Sierra Club Supports Protected Bicycle Lanes on Connecticut Avenue NW

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest environmental advocacy organization. The Washington, DC Chapter has over 3,000 members and 10,000 supporters in all eight Wards of the District. The Sierra Club is strongly in favor of protected infrastructure for people on bicycles and scooters. The District government must demonstrate its commitments to the MoveDC plan, combating climate change, and Vision Zero by expediting the development of protected infrastructure for vulnerable road users. 

The Sierra Club supports the construction of protected bicycle lanes on Connecticut Avenue NW as shown in the MoveDC plan and as provided for by Concept C in the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) reversible lane study. We believe this design goes the farthest towards advancing the department’s goals of improving mobility and traffic safety. Designing our streets for less dangerous and more sustainable modes of transportation also improves our community and our environment. It is important that bike lanes are designed to safely accommodate riders of all skill levels, and it is also vital that bike lanes are constructed in places that are useful and efficient for travelers. We believe that with proper design, including adequate bicycle lane width and buffers, Concept C can meet these standards and induce a large number of residents and out-of-state commuters to substitute car trips for alternate modes of transportation. 

In addition to the well established health benefits of cycling versus driving, we believe there are significant economic benefits as well. While we understand there is a concern that eliminating parking space and car access could lead to a loss of economic activity, research has shown that the replacement of parking with bike lanes increases the amount of spending that local businesses receive.1,2,3,4 Studies also suggest that many businesses overestimate the number of customers that use a car.5,6 Based on these findings, we feel confident that bike lanes will increase the economic activity along the Connecticut Avenue corridor and provide long-term benefits to both residents and businesses.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on this project. The reversible lane study for Connecticut Avenue is a great example of the vital function that the DDOT plays in continually monitoring the needs of the city and adapting our infrastructure accordingly. To create a more dynamic and resilient city, we must continue to evaluate our existing transportation network and make informed improvements at every level. 

Respectfully submitted, 

Fred Wise 
Smart Growth Committee Co-chair for Active Transportation 
Sierra Club DC Chapter 

1 Sztabinski, Fred. 2009. Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business: A Study of Bloor Street in Toronto’s. Annex Neighborhood. The Clean Air Partnership. http://www.cleanairpartnership.org/pdf/bike lanes- parking.pdf.

2 Daniel Arancibia, Steven Farber, Beth Savan, Yvonne Verlinden, Nancy Smith Lea, Jeff Allen & Lee Vernich (2019) Measuring the Local Economic Impacts of Replacing On-Street Parking With Bike Lanes, Journal of the American Planning Association, 85:4, 463-481, DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2019.1638816

3 Flusche, Darren. 2012. Bicycling Means Business. Advocacy  Advance.https://www.advocacyadvance.org/the-economic-benefits-of-bicycle-infrastructure/

4 Drennen, Emily. 2003. Economic Effects of Traffic Calming on Urban Small Businesses. http://www.bikewalk.org/2004conference/sessions/28_Business_calm/TrafficCalming_summary.pdf

5 O’Connor, David, Nix, James, Bradshaw, Simon, Shiel, Endel. Report on shopper behaviour in Dublin City Centre. https://arrow.tudublin.ie/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=comlinkoth

6 Tyler, Sophie, Semper, Giles, Guest, Peter, Fieldhouse, Ben. The relevance of parking in the success of urban centres. https://www.britishparking.co.uk/write/Documents/The_relevance_of_parking_in_the_success_of_urban_ centres_-_A_review_for_London_Councils.pdf