DDOT 17th St. Bike Plan – ‘Flying bythe Seat of Our Pants’

For Release: Monday, July 19, 2021

Contact: Nick DelleDonne , 

delledonne.n@comcast.net, 703 929 6656

 

DDOT 17th St. Bike Plan – 'Still Changing, but Final’

Recent media reports on the confusing and dangerous DDOT 17th St. Bike Plan have prompted DDOT finally to respond to requests from Dupont East Civic Action Association (DECAA) a public presentation. DDOT’s latest response, July 16, lists a dozen ‘challenges’ it is still working on, and adds, “but the plan is final.”

Among the ‘challenges’ DDOT is still working on are:

1.     ADA compliance

2.     Safeway deliveries

3.     “incursions by drivers of large vehicles” into the bike lane

4.     loading and no parking zones for large trucks

5.     “desired driver behaviors” in Pick Up and Drop Off and building entrance zones

6.     streatery owners’ needs for as-short-as-possible construction schedule.

 

In DECAA’s view, items like ADA compliance and delivery “adjustments” for Safeway are not “minor.” Others, like “desired driver behaviors” and “incursions” into the bike lanes, need explaining. Indeed, DDOT’s response implies that it has no final plan for 17th Street and is ‘flying by the seat of its pants,’ at the expense of residents, as was suggested in two recent media reports:

 

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/transportation/debate-over-new-bike-lanes-heats-up-in-northwest-dc/2728475/


https://www.wjla.com/news/local/some-dc-residents-denouncing-expanded-bike-lanes-say-will-eliminate-parking-spaces

 

DDOT’s determination to proceed without full public information and community engagement is most puzzling, to say the least. Why is DDOT citing a more-than-year-old public ‘listening session’ as sufficient public involvement for a project that is, as DDOT admits, changing?  What is DDOT afraid of?  Is there uncomfortable/damaging information that might come out in a public discussion?  This is hardly an example of the Bowser Administration being open and transparent.

 

DDOT says it wants to ensure the “safe movement of all transportation modes, pedestrians, bicyclists, car drivers and freight delivery vehicles.”  DECAA certainly support that policy, including for bikes. However, DDOT’s stonewalling on community engagement on the 17th Bike Plan is leading many to the conclude that DDOT favors bicycles over other transportation modes,” said DECAA president Nick DelleDonne.

 

Twenty merchants, including Safeway, TrueValue and CVS have requested a public presentation. A city-wide coalition on DDOT Bike Plans will be the subject of DECAA’s meeting tonight at 7 by Zoom. Here is the link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82392919871?pwd=UnFBQURJU0ZaaktxeFVhQWIwODdLdz09 

 

Here is the email DECAA received from DDOT July 16

Good morning Mr. Delle Donne-

 

Thank you for your email. 

The plan for the 17th St NW Protected Bike Lanes project has been presented numerous times to the public since 2017. Most recently, it was presented in June 2020 and the public comment period for this project closed on August 13, 2020. This date was extended from our usual 30-day comment period to 51-days as mandated by the Mayor during the public health emergency. 

Design changes to the blocks on 17th Street from P Street to R Street were made to accommodate the streateries, which the restaurant owners deemed as critical to their continued operations, and residents and visitors enjoyed during the pandemic. In July 2020, ANC 2B issued a resolution in support of the original design with the caveat that DDOT do whatever possible to accommodate the streateries and loading zones between P Street and R Street. Most businesses on 17th Street, as well as Councilmember Brooke Pinto, and other elected officials supported this design change. 

This project is under active construction and is nearing completion. We expect to have all infrastructure installed in the street by the end of next week, with signage to follow. DDOT has responded and will continue to respond to concerns and suggestions. Here are some of the challenges which we are currently working:

·         We are in the process of identifying parking spaces along this corridor for dedicated ADA vehicle use. 

·         We are in direct contact with Safeway Operations staff and will continue to work with them to find solutions that ease their freight unloading and loading operations. 

o   It is important to note that the protected bike lane is designed for occasional incursions by drivers of large vehicles, provided they are fully aware of their surroundings and not creating a hazard for any other traveler. This feature allows the roadway to be narrower and function more safely for all other users.

·         We are working with businesses to adjust loading zones and expand No Parking Zones to accommodate other large truck turn radii.

·         We are reviewing the current Pick Up and Drop Off zones and building entrance No Parking Zones to ensure that they are supporting desired driver behaviors. 

·         DDOT agreed with the streatery owners’ request to delay the start of construction after the busy 4th of July weekend. DDOT construction crews have expedited the in-street construction so it can be completed as quickly as possible, and streateries can be reinstalled and open for business as soon as today.  

 

Throughout this project, DDOT has consistently adhered to our primary mission of improving the safety of all travelers, no matter their mode. DDOT will continue to closely monitor this corridor for the safe movement of all transportation modes, pedestrians, bicyclists, car drivers, and freight delivery vehicles. DDOT will make minor adjustments, as noted in the items above, but the plan is final. 

As I mentioned previously, we anticipate construction to be completed by July 23, 2021. 

Regina Arlotto, AICP

Transportation Planner, SRTS

Active Transportation Branch

District Department of Transportation
250 M Street SE, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20003

o. 202.671.4602

m. 202.744.5814

e. regina.arlotto@dc.gov

w. ddot.dc.gov

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