Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Why DDOT chose no cycletrack for one block of M Street

If a church needs 3 of 4 lanes on a street for parking on Sundays, what's better: shrink down a planned cycletrack to a basic painted bike lane, or allow parking in the cycletrack some of the time?


No Parking signs at Metropolitan AME. Photo from Google Maps.

The long-awaited and much-delayed east-west protected bike lane, or "cycletrack," will finally go in on M Street, NW in October, but without protection for cyclists on one block. Many residents have been quite angry at the sudden change.

I spoke to Sam Zimbabwe, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Associate Director for Policy, Planning, and Sustainability (which includes the bicycle program). He provided some more details on why he and his group made the decision they did.

There isn't room to preserve all of the Sunday on-street parking on the block and add a cycletrack. Therefore, one of four things would have to happen:

  1. The block loses a significant amount of parking and flexibility, which particularly affects the church.
  2. People can park in the cycletrack on Sundays and during midday funerals.
  3. The cycletrack becomes just a classic painted bike lane.
  4. DDOT moves the tree boxes and completely rebuilds the north side sidewalks to create a sidewalk-level bike lane at much larger cost.

Zimbabwe and his team chose #3. If #1 were indeed politically infeasible, the question remains whether they were right to choose #3 over #2, or not.

The street today

M Street, NW between 15th and 16th has 90 feet from building to building, with 40 feet between curbs. Today, the road striping divides it into four 10-foot lanes. At rush hour, all four are ostensibly regular travel lanes, while parking is allowed at other times.


Current M Street cross-section. All diagrams by the author with StreetMix.

Metropolitan AME rents spaces in nearby garages on Sundays, but still uses a lot of on-street space for parking. The north side allows parallel parking, and the south side becomes diagonal parking on Sundays until 2 pm.


Current Sunday cross-section. (StreetMix doesn't have a module for diagonal parking, so this shows perpendicular parking. The actual parking is back-in head-out diagonal parking.)

On weekdays, the church sometimes has funerals where people double park in front of the church, and events where large tour buses full of people arrive. Buses need to let off on the north side of the street. If this doesn't happen against the curb, it would block a travel lane.

Can a cycletrack fit?

A cycletrack is at least 8 feet wide, according to Zimbabwe5 feet for the bike lane and a 3-foot buffer. On other blocks of M Street that have a similar width, DDOT will remove the parking on the south side (right side of these diagrams) and put full-time parking on the north (left) side, adjacent to the cycletrack. (At the corners, there will instead be mixing zones.)


Standard cross-section of 40-foot parts of M Street with cycletrack.

If this block used the same design, then the church would not be able to have diagonal parking on Sundays, or much on-street parking at all for weekday funerals.

People could park in the cycletrack

How can the parking remain? In May, bicycle planners showed some concept designs, like one that had perpendicular parking in the cycletrack on Sundays. Or, DDOT could put the parking on the south side of the street, which has the advantage of being in front of the church rather than across the street, and allow parallel parking in the cycletrack.


Potential design with perpendicular parking in the cycletrack. Image from DDOT.

Zimbabwe said he decided against this option because it could set a precedent of parking in cycletracks. Already, many people park in L Street's cycletrack, especially delivery trucks. Other institutions may similarly ask to use cycletracks for parking at certain days and times, maybe even during special weekday events.

Philadelphia lets people park in bike lanes on Sundays, also to accommodate churches. But as that link explains, that practice has then spread to Saturdays for weddings and other times.

Or, give the cycletrack a gap

The bicycle planners have chosen to give this one block a painted bike lane instead of a cycletrack. That's certainly a significant step down from the project's promise to construct a continuous cycletrack from Thomas Circle to Pennsylvania Avenue.


Proposed cross-section for this block of M, normally (top) and Sunday until 2 pm (bottom).

Zimbabwe pointed out that this is one (fairly short) block on a cycletrack that will be 1.4 miles long. Right now, there is no bike lane at all, and even with this change, the road will have a bicycle facility and fewer travel lanes for the project's whole length. He believes this is still a big step forward with just a small compromise.

However, just as he worried about the precedent of parking in the cycletrack, advocates worry that excusing one block from the cycletrack also sets a precedent. Shane Farthing of WABA told Martin Di Caro, "I'm concerned that if we start allowing individual private, adjacent landowners to essentially opt out of public transportation projects, we are starting to allow private convenience to trump public safety."

Another former DDOT official agreed with this concern. The agency will be planning other cycletracks, bike lanes, bus lanes, streetcars, and other transportation projects across the city. Some of those will pass by churches and other community institutions. This experience could well encourage other such organizations to try to reduce or eliminate any changes to their own blocks.

What about a sidewalk-level cycletrack?

Darren Buck suggested raising the cycletrack to sidewalk height and placing it between the parked cars and the sidewalk:


Photo by bikepedantic on Twitter.

Many other cities around the world do this. Here is one in Vancouver:


Photo by unk's dump truck on Flickr.

A painted bike lane is usually 5 feet wide. That puts cyclists in the door zone for cars, which isn't so good. Just moving a 5-foot bike lane to the other side of parked cars still leaves it in the door zone, plus if someone opens a door, the cyclist can't even ride away from the cars since the curb is there. That's why DDOT adds a 3-foot buffer between parking and its cycletracks.

But if the bike lane can be at sidewalk height, people might still be riding in the door zone, but that's no worse than on the painted bike lane. Here, if a door is in the way, the cyclist can ride away from traffic, toward the pedestrians, instead.

However, Zimbabwe said, this would be much more expensive, since DDOT would have to reconstruct the sidewalks and curbs along the north side of M. The curb cuts to garages would need changes, too, to stay at sidewalk height farther into the roadway before ramping down.

Plus, there would still be other obstacles on the sidewalk side of the bike lane, especially the tree boxes, but also parking meters and signs. That means cyclists wouldn't always have room to go around open car doors and other obstacles.

An even better approach would be to move the tree boxes and parking meters toward the current roadway, and build the bike lane on the sidewalk side of the trees and meters and other things. That means replacing the trees, but there aren't any really large trees on this block.

The big obstacle is cost. This solution would cost about $1 million, compared to a cost of $210,000 for the entire bike lane project, Zimbabwe said. And there's certainly no way to build that this year.

What's the right call?

Certainly DDOT could also have pushed to remove parking instead. Zimbabwe explained that the church was initially entirely opposed to any sort of bike lane, and by engaging with church leaders and members over the last few months, that position has softened. Plus, any bike lane is today just an abstract notion; when a real bike lane is in the ground, Zimbabwe thinks all parties may think a little differently about the issue.

Meanwhile, DDOT plans to study whether the missing block deters cyclists who might otherwise use M Street, and look at whether more people ride on the sidewalk on this block than elsewhere. Zimbabwe and his team made clear to the church that if this design doesn't work, they may make changes, even if that means less parking.

If we assume that less parking were't an option for now, Zimbabwe and his team picked the bad precedent of having only a painted bike lane for one block in the middle of a cycletrack, instead of the bad precedent of allowing Sunday parking in the cycletrack.

Maybe that's the right call, or maybe not. Many commenters on our earlier post disagreed, like Darren Buck. Regardless of DDOT's decision, this seems like a bigger policy question for future cycletracks as well. It would be good for the bicycle planners to engage with cyclists to discuss this question.

