Proposal for new bike lane receives support from students and residents alike

Proposed bike lane would increase safety for cyclists in Glover Park neighborhood

Proposal for new bike lane receives support from students and residents alike
wheelin’ in — D.C. is planning to increase its bike lanes from 45 to 80 miles. A section of Pennsylvania Avenue running from the White House to the Capitol will even ban cars from its middle lane.

Cyclists and advocates agree on two things about biking in D.C.: first, that it’s dangerous, and second, that it doesn’t have to be.

A proposal for a protected bike lane near campus would help to fix at least part of this issue in the District’s Northwest quadrant. On July 7, a proposal for the creation of a bike lane in the Glover Park and Cathedral Heights Neighborhood received unanimous support from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission District 3D. 

The proposal would create a protected lane for cyclists on New Mexico Avenue, Tunlaw Road and 37th Street NW. Currently, there is no protected lane so cyclists must ride in the street and risk getting hit by oncoming traffic.

“DDOT’s goal and the goal of [Ward 3 Bike advocates] is to have a protected bike lane that all users can be comfortable with...to have people be comfortable and confident that they’re going to be safe and using this road,” Steve Seelig said, in an interview with The Eagle. Seelig is a member of Ward 3 Bicycle Advocates, a group that hopes to improve conditions for cyclists in Ward 3. 

The proposal was originally presented by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to ANC commissioners in January, and then to residents in February. It has since been discussed at many meetings and other forums.

The District has no protected bike lanes west of Rock Creek Park. While some streets have signs from DDOT designating them as bike routes, they don’t have a lane designated for cyclists, leaving them unprotected from cars. 

ANC 3D07 Commissioner and American University junior Christian Damiana said that the proposed lane isn’t just about creating one bike lane, but a network of bike lanes across the city to protect cyclists. 

Damiana also added that there are plans in the works to create an extended sidewalk on Nebraska Avenue, one of the main roads along AU’s campus, which would create a safe space for cyclists and pedestrians to use the road.

“Biking has some clear economic benefits in the city that we don’t talk about very much, but it’s very clear that when people ride bikes, they spend more. It’s very clear that when people ride bikes, they have a lower carbon footprint,” Damiana said. “It’s clear that when people ride bikes, they are going to be more in touch with their community and know their neighbors better. These are all things we need to be encouraging,” 

Proponents of the protected lane agree that it would benefit the entire community, not just cyclists. 

“The reality is it’s better for all drivers, because they have fewer cars to be with and can get to their destinations safer,” said Paul Klein, a junior in the School of Public Affairs. Klein uses both his own bike and Capital Bikeshare to get around the District.

Opposition to the creation of the lane stems from the removal of some street parking in the neighborhood. However, Damiana said that the ANC worked closely with DDOT to minimize the loss of parking. 

“We all have a responsibility to keep everyone in our community safe, especially our most vulnerable road users,” Damiana said. 

The final step of the bike lane becoming reality is for DDOT to issue a Notice of Intent, which would then initiate a public comment period that lasts for 30 days. After that, DDOT will consider the opinions of the ANCs and consult with other relevant parties. Damiana said DDOT is expected to give the NOI during the fall or winter months.

“It’s absolutely a necessity. And something that will benefit not only AU students but the community as a whole. Protected bike lanes making commuting, for all people, safer, and slower, easier,” Klein said. “You’re protecting cyclists, you’re protecting pedestrians, you’re providing incentives for people to give up cars for short trips.” 

nheller@theeagleonline.com 

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