New bike lanes and walkways headline DDOT’s plans for a new C Street NE. The changes will go a long way in making it a complete street that’s safe for everyone.

Image from DDOT.

The proposal is to cut one driving lane in each direction on C Street between 16th Street and Oklahoma Avenue and use that space to add protected bike lanes (which we also call protected bikeways.

West of 16th, where C Street becomes a one-way street, the westbound bike lane will continue on to 14th Place and the eastbound one will run along North Carolina Avenue from 14th Street.

The project also calls for new sidewalks and full time parking on each side of the street, bulb outs, and rain gardens.

Base image from Google Maps.

C Street is breaking new ground for DC

The District currently has one-way protected bike lanes with flexiposts along L and M Streets, a two-way protected bike lane with flexposts along 15th Street, and a two-way protected bike lane with curb separation along 1st Street.

But the type of bike lanes DDOT wants for C street would be a first for DC, and they’ll likely make people using the street both on bikes and on foot more comfortable.

Image from DDOT.

The first distinction is that they’ll be raised to the sidewalk level, which will provide another barrier to separate bikes from vehicles.

Also, a landscaped area will go between the road and the bike lane, providing a lot more protection than the traditional small two foot-wide curb or flexi posts. There will also be a landscaped area between the bike lanes and the sidewalk.

Finally, since the bikes lane are at the sidewalk level, which is above the road, there are two options: bring the bike lanes and sidewalk down to the road level at crossings, or vice versa. The design will bring the road up to the level of the bike lanes and sidewalk. That means C Street will essentially get speed bumps with crosswalks on top of them, which should cause cars to slow down as they cross or make turns where people on bikes and foot use the street.

An example of raised crossings from Boulder, Colorado. Base image from Google Maps.

A C Street with fewer car travel lanes and bulb outs at intersections will mean people who want to cross on bike or foot won’t have to cover as much distance. In fact, the crossing distance will shrink from 90 feet to 44, and includes a pedestrian refuge in the median at most crossing locations.

Raised crosswalks, fewer car travel lanes, and smaller turning radii will slow vehicle speeds and provide better sight lines, helping C Street to do its part in achieving DC’s Vision Zero goal.

This has worked elsewhere

Looking outside of DC, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a great example of a raised, two-way protected bike lane that has been extremely successful and seen high levels of use.

DDOT’s planning phase should wrap up before the end of 2015. Neither funding nor a construction schedule are nailed down yet, but it’s likely the project will move forward. All good work starts with a good plan, and this one is off to the right start.

Adam Lind moved to the Ballston area of Arlington after earning his Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech in 2012.  He currently works on bicycle and pedestrian projects for Fairfax County DOT. He is an active cyclist and transit rider and interested in improving sustainability though transportation.