Biking along New York Avenue NE is not for the faint of heart. High speeds and no bicycle infrastructure along much of the corridor makes it a loud, scary ride. To address these concerns, DDOT is working on streetscape improvements for the corridor from Florida Ave east to Bladensburg Road NE. And they want your input!The goal of the New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project is to improve pedestrian and cyclist connections and safety along New York Avenue. DDOT is accepting comments on the concepts until May 17. Find more info, and take their survey here: newyorkavenueproject.com/
Here’s our take on what’s good, and what can be improved.
What is the scope of the project?The project includes New York Ave and some of the neighborhoods to the south from Florida Avenue NE east to Bladensburg Road NE.What improvements are being proposed?The most exciting part of the study are the proposed concepts in Segment 2. Four concepts are outlined in that segment:
Concept 1: Raised cycletrack (2-way protected bike lane) on the north side of NY Ave, with sidewalks on both sides
Concept 2: Shared use path on the north side of New York Ave, with a wide sidewalk on the south side
Concept 3: Cycletrack on the south side of New York Ave, with a small sidewalk on the north side
Concept 4: Sidewalks only, with no bicycle accommodations on NY Ave, with proposed neighborhood routes instead.
Which concept is best for people who bike? We encourage you to look at each of the concepts to decide for yourself what’s best, but here are some pros and cons to each concept:Concept 1
Pro: Modes are separated, so bicyclists and walkers don’t need to share a sidewalk or trail. This reduces user conflict. Because the cycletrack is on the north side of New York Ave, there would be fewer interruptions by cars turning into businesses and roads on the south side. This means less interactions with cars than concept 3.
Con: Bicyclists would need to cross New York Ave to get to the south side of the street. This could be done at signalized intersections (Segment 3 shows what those intersections could look like), but might be less convenient for getting to the businesses and neighborhood streets along the corridor.
Pro: Because the trail is on the north side of New York Ave, there would be fewer interruptions by cars turning into businesses and roads on the south side. This means less interactions with cars than concept 3.
Con: Having bicyclists mix with pedestrians on a shared use path could mean more interactions (and possibly conflicts) between users, as compared to a sidewalk and cycletrack, like concepts 1 and 3. Bicyclists would need to cross New York Ave to get to the south side of the street. This could be done at signalized intersections, but might be less convenient for getting to the businesses and neighborhoods along the corridor.
Pro: Bicyclists would be closer to the businesses and neighborhoods along the corridor, because the cycletrack is on the south side. Bicyclists and pedestrians would be separated, reducing user conflict.
Con: The entire roadway would need to be shifted to the north in this concept. That would be incredibly expensive! There would be more exposure to turning cars, as drivers would come off of New York Ave and cross the cycletrack as they turned into the driveways and streets to the south. Segment 3 shows what those crossings could look like.
Pro: The neighborhoods south of New York Ave would get bicycle infrastructure. You can see those improvements here.
Con: No bicycle accommodations would be added to New York Ave itself. The corridor would remain an unfriendly route for bicyclists.
What’s missing?While DDOT presents some promising concepts for Segment 2, there is much to be desired about the other segments. Segment 1 –FloridaAveto4thSt.NE:Onthewestendoftheproject,peoplewalkingandbikingwouldreachFloridaAveandpossiblytheMetropolitanBranchTrail viathe unmodifiedNewYorkAveBridge.Unfortunately, this solution all but ignores the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians. The proposed plan would encourage bicyclists to use the north side sidewalk of the New York Ave bridge and pedestrians the south. But, these sidewalks are just 5 feet wide between two railings and will not safely handle two-way bicycle traffic or safely mix pedestrians and bicyclists. Furthermore, major changes are needed to the New York and Florida Ave intersection to create safe access to the bridge. In its current configuration, the bridge is not suitable for people on bikes.How could this segment be improved?
It’s not OK to give bicyclists the scraps from the bottom of the barrel. People on bikes need more space on the New York Ave bridge, and if we are encouraged to use the north side, we need a safe way to get there.
At the bridge, while the bicyclists get squeezed to a too-small and inaccessible sidewalk, New York Ave widens from 71 feet to 82 feet across and driving lanes lanes widen from 11 feet to 12 and 13 feet with a generous median. Though expensive, this extra road space could be repurposed to widen the sidewalks.
Segment 3 – Montana Ave Intersection: The intersection of New York Ave and Montana Ave NE is tough to navigate by ANY mode, but is especially daunting for those on bike or foot.How could this segment be improved?
Ask DDOT to include more safety improvements into the design for this intersection. DDOT should remove slip lanes, which encourage high speed vehicle turns, widen medians, and reduce the number of lanes entering the circle. While they are nice amenities, public art and green infrastructure are not enough, and do not make bicyclists and pedestrians safer from vehicles.
Segment 3- Bladensburg Road Intersection: The intersection of New York Ave and Bladensburg Rd. NE is dangerous. In fact, it ranks among DDOT’s Top 10 most dangerous intersections in the District based on crash data. The recommendations within the New York Ave Streetscape and Trail Project don’t go nearly far enough to address the safety concerns at that intersection.How could this segment be improved?
DDOT has a list of recommendations generated from Vision Zero site visits. Encourage DDOT to implement those recommendations at this intersection.
What’s the story with the abandoned railroad bridge concept?After DDOT’s February meeting, they integrated a trail concept that uses two old railroad bridges- one that crosses New York Ave and one that crosses Montana Ave. (You can see that trail in Segment 3.)While this concept has the possibility of providing a car-free route north of New York Ave, the feasibility is unknown, and challenges listed in the segment profile are not promising (private railroad bridge ownership, cost of railroad bridge rehabilitation, etc.).How could this segment be improved?
Encourage DDOT to show another option for bicyclists, in case the old railroad bridge concept isn’t feasible.