DDOT presented their 2nd draft of plans for new protected bike lanes in DC’s Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhoods. The routes run North-South along 20th, 21st, and 22nd Streets NW from lower Foggy Bottom to West of Dupont Circle. DDOT is taking feedback and will release a final round of design options in early 2019.
DC’s Foggy Bottom Desperately Needs North/South Bike Routes
DDOT sums up lower Northwest’s bike route desert like this:
“Several east-west bike facilities currently traverse the areas in and around Downtown. However, there is a large north-south gap in the bicycle network between Dupont Circle and the National Mall.”
Here’s how DDOT plans to fix it:
“The purpose of this project is to identify a specific route for north- and south-running protected bicycle lanes between Dupont Circle, the western side of Downtown, and the National Mall that provides a safe environment for people biking of all ages and abilities on either 20, 21, or 22th Street NW. ”
“For the purposes of project planning, corridors defining the project area include north-south streets of 20 Street, 21 Street, and 22 Street NW between Florida Avenue NW and Constitution Avenue NW.”
DDOT Taking Feedback Until January 6th
At each public meeting for the project, DDOT has laid out large printed versions of their plans and sought sticky note comments reflecting concerns of residents, cyclists, commuters, and business owners. With the first and now into the second feedback period, “the project team will take the information received and refine the concept based on public input and on-going technical analysis.”
You can send comments in now on DDOT’s second draft plans: “If you were not able to make it to the workshop, you may submit your comments via email before January 6, 2019.” The slides and maps showing current design concepts are on the project’s website.
DDOT Will Put Bike Lanes on Either 20th, 21st, or 22nd Streets NW
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your persuasion), only one of the routes will be built. Bike commuters and scooter riders will have only one North-South route from the Mall to Dupont through Foggy Bottom. Feedback from this week will help DDOT cull three possible ways into two. At the next public meeting, DDOT will present a design preferred by their staff between the two updated route options.
DDOT summarized their design choices on this poster board:
- Two-way Protected Bike Lane on the East Side of 22nd Street NW because of a challenging connection to Florida Avenue NW on the west side
- Two-way Protected Bike Lane on the East Side of 21st Street NW because they are trying (1) to avoid the west side Stevens School lay-by; (1) to avoid the four west side bus stop conflicts; and (3) to provide the east side provides a crosswalk connection to National Mall at Constitution Avenue NW
- Two-way Protected Bike Lane on the West Side of 20th Street NW selected due to because (1) Several intersections with heavy northbound right turn volumes would conflict with an east side bike lane; (2) they are trying to avoid 7 east side bus stop conflicts (the remaining 3 west side bus stop conflicts can be mitigated); and (3) the challenging New Hampshire Avenue NW intersection configuration favors the west side
See the design options in detail here:
According to meeting attendee Rudi Riet, DDOT is likely to drop the 20th or 22nd Street NW option, leaving only 21st Street and one of those two.
DDOT will Build the West End Bike Lanes in 2021
Starting in Spring 2018, DDOT plans to build the bike facility in 2021, perhaps with a 2022 completion date. That’s several years of public input and community feedback. Given that this effort is part of the ceremoniously branded DC Protected Bike Lanes Project, under the umbrella of DC’s Vizion Zero effort, it seems DDOT would have more urgency. That said, we already know DC’s VZ effort is failing.
The 21st Street NW option is the longest route, connecting Connecticut Avenue NW along the Mall with Florida Ave NW Northwest of Dupont Circle. The 20th Street plan connects Virginia Ave NW to the South with Connecticut Avenue North of Dupont Circle. 22nd Street would take lane users from Virginia Ave NW up to Massachusetts West of Dupont Circle. These Southern entrances are all short of Virginia Avenue’s underpass at 23rd Street where drivers feed into I-66 or the Rock Creek Parkway.
Each route has quirks to mitigate conflict points and make car/bike/scooter interaction safer. As an example, the 21st Street plan shifts from a curbside two-way cycletrack to a median cycletrack at the C Street NW intersection. Shifts like that a few hundred feet before the intersection, which take a curbside bike lane into a lane to the right of left turns, actually make cyclists safer. Cyclists and drivers approaching the intersection cross each other early, so the driver won’t have to make a sharp left in front of a bike lane where blind spots and lazy, rushed drivers frequently collide into oncoming cyclists. This early crossing helps right turns for the same reason.
Quirky Road Design Is Safer, If Initially Confusing
Safety quirks like roundabouts in DC already fail, like the early crossings along the Eastbound L Street NW bike lane. But that failure is because of user learning curves from new, sophisticated design. Complexity can improve safety but requires patience in construction and user learning curves after that. This principle does not apply to Dave Thomas Circle. Funky lane re-configurations take more time and finesse than a standard curbside facility, but you only get one bite at the apple when you’re re-doing a street like these in Foggy Bottom. Well, you’ll probably do an overhaul in another few decades. That’s how infrastructure works. But, you get my point.