Let’s talk about Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years working to fill a gap in Downtown DC’s protected bike lane network on Louisiana Ave, the project is moving forward. Better yet, preliminary plans are done and ready to share!

On Wednesday, October 24, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a community meeting and panel discussion with the District Department of Transportation to introduce this project to the public and get feedback on current plans. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say “we want this project!” Will you join us?

Yes, I’ll Be There!

Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lane Community Meeting
Wednesday, October 24
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open House
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Community Meeting & Panel Discussion
Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Avenue SW (Room 2253
Click here to RSVP

Bringing this project to this point has not been easy. It has taken the combined will of neighborhood commissioners, councilmembers, members of Congress and hundreds of people like you. So join us on Wednesday to see the plan and keep the pressure up!

See you on Wednesday.

Arlington Delivers a Bike Friendly(er) Ballston

Early last month, road crews set to work repaving a long stretch of N Quincy St. in Ballston. But, instead of putting it back exactly as they found it, they made it better. Quincy St. now sports almost a half mile of new, protected bike lanes between Glebe Rd and 9th St. N!

This is Awesome!

Check it out!

Tucked behind car parking and flex-posts, the new protected bike lanes create a low-stress bike connection to dozens of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and the future Mosaic Park. Where bicyclists used to grapple with very close passing cars and parked cars blocking bike lanes, the new design gives everyone their own, orderly space on the road.

Before…

…and after!

This upgrade is the result of a lot of hard work by advocates and county staff. In late 2015, we launched our Bike Friendly Ballston campaign to build support for a low-stress, protected bike lane connection between the Custis Trail and Ballston’s commercial area. By spring 2016, we had earned support from more than 600 county residents, Ballston businesses, the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington County Board. Since then, county planners have been hard at work, collecting data, designing concepts, and negotiating the many tricky complications that arose along the way.

Making use of the new, protected bike lane in Ballston.

Help us show our gratitude!

The Quincy St. protected bike lanes are a big win for safe, low-stress bicycling in Arlington. And this project could not have happened without the creative solutions, persistence and dedication from transportation staff and county leaders. Will you help us thank them for their work?

Thank the Staff & Board!

This work completes the first half of our vision for a more bike friendly Ballston. Still to come is a protected bike lane connection extending another half-mile past the Central Library and Washington Lee High School to the Custis Trail. To learn more about the project and see the plans, visit the project page.

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day!

To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!

  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!

Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release.

PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.

DDOT Breaking Promises on C Street NE

Image from Google Street View

At a public meeting late last month, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff announced an alarming change of plans for their C St. NE rehabilitation project that cuts critical safety improvements for people walking and biking to speed more cars through the neighborhood. We are baffled by the changes and what they mean for DDOT’s commitment to its Vision Zero principles and ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2024.

Demand That DDOT Reverse Course

C St. NE is a relic of DC’s long-past highway building days. At five lanes wide, it was designed to funnel rush hour commuters through the neighborhood into downtown DC. But highways make terrible neighborhood streets during rush hour. When uncongested the rest of time, empty lanes tempt drivers to step on the gas. In 2013, when the 11th St. bridge was completed, drivers found different routes, leaving C St. NE empty even more of the time. Today, C St. NE is overbuilt for cars and underbuilt for the people who live, work, play, bike and walk along it.

The critical long-term solution has been in the works since 2006 when Rosedale residents started organizing to demand solutions to chronic speeding, unsafe crossings and stressful biking. DDOT responded with over a decade of studies — the Capitol Hill Transportation Study, C St. Traffic Calming Study, C St. Multimodal Corridor Study, and MoveDC Plan — which helped create a vision for a calm, multimodal street with fewer travel lanes, more frequent, shorter crossings, green space, and protected bike lanes where moving cars is not the priority.

