Dupont residents divided over proposed dedicated bike lane project


Courtesy of Elvert Barnes Photography

A standing room only crowd — out the door and down the hallway — convened for ANC 2B’s first meeting of 2019.  But despite the excitement of new Commissioners’ swearing in and the election of new officers, most were in attendance to weigh in on a single controversial topic: Bike Lanes. 

In general, ANC 2B has a long-standing record of supporting a variety of methods of transportation and has become one of the most accessible neighborhoods in the District.  Yet when it comes choosing where to reduce lane widths or eliminate residential parking spaces, neighborly conversations become heated. 

Increased bicycle and vehicular traffic congestion has created the need to expand DC’s network of protected bike lanes, and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been evaluating select streets in Dupont to launch a future dedicated bike lane project. 

The purpose of the evaluation was to determine whether 20th, 21st or 22nd Street might be best suited for the bike lane, and whether a fully protected lane on any street, or a 65% protected 21st Street alternative, might be the best solution. 

ANC 2B had not yet come to a consensus on the preferability of either a 20th or 21st Street option in advance of Wednesday night’s meeting.  Nor did the it after hearing much debate from community members.  In fact, after over two hours of testimony and discussion, Commissioners still felt they needed more time to deliberate, and the motion was tabled. 

The concerns expressed included a not insignificant number of residents frustrated about not having knowledge of the project, although DDOT did hold public meetings on May 23, 2018 and December 5, 2018 to gather community feedback and created a website to keep the public as well informed about the project as possible.  It should be noted that no representative from DDOT was present at ANC 2B’s meeting.

Parking space loss was also a loudly voiced concern.  Some residents most concerned about parking preferred the proposed 21st Street contraflow bike lane alternative, which would create an unprotected northbound contraflow bike lane and a southbound shared lane for both bicyclists and motorists north of New Hampshire Avenue.  This option would reduce the displacement of Residential Permit Spaces, and was the preference of the ANC 2B Commissioners, should DDOT choose 21st Street. 

20th Street, on the other hand, may be better suited to a 100% protected two-way bike lane, but would be a shorter corridor between D and Q Streets.   

With no vote on the motion, the ANC will return to the Protected Bike Lanes Project resolution at its February 13th meeting.