Takoma DC street by the author.

DC is taking a comprehensive look at how to improve the transportation network in neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park to make it safer and more accessible for all road users. Residents there want more bike lanes, traffic lights, and barriers to make streets more walkable and otherwise safe and useable.

That’s according to people at the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) second “livability” presentation, held on June 12 at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church. This meeting was Phase II of the agency’s livability study.

The Rock Creek East Liveability study area includes the Shepherd Park, Brightwood, Manor Park, North Portal Estates, Colonial Village, Takoma, and Lamond Riggs neighborhoods. Image by DDOT.

DDOT’s goal overall is to improve safety for people traveling in the area. According to the study page, liveability “refers to community quality of life as experienced by the people who live, work, and recreate there. In a transportation context, livability refers to improvements in public space that increases safety and access for all users of the transportation system.”

This includes traffic calming (especially in busy corridors), and identifying and addressing issues that impact people walking, bicycling, and taking transit, as well as drivers and people making freight deliveries. It’s also looking at how to improve accessibility around public facilities like schools, parks, and recreational centers.

During this event, DDOT zeroed in on key areas it had pinpointed through public comments, as well as through other data the agency had gathered. Residents were encouraged to add to a growing list of recommended updates to areas surrounding Rock Creek in Ward 4 and marked their recommendation on maps.

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Image by the author.

Carrie Moskal, who lives in Shepard’s Park, said she would love to see more movement with protected bicycle lanes in her neighborhood: “I would certainly love to see an entire network of protected bike lanes, not just painted lanes that start and stop out of nowhere.”

Moskal averages between 12-14 miles every day on her bike commute. She says she is forced to ride two miles out of her way because of the way the bike lanes are currently situated.

“I would love to see a way to get across Rock Creek Park for cyclists and pedestrians because currently there’s no safe way to get across unless you are in a car,” Moskal said. “There’s not even public transportation options across the park.”

Image by DDOT.

Brightwood resident Etienne Eaton says he has been working with DDOT for several years to get a resolution regarding old jersey barriers that block his cul de sac at Tewkesbury Place NW. Not only do people throw trash by the barriers, but the street has become an impromptu parking lot. Drivers leave their car there to go to the businesses in the area or to commute into the city on the 79 bus.

“There have been some DDOT-implemented quick fixes that we were promised would be temporary,” said Eaton. “[The jersey barriers] been left there for 10-12 years….DDOT said they would come back to discuss or implement permanent solutions.”

Eaton’s street is one of the few areas with no parking restrictions, and he and his neighbors would like to prevent people from using the area as their own lot.

Cynthia Lin, Project Manager for DDOT talks to residents about the study. Image by the author.

Some improvements are already being installed. Tim Sidbury, who lives in the study area, was pleased to see a speed bump being constructed on his block on McDonald Place.

“I actually saw them on my street today,” Sidbury said. “It looks like it is going to happen. We’ve been asking for this for six years.”

Next steps for the study are conceptual designs, followed by another formal public meeting slated for September, according to Cynthia Lin, DDOT Transportation Planner and project manager for the study. You can find more information and updates at DDOT’s Rock Creek East I Liveability study site.