The DC Department of Transportation (DDoT) has just put out an online survey on the 15th Street bike lane and traffic configuration. There are 48 questions and it will probably take about 10 minutes to complete the survey; there are also numerous places for written comments. The questions cover the bike lane as well as current traffic conditions and general safety on 15th Street, especially for pedestrians.
Paper copies are also being distributed to residents on live on or near 15th Street between Massachusetts Avenue and U Street NW.
The contraflow bike lane was installed last November after extensive studies about what to do with the 15th Street traffic pattern—one of the options was to make 15th Street two-way, adding southbound traffic.
The final option—not one that was originally proposed and still billed as a test—was to put a southound bike lane on the west side of 15th Street (it’s a northbound street north of Massachusetts) between the curb-sidewalk and parked cars. This protects cyclists from the northbound traffic. There is also a share lane on the east side of 15th Street for cyclists riding north to share with cars.
The bike lane opened to great fanfare last fall with Mayor Adrian Fenty, an avid cyclist, and Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) both on hand to cut the ribbon.
- 15th Street: The 2-Way, Multi-Purpose Bike Lane
- Reader Survey Says: 39% Walk to Work
- 15th Street: City Poobahs Speak, Cut Ribbon, Ride Bikes
- Watch for 2-Way Bike Traffic in 15th Street Bike Lane
- New Signage to Go with 15th Street Bike Lane
- Reconfiguration of 15th St. NW: What We’re Getting
The DDoT introduction and background information, along with another link to the survey, is below the fold.
Alex Baca will be writing about community and development issues for Borderstan, including occasional reports on local Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. She also writes for the Housing Complex blog at Washington City Paper.
The famously sprawling ANC 1B (Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw/U Street, and University Heights) held its monthly meeting last Thursday, May 6, at the Reeves Center, 14th and U Streets NW.
Amongst the slew of liquor license applications and renewals, the evening’s agenda also included the public safety report and design reviews of the African American Civil War Memorial Museum.
The United Negro College Fund’s agreement to occupy the site between S and T at 7th Street NW started the meeting on a high note. The Shaw space was intended to house Radio One, which backed out in February. UNCF’s forthcoming move elicited quite a few smiles from the commissioners—as well as a unanimous move to write a letter to the City Council supporting a potential $1.5 million tax abatement for UNCF.
Liquor License Requests: Masa 14’s Rooftop Deck
But things heated up as representatives from local establishments came forth to request liquor licenses. Masa 14 had their request protested in the name of “parking, peace, and quiet” alongside potential neighborhood newcomers GII and The Florida Cafe. The commission, as is typical, recommended that the businesses attempt to reach a voluntary agreement with the neighborhood associations before coming before the ANC.
ANC 2B-Dupont meets at 7 pm at the Brookings Institution, 1772 Massachusetts Avenue NW. With Mike Silverstein stepping down as chair, the commission will elect a new head from among the nine commissioners. Also on the agenda are a resolution to propose honorary naming of a street after Dr Franklin Kameny… and a resolution for Mayor Adrian Fenty to rescind a Certificate of Appreciation to Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays. Regarding that mistaken certificate to the Ex-Gays group: there is a group on Facebook, “Un-Invite Mayor Fenty from Capital Pride Unless he Meets These 3 Demands.”
Voting ends at midnight on Wednesday for the Washington City Paper’s 2010 RAMMYS with results announced June 6. You can vote for your favorite restaurants in four categories:
- Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year: Two 14th Street establishments, Cork and Bar Pilar, are among the five nominees.
- Power Spot of the Year
- Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year: Birch & Barley – Church Key and Masa 14 are the local spots on the nominee list.
- Your Favorite Restaurant: Write in your pick.
The monthly Logan Circle Community Association membership meeting is from 7 to 9 pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle, N.W. Tentative agenda items include discussion of upcoming projects, including branding and marketing the Mid City Arts District and planning and implementing the Logan Circle Heritage Trail. We anticipate success in funding these projects with external financial support.
Greater Goods at 1626 U Street NW hosts a free talk about energy efficiency. (From Free in DC)
Ganymede Arts has produced a local version of Naked Boys Singing and it’s at 1409 Playbill Cafe, 1409 14th Street NW. Times are Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 6 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 5 and 7 pm. Naked opened Friday and runs through June 13.
