It's great that these cycletracks are being built, but it's decidedly not great getting from First Street to M Street.
Here are a few of the problems:
- Crossing North Capitol. North Capitol Street is a terrible street. It is, in parts, a grade-separated highway and it's pretty hostile for bicyclists and pedestrians. Even worse, it's function as a grade-separated highway (and traffic sewer) means that streets near it tend to be, inconveniently for us, one-way and for the sake or argument, let's say that we're law-abiding and don't want to ride the wrong way down these streets. A cyclist can safely cross North Capitol at K Street or R Street. That's pretty much it. I suppose you could ride on New York Avenue or Florida Avenue, but that is not something I would recommend to someone. In fact, I specifically recommend staying away from both of those streets. Furthermore, if your goal is to ride on M Street, it would seem silly to ride up to R Street to ride back down to M Street. So, that means, K Street is pretty much your best and only option.
- K Street doesn't really have bike facilities. There's a right lane on K Street that's sometimes for car parking and you could ride in and for the most part, it's fine, but K Street from First NE to at least 3rd Street NW (and maybe it's 4th Street) has no bike dedicated bike infrastructure. Then it has some blocks of sharrows and a pittance of a half-block bike lane and then sharrows or maybe just nothing. That's your best cross-town option. After New Jersey Avenue, there is a wide sidewalk on the bridge and then a wide sidewalk for the next few blocks. It's really not an ideal situation for anyone, though. You could, I guess, ride up New Jersey (no bike facilities now- but someday?) and cross New York Avenue (not a great intersection since you're near a highway entrance and exist) and ride up to N Street (M is another befuddling one-way then another opposite one-way a block later) and then ride N across town, but this still kind of puts you out of your way. I stuck on K to 7th, which brought me to my next problem.
- Mount Vernon Square and 7th Street. Neither of these sections have bike lanes. Additionally, Mount Vernon Square has like 5 lanes, intersects the 6 lane New York Avenue, and is near the Convention Center and the hubbub around there. 7th Street is comparatively fine, but the bike lanes don't start until after N Street. So, you'll ride in the right lane next to the parked cars and try not to get passed too closely or doored.
- L Street It's fine, I guess. Part of it runs under the Convention Center and part of it runs behind the new hotel. There are no bike lanes. You can't ride on M Street because (AGAIN!) there's a part that's one-way, eastbound only.
- 11th Street. There are bike lanes there. You can ride in them for a block. Or not, since you have to make a left turn onto M anyway and you shouldn't do that from a right-lane bike lane.
- M Street from 11th to Thomas Circle. No bike lanes, but a quiet, two-way street for the most part. Sharrows could be added as a token gesture towards bikey-ness.
- Thomas Circle. In it defense, there are some bike lane parts on Thomas Circle. But they don't really help you get from the M Street on the east side to the M Street on the west side. For that, you'll need to ride across 2 lanes of traffic, into a kind of striped no-man's-land, and then cross 2 more lanes of traffic to get back into the bike lane on the other side. You can ride in that bike lane past 2 streets where drivers might want to turn right directly in front of your path before, finally, you can make a hard right and enter the eventual M Street cycletrack.
In conclusion, if you're the kind of DC bicyclist who feels the most comfortable riding in the kinds of bike facilities that are like the First Street cycletrack and the M Street cycletrack (which is most everyone), but not the kind of bicyclist who feels as comfortable riding on streets without any kind of bike facilities (which is a lot of people), it will be not be very comfortable for you to ride from one new protected cycletrack to the other new protected cycletrack. While it is heartening that DC continues to build protected cycletracks (and continues to expanded other bike facilities), connectivity between these facilities remains extraordinarily limited.