Rejoice, transportation wonks! DDOT's newest toy, the District Mobility data portal, is a deep dive into how Washingtonians use DC streets.
From ridership at individual bus stops, to which streets are safe for children to bike on, never before has so much data on DC transportation been compiled into a single source. And much of it is illustrated beautifully via interactive maps and charts.
The portal focuses on “street travel,” not Metro or other train systems, and goes into detail on driving, busing, biking, and walking in the city.
DDOT put this together so its workers will have easy access to the crucial information they need to plan and operate DC's streets. It'll help identify problem areas, prioritize construction projects, and provide a benchmark to measure future progress.
In the meantime, it's crazy interesting to delve into.
Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:
The most congested streets are east-west, and buses suffer especially
According to the street congestion metrics, the slowest stretch of road in the entire city is K Street at rush hour. Buses there have it especially bad, averaging just 3.5 mph, barely beating walking speed. Most of the worst travel times in the city are on east-west roads downtown, and in Columbia Heights. The average bus speed almost anywhere in the city is 10 miles per hour or slower during rush hour, and only 5 mph downtown.
When combined with the lack of east-west routes further north, there is a serious impediment to crosstown travel, for both cars and transit. It's one reason why it's so important that the K Street Streetcar will have dedicated lanes.
Buses are overcrowded for good reason
It’s not only outside the bus that is congested. Inside is too. Most of the city's bus lines are stuffed with riders. WMATA officially designates overcrowding at 120% of seated capacity, which is an uncomfortable ride for all passengers. In the morning rush, 40 different bus lines in the city meet that overcrowding standard. On the S line, which has one express and three full service routes, at least one route is overcrowded at all times.
This crowding is understandable because buses are so convenient to so much of the city. Everyone within the red area of this map, the large majority of city residents, is a 5 minute walk away from a bus that will arrive at least every 10 minutes at rush hour.
Of course, not all the buses are on time. The portal tells us where on time performance is good, and where it's bad. The 90 north from U Street to Calvert Street NW is the latest bus in the city, averaging six minutes late. Meanwhile, the W5 west at Anacostia station and the V5 north at H St SE both routinely arrive seven minutes early, confounding riders who rely on the schedule.
Downtown doesn't have enough bike lanes
People traveling on bicycles cluster strongly in the center of the city. And although downtown DC has a lot of bike lanes and scores highly on DDOT's Pedestrian Friendliness Index, which judges how easy it is to walk in a neighborhood, it's by far the most stressful place in the city to use a bike.
This map shows which DC streets are safe for anyone to bike on, as opposed to streets that only expert bicyclists can be comfortable using. Notice the empty downtown.
A commuter with easy access to a bike may not have easy access to a safe biking route. Downtown is packed with crowded “high stress” streets and intersections, where heavy traffic makes it uncomfortable for most cyclists to ride. This is why downtown has huge need for better bike lanes, even though it already has more than other parts of the city. There's a lot of bike traffic, but not many comfortable biking routes.
There's so much data here. What can you find?
This post only scratches the surface of the data available. If you're reading this, and if you've gotten this far down, odds are you're interested. What stands out to you that I didn't report?
The main portal is at DistrictMobility.org. Start there. But to really dive in, be sure to open up the Project Summary Report and the Technical Summary, both of which go deeper than the interactive portal.
If you see something interesting, send us a post about it!