Action: It’s Time to Build the 9th St. PBL!

Update: The DDOT comment period closed on September 22, 2022. Thanks to everyone who spoke up! Updates on this project to follow, when we have them.

After seven impossibly long years of study, debate, delay, starting, pausing and restarting, the District Department of Transportation has finally reached the last step in the 9th St. NW protected bike lane saga. This month, DDOT issued a notice of intent to build the project, released the near-final plans and began one last round of public input. 

Let’s give this project the enthusiastic send-off it deserves, congratulate the staff who shepherded it through such troubled waters, and get it built! Scroll down for more detail.

What’s in the 9th St. NW Protected Bike Lane & Traffic Calming Project?

DDOT will transform 1.5 miles of 9th St. NW from Pennsylvania Ave to T St. NW (map), adding new protected bike lanes, significant traffic calming, and pedestrian safety upgrades. Over the years, this project has changed a lot as DDOT worked to balance the many competing needs of the corridor. The result is a street design that prioritizes sustainable mobility, traffic safety, pedestrian comfort, access for people with disabilities, and thriving businesses.

The bi-directional protected bike lane will run along the east side of 9th St. NW. It will be separated from car traffic by a mix of concrete curbs, concrete wheel stops, flex-posts, and on many blocks, parked cars. At intersections, people on bikes will be protected from vehicle left turns thanks to dedicated left turn signals. The lane will be 9-11 feet wide on most blocks, pinching down to 8 feet in some constrained blocks and near intersections. It will stitch together the Shaw and Downtown low stress bike network, with connections to Pennsylvania Ave, E, Q, R and T Streets, link directly into the new Florida Ave protected bike lanes north of U St, and once it is built, the K St bikeway to the west.

The plan is full of benefits for people walking and rolling too. New pedestrian refuge islands and fewer driving lanes makes crossing the street easier and safer for everyone, especially for people with disabilities, seniors and kids, who may struggle to cross 9th St in time today. One fewer driving lane, dedicated left turn lanes, and the protected bike lane will also have a dramatic impact in reducing aggressive driving, like speeding, unsafe passing, and fast left turns. Thanks to extensive input from businesses along the corridor, the design also allows streateries to remain on 9th St without bike lane conflicts for a more vibrant street atmosphere.

DDOT has also put a lot of work into balancing new loading zones, pickup and drop-off, minimizing car traffic, and minimizing changes to car parking, including Sunday angled parking.

For the full rundown on the plan, read DDOT’s Notice of Intent here. To see the (extremely) detailed plans, click here. Comments are due September 22nd.

What’s a Notice of Intent?

Under DC Law, the District Department of Transportation is required to give written notice to relevant advisory neighborhood commissions before making any changes to streets that affect traffic operations or on-street parking in their area. The Notice of intent is a formal comment period when any individual or ANC may submit written comments about a project, typically offering support, opposition, or substantive suggestions on design. Once the comment period closes, DDOT staff summarize comments, tally support and opposition. Finally, DDOT convenes an internal review panel to consider comments, determine a path forward, and provide any required responses to ANCs. 

For safe streets advocates, the Notice of Intent comment period is the final opportunity to review the overall plan, show support, and suggest modifications. While thoughtful or substantive comments are most helpful, short, supportive comments can help tip the scales towards action on safety improvements that require more aggressive tradeoffs, like removing car parking.

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.