The 4th Annual “Blessing of the Dogs” at National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle, 10 to 10:20 am. From National City: “All dogs – big, small, young, and old – and their companions are encouraged to attend the blessing. During the twenty-minute service, staff from Dogs by Day, a doggie daycare and boarding facility located on 14th Street NW, will be on hand to make sure all dogs and their owners are well-behaved, comfortable, and content. Each dog in attendance will receive a special certificate commemorating the occasion, and a photographer from National City Christian Church will be on hand to capture the event.”
This week is a Q&A with four ANC commissioners from the three ANCs that serve the Dupont-Logan-U Street area; we asked each commissioner the same four questions.
The Q&A with these four commissioners is below the fold:
- Jack Jacobson, ANC 2B04, which is the single-member district (SMD) on the east side of ANC 2B-Dupont, running from 15th to 17th Streets.
- Peter Raia, ANC 1B02, which is an SMD on the south side of ANC 1B, which serves the U Street area and encompassing parts of both U and 14th Streets.
- Charles Reed, ANC 2F01, which is an SMD on the west side of ANC 2F-Logan, including part of the 14th Street corridor. Reed is also the chairman of ANC 2F.
- Mike Silverstein, ANC 2B06, which is an SMD on the south side of ANC 2B-Dupont, south of the Circle. He is also the chairman of ANC 2B.
One of the local governmental institutions that seems to generate the most confusion among Washingtonians, especially newcomers, is that of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs.
This is ironic since ANCs are actually the unit of government closest to DC residents. For example, each single-member district of ANC 2B-Dupont has about 2,000 people—governmentally, that is as local as it gets in a city of 600,000.
In the Dupont-Logan-U Street area, ANCs tend to be newsworthy when a restaurant or bar wants to open or expand or have outdoor seating. But, what do ANCs do? What is their role in DC Government? If you don’t know, you are probably in the majority in DC.
This is part one of a two-part series—today is the basics, the mechanics of ANCs. On Friday we will have Q&A with four ANC commissioners from the three ANCs in our neighborhood: ANC 2B-Dupont, ANC 2F-Logan and ANC 1B, which includes the U Street area. Continue reading
If the local political scene has you baffled, here is a very very brief backgrounder on mayoral elections before we get to the reader poll. And, for coverage of DC politics, here are some suggestions.
Read the Washington City Paper; its “City Desk” and “Loose Lips” columns/blogs are very informative. The DC Agenda (the weekly gay newspaper) is another good source of information on DC politics as WAMU-88.5 FM. Naturally, the Post covers local politics in detail and the dcist is another good online source of city news.
As noted, the race for DC mayor is underway. Since this is an overwhemingly Democratic city, the Democratic Primary in September (on the 14th this year) has always determined the winner; the November general election is an afterthought. In 2006, the Republican and Green Party candidates got 6% and 4% of the vote, respectively.
Just how Democratic is DC? There are 12 members of the DC Council and a Council chairman. The city’s homerule charter actually reserves two spots for the non-majority party (the Democrats). Both of those seats are now held by independents (David Catania a former Republican and Michael Brown, who is really a Democrat).
The only time there was a serious general election campaign was 1994 when former Councilmember Carol Schwartz got 42% of the vote as a [liberal] Republican. She was running against Marion Barry who was making a comeback after four years out of office; he is now a member of the DC Council from Ward 8 (there is much more to the Barry story, as you undoubtedly know).
Let’s see how Borderstan readers feel about the race for mayor, specifically the September 14 Democratic primary. (Other declared candidates are Leo Alexander and Donna Alston.) It will be interesting to compare our readers versus those of the Prince of Petworth, who recently ran a poll. We will also have reader polls soon for the At-Large Council seats and the Council Chairman.
Note: DC’s primaries are “closed”—you must be registered in a party in order to vote in its primary. Moreover, if you are not registered in a party, you are ineligible to vote in any primary. If you want to vote in the September 14 Democratic primary (or the Republican or the Statehood Green Party), you must be a member of that party.
On Monday, the DC Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary will hold hearings on the “Neighborhood and Victims Rights Amendment Act of 2010.” Time is 11 a.m. in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If you want to provide testimony on the bill, the deadline to sign up is 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday); details on how to sign up are below the fold.
