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ANC commissioner tries to stall New Mexico Ave. bike lanes

Despite having endorsed bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue in July, ANC 3D will consider a draft resolution asking the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to delay installing the lanes at its meeting tonight.

Rendering of proposed bike lane on New Mexico Avenue from WABA.

New Mexico Avenue forms one of the few street connections between American University and the neighborhoods of Glover Park and Wesley Heights. The resolution, drafted by ANC 3D Commissioner Michael Gold, argues that DDOT shouldn't build bike lanes "until the completion of a formal analysis and impact study" of the surrounding transportation network which the ANC and neighborhood groups can review.

On Monday, DDOT announced that it plans to complete installing the lanes this week and posted photos outlining where they will go. DDOT has worked with the community to change the proposed design so that it would not take away any parking places.

ANC 3D voted 5-4 in favor of the bike lanes, but commissioner Tom Smith, who opposes them, happened to not be in town for the July meeting. He's marshaled those constituents who previously expressed opposition to the lane's installation to once again re-litigate the decision via email messages to the ANC supporting the resolution, which was introduced without proper notice to the community in an effort to reduce supporter outcry. Cycling advocates only found out about it yesterday.

Markings showing where the bike lanes will go. Photo from DDOT.

This bike lane is an important connection in Ward 3, and if you support it, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Let Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh know that you support the New Mexico Avenue bike lane. Cheh is head of the council's Transportation Committee and has previously indicated her strong support for Ward 3 bike infrastructure. Ask her to have your back on getting this lane installed and to reach out to DDOT to make sure it keeps with its installation schedule. You can call her office at (202) 724-8062 or send an email to
  2. You can also remind the five ANC members who voted in favor of the prior resolution, Stu Ross, W. Philip Thomas, Rory Slatko, Penny Pagano, and Joe Wisniewski, that you and the community still supports the bike lanes. You can find their email addresses at the ANC 3D website.
Steve Seelig is a long-time resident of Ward 3 interested in preserving its charms while expanding its reach along the transit-rich corridors to help make driving to more far-flung commercial districts a rarer occurrence.  


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All this ridiculousness for a few lines of paint. From what I can tell, no parking or travel lanes are being eliminated. So what in the world is the big freaking problem?

by Adam L on Oct 2, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

ANC 3D Commissioner Michael Gold, argues that DDOT shouldn't build bike lanes "until the completion of a formal analysis and impact study" of the surrounding transportation network which the ANC and neighborhood groups can review.

That doesn't waste time or money at all./sarcasm.
It also sets clear guidelines on what the analysis should be and what to do about the impacts. No way someone could take whatever results and claim it "proves" what they already think is true about either the bike lanes or DDOT at large./also sarcasm.

Bike lanes aren't a new thing to DC anymore. They're becoming a relatively banal part of the roadscape. Turns out you can install lots of them to negligible impact on auto traffic but with huge returns to bike traffic. Therefore the question for DDOT normally shouldn't be "why does this road need a bike lane" but "why doesn't this road need a bike lane".

by drumz on Oct 2, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

Just get rid of ANCs. Problem solved.

by Jasper on Oct 2, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

Thanks for scrambling and getting this info out.

It is also worth adding that the New Mexico Avenue bike lanes were discussed at 4 different get togethers this past summer to which the public was invited with proper notice - the May 1st and July 10th regular ANC 3D meetings as well as a special ANC 3D meeting on June 24th. There was also a site visit in early June which everyone was invited to.

DDOT had representatives at all but the July 10th meeting.

As of 1230PM this issue still has not been added to the ANC 3D agenda for TONIGHTS meeting nor has this change been posted on any of the relevant listserves.

by TomQ on Oct 2, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

Another example of why I could never stand (most upper) NW people

by NE John on Oct 2, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

You'd think we were asking them to give up their first born child the way some people fight bike lanes.

by BTA on Oct 2, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

Apparently the ANC is taking its cues from Congress on how votes don't matter.

At the July 10 meeting the ANC voted not to object, and request that DDOT include the bike lanes in a traffic study (but not make it contingent upon DDOT's doing so). Now that study has to be completed first?

by ah on Oct 2, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

Agree with what has been said:

-These lanes and sharrows will not impact either current travel throughput for cars or on-street parking.

- More troubling is that some members of the ANC have put word out to some constituents that this resolution would be acted upon, yet there has been no legal, formal notice of same.

