More info on possible Bikeshare on Upshur

The area where the new bikeshare station could be installed. (photo: Google maps)

There’s been a lot of interest in the idea of installing a new Capital Bikeshare station on or near Upshur and Illinois Avenue. Some people love the idea, some just don’t want to lose what is already pretty limited parking. The issue may come up at this Wednesday’s ANC 4C meeting (though I understand there’s been a request to delay the discussion until January when the new commissioners are seated).

Below is an email that Commissioner Jonah Goodman sent across the listservs on Sunday, December 9th that gives a pretty good idea of the different pros and cons for the options DDOT and the ANC are considering:

Thanks for all the feedback on this project and interest in bicycle infrastructure. I am excited for the opportunity to bring low-cost, healthy, transportation alternatives to our neighborhood. I have been working with DDOT for a few weeks on all of the intricacies of where bikeshare stations can be installed. I had planned to bring this to the community once I notified my fellow Commissioners and had a chance to discuss their concerns internally. That decision was expedited for me. I have a lot of technical information below about the current viable location options.

DDOT wants to install the bikeshare station on a street with an existing bike lane. Because you have to back the bikes out of the stations they want users backing that into a bike lane instead of a lane of traffic. Currently, only a few roads around Grant Circle meet this requirement:

  1. Grant Circle

  2. 5th St (south of Grant Circle)

  3. Upshur St

  4. & 5. Illinois (north and south of Grant Circle)

Grant Circle itself is not a likely candidate due to the curvature of the road.

5th Street south of Grant Circle (the 4200 block) was the original recommendation from DDOT. However, this housing block (4200 block of New Hampshire, 500 block of Upshur, and 4200 block of 5th) only has street parking. These houses have no alleys and are already limited with on-street parking by the New Hampshire lane restrictions and the route 60 bus stop on Upshur. I asked DDOT if they would consider adding parking to the east side of 5th Street and to place a station here rather than on the west side to offset any lost parking. Unfortunately, DDOT has stated this is not an option in the near future. DDOT is looking to eventually add parking on the east side and move the bike lane to the east side as part of the Crosstown Protected Bicycle Lane Project. Implementation is tentatively scheduled for 2020-21. We could ask DDOT for a temporary bikeshare station location nearby until this is complete and then to move it to 5th St.

The stretch of Upshur between Illinois and 5th is another option. However, this is the only street parking for the houses 430 and 432 Upshur. They do not have any street parking on the south side of Upshur because of the route 60 bus stop. Placing the bikeshare station here would remove their only street parking.

Illinois on the north side in front of St. Gabriel’s Church could be an option however it does not have a full bike lane. Illinois north of the circle uses a sharrows system which is a shared vehicle and bike lane offering no protection to users of the station. This therefore is not a feasible option. If DDOT were to install a full bike lane on Illinois this could be an option.

The stretch of Illinois on the south side of Grant Circle is the last road on this list. Illinois has housing only on the east side of the street and parking on both the east and west sides. Most, though not all, of these houses also have alley access for potential off-street parking. Two of the houses do no have parking immediately in front of their houses because of the parking restrictions near the intersections to provide sight lines. There is more on-street and off-street parking per house on this block than the Upshur or 5th Street location options. Additionally, this is also an appealing option because DDOT is looking to convert this block to one way northbound. Due to pedestrian safety issues and frequency of crashes from southbound traffic, DDOT put out a Notice of Intent in 2017 (NOI #17-160-TOA) to study this change.

Petworth News has covered the pedestrian safety issues with this street previously:

Currently, the 4200 block of Illinois has a sharrows shared lane. The rest of Illinois south of Upshur has dedicated bike lanes. If this location is selected DDOT would complete a full bike lane up to Grant Circle. I believe they would look to change the traffic flow to northbound only at the same time. This road would have much less traffic than Upshur and likely mean a much safer area for cyclists to access a bikeshare station. If this location is selected I will encourage DDOT to use the no parking area near the corner to ensure we are minimizing the loss of parking as much as we can. We can also see if DDOT can install a 15 bike station, instead of a 19, reducing the footprint by ~10’. If both of these options are viable we likely are only needing to utilize one parking space on Illinois.

DDOT’s bicycle infrastructure team has been extremely helpful as we have explored adding a new bikeshare station. I fully expect DDOT to continue and work with the community around a future installation and expanding bicycle lanes. I can also ask DDOT to do an in-person site survey with neighbors and measure out station size to help visualize a station before they commit to any installation.

More to come about this bikeshare station…