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D.C. bicyclists can expect 2018 to be another year of steady (but slow) progress toward the improvement of the region’s bicycling scene. The local bike boom, such as it was, hasn’t gone bust, but it’s no longer zeitgeisty either. Instead, it’s reached a period of maturation marked by small but noticeable improvements. It marches on in incremental (not revolutionary) advances.
The region’s trail network is where this is most apparent. The Purple Line, a Maryland light rail project that has seemingly been planned since Lord Baltimore founded the colony, has broken ground after nearly interminable litigation, and accompanying it will be a reconception and improvement of the beloved Capital Crescent Trail. This project will take a very long time, and trail users will be beset by detours throughout, but a new paved trail along the railroad right-of-way is coming. It will eventually find its way to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, another bit of regional bike infrastructure whose progress is best measured in decades. The next off-street portion of the MBT, which will run from Brookland to Fort Totten, will be under construction, extending the flattish trail’s reach northward. 2018 should also see a final decision about the routing of the next phase of the MBT through Takoma to Maryland. Speaking of decisions, the Virginia Department of Transportation should render a final verdict on the trail parallel to the widened I-66 outside of the Beltway. Will it be behind a sound wall? Or next to the highway (which would be terrible)? We’ll find out! (It’ll probably be the terrible one.)
In April, D.C.’s dockless bikeshare pilot program will conclude and the District Department of Transportation will begin its review of how it went. If GP had to place a bet, he’d say that DoBi won’t be banned from the streets of D.C., so get used to seeing the colorful (if sometimes junky) bikes around. In fact, with the establishment of new permanent regulations on dockless bikes, we could even see massive expansion of these programs and way more bikes on the streets (and sidewalks). How dockless bikeshare fits into the transportation future of the District and surrounding jurisdictions (including those where they’re not operating currently) will be one of the more consequential stories of the year.
Then there are cycle tracks. White stripes alone no longer stir the hearts of the biking public. Protected cycle tracks are the new expectation, and D.C. will look to add a few more in the next year. Most notable might be the K Street/Water Street NW cycle track in Georgetown that will connect to the end of the Capital Crescent Trail. Also, new cycle tracks on Virginia Avenue SE, by the new soccer stadium in Buzzard Point, and potentially on 17th Street NW through Dupont are all possibilities. And maybe, just maybe, the much-needed and long-stalled Shaw project (on 6th or 9th Street NW) will finally lurch forward. —GP