The ANC will probably try to claim some sort of emergency justification for trying to do this, but ultimately it is the ANC that loses credibility. That hurts the full institution which supports Jasper's call to simply eliminate ANCs all together.

by William on Oct 2, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

By the way, here's the resolution:

I believe this claim is misleading, and also wrong:

"Whereas, DDOT’s new plans for reconfiguring New Mexico Avenue now include eliminating a southbound traffic lane creating additional choke points along the commercial segment of New Mexico Avenue; and"

1) The plans presented in July have that configuration--it is a single lane the entire way.
2) Any elimination of a lane does not create a "choke point". It eliminates one of the rather unsafe aspects of the current configuration, which is a roadway wide enough to accommodate two vehicles only up to a stop light on a downhill stretch, which then have to merge (i.e., race for position).

by ah on Oct 2, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

The best thing I can say about this situation is that at least the opponents are trying to do this through community meetings, and not discrete calls to the Mayor, like some churches.

At the end of the day, however, ANC and community were given lots of notice and opportunity to discuss, it was approved, and there is little adverse impact that opponents can cite. Sounds like DDOT should just go ahead.

by SJE on Oct 2, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

SJE - the point of this is to do this discretely and operate under the guise of ANC legitimacy while in fact abusing it.

From what I understand CM Cheh was hit with a flurry of emails on Monday and Tuesday asking for the installation of the bike lanes to be delayed until the ANC had a chance to take this up at tonight's meeting.

And it all seems very reasonable on its face - the lanes are about to be installed but luckily the ANC is about to have a meeting so there is no harm in asking for a delay of a couple of days to hear what the ANC has to say. And then the ANC ask of a traffic study also seems very reasonable so geez why would we not wait to study something before implementation?

So only the opponents of the bike lane essentially have the inside info that 3D is going to take this up and are lobbying for a delay in implementation based on that info and the presumed passing of a resolution asking for a traffic study.

I guess we won't know until tonight if 3D even puts this agenda item on the paper copy of the agenda available at the meeting.

by TomQ on Oct 2, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

I've wondered about the notice requirements for ANC meetings. They of course have to notify the public of the meeting for anything to count. But do they have to notify the public of each agenda item? If not, it seems like the type of loophole one could drive a truck through - let's notify the public of a meeting and then put a bunch of other topics on the agenda.

by ah on Oct 2, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

One fact I left out. The July resolution was passed with a proviso that DDOT would do a traffic study to understand the impact of the bike lane. So this resolution, which asks for a traffic study BEFORE the lane is installed, is absurd on its face.

How about seeing how it goes, and if this makes Tom Smith's life worse - it seems bad enough listening to him rant about the dismal conditions in his neighborhood - then we can remove the paint? It is only paint, for goodness sake.

by Steve Seelig on Oct 2, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport


Emergency legislation is taken up by the Council all of the time. The problem is, these blowhards consider themselves the lords of their fiefdom, er Single Member District and clearly have selectively leaked this resolution to bike lane opponents.

by William on Oct 2, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

I find it strange these people have so much time on their hands to work to defeat something akin to a safety measure because they dislike bikes. Waste cases.

by NE John on Oct 2, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

Hey, not all ANCs (or ANC members) are bike-hating NIMBYs! Five ANC 3d commissioners did vote for this....and ANC 3B in Glover Park voted unanimously to support a resolution in favor of the bike lanes...

by Brian on Oct 2, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

Thank you Brian. It is true, there are many ANCs in Ward 3 which are very supportive of bike facilities. It is too bad a few bad apples have to go and ruin it for everyone else.

by Andrew on Oct 2, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

I am just really scratching my head over this, no parking is being eliminated but people still don't want a clearer way for bikes and cars to share the road? Especially when bikers may be more motivated to take the lane without a bike lane?

I have lived along this road for years now, as a car owner, and never been stuck in traffic. The two lights at the top of New Mexico could be timed better, but that is about it.

by Michelle on Oct 2, 2013 4:34 pm • linkreport

Many of us in ANC 3D cycle a lot and want these lanes in too. So let's lay off the hate.

by RDHD on Oct 2, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

Because if we stop making bike lanes, people on bikes will just disappear. Also we can feel high and mighty when we scream at them to get off the road.

