9th St. NW Protected Bike Lane Action Prep

A 2 way protected bike lane full of happy people riding bikes, separated from car traffic by a curb and parked cars
Proposed 2-way protected bike lane on 9th St. NW

The long awaited 9th St. NW protected bike lane and pedestrian safety project is finally moving again towards construction in late 2022. The project will add 1.5 miles of protected bike lane from Pennsylvania Ave to Florida Ave, shorten pedestrian crossings, and remove extra driving lanes that encourage dangerous speeding and enable aggressive driving — all without significant impacts to street parking or driving times.

While it’s great that the Bowser administration is committed to this project, we have seen it get delayed before, and some persistent opponents are not giving up. Fortunately, we know that bringing people together to demand safe streets works.

Join us on Wednesday, September 22nd at 6:30 PM for a quick recap of what improvements this project will bring, a brief history, and then get directly involved in actions and tactics coming up this month. Let’s push this critical safety project over the finish line.

Register Here

9th Street NW Protected Bike Lane Virtual Open House

After 5 years in limbo, the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane (PBL) project is finally moving forward to redesign 9th St. NW in Shaw.  On Thursday, July 29, the District Department of Transportation is holding a virtual open house to present the current design, share the next steps in the process, and take input on your priorities for the street as planners refine the design. 

This project will redesign 9th St. NW with an east-side, 2-way protected bike lane, safer pedestrian crossings, and traffic calming between Pennsylvania Ave and Florida Ave. NW. It will fill a large hole in DC’s low-stress bicycle network and significantly reduce speeding, dangerous driving, and prevent traffic crashes in the corridor.

Meeting Details

9th Street NW Protected Bike Lane Virtual Open House
Thursday, 7/29/21
4 – 7pm
Identical presentations and Q&A every hour.
Meeting URL: rebrand.ly/9thStNW-ProtectedBikeLane
Or Call in #: 202-860-2110, Access Code: 172 214 7464

Drop in at 4pm, 5pm or 6pm for a short presentation and an opportunity to ask questions and show your support for making 9th St. a safe, walkable, bikeable, and accessible street for everyone who uses it.

Get Involved

We are thrilled that the Mayor and DDOT are moving this project ahead, yet we know that it still needs help, positive pressure and public enthusiasm to get built. If you are passionate about this project and want to roll up your sleeves to help organize that support over the next few months, sign up below.

Background

In 2015, DDOT began the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane study to identify a viable street for a north-south protected bike lane between 15th St. NW and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. After many heated public meetings, stakeholder consultation, and extensive analysis, the study concluded in 2017 that 6th and 9th streets NW were the best candidates and work began on preliminary design for both corridors.

In 2018, the project team completed 30% design for both streets and, after additional traffic studies and stakeholder input, selected 9th St. However, without any announcement or reasons offered, the project was put on hold, preventing any further design work or outreach. In May, Mayor Bowser announced that the project is again moving forward, restarting design and outreach for the project. Construction is expected in 2022.

Click here to read more about this project’s history on the WABA blog.

See the project documents here.

Update on the Eastern Downton Protected Bike Lane

What happened:

Last Tuesday, the DC Council considered Emergency Legislation introduced by Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) to restart the long stalled Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane project on 9th Street NW. After considerable discussion by the full Council, Councilmember Nadeau withdrew the legislation because it lacked the supermajority necessary to pass. You can watch the discussion in full here.

What we think:

We continue to be inspired and amazed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteer advocates working to move this project forward. Each councilmember made statements on the importance of growing the city’s network of protected bike lanes and creating safe, convenient ways to get around. This vocal support would not have come without the outpouring of calls, emails, and conversations each councilmember received. We’re not giving up and we know you aren’t either.

We are also frustrated. 

The discussion by Councilmembers on the dais focused on long-standing, citywide concerns about racial tension, affordability, displacement of communities of color, and gentrification. These are real, pressing challenges that need to be addressed by anyone working to make the District a better place to live. 

At the same time, crashes on 9th Street are frequent. Using a street safety project as a proxy for concerns about neighborhood change has real, physical consequences that are measured in ambulance rides and lives permanently changed. We don’t think that’s acceptable. 

We thank Councilmember Brianne Nadeau for introducing the legislation and co-introducing Councilmembers David Grosso, Charles Allen, Mary Cheh and Robert White Jr. 

