“Proposed Changes to 63 & 64 Bus Lines Negatively Affect Bikers”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoPville,

DC has been making a concerted effort to promote biking, but I came across a proposal that negatively affects bikers who live in Columbia Heights and Petworth. Today, Metrobus announced proposed changes to a number of bus lines including the 63 & 64. The basic proposal is to merge the 63 & 64 lines by altering the route of the 63 to run along 11th St between Monroe/Park and Florida. At Florida both lines would then shift back to Sherman and then connect with Vermont. You can see the details here.

Personally, I prefer combining the two lines as it means more frequent bus service on a single street, but as a biker I think Metrobus made the wrong choice in proposing to move both lines to 11th through Columbia Heights. Going down 11th I already have to dodge buses pulling across the dedicated bike lanes on my way to and from downtown. I hate biking on Sherman since it is busier, the lanes seem narrower, and there are not dedicated bike lanes. Plus, for those that ride the bus, Metro’s own studies also show that the 63 has better on time performance in this section than the 64. The distance between Sherman and 11th is very short, so the change would make minimal difference to most bus riders but would very much change the biking experience on this route. Thus, it seems far more logical to move the 64 to Sherman along this stretch. It would increase safety for bikers and improve the on time performance of buses overall – it seems like a win-win. I would encourage fellow bikers and bus riders on one of these routes to contact Metrobus and urge them to move the 64 line to Sherman in this section of Columbia Heights rather than moving the 63 to 11th. I’d be interested to know what PoPville readers think and, if they are interested, to let them know that there is a meeting to discuss the matter today (Thursday) at 5:30 at the MLK Library (901 G St NW).”

64 Comment

  • This doesn’t just affect cyclists. This would remove the only bus route running through Takoma/Brightwood/Manor Park/Brightwood Park. No good WMATA!!

  • I went to the Open House last night, and I agree wholeheartedly with the OP… I told them moving the 63 and 64 both to 11th on that stretch would be a complete Disaster, for both bus/car and bike traffic. (I heard a couple of other people say that too).

    Adding more 64 and 63 busses to 11th would clog it up even more. That stretch on the bus is already a nightmare. I bike this route, and I take both the 63 and 64 and regularly keep an eye on how long it takes to get down Sherman vs 11th st. During rush hour, the 63 usually is faster down this stretch.

    I really don’t see any benefits to adding the 63 to this part of 11th. yes, that stretch would have more bus lines…but really, you only have to walk one more block to catch the 63 if you need it.

    Just increase the number of 64 busses during rush hour to help overcrowding and leave 63 alone…(unless they want it to keep going down 13th st south of McPherson, which would be helpful)

    • There isn’t much traffic on 11th at all its kinda of slow road with the stop signs and the lights.

  • I agree with the OP – it would be great if bikers on 11th could stop having to dodge buses AND bus riders could have a faster trip downtown. It seems like a no-brainer to move the bus routes to Sherman – and I’m going to let metro know!

    • Make note the proposed route is to move both bus lines to 11th, not Sherman, on the slow stretch between Monroe (where the Coupe/Meridian Pint is) and Florida Ave. Then move back to Sherman to avoid the shared bike/road portion of 11th st by U. So it would be zigzagging back and forth.

      Just think of the wait for the left turn on 11th and Florida during rush hour, then getting onto Sherman/Vermont driving out of the way, and swinging back to 11th. I imagine this would not cut off that much time.

    • I’ve ridden both the 63 and 64 a LOT, and 11th in that stretch is never congested, while Sherman is a nightmare. And while buses should yield to bikers (which the ones on 11th Street seem to do most of the time), they actually DO need to cross the bike lane in order to get to the stop, and parking consistently prevents them from being able to pull the whole bus flush to the curb. So, sorry you have to “dodge” them, but traffic isn’t always convenient; sometimes you actually do have to stop, even when you don’t want to.
      As for the 11th Street merge part of the proposal, it doesn’t matter to me; I just don’t know why they’d bother. I don’t get the upside.

  • Please people go to the Open House! All you have to do is put a sticker next to the ideas you like and don’t like, and/or fill out a paper survey. It only takes 2 minutes to stop by!!!

    • If you’re unable to go to an Open House in person you can use the link in the OP to complete the same survey that is collected at the meetings.

  • I did love the proposed bus line going to Farragut Square (63). That needs to happen as there really isn’t any direct way of getting East/West from Petworth to Farragut/DuPont area by metro transit. Going through circles though might slow the bus route down especially during rush hour, but it would in theory cut down having so many people transfer on the metro at Chinatown/L’Enfant and provide a direct route for people to work.

    As for the actual OP’s statement, I agree about Sherman over 11th. I know there was a lot of discussion at one of the open houses about this and it seems to be a very hotly debated issue.

