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Community supports bike lanes around H Street

DC transportation officials would like to help cyclists avoid the streetcar tracks, heavy car traffic, and pedestrians along H Street NE. Yesterday, the transportation committees of both Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) along H Street supported a plan to let cyclists ride in both directions on G and I Streets, while keeping car traffic one-way.

2-way Montreal bike traffic on a 1-way street for cars. Photo by Joe McCann.

G & I Streets NE are both one-way for cars and bicycles for their whole length from 2nd Street NE to their eastern ends, at Maryland and Florida Avenues in between 13th and 14th Streets. Each are 30 feet wide along most of their length, with a few 35-foot-wide blocks at the west ends. Even for the narrower sections, the current travel lane is 16 feet wide versus a typical 9-foot travel lane.

Bicycle planners from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) created 4 options. All add painted sharrows in the primary direction of travel (west on I, and east on G). They differed on what to do about traffic in the opposite directon.

  1. Make no further changes and keep bicycle travel only one-way
  2. Maintain parallel parking on both sides of the street and add a contraflow bike lane on either side of the parked cars, depending on the road width
  3. Convert parking to diagonal, back-in along only one side of the street with none on the other side; add a contraflow bike lane on either side of the parked cars depending on the road width
  4. Allow 2-way traffic for both cars and bicycles.

The preferred option, 2. Drawing from DDOT.

The committees favored option 2, as did an informal audience poll. There are smaller sections similar to this option already in place on New Hampshire Avenue and R Street NE near the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Any of these options could be mixed within the corridor, such that the wider blocks use different layouts or G & I receive different treatments. DDOT bike planner Mike Goodno presented one such hybrid option, "3A," which combined portions of options 2 & 3. This would eliminate only 7 parking spots, and was the second choice of the committees and in an audience poll.

Option 3A drawing by DDOT.

Each of the affected ANCs will take up this issue at their next full commission meetings, and DDOT will continue to refine these options and solicit community feedback. Ideally, DDOT will be able to install this new bicycle infrastructure sometime later this Summer or early Fall.

Disclosure: I am a commissioner for ANC 6C, but not a member of its transportation committee. I did not participate in the audience or committee votes.

Tony Goodman is an ANC Commissioner for 6C06 in Near Northeast/NoMA and member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Construction Project Manager with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and has lived in Washington, DC since 2002. 


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Would be interesting to see if more cyclists prefer to ride in the contraflow lane, because its protected, vs going the " ight" way with only a sharrow.

by JJJJ on Jun 18, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

Awesome, glad to see DDOT present ideas to the community and glad to see community leaders recognizing this is needed!

by MLD on Jun 18, 2013 1:00 pm • linkreport

we cyclists WILL prefer the contraflow lanes. Because the only way across the tracks between E and K Street is via the crowded and steep H Street bridge, many people head downtown from the H St. Corridor via I and K Streets. Many of us are currently using I street in the wrong direction, and would welcome a contraflow lane.

by Tom A. on Jun 18, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

Bike lanes on I street? Absolutely impossible. There's way too many churches on that road. Is DC becoming Anti-Church with these bike lanes?

Let's hope this sort of sentiment doesn't come up with these lanes as it did with M-Street.

by UrbanEngineer on Jun 18, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

Tony-I may be incorrect, but I don't think 9' travel lanes are typical or even exist at all in DC. We talked about this yesterday in the comments Re: 15th St. cycle track.

by thump on Jun 18, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

I too like the preferred option. A 9' car travel lane would be plenty for the volume of car traffic on G & I and help naturally calm speed.

As noted, still missing would be options for getting downtown from G&I and other nearby streets. H, K, L, and M could also use attention, especially West of First St. NE where L&M are both one way, funneling all traffic onto H or K.

by Boris on Jun 18, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

As thump mentioned, we discussed recently the lane width issue. As far as I know, the absolute minimum found in the US is 9.5 feet in Philly SF, and Boston, and doing so requires getting some sort of waiver or what-not from the road-width-regulation-people. For most of Philly, its always been that way, while Boston and Sf only recently went below 10 feet to 9.5 when reconstructing roads to add bike lanes. The only place youll find smaller is in non-roads, ie, alleys, or certain historical areas (that one city in Florida with tiny streets...forget which one, but its from Spanish design).

11 is actually the national standard, and most cities refuse to go below it.

by JJJJ on Jun 18, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

@JJJJ - FHWA standards allow 9-12' per lane for local urban roads. Granted engineering practice is to push for the 12' lane, but 9' is permitted.