What’s next:

Councilmember Elissa Silverman has offered to convene representatives from 9th St Churches, safe streets advocates, members of the Council and others to build mutual understanding and find a path forward. We are eager to engage in these crucial intersectional conversations.

We’ll make sure to keep you updated. 

What you can do right now:
Get involved in your Ward action group at waba.org/20×20.

Update on the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane

What happened:

On Tuesday, the DC Council considered Emergency Legislation introduced by Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) to restart the long stalled Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane project on 9th Street NW. After considerable discussion by the full Council, Councilmember Nadeau withdrew the legislation because it lacked the supermajority necessary to pass.

What we think:

We continue to be inspired and amazed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteer advocates working to move this project forward. We’re not giving up and we know you aren’t either.

We are also frustrated. 

The discussion by Councilmembers on the dais focused on long-standing, citywide concerns about racial tension, affordability, displacement of communities of color, and gentrification. These are real, pressing challenges that need to be addressed by anyone working to make the District a better place to live. 

At the same time, crashes on 9th Street are frequent. Using a street safety project as a proxy for concerns about neighborhood change has real, physical consequences that are measured in  ambulance rides and lives permanently changed. We don’t think that’s acceptable. 

What’s next:

Councilmember Elissa Silverman has offered to convene representatives from 9th St Churches, safe streets advocates, members of the Council and others to build mutual understanding and find a path forward. We are eager to engage in these crucial intersectional conversations.

What you can do right now:

Get involved in your Ward action group [link],

Urgent: Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane vote on March 3rd.

The DC Council will vote on March 3rd emergency legislation to complete the 9th Street NW protected bike lane between Florida Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. This project has been stalled for more than four years, and the District’s inaction has consequences. More than 60 people walking and biking have been hit by drivers on the 9th Street Corridor since the project was put on ice.

Emails take just a moment to send, and using our call tool will take you about five minutes.

Note: Our calling tool will only connect if you live in DC. If you live outside of the District but would like to add your voice, please call Council Chair Phil Mendelson’s office at (202) 724-8032. Make sure to explain why this project is important to you even though you don’t live in DC.

Background

In 2015, the District Department of Transportation began studying options for a protected bike lane to run north/south between Shaw and Chinatown to fill a substantial gap between 15th St NW and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. After an exhaustive, and heated, public process which included two public meetings, more than 2,500 comments and dozens of meetings with stakeholders in the corridor, DDOT identified 6th and 9th St. NW as the best candidates. And in the February 2017 final report, DDOT determined that more detailed design and analysis were needed before choosing a street to fully design and build.

Yet, since then we have been left in the dark on this project. The project page’s last update was in 2017. For two years, DDOT’s director has been unable to provide any updates or timeline to the DC Council when asked directly. And the Mayor has answered direct questions with only vague answers about making sure it is safe. While we wait more than 60 people walking and biking have been hit by drivers on 9th Street since February 2017.

Ask your DC Councilmembers to support the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane

The DC Council will soon vote on emergency legislation to complete the 9th Street NW protected bike lane between Florida Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. For more than four years, this project has been in limbo with no recent sign of progress, yet serious crashes involving people walking and biking continue on 9th St. Fixing this is urgent!

Call and email your councilmembers to ask for their vote on this important emergency legislation. It only takes a few minutes! 

This is a critical vote to decide the future of 9th St. NW and a key opportunity to expand our bike network in DC! 

Note: Our calling tool will only connect if you live in DC. If you live outside of the District but would like to add your voice, please call Council Chair Phil Mendelson’s office at (202) 724-8032. Make sure to explain why this project is important to you even though you don’t live in DC.

Update 12/5: This vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday 12/3, but at the last minute, several councilmembers indicated that they had concerns with the bill, and it was pulled from the agenda. We later learned that a stakeholder meeting that needed to happen before this vote didn’t happen. 

We are working with several councilmembers to make sure this stakeholder meeting happens before the Council’s next regular legislative session on January 7th. We’ll be at the table when it does.  Despite the setback, we are confident that if members of the Council hear from you, this bill will pass. So please contact them.

Background

In 2015, the District Department of Transportation began studying options for a protected bike lane to run north/south between Shaw and Chinatown to fill a substantial gap between 15th St NW and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. After an exhaustive, and heated, public process which included two public meetings, more than 2,500 comments and dozens of meetings with stakeholders in the corridor, DDOT identified 6th and 9th St. NW as the best candidates. And in the February 2017 final report, DDOT determined that more detailed design and analysis were needed before choosing a street to fully design and build.

