of hardened barriers or separation proven to improve safety and comfort for people outside of cars. 

Still, this is an important opportunity to share your thoughts and ideas on the project and how getting to East Potomac Park might be improved now and in the future. WABA is focused on two key areas:

Improve Connections. Biking and walking improvements have the biggest impact when they directly connect to, and extend, existing networks. NPS should plan to add a low stress bike option on Ohio Drive north of the golf course parking lot. This would connect to the new protected bike lanes on East Basin Drive (which run up 15th St. NW) and to the Case Bridge Trail across the Washington Channel to the SW Waterfront.

Consider More Aggressive Traffic Calming. WABA is encouraging NPS to consider restricting vehicle access during certain hours or on specific days. Given the many events and uses of Ohio Drive, we understand that NPS considers continuous large barriers for protecting the pedestrian or bike lanes to be infeasible at present. But other protective barriers and traffic calming strategies should be considered to make this space actually safe and comfortable for people walking and all people who bike. Periodic jersey barriers, curbs, or bollards could pinch down the road to encourage slow speeding, while encouraging drivers to stay in their lane. Long term, NPS needs a more thorough plan for separate spaces for different uses on Ohio Drive.

Share your own thoughts today on the proposed improvements. Your voice DOES make a difference and together we can look to push this project from good to GREAT for all users. 

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Highlights from Maryland’s 2022 Legislative Session  

After the conclusion of the 2022 MD legislative session, we can say that we have made some progress with regards to the state of bicycling in Maryland and the efforts to make state roads safer for people who walk and bike.  

The 2022 session was marked by the passage of a few bills that made substantive progress to make alternatives to cars more available to all of us.  Here are the bills demonstrating this change that passed and are now State law:

HB 254, the Vision Zero Act of 2022, introduced by Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr, mandates that the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) conduct an infrastructure review of each pedestrian or bicyclist fatality that occurs on a State highway to identify deficiencies and appropriate corrective actions at the crash location. The bill further requires MDOT SHA to complete the review within 6 months after being notified of the pedestrian or bicyclist fatality and publish the review on its website. We hope that this new procedure will bring lifesaving changes to roads already proven to be unsafe for walking and biking, while we push for a more proactive approach to road safety statewide.  See more about this bill at the link here.

HB 19, the Safe Walk to School Act, introduced by Delegate Jared Solomon, mandates that when new schools are constructed or when a school is renovated to add more that 100 students to the school, Counties must submit to the State a new Pedestrian Safety plan that would examine the area that is walkable and identify safe walking and biking routes to the school.  More information about this bill can be found here.   

HB 778, the Maryland Regional Rail Transformation Act, also introduced by Delegate Solomon, directs $13.9m in spending to expand MARC commuter rail service, including adding a third track on the Brunswick line between Rockville and Germantown, enhancements to the Penn and Camden lines, new regional service between Perryville, MD and Newark, DE, new regional rail service to Alexandria, VA and extending the Brunswick line to better serve Western MD. Spending must commence in fiscal year 2023 (beginning July 1, 2022). More work will be needed in the future to assure more funds are devoted to this purpose.  For more on this bill, click the link here.

HB 141, Equity in Transportation Sector – Guidelines and Analyses, introduced by Delegate Sheila Ruth, requires MDOT when doing it’s periodic revisions of the Consolidated Transportation Plan (that guides transportation planning in the State), MDOT must “conduct a transit equity analysis, perform a cost-benefit analysis, consult with members and leaders of affected communities, and take specified actions based on the results of these activities before announcing (1) any service change that would constitute a major service change under specified federal guidelines or (2) any reduction or cancellation of a capital expansion project in the construction program of the Consolidated Transportation Plan.”  No such equity analysis was performed prior to passage of this bill.  This analysis will require consulting with affected communities for  a State Plan that better addresses needs and improves transportation equity. . See more on this bill here

SB 210, Employer Provided Commuter Benefits – Expansion, introduced by Senator Guzzone at the urging of MDOT, expands the amount of tax credits that the State is able to grant to employers to cover the costs of biking or walking to commute to work, as well as carpooling and teleworking costs.  Bike commuters are able to help cover their costs for bike maintenance and gear, as well as bike and scooter share memberships.  For more information, look here.

HB 53, which provides more enforcement relating to Bus Only lanes in Baltimore City and HB 73 which provides more funding for Complete Streets and Safe Routes to schools in Baltimore City also passed.  See more on HB 53 here and HB 73 here.

Two bills made significant progress this the session, gaining passage in the House, but failing to pass out of committees in the Senate:

HB 656, Safe Access For All (SAFE) Roads Act of 2022, introduced by Delegate Charkoudian, would have mandated certain minimum amounts be spent by MDOT and SHA on making State roads safer for people walking and biking. The funds would have been used to address the huge backlog of safety fixes needed on State roads to address dangerous road conditions which often have resulted in serious injuries and deaths for those walking and biking.  For more information on this bill click here.

HB 404, Speed Limits, introduced by Delegate Lehman, would have allowed local jurisdictions to study and then set  lower speed limits on some State roads.  Montgomery County already has this authority. See more here.

