The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) is installing a pop-up bike lane in Park View, DC from Wednesday, September 19th through Friday, September 21st. The temporary path, running along Kenyon Street NW from Park Place NW to Warder Street NW, is meant “to demonstrate how the proposed bike lanes will function and to provide the public with an opportunity to speak with” DDOT officials. The one-block stretch is part of the Crosstown Protected Bike Lane Project, which transportation officials aim to finish in 2021.
DDOT officials will be on-site on Wednesday, September 19th from 7 AM to 9 AM and 4 PM to 7 PM answer questions and receive public input.
East-West Connections Suck North of Downtown
Cyclists commuting East-West in DC don’t have a lot of straight-shot options North of the downtown street grid. Folks in Northeast, close of where I live in Brookland, are blocked by large campuses like Glenwood Cemetary, McMillan Reservoir, the Children’s/VA Medical Complex, the Old Solder’s Golf Courgfgwse and Rock Creek/Soldier’s Home Cemeteries. The North Capitol/Irving Street NW cloverleaf, an albatross from a time when traffic engineers wanted to divide DC with a surface-level highway, means cyclists—especially less experienced bike-handlers—usually ride on sidewalks until they get West of Howard University.
DDOT Plans to Add Protected Bike Lanes in Three Corridors
Improving East-West cycling routes is one of the three improvement areas DDOT is focusing with their Protected Bike Lanes Project. This “Crosstown” effort includes:
- Two-way bidirectional protected bike lanes on Irving Street NE/NW between Michigan Avenue NE and Kenyon Street NW
- Parking-protected bike lanes along 5th Street NW/Park Place NW between Grant Circle and Kenyon Street NW
- Parking-protected bike lanes along 7th Street NW/Warder Street NW between New Hampshire Avenue NW and Kenyon Street NW.
The Crosstown installations go alongside similar cycling facility improvements in “Eastern Downtown,” which focuses on North-South routes between the National Mall and U Street through Mt. Vernon Square and Shaw. Finally, DDOT plans to install bike lanes along North-South routes between Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle via the West End with its “20th/21st/22nd St NW” effort. The department has held public meetings to receive input for each corridor improvement.
Protected Bike Lanes are Best for Inclusivity and Accessibility
If DDOT wants to improve cyclist safety and increase cycling among commuters and for recreation, it is necessary they add bike lanes. However, protected bike lanes with separations between car traffic are needed to maximize the numbers and diversity of District residents riding on two wheels for errands and fun. “DDOT surveys have shown that the majority of cyclists and drivers prefer the separation between bicycles and motor vehicles by protected facilities.”
DC drivers, delivery trucks, Ubers picking up and dropping off, and especially DC Government vehicles are prone to use non-protected bike lanes like a curbside parking lane. That invasion of space is the result of driver apathy or ignorance, and the remedy has been insufficient enforcement by DC Police. Dedicated bike commuters often take pictures of violators to hold officials accountable, but that’s a losing war. So, cyclists prefer protected bike lanes that prevent parking inside them.
Protected bike lanes are more valuable to the economy than parking spaces, and they often can compliment a parking lane by forming another layer of protection from the moving cars. We know that more people, especially women and parents of children in tow are more likely to bike commute if there are protected bike lanes along their route. Dads with cargo bikes, I see you!