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On the calendar: 17th, 18th, bike lanes and streetcars

This week and next, there are several important opportunities to advocate for better streets in DC, whether for bicycles, pedestrians, streetcars, or retail along the edge.

Photo by MoBikeFed.

K Street: Tonight at 6:30, DDOT is holding a public meeting to discuss the K Street Transitway. According to WABA, "Right now two different plans are being considered, one with bike lanes and one without." The street needs to accommodate cyclists as well as other users. I'd be just as happy if the city decided to build real, protected bike lanes on a pair of parallel streets (H or L and I or M), but there's so such plan at the moment. The meeting is 6:30 pm tonight at the Four Points By Sheraton, 1201 K St, NW.

18th Street: Tomorrow, a community meeting in Adams Morgan will discuss plans to reconstruct 18th Street. I'll post more details of that plan tomorrow, but you can weigh in on the plan's wider sidewalks, more bicycle-friendly lanes, and less harrowing intersection at 18th and Florida. It's structured as an open house starting at 7 pm at the police station, 1620 V St, NW.

17th Street: The Dupont Circle ANC and Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets is organizing a "community charrette" to discuss the future of 17th Street. There's already a disappointing plan for the street itself, but there's a lot more to the health of a commercial street than the road design. Can 17th draw more street festivals? What about a Summer Streets program on 17th? Should 17th have performance parking?

17th also has some prime opportunities to add apartments above low, ugly parcels like the Safeway. A new mixed-use Safeway could more closely match the height of the neighboring buildings, mostly around four stories. The first meeting is Wednesday, August 5th, 6:30 pm at Cobalt, on the 3rd floor of the building at the northeast corner of 17th and R that also houses Level One and 30 Degrees.

Streetcars! DDOT Director Gabe Klein will discuss the city's streetcar plans and answer advocates' questions on Thursday August 6th, 7 pm at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE.

Shop and have fun: The 14th and U area is the place to be this weekend. The neighborhood is throwing their yearly festival, and the local businesses will hold the annual Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale. The festival is Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, and the Dog Days sale runs all day Saturday and Sunday.

Hike: If you'd rather spend the weekend quietly with nature instead of in a lively neighborhood, the Sierra Club of Montgomery County is hiking part of the ICC and looking at the impact of the new freeway on the Paint Branch watershed.

These events and more appear on the Greater Greater Washington calendar. Know of an event we should list? Email it to

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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K Street is going to move very fast, one way or the other. If you want to comment, there will only be a few opportunities.

by BeyondDC on Jul 29, 2009 11:41 am • linkreport

Hmm, I am worried that the K Street Transitway won't happen because there won't be enough time to implement the Environmental Review, design, contracting, and construction within the timeframe desired by the Stimulus Act. I hope I'm wrong, but we would've needed to get a better jump on this, I think.

by SG on Jul 29, 2009 11:43 am • linkreport

That's why it's moving so quickly. Who knows if they can do it, but they're trying.

by BeyondDC on Jul 29, 2009 11:53 am • linkreport

Why propose only four stories for a new Safeway apartment building. This is a desirable location with great access to public transportation.

There are already numerous pre-existing 6-8 story+ buildings nearby. Its only a block from the Cairo for goodness sake! There is no reason for shorter buildings to be taken as the base line while the taller ones are dismissed as anomalies.

Historically, taller buildings were frequently built along side older, lower ones. So if anything, building something taller would fit in with historic precedent better than attempting to stay the same height as the older ones.

by Daniel on Jul 29, 2009 11:56 am • linkreport

This isn't really the place to say this, but I want to profusely and sincerely apologize to the pedestrian I very nearly ran over this morning while I was biking to work. It was my first time on a bicycle in 20-some years and I promise that I was trying very hard NOT to hit you when I lost control of the bike. *hangs head in embarrassment*

by Remorseful bicyclist on Jul 29, 2009 12:05 pm • linkreport


I give up - "how many PhDs in DC does it take to grow a tree?"

