15th Street bike lane almost done, but won't go north of U
The protected, contraflow bike lane on 15th Street will be completed this week, DDOT officials say.
After notifying residents from Massachusetts Avenue to U Street, DDOT has been hard at work painting the lane, installing pylons, and putting up signs:
Top: Bike lane installation. Photos by ReadySetDC. Bottom: New signs. Photos by Eric Gilliland.
DDOT's contractor also started to install the lane between U and V Streets, which makes a lot of sense to connect to the east-west bike lane on V Street. However, they didn't inform residents along that block ahead of time. According to DDOT spokesman John Lisle, that's because the design hadn't actually extended to V.
Some residents alerted Councilmember Jim Graham, whose ward is north of U, who told DDOT, who promptly took out that segment. Graham emailed the U Street News list:
This weekendGraham makes an ongoing good point about DDOT communication failures. Recently, a DDOT crew repairing Corcoran Street between 14th and 16th decided that it would be a good opportunity to fix some longstanding sinkholes on Corcoran between 16th and 17th. However, they didn't talk to residents of that block, who would have liked to widen the sidewalks while DDOT was redoing the curbs anyway, and put some tree boxes in inappropriate places.
— with little or no notice or explanation — DDOT temporarily removed parking for an entire block of 15th Street (between U Street and V Street).
Parking is very scarce in Ward 1 neighborhoods. Residents should not be asked to live with such surprises.
I am currently working with DDOT to make sure that area residents are properly notified for all non-emergency removal of parking.
DDOT has in mind a good purpose
— a 15th Street Bike Lane Project — but that does not excuse the need to let people know what is happening when a whole block of parking becomes eliminated. Once proper notice is given, and Ward 1 neighborhood reaction solicited, we can better understand that DDOT proposes to establish a pilot bike lane without any loss of parking on 15th Street above U. It may make great sense for pedestrians, bicyclists and people who need to park!
I do appreciate that DDOT pulled out the poles once I brought this omission to their attention.
However, Graham also seems far more concerned with a temporary loss of parking than safety and mobility for bicyclists. DDOT should notify people about any project, not just ones that involve taking away parking. And if they had planned to extend the lane to V Street, would losing parking for a few days be a reason to halt the project? Moreover, now that we're building it, why not extend the lane to V anyway? Without that, riders in the lane on V will have to ride on busy 14th or 16th and U Streets for a block, or go illegally the wrong way down 15th or New Hampshire.
It's great that Graham supports the lane, but does he only support it "without any loss of parking?" Is even a single parking space more important than bicycle safety?
The problem is that Graham hears loud wails from some Ward 1 residents anytime anything happens with parking. Since he needs to get reelected next year, that means that pandering to irate parkers is a clear path to votes. He needs to hear from bicyclists and those who support complete streets in his ward as well.
DDOT will consider extending this lane up to the "death star" intersection of 15th, W, Florida, and New Hampshire when they replace the temporary safety fixes with a more permanent solution.
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