It's all about people's desire not to legitimize people on bikes.

by MLD on Oct 2, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

am just really scratching my head over this

Well don't, because I once saw a cyclist riding too fast on the sidewalk. So it all makes sense.

by David C on Oct 2, 2013 10:35 pm • linkreport

Just returned from the meeting. The vote was 6-4 supporting the resolution to do a traffic study before lanes are installed. Tom Smith predictably voted for the resolution, but W. Phillip Thomas changed his vote from that in July when he supported the bike lane. He was also the only commissioner who said nothing at all at the meeting.

You can tweet him at or email him at to ask him why his vote changed since he never spoke.

What made the evening comical is the fact that the ANC did not actually repeal the prior resolution. So if DDOT was to look to each resolution, they would find two resolutions that say something very different about the same issue. I would guess that might puzzle them

Makes this ANC look pretty foolish.

by Steve Seelig on Oct 2, 2013 10:43 pm • linkreport

I expect DDOT will just move forward because the ANC has offered no views that should be entitled to "great weight".

by ah on Oct 2, 2013 11:10 pm • linkreport

A traffic study will say nothing, considering no lanes are being removed. The narrowing of lanes is almost negligible to capacity.

If the existing wide lanes allow drivers to pass left turning vehicles on the right, they'll still drive into the bike lane to do the same. To cyclists on the road, this is expected (although not appreciated) at intersections, so no less caution is taken.

by ppp on Oct 2, 2013 11:13 pm • linkreport

I too was at the meeting and disappointed in the vote. I don't think it will stop DDOT.I don't' think people understand that not putting in bike lanes bikers will not use New Mexico Ave. It just makes everyone safer with bike lanes. Being a person who has just started riding a bike again, I will feel
much safer in the bike lane.

by Stephanie Partridge on Oct 3, 2013 6:46 am • linkreport

I hope GGW will once again in the Fall run bios of contested ANC races so people can be informed of who is making these decisions. Philip Thomas certainly loses on this one. A representative of the community who is going to change their opinion on an issue ought to have the conviction of their view to articulate it at the meeting. To sit silently and change an outcome is cowardly.

No offense to Mr. Thomas, but if you are going to seek a public seat, then have the conviction of your views to stand by them. What did Mr. Smith promise you in return for public ridicule and humiliation?

by William on Oct 3, 2013 6:53 am • linkreport

No, offense intended Mr. Thomas

by NE John on Oct 3, 2013 7:25 am • linkreport

"What did Mr. Smith promise you in return for public ridicule and humiliation?"

A traffic study.

I live in ANC3D - the more I look at this the more I think the bike lanes were being held hostage simply to get this traffic study done. The traffic study has been a long-standing request, not for New Mexico Ave., but Ward Circle, Nebraska Ave., etc. This provided a convenient platform to hook the renewed demand for a traffic study to.

by ah on Oct 3, 2013 7:58 am • linkreport


If motives were pristine, I could agree with you. However, page 3 of the NIMNY handbook states: "when any changes are being made to your neighborhood, claim they cannot take place until there is a full traffic study." Check out the 5333CT opponents, AU Tenley campus, Babes redevelopment for some examples.

Nope, requesting a traffic study = delay = if delayed long enough people will just give up.

by Steve Seelig on Oct 3, 2013 9:08 am • linkreport

I support bike lanes, but in looking at the photo with the lane markings, the scheme doesn't seem optimal. Why paint a bike lane sandwiched between a travel lane and a lane of parked cars (with the inevitable biker/door conflict)? It would make a lot more sense to narrow the street slightly and use the saved width to put a dedicated lane between the street and sidewalk on one side, as is done more frequently in Europe. Safer for bikers, safer for motorists.

by Jasper2 on Oct 3, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

@Jasper2: because the money for that does not exist

by Mike on Oct 3, 2013 9:41 am • linkreport

This project removes no travel lanes, removes no parking, and removes no loading docks. It does not add any signals or stop signs or any other traffic control. In such a case, a traffic study is not going to tell you much, because there is practically no impact on vehicle travel what so ever. The lane is being narrowed one foot, which on a road like NM is statistically insignificant. Few drivers would even notice it. What are the opponents expecting a traffic study to say? Especially given the much more complicated bike lane/safety improvement projects that have already been successfully implemented throughout the district.

The only thing that would solve the objections to some of the ANC 3D and plenty in the audience would be to motion to ban bicycles entirely from New Mexico Avenue. I suggested they take a vote on that. These people could not grasp the fact that bicycle riders will be using NM Ave, bike lane or not. The lane simply makes it safer for all users of the road - pedestrians included.

