“We urge the Mayor and the Council to act expeditiously to restore the protected bike lanes to the redesign of Connecticut Avenue.”

From SaferConnAveDC:

“Two and a half years ago (12/15/2021), Mayor Bowser announced that she was moving forward with Concept C, a plan to reshape the footprint of Connecticut Avenue in Ward 3 by removing the reversible lane, lowering speed limits, and adding bike and bus and pedestrian friendly design changes to the streetscape: “After considering several options, it was clear that this design best meets the needs of our city and moves us closer to a greener DC, a safer DC, and a DC that is less reliant on cars.”

The redesign received near-unanimous support from all the ANCs, across three different terms. And yet, last week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced that they were removing bike lanes from the plan without seeking community input, running counter to the notion of community engagement that DDOT prides itself on.

This is a key opportunity to transform a corridor and help the city reach its climate goals by reducing the number of trips made by car. Additionally, numerous studies have shown that bike lanes do not negatively affect businesses, as people who use bicycles are more likely to frequent local stores. Adding bicycle lanes to Connecticut Avenue would also help improve safety along the corridor.

We urge the Mayor and the Council to act expeditiously to restore the protected bike lanes to the redesign of Connecticut Avenue.  If you agree and would like to see the city move forward with the bike lane plan, please join us in signing this petition hosted by WABA here.

Some additional background on the genesis of this project and the consequences of the recent decision:

This decision to select Concept C was the culmination of years of engaged community and city leadership meetings on this topic, beginning with moveDC in 2014 and updated in 2021 that identified Conn Ave in Ward 3 as a “Bike Priority Corridor” and with resolutions passed by local ANC’s about the purpose of the DDOT study in March of 2018 (ANC 3F), May of 2018 (ANC 3C), and October of 2018 (ANC 3/4G).  Each of these ANC letters stressed the importance of ditching the reversible lane and including some multi-modal study into bike lane feasibility. This was covered well in local press by GGW, WAMU, and Forest Hills Connection.

Subsequently, DDOT completed their Environmental Data Inventory in March 2020 and Existing Conditions Report in June 2020. The completion of these items allowed the project to move forward with extensive community engagement, with DDOT formally meeting with ANCs, local groups, and other interested parties over the course of 2020-2022 in over 50 different engagements, including a Citizen Advisory Committee spin-up for this project in particular. Then 2023 happened and everything went dark.

In early 2023, DDOT provided an update to ANC 3F where they announced that design of the bike lanes was being looked at again for a potential bi-directional path (rather than a lane on each side) or potentially raising the bike lane from street level to sidewalk level. These design proposals and changes were circulated with the Mayor’s office and the project stalled.

Now, finally, last week at the DDOT Budget Oversight hearing, the community hears the update. The bike lanes are out, and the new plan is to put in 24/7 parking on both sides of Conn Ave instead. This is a set of changes that will result in Conn Ave being a permanent 4-lane street, but without supporting any multi-modal alternatives to motorist traffic whatsoever. That means this plan is, relative to the status quo:

Adverse for cyclists who will have to ride in the current middle lane during rush hour traffic or will force those with lower risk appetite to use the sidewalks instead.

Adverse for pedestrians due to more crowding on the sidewalks from those cyclists above, but also increasing the amount of line of sight limitations during peak hours from parked motor vehicles blocking it at intersections.

Adverse for bus users as those buses will no longer be able to use the 3rd lane and motor vehicle traffic congestion will increase.

Adverse for motorists as no multi-modal alternative means that people who drive today are likely to continue doing so, and some people who don’t drive today may opt to switch to driving given safety/efficiency reductions for bike/bus.

A benefit for people who want to park their motor vehicles during rush hour.”

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