C St. NE 65% plans presented in February

In 2017, DDOT started work on plans which promised to deliver on that vision. In February 2018, staff presented 65% design plans that would:

  • Remove a travel lane from each direction to help reduce speeding
  • Add curb extensions at nine intersections for shorter pedestrian crossings
  • Add new crosswalks at 17th Pl and 20th St
  • Create 11 raised crosswalks at cross-streets to encourage slow-speed turns
  • Add curb-protected bike lanes on C St. and North Carolina Ave NE
  • Create five “floating” bus stops that keep buses and people on bikes separated
  • Add dozens of new trees, green space, and improved river-friendly stormwater management
  • Preserve full-time parking on every block

These plans reflect a decade of study, community discussion, and consensus building around the safety concerns on C St. NE. Residents and experts in traffic safety have been engaged and actively participating in support at every step. Indeed, this project promised to deliver a safe, complete street that would have set a new bar for Vision Zero projects (view the full plans here).

But in April, DDOT announced drastic design changes, striking many of the most critical safety features of the plan. See the new plans here. The changes would:

  • Remove seven of the nine curb extensions at 16th St, 17th St, 17th Pl, 18th St, 18th Pl, 19th St, and 21st St, making pedestrian crossings longer and more risky especially for children and seniors
  • Add back the third travel lane planned for removal on six blocks. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially in off-peak hours, in exchange for less driver delay at rush hour. Ironically, DDOT staff are now considering adding traffic signals at two crosswalks because the new proposed design makes these crossings less safe
  • Eliminate full-time parking on six blocks either during rush hour or at all times to make room for turn lanes. Residents will lose access to as many as 50 parking spaces for the convenience of moving cars quickly
  • Eliminate some raised crosswalks
  • Reduce the size of bus stops to move buses out of the travel lane

All of these changes are required, DDOT staff claim, because traffic models show that removing a lane in each direction will create unacceptable delay for drivers by 2040. But traffic models only tell the driving part of the story and they are notorious for overestimating future driving habits. We should not compromise safety today to avoid theoretical delay in 20 years.

Revised April plans. Pink shows curb extensions cut from the plan. Blue cars indicate parking restrictions.

DDOT’s new plan to preserve the C St. NE speedway is simply indefensible. It dismisses a decade of work towards an inclusive design that meets community needs. It contradicts four studies that show lane reductions are needed. It trades away critical safety features for greater risk to vulnerable road users. And it cuts residential parking used today to speed more cars through the neighborhood.

But worst of all, the plan is a glaring contradiction to Mayor Bowser’s commitment to end traffic fatalities by 2024. In December 2015, Mayor Bowser released her Vision Zero Action Plan, and pledged that her administration “will do everything in our power to eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, because no loss of life is acceptable.” To achieve this, the action plan promises that “streets should be designed for all users and need to be built to account for inevitable human errors.” It declares that “streets must be engineered to self-enforce a safe speed,” and that “design speed limit and posted speed limit must both prevent serious injury.”

In March 2018, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen worked with MPD to put a targeted focus on traffic enforcement along the C Street NE corridor near Eliot-Hine Middle School and Maury Elementary. After about an hour each day for three weeks, MPD issued 76 speeding tickets to people driving 11-30+ mph over the speed limit.

Drivers ticketed going 11-15 mph over the speed limit: 25
Drivers tickets going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 6
Drivers ticketed going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 7
Drivers ticketed going 21-25 mph over the speed limit: 10
Drivers ticketed going 26-30+ mph over the speed limit: 34

Read that again! 34 people going 50+ mph in a residential neighborhood with not one, but two schools where the posted speed limit is 25 mph. For seven blocks, DDOT’s plan would do little to curb this speeding.

DDOT has a moral imperative to do everything in its power to reduce speeds to safe levels. The February version of the plan does exactly this. The April plan is a mockery of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero commitment.