What do you think? Make a choice on the poll below, then give your detailed thoughts in the comments.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

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DC already has the precedent of allowing parking in bike lanes during Sunday Church hours, so I voted accordingly against changing this block to bike lane. This gap sets a new precedent of deliberate lobbying against a public transportation project for the benefit of a church which had been allowed the privilege of using public space for their activities for many years. I object to it as much on first amendment grounds as anything. The way I bicycle, I will have no problem navigating this one block, and I think that will be the case for most people, but the idea of giving a church special consideration that would not be afforded to a business, or other institution is very troubling. Just replace AME Church with "satanic temple" and see if DDOT makes the same accommodation.

by Staying Anon on Aug 19, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

I do think this is a bad call by DDOT overall, but I think if the alternative was just letting the church have free reign of the cycletrack at almost any time (not just Sunday services) then DDOT went with an OK option. I do think Zimbabwe is right in that this might open the door for future changes. Once people see that this isn't the end of the world, it might be easier to make more changes.

Also, the link with the text "without protection for cyclists" goes to a links post from 2009.

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

I don't think the city would even blink if Sunday auto traffic required taking a back travel lane. Both alternatives 2 and 3 are passive starting positions for any kind of discussion on the issue, already gravely compromised. The city's been planning and promising a fully separated, inviolable cycletrack, and bike advocates should push for exactly that.

by David R. on Aug 19, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

Option 5: Since the cycletrack is ACROSS THE STREET from the church (thus not interfering with elderly drop offs or parking right in front), how about just having the public transportation facility that is usable to all residents at any time of the day?

I agree, DDOT started from a fallback position that is now degraded. Poor.

by William on Aug 19, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

You can lay out all the diagrams and logic you want, but it does not address the fact that this business is a non-taxpaying entity and should have little to no influence on how the taxpaying citizens of DC want their roads used.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

I think it's fair to keep things in perspective: the compromise for this one block is fairly meh, but it's only one block out of several dozen. Cyclists are getting 90%+ of what they want with regards to this bike lane. In most cases, people would consider that a significant victory.

by Potowmack on Aug 19, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

Here is another option. Focus on good transportation for actual residents of DC and not interlopers from Maryland who drive in and park for two hours, then go home. DC residents are using the bike lanes.

by DAJ on Aug 19, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

Tough choice, but force among those two I'm going with:

"Allowing parking Sundays and for funerals is less bad; a gap sets a worse precedent"

My basis... a gap is active 7 days/week, whereas parking permissions are 1 day/week. I agree with concerns about sparking additional parking-in-cycletrack problems, but I'm an idealist in the "resolve it through enforcement" approach of ensuring it's properly signed, then actively writing tickets for violations. But I'll admit that's not quite happening even now.

One other caveat, however, is that I do think the bike lane is a more conventional design, whereas parking in the cycletrack -- while an issue only 1 day/week -- could complicate the design and potentially lead to unsafe behavior for that 1 day. I haven't given thought to how it'd look... I'm definitely not a fan at all of the concept for it shown above, though... so if I were to give a potential design more thought & find nothing suitable I might be swayed to change my vote: something that's less ideal but functional 7 days, instead of something that's more ideal 6 days but dangerous 1 day.

by Bossi on Aug 19, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

M st -- as well as L st downtown -- is so empty on weekend and weekend mornings I don't think there will be much of an issue.

Proper enforcement is going to be far more useful than the design here.

by charlie on Aug 19, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

On a very basic level it just doesn't make sense that religious people are permitted to park illegally. This practice really should stop, and DDOT should have the guts to stand up and do the right thing. Is anyone planning to organize a protest? There was mention in comments earlier about car2go or bike blockades of the illegal spaces.

by Anon2 on Aug 19, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

This is a false dichotomy! DDOT is obligated to separate church and state — with a continuous, protected bike lane.

by Sally J on Aug 19, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

I voted with the majority (so far) that parking in the bike lane sets a more dangerous precedent.

As we have seen, once that parking option is instituted, it will be more difficult to remove, and is more likely to expand.

And it sends the signal that parking in the bike lane is "OK" so long as no cyclists happen to be using it.

The slippery slope is that more people will see unused bike lanes and lobby to be able to park there -- at best one day a week, at worst, all the time.

That creates a problem because allowing parking in the lane will only perpetuate its low usage -- who wants to use a bike lane where they constantly have to filter in and out of traffic because vehicles are parked in it?

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

For #1 - how many parking spaces would be lost here? (net change)

by JDAntos on Aug 19, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

Mayor Gray's bike mode share targets are only so much BS (I'm convinced this decision came straight from him or his office). He doesn't have the stones to take the political heat to create the dedicated bike infrastructure needed to get "concerned but interested" cyclists out there. This facility will not be for those "8 to 80". It will not increase mode share. If parents are riding w/ their kids, they'll take the sidewalk.
I'm fairly comfortable mixing with traffic for a block but there are plenty who are not.

by thump on Aug 19, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

This is insane - kowtowing to people with a make-believe god and altering commerce for that craziness

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

I'm fairly comfortable mixing with traffic for a block but there are plenty who are not.

I think David should change the wording of the article because it is providing misinformation about the existing proposal.

The article says that the existing proposal provides a cycletrack "without protection for cyclists on one block", when, in fact, there would be protection for cyclists in the form of a "traditional" bike lane.

Even though the lane does not provide bollards, cyclists would not be required to "mix with traffic" unless they wanted to.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

I think it's fair to keep things in perspective: the compromise for this one block is fairly meh, but it's only one block out of several dozen. Cyclists are getting 90%+ of what they want with regards to this bike lane.

Ah. The Breezewood conundrum.

Cutting corners (however small) in public infrastructure projects tends to result in a significantly worse overall experience. It's a very slippery slope.

by andrew on Aug 19, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

A painted bike lane is not "protection." Protection is where there is a physical barrier of some kind (bollards, parked cars, etc.) separating cyclists from car traffic. A white line delineates some space for bikes but is not protection.

The "interested but concerned" potential or occasional bike riders feel far more comfortable riding when there is some physical protection like this. Here, DDOT decided to forego that element.

Zimbabwe used the term "protection" himself, BTW, to describe the difference between this block and the others.

by David Alpert on Aug 19, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

Like everyone else, I think #1 is the best option. Heck, I would even be fine with DDOT pitching in on renting parking garage space for them.

But this is the most interesting part "Meanwhile, DDOT plans to study whether the missing block deters cyclists who might otherwise use M Street, and look at whether more people ride on the sidewalk on this block than elsewhere. Zimbabwe and his team made clear to the church that if this design doesn't work, they may make changes, even if that means less parking."

So there you have it cyclists. The way to change this policy is to use the sidewalk on this block. And it has the added advantage of endangering church-goers.

by David C on Aug 19, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Some of the reasons do make slightly more sense than they did before. And Scoot does make a good point of how do you communicate that parking here on sundays may send the wrong message if it's not clearly communicated that it's an exception. Meaning its a tough choice in the poll options. My gut still says to tell DDOT to go back to the drawing board and remember that the lane closest to the curb doesn't mean that cars must always be parked there perpetuity.

It still gives legitimacy to the premise that parking is something that should not be touched at all which is silly. Moreover, on a street with 4 lanes (where 3 lanes are apparently *needed* for parking on the weekends) why take out the one lane dedicated for cyclists and not the ones dedicated for cars? There are 3 lanes for cars to use on L street yet people still make the decision to park in the bike lane. Why? Because it's seen as ok. And that's not going to change one block north either until DDOT and MPD start actually enforcing the laws they have on the books.

