Quick Release: WABA Blog Front Page

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.

3 comments
Claudia Phelps
Claudia Phelps

Randall, WABA members, and other bikers - I just found this website and your comments regarding the proposed Oregon Avenue road work. As a representative of an important DC organization, you deliberately mislead the biking community, distort facts and slander at least 225+ neighbors who have done little more than fulfill their civic duty through active participation in the Oregon Avenue roadwork planning process and who happen not to share all of your opinions regarding the Oregon Avenue Environmental Assessment (EA). Neighbors United to Preserve Oregon Avenue and Rock Creek Park is a group of residents who came together after the EA was released to the public on June 13, 2011 to gather and share information and advocate for a public works project for Oregon Avenue that will result in necessary improvements, such as addressing necessary street repair, long-neglected storm water issues and providing safe pedestrian access, while preserving the bucolic character of our street. We believe that these goals are not mutually exclusive; they just require careful, thoughtful planning. Rock Creek Park is, to many people, an oasis within the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital. DDOT and FHWA, however, have formulated “rehabilitation” proposals that would severely undermine the tranquility and aesthetics of the Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Among other things, DDOT/FHWA have proposed to re-grade the right-of-way, construct curbs, and add sidewalks and trails up to 10 feet wide. The proposals require the construction of hundreds of feet of retaining walls, some as high as 8 feet and many would be constructed on the Park side of Oregon Avenue, as well as the installation of high intensity lighting. Such an extensive construction project most certainly will transform the bucolic, Park-like road into yet another urban thoroughfare. In addition, the proposals would require felling over 80 mature trees and an unspecified number of smaller trees, and perhaps damage an untold many more, irreversibly altering the ambience and character of the Park and surrounding neighborhood. Representatives of Neighbors United have attended ANC meetings to productively discuss points of the EA that we do not support and to suggest alternatives that we could support. We have rarely been granted a fair hearing by the ANC, and so have vigorously defended our right to be heard (which you refer to as “raucous”). We are exercising our rights as citizens to appeal to our elected representatives, to voice our opinions. As a result the ANC finally voted to not support any of the alternatives proposed by DDOT. Also, Councilmember Bowser has agreed to support our concerns, and has written a letter to DDOT requesting they re-think the current proposals. Many parties to this project have come to see that the community (including WABA and the DC Bicycle Advisory Council) must protest DDOT’s proposals to radically transform the Park’s western boundary. This not about sidewalks or bike trails or fixing the deteriorated road. The community wants DDOT to listen to our concerns and incorporate them into its plans. And the primary concern we have is to not transform Oregon Avenue into an urban thoroughfare. We do not ignore obvious problems, we live on and around the street every day, and we know its condition well. However, we do not believe that a transformational reconstruction is necessary to meet community needs. I believe that your exclusive focus on bike facilities to the exclusion of the loss of 80 mature trees, retaining walls up to 8 feet high, and widening the road footprint to 44 feet (from its current 25) is short-sighted and will ultimately produce a less-favorable riding experience than is possible even now. We encourage you and your organizations to work with us to get what we both want - safety, road repair, and an aesthetically pleasing environment. Please email us with ideas and suggestions at SaveOregonAveney@yahoo.com Respectfully submitted, Claudia Phelps Steering Committee Member Neighbors United to Preserve Oregon Avenue and Rock Creek Park

Paul Meijer
Paul Meijer

Oregon Avenue is an important link in and out of Rock Creek Park. Please make sure that this road is safe for bicycling!

Randall Myers
Randall Myers

Members of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council attended a hearing On the Oregon Avenue EIS last month and provided comments in favor of alternative #4 (http://dcbac.blogspot.com/2011/06/oregon-avenue-environmental-assessment.html). While there were some voices supporting alternatives the help create a safer road for bicyclists and pedestrians, many who lived on Oregon Avenue appeared to ignore the roads obvious problems and raucously defended the "NO alternative". It's important that both bicyclists and pedestrians support making this road safer so that the overwhelming majority of Rock Creek Park users who enter from that area can do so safely. The project team extended the comment period for a reason, please make it mean something by logging your support. Randall Myers DCBAC At-Large

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