DDOT Must Commit to Connecticut Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Since May 2021, we have been eagerly awaiting a DDOT decision on the future design of Connecticut Ave in Ward 3. At stake is whether Connecticut Ave will be transformed into a safe, multimodal street with protected bike lanes or remain a six lane highway, just for driving. But that project, now funded to move ahead immediately, is stuck waiting for a months-late decision from DDOT.

On Tuesday, October 26, the DC Council is holding a confirmation hearing for Mayor Bowser’s pick to lead DDOT, Everett Lott. He has said publicly, as recently as this week, that this decision is currently on his desk. We think that we and the DC Council deserve a clear answer on Connecticut Ave’s future at the hearing. 

Join us on Tuesday at the (virtual) confirmation hearing to demand an answer. Sign up to testify by Monday 10/25 at noon.

If the Mayor and her pick for DDOT Director are willing to go against the declared preferences of all four adjacent ANCs, Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh, immense resident input, DC’s own long range transportation plan, and the simplest principle of putting safety first on Connecticut Ave, then we need to know that now.

Hundreds of resident advocates wrote letters, attended meetings, and waded into difficult community debates. All four ANCs, dozens of community organizations, and businesses supported Concept C which removes the reversible lanes and repurposes driving and parking lanes for protected bike lanes, safer intersections, and slower speeds. You can find more information on the concepts at DDOT’s project page.

You can weigh in three ways:

  1. Sign up to testify at the hearing on Tuesday, October 26 at 12pm – email abenjamin@dccouncil.us or call (202) 724-8062 before Monday at 11am to add your name to the witness list (details here).
  2. Submit written comments for the hearing record – email your testimony to abenjamin@dccouncil.us or leave voicemail testimony for the Committee by calling (202) 350-1344, which will be transcribed and made part of the hearing record.
  3. Email Committee Chair Mary Cheh and ask that she press Director Lott for a clear answer and a commitment to a Connecticut Ave protected bike lane at the hearing.
Artists rendering of potential protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave NW (source DDOT)

For more background and guidance on preparing testimony or speaking at a DC Council hearing, click here.

Thanks for speaking up for a safe, inclusive, and bikeable Connecticut Ave!

Tell SHA to Keep The Protected Bike Lanes on MD-193/University Blvd

Protected bike lanes on University Blvd installed as part of a pilot project (photo from Open Streets Montgomery)

Earlier this summer, the Maryland State Highway Administration began a temporary experiment by installing a protected bike lane on MD-193/University Boulevard, between Amherst and Arcola Ave, in Wheaton. But now that the pilot period is over, SHA intends to remove the lanes on November 14, 2021. We need to act now to insist that SHA keep the protected bike lanes in place permanently!

Take Action

From everything that we’ve seen, the changes on University Blvd have been a tremendous success. The lanes have made it more comfortable to bike and walk on this stretch of University Blvd, increasing safe access to transit and slowing traffic to the speed limit without creating congestion. The SHA should make these lanes permanent and extend them further east and west to bring these benefits to a wider set of users.

To show support for this pilot project, the first of its kind on a Maryland State Highway, send a note to the project team, urging MDOT SHA to continue the pilot indefinitely and to extend the protected bike lanes to a longer stretch of University Boulevard. Make a comment on MDOT SHA’s web site for this project by clicking here.  

Here are some helpful points you can make in your own words:

  • I have loved how safe it is to ride my bike along these lanes
  • I am now able to use University Boulevard to safely bike/walk to restaurants, retail shopping, and other amenities in downtown Wheaton
  • Please extend the pilot indefinitely. Do not remove the lanes.
  • Extend the bike lanes permanently eastward past MD-29/Colesville Road
  • I love that there is now a safe connection between the Sligo Creek Trail and downtown Wheaton
  • For the first time, I feel safe walking on the sidewalk along University Boulevard
  • It is much easier now for Northwood High School students to safely bike and walk to school
  • I am more likely to bike/walk to the outdoor dining area in Wheaton
  • It is safer for me to access bus stops along University Boulevard

You can learn more about this project on the SHA project page. Thanks for taking action by writing in support of this vital project!

