- Will cycletracks ever reach L and M? (Photo: flickr/Dylan Passmore)
All right, everyone. I held back from talking about the L and M cycletracks so far but I can't resist commenting. For those unaware, the status of the anticipated bike tracks along L and M suddenly became unclear during the District Department of Transportation's confirmation hearing of Terry Bellamy. As the Washington Area Bicycle Association noted in a June 24th blog post that sent chills throughout the D.C. biking world, the tracks were "on hold," we learned. They "might not happen."
Uh oh. Commence the freakouts.
The association asked a bunch of good questions in response, like who's objecting to the displacement of parking spaces and will the public be invited to offer their feedback. I saw this post earlier this week, and have put in three calls to clarify the status of the L and M tracks with the DDOT's acting director Terry Bellamy. I sent an e-mail. No response, just the promise that I would hear back within 24 hours. In the meantime, D.C. bikers rallied in indignation. On Greater Greater Washington, one anonymous commenter suggested the move came straight from Mayor Vincent Gray. A petition emerged to save the tracks, even.
This afternoon, the District Department of Transportation finally responded--and lo and behold, the answer came in the form of a blog post!
The post was written by DDOT's John Lisle and gives little clear answer on what will happen to the tracks. The entry, with the simple enough title of "Cycletracks," has what feels like a lot of words (it's 555, specifically) because a lot of them seem a little unnecessary and to say the same stuff multiple times. He (thankfully) does acknowledge how the topic has bounced around the D.C. biking world this week, but when it comes to the L and M cycletracks' status, we reach what amounts to a non-answer:
Transportation Planner Jim Sebastian, who oversees DDOT’s Bicycle Program, says “We are waiting on the completion of our studies of the existing cycletracks on Pennsylvania Avenue and 15th Street, and the analysis of the L & M Street corridors, before making a determination on proceeding with the concepts for cycletracks.” DDOT recognizes the need for an east-west bicycle connection through downtown, but we are obligated to consider the impacts on all users (transit riders, pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, the disabled, businesses, residents, etc.) before making a commitment to proceed.
Say what? Translation: lots of competing city interests, more study, lots of competing interests, still can't say. Which may be true! Still, it's an unsatisfying answer for the city's bike advocates who have worked themselves up into a frenzy (with petitions, even) in the past week.
The department offers a lot of reassuring rhetoric about how the city will still add 10 miles of bike lanes this year and cares about biking. It's true enough ... but there's still no community that can be quite so outraged as the cycling one, and I'm more than curious to see how the D.C. biking world reacts to what may well be backpeddling on the once-promised L and M cycletracks.