We call on DDOT to drop these indefensible changes and instead return to the inspiring, community supported vision presented in February. Last week, ANC 7D voted unanimously to urge DDOT to do the same (read ANC 7D’s letter here). As this plan moves towards construction next year, it must prioritize safety for people walking and biking and actively slow drivers down. While staff have indicated revisions may already be in the works, it is imperative that safe design, not driver delay, is guiding the plan. Please join us in taking a stand for Vision Zero by sending a letter to DDOT.

Take Action

What’s going on with the Louisiana Avenue protected bike lane?

Intersection of Louisiana Ave. at New Jersey Ave.

Since June 2015, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) have been working on plans for a Louisiana Ave protected bike lane to fill a gap in the downtown bicycle network between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave NW. Three years later, planning is stalled and Louisiana Ave remains a dangerous speedway, leaving many asking why.

Despite support from a wide range of stakeholders in DC and on Capitol Hill, the delay is due to a familiar obstacle: car parking. Adding protected bike lanes to Louisiana Ave will require repurposing a handful of curbside parking spaces in the half-mile between Pennsylvania Ave and D St. NE and a few more spaces in the center median of the final block near Union Station. Each of these parking spaces are reserved exclusively for Senate staff. And the Senate Sergeant at Arms, whose office manages the parking supply for the Senate, is apparently unwilling to relinquish any of the spaces needed for this project to proceed.

The red segment is the current existing gap between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave.

In a January letter, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton asked the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Frank Larkin, to reconsider his office’s opposition and allow construction to commence. “Losing a few parking spaces,” she wrote, “is a small price to pay to ensure public safety and help alleviate congestion near the Capitol by encouraging alternative modes of transportation.” Read the full letter here.

Ask For His Support

According to the Architect of the Capitol, who manages the Capitol buildings and grounds, a number of large campus construction projects planned and underway will substantially reduce available parking for the next few years, putting additional demand on existing parking.

But, to place the parking situation in context, there are reportedly as many as 5,800 parking spaces on the House side of the Capitol alone and perhaps an equal number on the Senate side. Two Metro stations, MARC, VRE, more than a dozen bus routes and a handful of regional trails serve the Capitol Complex, giving staff unparalleled transportation options. There may never be a convenient time for this project. A few more years is too long to wait for a safe, bikeable, and walkable Louisiana Ave.

The Louisiana Ave. project has vocal support from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Congressional Bike Caucus, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C and the Regional Council of Governments. DDOT has devoted considerable resources to design work, and plans to fully cover construction costs with local funds. And last year, Congress passed an omnibus bill that included language calling for construction of the Louisiana Avenue bike lanes without delay.

Last month, Frank Larkin retired and Michael Stenger became the new Senate Sergeant at Arms, creating a new opportunity to engage. Please sign our petition to ask him to reconsider his predecessor’s objections and to allow this needed safety project to move forward.

Sign the Petition

Silver Spring Celebrates its First Protected Bike Lane

On Saturday, October 14, more than 70 bike advocates and neighbors gathered with county officials in Woodside Urban Park to celebrate the completion of Silver Spring’s first protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street. After schmoozing with stakeholders and excited conversations, councilmembers Roger Berliner, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer, Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieh, Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and WABA Board Member Peter Gray spoke about the event’s significance and enjoyed many well-deserved rounds of applause. After cutting the ribbon on the new lanes, we all embarked on the maiden voyage, joyfully riding the length of the protected bike lanes and returning along Wayne Ave and Second Ave, the future home of Silver Spring’s 2nd protected bike lane.

Events like this capture advocacy at its finest. Government officials experienced firsthand the passion of their constituents and the delight, and new connections, such projects generate.  About 55 bicyclists safely and comfortably traveled along a main Silver Spring corridor, showcasing the potential for smart road design to promote safe and active transportation for all age groups. Along the way, curious residents inquired about the event, and a few stray cyclists joined the ride!  Thank you to all who made this event possible.  We look forward to working with you as we harness this positive energy and momentum for a more bikeable, walkable and livable Silver Spring!

