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Dupont Residents to lose some 80 Parking Spaces Along 16th Street

Accompanying images can be viewed starting on page 1 of the March 2020 issue pdf

By William G. Schulz

Trying to park in Dupont Circle can be an exercise in frustration. But the bad parking karma may get worse with a District Department of Transportation (DDOT) project to speed bus service on 16th Street, NW that would eliminate about 80 parking spaces during rush hour on the corridor between O and U Streets.

The 16th Street Bus Lanes Project, scheduled to begin construction this spring, would see the implementation of dedicated bus lanes in both directions during the morning and evening rush hours –- 7:00 to 10:00 am and then 4:00 to 7:30 pm. Parking would be prohibited during these hours as it would slow bus traffic, according to DDOT studies.

The 16 Street bus routes have become some of the most heavily used in the WMATA system in the past 10 years, shuttling riders from as far north as Silver Spring Metro Station to the Federal Triangle Station at 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, near the National Mall.

Grass roots efforts have resulted in an increase in the number of buses on the route during rush hour, but trying to board the crowded buses is still an issue on many days and already painfully slow DC traffic conditions compound the problem for riders trying to get to and from work.

But residents in the Dupont Circle stretch of 16th Street are questioning DDOT about the need to eliminate parking on the northbound side of the street during morning rush hour to accommodate buses only. DDOT studies suggest that time savings for buses on the northbound route on weekday mornings would be negligible, but fewer parking spaces would impact heavily many of the thousands of residents who live in the immediate area.

[Editor’s Note: The issue of making bus service up and down 16th Street has been not only a matter of intense review by WAMAT but also one of concern to resident who live in the mostly residential blocks north of Massachusetts Avenue where private homes and apartment buildings predominate. Our news story nearly four and a half years ago in the October 2016 issue reported on residents’ mixed reactions to WAMATA’s planning at the time.]

Copyright © 2020 InTowner Publishing Corp. & William G. Schulz. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited, except as provided by 17 U.S.C. §§ 107 & 108 (“fair use”).

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If You Think Parking Is Bad Now, It’s About To Get Worse!

By Ronnie J. Kweller, Dupont East

 [Editor’s Note: The following submission from one of our readers – writing on behalf of herself as well as numerous of her neighbors — adds an additional perspective to our March issue story, “Dupont Residents to lose some 80 Parking Spaces Along 16th Street.”]

Coupled with extension of morning and afternoon peak periods until 10 am and 7:30 pm, respectively, this will impose substantial hardship on residents who already struggle to find legal parking in proximity to home, especially at night.

Let’s be clear, this is not a car vs. bike vs. transit issue, nor an intergenerational one. It’s a simple matter of “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

Currently, residents  who find the side streets “full” at night park on the northbound side of 16th Street, knowing they can move their cars without arising before dawn – when they literally may find no legal spot to move to.

DDOT has not provided evidence that parked cars on northbound 16th Street impede morning traffic. My own observations reveal minimal northbound traffic, flowing smoothly.

If you, too, want to preserve these critically needed 16th Street parking spaces, please sign our petition.

A dedicated bus lane is great, but the time savings that DDOT projects for bus riders range from minimal to negligible.

A table on the Bus Lanes Project website shows that for the full length of the project area (not just U Street to Scott Circle), morning bus commuters in the peak direction will save only 1.9 to 2.6 minutes per trip. In the evening, the savings in the peak northbound direction are 1.9 to 3.2 minutes.

Surely the unstated savings in the non-peak directions will be even less impressive.

Is that really justification for disrupting the lives, and jeopardizing the safety after dark, of neighborhood residents?

The plan also features “midday parking restrictions” — with “midday” undefined — that will remove six or seven parking spots, respectively, on one or the other side of 16th Street between U and P. Could this mean those spots are being removed permanently, further exacerbating our parking woes?

I have been protesting the non-peak parking ban at public meetings and in written comments to DDOT since the summer of 2017. Now, given DDOT’s intransigence, I have joined neighbors, members of the Dupont East Community Action Association, and my ANC commissioner in educating neighborhood residents and making a case to the City Council.

We seek to overturn only this one small part of the Bus Lanes Project — or at least to require DDOT to offer evidence that it is needed to facilitate bus travel.

Residents of my small section of 16th Street and nearby side streets have already adjusted to the loss of a significant number of parking spaces to make intersections and bus stops safer and to accommodate bike lanes and bike-share docks — all justifiable changes. We also face competition for parking as the result of massive residential and commercial development in recent years.

From 15th Street to 17th, our area is largely residential, and the hundreds of us who lack off-street parking have a reasonable need to park safely, legally and in proximity to home, especially after dark.

Many of us do not use our cars to commute on a daily basis. We walk to work and use public transit. We are not adding to rush hour traffic congestion or air pollution during peak hours, nor are we impeding buses. Parked cars do not pollute! But the parking ban will needlessly add some 80 cars to rush hour traffic.

So we vehemently protest the unnecessary parking restrictions. At the very least, we urge the DC Council to require DDOT to provide data that proves a need to ban parking on the non-peak side of the street.

Taking away sorely needed parking that does not impede rush-hour traffic – while actually creating more traffic and more pollution – makes no sense. All to save a mere 2-3 minutes of travel time!