A Moment For Me: Sherman Avenue Remix and Rewind

"I made dis!"

I’m apparently the last to discover Streetmix, and I decided to use it for a little design experiment on Sherman Avenue, a recently renovated thorofare near Howard University in DC. The road-diet project is basically finished already, but I would have liked to have seen two things changed: lanes for future streetcar and a northbound bike lane or cycle track, both taking advantage of the topography and its relative importance as a gentler uptown “wiggle” toward higher elevations north of the L’Enfant-era topographic bowl for cyclists and, eventually, rail. Right now there are only sharrows and ample street parking.

Sherman was widened to seven lanes (three travel lanes in each direction plus suicide lane) at some point in the 1950s before being walked back down to three lanes and an occasional median, plus parking. When I lived there, the street environment was so inhospitable, so totally lacking in a sense of security or eyes on the street, that I wouldn’t walk the length of it at night for fear of being mugged, like personal friends and dozens of others had been. (The parallel streets were much better.)

I also thought the somewhat alien quality of the landscape reminded me of the original Super Mario Bros. and would make for a good art project: planting ficuses, fixing rusty copper pipes to the concrete and formstone retaining walls, dangling mystery boxes from the cobra lamps, all but celebrating its challenge and almost cartoonish pedestrian hostility. But the District eventually decided it was interested in making Sherman Avenue more like a real street, not less of one. I can’t really complain about that.

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~ by J.D. Hammond on August 15, 2013.

4 Responses to “A Moment For Me: Sherman Avenue Remix and Rewind”

  1. I’m guessing this is more an attempt to see how to use the website than anything else. DC Streetcar already shows a plan to run a streetcar on Georgia Avenue which is just to the east and provides a better through route. I would think dedicated bike lanes with a buffer from traffic in each direction would be a better use of the space. Or maybe that’s just me.

    • Sherman, as I mentioned, has a much lower grade than the surrounding streets. It’s why it’s a preferable bike route (which is also why there’s only a bike lane in the northbound direction).

  2. This is an interesting concept but because most blocks of Sherman have no alleys it would be unreasonable to remove all street parking. It might make sense closer to Florida Avenue where the grade is steeper and there are fewer houses. But as Steve said, Georgia Avenue is already the designated streetcar corridor, which is appropriate given that street’s historic role as a transportation and commercial thoroughfare. The biggest problem with streetcars on Georgia Avenue (and the existing buses for that matter) is the bottleneck just north of Florida Avenue, where the street is too narrow to accommodate multiple travel lanes and parking but they stripe the street for them anyway.

    • I think this would only remove street parking at bus pads, tho. Those don’t run all the way down the block, and for the remainder there’s a southbound parking lane.

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