WASHINGTON — A group of cyclists demonstrated along two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest Thursday afternoon calling on the District Department of Transportation to stop illegal U-turns made by drivers.
Orange and green foam pool noodles lined the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, standing in for the white pylons between the bike and car lanes that stop illegal U-turns along most of the roadway.
Bike lanes were installed along Pennsylvania Avenue NW in 2010, and protest organizer Samantha Wetzel says it was “immediately apparent” that protection was needed for cyclists.
“For many years people have been trying to work with DDOT to install protective barriers,” Wetzel says.
Barriers were recently installed from 3rd to 13th Street, but Wetzel says the installation of barriers from 13th to 15th Street is being delayed “in order to study if there are other options.”
Wetzel says the demonstration is aimed at DDOT more than drivers taking illegal U-turns.
“While I do think that there is a burden on drivers to follow the law, I think it’s also the responsibility of transit planners to create an environment that helps people to drive safely and bike safely,” Wetzel says.
Cyclist John Pickett showed up to the demonstration because a number of his friends have been hit by cars making illegal U-turns.
“The design of Pennsylvania Avenue almost begs for this and it needs to be fixed,” Pickett says.
D.C. Councilmember David Grosso who joined the demonstration says DDOT should act.
“You can study things to death out here and in the long run people just get hurt,” Grosso said. “I think it’s time for us to just put them in.”
DDOT responded with the following statement:
“Whenever DDOT sees a crash between a bicyclists and vehicle, especially on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, it increases our resolve even further in ensuring that these are prevented. We realize that over time, this will take a combination of engineering, education and enforcement activities for the agency as it moves toward the District’s Vision Zero goal of no pedestrian or bicyclists deaths in the District by 2024. The agency wholeheartedly joins the Mayor in committing to this goal, along with other District government agencies.
That being said, at this time, DDOT, will limit the park-its between 3rd Street to 13th Street, NW. In the immediate future, DDOT will not be installing the park-its between 13th Street and 15th Street, NW, on Pennsylvania Avenue. DDOT’s engineers are examining multiple proposals, accident data, signalization, benefit analysis and strategies that will ensure there’s a positive outcome in the inevitable interactions among pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles on Pennsylvania Avenue. Our goal is to ensure they all can safely co-exist. If it is determined that park-its will best serve those blocks, then the agency will move quickly to install those. However, if it is discovered that there are other alternatives that may better serve those blocks, then the agency will plan accordingly.”