Franklin Street Follow-up
Thank you to everybody who came out to the meeting on the Franklin Street Traffic Calming plan on May 30th, and to those of you who provided input on social media, by email, in person, and so on. We had over 80 residents attend the meeting, and we received dozens of comments from many who could not attend.
As promised, I have collected additional information and materials from the meeting for your reference. Click on the links below to access:
All the materials (technical designs, traffic analysis, crash summary, etc.) for Franklin Street are here.
And if you enjoy traffic studies, you can view several of them here - including the Brookland-Edgewood Livability Study, the MoveDC Bicycle Element, the 2014 Edgewood Road Safety Audit, and the Hanover 8th St. Comprehensive Transportation Review.
Below is a summary of the meeting, my thoughts, and next steps.
Community Meeting and Resident Input
Franklin Street is not safe. At the end of the spirited two-hour meeting, I asked residents how many believed Franklin Street, between 4th and 12th, is currently safe. Literally one hand went up. We may disagree on the best solution, but virtually all of us agree that there is an unsafe street running through our neighborhood. My primary and guiding goal is to improve safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians along this stretch.
It's all about parking. The primary objection to the plan was the potential removal of 34 rush-hour restricted parking spaces to install bike lanes on Franklin between 4th St. and 7th St. This is understandable. It's great to have a parking space on the street in front of your home. It's reasonable to want to keep a parking space in front of your home. At the same time, it is also reasonable for cyclists to want a dedicated, protected space on the road. The ultimate question is what solution provides the most benefit for the most people.
Calm Franklin Street. The presentation focused heavily on the traffic calming and safety aspects of the plan. In particular, reducing travel lanes, narrowing lanes, and creating dedicated left-turn lanes has been shown to reduce speeding and traffic weaving, and improve safety for all road users. There is evidence and experience to support this. Many, many residents expressed strong support for calming traffic on Franklin Street.
It's all about bike lanes too. While the presentation focused on traffic calming and safety, the comment session focused on bike lanes and parking. The plan includes proposed bike lanes between 4th St. and 12th St. Brookland residents on the east side of the bridge in particular voiced support for protected lanes across the bridge to help access the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
Community Concerns. Finally, residents outlined a number of concerns about the plan. In no particular order: (1) emergency vehicle access; (2) the impact of nearby construction and development projects; (3) increased congestion; (3) we should look at and study other options; (4) cyclists don't follow the rules; (5) Franklin Street is bad now; how will bike lanes help? We have tried to address all of these concerns in the blog post on Franklin Street and DDOT's presentation.
A budding consensus. By the end of the meeting, there seemed to be emerging support for moving forward with the 7th-12th portion of the plan, and holding off on the 4th-7th portion.
My Thoughts and Next Steps
Note: Here I speak only for myself, based on conversations with DDOT, studying the plans, and dozens of comments from community members.
I support moving forward with the 7th-12th St. portion of the plan. With the caveat that my Single Member District extends only to the tracks, I believe moving forward with the proposed plan between 7th-12th will make Franklin Street safer for all road users in the near term. The plan is not perfect (but neither is Franklin). Like any proposal, it involves trade-offs. But it is a concrete proposal, supported by experience and evidence, that directly addresses the primary complaints so many residents have expressed for years. Support for the bike lanes was also strongest along the 7th-12th stretch, while opposition was focused on 4th-7th.
I support the continued evaluation of the plan and other traffic calming measures on and near Franklin, between 4th and 7th Streets. No issue has occupied more of my time and energy as ANC than parking. In some ways, I understand it: an on-street, available, nearby parking space is a tremendous convenience (and for some, a necessity). I also wish parking did not dominate the discussion of other important issues, like safety on our roadways. Way too many people are hurt or killed on our roads, and it is difficult to see how we can truly address that issue when certain options are off the table.
ANCs are constantly in a difficult position: we are elected by our neighbors to be the "neighborhood's official voice" in advising DC agencies, and we take an oath to "consider each matter...from the viewpoint of the best interest of the District of Columbia as a whole." These duties sometimes conflict.
That said, I don't want to get bogged down in a fight over parking that prevents us from building a better, safer Franklin Street. My experience suggests that it is the unofficial policy of the DC government that parking impact is *the* most important consideration in any transportation infrastructure proposal. Until that unofficial policy changes, I will do what I can to support a better Franklin Street for all road users.
Safety above all else. People drive on Franklin. People bike on Franklin. People walk on Franklin. Seniors, parents, children, and people of all races and ages cross Franklin. People use wheelchairs on Franklin, push strollers, and use those scooter things that I don't trust on Franklin. My standing assumption is that *none* of the above people want to hit or be hit by any of the other things on Franklin Street.
So while I understand objections and concerns about the plan, they do not change my opinion that implementing the plan on 7th through 12th will make this stretch of Franklin Street safer than it is right now. I also believe that many objections to the plan are rooted in the potential parking loss. For example, residents indicated that they would prefer full-time parking spots on Franklin between 4th and 7th even if that increased congestion. Franklin Street is always going to be congested at rush hour, but residents have to deal with Franklin 24/7. It should be designed to work better for all road users and residents, at all times.
DDOT has not made a final decision. Typically, when DDOT makes a formal proposal, they will issue what is called a "Notice of Intent" which outlines the plan and initiates a formal public comment period. This has not yet happened. In other words, even when DDOT makes a "decision," there will still be time for community input before DDOT makes a "final decision."
Continued community input, with a purpose. This particular Franklin Street plan was developed two years ago; complaints about Franklin Street go back much further than that. The plan has been widely publicized and discussed at five public meetings. I am comfortable with the positions outlined above. If you have any additional comments on the proposal, please reach out to me, your own ANC Commissioner, or Mike Goodno at DDOT (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your ideas. Finally, I would love to hear your ideas for traffic safety improvements along and near this stretch of Franklin - particularly from residents on and near Franklin Street. Now is the time to evaluate your ideas to build a better, safer Franklin Street for all users.