It seems every year the District builds more bike lanes than the previous year. Not in 2015.
So far this year, the D.C. Department of Transportation has installed 2.27 miles of bike lanes, just a fraction of what the city built last year and no where near its goal to add 7.5 miles by the end of the year.
The number of bike lanes installed as of this week suggests that the city will fall short of last year’s record of nine miles of new bike lanes. City transportation officials say they have about four additional street miles in the design phase or under consideration that potentially could be built this year. That would bring the year’s total closer to the 7.5-mile goal.
“Last year we set a street mile record. I am pretty confident we won’t exceed that this year,” said Sam Zimbabwe, associate director at DDOT.
Crews this year have focused on filling gaps where cyclists felt uncomfortable riding, connecting to longer stretches of bike lane and improving connectivity in the existing bike network. For example, this month officials added .14 mile of lane to the 1st Street NE cycle track, extending it from G Street up to Massachusetts Avenue at Columbus Circle.
“It is really an important little eighth of a mile,” Zimbabwe said. “Now you got a nice protected bike lane.”
Most of the small additions this year have been in the city’s Northeast quadrant, with a couple in Southwest and one in Northwest.
The District has made commitments in recent years to expand bike access to residents. Last fall, DDOT issued a two-year action plan that projected the addition of 15 miles of on-street bike lanes over the next two years.
Transportation officials say it has become more difficult to install bike lanes after a decade of adding them on the wider roads. In streets with limited width the challenge becomes how to add right-of-way for bikes without taking away space for general traffic and/or parking.
According to DDOT the city has about 69 miles of bike lanes.
Mike Goodno, a bicycle program specialist with DDOT, said the city has also added 1.6 miles of shared lane markings this year and added green paint to existing bike lanes.
In coming weeks, crews are scheduled to install 0.6 of a mile of bike lane on 12th Street NW., from Pennsylvania to L street. This will help provide an important connection between two of the most popular bike lanes in the city. When it is completed riders in that area will be able to ride in their own lane from Pennsylvania Avenue to Vermont Street, officials said.
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 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 vehicles and parking lanes.
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