Prioritize Safety and People on Connecticut Ave NW

Update: DDOT's comment period closed on July 31, but you can still send a note to Mayor Bowser and her transportation leadership to urge them to keep this project moving forward.

Planning continues for the safety overhaul of Connecticut Avenue NW in Ward 3. Last month, the District Department of Transportation shared block-by-block concept designs for Connecticut Ave NW from the Taft Bridge at Calvert St. to Legation St. in Chevy Chase with protected bike lanes, fewer, slower, driving lanes, and safer pedestrian crossings. The broad strokes are good, but the fine details will determine just how comfortable, safe, and accessible this corridor turns out to be. 

At the same time, an anonymous group is mobilizing a smear campaign to convince city officials that Connecticut Ave is perfectly safe already and bending both truth and years of planning and community input history to kill or delay this project.

DDOT is accepting comments on the designs until July 31 and welcomes both general comments and detailed feedback on specific blocks. Tell DDOT what your priorities are for getting the design right, and ensure Mayor Bowser remembers why she committed her administration to getting this multimodal safety project done. Scroll down for more detail.

To review the block by block design maps, watch the recent public meeting presentation, or find other project documentation visit the DDOT project website here.

In the designs, three major needs stand out:

1. Widen protected bike lanes

Wider bike lanes can comfortably accommodate higher hourly volumes of people on bikes, larger format bicycles, allow people moving at different speeds to pass each other, and make space for maneuvering around debris. Where parking or turn lanes are not needed, DDOT should widen the protected bike lanes to 6.5 feet for a more comfortable ride and to allow people on bikes or scooters to pass each other at least every 0.5 miles.

DDOT design proposal at Ingomar St. NW

2. Harden & Protect Intersections

At intersections, people on bikes and on foot face many conflicts with turning drivers which DDOT must mitigate. Protected intersections, as are used widely across Europe, in Montgomery County, and a few intersections in DC, alter the geometry of the intersection and extend protective curbs past the crosswalk. The result is improved visibility, slower vehicle turns, and fewer conflicts. DDOT should harden and protect intersections against dangerous vehicle-bike conflicts and limit high-speed vehicle turns through design. Though Connecticut Ave is constrained for space, DDOT must explore the full protected intersection toolbox for slow, safe, visible interactions between people walking, biking, and driving.

An example of a protected intersection.

3. Plan for Turns

When complete, the Connecticut Ave protected bike lanes will form the spine of a substantial low stress bicycle network in Ward 3. Therefore, turning onto or off of the avenue, and especially left turns, must be intuitive and safe. DDOT already shows plans for bike boxes, 2-stage “box turn” boxes, and No Turn on Red restrictions at some intersections. These should be added to every signalized intersection for easy connections to intersecting bikeways.

Example of intersection with bike boxes and 2 stage turn boxes.

What issues or needs do you see? This is the best time to dig in and share your feedback with DDOT.

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.

Thank Mayor Bowser for Putting People First on Connecticut Ave

On December 15 2021, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that 3+ miles of Connecticut Ave NW will be redesigned with new protected bike lanes, traffic calming, and no more dangerous reversible lanes. “After considering several options, it was clear that this design best meets the needs of our city and moves us closer to a greener DC, a safer DC, and a DC that is less reliant on cars,” Mayor Bowser said in a statement announcing the decision.

Join us in thanking Mayor Bowser and Acting DDOT Director Lott for their bold vision and commitment improving safety and mobility for everyone who travels Connecticut Ave NW. Read WABA’s letter to Mayor Bowser thanking her for choosing a multimodal, safe design for Connecticut Ave in Ward 3 here.

For almost two years, the District Department of Transportation has been thoroughly studying removing the dangerous Connecticut Avenue reversible lanes and adding protected bike lanes from Woodley Park to Chevy Chase DC. It would be a dramatic, transformational change for one of Northwest DC’s busiest car-oriented corridors.

Yet, despite organized support from all four affected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, dozens of organizations and businesses, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, thousands of residents and the District’s own sustainability and vision zero commitments, we know that choosing the status quo is always the easier choice. Debates were heated, and many voices are still defending the car-first status quo for Connecticut Ave. Saying yes to our vision for a safe, multimodal Connecticut Ave is a very big deal.

