DC Protected Bike Lanes & Trails Update: June 2022

Late last year, after more than two years of organizing and work from advocates, Mayor Bowser committed DC to redesigning 3+ miles of Connecticut Ave with continuous, protected bike lanes and advancing the project to the next steps. Next week, we need your help and your voice to get it done right.  Read on for details.

Connecticut Avenue is just one of the many campaigns WABA supporters are pushing forward. Join our monthly Low Stress Network Advocate Meetup on Monday, June 27 at 7pm to meet advocates from across the city, share updates on citywide opportunities, and join a work session on a campaign to build a piece of the low stress network near you.

Did You See This?

  1. A Tenuous Opportunity On Connecticut Ave  – next week, DDOT is finally sharing detailed plans for safety improvements and what will be the longest protected bike lane in DC on Connecticut Ave. But two critical questions remain: Will the lanes stop short of Chevy Chase, DC, leaving this neighborhood and retail corridor cut off from the network? And will the block-by-block design stick to the ambitious vision or cave to demands for preserving parking. Come to UDC to have your say on Wednesday, June 29 at 6pm.
  2. Rock Creek Park Trail opening soon – major sections of the Rock Creek Park Trail are opening south of Calvert Street, around the Zoo tunnel, and across Rock Creek on a new bridge (watch the full presentation). Plus, a new tunnel takes the trail under the Roosevelt Bridge near the Kennedy Center (check it out).
  3. 7th Street Open Streets – last month, DC closed a few miles of 7th St. to cars and opened it up to people! And boy did they show up! Check it out!

Things To Do

Good things happen when advocates like you are speaking up for DC’s Low Stress Bike Network. Here are some quick actions to support building parts of the network. Find the most recent actions at waba.org/action.

Safety First on Q And R Streets NW / NE

DC has many north-south protected bike lanes in Ward 2, but the lack of high-quality, east-west routes put people who bike in constant danger. It’s time to put Safety First on Q & R St with continuous, protected bike lanes from Dupont to the Met Branch Trail.

Sign the Petition

Sign the Petition to put People First on I (Eye) St. SE/SW

Sign the petition to support DDOT’s plan for protected bike lanes, traffic calming, and safer intersections on I St. in SW Waterfront and Navy Yard ahead of the June ANC discussion.

Sign the Petition

Share Your Big Ideas with the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force

What are your transformative ideas for a bigger, better, more equitable transportation system in DC? Up to $3 billion in federal funding may be coming DC’s way and DC’s Infrastructure Task Force wants to hear your ideas.

Take Action

Weigh in on Columbia Road NW Bus Priority & Bike Project

DDOT wants your ideas for making Columbia Rd in Adams Morgan work better for buses and bikes. Take the survey.

Take Action

Support DDOT’s Plan to Finish the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE

DDOT has a new, thoughtful, & all-around better plan to complete the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE with wide protected bike lanes, orderly school pickup/dropoff, and traffic calming. Sign your support!
Take Action

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.

Take Action

Events & Places to Go

Low Stress Bike Network Citywide Meeting

Get updates on campaigns across DC and get involved in one near you.
Monday, June 27 at 7pm
Register on Zoom

 

Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lanes Design Update

Get the latest on this transformational safety project. Weigh in on the block-by-block design, and help us make the case for continuing the protected bike lanes though Chevy Chase to the Maryland line. Two ways to attend:

Virtual Meeting 

Tuesday, June 28 at 9 am

Join on Webex: rebrand.ly/ConnAveRevStudy

In-Person Meeting

Wednesday, June 29 at 6 pm

Van Ness UDC 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Student Center Building, 3rd Floor Ballroom

What We’re Reading

  1. The JFK closure has brought some zen to Golden Gate Park (SFGate) – after a years-long fight, one of San Francisco’s signature park roads is a completely different place, transforming the park and the neighborhoods around it.
  2. When will we say not another? (GGWash) – a troubling look at the horrible impact cars and guns have on children’s lives in DC and why it’s time to stop talking and instead take action.

