City Desk

Proposed Rules Would Ban Biking in H Street NE Streetcar Lanes


Soon, the grooves of streetcar tracks may not be the only thing tripping cyclists on H Street NE. Cyclists on the commercial thoroughfare may also have to contend with the law.

As the Washington Area Bicyclist Association first pointed out, the District's Department of Transportation's proposed streetcar regulations say that "riding a bicycle within a streetcar guideway, except to cross the street" is prohibited.  WABA, a cycling advocacy group, says this would effectively ban cycling on H Street. The proposed rule would also apply to all future roads with streetcar tracks.

DDOT says that under the proposed rules, cyclists would not be allowed to ride on the concrete surrounding the rails, or the lane the streetcar is running in, but that it's not entirely banned on the street. On its Facebook page, DDOT said that cycling would be banned in "the outside lanes on H Street and the inside lanes on Benning Rd. Not the entire street right-of-way."

But since there are parking spots on the right side of much of the streetcar tracks, cyclists may not have enough room to ride on the outside lanes of H Street NE. It is however, possible to ride on the inside lanes, though that's far from ideal for a cyclist.

In an email to City Desk, DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said that the transportation agency sees the contraflow bicycle lanes on G and I streets NE as safer alternatives. His statement read:

DDOT’s number one priority is the safety of all modes of transportation, including bicycles, who share H Street.  To that end, G and I Streets now have contraflow bicycle lanes, a safer alternative to H Street designed to keep cyclists away from streetcar tracks.   We have concerns about all kinds of vehicles impeding the travel of the streetcar, and taken as a whole, the regulations address that.

Sanders said the regulations are still not finalized and residents have until Sept. 27 to weigh in and provide public comment.

WABA is asking people to submit their comments to DDOT here.

"Streetcar tracks can pose a legitimate hazard to bicyclists, but banning bikes is not an acceptable solution. Please contact DDOT immediately and demand that this bike ban be removed from the regulations before they are made final," WABA wrote.

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