So, this compromise still barely qualifies when you consider how much further uphill real bicyle planning has to go even in DC and the "bike lobby" still has a lot of work to do.

by drumz on Aug 19, 2013 11:29 am • linkreport

Am I missing the option of leaving the cycletrack, and turning the parking lane into a travel lane and the 2 travel lanes into parking on Sundays?

by Mike on Aug 19, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

You guys all miss the big picture, and I refuse to install casket and bible thumper bumpers on my ride.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

Plus, it's all kind of silly if DDOT is explicitly acknowledging that they're fully ready to just say damn the parking and go full speed ahead on regular cycletrack.

If DDOT knows that the current situation isnt' that tenable then why keep pursuing it?

by drumz on Aug 19, 2013 11:33 am • linkreport

"I'm concerned that if we start allowing individual private, adjacent landowners to essentially opt out of public transportation projects, we are starting to allow private convenience to trump public safety."

This. IMHO, all of the debate about which option is safest for cyclists or how much of a compromise was needed is missing the big picture, so eloquently stated above.

by MetMet on Aug 19, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

This organization's website directs visitors to park in one of two commercial parking garages near their location. One is across the street, one is around the corner, neither is a full block from their doors. No mention is made of street parking.

I had occasion to pass this location at 8 AM Sunday morning. I observed a mix of diagonal and parallel parking, and two private security guards directing most visitors to the garages. One has to wonder how the organization itself manages demand for the highly desirable diagonal on-street same-side spots. Are they reserved for people who have difficulty walking half a block? Are high occupancy vehicles given priority? Is the use of this public property given to individuals as reward for service or financial contribution - essentially selling DC's parking spots to a select group?

In fact, if this block was configured to be nothing more than a parking lot for the half-day per week the organization normally operates it still wouldn't accommodate all the parking needs. The overflow garages would still be required. The difference between the two main alternatives actually at issue is not even 30 vehicles.

This is not about parking.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 11:47 am • linkreport

A painted bike lane is not "protection." Protection is where there is a physical barrier of some kind (bollards, parked cars, etc.)

The "interested but concerned" potential or occasional bike riders feel far more comfortable riding when there is some physical protection like this. Here, DDOT decided to forego that element.

Zimbabwe used the term "protection" himself, BTW, to describe the difference between this block and the others.

The word protection was used as a modifier to describe the type of bike lane.

A "concerned but interested potential or occasional bike rider" is probably unfamiliar with the nuance of bike lane terminology and would likely read "without protection on one block" to imply that there is no bike lane.

Indeed, someone has already read it that way. And could you blame them?

For the record, the current proposal would NOT require mixing in with traffic. It provides a bike lane. People should know this. Unfortunately, the article does not provide the most accurate language to describe the existing proposal.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

@Scoot
For the record, the current proposal would NOT require mixing in with traffic. It provides a bike lane. People should know this. Unfortunately, the article does not provide the most accurate language to describe the existing proposal.
1. The article clearly states in the first sentence that the options are cycletrack vs. bike lane.
2. You are rewording the article and then claiming that the article is wrong based on your rewording.

The article does not say ANYTHING about "mixing with traffic." You created that phrase. The article says:
The long-awaited and much-delayed east-west protected bike lane, or "cycletrack," will finally go in on M Street, NW in October, but without protection for cyclists on one block. Many residents have been quite angry at the sudden change.

This is correct - for the one block, there is no protection. No parked cars between cyclists and other lanes, and no bollards. A stripe of paint is not a "protected" lane.

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

@MLD

I think you should read the comments a bit more closely. I actually did not create that phrase.

User thump said "I'm fairly comfortable mixing with traffic for a block but there are plenty who are not".

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

Regardless of the option chosen by DDOT, the key (or one of the primary) elements in enforcement. I do not believe DDOT will do much at all to enforce the regulations concerning the bike lane.

As evidenced throughout the city, churchgoers can park wherever they choose, whenever they choose. City officials look the other way.

by Andy on Aug 19, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

Lack of protection is even more insidious. This plan gives the church license to block the bike lane during the week.
& hellip;Events where large tour buses full of people arrive. Buses need to let off on the north side of the street. If this doesn't happen against the curb, it would block a travel lane.
In other words, during the week, there will be tour busses parked in the bike lane. There'll be individual cars double-parked and idling there too. All those "concerned but interested riders"? They'll run into tour busses right in the middle of the lane. Cyclists will have to force their way into the weekday M St. crush and around the busses, a maneuver that's full of risk.

None of that would be a problem with a separated cycletrack. Which is why the church doesn't want a cycletrack.

by David R. on Aug 19, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Thump: I don't know for sure if this came from the Mayor's office, but I do know that I've rarely seen Zimbabwe take the point on bike-specific issues like a cycletrack.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

Fair enough, but you used that phrase to criticize the article, even though the article doesn't use it! The rest of my criticism stands - a bike lane is not "protected" space and the article is clear from sentence #1 that the alternative design has a bike lane and not nothing.

The terminology is set and fairly consistent across articles - "protection" means physical separation from traffic with some sort of barrier. "No protection" means it doesn't have this. Nobody in this city is calling all the bike lanes "protected" lanes, despite your desire to water-down the rhetoric here.

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

From the perspective of bike commuting downtown, option 2 seems much better than option 3. Option 2 doesn't create an impact during the times it's most difficult/dangerous to bike on M.

OTOH, option 2 is pretty much a permanent policy. With option 3, DDOT will observe whether it is working well and make changes if it's not, even if it impacts parking. Perhaps as DDOT sees that an unprotected lane is insufficient and as the Church sees that a bike lane doesn't mean the End of Days, they will put in protection.

by Falls Church on Aug 19, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

This is absolutely the fundamental issue:

"I'm concerned that if we start allowing individual private, adjacent landowners to essentially opt out of public transportation projects, we are starting to allow private convenience to trump public safety."

I'm a daily bike commuter and ride L Street inbound and M Street outbound, along with two colleagues. The L Street cycletrack is a gorgeous improvement to safety and aesthetics. I'm excited about the coming M Street improvements as it's currently pretty dangerous.

But private entities stamping their feet and forcing a change... That's not supposed to be the way we do things, is it?

DDOT, thanks for the cycling improvements so far. They've been significant. Here's hoping that this comes out right.

by Blaine Collison on Aug 19, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

Additional note on my curb-height lane stuff: There's a 1-foot+ strip of pavement on the existing sidewalk between existing treeboxes and utilities. If there's 5-feet avail for a reg bikelane, then that would allow up to 6 for a curbside/curb-height lane. This would allow a bicyclist to clear a fully-open car door and sidewalk-side clutter (only by 6" either side, but still doable)

So with all due respect to DDOT and Mr Zimbabwe, i do think a curb-height lane is a viable alternative that preserves everyone's interests, but for the cost. Given the obvious passions and stakes, perhaps finding funding in the longer term is a third option to be considered?

by darren on Aug 19, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Fair enough, but you used that phrase to criticize the article, even though the article doesn't use it!

Of course I did. I said that the phrase could be interpreted to imply that the design lacks a bike lane and thus requires cyclists to mix with traffic. It would seem to have been read that way by at least one person.

Nobody in this city is calling all the bike lanes "protected" lanes, despite your desire to water-down the rhetoric here.

