Letter in Support of the 11th Street NW Corridor Transportation Project
Praises and supports extension of the bike lane north of Massachusetts Avenue
Councilmember Nadeau shared with the District Department of Transportation her support and the support of all ANCs along the corridor. This is an incredible opportunity to fill a bike transit gap that has existed until now.
Residents have made clear with their voices and their biking and scootering patterns the importance of 11th street to their commutes. It is one of the busiest north-south corridors in the District, and the easiest hill to tackle to get up the escarpment that runs along Florida Avenue. The route also connects many public facilities, including 10 schools and two major recreation facilities.
The project builds on the success of the second phase of the Crosstown Cycletrack, which was recently extended along Kenyon Street to connect with 11th, creating a more connected all-ages network for biking. We are glad to see DDOT moving on these and other projects to improve sustainability and livability in neighborhoods throughout Ward 1 and the District.
Full text of letter:
Dear Director Lott,
I write in strong support of DDOT’s planning efforts for a comprehensive safety update to the 11th Street NW corridor, and I thank you for initiating this project. Along with this letter, I am attaching resolutions from all (pre-2023) ANCs along this corridor in support of protected bike facilities. With construction starting this year on bus lanes and protected bike lanes on 11th Street south of Massachusetts Avenue, we are presented with an incredible opportunity to continue that momentum northwards and establish 11th Street as a core component to the District’s growing network of all-ages bike facilities. Residents are already showing us what they need on 11th Street by going about their lives. It is one of the busiest north-south corridors for bike trips in the District, despite it not being a protected facility; at many times, bike/scooter volumes on 11th Street meet or surpass those of the 15th Street cycle track.
That level of activity is easy to explain: Many experience 11th Street as the easiest hill to tackle to get up the escarpment that runs along Florida Avenue. Save for Georgia Avenue, it is the most contiguous north-south street connecting downtown and Columbia Heights that is not interrupted by a traffic circle. As a result, 11th Street serves as a “trunk line” (to borrow a term from public transit) for longer north-south trips, even if origin and destination are not on 11th. This is especially true now that the Crosstown cycle track extends to 11th Street, providing a near-contiguous connection all the way to Brookland and the Met Branch Trail. Almost anyone cycling from those neighborhoods in Northeast will ultimately find themselves at 11th Street NW.
More than just a route to downtown, 11th Street also connects many public facilities, including 10 schools and two major recreation facilities. The last few years have seen a significant growth in parents biking their children to and from school, particularly along this corridor – myself and my family included. We are clearly far from meeting the demand for safe (and dignified, and enjoyable) bicycle infrastructure along this central spine of the District. Despite the addition and expansion of Capital Bikeshare stations in Columbia Heights and adjacent neighborhoods, stations are still frequently left completely empty, with every bike being used up. Less anecdotally, recent analysis found that between 2019 and 2022, bicycle trips increased by 53 percent in Ward 1.
Conveniently, we already have what amounts to a DDOT feasibility study identifying the need for this project on 11th Street. The recently completed Near Northwest III Safety and Mobility Study covers a study area that includes all of 11th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue and Spring Road, as well as several blocks to its east and west.
Within that study area, a between 70 and 94 percent of residents (depending on neighborhood) use something other than a car for most of their trips. While 11th Street NW is not a part of DDOT’s identified high-injury network, it cuts through a significant swath of the District that sees very high bike crashes with vehicles. When superimposed on a heatmap of these crashes, 11th stands out as a clear candidate for providing a safer route through these neighborhoods.
11th Street NW is a minor arterial road between Pennsylvania and Rhode Island Avenues, where it is also contiguous with State Route 29. Between Rhode Avenue and where 11th terminates at Spring Road, it is classified as a collector. As such, the existing unprotected bike lanes (where they exist at all) are not in compliance with DDOT’s facility standards as articulated in the MoveDC plan and informed by FHWA and NACTO guidance. I do not agree with the assertion that a bike facility on 11th street is obviated by the recent completion of the Eastern Downtown cycle track on 9th Street NW. While relatively close, these are two different streets serving different needs and neighborhoods. There is no way to meaningfully shift trips from 11th to 9th beyond what has already been built. People will continue to ride on – and at times, get hurt on – 11th Street. Thank you again for committing to the planning for a project on 11th Street, one that I know will benefit many Ward 1 residents and people across the District.
Brianne K. Nadeau
Councilmember, Ward 1