If you got really excited about yesterday's list of things to expect next year, let this temper it: off of last year's list only five out of fourteen items listed happened as expected, and one of those (the Union Station Bike Station) was about 4 months late.You could call that 5.9 as most of the Met Branch Trail's NY Ave to Franklin section is open, but that too is several months late. The Bicycle Commuter Benefit went into effect, but no one is getting it due to rules issues.
So 2009 wasn't as big a year as we'd hoped, but there were still several big stories. Everyone else is doing top 10 transportation stories, most of which have nothing to do with biking and those that do (Wilson Bridge, ICC and Fairfax Parkway) don't mention it really, so I'll put together my list of the top 10 Biking Stories of 2009.
10. The Tweed Ride - A couple of hundred people show up in costume and ride for a few miles. Then they drink for a few hours. Press loves it.
9. Work begins on the Metropolitan Branch Trail's key section - The long-delayed project finally got some traction this year as work began on the NY Avenue to Franklin section, some of which is now open and most of which is built.
8. Matthew Henson Trail's west section opens - With the opening of this section, the whole trail is now complete.
7. Shirlington Underpass opens - this long-desired connection makes for a much simpler route across I-395.
6. The Inaugural Bike Valet - The largest one-day bike valet ever in America parks 1127 bikes.
5. The Alice Swanson Ghost Bike saga - DPW coldly removes Alice Swanson's ghost bike. Local artist replaces it with 22 otehrs. DPW removes those too. (FYI, the ghost bike was shown in a B-roll shot during the premiere of The Real World DC. Not that I watch that show).
4. Ridegate - Mayor Fenty and his bike team ride with a police escort and kind of break laws, including one that was only recently, and some what secretly, changed. People freak out.
3. 15th Street Contraflow Bike Lane - The Shirlington Underpass opened with hardly a single story in the local MSM, but this new bike lane was covered by everyone. Go figure.
1. Wilson Bridge opens for cyclists and pedestrians - The first new bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the Potomac since 1964 opens and hundreds of people show up to ride it the first day.
I could add the story that wasn't - for the first time since 2006 there were no bike fatalities in DC. Of course, DC only averages about 1.2 a year so that isn't a huge diversion from the norm, but zero is the goal and with cycling on the rise, it's a good sign. There was unfortunately one fatality in each of Arlington, Prince William, Montgomery and Prince George's County in 2009. Three out of four of those were at night, btw.
Another story that didn't make the cut was Capitol Hill Bikes Closing. Now it's not much of a story because it won't stay closed for long, but at the time it meant the loss of the only bike shop in DC outside of NW.
Other stories include the start of the Casey Trees water By-Cycle, construction of phase I of the Washington Boulevard Trail, work started on the Rock Creek Trail's Viers Mill Overpass, Design starting on the Klingle Valley Trail and Secretary Chu making an appearance at Bike to Work Day. The number of bikes reported stolen in DC in 2009, btw, was 550.
Photo by Eric Gilliland