As a side note, I find it "funny" that the same width (12') is somehow appropriate for a local road as it is for a freeway.

by 7r3y3r on Jun 18, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

9' lanes are legal and they'd be a welcome sight on neighborhood roads. I'm happy to see DDOT work on multiple scenarios here, and I will continue to request the same on West Virginia Ave. NE, a signed bike route that provides much needed north-south access in NE - I'd love to see the through-lanes there dropped down to 10', the minimum for a collector road.

Because of neighbors' concerns over the loss of parking along WVA, DDOT has been hesitant about coming back with updated plans that incorporate a mix of sharrows and bike lanes, even though a mix of cycling infrastructure would mean no loss of parking. Concerns from staff include traffic volumes and high speeds - I'd argue that traffic calming on this stretch is exactly what we need, and the set-up currently in place does nothing but foster high speeds and dangerous driving habits.

by Jaime Fearer on Jun 18, 2013 3:55 pm • linkreport

makes sense to look at diverting bike lanes to very nearby less traveled roads -- not to mention averting the horrid streetcar tracks. G and I Sts are perfect. Both dead end at 2nd and allow one to bypass the Humpback Bridge to reach Union Station or N Cap. Neither of these streets are wide enough for 2 lanes of traffic but could easily accomodate contraflow bike lanes plus a single lane for cars.

by anon_1 on Jun 18, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

@anon_1 - I think you mean that neither of the streets are wide enough for 2 lanes of traffic AND 2 lanes of parking because the streets could handle 2 lanes for traffic and 1 for parking. At 30' the streets can handle up to 3 lanes for automobile use. The issue is how to allocate that 30'.

by 7r3y3r on Jun 18, 2013 5:07 pm • linkreport

"Is DC becoming Anti-Church with these bike lanes?"

Such stuff as dreams are made on

by NE John on Jun 18, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

At least parking is maintained. As a bike commuter, car owner, and G St resident. I don't see what is wrong with the current set up. If it's not broke why fix it? I guess if you work for DOT and need projects to fill your day or have extra money in the road paint budget you need to burn...

I have two eyes, awareness of my surroundings, and decent motor skills and currently ride both directions on G St and sometimes slalom for the hell of it (with one hand holding groceries). There is a stop sign on every corner and cars maybe top out at 15 MPH. It is not at all harrowing

It is stuff like this that make people think there is a war on cars. Just let it go. Not everything needs to be a bike lane

by Dave B on Jun 18, 2013 11:41 pm • linkreport

@Dave B
If it's not broke why fix it?

You describe a desire to go both ways on G and I streets and then say that you just do it. This is illegal currently. The entire point of the project is to make the behavior you like (2-way riding on G and I) legal, safe, and predictable for all users.

by MLD on Jun 19, 2013 8:13 am • linkreport

How many voted in that informal poll at the ANC meeting?

I bet not many G Street residents even know about these proposals or the meeting.

Did any fliers go out? Did anyone go door to door and ask what people thought? G and I Streets aren't H Street.

by G Street Resident on Jun 19, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

G Street Resident,

I hand-delivered flyers to every residence on G St. in ANC 6C04 (2nd to 5th NE), as well as to houses just off G on the side streets.

by 20002ist on Jun 19, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

I would have preferred a simpler single buffered bike lane flowing with traffic on each street, but this is a nice improvement over the first 4 option designs.

I'm concerned about contraflow visibility at intersections though and would prefer green paint. Current weekend traffic circulation is fast and there's no stop sign enforcement, so more design elements that slow people down either by visibility or confusion is a good thing. I hate to say it, but I'm also curious how often people will still open passenger doors on oncoming cyclists despite the contraflow lane. My guess is that it will be bafflingly frequent.

by Michael on Jun 19, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

G Street Resident,

I'm on I Street and couldn't attend the meeting. I emailed DDOT and our ANC member after the initial 4 option announcement instead.


Thanks for handing out flyers! Come on over to I Street sometime.

by Michael on Jun 19, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

If anyone wants to see how Option 2 works in practice, the 200 block of R Street NE, a block from the Metropolitan Branch Trail, has what Option 2 proposes, a counterflow bike lane between a parking lane and the curb.

I ride this lane almost every morning on my way to work and feel that this is a vastly safer and better way to do contraflow than the Montreal lane illustrated; the latter forces bikes to salmon against moving traffic on one side and directly into cars that are in the process of entering or leaving parking spaces.

The R Street lane has the "door zone" marked (this is also illustrated on the Option 2 diagram), and I've had no problems with doors.

by A Streeter on Jun 19, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

that's right. As a practical matter, even if there is currently enough space for 2 car lanes plus parking on both N/S sides of street the cars mostly occupy a single lane. There's easily room to add a contra cycling lane to that space with minimal disruption to current traffic patterns. The only drawback is diverting cyclists who may prefer to cross 2nd St on H St bridge rather than divert

by anon_1 on Jun 20, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

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