Why Protected Lanes?

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Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane Study

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Why Protected lanes? Why Here?


The District of Columbia is a compact city with relatively small distances between residential and commercial areas. For residents of DC, bicycling is often the fastest way to travel between home and the store, work, school, or other destinations.  This project will provide a safe, continuous, separated bicycle transportation infrastructure between some of the densest and fastest-growing areas of DC, connecting residential, retail, and institutional land uses with the downtown core.


The neighborhoods at the north end of downtown, including U Street and Shaw (which have seen increased development and population), have shown bike commuting trips in excess of 10% of total commuting trips. The District as a whole has seen the number of people commuting by bicycle quadruple in the past 10 years. This increase can largely be attributed to the following:



The need for protected bike lanes, which are physically separated from general travel lanes, stems from their increase in safety over riding a bicycle in mixed traffic or directly adjacent to vehicle travel lanes. DDOT surveys have shown that the majority of both people on bicycles and people driving prefer the separation between cyclists and motor vehicles provided by the protected facilities that have been installed on 15th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.


There are multiple east-west dedicated bicycle facilities traversing the areas in and around downtown. However, only 15th Street provides contiguous north-south protected facilities in the city core, leading to a large downtown north-south gap in the protected bike facility network between the Metropolitan Branch Trail and 15th Street.


This project will fill in the gap connecting downtown and the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes to the neighborhoods north of downtown, which have the highest rates of commuting by bicycle in the District. It will enhance the grid network of bicycle facilities in the downtown area, connect multiple east-west facilities, and encourage more people to ride bicycles, relieving the demand for short trips on bus or Metro.