NYC DOT has been on a tear recently converting some excessively wide, one-way neighborhood streets like Carlton Ave in Fort Greene and 9th Street in Park Slope into two-way streets with medians and bike lanes that balance the needs of cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

DC has some of these too, like 15th Street NW, a four-lane (plus parking) high-speed road that’s about as wide as a Manhattan avenue but with much less traffic. As DDOT’s traffic study (not posted yet online now here) says,

In the 1960s’, transportation officials converted many of the District’s two-way streets to one-way traffic to move large numbers of vehicles in and out of the city. Back then, moving cars was a priority. In the 21st century, however, the situation looks different. Residents enjoy biking and walking to nearby destinations and to downtown, 15th Street itself, with one-way, high-speed traffic, resembles and urban freeway and does not reflect the neighborhood through which it flows.

When I’ve visited the area, that street has a a less pedestrian-friendly, neighborhood feel, making it quite simply less pleasant to walk, shop, or live in that area.

The draft traffic report, which I got a copy of at last night’s Dupont Circle ANC meeting, considers four options:

  • 3 northbound lanes, 1 northbound bicycle lane
  • 3 northbound lanes, 2-way cycle track
  • 2 northbound lanes, 1 southbound lane, and 2 bicycle lanes
  • 1 northbound lane, 1 southbound lane, 1 middle turn lane, and 2 bicycle lanes

I’d like to see DDOT evaluate making the bike lanes on both sides into physically separated bike lanes, to further increase safety and stop the bike lane from becoming frequently blocked by trucks, as often happens with regular lanes. Overall, it’s really great that DDOT is using 21st century thinking, seeing its job as much more than speeding as many cars as possible through all parts of the city. NYC DOT just got there a year ago with its new leadership, while DC has been ahead of the curve.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). 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 lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.