Step Up Your Advocacy

  • WABA’s Low Stress Network campaign is powered and lead by community advocates like you. So we have tons of resources to share. Visit waba.org/network for videos of past trainings, helpful how-tos, and more. 
  • Grab a slot at my Advocate Office Hours to dig into an issue, find opportunities to get involved in a campaign, or plot the first steps of your own. Sign up for office hours here.

WABA and our supporters are transforming our region.

Our region is changing. Can you see it? I can: from my window, from my bike, from my picnic blanket. More people than ever are riding confidently in new protected bike lanes. Families are out enjoying our gorgeous local trails and car-free spaces like Beach Drive. Friends are eating, drinking, talking, and laughing in streateries. 
 Our streets are becoming more than a way to get from one place to another. They are the places where we live our lives.

In 2021, WABA, our supporters, and our partners came together to reimagine what our region can look like when we make space for more people. Here’s what we did together:

  • A wider Washington & Old Dominion Trail that invites more people to make this beautiful space part of their daily lives.  

  • Unprecedented demand for a car-free future for Beach Drive— an incredible show of support for one of our region’s beloved National Parks.

  • The first-ever protected bike lanes on a state highway in Maryland, piloting a repurpose of two traffic lanes for biking.

  • DC’s second Open Streets event, which brought tens of thousands of people to Georgia Avenue NW for an afternoon of carefree, car-free play.

  • More bike lanes all over that create critical connections to other bike lanes and trails, and make each ride better than the last.

WABA joined with organizations focused on intersectional issues like climate, housing, and transit, to advance our shared vision of a sustainable, equitable transportation system. In coalition, we:

  • Earned support from four jurisdictions—and counting!—to build the Capital Trails Network by 2030—an 881-mile network of connected, world-class trails.

  • Won dedicated, comprehensive funding for the DC Vision Zero Bill, which will increase automated traffic enforcement and pay for pedestrian and bicyclist safety projects, taking a much-needed step towards ending our region’s traffic violence epidemic.

  • Built power, strategy, and community among regional Families for Safe Streets chapters, bringing together those impacted by traffic violence through peer support and advocacy.

  • Expanded our DC Trail Rangers program. WABA Trail Rangers’ daily, friendly presence on the trails is setting a national precedent for what trail outreach and maintenance should be, and making it clear that trails are for everyone.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more about what’s ahead for WABA in 2022. I hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Upper Beach Drive Environmental Assessment Meeting w/ NPS

The National Park Service is holding a virtual public meeting about the future management of upper Beach Drive. This meeting kicks off an environmental assessment of the options, including keeping sections of Upper Beach Drive open to people and closed to cars, seven days a week. 

At the meeting, NPS will present the options under consideration, explain their process, take feedback, and share how you can weigh in through the 45 day comment period.

This is the chance we’ve been pushing for! Please attend, share your enthusiasm in the chat box, and share what you think about the options. We’ll have guidance on written comments soon.

Upper Beach Drive
Environmental Assessment Kickoff
Thursday, July 8 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Join on Microsoft Teams
More info on the NPS project page

Bicycling made 2020 a little better.

I hope bicycling has made this year a little bit better for you. For me, a sunny afternoon on a busy trail was a welcome moment of levity, freedom, and connection to this wonderful community.

During the pandemic, this community brought the joy of bicycling to more people than ever before— and made our region a better place to bike in a time when we really needed it.

The thing is: the new bike lanes, new trails, and policies that make your ride better?

They add up to so much more than a great afternoon.

They’re the backbone of a safer, more sustainable transportation system that we can rely on through a climate crisis and a pandemic.

There’s no way around it: 2020 was hard. But your support for WABA made a big difference to our region and community.

