As the District Reopens, It Needs Resilient Streets

Over the last six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced every aspect of life in cities, including where, how, and how often we move around. As the pandemic peaked in DC, WMATA’s rail ridership declined 90%. Despite service returning to near pre-pandemic levels and taking steps to restore rider confidence by promoting public health and safety, Metro’s rail system has yet to experience an influx of riders returning to the system.

So where have these riders gone? The number of people walking, biking and riding scooters has soared as people prioritize socially distant, open-air forms of transportation and recreation. The District’s own Capital Bikeshare program became a means for thousands of critical workers to continue getting to work, and with the introduction of hundreds of e-bikes this summer, is becoming a top choice for mobility and recreation district-wide. But at the same time, many new buyers are turning to “Covid Cars” as the ultimate socially distant transportation.

The District is at an inflection point for its transportation system: does it stay on track to maintain its ranking as the third most congested city in America, where commuters spend twice the amount of time sitting in traffic than the average American? Or does it embrace resilient streets which support a variety of transportation options, making streets safer and more efficient for everyone– especially our most vulnerable populations?

The first steps for creating resilient streets are already in motion in the District with quick-build temporary street improvements to support social distancing via the Slow Streets program, which closed tens of neighborhood streets to through-traffic and lowered speed limits to make more space for all types of users. DDOT has also expanded Car Free Lanes to promote efficient and reliable bus service and create additional space for bike and scooter travel on some of our busiest corridors.

We need to build on this momentum and take these concepts even further — thinking about permanence, about providing equitable access, and about expanding their reach to not only serve short local trips, but also to provide connectivity for medium-to-long distances for longer commutes.

To point to one example, an obvious place for a resilient street corridor would be the 11th Street bridge connection and the 11th Street Bridge Park, where construction is slated to kick off in 2021. Transportation infrastructure investments along a “resilient street corridor” will be critical to helping people safely and comfortably access the bridge and park, while helping drive economic development in the commercial corridors. Working with local partners and urban design experts at Street Plans, we offer a potential vision for how M Street SE and Martin Luther King Jr Avenue could be reimagined. These working concepts  prioritize space for people by creating bus-only lanes with enhanced bus shelters, protected micromobility lanes for two-wheeled transportation modes like bikes and scooters, plant shade trees for pedestrians, pickup and drop-off zones for safe passenger loading, and new metered parking solutions to help ensure better parking turnover and availability. Together, these features create a rich environment for people using all transportation modes. These are resilient streets.

Before: M Street SE at 2nd Place SE 
After: M Street SE at 2nd Place SE
Before: MLK JR Ave at Good Hope Road SE
After: MLK JR Ave at Good Hope Road SE

We also worked with Sam Schwartz Engineering to understand the impact that permanent street design and infrastructure changes could have along the corridor to help support walking, biking, scooting, and transit. We found that by making these types of safety and design changes along the corridor leading from Ward 6 to Ward 8, we could have a major impact on how residents and commuters move. With these kinds of resilient street designs, the corridor would accommodate 18,000 sustainable walking, biking trips: avoiding 54,000 of miles traveled via car every day and avoiding 6,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Please join us in making these changes a reality by supporting WABA’s call to action urging our regional elected officials to start the future resiliency process right away, making sure that D.C. is set up for not only recovery, but for a new normal with expanded access to safe, affordable, and sustainable mobility choices for all street users.

Jeremiah Lowery is the Director of Policy at Washington Area Bicyclists Association; Kristina Noell is the Executive Director or the Anacostia BID; Marisa Rodriguez-McGill is a Senior Public Policy Manager at Lyft Transit, Bikes & Scooters, the operator of Capital Bikeshare.

Support Protected Bike Lanes & Bus Lanes on Penn Ave SE

The District Department of Transportation is making plans for more than a mile of protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave SE west of the river to calm traffic and expand the low-stress bike network. There are three possible designs on the table and they want your feedback this week.

All three designs propose a continuous, protected bike lane and fewer driving lanes, meaning less speeding and more people happily biking to shops and around the neighborhood. But in our view, Alternative A, which includes curbside protected bike lanes, bus-only lanes, and easy to navigate intersections, is by far the best option for people who bike, for bus riders, and overall safety on Pennsylvania Ave.

Use the form below to send DDOT a quick email with your comments. Get as detailed as you like and make it personal! Comments are due July 31.

Bike lanes have been planned for Pennsylvania Ave SE since at least the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan and affirmed in the 2014 MoveDC Plan. In 2017 Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B requested that DDOT study options for adding bike lanes to the corridor.

