The changes were announced just days after more than 100 cyclists took over the busy M Street NW, bringing evening rush-hour traffic to a stop, for a 20-minute memorial at the spot where cyclist Jeffrey Hammond Long, 36, had been struck and killed days earlier.
Long’s death spurred calls for changes to the street design and more enforcement of traffic laws. At least seven other crashes at the intersection have involved cyclists since 2015. Another collision two years ago resulted in the death of a man crossing the street.
The D.C. Department of Transportation said on Twitter that it is working with the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District and other city agencies to expand the sidewalk along M Street. The agency said plans are to realign the M Street bike lane adjacent to Duke Ellington Park, but more details will be provided by the business group later this month.
Some bike and pedestrian advocates welcomed the changes, saying the removal of the parking lane next to the bike lane should be the first step to make the area safer for all users. The vehicles parked in the parking lane hampered visibility for drivers trying to turn right.
It has not been determined whether that was the case in the July 7 collision that resulted in Long’s death. Police said they are still investigating. But authorities said Long was riding in the designated bike lane. He and a truck driver were traveling west on M Street when the truck driver turned right onto New Hampshire Avenue, hitting Long. Long was trapped beneath the truck, police said. He died at a hospital a day later.
Some advocates are asking the city to review the signaling at the intersection and explore adding a turn arrow to allow right turns across a bike lane.
DDOT on Monday also added signage to make it clear that motorists should yield to cyclists when making the right turn onto New Hampshire Avenue.
Rachel Maisler, an avid rider and advocate who organized Thursday’s bike ride in honor of Long, said removing the parking will improve sight lines for drivers, but it should be only the first step. She said road users want more enforcement of traffic laws from D.C. police and of parking restrictions from the Department of Public Works.
“Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement,” she said. “Infrastructure changes are great, but what good are they if they’re not obeyed? We need enforcement.”
M Street is one of the main arteries for protected bike lanes through downtown and carries as many as 550 cyclists in the morning rush hour.