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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Protected Bike Lanes Coming to M Street SE

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8F (ANC 6D) met on Jan. 24. Commissioners Nic Wilson (8FO1), Rick Murphree (8F02), Brian Strege (8F03), Edward Daniels (8F04), Clayton Rosenberg (8F05), were in attendance. Gottlieb Simon conducted the first ANC 8F election. The commission unanimously voted for a slate: Strege, secretary; Murphree, treasurer; Rosenberg, vice chair; Daniels, chair.

M Street Protected Bike Lane
Sean Burnett, manager of the DC Dept. of Transportation’s (DDOT) Bicycle Team, briefed the commission on the agency’s plan to install a two-direction protected bike land on eastbound M Street SE between First and 11th Streets SE. DDOT has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the project, having completed 65 percent of its design. Installation is slated for summer 2023, Burnett stated. The agency is accepting public comments until Feb. 28.

DDOT’s has two objectives in installing the protected bike lanes (PBLs). The first is to physically separate modes of transportation. This, Burnett stated, is a fundamental safety tenet. PBLs effectively segregate cars from bikes, but also from pedestrians. This reduces possible “zones of conflict” between them, decreasing the incidents of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.

DDOT’s second objective is to slow traffic speeds on city roads. PBLs reduce the number of automobile lanes. The narrowing of the street limits the speed of cars traveling its length, said Burnett.

To further reduce conflict, DDOT plans to install one floating and three share bus stops. PBLs will be clearly marked to encourage cyclists to slow down while transiting the area surrounding the stops. Furthermore, the agency plans to limit non signalized intersections on M Street to “right in and right out.” More signals will be introduced to control north bound left turns from eastbound M Street car lanes.

We are confident that this is a major improvement in safety for the corridor,” Burnett stated.

Burnett’s presentation was received skeptically. DDOT was planning installation at the height of baseball season, they pointed out. What provisions were being made for baseball traffic, they asked? Chair Daniels castigated the agency for failing to update its Traffic Operation and Parking Plan for the two stadiums before the advent of the 2023 season.

Commissioners questioned Burnett about how deliveries might be accommodated when the PBLs blocked curbside access. They pointed to the difficulties created by the neighboring First Street SE PBL, which narrowed the road to a single lane in either direction while blocking curbside access. Most of the curbside abuts The Navy Yard wall and the US Dept. of Transportation (USDOT), which do not allow street side deliveries, Burnett countered. Commissioners cited their experience watching delivery vehicles servicing Starbucks and events at the USDOT.

Stopped delivery vehicles will simply block the automobile travel lanes, Chair Daniels stated. The Metropolitan Police (MPD) will ticket the offenders, Burnett countered. Daniels disagreed. MPD has told the commission that it will not enforce traffic laws, he stated. “What happens when the enforcement piece isn’t there and it doesn’t work as you envisioned,” Daniels asked?

“DDOT may be making it better for bikers and pedestrians, but the changes may make cars more reckless,” stated Commissioner Wilson. What is the agency’s plan if the new design does not work, he asked?

Commission Rosenberg questioned whether the road changes would reduce accessibility for the disabled. “Making roads smaller doesn’t help us at all,” he stated. Burnett acknowledged reducing the travel lanes for cars may cause congestion elsewhere in the neighborhood as drivers seek routes around the bottleneck.

Commissioner Murphree suggested the DDOT bike team conduct a block-by-block survey of M Street SE to ensure all conditions were taken into account.

DDOT is accepting comments from residents until Feb. 28. The commission took no vote on the matter.

Other Matters
MPD Kevin Captain Harding briefed the commission on public safety. The Half Street homicide near the metro has been closed and a 31-year-old suspect charged. The victim was targeted. Overall crime is down in the PSA, Harding stated.

The commission voted unanimously to:

  • approve commission’s 2023 budget;
  • approve participation in the ANC Security Fund and $50 payment;
  • approve the commission’s bank account;
  • approve the schedule for public and administrative meetings.

ANC 8F generally meets on the fourth Tuesday on the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28 at DC Dept. of Transportation Headquarters, 250 M Street SE,. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit www.ANC8F.org.

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