The Alternatives

For a narrated presentation and more details on the proposals, visit the the Penn Ave SE project site. Here is a quick summary of the options for redesigning Pennsylvania Ave from 2nd St. SE to 17th St. SE.

Alternative A
This design repurposes a driving lane in each direction for protected bike lanes against the outer curb. It includes the option for a peak-direction, bus lane just outside the protected bike lane that reverts to parking and loading for most of the day. At bus stops the protected bike lane would rise to sidewalk level to allow bus riders to board and alight onto the narrow shared platform (similar to this design on Brentwood Parkway). Depending on the time of day, the bicyclists would be separated from traffic by concrete curbs or by parked cars. With this setup, intersections would be quite intuitive for drivers and bicyclists.

Alternative B
This design also repurposes a driving lane for protected bike lanes againsts the outer curbs. But, instead of bus lanes, full-time parking would protect the slightly wider bike lanes. Bus stops would include wide “floating bus stops” which separate bus boarding from bike lane crossing for fewer conflicts. Under this option, buses would share the two lanes in each direction (down from 4) with all other drivers, and almost certainly suffer in reliability and speed.

Alternative C
This design puts the protected bike lanes against the median and includes an option for peak-direction, bus lanes against the outer curb where they travel today. By putting bikes on the left side, it is much more difficult to enter and exit the lane, to turn left, or access mid-block destinations. The bike lane will be adjacent to the “fast lane” and never have more than a 3’ buffer and curb+post separation from car traffic. Also, due to the median design, this creates inevitable conflict between left turning drivers and bicyclists at every intersection. The median is not wide enough to store more than two turning cars so they will spill out into the lane and block the bike lanes. It will be very difficult to make this design function and feel safe for most people who bike.

WABA Supports alternative A with bus lanes and improvements

Though not perfect, this design creates a continuous protected bike lane that will be safe, intuitive and comfortable for most people who bike AND bus lanes to speed up buses in this priority transit corridor. The design can be improved by:

  • Moving some bus stops to the far side of the intersection to improve visibility,
  • Extending the bus lane hours to more than peak-direction. Buses move even slower when traveling against the peak direction and in the middle of the day, and
  • Plan to upgrade the busiest bus stops with floating bus islands to minimize conflicts between bus riders and people on bikes.

Tell DDOT You Support this Project!

Likely Questions

Why Bus Lanes?

Pennsylvania Ave SE sees between 18 and 24 buses per hour during peak times (every 2.5 minutes) serving routes that carry 22,000 daily trips. Yet, those busses crawl at 8-11mph on average, getting stuck in traffic behind people driving alone. Bus only lanes move that traffic out of the way, making buses more reliable, faster and more attractive.  Better bus service on Pennsylvania Ave SE will radiate benefits across the city, including neighborhoods east of the river where transit travel times are often double those from northwest neighborhoods.

Why protected bike lanes?

The state of the practice for safe and low-stress bicycling has changed substantially since 2014. Protected bike lanes are preferred over unprotected lanes for roads with multiple driving lanes,, frequent buses, speeds greater than 25mph, and high parking turnover. Pennsylvania Ave is all of these. If we want most people to feel safe biking on Pennsylvania Ave, we cannot accept anything less than protected bike lanes. See this guidance on Choosing an All Ages and Abilities Bike Facility from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Why not move curbs?

You may notice that this project is only working with the road between existing curbs. This is intentional. Moving curbs would increase the complexity, cost, environmental review, and timeline of a project like this by years or even a decade. We need safer bicycling and faster buses on Pennsylvania Ave yesterday.

This project will improve Pennsylvania Ave SE from 2nd St. SE to 17th St. SE

Read WABA’s complete comment letter here.

Fill the Trail Gap on 8th St. NE

8th St. @ MBT

When finished, the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) will span more than 8 miles, connecting Silver Spring to DC’s Union Station with a low-stress, off-street walking and biking trail.  In Edgewood, the trail diverts onto 8th St. NE where trail users share the road with industrial truck traffic, chaotic school drop-offs for four separate schools, and speeding drivers. This 0.5 mile “shared street” stretch of 8th St. NE from Franklin to Monroe is a stressful gap in a trail used by up to two thousand people each day.

The District Department of Transportation has long planned to fill this gap with an off-street trail. However, as properties were redeveloped in the early 2010’s, some moved ahead without space for the trail leaving DDOT to abandon that plan. Now, our best option for a trail-like experience along 8th NE is a two-way protected bike lane for bikes and scooters and the existing sidewalk for people on foot). But progress has been sporadic. For nearly a year, DDOT’s analysis of the options has been promised “very soon.” 

