Don’t let DDOT derail the Connecticut Ave Protected Bike Lane

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You’ve probably seen the news.

In April, DDOT Director Lott announced new delays to the Connecticut Ave safety project and more watering down of the protected bike lane design to make more space for cars, apparently in response to the same short-sighted and unsubstantiated concerns we have heard for the past three years over parking and potential traffic. We cannot wait until 2028 for Connecticut Ave to be comfortable to ride by bike and safe to cross on foot. 

Remind the Mayor and her team that keeping people safe is always more important than parking, that bike lanes are GREAT for business, and that every delay means more crashes, and more preventable injuries. Build it now and build it right!

Please personalize your message! Share why this is so important to you, your family, and your community.

Delays Cost Lives

Connecticut Ave today is unsafe and unwelcoming for people outside of cars. From 2015 to 2019, there were 1,507 crashes reported between Woodley Park and Chevy Chase and more than 100 involved people walking and biking. More recently, Connecticut Ave has been in the news for a crash that injured six and killed two customers sitting at a cafe in Chevy Chase and a high-speed crash at the Zoo that killed a driver and injured seven people. In the first four months of 2023, there have been forty-six reported crashes between Woodley Park and Chevy Chase DC — that’s one crash every 2.5 days.

Overturned cars and serious crashes will continue to be the norm until DDOT changes the road design to one that makes safe, comfortable space for biking and walking and encourages slower, careful driving. Every new month of delay will bring more crashes and potential life-altering injuries. Yet, DDOT’s recent announcement pushes completion from 2025 to 2028!

DDOT’s new timeline pushes completion to 2028!

Complete Streets are Good For Business

Studies from across the country show that people on bikes shop more often and spend more money in a month than people who drive, and retail businesses see an increase in sales and foot traffic when bike and pedestrian infrastructure improves. Shifting the goal from moving many cars quickly to a more people-focussed avenue will attract the customers that business depend on far better than loud traffic whizzing past their doors. And, it’s worth noting that lots of business leaders understand this already! Just look at businesses around the Met Branch Trail or the SW Waterfront to see how active, human scale infrastructure supports businesses.

Safe Design Is More Important Than Convenient Parking

This is not just an economic question, but a moral one. This street is dangerous. Its design creates conditions that hurt and kill people. No amount of economic activity is worth letting people die violently at the hands of drivers. Connecticut Ave must have a continuous, comfortable, and safe protected bike lane.

In the 16 months since deciding to move ahead with Concept C, DDOT has compromised against safe bicycling again and again, returning more and more parking spaces to the proposed design. Adding parking to a block squeezes the protected bike lane to just 4 feet wide — narrow, uncomfortable, potentially unsafe, and far below modern bikeway standards — which is acceptable as a compromise for some blocks to support ADA access and loading, but is not as the template for the whole 3 mile backbone of Ward 3’s bicycle network.

Most recently, DDOT Director Everett Lott told the DC Council and the Washington Post that they are reconsidering a more compact two-way protected bike lane design to make space for more parking and loading. Alarmingly, this contradicts DDOT’s own 2020 analysis which determined that a two-way design would create unacceptable crash risk from uncontrolled left turns across the bike lane. With our backs to the wall, any more compromise puts lives on the line.

How We Got Here

The Connecticut Ave Safety Project has been in the works since before 2018 when ANCs up and down Connecticut Ave urged DDOT to remove the dangerous reversible lanes and get started on a new design that includes safer walking, biking, and driving. Over nearly three years, DDOT collected reams of data and public input, met with dozens of stakeholder groups, and did exhaustive analysis to inform potential designs and choose between them.

Concept C, with protected bike lanes, emerged as the best option to move forward. It was backed by all four ANCs, Ward 3’s new Coucilmember Matt Frumin, Mayor Bowser, and a majority of public input from residents and stakeholder groups who live, work and travel Connecticut Ave and even many business owners! This design keeps two driving lanes in each direction, left turn lanes at some intersections, bus boarding platforms, and curbside protected bike lanes. Pedestrian safety is improved throughout with refuge islands, shorter crossings, and calmer, slower traffic.

Along the way, WABA and community advocates in Ward 3 have worked closely with DDOT to reach a workable design for all parties to add safe bike lanes while also balancing other needs On commercial blocks, the bike lanes would narrow to add all-hours parking, pickup/dropoff, and loading zones on one side of the street to support local businesses. And outside of commercial areas, it allowed for wider, lower stress, and higher-capacity bike lanes with room for people on bikes to pass. We believe this is a reasonable compromise that accommodates the needs of all users well. Further reduction in the cycle lane size would put the lanes at risk for lower use and limit the benefits of these to community residents and businesses.

Connecticut Ave street design in different contexts: typical, turn lanes, parking.

Remind the Mayor and her team that keeping people safe is always more important than parking, that bike lanes are GREAT for business, and that every delay means more crashes, and more preventable injuries. Build it now and built it right!

Please take a few moments to personalize your message to share why this is so important to you, your family, and your community.