Proposed Bike Lanes, N Street One-Way Animate ANC Meeting


Two informal proposals to install marked contra-traffic-flow bike lanes on busy residential Georgetown streets intersecting Wisconsin Avenue produced animated conversation during and after the Aug. 30 meeting of the Georgetown/Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission. According to ANC 2E Chair, Rick Murphy, the proposals generated a historic number of attendees at the virtual meeting.

As conceptualized, the D.C. Department of Transportation plan would add two-way bike lanes to both Dumbarton Street NW (between 31st and 28th Streets) and N Street NW (between 28th Street and Wisconsin Avenue). Vehicular traffic flow on Dumbarton Street would continue to flow east on the one-way street, while N Street would be converted to a one-way street, allowing only western-flowing auto traffic and the two-way bike lane. The design concept is intended not only to cut down on side-swiping auto accidents on N Street, but to reduce automobile speeding while increasing the city’s bicycle pathway infrastructure.

Georgetown residents expressed heated pros and cons to the ideas as well as heard moderating opinions by a number of former advisory neighborhood commissioners and community leaders, many of whom had lived through similar proposals by DDOT in years past.

This is only a preliminary proposal, an idea, not a done deal, DDOT official Will Hansfield who presented the concept said repeatedly. Formerly the transportation development planner with Georgetown’s Business Improvement District, Hansfield is well acquainted with the views of many of Georgetown’s outspoken residents and seemed eager to let them be expressed. 

Most commentators seemed to believe that encouraging biking on the mostly one-way Dumbarton Street was natural. There is plenty of room even with parking on both sides of the street for bikes to travel safely with or without an official lane.  A well-marked bike path could perhaps make it more orderly if there were more bikers, but right now it’s not a problem, several noted.

“There really is no problem biking on Dumbarton as it is now,” said former commissioner Tom Birch, who reported that he had just returned from a two-month biking trip through bike-friendly Denmark. 

One parent of a small child disagreed.  He said he would probably feel easier if there were a marked bike lane that his growing son could plainly see and stay within the confines.

No parking for residents would be lost in the bike lane proposal. Photos of other areas in the District showed ample room for parking on both sides of the street, a marked bike land and one lane of traffic.  But the matter of enforcement was questioned – to be or not to be, in the Danish sense one might say.

However, making several blocks of N Street one-way was met with more questions. Most agreed that the 3100 block of N Street with drivers turning onto or off Wisconsin Avenue or trying to cross the avenue from a jammed N Street narrowed further with a streatery serving Café Georgetown, was probably a good idea. But many longtime residents questioned the sudden proposal to make the entire eastwide street one-way going west.

“This surprise idea is typical of the increasing non-transparency of the Department of Transportation,” grumbled commissioner Lisa Palmer, seconded by former Citizens Association of Georgetown president Pamla Moore.

Commissioner Gwen Lohse also put the kibosh on the idea of extending an official bike lane on Dumbarton Street into Rose Park and past the popular Department of Parks and Recreation toddlers’ playground to connect with the National Parks Service’s newly resurfaced north-south bikeway. “Too complicated. Too many jurisdictions,” Lohse concluded.

More than 140 viewers logged in to the official September 2021 ANC meeting held on Monday evening, Aug. 30 — the ANC2E’s largest attendance since the pandemic and virtual meetings began in the spring of 2020. Commissioners did not entertain any resolution about the bike lanes or N Street one-way proposal at this time.

 

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