Sign your name below to urge DDOT to get moving on the 8th St. NE protected bike lanes.

To: Mayor Bowser, Councilmember McDuffie & DDOT Director Marootian

Since at least 2013, the District Department of Transportation has planned closing the 0.5 mile Edgewood gap in the Met Branch Trail with a protected bike lane on 8th St. NE. Unlike the off-street multi-use trail that feeds it, 8th St. NE is often choked with chaotic school drop-off and truck traffic, making it unsuitable and unsafe for the hundreds of hourly trail users who have no choice but to use it. 

We the undersigned call on DDOT to complete design and build the 8th St. NE protected bike lanes by the end of 2020 to finally close this stressful gap in the Metropolitan  Branch Trail.

Daily conflicts with industrial trucks and school drop-off on 8th St NE
Map of Met Branch Trail in Edgewood. Off-street trail in green. 8th St. on-street gap in orange.
The proposed changes

It’s Time for a Safer 17th Street NW

Even before the pandemic, 17th St. NW in Dupont Circle was not working for the people and businesses that rely on it. Frequent near-misses, long pedestrian crossings, insufficient loading zones, and a narrow one-way painted bicycle lane make getting around the retail corridor challenging and often perilous.

In the last few months more people are walking, bicycling, and running in their neighborhoods. Some cities are already going beyond temporary measures and reconfiguring city streets to make more space for people. Let’s build on this momentum (and existing city plans) and redesign 17th Street NW from T St. to K St. NW. Protected bike lanes, shorter crossings, and loading zones will make 17th Street safer for cyclists, pedestrians, runners, and everyone supporting the many businesses on 17th Street.

Please sign your name to this petition to let Mayor Bowser, DDOT, and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B know that you support this project and demand:

  • a reconfigured 17th Street streetscape that provides safer, protected infrastructure for bicyclists, pedestrians, and runners
  • a design that takes into account the needs of 17th Street restaurants and merchants for loading & unloading and pickups & drop offs, while also providing better access to these businesses for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • that the Mayor and the District Department of Transportation prioritize safety improvements for 17th Street NW for completion in 2020

Local residents and commuters, supported by the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the Greater Greater Washington community, have been asking for a safer 17th Street NW for many years. 17th Street is subject to frequent near-misses, blocked car lanes, insufficient loading zones, and an unsafe, one-way unprotected bicycle lane.

Draft designs for a safer 17th Street were created in 2017, but did not take into account the unique loading and unloading needs of 17th Street restaurants and merchants. Residents and businesses have provided supportive and critical feedback to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to improve the plans. DDOT just issued a Notice of Intent to reconfigure the street with protected bike lanes in each direction, safer crossings and loading zones.

Please sign the petition to show your support!

Safe bike infrastructure on 17th Street is

Read DDOT’s Notice of Intent and see the plan here.

17th Street today
17th Street proposed

DDOT: Don’t Drop the Ball on Bike Lanes!

Last year WABA launched our 20 X 20 campaign, an ambitious plan to add 20 miles of new protected bike lanes in DC. In response, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) released their own plans for a faster pace for new protected bicycle infrastructure in the District. While this crisis has rearranged many priorities, we know that our shared goals and campaigns can’t take a break while the world gets sorted out.  To that end, we’re asking you to use your voice to hold DDOT to their commitments to continuing bicycle infrastructure development in the District.

Right now, many people who are considered essential workers are biking and walking to work everyday and the least that we can do is to try to use our voices to make those commutes as safe and stress-free as possible.  Protected bicycle lanes remain a part of the critical infrastructure work that is essential to street safety and to the well-being of all DC commuters.

We support DDOT’s ambitious 2020 goals for developing new bicycle infrastructure in DC and the continued focus on safer streets and sidewalks. We strongly encourage DDOT to remain committed to their stated 2020 plans at this time when commuter transportation and safety is critical to the overall health of so many of our communities.

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Most people do not feel safe riding in the road on Lincoln Road

Lincoln Road NE needs a two way protected bike lane to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and scooters. A steep hill, a blind curve, a narrow sidewalk, and a pattern of dangerous speeding make Lincoln Road an unappealing and unsafe place for getting around.  This creates a hazardous situation for both drivers and cyclists as they share a narrow lane. It also forces pedestrians to share the sidewalk with cyclists and scooters who are seeking a safe alternative. To rectify this situation, a two-way protected bike lane is being proposed for Lincoln Road, which will make it safer for everyone involved. Lincoln Rd NE needs a two way protected bike lane! Please sign our petition!