And nobody in this city has described all bike lanes without bollards as being designed "without protection for cyclists". Because those lanes do indeed protect cyclists. They just do not provide as much protection as a physical barrier.

Perhaps it just comes down to how attuned an occasional or potential bike rider is to the nuance of bike lane terminology -- whether they would know the difference between a "protected lane" and "unprotected lane" and if not, whether they would be likely to interpret the term "without protection" as meaning without any protective feature, e.g., lines, painted stripes, etc.

While this blog is not required to define every term for the most lay audience, its writers (esp. David) obviously know the importance of rhetoric -- and it appears that a simple change could have made the article much clearer to people who are not that familiar with this issue.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

Scoot, if you can find an example of anyone credible - any state's DOT or a bike advocacy org or a road engineer group - calling a simple bike lane "protected" or referring to them as "giving protection" I would be surprised. Bike lanes do not protect cyclists. The phrasing "without protection for cyclists" is correct.

by David C on Aug 19, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

"So there you have it cyclists. The way to change this policy is to use the sidewalk on this block."

This. DDOT knows, I suspect, that lots of concerned but interested cyclists will ride on a sidewalk in preference to a bike lane that is "protected" only by white paint. I mean isn't that clear from current behavior on roads with "unprotected" bike lanes only? And there will be more of them on M Street, drawn by the cycle track on the other blocks. And when that happens, will DDOT call on MPD to do a massive enforcement drive against sidewalk cyclists - or will they say "oh well, we tried the bike lane, it didnt work, lets go back to our original design"?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 19, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

scoot

how about we call any road with a center stripe a "divided highway". Would that make sense to you?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 19, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

On a completely different note, I would like to see their plans for 21st - 23rd. The north side of M-Street on those blocks is a cluster from all the construction. It's hard to imagine a continuous buffered bike lane being able to be installed in October throughout that stretch.

by UrbanEngineer on Aug 19, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

how about we call any road with a center stripe a "divided highway". Would that make sense to you?

For one thing, the word in question is not "divided" but rather "protection".

Even so, the California Vehicle Code section 21651 states that a highway may be considered "divided" by double parallel lines or other markings (e.g. stripes) so long as the divider is at least two feet wide.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

@Scoot
Even so, the California Vehicle Code section 21651 states that a highway may be considered "divided" by double parallel lines or other markings (e.g. stripes) so long as the divider is at least two feet wide.

Similar to how the PA cycletrack is "protected" because it has a wide painted divider separating it from traffic (and bollards in some places but not all), while a regular bike lane is "not protected" because it just has a stripe and traffic is right next to you.

I don't think the issue is misinterpretation, it's that your definition of "mixing with traffic" differs from other people's. For some people, riding in a bike lane is "mixing with traffic" and that's the entire reason why having a separated, protected cycletrack is important to cyclists!

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

Folks, it doesn't matter what they do or what they call it unless the ideas start to matter.

Every bike lane in DC is unprotected, whether they exist by painted stripes, occasional flex posts, many flex posts, or even maybe someday rubber bump "Zebras", as long as drivers ignore their status and police fail to enforce it.

Often the police and other city services are the biggest violators. With that as a background, only curbs or high steel railings will provide genuine protection.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:15 pm • linkreport

or concealed carry

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

NE John, you think the drivers aren't already doing that?

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

there is a concealed carry gap!

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

"Even so, the California Vehicle Code section 21651 states that a highway may be considered "divided" by double parallel lines or other markings (e.g. stripes) so long as the divider is at least two feet wide."

what to the codes in DC, Va and Md say?

and will the bike lane on this block of M Street be seperated by a 2 foot diveder from the general travel lanes?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 19, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

But private entities stamping their feet and forcing a change... That's not supposed to be the way we do things, is it?

I think that's called "democracy." You win some, you lose some.

by Potowmack on Aug 19, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

How about a sign that says parking in the bike lanes ONLY Sunday mornings 8-12 pm?

by aaa on Aug 19, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

Churches should have to deal with the same parking reality that all other DC residents and visitors put up with Mon-Sat. The fact that they are allowed to double park, block traffic lanes, etc. is crazy. If I am going to a show at KC on a Sunday night I do not get special parking regulations and I am actually contributing to the tax base of this city. People that come in to DC to go to Church should follow the same regulations that I do.

by Mike on Aug 19, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

aaa: Probably just as effective as signs saying the speed limit is 35 or whatever. Plus, somehow DC has decided that Sunday morning parking enforcement is unconstitutional or something. (They certainly don't actually check if all those illegally parked cars were driven to worship services.)

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

Mike,

People who go to these ritual cult meetings in DC (most from outside of DC) are used to getting special treatment here. It is crazy, nutzo, that we let cults have special privileges. Not to mention giving these maniacs a pass on paying their share of taxes.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

DaveS-

At least in my neighborhood, all church-related parking enforcement is unconstitutional. The day of the week doesn't matter.

by Andy on Aug 19, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

NE John: *sigh* Hard as it can be to resist, attacking the church for being a church isn't really going to get us anywhere in this discussion. It could even make things worse.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

NE John-

All entities that meet the definition in that particular section of the tax code get a break on taxes. Churches have plenty of company.

by Andy on Aug 19, 2013 1:48 pm • linkreport

@Scoot-I said "mixing w/ traffic" b/c that's what happens when there is just a bike lane. I ride R every day, Q on the way home and despite the clear delineation of space, I have to mix it up w/ traffic.
Also, while the space for cyclists on L Street has been a nice addition, calling it "protected" is a joke. It's not protected (I'd say it's fair to call it "well delineated", but that's about it...there's nothing to keep an out of control MV out of the lane, or more regularly, a driver that just wants to create her own shortcut). It has plastic bollards spaced too far apart to keep drivers from bailing into them if traffic is backed up and they want to get in line to take a left. Around the mixing zones, the majority of bollards on the majority of blocks are gone, and have been for some time, casualties of imprecise driving. 16 and L has one(1) out of 8 or 9 bollard remaining. The end of block bollards were taken out a month or two after installation to predictable results and only returned MONTHS after the end of winter.
Bottom line, I don't trust DDOT to come through on bike facilities and when they do, I don't particularly trust them to maintain them. Also, I wouldn't take a young child onto either one at this point...and that's the measure to me of a quality facility.

by thump on Aug 19, 2013 1:48 pm • linkreport

Not voting. This is an unconstitutional municipal decision about a government project favoring a religion.

by Redline SOS on Aug 19, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

"This is insane - kowtowing to people with a make-believe god and altering commerce for that craziness "
-----

In other words, you're upset because a well-organized group has succeeded in promoting their own agenda -by using the same methods you use to promote yours.

Only this time, things didn't work out as you may have liked it.

One of the realities of city life - and adulthood for that matter - is realizing that you can't always have everything your way.

M Street has a cycle track for several blocks. A one-block gap to (gasp!) accommodate someone other than cyclists isn't the end of the world.

by ceefer66 on Aug 19, 2013 1:50 pm • linkreport

I don't think the issue is misinterpretation, it's that your definition of "mixing with traffic" differs from other people's. For some people, riding in a bike lane is "mixing with traffic" and that's the entire reason why having a separated, protected cycletrack is important to cyclists!

Perhaps it does. I would be interested to see a poll of how interested or concerned occasional or potential bike riders would define the term "mixing with traffic".

