Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

D.C. reveals a map of the new bike lanes proposed for 2012

December 12, 2011 - 08:00 AM
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More lanes are coming. (Photo: flickr/dylanpassmore)

Washington, D.C., are you ready for your next wave of bike lanes? Several improvements to bike infrastructure are on the way to our capital.

This past week, the District Department of Transportation met with the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council on biking infrastructure in Washington, D.C. and DDOT staff offered a map of potential bike lanes and improvements for 2012. The map contains three colors: blue lines refer to new proposed infrastructure; red refers to improvements in biking infrastructure DDOT planned to add in 2011 but never, uh, quite got to; and green lines signify those spots where existing bike infrastructure has begun to deteriorate and where the lanes may need a good splash of paint.

Here's the DDOT map of proposed bike lanes for 2012. What do you think?
View 2012 Proposed Bike Lanes in a larger map

As the council notes, it's possible to see these new proposed bike lanes on top of the current bike-lane infrastructure by viewing a larger version of the map and clicking on "traffic" in the upper right and hitting the bicycling option.

Included among the improvements are blue lines along 1.4 miles of L Street NW and 1.3 miles of M Street NW, two noted east-west roads that may provide critically important passage for various bicyclists through the city. The idea of cycletracks on L and M has undergone some contentious dialogue in the past. In June of 2011, DDOT transportation planner Jim Sebastian said, "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." Nearly half a year later now, these blue lines suggest that DDOT will be officially moving forward with biking infrastructure on L and M in the new year.

What else might be coming? Sharrows (AKA, shared lane markings) on 11th Street NW, lanes on West Virginia Avenue NE around Gallaudet University, along more than a mile of 49th Street NE, and on Good Hope SE, for starters.

Yet the reality of bike infrastructure is determined by many factors and the shape and speed of how D.C.'s infrastructure emerges will only be known in the months to come. Bicycling advocates tend to be sticklers for accountability and at times have to press city officials to keep to their proposals. To give a recent example of how advocates push to ensure proposed infrastructure becomes reality, consider recent talk of bike lanes on Columbia Road, NW. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association noted that these lanes would help connect Dupont and Adams Morgan "by Thanksgiving" in an October 5 blog post from WABA's Greg Billing. As November ended and no bike lanes appeared, the @WABADC Twitter account asked DDOT's Twitter the question on November 28: "bike lanes on Columbia Rd? They were going to be in by T'giving." DDOT's reply: "Sounds like it's going to be a little longer. We're still finalizing the contract with the contractor." WABA thanked DDOT and asked if the city would venture a guess for when the promised bike lanes would be completed and received no reply I can now find. These improvements take time, and the details, such as with contractors or any other entities involved, can slow down plans — hence all the red lines on the map referring to 2011 projects now being shifted to the 2012 plans. But bike infrastructure is still coming to the District, line by line and piece by piece.

The question of such cycling infrastructure is especially relevant today. Tonight WABA will host its first-ever Women's Cycling Forum, which will address the statistical reality that men are far more likely than women to bike. One common belief is that with better biking infrastructure, women would be more inclined to become urban bicyclists.

Along with map of proposed infrastructure improvements is a list of the on-street bike parking spots in the District, I notice, which is an in-progress catalog of all available spots. This resource strikes me as extremely useful for any regular bicyclist who needs a place to lay their bike throughout the day. To properly navigate among all these sharrows and bike lanes, a bicyclist will eventually need reliable spots to rest his or her bike.

Although perhaps not comprehensive just yet, this map provides a good sense of where to find bike parking in D.C.:
View On-Street Bicycle Parking in a larger map

Update, 12:05 p.m.: Brian McEntee, an avid D.C. bicyclist and blogger at Tales from the Sharrows, was at the meeting and offers clarification on what's happening with L and M. The long awaited cycletracks are still planned for 2012, he told me, but pending the ongoing study that DDOT referred to back in June. DDOT's hope, according to McEntee and as affirmed in the map of proposed bike lanes above, is to add the two cycletracks by the end of next year.

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