    • +1
      I live on 11th and work at Farragut. A direct bus with no transfer would be a godsend!

      • Exactly. I used to take the S1 when I lived off of 16th to get to Farragut, but now living 6 blocks north of the Petworth metro, there just isn’t any direct bus line anywhere near there. I had suggested the bus line expand to Farragut in the first open forum discussion they had at the Petworth Library and they WMATA Rep said they were considering DuPont Circle at the time, but I guess things changed as they heard more feedback from people.

    • This would be handy — getting from Georgia Ave.-Petworth to the Dupont/Farragut area can be a hassle on weekend nights. (E.g., waiting 18 minutes for the first Metro train, then waiting 20 minutes for the second.)

  • I bike from Petworth to downtown all the time–sometimes on 11th, sometimes on Sherman–and find this ridiculous. The headline should be “Proposed Changes to 63 & 64 Bus Lines Negatively Affect Me.”
    Also, the idea to route the 63 over the Farragut West is fantastic. All the buses here serve MetroCenter/Chinatown. It would be nice to have a bus that got you directly to the area West of the White House.

    • You don’t think it makes a difference to bike on 11th (with dedicated bike lanes) or Sherman (with no bike lanes)?

    • How is it ridiculous? It seems more logical to have both buses use Sherman and not 11th, since Sherman is wider and more of a thoroughfare than 11th.

      Why would having them both go down 11th through Columbia Heights be a good idea?

      • Sherman is not wider, it’s narrower (unless you are somehow counting the median as part of the street. That’s why there’s no bike lane on Sherman. There’s no room.
        It can also be harder for buses to get around traffic turning left on Sherman as compared to 11th Street. I think this will be better for everyone.

  • I bike downtown from Petworth every day and actually vastly prefer biking on Sherman to biking on 11th. While there are no dedicated bike lanes, there’s plenty of space and much less stop-and-go than there is on 11th. I also don’t notice the buses as much on Sherman; I can definitely see why adding more buses to 11th would make that a worse bike route and would probably slow down the bus, but with the current setup I still think Sherman is the better bike route and would prefer not to see more buses there.

      • Disagree if the basic choice is either to make 11th or Sherman bus free along this section. When I bike on Sherman I get cut off routinely by the traffic that is shifting over to adjust to the right and left turn lanes. Because of its constantly changing number of lanes, it simply is not as safe for bikers as 11th would be with no buses.

    • Agree! Sherman is a very pleasant street to ride on even without the bike lane.

  • I definitely agree with the OP. I live (and bike) on this section of 11th and the last thing we need is more buses coming through. It’s already hazardous and its not as if 11th street is a wide road. Sherman is two lanes, has not cycle lanes, and is a more direct through-fare from Downtown to GA Ave/Petworth metro and beyond. Note that all of the supposed benefits of this move could be met by moving both bus lanes to Sherman.

  • Really, Metro? This does not seem like a complicated decision. Bikers and buses do not mix well. Bikers don’t like having their lanes blocked by buses and the bus drivers fear hitting a bike they do not see. There is no room for bike lanes on Sherman but there is on 11th, so just let the bikers have a safer ride on 11th and move both bus lines to Sherman.

    • You mean protected cycle track right? 11th has pretty decent bike lanes. I no longer live off 11th, but I used to commute down 11th everyday, as non-protected bike lanes go 11th is one of the better sections in the city.

  • This wouldn’t be an issue if DDOT provided good bike infrastructure in this part of Columbia Heights. We should demand a real separated cycletrack.

    • +1. As both a cyclist and a driver, I’m a big fan of separated cycletracks. When I’m on my bike, I’m less worried about cars. When I’m in my car, the tracks (like on 15th) increase visibility and I know exactly where the cyclists will be.

  • It should be noted that you can provide feedback on the “Contact Metrobus” link above by answering a short survey on the potential options.

  • Their graph breaking down ridership by line by day of the week is interesting. Ridership on the 63 is very low, but not zero, on Saturday and Sunday. Mostly interesting since it only runs on weekdays.

  • Thanks OP for alerting us of this! I filled out the survey and hope this bus switch to 11th doesn’t go through, it would be negative for commuters of all kinds AND would cost the city money to change…ridiculous proposal.

  • Egad

    If the bus routes get switched to Sherman, I am selling my house. Bus riders already use my porch and yard as a bus depot while waiting for the 63 during rush hour. I can’t even imagine how bad it would be if all bus lines are switched to Sherman all days of the week. It’s too much.

  • I think this is a great idea on the part of WAMATA. As much as I appreciate a bike friendly city, bikers on 11th really don’t follow the rules. Take the intersection at 11th and Fairmont for example. They rarely stop at the stop sign as they should. I’ve been clipped several times crossing the street by bikers who don’t stop at the sign.

