The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will begin work August 7 to remove one travel lane on M St SE (First Street to 11 Street SE) and install a two-way Protected Bike Lane (PBL). Bus boarding platforms will be installed at three locations, and bus stops will be consolidated to these locations to enhance bus efficiency and rider safety.
Off-peak parking will be removed from the south side of the corridor, while the north side will continue to have off-peak parking access. Medians at minor cross streets will be modified to enforce a right-in/right-out access pattern to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety at cross walks.
The project is part of the MOVE DC plan, the District’s long-range transportation plan. It accounts for all modes of mobility but prioritizes methods other than driving in planning.
At their February meeting, Commissioners voted to send a letter of conditional support for the installation of the PBL. But, 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.”
With additional reporting from Andrew Lightman and Sarah Payne.