Together, we:

  • Won car free spaces on Beach Drive and other park roads in Maryland and DC—not just on weekends but every day, reserving more space for people to play;
  • Expanded DC’s protected bike lane network by 45%, with even more construction planned for 2021;
  • Cleared a wonky bureaucratic hurdle that opens up federal funding for hundreds of miles of new trails in the region;
  • Celebrated major progress on car-free bridges: the Long Bridge is one year closer to reality and the arches are up on the Frederick Douglass Bridge—and both will connect to new trails;
  • Celebrated ground breaking on a wider and safer Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Arlington, our first major trail to create wide separate spaces for people biking and people walking; and
  • Pushed a robust set of policy changes through the DC Council that will result in safer intersections, slower speed limits, faster changes to dangerous roads, and prioritized investment in communities with fewer transportation options.

We did all this, together, despite all the uncertainty 2020 brought. I’m proud to be part of the Washington area bicycling community.

The Beach Drive rebuild moves north

(read our last Rock Creek update here.) We’re nearly a year into the reconstruction of Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. In total, this will be a 3.7 mile trail rebuild, but it’s broken into four segments. Let’s take a look at the status of the project, and what’s on the horizon for the months ahead.

Segment 1 (Shoreham Drive to Tilden Street/Park Road) was completed on August 28, 2017.

This segment includes a repaved and widened trail alongside Beach Drive and the (slight) widening of the sidewalk within the Zoo tunnel. Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service threw a block party on the newly completed segment. It was great to experience the fresh pavement (on both the trail and road) without cars! The event was a great reminder of how important (and fun!) Open Streets events are, and we’re pleased to see National Park Service gave people a chance to enjoy this new space before letting the cars back onto it. Take note—the trail that goes through the Zoo property (that allows trail users to bypass the tunnel) will be reconstructed by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in a subsequent phase. It’s still in bad shape right now, but there are plans in motion to reconstruct that segment.

Segments 2 and 3 are now closed to all traffic.

Beach Drive is now closed from Park Road/Tilden Street NW to Joyce Road NW (immediately south of Military Road NW). Originally planned to be addressed as two separate phases, both segments 2 and 3 will close at the same time so that work can begin concurrently on both. The bicycle and pedestrian detour for these segments are Ross Drive and Ridge Road, which will be completely closed to cars until Fall 2018. And just like Segment 1, it’s important that people biking and walking stay out of the active construction zone on Beach Drive! These segments of construction will impact the portion of the road that is usually closed to cars on weekends. That means that on the weekend, bicyclists will only be able to ride on Beach Drive from Joyce Road north to the Maryland line, but Ross and Ridge will be alternatives to Beach Drive to connect further south. WABA has been advocating for this project for decades. More than 2500 WABA supporters demanded the rehabilitation get back on track in 2014, and many have fought for years prior to prioritize this project with NPS and other relevant agencies. DDOT will tackle the trail sections through Rose Park, northwest of Rock Creek (the trail on the Zoo property), a new bridge across Rock Creek near the Zoo, and a trail extension on Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT’s anticipated construction start is Summer 2018 and the approximate cost of construction is about 11 million. You can find more information about DDOT’s plans here: https://ddot.dc.gov/page/rock-creek-park-multi-use-trail-rehabilitation-project If you want more info, visit the project website: go.nps.gov/beachdrive

What’s the Status of the Rock Creek Park Trail Reconstruction?

We’re eight months into the reconstruction of Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. In total, this will be a 3.7 mile trail reconstruction, but it’s broken into four segments. Let’s take a look at the status of the project, and what’s on the horizon for this summer and fall.

Beach Drive and Rock Creek Park Trail Reconstruction. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Segment 1 (Shoreham Drive to Tilden Street/Park Road) will be completed mid-late summer. This segment includes a repaved and widened trail alongside Beach Drive and the (slight) widening of the sidewalk within the Zoo tunnel. Take note- the trail that goes through the Zoo property (that allows trail users to bypass the tunnel) will be reconstructed by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in a subsequent phase. It’s still in bad shape right now, but there are plans in motion to reconstruct that segment. Immediately following completion of Segment 1, Beach Drive will close from Park Road/Tilden Street NW to Joyce Road NW (immediately south of Military Road NW). Originally planned to be addressed as two separate phases, both segments 2 and 3 will close at the same time so that work can begin concurrently on both. Just like Segment 1, bike and pedestrian access will be maintained while the road is closed for Segments 2 and 3. And just like Segment 1, it’s important that people biking and walking stay out of the active construction zone. WABA has been advocating for this project for decades. More than 2500 WABA supporters demanded the rehabilitation get back on track in 2014, and many have fought for years prior to prioritize this project with NPS and other relevant agencies. DDOT will tackle the trail sections through Rose Park, northwest of Rock Creek (the trail on the Zoo property), a new bridge across Rock Creek near the Zoo, and a trail extension on Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT’s trail construction will start after Federal Highway Administration (FHWA, the lead agency on the Beach Drive segments) is done with their work. If you want more info, visit the project website: go.nps.gov/beachdrive

