Street by Street, DC Builds Out a Center-City Protected Bikeway Network

The First Street NE protected bike lane accounts for 0.6 miles of the 16-mile protected bike lane network taking shape in DC. Photo:  Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland
The First Street NE protected bike lane accounts for 0.6 miles of the 16-mile protected bike lane network taking shape in DC. Photo: Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland

Bike advocates from all over the country are in Washington right now for the League of American Bicyclists’ annual Bike Summit. Among other things, it’s a chance for out-of-towners like Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland to appreciate the city’s progress on bike infrastructure.

Maus reports that there are now nearly 16 miles of protected bike lanes in the center city, and that DC is “well on its way to making a connected network that people can use to zip around on bikes with the same (if not better) ease and convenience as other modes.”

Maus toured the First Street NE protected bike lane in the NoMa neighborhood, which is just 0.6 miles long but used by 1,500 cyclists each day:

Since D.C. has relatively good (for the United States) transit options (including one of the nation’s best bike share systems), a large majority of NOMA residents live without a car. [NoMa Business Improve District’s Galin] Brooks said 80 percent of of them either walk, take transit, or use a bike to get around.

Because of this high non-driving mode share, business owners in the NOMA area have been very amenable to reconfiguring streets with improved access for bicycle users. “They just get it,” Brooks said.

As a result, DDOT was able to re-allocate 10-13 feet of road space on First St NE for 0.6 miles for the exclusive use of bicycles. The design is a two-way, green-colored bikeway with five-foot wide lanes and varying degrees of separation throughout.

For more on the First Street bike lane, check out this Streetfilm breaking down its three types of physical separation.

More recommended reading today: Doggerel looks into the persistent gender wage gap in the design professions, explaining the important role played by implicit bias. Tim Kovach says transit can help address inequality in job access, but it can’t solve the problem on its own in a sprawling, segregated place like Cleveland. And Streets.mn questions what people really mean when they talk about “neighborhood character.”

  • I really like those rubber curblike structures. Maybe they could keep cars from lane-changing into bike space in Chicago — and you can take them up for plow season. I bet a couple of summers of rubber curbs will significantly retrain driver expectations (and save a lot of bollards from destruction).

  • localmile

    Why make the bikeways unusable for a third of the year?

  • In winter, you mean?

    In Chicago they take out the flexible bollards, and all our protected lanes that don’t have concrete curbs (which is almost all of them) become just striped street.

    So that happens anyway.

    Using the curbs would mean they CAN’T just swerve into the lanes and break off bollards any time they feel like it, the other two thirds of the year.

  • what_eva

    The bollards are in on Dearborn, but that didn’t stop a minibus from driving down the lane and parking midblock between Madison and Monroe this afternoon

  • Determined lane-enterers won’t be dissuaded. But I mean people pulling in midblock to treat it like a double-parking space, or an extended right-turn lane, or something you can pull into to pass four other cars you don’t think are going fast enough.

    All of which happen on Elston up by me all day, every day.

  • Or Chicago could just invest in the right equipment for the job of clearing snow from bike lanes…

  • Theoretically they have. The miniplows exist, and I’ve heard we own a few.

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