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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Urges Senate Sergeant at Arms to Reconsider Concerns with Louisiana Avenue Bike Lane Connecting Union Station and Capitol

Jan 11, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released Norton’s letter to Senate Sergeant at Arms Frank J. Larkin requesting he reconsider his apparent opposition to the construction of a protected bike lane between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Louisiana Avenue.  Norton has worked with Architect of the Capitol, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT), and the local biking community to achieve widespread support for the project, to be built using local funds in DDOT’s MoveDC action plan for D.C.’s transportation future.

Norton is concerned that the overwhelming consensus of federal and D.C. officials and the public as well as experts not be nullified to save a few congressional parking spaces when public policy today encourages alternatives, not incentives, to driving.  She noted that Members of the House and Senate, along with their staff and guests, enjoy free parking on their premises, so there is no reason for a congressional exception to the public policy that has long encouraged use of public transportation and alternative modes of transportation.

In her letter, Norton wrote, “It is my understanding that the project has been delayed due to concerns from your office, because it would result in the loss of a handful of parking spots on the Senate side of the Capitol.  If this is accurate, I urge you to reconsider—the bike lane has broad support from the community and Members of Congress, and it would provide a vital benefit to the many residents, visitors, and workers who traverse the area by bicycle… Losing a few parking spaces is a small price to pay to ensure public safety and help alleviate congestion near the Capitol by encouraging alternative modes of transportation.”

Norton helped get report language in the fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill supporting the construction of the Louisiana Avenue bike lane:

Bike Lanes.  The Architect of the Capitol is commended for its efforts to develop a safe and accessible street system to better connect all road users to the U.S. Capitol, Union Station and the National Mall by making cost-effective improvements to Louisiana Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and 3rd Street Northwest.  The plan, as approved by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, would provide protected bike lanes on these roads to safely connect residents and tourists to Pennsylvania Avenue, the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol, Union Station, and the Metropolitan Branch Trail.  As the AOC works during fiscal year 2017 to develop detailed specifications on these new bike lanes, the AOC should continue to coordinate with the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, consistent with the necessary approvals of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, to pursue completion of this project in a timely manner.  The AOC is also reminded to ensure close coordination with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and among AOC jurisdictions to minimize impact on other campus projects and priorities.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

Frank J. Larkin
Senate Sergeant at Arms
S-151, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Larkin:

I am writing to ask for a status update on the bike lane between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Louisiana Avenue.  It is my understanding that the project has been delayed due to concerns from your office, because it would result in the loss of a handful of parking spots on the Senate side of the Capitol.  If this is accurate, I urge you to reconsider—the bike lane has broad support from the community and Members of Congress, and it would provide a vital benefit to the many residents, visitors, and workers who traverse the area by bicycle.  I have had positive conversations about the bike lane with Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, who, I believe, understands the value of installing the protected bike lane.

As you know, a protected bike lane between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Louisiana Avenue would improve safety and provide a vital link between already-existing bike lanes in the area.  Union Station and the U.S. Capitol are separated by multi-lane roadways with fast-moving traffic, which poses daunting safety risks to the residents, workers, and visitors destined for Union Station, the U.S. Capitol, and points beyond.  Serious injuries or accidents involving cyclists would reflect poorly on all concerned.  There are already protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and First Street NE and throughout the city.  Filling in the missing link on Louisiana Avenue NE would help complete this well-planned network of bike lanes.

Losing a few parking spaces is a small price to pay to ensure public safety and help alleviate congestion near the Capitol by encouraging alternative modes of transportation.  I ask for an update on the status of the Louisiana Avenue bike lane within 30 days of the date of this letter.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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