Summer Advocacy Roundup

Exploring a missing trail connection along Route 1 in Hyattsville

Exploring a missing trail connection along Route 1 in Hyattsville

 

Low-Stress Bike Network

Prince George’s County Trails Master Plan

Brief Explanation: The county’s Trails Master Plan (still in draft form), identifies how Prince George’s County intends to build and manage nearly 400 miles of new trails. The plan takes the mileage of primary trails (trails that are mostly paved, with high-quality design features, a park-like experience, and used for both recreation and transportation) from 65 to 293 miles, and secondary trails (connectors, along roads, or within neighborhoods) from 110 to nearly 400 miles. Current Status: The public comment period for the draft plan has closed, but we will provide further opportunities for engagement as the process moves forward.

Campaign Launch— Finish the Trolley Trail

Brief Explanation: A half mile separates the Rhode Island Trolley Trail in Hyattsville from the rest of the Anacostia Tributary Trail network. It’s a half mile that stands in the way of a regional trail system connecting Beltsville and Bladensburg, College Park and Capitol Hill, Silver Spring and Southeast Washington. It’s a half mile that isolates communities and makes getting around by bike or foot more difficult and dangerous. It’s a half mile blocking economic development and opportunity. Current Status: The Maryland-National Capital Parks Planning Commission has a design for a trail connection that would bridge this gap. Right now, it’s just that—a plan on paper, waiting in a desk drawer for someone to take it out and make it real. A united community demanding action can make this happen. Action to Take: The Prince George’s Acton Committee meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Hyattsville Municipal Building (4310 Gallatin St. Hyattsville) at 7:30 pm. Click here for more information and to sign the petition.

Beach Drive Rehabilitation

Brief Explanation: National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that construction on the much-anticipated rehabilitation of Beach Drive and the adjacent trail will begin after Labor Day of this year. The construction project will happen in four stages, beginning in the south and working north. While Beach Drive will be closed to car traffic in both directions for the segment under construction, bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to travel through the corridor. While the road is being reconstructed, the trail will remain open, and when the road is completed but not yet open to car traffic, and the trail is being reconstructed, then bicyclists and pedestrians will have access to the road. Current Status:  The funding is allocated, the engineering designs are complete, and the contract has been awarded. You can see a project map on our April 2015 update, and find more information on the NPS project website. Action to Take: National Park Service is hosting a public information meeting on August 18 at the Petworth Neighborhood Library at 6:30 pm. Join us and learn more about this exciting project!

Monroe Street Bridge and MBT

Brief Explanation: The Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) will eventually connect Union Station to Silver Spring Maryland. For years, advocates were told that the time for routing the trail under the Monroe Street Bridge through a tunnel behind the west abutment would come when the bridge was ready to be rehabilitated. Current Status: The time for bridge rehabilitation has come. But the tunnel for the trail is off the table.  The scope of the bridge rehabilitation does include the installation of a traffic signal at 8th and Monroe Streets. In its current condition, this intersection is unsafe for trail users because of low visibility for cars coming eastbound over the bridge and lack of crosswalk alignment with the trail. Action to Take: We are still waiting for the intersection designs, but we want to hear from you. What would it take for you to feel completely safe at the intersection of 8th and Monroe Streets NE? What have you seen work in other places? Take this quick survey and share your ideas with us.

