The D.C. Department of Transportation says it is making progress on expanding access to bikers on city roads.
So far this year, the agency has installed 7.5 miles of bike lanes, including the first bike lanes in Ward 8.
The agency is now halfway through its goal of 14 new miles of bike lane this year. It is unlikely that the goal will be met, transportation officials say, but they say they expect to install at least another 1.5 mile of bike lane by the end of the year.
“We set a high goal,” said Mike Goodno, a bicycle program specialist with DDOT. “Every year we do a fair amount of them.”
Opening the first bike lanes in Ward 8 this summer is an important accomplishment, said Goodno. Last month, crews completed two bike lanes in the ward — one on Galveston Street SW between Martin Luther King and South Capitol, and another on a so-called climbing hill on Malcolm X Avenue SE between Martin Luther King and South Capitol.
A third bike lane in the ward is in the works at Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE between South Capitol Street and Fourth Street SE.
Bike lanes in Ward 8 on Malcolm X pic.twitter.com/fTyCKMSisZ
— Greg Billing (@gregbilling) August 8, 2014
Bike groups have been advocating for the expansion of bike facilities outside the downtown core to create a larger bike network in the city and also expand the access to bike facilities to all parts of the city. But getting bike lanes in some areas, including Ward 8, has been challenging, officials say. A lot of the roads have limited width — just enough for driving and parking lanes. Since the city adopted a bike plan in 2005, it has focused on getting bike lanes on wider roads where space was available, to add the bike lane without impacting the driving right of way. But as the plan progresses, DDOT is now taking more challenging projects. “We are getting to the point where we have done a lot of the easier lanes,” Goodno said. The cycle tracks on L and M streets in Northwest, for example, required the city to take a parking or driving lane. “We are starting to do that, but it’s a long process.” DDOT this year has built bike lanes in the Capitol Hill area, at New Hampshire Avenue NW between Washington and Dupont circles and at Piney Branch Road/13th Street NW between Missouri and Georgia avenues. The M Street NW cycle track was completed between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues. In upper Northwest, the city is now installing the first neighborhood bikeway. This includes two miles of way-finding signs and pavement markings on low-volume and low-speed streets identified for bicycle travel.
Investments in bike facilities over the past decade are credited with inducing the city’s new love of bicycling. Many more residents are said to be commuting by bike, and based on Census data, DDOT says some neighborhoods like Logan Circle, Mount Pleasant and Capitol Hill have bicycle commute shares of up to 14 percent.