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Hill Makes Pitch for Protected Bike Lanes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The commute could get a little easier for cyclists who trek between Union Station and Capitol Hill, if Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers and local transportation officials can agree.  

Support for a protected bike lane on Louisiana Avenue has grown steadily in recent months, with the Congressional Bike Caucus and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen backing the plan. On Wednesday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., added her voice to the chorus. “This project has broad support from the community and Members of Congress, and it would provide a vital benefit to the many residents, visitors, and workers that traverse the area by bicycle,” she wrote in a letter to Ayers and District of Columbia Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo.  

Only four blocks stretch between the protected bike lanes on First Street Northeast and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, but multi-lane roadways, speedy traffic and tricky intersections complicate the ride. Filling in the missing link on Louisiana Avenue would improve safety for locals and tourists alike, advocates say.  

“The situation is particularly acute because Union Station annually welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors, many of whom are destined for the Capitol and the National Mall. Most of these visitors are unfamiliar with District roadways and therefore require the physical separation and way-finding that only a protected bike lane can afford them during their uniquely special visit to the Capitol,” D.C. resident Joe McCann, a member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association member, argued in an Oct. 8 WABA blog post .  

Biking advocates like McCann convinced DDOT to include the Louisiana Avenue lane in its planning documents. Both the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan and the 2014 MoveDC plan identify the path. But the pavement is under the Architect’s jurisdiction.  

This summer, Ayers stated he was working jointly with DDOT to evaluate the feasibility of the route. “We ask for your patience as we consider traffic and transportation impacts, safety and security policies, and work with our stakeholders to develop a workable solution,” he stated in a June 2015 letter.  

As the House debates a surface transportation reauthorization, Norton asked Ayers to keep her office informed.


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