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.

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.