D.C. installing new downtown bike lane

November 22, 2013

The new westbound bike lane on M Street NW will complement this eastbound one on L Street NW. (Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

Workers are scheduled to begin installing a protected bike lane on M Street NW this coming week, the District Department of Transportation announced.

The lane, also known as a cycle track, will protect cyclists with a buffer of flexible posts and parked cars. The new lane, a one-way westbound route, will be placed along the north side of M Street between 14th and 28th streets. The long-planned project will complement the eastbound bike lane on L Street NW.

But for one block, between 15th and 16th streets, bikers will be in a regular old bike lane, not a protected lane, though green paint will be used to increase its visibility. This is the result of a dust-up with the Metropolitan AME Church, on the south side of the block. As first reported by Martin Di Caro of WAMU radio, church leaders protested that the cycletrack design would take away much-needed parking spaces used by church-goers on Sundays.

In other ways, the M Street design should be an advance over the L Street track. Unlike on L Street, DDOT officials said, most parking and loading will be done adjacent to the bike lane. Cyclists often complain about delivery vehicles — and others — parking in the lane on L Street.

The parking pattern is complex. Between 14th and 17th streets, rush-hour parking restrictions will be removed. But between 17th Street and Connecticut Avenue, some parking spots will be removed because of the heavy volumes at rush hours, DDOT said. Between Connecticut Avenue and 26th Street, some rush-hour parking restrictions will remain while other spots will allow parking all the time. (The signage should be interesting.)

At intersections along the route, some parking spaces will be removed to allow for turning lanes.

The construction hours will be between the morning and evening rush hours Monday through Friday. Work also may occur on weekends. The project will begin next week at Rhode Island Avenue NW along M Street. By the following week, DDOT said, work will begin simultaneously at 14th Street NW and New Hampshire Avenue and proceed west on M Street.

All the work should be done in four to six weeks, though bad weather could slow progress. The design is such that the project will not require the repaving of the entire street.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Lori Aratani · November 22, 2013

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