    • Maybe I’m dense, but how would moving more buses to 11th street induce cyclists to better follow signs/laws? In actuality, it’d probably become more dangerous for pedestrians, not only due to increased traffic, but not cyclists will be swerving to avoid buses and perhaps not see pedestrians as well.

      I’m sorry some jerks have hit you, but I don’t see the logic here at all.

      • “now” not “not”

        • Because with more congestion, bikers may actually begin to follow signs in order to avoid accidents/collisions. Just a thought.

          • gotryit

            Do you ever bike? I don’t think it’ll work out that way.

            That also doesn’t work with cars. I think downtown congestion creates more law breaking. Hell, I’ve seen someone going north on 15th st cut around traffic in the left lane waiting to turn left, by passing them in the _oncoming traffic lanes_ and then merging right in front of the line to continue straight… They did it again on the next block.

          • If everyone does it then it’s an infrastructure problem, not a “biker” problem. Humans naturally are going to do what makes them feel more safe. As you can see in areas that have proper infrastructure 15th st, l st, m st etc. people follow the rules and wait for lights. Adding more hazards isn’t going to make people behave how you want to them, quite the opposite.

    • So by that logic should we get rid of car traffic on 16th street? yesterday someone cut my friend off and caused an accident. We should definitely ban traffic on 16th street because there are some bad actors out there.

      • I’ve had two near-misses on Irving Street in the past month, both due to drivers failing to yield to me while I crossed in a crosswalk. Clearly this means we should ban all cars from Irving Street.

    • I’m surprised I had to scroll down this far to see someone talking about cyclists running lights. I’m sorry you’ve been clipped several times crossing the street, but I ride that route twice a day 3-4 times a week and have never seen anyone almost get hit by a bicycle. Pretty much everyone slows down enough to check there aren’t cars, gives right of way if necessary, and then rolls on through. What I’ve seen plenty of though is bicyclists almost getting hit by cars. But I’ve never seen bicycle close calls.

      • And I’ve never seen a biker give a pedestrian or a bus the right of way, just like you’ve never seen someone almost get hit. Doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Here’s another pedestrian data point: I rarely get clipped by bikes when I’m walking because they blow through intersections when I’m in the crosswalk so often that I’ve become hyper-aware and wait until they pass rather than risk it.

  • I agree that running both the 63 and 64 bus lines on 11th in that section doesn’t seem like a good idea. I also don’t like the alternative proposal by the OP of moving both bus lines to Sherman in that section…as this would negatively affect my preferred bike commute. But, at the end of the day, if it turns out to be the best solution for the community, I will deal with it and change my route if need be!

  • Older citizens vs bike riders
    I would hate to have the 64 run on Sherman. I use the 64 to run errands in Columbia Heights and moving it to Sherman would make walking with bags makes more stressful. Most of the people at the bus stops between Irving and Park Road also have store bags with them (during work hours) – so I imagine walking to Sherman is out of the question. It would make me lazy and take the H8 to Georgia and NH.

    • This argument is a straw man if I ever saw one. There are basically no shops on 11th St itself so I assume you are shopping in CH itself. The block between 11th and Sherman is one of the shortest in the city (348 feet on Irving). In fact, on Irving Google maps calculates the distance between 14th St and both 11th Street and Sherman as being the same: 0.3 miles. So, if an older citizen is already walking to 11th St rather than taking an H bus, their behavior will not be dramatically affected by moving the 64 to Sherman.

      • I go up and down 11th several times a day, using two forms of transportation, biking and bussing. I think both work very well on 11th. The busses are generally really respectful on that strip, and I don’t think having them come every 8 minutes instead of every 16 is going to make a real difference, except for to those who won’t have to wait long. It would be a huge inconvenience to me to have to walk all the way to 9th, as I have way more final destinations to the west than to the east.

      • Thank your for the facts that make the argument to keep the 64 on 11th St even stronger. If using your logic – why would moving the 63 to 11th make a difference to bikers? They would feel the difference less since they are on a bike. 348 feet would affect many people and I imagine the stores on 14th St know this and would not like WMATA to make it less convenient for their customers. Again you just made the perfect argument for the box store to pressure WMATA to keep the line on 11th St.

        • Zandunga, there are already bike lanes on 11th St. and none on Sherman. Bikers are safer on 11th as a result. Bike lanes cannot be easily added to Sherman because of a lack of space. Thus, bikers either get 1) bike lanes on 11th without buses or 2) more buses blocking their bike lanes on 11th St but no bike lanes on Sherman. Bikers are worse off as the OP stated.