This post comes from Zachary Weinstein, a leading member of WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County and a resident of Silver Spring. To get involved, sign our petition to support our campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle for a more bikeable Silver Spring, come to our next meeting (4th Monday of the month, 7pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center) and join the Bike Silver Spring Facebook group.

Celebrate Silver Spring’s First Protected Bike Lane on Oct 14!

Downtown Silver Spring is taking a huge step towards being a bikeable, walkable and livable community! Over the past few months, crews have been piecing together downtown Silver Spring’s very first protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar St. Over the past three weeks, the project has been taking shape, with new lane striping, green paint, and flex-posts appearing every day along the 0.8 mile corridor. Well, It’s just about complete, and it’s time to celebrate.

On October 14, we are throwing a party to celebrate the first of many protected bike lanes around and through the downtown, promising low-stress, convenient, and safe trips by bike. Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, neighbors, community advocates, County Councilmembers and staff to celebrate and take the inaugural ride on these new bike lanes! Starting at 10am come over to Woodside Urban Park for a festive celebration with activities for the whole family. Then, help us thank county leaders and staff who are leading the charge for more bikeable and walkable communities as we cut the ribbon on the first major piece of the Silver Spring Circle.

Once the ribbon is cut, join us on a community bike ride down Spring St to see and feel what low-stress urban biking is all about. The route will be a kid-friendly loop around downtown with an easy stop at the farmers market before returning to the start. Activities include kid-friendly bike ride, design your own bike lane, playground, face painter, Bike Master Plan team, Montgomery County Commuter Services, and tons of conversation about fun and low-stress biking in Silver Spring and beyond.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this first big step for the Silver Spring Circle!

I’ll Be There!

Sign up for our DC Advocacy Workshop

We know that when we build safe, connected spaces to bike, people come in droves to use them. So, as we aim to triple the number of people who bike in the region, creating quality infrastructure plays a huge role. But actually getting a protected bike lane installed takes time and hard work. It takes a lot of continuous support to push a project through every step.

Over the next few years, the District Department of Transportation plans to build almost 18 miles of protected bike lanes all over the city. But those plans might never be realized unless people like you keep the pressure up and participate actively in every step of the planning process.

On Wednesday, August 30, we are hosting a workshop to help you get in the game. Join us to demystify the process, get looped into opportunities for input, and most effectively support bike projects you care about.

Better Bicycling Advocacy Workshop
Wednesday, August 30 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Shaw Library | 1630 7th St NW
Cost: Free!

Register Here

At this training, we will cover:

  • staying informed: learning about projects before they break ground
  • the process and language of transportation planning
  • best practices for creating safe streets
  • reading and comparing concept plans
  • Opportunities for input, effective comments, and being heard

This training will use examples and projects specific to the District of Columbia, but advocates from other jurisdictions are welcome to attend. Click here for more information and to register.

DDOT trains contractors, utililty companies on how to work around bike infrastructure.

Matthew Marcou, Associate Director of the Public Space Regulation Administration at the District Department of Transportation, explains to staff from public agencies, utilities, and construction contractors how to properly detour the 15th St Protected Bike Lane.

After three years of work, The District Department of Transportation has released guidelines that advise Public Space Permit applicants how to properly accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians during construction or other road closures. You can read the guidelines here (PDF). These guidelines are one of the final missing pieces in the agency’s implementation of the Safe Accommodations element of the 2013 Bicycle Safety Amendment Act. 2013 may seem like a long time ago, but DDOT’s Safe Accommodations regulations are some of the most progressive in the country. Without other cities to use as models, the agency had to start more or less from scratch.

In addition to the written guidelines, DDOT developed several typical scenarios for construction teams to follow (below), and hosted the first of several live-traffic training sessions.

An illustration of how to properly detour bicyclists around work in a two way protected bike lane.

These trainings are a big step towards ensuring that bicyclists and pedestrians can move safely past the city’s ever present construction, and WABA is glad to hear that DDOT will hold more of them.

