ANC 8F Supports But Questions M Street Bike Lanes

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DC Smart Streets Lighting Project which will upgrade the District’s more than 72,000 streetlights. Courtesy: ddot.dc.gov/page/streetlights

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8F (ANC 8F) met on Feb. 28. Commissioners Nic Wilson (8FO1), Rick Murphree (8F02, treasurer), Brian Strege (8F03, secretary), Edward Daniels (8F04, chair) Clayton Rosenberg (8F05, vice chair), were in attendance.

At their February meeting, commissioners voted to send a letter of conditional support for the installation of a two-way Protected Bike Lane (PBL) along M Street SE between First and 11th Streets. This requires the removal of a westbound travel lane and the installation of several bus stops. The changes are designed to increase bike and pedestrian safety.

Commissioners raised concerns about previous DDOT bike PBLs. In particular, they pointed to the half-finished PBL on New Jersey Avenue SE. The changes there left only two automobile travel lanes in place. Now, package delivery drivers routinely block traffic to unload parking in either the travel lanes or crosswalks.

“We’ve experienced a lot of projects that are not working, they create more hazards and create problems in the neighborhood,” Chair Edward Daniels said of their conditional support. “We need a plan B.”

The commissioners also objected to the project’s timeline. It is slated to begin during the peak seasons of the Washington Nationals, DC United and the Yard’s Park’s summer concert series, all of which bring large numbers of people to the area.

The commission is committed to pedestrian and cyclist safety, stated Daniels, but remains wary of creating new problems in the process.

“We definitely support the project and want to make sure that all of us get around our city safely,” Daniels said. “But we don’t want to continue to create more issues than we’re solving.”

Other Matters

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Captain Kevin Harding briefed the commission on crime. Car thefts, he said, continue to be an issue and encouraged residents to utilize any cameras or recording devices at their homes to help MPD find offenders.

Commissioners and community members discussed the preliminary plans for the DC Smart Streets Lighting Project which will upgrade the District’s more than 72,000 streetlights. This modernization process will include converting streetlights to LED technology, adding wireless access for repairs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by more than 50 percent. Wireless access is aimed to reduce the time it takes to repair streetlights. Learn more at streetlights.dc.gov.

The commission supported a public space application to add sidewalk seating at Swizzler (1259 First St. SE) as well as the the National Cherry Blossom Festival Petal Palooza, which takes place on April 8 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

ANC 8F generally meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for March 28 at DC Dept. of Transportation Headquarters, 250 M Street SE. For more information, visit anc8f.org.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.