After fatal crashes, interim Florida Avenue NE bike safety improvements put in place

bike lane florida ave ne
New bike lanes are an interim safety step along Florida Avenue NE. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

One of the District’s most dangerous stretches of roadway for pedestrians and cyclists — Florida Avenue, Northeast — has new safety improvements in place.

After the April 2019 death of bike safety advocate David Salovesh and the 2013 death of pedestrian Ruby Whitfield, near the New Samaritan Baptist Church, the District Council pushed for interim safety improvements while the District’s Department of Transportation works on final designs for the Florida Avenue NE Multimodal Transportation Project.

Wednesday morning, new safety improvements were in place in a nine-block stretch of Florida Avenue, near Gallaudet University.

From 3rd Street NE to West Virginia Avenue NE, two adjacent protected bike lanes — one in each direction — run along Florida Avenue on the south side of the street.

While not as protected as a curbed bike lane would be, the new lanes are separated by sturdier plastic bollards — DDOT refers to them as K-71s — which are stronger than the flexible, thinner poles used in the past.

In addition, hard rubber parking stops, placed between bollards, aim to help prevent cars and trucks from veering into the bike lanes.

New traffic signals and signage have also been erected.

Florida Avenue NE serves as the main street for the Gallaudet University campus and residents of Wards 5 and 6. It will get even busier, with the development of Union Market and the NoMa business district.

DDOT began safety and planning studies in 2013, focusing on the Florida Avenue corridor from New York Avenue to H Street/Benning Road.

Once the final design is complete, and contracts secured, DDOT says construction of the permanent reconfiguration of infrastructure and traffic flow will begin in spring 2021.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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