Given that drivers are generally prevented from entering bike lanes (at least legally), I would guess most people would agree with my interpretation, just as they might agree, for instance, that driving on a road with a solid yellow line is not ordinarily "mixing" with oncoming traffic in the other direction.

To me the original language as used in the article seems obfuscating, and I wish it could be changed to be less so. No problem if you disagree!

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

Andy: We're probably neighbors. The next block down my one-way street has a city-based suburban mega church with fellowship activities every night and three services on Sunday. And they've actively lobbied with the ANCs to oppose normal development planning and special events across the area because of the extreme inconvenience THEY would have to endure.

But they have a bike lane across the street from their HQ.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

Thank you Redline!

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

WABA has asked its members to send a letter to Mayor Gray on this matter: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/451/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14154

by fongfong on Aug 19, 2013 1:53 pm • linkreport

And if these cults want to engage in the political process, they need to pay up. I believe that is $500,000 year for that property, not to include taxes on their intake.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

The biggest joke (on cyclists, of course) is that DC is a pilot city for the Green Lane Project, which is intended to test & highlight innovative protected (yes, Scoot, that means physically separated) bike infrastructure. This capitulation by DDOT of their responsibility and promise to provide safe routes for all users flies in the face of both the premise of "Green Lanes" and the postulated goals of safety & bicycle mode share that the city/Mayor have set. There should be no poll of which crappy alternative is less-worse; the ONLY SOLUTION is a cycletrack w/no mixing zones and cross over parking traffic. And M St. should be a standard-setting example furthering that process across the city, not a precedent-setting "compromise" that creates less safe conditions not only for cyclists, but for everyone else as well.

by PhilK on Aug 19, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

ceefer66: A single block gap is like a missing link in a chain. Sure, you sill have two smaller sections of chain, but they don't do the job.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

I travel on 15th from P to the White House and really, really appreciate the separate lanes for bikes. You do feel a little safer. I try imagining one block of that bike lane removed, and don't like it at all. It's dangerous enough biking in the city. A church ought to be concerned with the most vulnerable and in this case, it's the bikers. The concern ought to be for the living. For funerals and such, arrangements can be made.

by kob on Aug 19, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

People who go to these ritual cult meetings in DC (most from outside of DC) are used to getting special treatment here. It is crazy, nutzo, that we let cults have special privileges. Not to mention giving these maniacs a pass on paying their share of taxes.

Slurs against the church - how very mature of you. helpful, too.

by dcd on Aug 19, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 2:02 pm • linkreport

@NE John-

Places of worship have been a part of cities since humans started building cities. Anti-religious bigotry isn't particularly helpful in any conversation related to urbanism. Places of worship are, should, and will continue to be an important part of the urban fabric.

This is a case of a group with political connections using those connections to get their way. Whether that has led to a positive result in this case is, obviously, debatable.

by Potowmack on Aug 19, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

It is interesting Ptowmack, when you think about the slaves who built the church. Yes, slavery was legal in the District of Columbia up until 1862 or something. We celebrate it on emancipation day. Just because something was tolerated does not square with what is right.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

"Given that drivers are generally prevented from entering bike lanes (at least legally), I would guess most people would agree with my interpretation, just as they might agree, for instance, that driving on a road with a solid yellow line is not ordinarily "mixing" with oncoming traffic in the other direction."

Im not sure what words all would use - they might not say mixing with traffic for a white stripped bike lane, but they probably wouldnt say protected either. It would probably depend on their experiences.

I would suggest examining the actual behavior of current cyclists on streets with white stripe bike lanes. How
many ride in the bike lane, how many ride the sidewalk? (there are of course a few who take the lane to avoid the door zone, but I suspect they are not in the 'concerned but interested' category) How does vary with the the level of traffic in the general travel lanes, and with the number of pedestrians on the sidewalk? I would suggest that if, on a street with similar conditions to M Street, a white striped bike lane leaves a lot of cyclists riding on the sidewalk, there are many more who dont sidewalk ride and are simply not riding due to the absence of protection.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 19, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

Building the bike lane on the sidewalk is really the solution to this problem. If the church wants their parking across the street so bad, shouldn't the pay some of the cost of the project. $1 million dollars to build it correctly. How much are we spending on the Frederick Douglass Bridge project without batting an eye? Seems to me the church is freeloading in this situation.

by Ryan Sigworth on Aug 19, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

This thread is getting a off-track with attacks on the church simply for being a church. These attacks have crossed the line, and they need to stop.

Any comments that attack the church simply for being a church will be deleted.

If this behavior persists, violators may be banned from the site.

Let's please focus on the topic at hand, not whether churches should or should not exist.

by MODERATOR on Aug 19, 2013 2:18 pm • linkreport

This still isn't actually about parking, so solutions involving parking compromises really don't address anything essential.

It's about a clash of communities: the ex-pats fighting to preserve the District as it once was maybe versus the newcomers who want the District to realize its modern potential. The old guard can't stop bike lanes everywhere, and can't stop them through the usual legislative channels, but they can draw a line in some places.

It's not my idea but I'll share it here: the concerns of this group may be considered important enough to push DDOT and the Mayor's office to dilute the intended plan, but the truly slippery slope will be the next phase where other private organizations raise similar concerns and point to the precedent set on this block when they ask to have bike lanes deleted in front of their business, school, or church.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

Okay, sorry moderator. But the point is that public property should not be set aside for a private entity's use, especially such entity that does not support maintenance of that public property. The fact that the entity lobbies the local government for special privileges regarding the public land certainly raises constitutional issues.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

There are more than 4 options, and that's the whole problem - DDOT isn't considering ALL options. Since traffic is currently reduced to just one lane of traffic on Sundays, why not just build the cycle track as it is on every other block, with parking on the north side of the street protecting the track, and then allow the church to have parallel parking on the south side in front of the church (instead of their current diagonal parking)? This would protect the cycletrack & would only reduce approximately 3 parking spaces on the south side of the street.

Allowing cars to park in the cycle track is not acceptable. Removing the cycletrack is not acceptable either.

Are they really willing to scrap the long-planned cycle track for THREE PARKING SPACES????

by DCRider on Aug 19, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

should say "exclusive" use

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

@AWalker

That would be interesting. However without the data I would probably guess that most riders would use the bike lane - I seem to recall data showing that sidewalk riding drops when bike lanes are available.

Also I imagine that riding onto the sidewalk from the cycletrack would present some legal and safety issues for others (crossing into crosswalks and onto pedestrian-filled sidewalks in the CBD), would make the cyclist less visible to motor vehicles on the road, and would probably be slower anyway.

On the other hand, a westbound rider who uses the unprotected lane just has to maintain his general straight travel path, would not have to cross over any crosswalks, other bike lanes or pedestrian areas and would be more visible to drivers on M St.

Of course, if the city could just bring itself to enforce the existing laws to protect public safety on M St then the unprotected lane would probably not raise too many eyebrows because riding on the street would not be so harrowing to begin with.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

Private entities lobby every level of government all the time. Private companies employ lobbyists to seek loopholes in tax legislation, special trade protection, etc. The fact that a church is using its muscle shouldn't be viewed as abnormal.

What smells here is the appearance that the church in question went outside of the set processes to exert influence.