Lincoln Rd NE is an important connector between the neighborhoods of  Brookland, Eckington and Bloomingdale. Running along the Glenwood Cemetery, it connects the major thoroughfares of Michigan Avenue NE (via 4th Street NE) and North Capitol Street (via R Street NE).  A protected two way bike lane on this busy road will make it the safe connecting road for all that it should be! It will allow children, families and everyone else to bike to school, the brand new Edgewood Recreation Center, as well as connect the neighborhoods of NE DC. Sign our petition and ask DDOT to get the Lincoln Road bike lane built!

More Details

In 2019, DDOT prioritized the installation of a cycletrack, which is a two way protected  bike lane on the eastside of Lincoln Road NE, on the yearly work plan. 2019 came to an end without this much needed bike lane and the 2020 plan does not currently include the lane. WABA’s 20×20 campaign (20 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2020) includes Lincoln Road in the vision for a connected, protected network throughout the District. Learn more here!

Lincoln Road NE in red. Existing bike network in blue.

A two way bike lane on Lincoln Road NE would serve to connect the neighborhoods of Brookland, Edgewood, Eckington, and Bloomingdale, and the busy bike lanes on R and 4th St NE. The newly completed Edgewood Recreation Center and the Inspired Teaching Public Charter School are on Lincoln Road and are frequented by many community members, including children. It would also assist Brookland, Edgewood, and other Ward 5 cyclists to safely and efficiently get to downtown DC. Installing a two way protected bike lane on Lincoln Road NE would be relatively easy due to an existing northbound driving/parking lane. It would require very little infrastructure and taxpayer money. Currently, much of the available parking is inconsistently utilized. Bike lanes on Lincoln Road will further strengthen already existing and proposed cycling infrastructure. This network of bike lanes will continue to make our neighborhoods more vibrant, friendly and healthy.

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.

Parents biking their kids to school choose between crowded sidewalks and a frightening road

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why protected bike lanes?

Busy streets work best when people driving, walking, and biking have their own space. Protected bike lanes give people on bikes and scooters a space free of the stresses of traffic. Pedestrians can walk freely without competing for sidewalk space. And drivers have fewer interactions with people on bikes sharing the lane. Studies show that protected bike lanes reduce both the frequency and severity of crashes for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

Why Lincoln Road?

Lincoln Road serves as a connecting road between the busy Brookland and Bloomingdale neighborhoods.  It runs from 4th Street Northeast to North Capitol Street, through the Edgewood and Eckington neighborhoods and the Glenwood, Prospect Hill and St Mary’s cemeteries.  In the section of a little less than a mile from 4th Street to Rhode Island Ave NE the road passes by the newly inaugurated Edgewood Recreation Center and the Inspired Teaching Public Charter School, both of which draw people from across the neighborhood and city.  In addition, there is a newly completed stretch of bike lanes on 4th Street to Lincoln Road and a heavily used bike lane on R street further down Lincoln. This bike lane would help to connect these bike infrastructures, and eventually will connect to the also pending crosstown bike lanes on Irving Street which will connect to 4th Street NE.

Why is speeding a problem here?

  • In 2019, there were more than 7,500 speeding violations issued to drivers who were  going 11 mph over the 25mph at the intersection of Lincoln Road and Douglas Street NE..  (This does not take into account that numerous of these violations occurred during the school day when the speed limit is 15mph.)
  • In the last 2 years, 27 crashes were reported on Lincoln Road NE.
  • Speeding makes crashes more likely. It also makes crashes more likely to result in a death or serious injury.

How does this help pedestrians?

By adding an option for cyclists on Lincoln Road, cyclists will no longer use the sidewalk in this section which is frequently used by bus commuters and walkers, some with dogs, in the Edgewood neighborhood, making for a safer overall environment.

By narrowing the crossing distance, protected bike lanes can make it easier to cross a street on foot. They also slow down the speed of traffic and provide a buffer between moving vehicles and the sidewalk, making more pleasant places to walk.

How does this help drivers?

By taking cyclists out of the traffic going up the hill south bound, this will open up the street for drivers and make the blind curve on Lincoln Road easier and safer to navigate.  Going north bound it will also take cyclists out of the traffic lane, especially during busy commuting times.

How does this fit?

Protected bike lanes can take the place of the extra northbound driving lane. They can be installed without expensive and disruptive construction.

Lincoln Road as it is today
Lincoln Road with protected bike lanes

Have you seen DDOT’s Plan for Florida AVE NE?

