2015 in DC Bike Lanes

DC's First st protected bike lane installed in 2015 (Photo credit Mike Goodno)

DC’s First st protected bike lane, completed in 2015 (Photo credit Mike Goodno)

By many measures, 2015 was a pivotal year for bicycling in Washington, DC. In DC’s public schools, every 2nd grader is learning to ride a bike thanks to a new universal bike education program. In the DC City Council, Councilmember Cheh introduced a comprehensive update to bicycle laws and policies in the Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015. In the offices of over 20 city agencies, staff collaborated to craft a plan to achieve Vision Zero — to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on DC roads — by 2024. Together, these new programs, laws, and citywide initiatives will make DC a better, safer place to ride a bike for years to come.

On the infrastructure side, 2015 brought welcome developments to long term trail projects in the city. Early in the year, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) showed preliminary designs for the Metropolitan Branch Trail’s northern extension and a timeline for construction. In July, construction began on restoration of Klingle Valley streambed and a new multi-use trail alongside it to Rock Creek Park. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment made progress towards a planned 2016 opening. And finally, after over 20 years of troubling trail conditions, the National Park Service and DDOT announced a timeline for the rehabilitation of the majority of the Rock Creek Park Trail. These are all significant milestones.

On the streets, progress was significantly slower. Way back in 2014, DDOT installed nearly 10 miles of new bike lanes including more than a mile and a half of protected bike lanes. It was a record setting year. In 2015, the agency installed just 4.42 miles of new bike lanes. Only 0.14 miles of those are protected bike lanes. Whether compared to 2014 or DDOT’s 2 year Move DC Action plan’s goal of 7.5 miles per year, 2015 was not an impressive year for new bike lanes. The full list of installed lanes is below.

Street From To Street Miles Facility Type
1st St NE G St Columbus Cir 0.14 Cycle Track
2nd St NE T St Rhode Island Ave 0.22 Bike Lanes
2nd St SE East Capitol St Independence Ave 0.15 Bike Lanes
3rd St NE T St Rhode Island Ave 0.25 Bike Lanes
4th St, SW M St P St 0.30 Bike Lanes
4th St, NE C St (S), Maryland Ave C St (N), Massachusetts Ave 0.07 Bike Lane
6th St, NE C St (S), Massachusetts Ave C St (N), Maryland Ave 0.07 Bike Lane
6th St, SE G St I St 0.10 Bike Lane
12th Street, NW Pennsylvania Ave L St 0.60 Bike Lane
19th St, NE C St Gales St 0.30 Bike Lanes
44th St, NW Jenifer St Harrison St 0.26 Climbing Lane
49th St, NE Blaine St Nannie Helen Burroughs 0.50 Climbing Lane
E St, NE North Capitol St Columbus Cir 0.08 Bike Lane
Forrester St, SW Galveston Pl South Capitol St 0.06 Contraflow lane
G Pl NE North Capitol St 1st St NE 0.12 Contraflow
Galveston Pl, SW Forrester St, SW Martin Luther King Jr Ave 0.27 Bike Lane
I St SE New Jersey Ave 2nd St 0.08 Bike Lanes
M St NW 9th St Blagden Alley 0.04 Contraflow
Tunlaw Rd, NW 39th St 37th St 0.57 Climbing Lane
Van Ness St, NW Wisconsin Ave Nebraska Ave 0.24 Climbing Lane
Total 4.42

There is no doubt that bike lane projects on DC’s streets are getting harder. After building more than 70 miles of bike lanes, we have exhausted much of the low hanging fruit. To DDOT’s credit, big protected bike lane projects are in the pipeline for 2016 (or 2017): Eastern Downtown, Louisiana Ave NW, 15th St NW and more. But when our peer cities are boasting yearly records for new protected lanes (as in New York) and planning whole networks of connected, low-stress lanes (as in San Diego), DC needs to be doing more to connect up the city with useful and safe bike networks.