At 15th and L Streets NW, where the old Washington Post building is now a giant hole in the ground and construction on a new building is underway, the sidewalk along the western side of 15th is closed. Thanks to the slowdown in foot traffic, a coffee shop there is has closed its doors for good.
Fans of locally roasted coffee knew something was up when Bean & Bite, which has been around since 2012, posted a note a few weeks ago explaining that they would unexpectedly be closed for the near future.
Then a new sign announced that it was closing for good: “It has been a hard fought battle losing so many customers from the demolition of our neighboring buildings,” the latest note reads. “Not to mention all the construction, lane, and sidewalk closures that have made it hard for customers to come back.
There’s a law in DC that says that when construction closes a sidewalk or bike lane, developers have to provide alternative accommodations. But that hasn’t happened here. Instead, when demolition began, the sidewalk disappeared entirely and signs pushed pedestrians to go out of their way and use the other side of the street. People ignored the signs and walked along an alternative lane that was supposed to be for bicyclists.
While a separate temporary sidewalk appeared for a couple of months, we’re now back to where we started: Pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, and more sharing one narrow lane on the side of the street. And they have one less coffee shop to pop into along the way.
Bean & Bite’s closure goes to show that neglecting pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure comes at a price for small businesses.
I’ll miss you Bean & Bite. Peet’s just isn’t the same.
(But look: Greenpeace climbed a crane on the neighboring construction site to call for resistance to this tragedy! How nice of them.)