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I agree that the network should be interconnected.

The map is a little over-wrought. A couple of the roads labeled as "essentially highways" -- Independence and 14th St. -- are bikeable if you are willing to take the lane. 14th in particular has traffic that moves at essentially bike speed at rush hour.

If you're determined not to ride with the cars, the south side of the Mall gets relatively little pedestrian traffic. Independence has sidewalks on both sides that are only crowded when there is a major Mall event.

So really the question is about the lack of bike-specific facilities. I just can't help but feel that cyclists come off as a bunch of prima donnas when they need bike-specific facilities.

That said, here's my peeve: it does seem that when bike facilities are being planned that not a lot of thought is given to how people will use them to actually get somewhere. Or that cyclists are more or less like everyone else, and want to go to the same places as everyone else. So the routes that are most popular with automotive traffic are probably places that large numbers of cyclists would like to go.

I have been using the "huge long cut-through to Hains Point" as part of my commute for years. It's longer in distance but there are no traffic lights and no cars to contend with. (I assume we're both talking about Ohio Drive to Buckeye to the Case Bridge.)

The direct route is not always the fastest or safest or best in another sense.

Contrarian, I see the network more the way you do, but I what I like about this map is that this is how MANY people see it. I'll bike on Independence or 14th, but there are many cyclists - especially the new ones - who may not feel comfortable with it.

It is worth noting that, until recently, there has been no space exclusively for cyclists. Even most bike lanes actually serve as shared space. The cycletracks on 15th and the bike lanes on Penn are the only real exceptions. Peds own the sidewalks downtown and many roads are for cars only, so it's not that unreasonable to ask for some space where we can go at a reasonable speed without mixing with faster moving cars.

If Washington DC wants its economy to grow, it needs more people, not more cars. It is very much in DC's interest to make the cycling network everywhere visible, accessible and connected. This isn't about "prima donnas," it's about making our city work.

Further, if the mix of cars and bicycles on the streets is too frightening for a typical beginner cyclist, improvements really are "100% necessary." A visit to the mall shows that timid motorists and timid pedestrians from out of town are everywhere accommodated. Timid cyclists need to be accommodated as well.

The reason I said it wasn't 100% necessary is that timid cyclists can still use the sidewalks/paths. It just means going at a walking pace many times.

I can't speak to DC, but in many other cities I have seen politicians speak glowingly about new bike lanes, without any consideration of whether they go anywhere, are connected, and whether they are actually safe and not just a parking or driving lane.

From that perspective, I think governments should try to connect all bike lanes, to allow beginner cyclists a way to get around.

Reverse commuting from DC to Virginia along Independence is quite easy, especially since the road has been closed for construction. Going from Virginia to DC, there's also a path on the north side of Independence that some riders use who don't want to stay in traffic on Independence.

Contrarian writes:

“That said, here's my peeve: it does seem that when bike facilities are being planned that not a lot of thought is given to how people will use them to actually get somewhere. Or that cyclists are more or less like everyone else, and want to go to the same places as everyone else. So the routes that are most popular with automotive traffic are probably places that large numbers of cyclists would like to go.”


Over the next twenty years I – and no one else I know in the planning community or the social sciences who study such issues in DC – see NO reason why the NPS, DC or VA will do anything to meaningful to improve or expand on the current off -road, paved “multi-use” paths. Only the low hanging fruit will be addressed. Viz: DOES ANYONE KNOW WHEN THE CCT will be repaved????...

All the trails need repaving, say, oh, about 10 years ago; all are much too narrow (think of the piss- poor narrow, bumpy approach to the 14th Street Bridge heading towards VA; or the Mt Vernon trail from Key Bridge to Alexandria).

Further to Contrarian’s point: bikes are still thought of as toys, or *just* recreational. If you heard the Kojo Show on NPR last week, the attempt to entice folks to use bikes as more than just toys by Jim Sebastian et al., was/is anemic and pathetic. The commentators and bike advocates on the show were/are sincere and well-intentioned, but too fawning to existent stake holders. MUCH too fawning, and lacking passion for a better way of life and exciting alternatives to the current transporation clusterfuck and monoculture. (Do I need even mention the COST and ecological disater?....) Merely utilitarian approaches to bike advocacy isnt’t just dull, folks – life is too short to not be passionate about one’s hopes for the future. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is better than just sitting on them...but not much better, and certainly not for long.

Currently we have SIX lanes on UNENFORCED SPEEDING car traffic the Memorial Bridge; and likewise on the Key Bridge. All these lanes funnel into CAR gridlock on all but the lightest traffic use, on both the DC and VA sides. The right hand lane on each side should be converted to a protected bike lane against the edge; and a BUS only lane next to it. Let’s get the bikes off the SIDEWALK, where the tourists are...

This suggestion is so clearly OBVIOUS a solution and so clearly defensible that it is only testament to the UTTER pathetic gridlock in the USA that solutions like this WILL NOT occur. Virtually nothing meaningful can be done in the USA...and when you add arrogance, blind patriotism and stupidity to the JUSTIFIED frustration of not being able to effect meaningful change in one’s social world, you get the predictable Tea Party, Glenn Beck and Palin...and their legions of moron followers.

The fact is, Washcycle, despite your often terrific and reasonable positions advanced on behalf of transportation sanity, ecology, democracy....you’ll never convince anyone on JUST the merits of your case. Never. Learn something from the Tea Party. A mono-culture in any form (transporation, education, etc.) is a disaster for a life worth living; but at least have some passion when articulating an alternative. We’ve tried, in the bike community, to be “reasonable” for too long: we need strong stake holders to see the (mainly) economic benefits of moving away from mono-cultures (since usually all the stake holders can appreciate are economic considerations). Glenn Beck isnt reasonable; and he has nothing but support...what he does have is a VISION and the courage (however retarded is his understanding and program) to articulate that vision. This is what the bicycle world needs...

