Putting Decision-Makers on Bikes

Earlier this month, WABA rode with Councilmember Jack Evans through his ward, including on L, M, and 15th Streets, NW. Afterward, he expressed his support for both the L & M cycletracks and the 15th Street cycletracks. Later that week, he reportedly met with DDOT Director Bellamy to communicate the need to complete the L & M Street cycletracks. Earlier this week, WABA rode with Councilmember Tommy Wells through the area covered in the Frederick Douglass Bridge Environmental Assessment (EA) –which includes portions of wards 6 and 8. Councilmember Wells had previously expressed concerns similar to those expressed by WABA in our comments on the EA and, by letter, asked Director Bellamy to resolve those concerns as the project moved forward. But Councilmember Wells’ ride had the additional benefit of bringing together cyclists and the DDOT decision-makers who will have to do the nuts-and-bolts work to make the project a success. In an email to a DC listserv, DDOT’s Mike Goodno–one of several DDOT attendees–wrote after the ride:
Thanks to everyone’s questions last night, we have some excellent community input when we begin the design phase of this project. The following is our list of the issues discussed.  For those who attended last night, please let me know if I am missing something. *       Lack of designated bike lanes or cycle tracks included in FEIS preferred alternative for S. Capitol Street north of the Douglass Bridge *       How  safely bicyclist will be able to navigate the proposed traffic circles on both sides of the bridge, including the travel design speeds of both and any special accommodations being included for bicyclists.  There was concern that if you are on the wrong side of the bridge, it may be difficult to cross the many exit and entrance lanes of the circles.  The particular example used was if they are cycling on the downstream side and they then want to get to historic Anacostia.  How would they do this? *       Making sure the shared paths across on both sides of the new bridge are wide enough to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles at the same time, not narrow like the current bridge *       Why is the new bridge being built south of the existing bridge? *       Making sure a mechanism is in place for more frequent and improved removal of trash and debris from the path than currently happens *       Having ramps, rather than stairs to allow bicyclists to ride rather than walk from the  bridge paths to portions of the Riverwalk Trail on both sides of the river *       How soon new bridge could be built if funding were available? *       More clear understanding of the routes bicyclists could travel between the bridge and metro stations southeast of the river *       Improved bike accommodations, such as a wider sidewalk/shared path on Firth Sterling so bicyclist don’t have to navigate the Streetcar tracks *       The group expressed broad support for continuation of the existing Suitland Parkway Trail along the pkwy to the West side of the Anacostia Metro station.  People wanted a separated bike path, as opposed to the current on-street signed route, and mentioned that the current facility is not safe for children to bike on. The group also discussed the connection of an extended Suitland pkwy trail to a proposed Firth Sterling trail.  Group expressed a need to connect both of these points to the Anacostia River Trail, either through a separated alignment along Howard Rd, or an alternate route.
That’s how it’s supposed to work.  Thank you to Councilmember Wells for organizing and to DDOT for listening.  It’s crucial to ensure that those responsible for funding and building our infrastructure have the opportunity to see, hear, and feel the impact of their decisions on cyclists. Have your elected officials (city, county, state, District, federal) been on a bike and seen firsthand what works, what doesn’t, and where improvements are needed within their jurisdictions? Have you invited them? (Don’t worry.  If they say yes and you want assistance, give us a call.  We’ll talk you through it or come along.)