Northwest DC

Debate Over New Bike Lanes Heats Up in Northwest DC

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The battle between bikes and cars is heating up in D.C., where more bike lanes are being installed.

While many neighbors are in favor of bike lanes along a stretch of 17th Street NW near Dupont Circle, others are crying foul over the process and the result, which has been confusing as delivery drivers compete with cars for curb space and bicyclists compete with delivery trucks and pedestrians.

“We’re concerned about seniors with walkers; we’re concerned about toddlers tied together with a rope on their way to day care,” Dupont East Civic Action Association President Nick DelleDonne said.

“If you create confusion, you’re going to put them in peril,” he said.

Acting Director of Transportation Everett Lott is sympathetic to neighbors’ concerns.

“The 17th Street protected bike lane project is a critical connector for cyclists who are riding through the downtown core,” Lott said in a written statement. “We ask that the community bears with us while we try to accommodate the restaurants and the active construction that will last another few weeks. This is a heavily used street with a lot of competing demands at the curbside.”

“On 17th Street, DDOT worked for years with the neighborhood commission through a public process to determine the best design for a safer street,” the Washington Area Bicyclist Association said in a statement. “Thanks to that process, all but one ANC 2B commissioner voted in support of the plan now being installed on 17th Street, which adds safe options for biking, improves safety for walking and still preserves the fantastic streateries that have helped 17th Street businesses afloat.”

The District has about 100 miles of bike lanes and plans to add 20 more miles in the next two years.

The Glover Park neighborhood in upper Northwest is slated for new bike lanes along Tunlaw Road, 37th Street and New Mexico Avenue.

The plan would eliminate as many as 182 residential parking spaces along those roads.

“I think everybody in neighborhood is pro safety and pro bike, but I think the concern is the loss of 75 percent of the parking in the neighborhood is going to lead for a less safe environment, not a more safe environment,” homeowner Chris Finnegan said.

“There will be some tradeoffs that we have to make as a community,” Lott said in his statement. “We are committed to presenting options for discussion and engagement with the residents about what will work best for this community.”

“In Glover Park, we are similarly a few years into a public discussion on this project,” the Washington Area Bicyclist Association statement said. “One of three ANCs (3D) has already voted in favor of protected bike lanes for Tunlaw Road because increasing sustainable transportation options is an important part of making D.C. more affordable, accessible and inclusive. This planning process is far from over, and now is a great opportunity to get involved to ensure the project includes a win-win for everyone who travels on this street.”

The D.C. Department of Transportation won’t begin installing those bike lanes until next year.

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