While there’s still more to do before the projects get underway, City transportation officials said the plan is moving to the design phase, with construction likely to begin in fall 2023.

This bike lane news is a big deal.

A couple of hours ago, Mayor Bowser announced plans for DC’s longest protected bike lane, and the single largest expansion of the region’s on-street bike network ever: a 3.3 mile protected bike lane on Connecticut Ave NW, from Woodley Park all the way to Chevy Chase. 

This is a big deal, and it wouldn’t have happened without years of advocacy and support from the WABA community. Thank you.

This bike lane is a big deal for Ward 3—it’s the first protected bike lane in the Ward (the first one longer than a block, at least), and will connect a whole corridor of neighborhoods to businesses, schools, transit and recreation hubs. The design has support from all four ANCs that it passes through, as well as from dozens of organizations and businesses.

This is a big deal for the District—it’s a major expansion in bike connectivity and a major step towards a city-wide low-stress bike network. It’s also a reimagining of what’s possible from our city’s leadership: life-saving safety improvements don’t have to happen in block-by-block piecemeal. We can make a whole corridor safer, for everyone who uses it, all at once. 

This is also a big deal for the region—it’s setting a new precedent. Connecticut Ave is a major commuter thoroughfare and a gateway to the city. DC is showing that even on big, busy streets, we can—and must—make space for people to travel safely outside of cars.

Changes at this scale across the whole region are what’s necessary to make our streets safe and sustainable. Time to celebrate…maybe with a bike ride!

Demand Action on Connecticut Ave!

Do you want a protected bike lane on Connecticut Avenue from Woodley Park to Maryland? We do too. So do dozens of businesses, organizations, and every single ANC on the corridor. Heck, the DC Council already allocated money to design and build it. And yet.

Here’s where we are: The District Department of Transportation has spent nearly two years on a comprehensive study of removing the Connecticut Ave reversible lanes and adding protected bike lanes. It’s been complete since July, but no one has seen it. At a public event in September, DDOT Acting Director Everett Lott said he just needed to have a meeting with the Mayor before announcing a decision and making the plan public. At his confirmation hearing in October, he said the same thing.

This is ridiculous. 

DDOT has presented two different visions for Connecticut Ave. One vision makes the road safer for everyone—people walking, biking, taking transit, even driving. The other keeps the road just for cars and, by DDOT’s own admission, will not advance the city’s Vision Zero goals.

The Mayor and Director Lott need to choose a safer Connecticut Ave that puts people first. The status quo is untenable, and the consequences of delay are measured in trips to the hospital and lives forever changed. 

We’ve seen politics hold up important safety projects for years—the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane project on 9th St. NW sat in the Mayor’s office from 2017 until this summer. We’re not going to let that happen again.

Use this form to email the Mayor’s Office, DDOT, and Council Transportation Committee Chair Mary Cheh to ask them to stop delaying this project.

Left, artists rendering of potential protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave NW and right, bird’s eye view (source DDOT)

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:

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).

  • 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.
  • 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!

Protected Bike Lanes for Connecticut Ave – The Clear Choice

Artists rendering of potential protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave NW and bird’s eye view (source DDOT)

For the past 18 months, the District Department of Transportation has been collecting data, gathering input, and doing analysis on options to remove the dangerous reversible lane and make Connecticut Ave safer, more accessible, and livable north of Calvert St. NW. Last month, they presented two plans: add protected bike lanes, substantial safety upgrades and all-hours loading zones or remove the reversible lane, but keep it devoted to cars.

DDOT’s comment period closes in just a few days on Saturday May 1 and they need to hear your support. All four adjacent Advisory Neighborhood Commissions debated the plan and passed resolutions in support of Concept C with protected bike lanes this month, showing a clear consensus and vision for a livable, walkable, and more bikeable corridor. 

Help us put this debate to rest. Use the form below to tell DDOT that Concept C with high-quality protected bike lanes is the only choice for DC’s future.

For a reminder of what concepts B and C look like, see this review in the Forest Hills Connection.

For more detail on the project, including a recording of the recent presentation, design concepts, extensive traffic modeling and more, see DDOT’s project page.