Yet, since then we have been left in the dark on this project. The project page’s last update was in 2017. For two years, DDOT’s director has been unable to provide any updates or timeline to the DC Council when asked directly. And the Mayor has answered direct questions with only vague answers about making sure it is safe. While we wait, at least 21 people walking and 11 people biking have been hit by cars on 9th Street since February 2017.

Attend our August Advocate Training

For more than three years, planners at the District Department of Transportation have been studying options for an Eastern Downtown protected bike lane to link Pennsylvania Ave to Florida Ave through Shaw. Through public meetings, stakeholder consultation, exhaustive reports and detailed design work, DDOT’s leadership and staff have turned over every stone. All that’s left is the decision on where it will go. After a long wait, it looks like we may get a decision soon. We need to be ready. So we are hosting an advocate training next week. Join WABA’s advocacy team to untangle DC’s transportation planning process, learn the tools of an effective bike advocate, and take a deep dive into the the Eastern Downtown project. Better Bicycling Advocate Training Thursday, August 2nd 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm Shaw Neighborhood Library 1630 7th St NW, Washington, DC (map) Sign Up Questions about the training? Contact Garrett Hennigan at 202-518-0524 x210 or garrett.hennigan@waba.org

Can we have a protected bike lane yet?

Ten percent of all trips originating in the Shaw neighborhood are by bicycle. That is more than double the average bicycle mode share for the District. Yet, the best corridors for getting to destinations north and south of Shaw are streets with multiple lanes, high speeds, and aggressive driving. Safe places for people to bike are sorely needed throughout the city, and Shaw is no exception. And when streets are safe for bicyclists, they are safer for pedestrians and motorists. Last year, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) went through a lengthy public comment process to select a preferred alternative out of four possible streets for a protected north/south bike lane through Shaw. Thousands of citizens participated, and the majority spoke up in favor of bike lanes on 6th or 9th streets NW. According to the project timeline, a preferred alternative for this project was supposed to have been selected a full year ago— in April 2016. In February 2017, fully ten months past that deadline, DDOT announced that, rather than selecting just one of the alternatives, they were moving two alternatives to 30% design, a process that it says could take up to 9 months. Final design and construction of the selected alternative could take another 12 to 18 months.

Take Action

DC is a city that has committed to completely eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries, all while increasing the number of people who walk, bike and take transit, and accommodating an influx of 800+ new residents every month who need transit options other than their personal automobiles to get around. Yet important projects like this one, which would help accomplish all of those goals, are being slow-walked to the finish line, if not in danger of being scrapped entirely. In the time it has taken DDOT to issue a “final” report on the initial study, more than 19 people were hurt in crashes in the study area. (We don’t know the actual number because crash data has only been made publicly available through May of 2016). This is unacceptable. Can we wait until the Summer of 2019 for a safe route through Shaw?

Take Action

We need this project to be built on a faster timeline than what DDOT is projecting, or hundreds of other people could get hurt while the city delays. Or, we need DDOT to build both of the final alternatives currently moving to 30% design, not just one. Both 6th and 9th streets are dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. People need to travel to locations on both. A protected bike lane on 6th St may give bicyclists a safe place to ride, but doesn’t make 9th street easier for elementary school kids or senior citizens to cross, or calm traffic for neighbors, and vice versa. Street calming and safe places to bicycle through Shaw will induce DC residents to take more of their trips and commutes by foot and bike. Making the streets more hospitable for pedestrians and bicyclists will help local businesses and improve health outcomes for residents. And, incidentally, it would help DDOT start to catch up on the five miles of protected bike lanes each year they need to build to meet their 20 year goals. (They have been nowhere near that target in the past three years.)

Tell Mayor Bowser: No more delays. Build protected bike lanes through Shaw. Build both final alternatives. Build them faster than currently planned.

Is Mayor Bowser delaying the Shaw protected bike lane?

Biking on 6th St NW: Currently a stressful experience.

