« Icarus | Main | Fort Belvoir RR, no trail on the horizon, but there are markers »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Can we please stop using the term "sidepath". It's a freaking sidewalk. It looks like a sidewalk. It functions like a sidewalk. DDOT designs them like sidewalks.

Stop helping DDOT fool bike advocates into thinking that they are building bicycle infrastructure when they're clearly not.

I mean, an elevated bike lane like at the Wharf is really just a sidewalk as well.

A good sidepath that maintains it's width is basically a hybrid of an elevated bike lane or an actual trail. A good sidepath will definitely make itself felt and be contrasted to when people are just lying and trying to upgrade a sidewalk.

Can we please stop using the term "sidepath".

You can, but I'm not going to. Because they're different things. See drumz ^^^^

So, the bike path at the wharf is clearly marked as a bicycle-only facility, and it is protected from car traffic and has intersections designs for cycling. Yes, it gets a lot of people waking in it, but that's mainly because it's next to a narrow and busy sidewalk, and it doesn't connect to other quality cycling facilities on either end--one end dump you onto a construction site, and the other dumps you onto a sidewalk (or what you insist on calling a "sidepath").

Sidepaths, like this one on 2nd St NE, are nearly identical to sidewalks, have little to no separation between walking and cycling, have basically no thought given to cyclists at intersections. If it looks like a sidewalk and acts like a sidewalk, and people treat it like a sidewalk, it's a sidewalk. So why do we insist on calling it a sidepath? It's a sidewalk.



I should also say that there are places where wide, shared-use paths (aka Greenways, multi-use trails, etc.) make sense. Per NACTO, the only places where these make sense are along "High-speed limited access roadways, natural corridors, or geographic edge conditions with limited conflicts AND Low pedestrian volume". In these instances, you can make an asphalt shared-use path alongside a major roads, with dedicated walk/cycle crossings, that don't squeeze everyone onto a narrow curb ramp. In the city, there are VERY few places with such low ped volumes and intersection crossings for this to make sense, and DDOT has not demonstrated the ability to design these effectively for cycling at all. If I'm wrong, please show me an example, cause I'd love to see it.


So, I wouldn't call 2nd Street a sidepath for many of the reasons you cite. No separation. Concrete and brick surface. Little to no trail marking. It does have good width though. It *IS* part of the Met Branch Trail, but in past conversations with DDOT they imagine the sidewalk for peds and young cyclists, and the road as an on street portion of the trail.

But a sidepath is, by definition, a shared use facility. Ideally it would have separate space for bikes and peds, but that is rare for any shared-use path or trail (hence the "shared").

It's true that few sidepaths, especially in the city, meet the ideal standards (below), but that doesn't mean they are sidewalks. They are less-than-ideal sidepaths.


What would you like them to do on Benning and is it reasonable?

I mean, going off the two pictures from the article you have extra wide width on the bridge and then dedicate bike space along the road itself.

I could see room for improvement but I don't see where DDOT is being euphemistic.


I think the MoCo guidance looks quite good in general. I hadn't seen it before, so thanks for sharing. That said, the sidepath section seems like an afterthought. While the document does a decent job defining what a good facility should look like, they don't talk about minimizing intersection conflicts and they omit HOW to design for cycling at intersections with this type of facility. So even this guidance is pretty lacking, in my view, indicating that this is not a desired form of infrastructure.

As for this project, I would like DDOT to create a high-quality bicycle facility, that allos for all ages and abilities. This does not appear to be present in any of the alternatives. On Alternative 1, DDOT is even calling it a 10' sidewalk, indicating that they are making zero effort to make it good for cycling. On Alternative 2, they call it a shared-use path, but they have 8' sections with no buffer from traffic, which is definitely sub-standard. The MoCo standard that you meniton call for a MINIMUM 5 foot buffer between the sidepath and travel lanes and an 11' width, whereas the DDOT plan have many sections with 8' widths and no buffer at all. That, despite having wide center medians between east and westbound travel that seem to serve little purpose at all. Further, the intersections show wide turning radii, conducive to high speed car/truck turns, and NOT conducive to through movement on bicycle. Also, the plan has the bicycle route stop, then make a 90 degree turn to cross a two-lane, freeway-style on-ramp, then make another 90 degree turn to continue straight. This is a disaster for both safety AND convenience, and I'd never let a child use this. So basically, DDOT proposed making the sidewalk ever so slightly wider, and then did everything possible to make sure cars go straight and fast, while doing nothing to make cycling safe or convenient.

So, to conclude:
1) DDOT has demonstrated no ability or desire to create a "sidepath" that is of decent quality.
2) DDOT doesn't even call this a sidepath in many places. It's literally listed as a sidewalk, and it's designed accordingly, failing to meet basic standards for bicycle facilities.
3) As such, I would argue for a facility that DDOT has actually demonstrated an ability to design well and that they have actual standards for how to do properly, including true shared-use paths and protected bike lanes. Otherwise, we'll just get the sidewalks that DDOT seems to be promising.

"DDOT is even calling it a 10' sidewalk, indicating that they are making zero effort to make it good for cycling."

But they also show a 2-way bike lane as a common element to both alternatives. It's not clear what they're planning to do.

It's true that they don't are trying to get the facility into a very narrow space. But it's not true that they can fix that by just getting rid of the median, because in places there is no median.

If we're to get a better bike facility here, they're going to need to remove a lane of the road.

Late to party.

Washy's last point is the real point here. Sometimes, we just gotta take what we can get understanding that, for a host of reasons, a separated bike lane in what used to be a car travel lane just won't be happening.

I'm less sad about this taking place on Benning Road, which is not really in a neighborhood and is ostensibly a highway that is not abutted by homes or businesses. Others who live on either side of the bridge would quibble about this, as well they should.

My measure here is whether I can ride my bike along with my 9 year old son along the sidewalk to and from the Anacostia River Trail without facing imminent death, and we can. Plus, there are really not too many pedestrians on this bridge, like ever, so conflicts tend to be infrequent.

This is not to say that DDOT shouldn't have sidepath rules and follow them.

We are fighting a similar issue in Ward 3 on Nebraska between AU and the Tenley Metro. The City will never get rid of the car travel lanes and parking! during non-rush hour. So we need to learn to live with a better side path on that route.

I forgot to add that DDOT thinks the way to get from the Anacostia to the Whitlock is to use the signed bike route along Dix and 36th. That's not ideal, but it's workable.

Also in the LONG term plans is a bike/ped bridge over the RR tracks at C Street SE.

Even at rush hour it seems to me that Benning Road has spare capacity. Why NOT try to take a lane?

In 5 years it'll all be self-driving cars and e-bikes anyway, and they'll be glad they had the foresight to put in one less lane for cars and one more for bikes.

I think the "take what we can get" approach is outdated for a Gold-level cycling city with a Vision Zero plan, a high quality MoveDC plan, and politicians that repeatedly talk about how much they support cycling. It's time to either call out empty rhetoric or get some real action on the ground with tough political choices. If you give them the easy way out, they'll take it every single time.

MoveDC shows this section of Benning Road with a "trail".

Contact usFor comments, please email [email protected] or call (202)563-5003.

Also, this is Ward 7, which is Vincent Gray http://dccouncil.us/council/vincent-gray

And of course there are the at-large CMs.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader