Bike Lanes, Not Sharrows, For K St. NE

Following requests from ANC 6C and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, DDOT recently completed a Vision Zero corridor study of K St NE extending from 12th St NE to 1st St. NE.  As a result of this safety assessment and community input, DDOT has concluded that a road diet that removes rush-hour restrictions on residential parking is both feasible and appropriate.  DDOT is considering four road diet alternatives, but only one would improve K St. for people on bikes.

DDOT’s  recommendations

Based on the crash data, recorded speeds, and community input, DDOT has put forward four alternatives for K St.  All four alternatives remove the weekday rush-hour parking restrictions, creating full-time parking instead.  The alternatives principally differ in terms of the number of intersections to gain a center turn lane and the number of full-time parking spaces available along the corridor. Only Alternative 4 adds bike lanes. See the four alternatives here.

Alternatives 1-3 force bicyclists to share the lane with drivers, leaving no room for safe passing.

Alternative 4 adds bike lanes and full-time parking to K St.

What are rush-hour parking restrictions?

Rush-hour parking restrictions are a common tool to transform a residential roadway into a multi-lane vehicular traffic corridor by restricting residential parking during peak weekday hours in the peak direction. On K St., this entails the weekday transformation of the roadway from two lanes to three lanes twice each day.  In past decades the District imposed these restrictions in order to push more car commuters through residential neighborhoods.  Unfortunately several of these configurations survive.  Examples can be found on Florida Ave, Rhode Island Ave, Columbia Road and many others.

Rush-hour parking restrictions often result in high traffic speeds, an increase in the number and severity of crashes and higher volumes of traffic than would be otherwise possible on residential streets.  It also forces neighborhood residents to shuttle their parked cars from one side of the street to the other side multiple times a day to avoid ticketing and towing. All four alternatives trade rush-hour parking restrictions for full-time parking, and that is great!

Only Alternative 4 is safe for all users

Unlike alternatives 1 – 3  which force people on bikes into the same shared lane as drivers, Alternative 4 adds bike lanes, which create a separate space for biking. This is significant because many cyclists who presently commute during rush hour on K St ride in the curbside lane thereby allowing faster moving vehicular traffic to proceed via the make-shift passing lane.  Absent a dedicated bicycle lane, any road diet on K St would in fact place bicyclists in more, and not less, danger during their daily commutes, particularly given that many drivers have grown accustomed to speeding through the corridor at excessive speeds.

By offering dedicated bike lanes, Alternative 4 offers cyclists a safe and comfortable option to ride on K St instead of residential sidewalks, including those sidewalks in front of J.O. Wilson elementary school and the District’s Senior Wellness Center.  As seen on similar streets all over the city, creating dedicated spaces to bike in the street reduces bicyclist/pedestrian conflicts on the sidewalks and in intersections.

Network Effects: East/West Connectivity

At present, there are no bike facilities in NE DC that extend east-west across the train tracks and North Capitol Street.  Major roadways in the area such as Maryland Ave, Massachusetts Ave and Florida Ave all have obstacles that presently prevent such connectivity (i.e., the Capitol, Union Station and the Virtual Circle at Florida Ave and New York Ave).  By adopting Alternative 4, we could create a continuous 2.2 miles of bicycle lanes on K St linking Trinidad, Near Northeast and NoMa to Mt. Vernon Square.  See the on-going NoMa Bicycle Network Study and Eastern Downtown Study.  DDOT’s 2005 Bicycle Master Plan and the 2014 moveDC plans both identify K street as an essential bicycle corridor.

Speak up for a balanced approach to the K St NE road diet

On Thursday, ANC 6C’s Transportation committee is meeting to discuss the K St. NE alternatives and make a recommendation to the full Commission before its September 13th meeting. Please email the ANC 6C commissioners and ask that they support Alternative 4 for a balanced road diet that considers the safety of all roadway users.

Email ANC 6C

You can also attend tonight’s Transportation & Public Space meeting to speak up in person.

ANC 6C Transportation & Public Space Committee
Thursday, September 7th, 7:00 pm
Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center
700 Second Street NE