Last fall, WABA members and supporters submitted thousands of comments to Mayor Bowser and the District Department of Transportation  in support of building a protected bike lane through Shaw to downtown. Eleven local businesses in Shaw signed on to a letter of support for the project, and nearly 100 residents took the time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in February to show up in person to the project’s public meeting to demonstrate support and present testimony on what being able to ride around Shaw on a protected bike lane would mean to them.  Sources tell us that DDOT has recommended one of the four build alternatives and is ready to move forward, but the project has been sitting in the Mayor’s office waiting for a green light.  The original timeline for selecting a preferred alternative for the project was April 2016.   DDOT and the project study team should be commended for the thorough technical analysis and extensive community outreach that went into this project. The four build alternatives that have been presented to the public represent a more than fair compromise by maintaining up to 95% of on-street residential and Sunday church parking spots, minimizing impacts to traffic, and installing critical pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements. DDOT is recommending a win-win-win.   The reality is that travel through the Shaw corridor is not as safe as it could or should be. In 2014 alone, 49 people were struck by vehicles while walking and biking along streets in the bike lane project study area. In 2015, 25 people were struck by vehicles on 6th and 9th St. In the first six months of 2016 (the period for which crash data is available), 19 people were struck by vehicles on those streets. These figures represent only those incidents that were reported to police and caused injury, so presumably the actual crash rate is much higher. Even with the Mayor’s immediate approval of the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane preferred alternative, it would still take up to a year of additional design, engineering, and construction planning before the bike lanes could be built. As the crash statistics above clearly show, people are regularly coming to harm on these streets. This is preventable and we cannot afford further delays.

WABA has sent a formal letter to Mayor Bowser requesting that she allow the Eastern Downtown project to move forward. You can read the letter here. If you would like to add your voice, please contact the Mayor and tell her that we have waited long enough for safe streets in Shaw.

Here is some contact information for Mayor Bowser:

Email: eom@dc.gov

Twitter: @MayorBowser

Facebook: MayorMurielBowser

 

Outpouring of community support for Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane project

The second public meeting for the Eastern Downtown bike lane project was a welcome change from the first, and contained good news:  According to the latest data from the project study team, the bike lane would—at most— affect 190 of 1,800 metered spaces and 10 out of 230 Sunday angled spaces. Traffic time increases would vary from three minutes to upwards of 20, depending on the alternative, and under the third alternative, morning traffic waits would actually decrease.

If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed:

The temporary event bike racks DDOT provided were overflowing, with a bike locked up to every signpost and fence within two blocks of the building, as WABA supporters from the community came out in force on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  Around 300 people attended the meeting total. At least half were there to support the project. Regardless of their position on the project, every person who walked in the door got a warm greeting from a WABA volunteer, and a bright green sticker that said “Safe Streets.” They also got a flyer for bike camp and a coupon for a free WABA city cycling class. DDOT displayed new information about the project on presentation boards outside the  meeting space, and DDOT staff circulated through the open house to answer questions. The meeting itself was professionally facilitated; everyone in attendance agreed in advance to listen respectfully and to keep their testimony to within the allotted time (2 minutes for individuals, 5 minutes for organizations). DDOT Director Dormsjo opened the meeting by walking through the project planning process, the goals of the project, and emphasizing that DDOT leadership was there at the meeting to listen. Indeed, a panel consisting of of Mr. Dormsjo, DDOT Deputy Director, Associate Director of Planning, Policy and Sustainability and several other high-level leaders of DDOT sat at the front of the room for the duration of the meeting to listen to the testimony of the 50 people who signed up to speak. Only 8 of the 50 speakers opposed the project.

People from all walks of life, ages, genders, races, income brackets and levels of experience on a bicycle testified in favor of the project, demonstrating the wide range of people who ride, the reasons they ride, and their desire to be safe while doing so.

The tone of all participants was decidedly respectful. Though there was still disagreement about the project, it was civil. A big thank you to WABA members and supporters who turned out big for safe streets. Together, we have shifted the conversation from “Should we do this?” to “Which alternative makes most sense?” and we did that by showing the incredible diversity of the people who benefit from safe streets and why they matter, on a personal level, to all of us. We still have work to do in the upcoming months to get this project across the finish line, but the balance has started to shift. Click here to check out the list of businesses in the area who support the project. Next up: if you live in the project study area, please attend your upcoming ANC meeting and ask for a resolution of support for the project. March 1, 2016 — ANC 6E Meeting (11 blocks in project area) March 2, 2016 — ANC 2F Meeting ( 5 blocks in project area on 9th) March 3, 2016 — ANC 1B Meeting (2 blocks in project area 6th & 9th) March 14, 2016 — ANC 2C Meeting (9 blocks in study area) Look up your ANC here. If you’d like to join the group of WABA volunteers working to build support for this project, email advocacy@waba.org and we’ll get you plugged in.