I think Dave S. is spot on in identifying the undercurrent of the church's message. A desire for what was and a disdain for what the city has become/may become.

by Andy on Aug 19, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

"Also I imagine that riding onto the sidewalk from the cycletrack would present some legal and safety issues for others "

nonetheless, sidewalk riding is common, and occurs even where there are bike lanes. And I suspect represent the tip of the iceberg - many who don't like white stripe only bike lanes on harrowing streets, will simply not ride, to avoid the choice between the harrowing onstreet ride, and the issues with sidewalk riding that you mention,

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 19, 2013 2:51 pm • linkreport

Not the same Andy. Exclusive use of public property comes at a price set by the public.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

I think Dave S. is spot on in identifying the undercurrent of the church's message. A desire for what was and a disdain for what the city has become/may become

This is similar to what happened with the various taxi companies using their insider influence to try and squash Uber's innovations to DC taxi/livery service. In that case, though, Uber was organized enough to be able to rally its supporters and win the regulatory fight. In this case, there isn't really an equivalent company or organization to rally the relatively diffuse group of people who are opposed to the Church's efforts.

by Potowmack on Aug 19, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

The more I read, the more I think DDOT needs to go back to the drawing board on M street, and not just for this one block. Why on Earth are there mixing zones? 15th street does not have mixing zones, and it works just fine. Those mixing zones on L Street are dicey, especially during rush hour, but ALWAYS because plenty of drivers don't realize they have to go into the mixing zone to make a turn and just turn from the regular traffic lane, cutting in front of cyclists who go straight. SO dangerous.

As for the tour buses, can they NOT drop people off on 15th or 16th street? No. They can. And those people can walk half a block to the church. That is absolutely not a valid reason to take a piece out of the cycletrack.

Finally, Scoot, Paint is not Protection. A bike lane isn't protection any more than any other lane or sharrows are protection. Technically, EVERY lane is a bike lane in DC, so you know, why not just go with what the AME wanted originally which was no bike lane, no cycle track, nothing different from the current status quo? Then cyclists don't get any protection at all at any time during the week. Massive fail on DDOT's part.

by DCRider on Aug 19, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

I should have said private entities, including organizations that have tax-free status. These entities are not limited to churches.

Society has deemed these organizations, including churches, of sufficient value as to warrant tax-free status.

by Andy on Aug 19, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

@Potowmack
In this case, there isn't really an equivalent company or organization to rally the relatively diffuse group of people who are opposed to the Church's efforts.

Errr... WABA?

@NE John:
Not the same Andy. Exclusive use of public property comes at a price set by the public.

Where is the "exclusive use"? The fact is they are lobbying to have the cycletrack reduced so the street conforms to their needs rather than others. Any group is free to do so; the problem is that we have a public meetings process for this that is supposed to inform policy makers/designers at DDOT, and they went outside of that and used their influence to have someone strongarm DDOT into changing the design.

It is amusing to me that this conflict has been framed in a "cyclists vs AME" context, when really it is "city transportation planners (backed up by cycling community) vs AME." It's not one group of private citizens conflicting with another. It's a group of private citizens conflicting with the policy goals of the DC government that we all had a chance to influence.

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

Potowmack: True - partly because the interruption of this track affects a lot of people in very small ways. Businesses along our existing cycletracks have seen the positive effects firsthand but wouldn't dare or care to fight for them elsewhere. Bike related business is doing very well, in part thanks to the luxury of these improvements. The planning leaders who took the risks to establish cycletracks and bike sharing in DC have all been lured elsewhere or chased away, and are now seen as visionaries for urban sustainability where the current administration only saw the liabilities.

I may be overstating things, but if an improved compromise isn't found here and DDOT no longer can accomplish their sustainability missions through normal planning processes, we'll be lucky to see another progressive bike project attempted in the next decade. Why would anyone at DDOT bother? Why would anyone even take work at DDOT?

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

City transportation planners are employed by the public to carry our the public's business. The diagonal parking or any "church" parking (cones, guys enforcing parking, etc.) on public property is exclusive use.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

There should be normal processes such as hearings, time for public comment, referendums etc. for the church to pursue their agendas, not behind the doors agreements, which is the "way" of the churches in this city.

by NE John on Aug 19, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

I may be overstating things, but if an improved compromise isn't found here and DDOT no longer can accomplish their sustainability missions through normal planning processes, we'll be lucky to see another progressive bike project attempted in the next decade. Why would anyone at DDOT bother? Why would anyone even take work at DDOT?

I think you are overstating things here. This compromise means that the cycling infrastructure is maybe 5% less than what was originally planned (if that). Anyone expecting a "perfect" result every time probably shouldn't be working for any department of transportation.

I agree that this is not a great precedent. But, I don't see it being applicable in too many cases. This was a perfect storm of a politically connected group trying to preserve a long-term status quo against relatively weak (or unorganized) opposition. And that unorganized opposition still won overwhelmingly, if you look at the big picture of this project.

by Potowmack on Aug 19, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

Those of you suggesting the bike lane be at the same level as the sidewalk, or taking the sidewalk to avoid this proposed gap in the cycle track, please keep in mind that this is downtown where bicycle riding on sidewalks is banned. Yet another reason why DDOT should stick to its original plan and build the cycle track as originally planned.

by DaveG on Aug 19, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

In other words, you're upset because a well-organized group has succeeded in promoting their own agenda -by using the same methods you use to promote yours.

No, I think most people are rightly upset b/c DDOT hasn't given any "good" reason (read: data driven). Why? B/c there isn't a good reason. They're actively compromising the safety of everyone who would/will use the cycletrack b/c of politics. I think everyone here could accept the decision if it was based on good information. We might not like it, but we'd go with it. This however, reeks of a backroom deal/push by the Mayor's office.

by thump on Aug 19, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

Potowmack: This isn't a significant quantitative loss, I agree. Some bike lane will still be in that block, and that will be an improvement so DDOT can check off a box.

Except that it completely fails the broader goal of creating a protected route across town, a place where kids could ride to school in relative safety and a place where out-of-town guests on bikeshare and rentals won't have to freak out about riding in the big city.

Aside from M Street there aren't any ways to get across this part of town from east to west without using general purpose lanes. Will there be an asterisk on the bike maps to tell guests that this block is different for no good reason? This lane was first proposed in 2005, so will it be another eight years before a truly separated end-to-end route is built to compensate for this loss?

And is there another private interest somewhere along that other route that's going to want to be accommodated just like this one was?

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

@Potowmack- It might be true, but I don't think the cycling lobby in DC is weak and I think Mayor Gray's office/DDOT are in for a $h!t-storm in the next few weeks and, should he not be indicted and decide to run again, during the election.

by thump on Aug 19, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

I hope everyone that is taking the time to write in a comment here is also taking the time to share their comment/opinion with their elected officials...

by Kc on Aug 19, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

Utterly corrupt. Would I get free unlimited parking volunteering in a soup kitchen on Sunday mornings? A free health clinic? Blood bank?

Make these people pay for their own damned parking - just like everyone else. There are plenty of parking garages nearby.

by Eponymous on Aug 19, 2013 4:32 pm • linkreport

This can't be the only place in the world where this problem exists. How do other cities deal with it? Further, I wonder why all concerned can't be asked to look for imaginative solutions, like does the church have other doors -- i.e. can people enter from the side or the back?

by Ted on Aug 19, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

Eponymous: (If that really is your name...) ;-)

More legs knocked out of the claim that this is about parking...