All of these bills passed, in part due to the efforts of WABA and BikeMD which provided written and some in person testimony and lobbying visits.  WABA and BikeMD also organized members/supporters to send emails and make calls in support of some of these bills.

Together, bike advocates from all over Maryland made substantive progress on making walking, biking, and accessing transit safer and more available.  We look forward to making even more progress, especially on dedicating State funds to active transportation and transit, next year!  To become more involved, contact Peter Gray, WABA’s Maryland Organizer at peter@waba.org.

DC Protected Bike Lane & Trail Progress: May 2022

May is Bike Month, so it’s a great time to get out there and enjoy DC by bike. Seriously, go for a bike ride! Take your friends and family. There are so many new safe routes, new trails, and newly accessible corners of the city to get to. Our Low Stress Network is growing!

Bike Month is also about taking action, stepping up, and speaking out for safe street designs and policies that make biking, walking and transit the best, and most joyful, ways to get around.

So join our monthly Low Stress Network Advocate Meetup on Monday, May 16 at 7pm. Meet up virtually with advocates from across the city, share relevant updates, and join a work session on a campaign to build a piece of the low stress network near you.

Register on Zoom

Did You See This?

The Met Branch Trail is complete to Fort Totten! – At long last, this half-mile trail extension is complete, offering a direct connection to Fort Totten Metro and a comfortable bypass of stressful, hilly Fort Totten Dr. Here’s a great summary and photos.

Major Protected Bike Lane Progress – New protected bike lanes are nearly complete on Virginia Ave NW in Foggy Bottom and Maine Ave SW at the Wharf, under construction on Warder Pl in Park View and C St. NE in Kingman Park, and breaking ground soon on Minnesota Ave SE at Randle Circle. Last month, DDOT reached the final milestone before construction for 3+ more miles with even more this summer. More info on those projects here.

Things To Do

Good things happen when advocates like you are speaking up for DC’s Low Stress Bike Network. Here are some quick actions to support building parts of that network. Find the most recent actions at waba.org/action.

Support DDOT’s Plan to Finish the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE

DDOT has a new, thoughtful, & all-around better plan to complete the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE with wide protected bike lanes, orderly school pickup/dropoff, and traffic calming. Sign your support!
Take Action

Take The Bladensburg Rd NE Survey

DDOT wants your help reimagining Bladensburg Rd NE from Maryland Ave to the Maryland line. Drop your thoughts on the map and survey. Protected bike lane anyone?

Take Action

Sign the Petition to put People First on I (Eye) St. SE/SW

Sign the petition to support DDOT’s plan for protected bike lanes, traffic calming, and safer intersections on I St. in SW Waterfront and Navy Yard ahead of the June ANC discussion.

Sign the Petition

Weigh in on Columbia Road NW Bus Priority & Bike Project

DDOT wants your ideas for making Columbia Rd in Adams Morgan work better for buses and bikes. Take the survey.

Take Action

Walk/Bike lanes for Ohio Drive at Hains Point

The National Park Service wants to make Ohio Dr in East Potomac Park safer to walk and bike with dedicated, painted lanes. See the plan & share your feedback by May 19.

Take Action

Support Traffic Calming on New Jersey Ave NW

New Jersey Avenue between N Street and Florida Avenue NW is a dangerous and a glaring gap in the low stress network. Sign this petition to support DDOT’s plan to fix it.

Sign the Petition

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.

Take Action

Events & Places to Go

Low Stress Bike Network Citywide MeetingGet updates on campaigns across DC and get involved in one near you.
Monday, May 16 at 7pm
Register on Zoom

Bike Anywhere Week!

WABA’s third annual Bike Anywhere Week captures some of the magic of bicycling in our region and reminds us of the incredible community we have in our fellow bicyclists, both in person and online. 

Where is this event? Well, it’s anywhere: around your block, on the way to the grocery store or the park, from the comfort of your home, or with us virtually.
May 16-22
Register & Learn More!

Bike to Work DayIt’s the best commute of the year with 101 pitstops around the region!
Friday, May 20
Register

A New Vision for Pennsylvania Ave NW “America’s Main Street”
The National Capital Planning Commission wants your feedback on their early concepts on a new vision for Pennsylvania Ave NW aka “America’s Main Street” between the White House and Congress. Attend to learn more about the alternatives and how to weigh in.
Saturday, May 21 at 10am

Register on Zoom

Open Streets On MLK Ave
Open Streets in Your Neighborhood is kicking off with Ward 8’s Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE! The event will close 0.3 miles of MLK Ave to cars and open them to people to ride, bike, walk, socialize, and take in exciting programming!
Saturday, May 21, 9am-1pm
Event Details

Military Road Bike/Pedestrian Trail Study Public Meeting

Join NPS and DDOT for a virtual presentation on a proposed multi-use trail along Military Rd connecting Ward 3, Ward 4, and Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park.

Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 PM

Join on Teams

Bladensburg Rd Multimodal Safety and Access Study Kickoff

DDOT is kicking off a study of Bladensburg Rd from H St. NE to Eastern Ave looking at big picture changes for safe walking, comfortable biking, and a more livable corridor. Attend to learn about the study and give your feedback.

