The following is a response from DDOT Director Terry Bellamy to WABA’s posting, “Where Did All the Bike Lanes Go?”:
WABA has been a great partner with DDOT as we work to increase bicycling in the District and expand our bicycle infrastructure. However, that doesn’t mean we always see eye-to-eye and that’s why I felt it was important to respond to WABA’s blog posting “Where Did All the Bike Lanes Go?” posted on Tuesday, December 20.
As the article notes, there are more than 50 miles of bike lanes in the District now, all added since the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan was adopted. Under the steady leadership of Jim Sebastian, our Bicycle Team has made tremendous strides to make the District one of the most bicycle-friendly cities on the East Coast, earning a Silver Award from the League of American Bicyclists. We now have bike lanes down the center of America’s Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and a popular cycletrack on 15th Street, NW. Bikestation DC at Union Station is an architectural landmark and one of the most impressive bicycle facilities in the nation.
We have not been resting on our laurels though. This year we have expanded the Capital Bikeshare system and are already planning to add 50 more stations and 500 more bikes next year in the District. That will include the first bikeshare stations on the National Mall. We have expanded our trail network along the Anacostia River and in addition to the new bike lanes installed on 11th Street, SE, Edgewood Street, NE and East Capitol Street, we’ve also installed several miles of sharrows across the city.
Also, I can tell you that we have more than 4 miles of planned bike lanes that are now ready for installation and will be put in as soon as the weather breaks in early spring. That includes:
- Columbia Road, NW between Connecticut Avenue and 16th Street
- 4th Street, SW between Virginia Avenue and I Street
- New York Avenue, NW between 15th Street and 9th Street
- Upshur Street, NW between 8th Street and Rock Creek Church Road
- I Street, SW/SE between 7th Street and New Jersey Avenue
- Tilden Street, NW between Reno Road and Connecticut Avenue
- R Street, NW between Florida Avenue and the Met Branch Trail
That list does not include additional bike lanes planned for 2012 or the crosstown cycletracks that are awaiting the completion of a study of the 15th Street and Pennsylvania lanes.
It is true that in the out years of the Bicycle Master Plan – now that the low hanging fruit has been picked – we are dealing with more complex environments and more constrained scenarios, which can extend the planning and development horizon for adding new lanes. With competing priorities, getting community buy-in for these projects can also be more complicated. That’s not an excuse; it’s the reality we face.
However, I can assure you, my commitment – and Mayor Gray’s commitment – to bicycling and bike lanes has not changed. We might not always move as fast as some would like, but if our progress slows from time to time that is not an indication of shifting priorities, but rather a reflection of the environment we’re working in, and our desire to do it right.
As Mayor Gray announced today, Census Bureau figures show the District is leading the nation in population growth. More and more people are moving here to enjoy the quality of life the city offers. We feel confident our joint effort to make the city more bicycle-friendly is one of the attractions, and we look forward to continuing to work with WABA and the community to gain more ground and make the District an even more desirable place to live, work, play and cycle.
I wouldn't list the bike lane on Edgewood Street NE as an accomplishment. It is so narrow that DDOT couldn't fit their bicycle stencil in it. You are safer taking the lane.
Director Bellamy points out the several miles of sharrows installed in the city. Unfortunately, without a massive education campaign, I doubt sharrows do much more than confuse the average motorist. Except for reminding drivers that cyclists are around, I'm not really sure what the point is. Bike lanes are a totally different animal -- easy to understand for both new cyclist and drivers.
The usual tact for DC electeds and agency directors seems to be: "ignore and resist response." Bellamy's quick reply not only shows that he heard WABA but felt the urgent need not to delay responding until after the holidays. As I life-long pedaler, who has never owned a car license, I admire fellow cycling advocates passion, but we need to plant our feet firmly back down to reality at some point. The District has many challenges, more bike infrastructure is needed, we shouldn't stop pushing for it with a positive attitude, but shooting ourselves in the foot, lambasting the leaders we need to work with for the next few years, is a waste of time and energy. Keep pedaling. We'll get there eventually. Make sure your ANC leaders in DC are actively attending to cycling issues as well, as mine are in Shaw. Happy holidays!
I, too, find Director Bellamy's comments disappointing. Simply put DDOT had a performance target and they failed to meet it. They didn't even come close. To those of us that have doubted Mayor Gray's commitment to bicycling, this failing confirms our worst fears.
The R St "bike lane" he cites will not be a bike lane, it will be sharrows: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/12186/ddot-seeks-community-input-on-r-street-bike-improvements/
I am disappointed with Dir. Bellamy's response. Among other things, I would not consider the 15th Street Cycletrack or the PA Avenue bike lane "low-hanging fruit." They were projects undertaken by an administration committed to making this City a more bike-friendly place. Nothing in Director Bellamy's response makes me think that the current administration shares even a fraction of that commitment. I like Dir. Bellamy, but WABA's stats speak for themselves. His attempt to justify those stats largely by pointing to the previous administration's accomplishments and promises about future action underscores the gap between the Gray administration's words and its actions when it comes to bicycling infrastructure. And, honestly, why should we believe the promises that he makes for next year when DDOT apparently failed to live up to the plans that it had made for 2011? I expect more, particularly given Mayor Gray's claims that he is committed to making DC a more bike-friendly place. I hope that WABA does not need to publish a similar blog post next year.
I've got a low-hanging fruit for DDOT. How about the one block that does not have a lane painted on it on 4th Street NE between M and L? That must've just been a repaving and someone forgot to paint the bike lane back.