sui generis

Some stories about the controversy surrounding the  M Street Cycle Track.

Construction Holdups Delay M Street Cycle Track Three Months

M Street cycletrack loses a block

The gods must be crazy

And then this official statement from DDOT. 

M Street Bike Project Update

If I understand correctly, the situation as it stands currently is this: there will be a protected cycle track on M Street installed in October. However, for one block this protected cycle track (which runs along the north side of the street, the opposite side of the street from Metropolitan A.M.E church) will be converted to a standard bike lane and this bike lane will be painted green. 

So, where are we now? Did #bikeDC win or lose? Was this whole saga a qualified victory or a defeat, but with mitigating circumstances? 

How should I know? We all have our opinions about the potential consequences of the decision to build a cycle track that turns into a bike lane that turns into a cycle track- maybe they will be dire! Maybe it won't matter! Maybe it's not a big deal at all! Maybe it's an even better design! I have a few thoughts, none of which are especially profound nor incisive nor unique. They are:

1. This really isn't the end of the world. Sure, it's suboptimal. In fact, it feels really disappointing to have a very tiny sliver of road space for a protected cycle track made even slightly tinier. But can people deal with a standard bike lane for one block? Yeah, probably. Will this one block be the difference between the continued growth of cycling in DC and its demise? Probably not. But yeah, this still feels like it sucks. 

2. This is a bad precedent. But only if it's a precedent. The rationale between the change in the design is that the situation of this church, its historical significance to the District, and the events held therein, are exceptional to the point that adjustments needed to be made. You can believe that or not believe that. It's hard to see, however, that the activities- the need for parking for services and special events- are somehow substantially different from the activities of other churches and other buildings on M Street. Therefore, what is to stop other locales along the cycle track from requesting a similar exception? To my mind, nothing. However, it doesn't mean that DDOT will be equally willing to grant those exceptions as they were in this case. Only time will tell. 

3. So, now that this is "sorted out"- such as it is- why do we still have to wait until October to get the cycle track installed? I mean, it's probably not about design. Just work flow and availability of staff and such. Still, it sorta blows that the months with the highest amount of bike traffic won't be ones in which the bike lane exists. 

I have other thoughts on this and would be happy to share them, but this post has dragged on. Feel free to email me or @ me through the twitter machine. 

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