          For bus riders, there is a minimal difference in the experience going down Sherman and 11th. If anything, the bus is more routinely on time going down Sherman, so this is a benefit for bus riders for planning purposes. By foot, the distance between the two streets is less than two minutes for someone walking at a leisurely pace. If this added distance is too much for you or anyone else, you weren’t going to be walking to 11th St. to catch the 64 in the first place. Thus, businesses on 14th St (which are not the only businesses in the city btw) are functionally unaffected. Overall, there is no major loss to bus riders, meaning the community as a whole is better off if the 64 goes down Sherman.

          • Having volunteered at the Columbia Heights Development Corporation when they were marketing DC USA to possible stores, the 64 was included on convenience to public transportation while the 60/63 were not.
            I’m not a bike rider nor a car driver – so I can’t give an opinion on where bike lanes are. I do have 4 separate physical problems with my legs that would make walking 2 minutes more is a big problem. I have to sit at Giant until the 64 bus is 8 minutes away. I want to walk to get some exercise but the distance between 11th St and Sherman Ave would be impossible without taking a break. I know the limitations my body has. I know that I would have loved to have gone to Columbia Heights today but could not physically do so. The people at the 11th and Park Road bus stop are very friendly and often tell me how exhausted they are when they get there.

            So the option the OP made to move the bus line to Sherman is ridiculous. They want to move the bus line to benefit the strong and hurt the weak. Unfortunately I can’t go to the Town Hall tonight, but I will keep tabs on this matter to make sure the 64 stays on 11 St.

    • Yes! I use the 64 to go to 11th Street and shopping in CH. Having it on Sherman (even if only a block over) will make it much harder to carry bags..etc. And, yes, a majority of folks have shopping bags and carts when I get on the bus at Park Road

      I am neither a biker or a driver… mainly a pedestrian/transit rider and having the 64 go down Sherman would make the it less useful.

      • I am plenty familiar with the needs of people with disabilities from caring for those in my own family who cannot live (let alone shop) on their own. It goes without saying that people with disabilities also live on Sherman and would be negatively affected by the current proposal to move the 63 to 11th, so it’s really hard to say that the OP’s proposal hurts the weak any more than WMATA’s. Again, it is worth noting that the H buses are designed to connect with the 63 & 64 to aid those shopping in CH with serious physical impairments. Thus, the OP’s suggestion still makes more sense to me.

  • This seems like a reasonable proposal. Sherman comes to a crawl for traffic when there’s a bus because it’s virtually impossible for the bus to get out of the way of the cars behind. 11th is designed to move at more or less a stop-and-go pace, which is ideal for the frequent bus stops.

    I also both live and ride a bike in this area. This is not a big issue.

  • I ride both pretty frequently and I’m not sure where the info comes from, but Sherman turns into a mess of traffic far more often than the 64 does. I sat in on the early planning meetings they had with riders and this fact was expressed over and over by those that ride both the 63 and 64. Moving everything over to Sherman would be awful.

  • Thanks OP! Filled out the survey. I commute down 11th and am subject to enough car terror in the city without more buses in my bike artery!

  • This actually changes it so that the buses only run on the sections of 11th in Columbia Heights that have bike lanes. It will be better for people biking along the stretch of 11th between Florida and Vermont because that section of road is narrow and does not have bike lanes. It will probably be annoying for the people that are used to having stops along 11th by W, V, U, T and S streets that now have to go further over to Sherman or Vermont to catch the bus.

  • I wonder if part of the solution is to actually time the lights on 11th better. Part of the “stop and go” problem on 11th is the light-timing… that and maybe eliminating a stop. All that said, as someone who loves biking on Sherman and also rides the 63 several times a week, I’d be more of a fan of moving the buses to Sherman rather than 11th.

  • I don’t have strong feelings about Sherman vs. 11th, although it does seem like 11th would make for a quicker ride since auto traffic on Sherman tends to back up quite often.

    I *do* strongly support shifting the 63 to Farragut–that makes so much sense, because as others have noted there currently is no way to travel from Petworth/Brightwood to the west side of downtown without some kind of transfer. I also support the increased frequency of service on the 63.

    The one proposed change I am not supportive of is combining the 63/64 routes south of Petworth. This is because a) it would keep the route running to Federal Triangle, rather than to Farragut, and b) it would adversely impact service north of Petworth, where buses would only come half as frequently.

  • I bike down 11th and really hope we don’t get more buses. Metrobus’s own studies show Sherman is faster than 11th so I agree with OP – move the 64 to Sherman!

  • I routinely bike with my family up to the Coupe or Meridian Pint up 11th. With our kids the bike lanes on 11th St are far preferable to any other street in CH. It would be great if all the buses moved to Sherman to make the ride even safer.

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