More than 1,000 people have signed a letter urging DC to reverse its decision not to improve on a busy, insidious section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that runs through the Brookland and Edgewood neighborhoods.
The trail, which was used by an estimated 1,500 cyclists the day before the pandemic, runs from Silver Spring, Maryland to Union Station in northeast DC
On 8th Street NE, cyclists are pushed off the sheltered one-way street and onto busy 8th Street, maneuvering between automobiles and industrial vehicles from a nearby store.
“Users become exposed from the path to a busy street, a busy thoroughfare – there are only a few … markings until they get to the Brookland Metro, which is about half a mile away,” said Rachel Maisler of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council.
In 2018, DC officials unveiled a plan to fill that void on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. It had an estimated completion date this fall. Eighth Street would have gone from oncoming traffic to a one-way street with a protected bike lane, but the project jerked to a halt like a bike with a slipped chain.
DC Department of Transportation officials said companies were complaining about the possible loss of street parking and were concerned about how the one-way street would affect driveways and loading docks.
At a public meeting in Brookland last week, a DDOT representative also claimed the road has since been too narrow for the changes.
“Our designer said, ‘Well, that’s actually 35 feet wide, not 38,” said George Branyan.
“The community and DDOT reached the finish line, and while we were there, DDOT pulled out,” said Nick Sementelli, who helped organize a letter campaign to urge city officials to reconsider the decision to stop the project.
“We believe we can work this road through and find new solutions, but we can’t do that without DDOT at the table,” he said.
A survey by the National Capital Region Transportation Board in February found that the pandemic made people more likely to consider cycling as a means of transportation.