Woodley Place NW where new bicycle lanes could go. Image created with Google Maps.

Bicycle lanes on Woodley Place NW would fill in a critical gap in Woodley Park's bicycle infrastructure. On Monday, March 18 ANC 3C commissioners will discuss a District Department of Transportation (DDOT) proposal to add the lanes.

Biking from Ward 3 into Adams Morgan is dangerous

Bicyclists riding from the northern and western parts of Ward 3 (Van Ness, Tenleytown, and Chevy Chase Circle) face challenges in reaching Adams Morgan. Currently, they are encouraged to travel on either Cathedral Avenue or Garfield Avenue to 26th Street, where they must cross to Calvert Street.

This route takes the cyclist up both 26th Street and Calvert Street, two roads that put the rider in danger. Both roads are very steep and heavily travelled by vehicles going at high speeds. Current alternatives involve biking on sidewalks or on Connecticut Avenue itself, both of which have obvious drawbacks.

Allowing cyclists to cross Connecticut Avenue at Cathedral Avenue and then use Woodley Place (in red on the map below) to reach Calvert Street would be safer for bicyclists. Right now this is not possible, as the two blocks of Woodley Place are one-way in opposite directions. Any cyclist who would use this approach would run directly into oncoming traffic.

The red line shows where the lanes could go on Woodley Place. Image created with Google Maps.

To remedy this problem, DDOT has proposed adding a six-foot contraflow lane (a lane in which traffic flows in the opposite direction of the surrounding lanes) to both blocks of Woodley Place, a road that is much more lightly used that Connecticut Avenue due to its one-way configuration. Contraflow lanes have been an effective strategy for bike lanes in other parts of DC including Champlain Street NW, 11th Street NW, and New Hampshire Avenue NW.

Contraflow lanes on G Street NE. Image created with Google Maps.

Currently, Woodley Place has a single 17-foot-wide vehicle travel lane and parking on one side of the road. The proposal would narrow the lane to 11 feet, and would also include sharrows for cyclists traveling with traffic. It would not remove any parking spaces.

DDOT’s proposal has generated a negative response from some neighborhood residents. Some have raised concerns that adding bicycle lanes would pose difficulty for delivery trucks, impede access for fire trucks, or somehow be a safety risk for cyclists and pedestrians. However, narrowing the travel lane will slow drivers down, which increases safety for everyone, and contraflow lanes have proven successful in other parts of the city.

All of these issues could likely be resolved through discussion between ANC Commissioners, neighborhood residents, cyclists, and DDOT. ANC 3C will discuss the DDOT proposal at its meeting March 18 meeting at 7 pm at the Cleveland Park Library.