Public to weigh in on the District’s long-range transportation plan

June 27, 2014

Bike lanes in D.C. (Gerald Martineau/Washington Post)

The D.C. Council is holding a public roundtable Friday morning on moveDC, the District’s long-range transportation plan.

The plan calls for toll lanes at major entry points into the city and other efforts aimed at keeping vehicles out of the downtown area. It also envisions a city with a wide transit network that includes a streetcar system, dedicated bus lanes, expanded Metrorail service in downtown, an active water taxi system and 200 miles of on-street bicycle facilities.

The plan’s focus is on expanding transportation choices over the next 25 years and it is shaped around the city’s sustainability goals, including an objective to have 75 percent of D.C. commutes made via transit, bike or walking within 20 years.

“We are not that far from that now. But we can do better and the truth is we have to do better because if we have this continued influx of people coming in and the expansion of our population, we will choke on car traffic,” said council member Mary M. Cheh, chair of the transportation committee.

The plan, drafted by the D.C. Department of Transportation, provides a good vision for how people should move around the city in the future, she said.

“People want to have a lifestyle that allows them to walk, to bike and to get around in a way that really they don’t have to deal with a car,” said Cheh, who is holding the meeting.

For some drivers, however, the plan goes too far in deterring personal vehicle use.  The recommendations calls for measures such as tolls and HOV lanes to manage traffic.

Smart-growth advocates say expanding the city’s bike network and transit options makes sense to address the growing congestion and gives residents the options to travel in a mode that is healthier and more sustainable.

Greg Billing, advocacy coordinator with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said already the city has made significant strides with new biking facilities that have encouraged more people to commute by bike. But there are still areas of the District where the lack of facilities remains a barrier for biking, he said.  The plan would increase the bike access through the expansion of trails and bike lanes.

As comprehensive as moveDC is, it does not address the challenges of parking in the city and the future of D.C. taxis and the digital dispatched ride-sharing services such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar.

The 30-day comment period on this moveDC draft ends July 6. Residents can comment on the plan’s Web site, wemovedc.org. The plan is expected to be adopted later this summer.

The public oversight roundtable is at 11 a.m. in the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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