Late last month DDOT Director Dormsjo went to an ANC 6A Transportation Committee Meeting where the Florida Avenue Multi-Modal Transportation Study came up. I reported on February 26th that the final report was due in May 2014, but wasn't yet on the website. Well, later that day they posted it (Dated February 2015).
The study area is centered on Florida Avenue NE between North Capital and the starburst and is bisected by the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the map below shows the locations of bike crashes as well as existing bicycle facilities and those proposed in the 2005 bike plan. One major goal of the study is to improve safety, and an analysis of crashes shows them focused around West Virginia Avenue and the blocks around Dave Thomas Circle at New York Avenue.
The study developed several alternatives, some with bike lanes or sharrows and some without, including ones not covered in this GGW piece from 2014, but I'm just going to write about the preferred alternative today. (The full set of alternatives is discussed in part 1 of the Report)
Major arterials are often not the most appropriate location for bicycle facilities, particularly if adequate lower volume, lower speed parallel streets can be used. As a major east-west route in the District of Columbia, few parallel facilities provide the directness and lack of obstacles available on Florida Avenue, hence the thoughtful reasoning for bike lanes on portions of the corridor. Despite the inclusion of bike lanes, some design challenges must be addressed.
Starting on the west end, the preferred alternative eliminates an eastbound travel lane to create a shared use path on the south side of Florida Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Street NE, and cyclists in both directions will be routed to the south side of the street to use this facility. It will then transition to a shared-use lane (sharrows) under the railroad overpass due to the constrained environment under the overpass and the need for westbound auto capacity. Between 3rd Street NE and 8th Street NE it includes bike lanes in both directions b. The section of Florida Avenue between 8th Street NE and West Virginia Avenue may or may not include bike lanes and will be evaluated at the design level to determine if it is feasible.
Clearly, it makes sense to continue the bike lane to West Virginia Avenue, a major north-south bicycle route. However, with a widened sidewalk and inclusion of an eastbound left-turn lane, space is very limited in this section of Florida Avenue....This 500-foot section where the bike lane abruptly begins/ends must be addressed during the design phase. The most logical “fix” is incorporating a shared left/through lane instead of the proposed left-turn lane, which provides the available width for two bike lanes. However, this may also compromise auto safety and travel time due to the heavy eastbound left-turn volumes that exist today and are projected to increase in the future. Other design modifications should be considered in the project design phase.
There will be no buffered bike lanes and no protected bike lanes (as included in some of the alternatives and supported by many residents), just normal bike lanes.
due to the overlying need to widen sidewalks and maintain auto mobility a fully protected bike facility on Florida Avenue is not recommended.
You can see the blocks with bike facilities on the figure above (which is out of order because of the pdf and me being too lazy to fix it).
Cyclists heading east would start on a shared use path at 2nd and transition to a bike lane at 3rd, with the bike lane ending at 8th. West bound cyclists are expected to ride in the bike lane from 8th to 3rd, then cross in the crosswalk to the south side and use the path to go one block and then ???. I just don't see west-bound cyclists behaving that way. DDOT writes
Today, westbound autos often queue from New York Avenue and 2nd Street NE through 3rd Street NE, and in some cases, through 4th Street NE. This heavy queuing occurs despite the presence of three westbound travel lanes, which is not consistent with the two proposed westbound travel lanes east of 3rd Street NE. As a result, no changes to the westbound cross section were proposed west of 3rd Street NE under the Metro overpass, which in turn, leaves no space for sidewalk widening or a bike lane on the north side. The proposal does however incorporate a shared-use path on the south side of Florida Avenue, essentially widening the existing sidewalk into the curbside travel lane resulting in two eastbound travel lanes between 2nd and 3rd Street NE. The shared-use space, which would be approximately 15 feet wide under the overpass, would accommodate two-way pedestrian and bicycle traffic and would likely offer some form of demarcation between pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrians could also continue to use the sidewalk on the north side of the street and westbound bicyclists could continue to travel westbound in mixed traffic as they do today. Special bicycle turning provisions will also be required for westbound cyclists at 3rd Street to allow safe and efficient access to the south-side shared-use path.
There are also bike boxes at 6th Street and a two-stage turn queue box for those turning north into the protected bike lanes on 6th St NE.
On 6th Street NE, it would extend the two-way PBL that currently ends at Florida Ave all the way to K Street, thereby replacing the existing bike lanes. [Aside, at a recent meeting we were told that there might be several future projects that replace bike lane pairs with 2-way PBLs, especially on Capitol Hill. So we may see more of this]
West Virginia Ave NE would get bike lanes all the way past Owen Place NE, but not right at the corner with Florida Ave. These have been identified as something that could be done before the design is completed and work begins in 2021.
The report also covers ways to make the "Virtual Circle" aka "Dave Thomas Circle" safer and recommends bike lanes and signs to connect Eckington Place and First Street NE in both directions.
[Aside: I learned that this little triangle is an NPS reservation, and to avoid disturbing it, the report recommends shifting the road north]