From this organization's DIRECTIONS page at http://www.metropolitaname.org/location.asp

"Parking: 1519 M Street: NEA Parking Garage directly across the street from the church. Sunday, only during worship services"

From their WORSHIP page at http://www.metropolitaname.org/worship.asp

"Parking is available on Sunday mornings on M Street directly across from the church in the NEA parking garage or on M Street between 16 and 17th Street in the PMI lot on the right hand side of the street."

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

Is it a telling irony that the African American (AA) community has 1.5~2x the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (DM2) as the general population, has 1.5-3x the number of devastating complications from DM2 (blindness, amputation, kidney failure) as the general population with DM2 and a prominent AA organization activly opposes better infrastructure for active transportation (walking and biking)?

I personally find it sadly ironic that an AA church opposes infrastructure to make physical activity easier. The irony being that DM2 is a lifestyle induced disease for which adequate physical activity is a crucial for prevention and control.

Whats the leadership of the church doing to educate its congregants about DM2? Are they encouraging congregants to get adequate physical activity such as by bicycling for transportation? What are they doing to be role models?

Is there a relationship between the overt expression of anti-active transportation infrastructure from a prominent AA organization and the disparate DM2 prevalence in the general AA community?

I know this is a provocative question. It's based on observation of data and the knowledge that individual lifestyle is highly influenced by environment; both physical and cultural.

by Tina on Aug 19, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

A bike lane isn't protection any more than any other lane or sharrows are protection.

That is certainly an interesting perspective. I honestly did not know that so many people on this blog held such a negative opinion of bike lanes (or such a high opinion of sharrows).

I for one happen to like bike lanes, and believe they should be expanded. The roads I regularly bike on are, in my opinion, way better with bike lanes than without. But I will definitely relay the community's distaste for bike lanes at my next ANC meeting.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 5:52 pm • linkreport

I like bike lanes too and want more but that doesn't make them a PROTECTED lane!

Yeesh.

But I will definitely relay the community's distaste for bike lanes at my next ANC meeting.

If this is what you got out of this discussion then you haven't been paying attention. The discussion hasn't been about whether people want a bike lane or nothing.

by MLD on Aug 19, 2013 5:59 pm • linkreport

Bike lanes are good. Protected bike lanes are even better.

by DaveG on Aug 19, 2013 6:49 pm • linkreport

...cue the vehicular cyclist rebuttal....

Cycle tracks, bike lanes, trails, and shared lanes all serve a function and one is not safer than the other for all cyclists. Jargon has evved so that the term "protected" has a specific meaning having to do with physical barriers or grade separation. It does not denote
"useful" or "superior", which is sensitive to context.

by JimT on Aug 19, 2013 7:57 pm • linkreport

@ MLD

I never said that all bike lanes were protected bike lanes. You implied that I am not paying attention, but you do not seem to be reading my posts at all.

Anyway, I think one interesting takeaway is the apparent divide in the perception of safety between the protected portion and unprotected portion of the cycletrack, and how that perception is sold to interested parties.

I believe much of the cycletrack's protective nature lies in perception more than actual protective ability.

In reality, the L St. cycletrack doesn't really protect a cyclist from a collision with an out-of-control motorist or a parked car (which regularly occupy the lane, albeit illegally). The mixing zones are not that safe, the separation is not very wide and L St itself is still dangerous for many other reasons.

Yet some people, in the attempt to paint the church patrons as little better than crooks, want to believe that the protected lane would provide much more safety than an unprotected lane. To do that they must convince themselves and others that unprotected lanes provide no safety at all.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2013 7:57 pm • linkreport

I did not vote. It starts from a false premise; that those are the only two reasonable options for accommodating the church.

What about creating a dedicated loading/unloading zone in front of the church until 2 pm Sundays, and moving the diagonal parking to 15th or 16th Street? That would allow people to be dropped off immediately in front of the church, while presumably most people would be able to walk the extra block from the new parking to the entrance. If a disabled person were driving themselves, I'm sure the church would be able to find volunteers who could "valet" park their car on the adjacent block and pick it up for them at the end of the services.

Perhaps they'd even have MORE parking available on the North-South streets.

by Liz P on Aug 19, 2013 8:14 pm • linkreport

This is a great opportunity to illustrate the pleasures of the sidewalk level bike path if for just half a block (really all the ramps are in place for this, a little green paint and stencil and you be got it - well that one planter directly across from the church might have to go, but otherwise there isn't much heavy lifting here to put the cycle track on the sidewalk and still have a plenty wide sidewalk, at least for half the block....)

by Egk on Aug 19, 2013 8:27 pm • linkreport

Those of you suggesting the bike lane be at the same level as the sidewalk, or taking the sidewalk to avoid this proposed gap in the cycle track, please keep in mind that this is downtown where bicycle riding on sidewalks is banned.

Well, I think if they built a bike lane at sidewalk level it would be legal to ride on it, as to have it be otherwise would be insane. The Mayor can waive the sidewalk ban on any street, so maybe to cover their bases DDOT could have the Mayor do that.

But when I suggested cyclists take to the sidewalk there, I did so in full knowledge that it's illegal. So it's as a form of non-violent protest if you will (the part about endangering people was just a joke) and that often involves breaking the law.

Scoot, I think the evidence is that bike lanes don't provide much safety (beyond safety in numbers), but they do make biking better. Cycletracks OTHO reduce crashes for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. So, it really is a safety argument.

by David C on Aug 19, 2013 8:57 pm • linkreport

The protection comes from the perception. People feel more comfortable biking in facilities like L street. More people cyclig leads to a lower accident rate. That's where the safety comes from.

by drumz on Aug 19, 2013 8:59 pm • linkreport

I think it's a fair point that tossing up a few knock-down posts and adding some green paint provides at best an illusion of protection. It's true, and it's not entirely DDOT's fault

Perhaps cyclists get the dregs of transportation planning because cyclists don't feel they can ask for the audacious accommodations that would make a real difference. Perhaps the peaceful coexistence approach makes compromises like this seem plausible, ignoring the compromises already made.

My utopian preference would be to finally establish bicycles as a third unique category of consumers of public space, from end to end of the planning and regulatory process. It's just as implausible to me to think we'd delete a protected bike lane as it is to think we'd decide to only put sidewalks on the north and west sides of any streets, or that we would devise a scheme where all streets would be one-way and reversible, and none would run for more than four blocks without interruption. Yet for bicycles there's no limit to the amount of "suck it up and be grateful you're tolerated at all" that becomes endemic to transportation planning.

I WANT a permanently anchored line of barricade fence lining the entire length of DC's next cycletrack - but I'll accept knee high concrete planters if they're outside a buffer space. I WANT bicycle-specific signals with bicycle sensors on the pavement to give cyclists a fully protected opportunity to cross intersections without second guessing what pedestrians and other vehicles are going to do. I WANT effective maintenance and snow management that can be carried out without removing these protections for half the year. I WANT a complete network of such facilities so me and my family and our non-urban non-cyclist friends who want to ride a bike here can do so with confidence and safety and go wherever we wish. I WANT aggressive and effective enforcement so these steps are not entirely futile and hollow. Those are all things drivers already have and take for granted, none of which are granted to cyclists.

So if we're going to be handed unacceptable compromises to substandard plans without a chance to negotiate them, I'm going to give up on starting from a compromised position.

by DaveS on Aug 19, 2013 10:14 pm • linkreport

A-f***ing-men, Dave.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 19, 2013 10:30 pm • linkreport

Well said, Dave.

by MLD on Aug 20, 2013 7:51 am • linkreport

Cyclists are a small minority, and that is so because of the dangerous feeling one gets riding in this city. It's like a feedback mechanism.

