Rendering of proposed bike lane on New Mexico Avenue from Greg Billing of WABA.
Last night, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D voted 5-4 to support adding bike lanes to New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road in northwest DC. They also voted in favor of wider sidewalks on Nebraska Avenue, and asked DDOT to do a traffic study of New Mexico Avenue to help improve traffic flow and safety around Ward Circle.
Ultimately, both sides on this issue wanted the same thing: a safer, less congested New Mexico Avenue. But some residents and ANC commissioners believed that bike lanes and sharrows would exacerbate the current “chaos” and “Armageddon” on the road.
Supporters, meanwhile, argued the opposite: that the project will bring more order to the street, clearly delineate a space on the road for cyclists, remove cyclists from sidewalks, and make cycling a more attractive option to people who currently drive.
As we wrote yesterday, the bike lanes would improve traffic and make cyclists and pedestrians safer. In the audience, speakers who supported the bike lane outnumbered those who opposed it by 4 to 1.
Supporters said that bicyclists tend to support local retail and that the bike lane is a vital connection between Glover Park, American University and Tenleytown, especially now that the N8 Metrobus between those areas has been canceled.
Opponents, meanwhile, declined to support the lane because DDOT didn’t perform a traffic study beforehand, as the ANC had asked in 2011. Some stressed their support for bicycling and environmentalism, and claimed that by opposing the lane, they were actually supporting cyclist safety.
There are some traffic issues on New Mexico Avenue today, like trucks unloading outside the Foxhall Square commercial center and blocking the street. But fixing these problems should not be a precondition to move forward with a bike lane, as opponents say. Commissioner Rory Slatko passionately defended the plan, and said that since bicyclists are already riding on New Mexico Avenue, any additional delay to the project puts them in danger.
While the debate over better bike infrastructure may not be settled, this chapter is over. By supporting bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue, ANC 3D took a positive step to improve conditions for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians and endorsed a much-needed connection in DC’s growing network of bike infrastructure.