Map of University Blvd pilot project (image from SHA)

Envisioning a Safer Street

Your street doesn’t feel safe. How could you change it to make it better? You don’t need a traffic engineering degree to come up with workable solutions that you can share with your neighbors, elected officials, and agency staff.

Let’s start with the basics: Streets and sidewalks are asphalt and concrete, but they’re not set in stone. They’re public space, and they should accommodate everyone’s safety and accessibility needs. In reality, they often don’t. But: how our cities use that public space is a policy decision, and we can change it.

Below we’ll outline a fun, engaging way to explore and visualize options for making a street safer and more accessible using Google Streetview and a free tool called Streetmix.

Step One: Get the facts. 

Pull up your street in Google Streetview, or go out and take some photos. If you can do so safely, bring a tape measure and get some numbers.

Key questions to answer:

  1. How many driving lanes are there? Roughly how wide are they?
  2. How many parking lanes are there? Roughly how wide are they?
  3. Are there bike lanes? Roughly how wide are they?
  4. Sidewalks? Roughly how wide are they?

If you like maps and databases, you can find all of this information (and a LOT more) in DDOT’s  Roadway Centerline Database map tool. 

Step Two: Visualize better options.

Take your numbers from step one and open up Streetmix.net.

Streetmix lets you move and resize the elements of your street by dragging and dropping the various elements. It’s pretty intuitive. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll be able to figure it out. Start by mocking up your street as it is now. Save it so you can refer back. Now, start moving things around. What happens if you replace a parking lane with a  bus lane? Widen the sidewalks? Add a protected bike lane?

Explore some options, and invite your friends and neighbors to do so as well. 

This video offers a great explanation of a “Road Diet” which is common way to make more space for biking and walking on a street, and may give you some ideas: 

Step Three: Reality Check

There’s no single or linear way of looking at a street and figuring out how to improve it. While it’s important to envision something radical, there are some constraints and minimum requirements to consider, some of these are more flexible than others.  Take a look at your Streetmix designs and make sure they’re in line with these guidelines: 

Preferred widthMinimum WidthNotes
Standard Bike Lane6 ft5 ft
Sidewalk6+ ft5 ft
One way protected bike lane7+ ft5 ftGreat protected bike lanes are wide enough to comfortably ride at speed, to allow safe passing, and to ride next to someone to carry on a conversation. 
Two way protected bike lane12+ ft8 ft
Driving Lanes10 ft (11 ft max) 10 ftWide driving lanes have no place in an urban environment because they encourage speeding. Driving lanes should be reduced to 10’, especially on multi-lane roads, to make room for other street users.
Parking Lane7-9 ft7 ftNarrower for cars, wider for truck loading zones.

Step Four: Consider scope and timeline

Rebuilding an entire street to expand sidewalks and add high-quality protected bike lanes can be transformative when done right. Sometimes ripping up the whole streets and starting over is the best way to make a street work for its most critical needs. But doing so can also take a decade of planning, engineering and construction. 

For quicker results, we can leave the curbs in place and redesign the space between them. Many streets are overbuilt—that is, there are too many, or too wide lanes for driving and parking. Removing or narrowing driving lanes and removing car parking frees up street width for new protected bike lanes, bus platforms, street cafes, and sidewalk extensions built on top of the existing asphalt. See the Road Diet video above for more details. Projects like this are less expensive and easier to execute, so they can be completed on a shorter timeline (as little as a year). 

More Detailed Reading: Design Guides & Resources

For inspiration on great street design or more details and guidance on more complicated things like intersection design, explore these resources:

More questions?

Email us at advocacy@waba.org or find us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram at @WABADC.