DC’s plans to redesign Connecticut Avenue won’t include bike lanes

D.C.’s Department of Transportation isn’t moving forward with a project that would have installed bike lanes along a stretch of Connecticut Avenue in Northwest.

At a council hearing Thursday, DDOT acting director Sharon Kershbaum said changes to the busy road won’t include bike lanes.

“It has always been a safety project,” Kershbaum said. “It’s on our ‘High Injury Network.’ And somehow, over the years, that kind of morphed into a bike project.”

Proponents of the project argued that it would make Connecticut Avenue safer for cyclists. But opponents said it would harm businesses by taking away street parking and could result in more drivers cutting through surrounding neighborhoods.

The project would have added bike lanes to a several-mile stretch of the road that went from Woodley Park to Chevy Chase.

Moving forward, Kershbaum said, the city is hoping to “identify some other alternatives that are really safe and robust for protected bike lanes and that that would be where cyclists would choose to use to travel north to south.”

The owner of Happy Go Bikes along Connecticut Avenue, who asked not to be identified by name, said he anticipated the bike lanes were unlikely to get installed because of the long delay in the project. Few cyclists use the road, he said, because they consider it dangerous.

He stays on the sidewalk if he’s riding his bike in the area.

“With the bike lanes, I think you’d see a number of people riding down Connecticut Avenue to get to work,” he said. “It’s the shortest route to get downtown.”

But residents like Lee Mayer had concerns about what bike lanes would mean for traffic and businesses. Mayer, who is president of the group Save Connecticut Ave, said the president of the D.C. police union argued bike lanes could slow first responders down and result in longer response times.

Lee Mayer, president of the group Save Connecticut Ave. (WTOP/Scott Gelman)

The project may have also made the road more dangerous, Mayer said, “with people having road rage and trying to get off of Connecticut Avenue, diverting onto neighborhood streets.”

Mayer is also worried about the business implications.

“Where would anybody who wants to drive to a restaurant or go shopping, where would they park?” Mayer said.

Michael Harrison, manager at Parthenon Restaurant & Chevy Chase Lounge, called the city’s decision to not move forward with the bike lanes “a great victory for this community.”

“To the cyclists, I don’t know how many there are out there. But there’s sidewalks, there’s back roads, there are streets. They’re already on those anyways, just continue with what you’re doing,” Harrison said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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