East Potomac Park is getting bike lanes in December The new configuration will take one car lane and replace it with a two-way bike and pedestrian lane.
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East Potomac Park is getting bike lanes in December

A new set of bike and pedestrian lanes will be installed in East Potomac Park in December. National Park Service/ hide caption

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National Park Service/

A popular recreation area in D.C. is getting a new traffic configuration.

The National Park Service and District Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it will replace one of the two car lanes on Ohio Drive in East Potomac Park with a two-way bike and pedestrian lane. It will be a painted lane only with no bollards or concrete barrier protection, though the Park Service says there is room to add them in the future if needed.

The work is expected to begin in early December and take about a week. The area will be closed to all vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists during that time.

The park, which includes Hains Point, has a golf course, picnic areas, a playground, and more. The road itself is a haven for cyclists and walkers looking for a space that isn't filled with traffic. It often attracts serious cyclists and group rides that use the relatively traffic-free road for fast riding at time-trial-like speeds of 25 mph or higher.

"These changes will provide a safer park experience for all visitors by prioritizing safety and reducing conflicts between people who walk, bicycle, and drive while continuing to provide for the fullest range of uses of East Potomac Park," Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks, said in a statement.

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The project was first pitched in April and underwent rounds of public comment. The Park Service said it received more than 1,000 comments that were "passionate and often contradictory across correspondences, highlighting different users and activities in East Potomac Park."

The lane will stretch from the golf course entrance on the east side of the park and loop down and around and end at the Inlet Bridge.

The 2.5-mile stretch will put cars in the left lane and vehicles and pedestrians in a shared, two-way path. Originally, the plan called for a one-way bike and walk lane, but that was changed after public input. NPS says parts of the seawall path are closed because they are structurally unsound and will not reopen for the next several years.

Experienced cyclists who want to ride fast can still use the vehicle lanes, which will be marked as a "sharrow" or a road that is shared by both cyclists and vehicles.

The redesign will also include some new twists as well. Parallel parking will replace the angled parking on Ohio Drive. Bus traffic, including motorcoaches and school buses, will be prohibited on Ohio Drive past the East Potomac Golf Course. The intersection of East Basin Drive and Ohio Drive at Inlet Bridge will become a three-way stop with a left-turn pocket added for eastbound bicyclists on Ohio Drive to the George Mason Memorial, connecting to the 15th Street cycle track and Mount Vernon Trail.

The news brought mixed reactions on Twitter. Some are worried that cyclists sharing space with cars and pedestrians traveling different speeds will create safety issues.

Officials say they hope that reducing the number of lanes will reduce speeding, as vehicles often drive faster than the 15 mph speeding limit. And eventually, pedestrians will be able to use the sidewalks along the seawall. Sections of that walkway have been deemed structurally unsound, and won't be fixed for years, according to a safety presentation NPS delivered this month.

This story originally appeared on DCist.com.

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