Is construction blocking your bike lane? Here’s our how-to on making sure contractors are following their Traffic Control Plan, and how to report problems.

 

Attend A Meeting for Better Bicycling in DC

This month, District and Federal agencies want feedback on a number of projects that could benefit or negatively impact bicycling in the city. Consider attending a meeting and speaking up for better bicycling.

C&O Canal Workshop
Wednesday, June 14 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Canal Overlook Room at Georgetown Park | 3276 M Street NW

The National Park Service (NPS) and Georgetown Heritage are kicking off a project to restore and revitalize a mile-long section of C&O Canal in Georgetown. They aim to “create active public spaces for people to relax or get active and enjoy history and nature, make it easier and safer for people to get to and enjoy the popular towpath, address maintenance needs, and look at ways to beautify and enliven the space through Georgetown’s Historic District.” The June 14 workshop will focus on the scope of the project and developing exciting concept designs.

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required: Georgetowncanal.eventbrite.com

Southern Ave. Reconstruction Project
Thursday, June 15 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
United Medical Center Hospital | 1310 Southern Avenue SE

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is planning changes to Southern Ave to improve vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian safety. The project will be split into two phases between South Capitol St and the United Medical Center. Improvements include replacing the Winkle Doodle Branch bridge, wider sidewalks, and a climbing bike lane on Southern Ave. Please attend to make sure this project makes Southern Ave safer for people on bikes.

See the project flyer here.

Downtown West Transportation Study Community Advisory Group
Tuesday, June 20 | 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
George Washington University’s Funger Hall (Room 223) | 2201 G St NW

DDOT is proposing installing protected bike lanes and major sidewalk upgrades on Pennsylvania Ave NW between Washington Circle and the White House and a contra-flow bus only lane on H St. NW. At the meeting, DDOT will provide an overview of the three alternatives, share the results of the alternatives analysis, and solicit feedback. The Citizens Advisory Group meetings are open to the public and all are welcome.

Learn More

VRE Midday Storage Yard
Tuesday, June 27 | 7:00-9:00 pm
Presentation at 7:15 pm
Holiday Inn | 1917 Bladensburg Rd NE

Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is proposing a midday train storage facility on the north side of New York Ave NE in Ivy City to replace its current storage space leased from Amtrak. VRE is promising to work with members of the community, stakeholders, and property owners to assess potential impacts and determine ways VRE can be a good neighbor. However, as envisioned, this project would preclude long-term plans for a multi-use trail on New York Ave between Eckington and the National Arboretum. Please attend to hold VRE to its promises.

Learn More

New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project
Thursday, June 29 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Presentation at 6:30 pm
REI Co-Op | 201 M St. NE

The purpose of New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project is to develop implementable design solutions to enhance safety and aesthetics along New York Avenue NE. (You can see WABA’s analysis of the most recent designs here.) At this meeting, DDOT will present draft final design concepts and gather comments from the community.

Learn More

C Street NE Rehabilitation Project
Wednesday, June 28 | 6 – 8 pm
Rosedale Community Center | 1701 Gales Street NE

This project is designed to improve safety and connectivity for all users on C Street NE from 22nd Street NE to 14th Street NE; and on North Carolina Avenue NE from 16th Street NE to 14th Street NE. At the meeting, the 30% design plans will be discussed to further refine the recommendations provided during the final design phase. This project includes a road diet on C St, new curb-protected bike lanes, and raised crosswalks for a much improved biking and walking experience.

Learn More

Be A Better Bike Advocate
Wednesday, June 28 | 6:30 – 8:30 pm
WABA Office | 2599 Ontario Rd NW

Are you interested in attending a meeting, but not sure what to do when you get there? Do you wish you could learn about and improve bike projects before they break ground? Do your eyes glaze over when city planners start talking about design alternatives, curb extensions or complete streets? Come to our free training to take the first step in becoming a better bike advocate. Every transportation project is an opportunity to make bicycling safer and more convenient. Come learn how to engage in the process.

Register