Almost eight years ago, the District Department of Transportation began looking at redesigning Florida Avenue NE, between New York Avenue and H Street NE, to address chronic speeding and an alarming pattern of severe crashes. Through studies and design iterations, plans emerged to calm traffic, create better options for biking and walking, and make more livable spaces along the corridor.

Sadly, while that planning was underway, the corridor produced unthinkable carnage and traffic violence, taking the lives and livelihood of community members and bringing grief and loss into the lives of thousands across the region. But we can also put credit where it is due—after a crash that took the life of a dear member of our BikeDC community, the DC Council and DDOT sprang into action. In just a few months, DDOT designed and installed a temporary road diet and protected bike lane on Florida Ave, which has already reduced speeding in the corridor.

Late last year, DDOT held a public meeting to present the 60% plans for the complete reconstruction of Florida Ave NE as well as 30% plans for the complicated intersection of Florida Ave, New York Ave, 1st St, and Eckington Pl NE. 

These plans propose many high-quality improvements to sidewalks, trees, curb-protected bike lanes and intersections, reflecting many lessons learned from the interim treatments installed last year. You can find the plans and presentation materials on the project website.

However the proposals are far from perfect. We believe DDOT can and must go further to create safe spaces for walking and biking and limit opportunities for unsafe speeding. WABA submitted detailed comments for both the corridor and intersection reconstructions. Read WABA’s full comments here. In particular, we would like to see improvements to include:

  • More aggressive traffic calming and a lower design speed
  • protected intersections especially at 4th, 6th, West Virginia Ave, and at the many intersections at New York Ave
  • Wider protected bike lanes and wider buffer from traffic
  • A wider north side sidewalk under the rail bridge to meet Union Market’s pedestrian needs
  • More complete and rational connections for people who bike across New York Ave, to the future New York Ave Trail, and further west on Florida Ave to meet the future needs of people who use the corridor

Once built (scheduled for 2021), this street design will remain in place for decades, so it is critical that the city gets it right, not just better. 

What you can do

If you want to see Florida Ave NE done right, join our 20×20 campaign to organize the support DDOT and our community leaders need to make the right call. Sign up for a 20×20 Ward group here to get started.It is still not too late to tell DDOT what you think about their plans. Take a closer look at the plans here, then click here to email constructive comments to the project team.

Let’s talk about Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years working to fill a gap in Downtown DC’s protected bike lane network on Louisiana Ave, the project is moving forward. Better yet, preliminary plans are done and ready to share! On Wednesday, October 24, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a community meeting and panel discussion with the District Department of Transportation to introduce this project to the public and get feedback on current plans. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say “we want this project!” Will you join us?

Yes, I’ll Be There!

Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lane Community Meeting Wednesday, October 24 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open House 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Community Meeting & Panel Discussion Rayburn House Office Building 45 Independence Avenue SW (Room 2253 Click here to RSVP Bringing this project to this point has not been easy. It has taken the combined will of neighborhood commissioners, councilmembers, members of Congress and hundreds of people like you. So join us on Wednesday to see the plan and keep the pressure up! See you on Wednesday.

Arlington Delivers a Bike Friendly(er) Ballston

Early last month, road crews set to work repaving a long stretch of N Quincy St. in Ballston. But, instead of putting it back exactly as they found it, they made it better. Quincy St. now sports almost a half mile of new, protected bike lanes between Glebe Rd and 9th St. N!

This is Awesome!

Check it out! Tucked behind car parking and flex-posts, the new protected bike lanes create a low-stress bike connection to dozens of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and the future Mosaic Park. Where bicyclists used to grapple with very close passing cars and parked cars blocking bike lanes, the new design gives everyone their own, orderly space on the road.

Before…

…and after!

This upgrade is the result of a lot of hard work by advocates and county staff. In late 2015, we launched our Bike Friendly Ballston campaign to build support for a low-stress, protected bike lane connection between the Custis Trail and Ballston’s commercial area. By spring 2016, we had earned support from more than 600 county residents, Ballston businesses, the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington County Board. Since then, county planners have been hard at work, collecting data, designing concepts, and negotiating the many tricky complications that arose along the way.

Making use of the new, protected bike lane in Ballston.

Help us show our gratitude! The Quincy St. protected bike lanes are a big win for safe, low-stress bicycling in Arlington. And this project could not have happened without the creative solutions, persistence and dedication from transportation staff and county leaders. Will you help us thank them for their work?

Thank the Staff & Board!

This work completes the first half of our vision for a more bike friendly Ballston. Still to come is a protected bike lane connection extending another half-mile past the Central Library and Washington Lee High School to the Custis Trail. To learn more about the project and see the plans, visit the project page.

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day! To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!
  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!
Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release. PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.