The crime bill was introduced by two Councilmembers—Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2)—and is supported by Mayor Adrian Fenty. Evans represents the huge bulk of the Dupont-Logan area while Graham represents a slice of the area with the U Street corridor. However, most of Graham’s district is further north and centered in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. (Evans recently announced his candidacy for chairman of the DC Council in the September primary.)
Provisions of the Bill
According to Evans’ office, the bill does the following: Continue reading
Last week the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) announced that it would begin enforcing the 25% limit on the number of bars and restaurants allowed to operate in the Arts Overlay district of the 14th and U Streets NW area. The 25% figure is calculated on the store frontage of businesses in the district, not on the total number of establishments.
According to DCRA, “the 25% cap applies only to eating or drinking establishments located along the lots fronting on 14th Street (between slightly north of N Street and Florida Avenue) and U Street (between 9th and 15th Streets).”
The Arts Overlay was put in place in 1990 to make sure that art galleries and related businesses and groups would have a place to set up shop—and to prevent the area from becoming exclusively a club and restaurant strip. In 1990, though, the 14th and U Street area was much different from today: It was not particularly hip… and it certainly was not expensive.
Reaction and a Fix
Reaction from the MidCity Business Association and other organizations was swift: raise the percentage of street frontage for bars and restaurants to 50%. Councilmembers Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) favor the move. In fact, ANC 2F/Logan Circle formed a special Arts Overlay Committee last year and it reached the same conclusion: raise the limit to 40 to 50%.
Moreover ANC2F/Logan went on record earlier this week supporting the higher number. The headline of the ANC release is “ANC-2F Declares 14th Street ‘Open for Business’ ” and the opening graphs of the release read:
April 13, 2010 –The 14th Street corridor is an important engine for both economic development and arts institutions in the city, and requires the presence of responsible establishments that serve food and liquor. ANC-2F will not allow a poorly-designed and antiquated zoning rule to impede future development that benefits the entire community. Our neighborhood is open for business. The existing law fails to provide amenities that the neighborhood wants and that our Arts District needs. Based on extensive community input last year, ANC-2F asked the city to update this rule to allow restaurants and bars to occupy up to 50% of each zoning square in the Arts District.
City officials recognized that restaurants and clubs (often high-end ones) have played a huge role in the area’s retail development in the past decade; it seems to be a done deal that the 25% limit will be overturned within three months. (You can read the MidCity follow-up statement as well as the news releases from ANC2F and Evans online.)
The southbound bicycle lane on 15th Street NW has turned into a two-way bike lane and, sometimes, a multi-purpose lane. Southbound cyclists now regularly share the lane with northbound cyclists. In addition, the dedicated lane—between the curb and parked cars on the west side of the street—sometimes hosts rollerbladers, skateboarders, parents with strollers, joggers and motorized wheelchairs.
The bike lane opened last November as a pilot program. The lane’s purpose is to give bikers a safe, wide lane between the curb and parked cars to ride southbound on 15th Street—which is a one-way, northbound traffic street north of Massachusetts Avenue. In addition, the city created a shared lane on the east side of 15th Street; the far right lane is to be shared by northbound cars and bikes and there is signage on the pavement to that effect.
The dedicated curb-side bike lane grew out of the DC Department of Transportation’s study of what to do with 15th Street: basically, whether to leave car traffic one-way or turn it into a two-way street. The removal of one lane of northbound car traffic has also effectively slowed the speed of car traffic on 15th Street during evening rush hour.
One danger to northbound cyclists (and other users) is that there drivers are not looking for them. The signage put up by DDoT with the bike lane only instructs drivers to look for southbound cyclists when turning left off 15th. In addition, pedestrians now have to remember to watch for cyclists coming from the south.
So now what?
- Should the city bow to the reality of the situation and turn the southbound lane into a two-way bike lane?
- Is the bike lane wide enough for two-way bike traffic? Should the city widen it?
- What about other uses for the lane? Are joggers and rollerbladers a danger to cyclists?
- Are people using the bike lane for other purposes because the sidewalks are too narrow and/or in disrepair?
The new sidewalks on the 17th Street corridor are getting a touch of brick—instead of being fully bricked. The areas next to the curb are brick and there is a brick accent toward the center of the sidewalk. Work is underway to complete the sidewalks on the west side before warm weather, and outdoor dining, arrives. Get updates on the 17th Streetscape project at the project Web site.