ANC1B asked DDOT to explore ways to fill a gap in the 11th Street NW bike lane between Florida and Vermont avenues and held a meeting Thursday to talk about it. Many neighbors along 11th Street are strongly opposed to the bike lanes, primarily because it would require removing about 30 parking spaces.
DDOT also provided information about crashes along the section of 11th Street. Officials reported that there were more crashes on that section of 11th than on similar sections of 10th and 12th streets. When asked who was to blame, DDOT representatives noted that some of the crashes were due to cyclists running stop signs, but many more were from right hooks or doorings.
DDOT presented 4 alternatives. In Alternative 1, parking would be taken out on the east side and replaced with a one-way buffered bike lane going north. Alternative 3 was much the same, except the parking was replaced with larger lanes in each direction, each with sharrows down the middle.
Alternative 2 did not remove parking, but it did change 11th to a one-way, one-lane street with bike lanes in each direction. This would require rerouting buses and much more analysis. Alternative 4 replaced the east side parking with a two-way cycletrack down the center. This would require cyclists to move to the left to get into the cycletrack on one end and to the right to get out of it at the other.
Opposition mostly centered around removing the parking. “I am opposed to removing any parking at all. Period,” said one woman. “11th Street is too narrow for two-way traffic and bikes” another added. Many of these same critics sought other, less intrusive, options.
One suggestion was to reroute cyclists instead of buses. “You could remove the bike lanes from where they are now and move them to another street,” said a speaker. “There’s room on 13th.”
DDOT transportation planner Jim Sebastian replied that bikes have a right to the street. “There’s bikes on every street and, where ever we can, we put bike lanes in,” he said. “It would be almost impossible to reroute bikes because they’re legal on every street and they use every street. They’re going to go where they’re going to go. There isn’t room on 13th and if there were, we would put bike lanes there also because we have bikes on every street in this area.”
Audience suggestions included signs, enforcement, education, rumble strips, bicycle priority lights, and lower speed limits. Some audience members suggested a two-way cycletrack like on 15th Street, and center bike lanes like on Pennsylvania Ave NW. Others suggested continuous green shared lanes, which are shown to have limited effectiveness, though a study in California finds they reduce bicycle crashes.
Sebastian agreed that there were many options, but pointed out that the best success is found when engineering, education and enforcement were all used. DDOT did shoot down one suggestion for reversible, rush-hour traffic lanes because, as a matter of policy, the agency is moving away from that kind of design.
In addition to complaining about the loss of parking, many complained about scofflaw cycling behavior. One person criticized DC for allowing sidewalk cycling, which is legal on this stretch, and told stories about the one time they saw a tourist on a bike cut off a bus. Sebastian noted that adding bike lanes has been found to discourage sidewalk cycling. The committee chair tried to direct the conversation away from this issue, since DDOT was the wrong agency to deal with it.
The committee chair wanted to have a vote on a preference among one of the existing proposals, but ANC 1B02 representative Jeremy Leffler argued that any vote on the issue needed to be postponed. “We have too many issues with parking, so taking 30-40 spaces away is just a non-starter,” said Leffler. “Any option is going to have to not effect parking.”
Leffler complained that cyclists coming down 11th Street don’t stop at the stop signs, but motorists do and so this committee needs to talk with the Public Safety Committee and the MPD before proceeding.
When asked to give a show of hands, 13 out of 25 people opposed removing parking. Leffler suggested that only people who live on 11th Street should vote. Had that actually happened, it might have showed that the only people who wanted to retain their parking were those who live on 11th.
In the end, the ANC decided to send DDOT back to the drawing board and to discuss it again at the end of September. Leffler also wanted to invite abutting ANCs and more ANC 1B representatives to the next meeting.
“The problem is not ANC 1B people, it’s the people coming out of Columbia Heights, going 40mph, joyriding into our community and not stopping,” he said.
A version of this post appeared at The WashCycle.