Washington, D.C., plans to add 30 miles of new bike lanes over the next three years, including 2 miles along busy 9th Street NW in Shaw, but businesses there worry the bike lanes will kill their business as they are trying to rebound from the pandemic.
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration plans to build the 2 miles of cycle track between Massachusetts Avenue and Florida Avenue.
“We were a part of this developing this part of the city,” said Thomas Abebe, owner of Right Spot Restaurant & Bar.
His family’s investments in the neighborhood started 30 years ago, though the past year or so has been among the hardest.
“Due to COVID, we’re already lose a lot and we’re struggling to come up,” he said.
Parking is already at a premium. When the bike lane planning started two years ago, there were no streateries.
Under the new proposal northbound 9th Street would lose one travel lane.
The D.C. Department of Transportation says traffic volume analysis shows a minimal impact on congestion and an increase in safety for people on two wheels, but merchants worry the loss of parking will have more than a minimal impact on business.
“We’ve got to balance things,” said Alan Ebert of 9th Street Business Association. “We definitely believe in cycle safety, in bicyclists being safe.”
But he says they were blindsided by DDOT’s announcement Friday.
“Let’s look at other plans,” he said.
“A great one would be, actually, make this block one-way going south,” said Alex Padro of Shaw Main Streets. “That would allow you to have plenty of room for the bicycle lanes. You could even implement angle parking here.”
There will be discussion and outreach among stakeholders, like Washington Area Bicyclist Association, which supports the lanes, and businesses both for and against the plan.
Construction on the cycle track won’t begin before 2022.