March, Ride, Picnic For K Street Road Safety

Demonstrations Monthly Until Safety Improvements are Installed

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Residents gather to picnic at the first monthly event in support of the K Street Road Diet, held March 31. Dave Salovesh is visible, third from the left in a pink hat. Photo: Courtesy R. Dooling

Residents of NoMa are getting ready for the second monthly ride in support of the implementation of the K Street Road Diet, which was designed to improve road safety of the K Street Corridor. The first demonstration took place March 31. The Sunday, April 28th action consists of a visit to the Ghost Bike in memory of Dave Salovesh, a potluck picnic and a march or ride from 800 K St. NE to 440 K St. NW.

The events are designed to draw attention to neighborhood support for the proposed K Street safety improvements.

“The monthly demonstrations are necessary because DDOT [District Department of Transportation] never installed the Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes in Shaw because of local opposition,” wrote former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robb Dooling (6C06) in an email. Dooling is one of the organizers of the event. “We don’t want the same thing to happen here because 4,000 new housing units are planned for NoMa in the next few years and car traffic as well as parking availability in the neighborhood will worsen unless we move more people with less space.”

A sign held by a child at the March 28 action. Courtesy: R. Dooling

Want to Get Around Safely

The ride is organized by Safe Streets for Hill East and Near NE, Keya Chatterjee, and Dooling. The Safe Streets group was born out of a WABA safe streets advocacy training session held at the Mt. Pleasant library back in March 2018, said representative Greg Matlesky. Fellow organizer Keya Chatterjee added that membership was at 70 in early April, and growing rapidly. “We are neighbors who want to get around safely, so K St is critical for us because it’s the only potential safe route connecting NE & NW that has potential to go both ways and be safe,” she said.

Chatterjee said that her son attends Capitol Hill Montessori, located a block from the spot where 19-year-old Malik Habib was killed in June 2018 after his bicycle tire became stuck in a streetcar rail on the 300 block of H Street, causing him to fall in the path of a charter bus.

‘The K Street Road diet would remove a rush-hour traffic lane, adding unrestricting parking from Florida Avenue to Sixth Street. A bicycle lane would be added between Sixth and Second Streets with parking on the south side as well as curb extensions to facilitate pedestrian crossings.

The street currently lacks cycling infrastructure, despite being identified by a Mobility Lab study as one of the most-traversed segments of roadway lacking cycling infrastructure.

Opposition

However, some residents have opposed the removal of parking in the area, citing the families, seniors and residents with restricted mobility in the area and asking if DDOT had conducted studies on the impact of the reduction in parking to residents in the area.

A group of those in opposition presented a petition at the March meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C, saying they had amassed 170 signatures objecting to the reduction in parking spaces. The ANC has repeatedly supported the road diet, citing the increase in NoMa residents as a result of developments currently in construction, writing in a letter to DDOT ” that the safety improvements are essential and that the need for them easily outweighs the desire to preserve a few parking spots.”

Dooling said the road diet plan actually creates 148 new 24-hour parking spaces where we previously had 190 off-peak parking spaces.

“We welcome everybody to the potluck picnic regardless of whether they march, contribute any food, or even agree with the road diet. It is a space to meet neighbors and for kids/pets to play,” said Dooling.

Photo: Courtesy R. Dooling

The demonstration takes place in an atmosphere of increased public awareness of the consequences of the unsafe structure of many District roads. Cycling advocate Dave Salovesh was killed on April 19 by the driver of a stolen van who veered into oncoming traffic near the intersection of 12th Street and Florida Avenue NE, killing Salovesh as he rode in his lane. Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Abdul Seck was killed by a driver speeding through the intersection of 16th and V Streets SE as he waited to cross the street.

An outpouring of emotion followed, including demonstrations to mourn the loss of Salovesh and Seck and to call for improved road safety in the District.

Chatterjee said Salovesh was the second individual to sign in at the March 3st picnic and ride, which she said was not surprising.

The April event begins with a 10:30 a.m. visit to the ghost bike for Salovesh. Participants can meet at 12oo K St. NE. At 11 a.m., there will be a picnic at the park at the intersection of Eighth and K Streets with West Virginia Avenue NE (800 K St. NE, followed by a ride or march to Mount Vernon Square. Children are welcome; the column is organized to protect kids as they cycle along. Visit the Facebook Event Page for more information.