by Jazzy on Jul 29, 2009 12:16 pm • linkreport

if you're interested in street festivals, come check out the first ever art walk on bloomindale's 1st street. sure, it's going to be tiny compared to the dog days event on 14th, but i think it's a darn good effort by our little neighborhood!

i'll be at the k street meeting tonight!

by IMGoph on Jul 29, 2009 12:30 pm • linkreport

I would agree that bike lanes do not need to be part of the K Street Transitway and that the appropriate solution is to place them on a pair of parallel streets. Multi-modal station hubs are a must. But cramming two-way traffic for every mode onto one street is overbearing. Rather than have K Street be a Jack of all trades, master of none let's get the separated transit (hopefully streetscar) lanes implemented in the best possible fashion and focus the bike solutions onto the parallel streets.

by Paul S on Jul 29, 2009 12:31 pm • linkreport

I dunno if I'd consider hiking in suburban Montgomery County (construction zone notwithstanding) as "spending the weekend quietly with nature"...

by Froggie on Jul 29, 2009 12:31 pm • linkreport

Attn DDOT: Can you please make 7:00 PM the absolute earliest you start these meetings? Nobody I know can make a 6 or 6:30 meeting.

by JTS on Jul 29, 2009 12:48 pm • linkreport

Historically, taller buildings were frequently built along side older, lower ones. So if anything, building something taller would fit in with historic precedent better than attempting to stay the same height as the older ones.

Daniel, Building 'something taller' alongside 'older, lower' buildings/houses was one of the means by which historic neighborhoods were destroyed. The incongruence of heights forced a change in use. Neighboring houses stopped being the type of places people wanted to call 'home' and got converted into office space, which made it all the easier to raze them and add them to the crop of high rises.

Even going 4 stories at that site might be a stretch. 17th Street isn't a commercial corridor like 14th. It is legally defined as 'neighborhood serving retail' (i.e., your 'corner' stores for a neighborhood.) A 4 story Safeway may be too large as a store in and of itself. Also, combining it with residential would only aggrevate the existing problem of having residential facing outside terraces which are open late.

That particular Safeway used to have parking on the roof ... and that may be the way to go. Add one additional level of 'store' and 2 (or more) levels of 'parking' above the store. I know I now only use it for picking up the odd item even though I am only a couple blocks away. I drive to Harris Teeter for the regular weekly shopping. Return a parking deck to that Safeway, and I might start doing all my shopping there.

by Lance on Jul 29, 2009 3:52 pm • linkreport


I believe the "Soviet" part of the "Soviet Safeway" is probably the reason most people choose not go to that Safeway. High prices, poor selection, and surly service only work when people have no other options.

I disagree that taller buildings inherently drive people away. I think that you are mixing up a few things.

1.) A lot of the taller buildings in DC's core are unattractive brick boxes built on top of historic mansions. But that clearly isn't the case here. Nothing historic is being destroyed, and there is no reason why a traditional style building can't be built.

2.) In the past, office space has indeed displaced residential areas. But I attribute that to high demand for office space in central DC and the resulting high returns for those buildings. That's why these areas are zoned residential, not commercial. Its a matter of building owners making more money for office space, not the height of the buildings driving people away. For an example of a desirable area with tall(for DC) buildings, look at the price per square foot in West End.

by Daniel on Jul 29, 2009 5:29 pm • linkreport

I seem to be on a roll with promoting things... so here's another: also near 14th & U -- The Washington Improv Theatre is hosting Improvapalooza at the Source Theatre located just to the south, along 14th Street.

by Bossi on Jul 30, 2009 9:51 am • linkreport

I'm with Lance on this one. If something goes on top of the 17th St Safeway (and something should) I would hope it not overpower the dominant scale of Corcoran, which is a pretty narrow street with houses set close to the sidewalk.

by Mark on Jul 30, 2009 3:49 pm • linkreport

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