DDOT to install Virginia Avenue bike lane this fall

A new two-way bike lane could be installed near campus, following a notice of intent that the District Department of Transportation issued late last month.

DDOT announced plans to install the lane along Virginia Avenue from Rock Creek Trail to Constitution Avenue in hopes of connecting Rock Creek Park to the National Mall for local cyclists. The installation would become the third major protected bike lane project near campus in the past year, after officials completed a new lane on G Street and started constructing lanes along 20th and 21st streets this fall.

“Protected bike lanes on Virginia Ave NW have been part of strategic planning efforts for many years and will help close a gap in the regional bikeway network,” the project’s notice of intent reads. “When the project is complete, people on bikes will have a safer connection from Rock Creek Trail, Theodore Roosevelt Bridge/I-66 trail, Capital Crescent Trail and National Mall to Downtown.”

Jeri Epstein, the chair of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said ANC commissioners are “very supportive” of bike lane projects and expect to approve the initiative at their monthly meeting next week.

Epstein said installing the new bike lane along Virginia Avenue would offer cyclists a safe travel method and ultimately help the District become more “bike friendly.” She said the lane would encourage commuters to opt for a more healthy and eco-friendly means to travel around the District instead of driving a car.

“We will never get rid of cars,” Epstein said. “It’s not going to happen. But we could provide an option where people who are not attached to their cars – didn’t love them – say, ‘Wow, I don’t need to take my car out. I could take a bike, a scooter, I could walk. I think there are a lot of options for me. Why don’t I be a healthier person?’”

The notice of intent states DDOT officials plan to start construction on the bike lane in the fall.

Alumnus James Harnett, a recent graduate and the former chair of the ANC, said the plans are part of a “long-term strategy” by the District government to build protected bike lanes across the city.

“It will allow you to get on campus from G Street, where we have a two-way protected bike lane, to the National Mall and to Rock Creek Park and all the way up to Maryland in a protected cycling environment,” he said. “This is the last gap we need to fill to make this network a reality, and that’s why it’s really exciting and why I’m so happy to see D.C. moving forward on this.”

Harnett said he hopes installing the bike lane will be a step toward the District’s Vision Zero goal, aimed at eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries. He said he wants to incentivize the use of other forms of transit like cycling and public transit to limit the number of cars in the District and slow the effects of climate change.

“This road right now is dangerous,” he said. “It’s oversaturated with travel lanes, it’s way too big, so this project represents a really great step forward in preserving human life and making sure that moving forward we have an environment that allows everyone to be safe.”

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