If your advice is for me to be more like Glenn Beck, I just don't think I have it in me. There is surely someone who can do that, but it is not where my strengths lie.

Why not slow down traffic motorized traffic such that people are more comfortable cycling there? Well designed roundabouts at a few intersections will keep speeds low but travel times fast to keep everyone happy.

Essentially, most separated cycletracks that intermingle -- say parallel -- with motorized traffic are fairly slow once intersections are addressed.

Sorry for the second post, but I simply wanted to add, slowing down motorized traffic could be done soon. Facilities could take a long time.

I use Ohio drive to 15th on way to work at metro center. I agree that this is a choke point and I keep nagging waba about it. Like it or not, you have to ride on the sidewalk when inbound to DC (you can ride with traffic on way out of DC). I'd love to see bike lanes or something that separates bikes - but this is just a dream; for now, simple chevrons on 15th street that remind drivers to 'share the road' would be a big difference.

I just happened to ride to Crystal City. There is completely inadequate signage on the DC side, with regard to getting to the trail.

Independence is 8 lanes for a good chunk -- one lane on each side for parking. One lane could be taken away and converted to a bi-directional bikeway. The tough thing would be from the Capitol up to PA Ave. SE.

There needs to be regional bikeway signage, including maps, that is posted on bikeways, and in transit stations, for starters.

If your advice is for me to be more like Glenn Beck, I just don't think I have it in me.
We could try to make you cry.

(Just trying to be helpful)


Agreed, Richard, that our DC area signage is abysmal. While I know that (at least) the Arlington and DC folks are quite aware of its shortcomings, I don't expect to see improved signage for an individual area anytime soon, nevermind something coordinated by region. Very frustrating.

The area around the Jefferson Memorial will get a little better once the construction work is finished and the bike paths open up again. But it's true that those paths will be crowded with pedestrians. Still, it was easier to get from the 14th St. Bridge to Independence Ave. when that path was open. I'm not sure when the construction work will end.


apparently, from these comments, NO ONE is optimistic about there being any change for the better any time soon...

the emotional IMPULSE that animates the hate of the Glenn Becks -- that the USA is in rapid decline -- is what we courageous progressives should take note of: not their reactionary cowardly "restorations" of "honor" or any some such...

they lack the knowledge, in any case, to mark a difference that would make difference to practice.

but as richard layman points out, re: indepenmdence ave, bike lanes could be achieved in many areas of DC and cities throughout the USA...but when? and this connects to the largher issue: what happened to the ideals and pragmatic energy that is literally written on the walls of monuments and buildings all over this city, and that used to serve and make tractable those ideals, such they could be turned into institutions, policies, laws, programs? what happened to the USA???

and in light of this, i am constantly amazed by how little heed the bike advocacy world takes of history, and social reality...

Here's my take on this. We don't have the numbers to push through a change like this - especially since it deals with NPS with whom we have zero push. We need to look at the fights we can win - projects in the pipeline, things already in the bike plan, etc... to work towards getting more people on bikes. When we get to Portland levels of bicycle mode share, then we will have the numbers to seek these more controversial facilities (Independence bike lanes would be like Penn Ave * 1 mazillion). Capital Bikeshare is a big part of that.

Historically, this kind of change is incremental. It was 80 years from Seneca Falls to Suffrage and 100 years from slavery to the Civil Rights Act. It took us 100 years to get into this car centric mess, and it will take us some time to get out of it. But the system is working for us now.

@John, if you use the "huge long cut-through to Hains Point" and come out on the west side of East Basin Drive going north, what then do you do? Do you go through the lights and up to the Mall? Or bear right to hit Maine Ave? Do you find these routes safe and bike-able?

@Stan, I agree.

@Contrarian, you're right the map I made is definitely an exaggeration to make a point. But I really do find 14th and Independence very un-bikeable at rush hour, and I'm a fairly experienced (but conservative) bike commuter. I've tried both and I simply find the high speeds and lack of shoulders extremely discouraging. I've been honked, yelled at, and even threatened verbally a couple times when I try to take the lane. This is not the peaceful kind of commute I look forward to. Faced with that kind of hostility, I just wimp out, opting to favor my own safety. So, I'm stuck beating through pedestrians along East Basin Drive or along the Mall west of 14th and the Lincoln. Independence's sidewalks can be super-frustrating too, in my experience. At least the ones along the Reflecting Pool are wide.

I guess my point is that I think this is a big "gap" in this city's regional bike connectivity. I think improvements here would make movements between Arlington and DC much more accessible, especially to beginners. If I, as a reasonably experienced (but admittedly conservative) cyclist, can't find easy ways through this pinch point at rush hour, what do we tell new, more beginner cyclists? That's why I'm threw out the idea of targeted improvements to the west side of the Mall or in the "pinch point" area on the map. But hey, it's just an idea. What do you think, or am I making a mountain from a molehill?

Bike improvements west of 14th along the mall would still funnel cyclists across the Memorial Bridge, which to access the MVT requires the horrifically unsafe crossing at-grade across the George Washington Parkway.

sorry, @John *east side of East Basin Drive

Just 161: I don't return to East Basin Drive. I take the Case Bridge side path to L'Enfant Promenade. (I work at L'Enfant.) From there one can easily access 7th St. NW, Maine Avenue and Independence near the Castle. It's a much saner way to go.

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