This dovetails with the bleg I had last week about how to move along the Mall when it's crowded with pedestrians. The graphic and text is from Just161 on the BikeArlington listserve (and I hope they don't mind my using it, but it's really good). They ask
14th Street Bridge seems the best connection from the Mt. Vernon Trail and the rest of the great trails in Arlington, TO the eastern side of DC - Union Station, Gallery Place, the ball park, Capitol Hill, etc. it's better than beating through pedestrians around on the Mall to get to the Memorial Bridge. But this connection has major problems, particularly in the direction from Arlington to DC, from where you come down off the 14th St. bridge, to where you can pick up better bike routes on the Mall or in the neighborhoods in SW (Water St., e.g.).
Bikes using the 14th St. Bridge are funneled down one little stretch (in orange above) where there are tons of pedestrians, and we're boxed in by highways on one side and the Tidal Basin on the other. Southbound you can ride in the road, but the cars move much faster than bikes on East Basin Drive, and northbound your have no choice but to either a) ride on the sidewalks or b) take a huge long-cut through Hains Point. Roads in this area are very inhospitable to bikes, and there's not many good alternatives.
I'm guessing this is a major movement bikers want to make in this city, judging from my own (admittedly anecdotal) experience.
This problem could be addressed with a few targeted improvements -- either by expanding east-west bike mobility on the Mall west of 14th street (Jefferson and Madison, and now PA Ave do this well but only east of 14th), or by improving bike access around the Jefferson and through the messy intersection at the yellow star below.
What do you think??
I personally think we'd be best off if we had some dedicated bikeways. One on the Mall from Memorial Bridge to Madison/Jefferson, and one from the George Mason Bridge to Maine Avenue. Neither of these are 100% necessary, you can get by without them, but they would be nice. The problem is that it probably involves NPS approval to make them work.