Not to mention, these people spend countless hours debating the minute details of neighborhood homes, down to fence widths, sunlight penetration and other incessant minutia. Yet, they seem perfectly fine with leaving this road the equivalent of an disorganized, unmade bed. The current design reflects a time when cars were the only things using the road. Times have changed, with new census data showing DC as the #3 city in the entire country for bicycle comutting, ahead of Seattle and San Francisco. Combined with the enormous popularity of Bikeshare, it's just a fact of life in DC and nothing the ANC 3D decides will stop it.

by Craig on Oct 3, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

@Steve Sellig: "page 3 of the NIMNY handbook states: "when any changes are being made to your neighborhood, claim they cannot take place until there is a full traffic study."

Sure enough, but the real changes at issue surround AU and its planned construction of dorms in the parking lot at Nebraska and New Mexico. The debate over that a couple of years ago involved repeated demands for a Ward Circle traffic study. That's the change that really matters.

by ah on Oct 3, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport


Then the community needs to tell DDOT to find the money to do it right. DC needs to stop doing things always so half-a@#ed. I mean, DDOT found the money to widen Idaho Avenue in NW for the benefit of a private project, after the developer goofed on whether the street was wide enough for its trucks. If DDOT can find the money for that, they should program more funds for the benefit of the general public -- bikers, pedestrians and motorists.

by Jasper2 on Oct 3, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport


So that makes it okay for the bike lane to be collateral damage. That fight was fought by this ANC and frankly AU came up with a solution that will continue to keep the campus isolated from the community, in deference to an to an ANC that was against any additional street facing retail. How is that helping to improve conditions for the neighborhood?

Sorry, based on its prior behavior, this ANC does not get the benefit of any doubt.

by Steve Seelig on Oct 3, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Now hearing Tom Smith is pressuring the Mayor to stop installation of the lanes. If the Mayor steps in to stop this one, I would suggest that Tommy Wells can absolutely expect my vote.

by Steve Seelig on Oct 3, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

@Steve - I'm not defending the ANC. I find most of its conduct abhorrent at best. And I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I'm trying to explain what I believe to be the real motivation here.

by ah on Oct 3, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

I got a nice email from Mary Cheh today stating that she fully supports the bike lane installation and will be fighting for it.


by RDHD on Oct 3, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

I received an e-note as well in response to my email to Mary Cheh.

"I fully support the proposed bike lane and have written to the DDOT Director that I will vigorously oppose any rear guard action that upsets something approved by both DDOT and previously the ANC."

by ah on Oct 3, 2013 3:50 pm • linkreport

Amazingly, despite the support from Councilmember Mary Cheh, this persists to still be at stake. Anyone who supports this bike facility needs to reach out to the Office of the Mayor as soon as possible today (FRIDAY).

by Andrew on Oct 4, 2013 6:43 am • linkreport

@Jasper2: your suggestion is out of touch with reality. Look at how much trouble this project is having in putting down paint on a road with no impact to any other interests, and then explain how you will get political support for order-of-magnitude increases in the budget for bike infrastructure (at the expense of [something]). A significant fraction of the money spent on car infrastructure needs to be shifted to other modes, but there is absolutely no chance of that happening within the next decade, maybe even the next generation. So we can either do nothing, or do the best we can with whatever money we can find. I think the latter approach is better, because it helps in increase the non-SOV mode share and expands the pool of people who might support real change.

by Mike on Oct 4, 2013 8:07 am • linkreport


I agree that budget money always seems to compete with other priorities, but it seems to me that if DC is going to be serious about bike infrastructure, they need to plan for something safer and more permanent. Clearly DDOT has a rainy day/slush fund somewhere, if it's true are reconstructing Idaho Avenue as a favor for a private developer.

by Wally on Oct 4, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

there was already a hard look at ward circle as part of the rock creek west II livability study. tons of recs were made, none of which have been executed. ddot is supposed to be studying the ward circle issue again, but have yet to produce anything new to date.

ddot is opening themselves up to the likes of tom smith and others. they need to run a tighter ship, no doubt. preliminary markings only give smith, who lives no where near this location, to get all of the old fogies all riled up.

by flojo on Oct 4, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

@Wally: yeah, if. OTOH, if there's more to it than that, a different conclusion should be reached.

by Mike on Oct 4, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

Flogo I am an old fogie. I went to the meeting spoke in favor of the bike lane and I bike. Please watch how you characterize people. Were you there? Did you speak in Favor of it?

by Sp on Oct 4, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

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