Support Needed for Bike Facilities on Oregon Ave., NW

From the project website:

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are proposing rehabilitation of the 1.7-mile segment of Oregon Avenue, NW, between Military Road and Western Avenue….

The purpose of the proposed action is to rehabilitate Oregon Avenue to satisfy operational and safety needs and done so in a manner keeping with the setting of the project area. Context sensitive solutions will take into account the adjoining land uses – residential developments to the west and Rock Creek Park to the east. Improvements to the corridor will consider all modes of transportation including buses, bicycles and pedestrians.

Currently, this portion of Oregon Avenue is significantly degraded and contains no provision for bicyclists.  Unfortunately, some neighbors oppose the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave.  Therefore, it is important that neighbors and District residents who support or would benefit from bicycle facilities along Oregon Ave. provide input on the project.
View Oregon Ave EA in a larger map

The four transportation alternatives are as follows:

  • Alternative 1: No Build.  This alternative would include spot repairs but no improvements for bicyclists or pedestrians.  The EA states that it “does not meet the purpose and need of the project.”
  • Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build.  The second alternative would create no bicycle accommodations of any kind, but would include a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side of Oregon Ave.

Alternatives 3 and 4 are both divided into a southern and northern section at Bingham Drive, in which the southern section is built according as in Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build (i.e. no bicycle accomodations, 5 ft. sidewalk on west side) due to limited DDOT right-of-way.

In the northern sections:

  • Alternative 3: Shared Use Path.  The third alternative incorporates a 10 ft. shared use path on the west side to serve two-way cyclist and pedestrian traffic.
  • Alternative 4: Bike Lanes.  The final alternative would provide a 4 ft. bike lane in each direction and a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side, with the bike lane and sidewalk separated by a 10 ft. vegetated swale.

WABA supports the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave., so clearly favors Alternatives 3 and 4 over those alternatives that do not provide any bicycle facilities.

In Alternative 3, much depends on the design of the multi-use path–and many cyclists who approach from the roadway will prefer to stay on the roadway rather than mix with pedestrians regardless.  In Alternative 4, there is an on-road bicycle facility in each direction–though the east-side lane abuts a curb and is only 4 ft. wide.

While individual cyclists may reasonably differ in their preference for a multi-use path or bike lanes, WABA supports the on-road facilities included in Alternative 4.  Here, the multi-use path is so short than any advantage in safety due to physical separation may be surpassed by the added danger of entering and exiting the path outside the normal flow of traffic.  Additionally, many cyclists will prefer not to mix with pedestrian traffic or divert to a multi-use path that extends less than one mile, and therefore will choose to ride on-street even where the path is present.

Therefore, WABA supports Alternative 4.  We recognize that under most circumstances, the east side bicycle lane should be wider than 4 ft. when alongside a curb in order to meet AASHTO standards.  However, given the space constraints and the included reduction of the travel lanes to 10 ft., the incorporation of a mountable curb with 4 ft. bike lane provides the best proposed Alternative.

Please CLICK HERE to contact the project team and provide your input.  Comments must be received by July 29.

The full Environmental Assessment of this 1.7 mile stretch of Oregon Ave. can be found HERE.