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DDOT abandons plan to add protected bike lanes in Connecticut Avenue stretch

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer
A cyclist whizzes down a bike lane on G Street.

Updated: April 19, 2024, at 4:27 p.m.

D.C.’s Department of Transportation announced last week that the District will not move forward with a plan to install protected bike lanes along a three-mile stretch of Connecticut Avenue.

Officials abandoned a portion of The Connecticut Avenue Multimodal Safety Improvement Project — a plan to add one-way protected bike lanes to both sides of the street from Calvert Street NW to Legation Street NW — because of concerns about the effects on businesses, loss of parking and access for seniors and those with disabilities. Bicycling advocates have long considered Connecticut Avenue dangerous due to the number of crashes involving bikers on the road, and in October, a driver struck and killed a GW graduate student while he was riding through the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and L Street.

From 2015 to 2019, there were 1,507 crashes on Connecticut Ave between Woodley Park and Chevy Chase with more than 100 crashes involving people walking and biking, according to a 2020 DDOT study. Connecticut Ave is a six-lane 30-mile-per-hour roadway and the city removed reversible driving lanes in 2021 due to safety concerns. 

In 2021, DDOT and District Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to “Concept C” as part of the project, which proposed safety changes for the roadway, including the addition of two bike lanes and the removal of reversible lanes. Other proposed safety improvements included the addition of left and right turn lanes at intersections, pedestrian refuge islands and curb extensions, intersection realignments, prohibition of right turns on reds, and reducing the posted speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. 

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association posted a petition on their website Friday following DDOT’s announcement, calling on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council to restore the plan for protected bike lanes. The petition states that the addition of bike lanes would improve safety along the corridor while also helping the city reach its climate goals by reducing the number of trips made by car.

The plan to add protected bike lanes faced criticism from Save Connecticut Ave, a group founded in January 2022 to advocate against bike lanes on the avenue. 

Lee Mayer, the president of Save Connecticut Ave, said in a testimony at the DDOT Oversight Hearing in February that the addition of protected bike lanes would limit the avenue’s accessibility for seniors and those with mobility challenges by eliminating direct access to the curb. The addition of bike lanes would create a distance between the road and the sidewalk, requiring individuals to step up over the curb when exiting a vehicle.

“We maintain that Connecticut Avenue must be safe for all users and especially seniors and the mobility challenged who require direct access to the curbs,” Mayer said in the testimony.

Fifty-two people were killed in traffic accidents in the District in 2023, a 49 percent increase from 2022 and the largest number since 2007 according to MPD data.

This post was updated to correct the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Connecticut Avenue has reversible bike lanes. The city removed reversible driving lanes in 2021. We regret this error.

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