More than 1,000 people have signed a letter asking DC to reverse its decision not to improve a busy and dangerous section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs through the city’s Brookland and Edgewood neighborhoods.
The trail, used by about 1,500 cyclists a day before the pandemic, runs from Silver Spring, Maryland, to Union Station in northeastern DC
On 8th Street NE, cyclists are forced off the protected two-way trail and into busy 8th Street, maneuvering between cars and industrial vehicles from a nearby business.
“Users are spat off the trail on a busy, busy, unprotected thoroughfare – there are only a few… markings, until they can get to the Brookland subway, which is about half a mile, three-quarters of a mile down the road, ”said Rachel Maisler of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council.
In 2018, DC officials unveiled a plan to fill this gap in the Metropolitan Branch Trail. He had an expected completion date of this fall. Eighth Street reportedly changed from two-way traffic to a one-way street with a protected two-way cycle lane, but the project came to a screeching halt like a bicycle with a slipped chain.
DC Department of Transportation officials said companies were complaining about the potential loss of on-street parking and worried about the impact of the one-way street on aisles and loading docks.
At a public meeting in Brookland last week, a DDOT representative also claimed the street had since been deemed too narrow for changes.
“Our designer said, ‘Well, it’s actually 35 feet wide, not 38,” said George Branyan.
“The community and DDOT have reached the finish line, and just when we were there, DDOT withdrew,” said Nick Sementelli, who helped organize a letter-writing campaign to urge city officials to reconsider the choice to stop the project.
“We think we can work and find new solutions for this street, but we cannot do it if DDOT is not at the table,” he said.
A February poll by the National Capital Region Transportation Board found that the pandemic has made people more inclined to view cycling as a form of transportation.