Recent progress has been made in building protected bike lanes on north-south routes across the city. Thank-you DDOT!
Meanwhile the essential east-west links intended to join these facilities — narrow, painted lanes on Q and R streets — present serious danger to hundreds of bicycle and scooter riders each day.
Those who use these lanes must navigate stopped vehicles, drivers veering into the bike lane, inch-close dangerous passing, and the constant threat of being “doored.” Unsurprisingly, these lanes do not meet DDOT’s own low-stress bikeway design standards.
Crash statistics back up our lived experiences: First responders report an average of 1 crash every week on Q and R Streets over the past 5 years – resulting in injuries to 53 bicyclists, 31 pedestrians and 171 vehicle drivers and passengers. There is no accounting of the unreported crashes and near misses that users experience every day.
We urge DDOT to fix these dangerous routes by building protected bike lanes on Q and R streets from Connecticut Avenue NW to the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) so people of all ages and abilities can be safe when they bike or scoot to work, to school, to go shopping, or for recreation.
A protected east-west route will benefit communities across a wide swath of our city – stretching from the MBT in Eckington to Bloomingdale, Truxton Circle, Shaw, Logan Circle and Dupont Circle. Pedestrians will benefit from the traffic calming effects of the PBLs, which also will safely separate bicyclists from the main roadway.
People choose to bike when it is safe, convenient, and low-stress. Even when most of the route is blissful, it is the most stressful blocks that turn someone away. These narrow painted bike lanes squeezed next to high-volume driving lanes are no substitute for a truly low-stress and safe bikeway.
We, the undersigned, call on DDOT and our elected representatives to support the construction of protected bike lanes connecting Eckington and Dupont Circle.
In 2021, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) began planning a safety project on I (Eye) St between 7th St SW and 4th St SE to cut speeding, add protected bike lanes, and improve pedestrian safety.
I St connects thousands of residents to schools, libraries, rec centers and more. The existing painted bike lanes and shared lanes are widely used by local residents and visitors, but the current design creates stressful, unsafe points of conflict between people on bikes, parked cars, and people behind the wheel, making the bike lanes too stressful for many people who bike. Meanwhile, wide, open driving lanes entice some drivers to speed and drive aggressively, making intersections unsafe to cross on foot.
The I St, Safety Project is an opportunity to calm traffic, add safer pedestrian crossings, and create much-needed east/west, low-stress bike connections in the Southwest Waterfront and Navy Yard neighborhoods that stitch together a useful protected bike lane network for SW DC.
DDOT should move ahead with the I Street Safety Project to make I St. safe and comfortable for all who use it. Please sign below to support completion of this project in 2022.
Why Protected Bike Lanes?
Since the current I St. bike lanes were installed in 2014, priorities and bike lane design standards have evolved quite a bit. According to national research, over 50% of people are interested in biking for some trips, but are concerned about their safety on most roads. Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from car traffic for a more comfortable, low-stress experience that is far more inviting for less stress tolerant riders, especially women, children, and seniors who are far less represented in urban bicycling.
Adding protected bike lanes to a street improves safety not just for people who bike, but for pedestrians and drivers too. A 2019 Colorado University, Boulder study on 13 years of crash data from 12 major US cities found that adding protected bike lanes is significantly associated with fewer fatalities and better road-safety outcomes for all road users. With added bike lanes, fatal crash rates dropped between 38% in Chicago to 75% in Portland over that period.
What About Parking?
This project will repurpose some of the existing public, on-street car parking to realize the changes. The draft DDOT plan retains parking on one side of each block, and on both sides where the street is much wider. Navy Yard and SW are among DC’s densest and fastest growing neighborhoods, and public spaces, like streets, should support safe and accessible movement for all. The immediate area is well-connected by Metro, bus, and Capital Bikeshare. Between surface lots, underground lots, and side streets, there is significant parking available for those who need it. The DDOT project plan highlights the abundance of off-street parking in Navy Yard:
An Important Part of the Bike Network:
The I Street SE/SW Project is an important piece of the broader bike network of safe, low stress streets in DC. It directly serves Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, the Southwest Library, and the Randall Recreation Center. It connects Navy Yard and Waterfront communities, and is often used as a route to and from East Potomac Park/Hains Point, the Anacostia River Trail, and across the river into Virginia and Anacostia. I Street SE/SW also links to protected bike lanes on Maine Ave SW, 4th St SW, 1st St SE, New Jersey Ave SE, and Virginia Ave SE.
Even before the completion of recent protected bike lanes, over 8% of trips on I Street happened by bike according to 2019 DDOT vehicle and bicycle counter data. With a safe, protected bike lane, even more people and families will choose to take trips by bike, creating less congestion, less air/noise pollution, and reduced demand for parking. Learn more about the planned bicycle priority network visit DDOT’s moveDC webiste.
Seize the Opportunity
The I Street Safety Project is an opportunity to make lasting changes to the look, feel, and baked-in priorities for this community corridor. Every block has opportunities for improving pedestrian safety, making deliveries more fluid, and enabling better access for people with different abilities and more. Let’s work together to make sure that the finished product reflects the needs of the people who depend on it today and into the future.
Over the past few years, Montgomery County’s elected leaders and residents have raised important questions about how the County’s substantial transportation budget is helping build a more equitable transportation network. Drawing on the County’s Bicycle Master Plan and Equity Focus Areas, WABA authored a new report: Equitable Investment in Montgomery County’s Bicycle Network.
Montgomery County should allocate $110 million in the FY23-28 CIP budget to build out all of the Tier One Bicycle Master Plan projects in four of the County’s Equity Focus Areas, resulting in safe bikeable/walkable networks within denser neighborhoods. By allocating funding to these projects, Montgomery County will make significant strides towards implementation of the County’s Bicycle Master Plan and will make biking, walking, and access to transit much safer in four of the County’s Equity Focus Areas in Wheaton, White Oak, Langley Park and downtown Silver Spring.
Learn all about WABA’s groundbreaking proposal to build bikeable/walkable networks in Wheaton, White Oak, Langley Park and downtown Silver Spring. On February 1, 2022, Peter Gray gave a presentation about the proposal and discussed next steps and strategies to get the County Council to adopt and fund this initiative.