I rode back in the early to mid 70's, when it was especially deadly to ride in the streets here. People would run you off the road and laugh at you. I started riding again in DC specifically because I heard about the MBT and saw the lanes being formed.

Keep the pressure on. Please.

by NE John on Aug 20, 2013 8:54 am • linkreport

I'm two years short of 60 and have been riding all my life and the idea of bike lanes, and especially dedicated bike lanes, is very new and very welcomed.

But protecting bicyclists is not the public priority it ought to be, as this dispute with the church illustrates. Not to be trite, but it's kind of like climate change. Most people know it's a problem, but our institutions are incapable of meaningful action.

It's also clear that every effort to improve the safety of bicyclists is coming with a fight. DC, as this dispute illustrates, has not fully embraced the need to make biking as safe as possible.

Ultimately, a cycletrack will be created in front of the church. It will take years, maybe decades, but the logic for it is too compelling.

For now, the roadway disruption created by the church's exclusion will be a visible reminder of how fragile these safety improvements are and the power of the opposition.

I feel for the church, because people who ride their bikes past it and wonder why the District did the bike lane this way.

by kob on Aug 20, 2013 9:03 am • linkreport

I don't think the church should have any rights in this matter. If a business double parked regularly, the owner would be fined. There is no reason for the cycle track not to be 7 days a week. If the church paid taxes, there *might* be some reason to accommodate, but since they don't, the cycle track should go through.

by Fabrisse on Aug 20, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

There are so many good arguments for why this decision is a terrible idea, I'm not sure why people feel the need to hitch their wagon to "THEY DON'T PAY TAXES!" as if that's a reason to deny someone any influence or government services.

by MLD on Aug 20, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

MLD: In the words of the IRS, tax exemption for churches can hinge on restraint from certain political activity. There's a specific clause in the IRS guide on the subject that states "the organization’s purposes and activities may not
be illegal or violate fundamental public policy".

I'm not your lawyer, but I feel there could be an argument made that whatever influence they exerted to push DDOT to change mature plans without normal public discussion DID violate public policy. However, I absolutely agree that there's no benefit in pursuing that because it wouldn't restore the previous cycletrack design, which is the real focus.

by DaveS on Aug 20, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

Why, why, why are we giving priority to the needs of suburban residents and their parking convenience over city residents? For years churches have thumbed their noses at all kinds of traffic regulations, at great inconvenience to those of us who live here and actually pay for the streets. Allowing a church to have veto power over transportation projects is a very bad precedent. Build the cycletrack as designed. If suburbanites are inconvenienced, they can worship elsewhere.

by Native Washingtonian on Aug 20, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

The M St cycle track will undoubtedly be used by many bike riders whose primary residence is not a DC address..so in some ways this conflict can be described as a clash between MD suburbanites; those who commute by bike 5 days a week and those who drive downtown one day a week. I would guess the number of bike commuters who will use the M St track on an avg. weekday (whose trips originate in and outside DC), is greater than the number of church congregants on an avg Sun or for an avg funeral.

by Tina on Aug 20, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

The decision caves to accommodating cars over cyclists, the wrong direction for making the city liveable for its human inhabitants. And as many posters noted, the church, a private, non-taxpaying entity, has been enjoying free use of a valuable commodity--city real estate--for years. That they've had that perk till now does not justify continuing it.

by jay gee on Aug 20, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

A little bit of useful application of, "don't let the best be the enemy of the good," and, "lose the battle, win the war." would be appropriate here. Is it the best course of action to fall on our collective sword(s), use our political and advocacy capital on this? There are much bigger fish than this one block of M Street. This whole discussion would benefit from the long view.

by Some Ideas on Aug 20, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

Some Ideas: Probably all true. Nobody is gathering pitchforks and lighting torches, just asking for a meeting that isn't going to change anything.

But this project was ambushed. Nobody said anything in 2010 when the L/M cycletrack pair idea was first sketched. Nobody said anything when the cycletrack on L opened and M was getting set on paper. Nobody said anything until the near-final plans were revealed (for installation a month later at that point) and then no further public discussion happened. This revision was ordered, not developed, and that really sucks.

In the long view, the cycling advocacy community around DC is going to have to work much harder to do outreach (and has to figure out how to provide planning oversight of DDOT, the Council, and the Mayor's office) to make sure this doesn't happen again. The door was left open because nobody imagined anyone - let alone an historic DC institution - would sneak around and steal anything. They did, and for what it's worth it has cost them the trust of DC's "bicycle lobby".

I guess we're going to have to do this the hard way now.

by DaveS on Aug 20, 2013 6:15 pm • linkreport

Some ideas, is there an actual strategy hidden in there? Because I don't see it. Your whole comment was just a jumble of cliches.

We should do something, as opposed to doing nothing. Doing nothing is a sure fire way to lose.

I can see a lot of value, frankly, in shaming them by drawing attention to their position and then letting them try to defend it - which they can't. That's what's going on right now. And we could try make the Mayor look bad too. Make it look like he's meddling and unresponsive. There is value in that as well, since he's meddling and being unresponsive. We should make it clear to DDOT that we're being screwed and we know it and when DC fails to make its bike commute goals that we're going to point to this as a glaring example of how their lack of courage is to blame.

These things GAIN us political capital (to the extent that that is a real thing). Do you think that complaining or talking is using "political capital", because I don't. When I look at various civil rights movements it is complaining loudly an in unison that gets attention and that gets things done. And getting one thing done doesn't somehow stop progress - it perpetuates it. That's how I see it.

So, no. No one is falling on their swords. The goal here is to show that we are reasonable people, willing to make reasonable compromises with people who will sit down and talk to us like equals. But if you are someone who would like to ignore us and the process and force an unreasonable solution on us, we will do our best to make that strategy costly for you.

But if you've got a better strategy, I'd like to hear it.

by David C on Aug 20, 2013 7:56 pm • linkreport

Perfect being the enemy of good would be if all of sudden the whole lane was being taken out of spite or something.

Basically every advance we've had in cycling infrastructure is because cyclists demanded incremental changes and small improvements at every step. Otherwise we'd still be stuck with 2.5 feet wide bike lanes.

by drumz on Aug 20, 2013 10:39 pm • linkreport

"Bad" is the enemy of "Good". "Perfect" is "Good's" aspiration.

by Tina on Aug 21, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

@David C, +1

by Tina on Aug 21, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Well here we go again.

A bunch of people from Maryland who have an invisible friend they visit once a week in DC who absolves them of their sins should definitely be put above the needs of all the DC taxpayers to use their streets 6+ days.

More special treatment for the cult members.

Oh, that mall your $63 million in tax breaks went to in Columbia Heights? Your taxpayer built garage gives free parking to churches on Sundays.

So, short story... Come to DC from somewhere else. Use our streets, make demands and then every sunday take your tax dollars back to Dennys in PG. Oh and while you are here, feel free to rail against our gay residents who, well, actually pay taxes unlike our tax-exempt cult center.

A f*****g joke. Unless you're in on the game.

by AMorganGuy on Aug 24, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

Question....

"The block loses a significant amount of parking and flexibility, which particularly affects the church.:

Please define "significant"

Thanks!

by AMorganGuy on Aug 24, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

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