New York Avenue Trail

Brief Explanation: The District’s 2005 Bicycle Master Plan includes plans for a trail along New York Avenue that would connect NoMa to the National Arboretum, serving all the neighborhoods in between. New development along the corridor, specifically in NoMa and Ivy City, is renewing interest in the trail concept. Current Status: WABA will work closely with DDOT, Rails To Trails Conservancy, and other stakeholders to move the trail development process forward. But there’s a significant possibility that this could get complicated. Virginia Railway Express (VRE), a commuter rail service linking DC and Northern Virginia, has plans to relocate its railcar storage in light of the expansion of Union Station. Their chosen location is from 4th Street NE to 16th Street NE- right below New York Avenue, right where the concept plan routes the trail. Action to Take: Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to sign up for updates.

Updates to Trail Rules in Maryland

Brief Explanation: The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is updating its Park Rules and Regulations. Good changes have been proposed, including when trails close, speed limits for bicycles on trails, who has to yield the right of way at trail crossings, and whether e-assist bikes are allowed. You can read the whole discussion draft, and a set of policy alternatives, on the M-NCPPC website. Current Status: WABA supporters submitted a strong showing of public comments on the proposed rules during the comment period.  Additional public meetings will likely be scheduled in the fall. Action to Take: Click here to send an email to M-NCPPC to make sure that trails stay open when people need them, that parents can haul their kids to school on them, and that no one gets ticketed for riding their bicycle at a reasonable speed.

Veirs Mill + Matthew Henson Trail Crossing— Still Not Safe.

Brief Explanation: On Sunday July 17th, Oscar Mauricio Gutierrez Osorio, 31 of Silver Spring, was killed crossing Viers Mill Road in Silver Spring where the Matthew Henson Trail crosses a high speed Maryland State Highway. The exact details of the deadly crash involving Mr. Osorio are not public, but the trail crossing is a known safety hazard. This is the same location where Frank Towers, 19 was killed in December 2016,  just days after receiving a new bike for Christmas. Current Status: WABA reached out to local and state elected representatives, and transportation officials requesting action, as we did after Frank Tower’s death. On Thursday, July 21st, the entire Montgomery County Council sent a letter to Maryland Governor Hogan, Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and Maryland State Highway Administrator Greg Johnson requesting immediate prioritization of trail crossing improvements. The letter calls out the current dangerous conditions and the need for immediate action. On July 29th, the delegation from Maryland’s 19th District sent a letter to Maryland State Highway Administrator Greg Johnson requesting immediate corrective action at the Matthew Henson Trail crossing of Veirs Mill Road. Action to Take: Maryland residents: write or call Governor Hogan, Transportation Secretary Rahn, and MD State Highway Administrator Johnson, as well as your state delegates and county representatives. Tell them that the status quo is not working and demand effective solutions.

Bike Routes for Commuting Around Red Line Safetrack Closures

Brief Explanation: WABA and Montgomery County Department Of Transportation hosted two events to help new commuters learn safe routes to avoid red line disruptions. Current Status: Resources for biking around upcoming safetrack surges are here. Action to take: Avoid hassle and delays by biking!

Crosstown Study

Brief Explanation: Getting from Columbia Heights to Brookland is a frustrating experience on a bike. It’s not a whole lot better on a bus, and really not great in a car either. DDOT is conducting a study aimed at improving travel through this corridor for all modes. Current Status: At present DDOT has two concepts for this project. You can read more about them here. Action to Take: The comment period for the current concept plans has closed, but another community meeting will be scheduled in September. Project updates and timelines will be posted here.