Thursday, June 2 at 6:00 PM

Join on Webex

What We’re Reading

  1. Why We Can’t Afford to Ignore the Needs of Non-Drivers With Disabilities (Streetsblog) – A new study looks into how people with disabilities who don’t drive are being left behind by accessibility efforts that ignore their unique and diverse needs, and how centering them can carry benefits for everyone.
  2. DC’s current car trip reduction goal is woefully inadequate (GGWash) – What actions are behind DC’s goal of reducing driving modeshare to 25% of trips? Is it working and is that even the right goal?
  3. NHTSA Releases the Facts on Bicycle Stop-as-Yield Laws: They Increase Safety (Streetsblog) – As DC Council considers allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield and red lights as stop signs, Federal safety experts have some data to share.

Step Up Your Advocacy

  • WABA’s Low Stress Network campaign is powered and lead by community advocates like you. So we have tons of resources to share. Visit waba.org/netowrk for videos of past trainings, helpful how-tos, and more. 
  • Grab a slot at my Advocate Office Hours to dig into an issue, find opportunities to get involved in a campaign, or plot the first steps of your own. Sign up for office hours here.

Speak Up For 3+ Miles of New Protected Bike Lanes

DDOT has reached the final milestone before breaking ground on 4 projects totaling almost 3.3 miles of new protected bike lanes, safer walking, and traffic calming in NW, NE, and SE DC. DDOT is taking written comments on each plan, so this is the last opportunity to speak up in support or to suggest improvements.

Each of these projects have been in the works for more than a year (some much longer) with many opportunities for community input and vigorous debate. Each comes with tradeoffs like repurposing driving lanes or parking spaces to create more space for comfortable biking, safe walking and fewer opportunities for dangerous driving. WABA believes that these tradeoffs are worth it for a safer, more livable, and more accessible DC. See below for more details.

About the Projects

New Jersey Ave NW Safety Project

To address alarming patterns of aggressive driving and crashes on New Jersey Ave, DDOT plans to remove one travel lane from each direction, add a center turn lane, and add protected bike lanes in each direction from N St. NW to Rhode Island Ave NW. Similar “road diets” have proven effective in cutting speeding and reducing crashes. This will extend the existing protected bike lanes on New Jersey Ave to the north and connect the well-used Q and R St. bike lanes to fill out the bicycle network in Truxton Circle and Shaw.

For more detail and to see the plans, click here. The comment period closed on May 10. Where is this?

Crosstown Protected Bike Lane Extension (Kenyon St & Park Pl)

This project will extend the Crosstown protected bike lane westward from Warder St to 11th St. NW. The existing Crosstown protected lane runs from Brookland to Park View along Irving and Kenyon St but ends at Warder Pl with no connections further west. Under this plan, the 2-way protected bike lane will be extended along the south curb. All hours parking will remain on the south side of the street, but rush hour restricted parking will be removed from the north side. Additionally, DDOT will upgrade the existing Park Pl bike lanes from Grant Circle to Hobart Place to protected bike lanes.

For more detail on Kenyon, click here or Park Pl click here. The comment period closed on May 9. Where is this?

Pennsylvania Ave SE Bus Priority & Protected bike lanes

This project will transform Pennsylvania Ave SE from 2nd to 13th by adding new curbside protected bike lanes flanked by peak-direction bus lanes. This design will leave driving lanes in each direction and accommodate parking and loading in the outside lane while the peak-direction bus lane is not in operation. A later phase of this project will extend this design to Barney Circle.

For more detail and to see the plans, click here. The comment period closed on May 3. Where is this?

1300 block North Carolina Ave NE

This project will add protected bike lanes in each direction on the 1300 block of North Carolina Ave NE by repurposing the westbound driving lane and converting the road to one-way eastbound for car traffic. It will add a new raised pedestrian crossing at A St. NE and preserve most of the on-street car parking. This project complements the C St and North Carolina Ave NE protected bike lanes now under construction, which begin at 14th St. NE for a continuous, low-stress bikeway from Lincoln Park to the Anacostia River Trail and the Yards at RFK. 

For more detail and to see the plans, click here. The comment period closed on May 2. Where is this?

What’s a Notice of Intent?

Under DC Law, the District Department of Transportation is required to give written notice to relevant advisory neighborhood commissions before making any changes to streets that affect traffic operations or on-street parking in their area. The Notice of intent is a formal comment period when any individual or ANC may submit written comments about a project, typically offering support, opposition, or substantive suggestions on design. Once the comment period closes, DDOT staff summarize comments, tally support and opposition. Finally, DDOT convenes an internal review panel to consider comments, determine a path forward, and provide any required responses to ANCs. 

For safe streets advocates, the Notice of Intent comment period is the final opportunity to review the overall plan, show support, and suggest modifications. While thoughtful or substantive comments are most helpful, short, supportive comments can help tip the scales towards action on safety improvements that require more aggressive tradeoffs, like removing car parking.

These are the first of many projects coming down the pipe in 2022. Stay tuned for more!