Earlier this summer, as they have the last few summers, DDOT did a series of visits to high crash intersections and one of the intersections they visited was Pennsylvania and Fairlawn Ave, SE. Though not named, this intersection was partially included in the scope of the 2015 Pennsylvania Avenue-Minnesota Avenue, SE, Intersection Improvement Project. I ride through these two intersection frequently, and there a mess, so I'm glad to see them reviewing them; but there are some mixed messages here. On the one they're studying Penn & Fairlawn as high crash and reporting the Penn & Minn as high crash too; but on the other they're saying this area is fine for cycling.
In the 2015 study they write of biking
The majority of cyclists currently use the sidewalks and crosswalks on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, for two main reasons. The vehicular traffic is heavy during peak hours and bicyclists feel more comfortable riding on sidewalks rather than in the roadway. Although sidewalks and crosswalks are present on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue near Minnesota Avenue, SE, bicyclists prefer to ride on the south side because continuous sidewalk and curb-cuts on the north side at the area west of the northbound I-295 on-ramp are not available.
I'll note that since 2015, the curb cuts on the north side have been greatly improved so that may have changed. But then they conclude:
No major bicyclist safety concerns were identified in the field observation or from the accident history.
I'm sorry, what? They just said that most cyclists ride on the sidewalks because the street is uncomfortable, and that's not indicative of a safety concern?
Anyway, despite the facts that (1) this section - from 295 to 27th Street - represents a gap in the bike network between the Sousa Bridge and the Great Streets bike path on Pennsylvania Avenue and (2) it has two dangerous intersections within it, the 2015 doesn't include any bike facilities. Just stay on the sidewalk they say to the chagrin of 90% of Washington Post commenters.
It does recommend some good changes at Minnesota Avenue though. The preferred alternative would take out the slip lanes between the two avenues and rebuild Twinning/L'Enfant Square somewhat, while widening Minnesota into a 5 lane road through the intersection and making L'Enfant Square one-way. It extends the median to keep cars from crossing Pennsylvania or attempting U-turns. It adds bumb outs and wider sidewalks too. It's not bad, but the idea is that cyclists will just ride on the sidewalk.
As one who uses these few blocks regularly, I'll say the road is terrible. The sidewalk is terrible and this design doesn't make it much better. The Sousa Bridge is a major bike route and there needs to be some better connection through this area.
I'd like to see a protected bike lane on both sides.
On the south, I'd start it just under 295, where the pyloned no-man's land is.
Before that cyclists and cars would share the SW ramp.
I'd reroute the SE ramp to connect to Fairlawn here, which would reduce a lot of conflict on Pennsylvania.
I'd narrow the median and remove one of the lanes for the turn from Penn to 25th to create room for the protected bike lane and then on the other side of 25th I'd widen the sidewalk to make it more of a path as there is past 27th and I'd tie the bike lane into that - perhaps with some space designated for cyclists.
On the north side, I'd again add a protected bike lane (or bike/bus) - at least till Fairlawn - and I'd take out the slip lane from Penn to 295.
Pennsylvania is going to become more important as a bicycle route in the future, and if a trail is ever built along the old rail line through this area (preferably with a bridge over Pennsylvania) that only becomes more true. It's just not in keeping with our goals or values to say that cyclists should stick to the sideawalk through this area.
Of course, I guess we've made progress since 1982 when this was written: