Photo from Google Street View.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) may decide not to remove the service lane on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, even as the agency takes public input on it. Could a temporary closure show how it would work for businesses and pedestrians?
The proposal to remove the service lane, which was built in the 1960’s, and restore a wider sidewalk has generated much debate in Cleveland Park. Merchants are concerned about losing business if there are fewer parking spaces, but a recent survey shows that many many more people visit Cleveland Park on foot or transit and would enjoy a wider sidewalk.
Yesterday, Fox 5 reporter Beth Parker tweeted that, according to DDOT spokesperson Reggie Sanders, the agency has ruled out changing the service lane. However, in emails, both DDOT Associate Director Sam Zimbabwe and staff for Councilmember Mary Cheh say that the agency hasn’t actually made a final decision, It seems as though someone at the agency spoke out of turn, but Sanders’ comment suggests that they are likely to indeed decide to do nothing.
This would be a perfect place for DDOT to experiment with a temporary pedestrian space. Cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have done this to give new public spaces a test run before making them permanent.
DDOT could simply rope off the service lane at each end, preventing drivers from entering, and make small, reversible changes, like paint or movable potted plants, to make it more welcoming. Businesses along the street could use the space for tables and chairs and sidewalk sales. Merchants, residents, and DC officials would be able to see how closing the service lane could make Cleveland Park more exciting and vibrant without any risks.
It is not too late to ask DDOT to try this out. The public comment period on DDOT’s study is open until November 13, and tonight’s public meeting is still on. The agency will finish the study at the end of the month.
If you would like to share your opinion about the future of the Cleveland Park service lane, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know which of the 4 proposed options for changing the service lane you prefer.
You may also attend the final community meeting tonight from 5 to 8:30 pm at the Cleveland Park Library, located at 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW.