Jim Graham surprised by 15th Street bike lane project

Among people who pay attention to local news, DDOT's new contraflow bike lane project on 15th Street was no surprise. When DDOT began construction a week or so ago, it was covered on many local blogs, including Greater Greater Washington and Borderstan. DDOT is installing a new bicycle lane, protected by parked cars, from Massachusetts Avenue to U Street. Letters were sent out to residents prior to the beginning of construction, and there had previously been public meetings and discussions on various listserves.

Well, today, Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) sent out an email complaining about the lack of notice.
Dear Friends,

This weekend--with little or no notice or explanation--DDOT temporarily removed parking for an entire block of 15th Street (between U Street and V Street).

Parking is very scarce in Ward 1 neighborhoods. Residents should not be asked to live with such surprises.

I am currently working with DDOT to make sure that area residents are properly notified for all non-emergency removal of parking.

DDOT has in mind a good purpose--a 15th Street Bike Lane Project--but that does not excuse the need to let people know what is happening when a whole block of parking becomes eliminated. Once proper notice is given, and Ward 1 neighborhood reaction solicited, we can better understand that DDOT proposes to establish a pilot bike lane without any loss of parking on 15th Street above U. It may make great sense for pedestrians, bicyclists and people who need to park!

I do appreciate that DDOT pulled out the poles once I brought this omission to their attention.

Please pass on to others who are interested.

Bests, CM Jim Graham
In a later follow-up, Graham stated that he does not want to stop construction, but does want to pause to consider the impact on the area. I'm not entirely sure why there is a restriction on parking north of U Street, but it is likely temporary pending completion of the rest of the project. What baffles me is that Graham was surprised by the project and also claimed that many others were unaware.

The bulk of the work is south of U Street, and outside of Ward 1. I asked Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) about the matter, and he stated his office was well aware of the project. He also noted that as far as he knew, no one had complained.

If DDOT has impacted one block of parking along 15th Street in Ward 1, I can see it being a very minor inconvenience. I live in Ward 1 and understand that parking is scarce. However, parking is often impacted for all sorts of construction projects, with little or no notice. For Graham to take a stand on this topic seems a bit foolhardy. The "people who really want to park on that one part of 15th street" constituency is likely much smaller than the people who are in favor of the contraflow bike lane. Graham apparently likes the idea of the Mayor's office getting things done without consulting the Council, so much as it doesn't impact a few parking spaces.

UPDATE: It appears that the contractors extended construction north to V street, which was unexpected. However, the fact remains it was only 1 block that was impacted.


  1. So, what are you... like 146 pounds? I heard Prince of Petworth says it's ON! May the best blogger win.

  2. The bike lane is southbound. 15th Street is northbound the entire way. The lane is between the curb and parked cars on the west side of 15th.

  3. Whoops, fixed. Construction on a "new" northbound bike lane hasn't started yet.

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  5. I want to get this right. Jim Grahm is trying to stop a building project, which is wholly in Ward 2, because of one block of parking inconvenience in Ward 1? Eff that. Jack Evans needs to throw down and protect his turf.

  6. No, that isn't quite right. Jim Graham did in fact stop them from extending the bike lane from U Street to V street, which is Ward 1. The project was only approved up to U Street (entirely in Ward 2), but the DDOT contractor apparently thought it should go to V Street. The project was never authorized for that block, and residents weren't notified months in advance, like the rest of the project. Jim Graham is entirely in the right on this, although I wish he had the foresight to see that extending the lane to V street would be a good thing.

  7. This is true. It does appear the contractors kept going for the 1 block north of U Street.

    It would be very handy to have it continue north to connect to the other bicycle lane, but c'est la vie for now.