Street Calming and Bike Lanes for Maryland Ave NE

Brief Explanation: More than six years ago, the D.C. Council gave DDOT money to make a long stretch of Maryland Avenue, NE safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  DDOT used that money to establish a new initiative that it called the “Maryland Avenue Pedestrian Safety Project.”  That initiative included implementing a road diet along Maryland Avenue and installing bike lanes, wider medians, and curb bump-outs. Mayor Bowser, DDOT Director Dormsjo, and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen have made Maryland Avenue a priority, and they have been pushing to get the project done. You can read more about the history of the Maryland Avenue Project here. Current Status: A recent community meeting held to explore DDOT’s 30% design plans for the project turned acrimonious. While meant to be a chance for residents and neighbors to get a detailed look at the design for the street and offer constructive feedback to improve the project, the packed library meeting rooms were instead filled with heated concerns about parking. We’ve seen this movie before. Action to Take:  The DDOT employees responsible for this project are George Branyan and Ali Shakeri (george.branyan@dc.govali.shakeri@dc.gov). If you live, work, or bike around the project area, please send them an email letting them know you support this project and want to see it move forward.

Bike Laws

Contributory Negligence

Brief Explanation: The D.C. Council voted unanimously to approve the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2015  as part of the consent agenda. This vote is a huge step towards final passage of the bill, and is the result of years of organizing efforts. In spite of roadblocks, delay, and concerted opposition from AAA and the insurance lobby, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to changing the unfair doctrine of contributory negligence for vulnerable road users. Current Status: The bill has now cleared a major obstacle to passage. The Council will vote on the bill a second time in late September / early October, after which it will require a signature by Mayor Bowser, (who sent a congratulatory tweet to Councilmember Cheh after the successful first vote) and will undergo a 30 day Congressional review. Action to Take: We aren’t taking anything for granted. We will stay vigilant through the final stages of the process to ensure there are no surprises, and keep you updated along the way.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act Passed!

Brief Explanation: On June 28, the D.C. Council voted unanimously for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016 (B21-335). Mayor Bowser signed the bill in late July. The legislation is the culmination of the efforts of the Bicycle Pedestrian Working Group convened by Councilmember Cheh last summer, on which our Executive Director Greg Billing served.  It contains all kinds of good stuff, including open source crash data, bicycle and pedestrian priority areas, and codifying Complete Streets. Current Status: The Act will become DC law at the end of August after 30 day period of Congressional review.

Advocacy 101 Training—Join us!

Brief Explanation: The training, hosted by WABA’s advocacy team, is for Prince George’s folks interested in making their community more bike-friendly. We’ll explore how decisions are made in the County, dive into some of the fundamental tools and approaches to influencing those decisions, and see how we, as individuals or groups, can push Prince George’s County to be more bike-friendly. (You don’t have to be a Prince George’s county resident to attend, but it will be Prince George’s focused.) 9am-1 pm Saturday August 27th Hyattsville Municipal Building 4310 Gallatin St. Hyattsville, MD. Action to Take: Register for the training!  

Beach Drive Rehabilitation is Finally Here

Vasa 2015_0088 The green heart pulsing through Washington DC is Rock Creek Park, but for bicyclists, the current trail conditions are less than ideal- but not for much longer. Big changes are on the horizon for Rock Creek Park, especially Beach Drive and the adjacent paved trail. National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that construction on the much-anticipated rehabilitation project that WABA has been advocating for for years will begin after Labor Day of this year! There is a huge demand for this project. More than 2500 WABA supporters demanded rehabilitation back in 2014, and many have fought for years prior to prioritize this project with NPS and other relevant agencies. The construction project will happen in four stages, beginning in the south and working north, and various agencies have their roles in effort. The first wave of construction is managed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)- Eastern Lands Division. FHWA will rebuild the trail along Beach Drive on the east side of the creek. District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will tackle the trail sections west of the creek and a trail extension on Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT’s trail construction will come after FHWA is done with their work. While Beach Drive will be closed to car traffic in both directions for the segment under construction, bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to travel through the corridor. While the road is being reconstructed, the trail will remain open, and when the road is completed but not yet open to car traffic, and the trail is being reconstructed, then bicyclists and pedestrians will have access to the road. The funding is allocated, the engineering designs are complete, and the contract has been awarded. You can see a project map on our April 2015 update, and find more information on the NPS project website. National Park Service is hosting a public information meeting on July 28 at the Cleveland Park Library. Join us and learn more about this exciting project!