On the New Mexico Avenue NW Bicycle Lanes

In spite of the recent sturm und drang (which I believe is German for last-ditch NIMBY effort), the bicycle lanes on New Mexico Avenue NW are currently being striped. That process looks like this:

I assume that they'll be done either this afternoon or by tomorrow and then there'll be bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue from roughly 42nd Street and Tunlaw to roughly the intersection with Nebraska Avenue.

Obviously, I care about this because it directly impacts my own bike commute. A climbing lane on New Mexico Avenue will give me considerable peace of mind as I lumber up the hill each morning. I think it'll also help provide more clarity for the drivers who wish to pass me and generally speaking, I think stripes will have a slimming effect on the roadway, which I've heard is quite self-conscious about its girth. It's a win-win-win, at least in my opinion. I assume that those who were rankled by the very idea of a bike lane being installed will now be rankled by that very installed bike lane and their rankling will continue for a while, but eventually everyone will stop being rankled because it'll turn out that the bike lane was and continues to be just a white stripe on some asphalt. Or maybe we'll get a Prospect Park West-style lawsuit because everyone knows that anti-bike lane opposition is soooooo much more litigious in New York. My hope is that the many people I see cycling on the sidewalks along New Mexico Avenue will now make the transition to cycling in the street and along with those of us who do currently cycle in the street, will benefit from the addition of this piece of very minor, but important, infrastructure.

One other thing, though. This is a map of the District of Columbia west of Rock Creek Park (except for maybe the northern most bits, so sorry). I've circled in red where there are bike lanes.

That's it. And that's not very much. Western DC (where presumably people wear boots with spurs with their khakis and blue blazers?) doesn't really have bike lanes. And it certainly doesn't have anything that you could call a bike lane network. There are some streets with sharrows and generally speaking, a lot of the streets here are fairly sedate and you don't really need dedicated infrastructure to make your way around safely on them. And there's the Capital Crescent Trail, but you can only access that a few places. The lack of bike lanes means two things:

1. The New Mexico Avenue bike lane is really, really, really important. The development pattern of upper NW is such that there aren't that many major connecting streets and roads like Wisconsin Avenue, Massachusetts Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, Foxhall Road, Canal Road and much of MacArthur Boulevard are not accommodating to regular people trying to get around regularly on regular bikes. Improvements on New Mexico and hopefully eventually Tunlaw (?) might actually connect Georgetown to AU Park and Tenleytown and beyond and this is definitely a good thing.

2. There's lots of opportunities for bike advocates to push for more infrastructure! It's a blank-ish canvas and begs for paint. So, Ward 3 bike people, get out there and advocate for it. If you want. I mean, I'm not gonna tell you howto live your life. I just think that every bit helps and there's lot of little bits that could use help.

I plan to ride New Mexico Avenue home this afternoon and will maybe have some more pictures. Many thanks and congratulations for WABA (I heard somewhere recently that you can give them money) and the supportive members of ANC 3D for helping this much-needed project along. If you're not familiar with this part of town, feel free to ride over and check it out. Nothing a bike lane likes less than being empty. Except maybe for snakes because bike lanes are basically pretty much like Indiana Jones more or less.

1 comment:

  1. Any idea if the lack of bike infrastructure in Upper Northwest is a result of organized opposition, lack of interest of the residents, or a concerted decision by DDOT? Or perhaps some other reason?