Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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D.C.’s most polarizing transport innovation hits the brakes.
We’re living in the age of the great bike slowdown. After bike-loving transportation czar Gabe Klein was booted by new boss Vince Gray, the white stripes of bike lanes are still there. But in 2011, they weren’t joined by much new paint. Most emblematic of the new transit-planning viscosity: the crosstown cycletracks long planned for L and M streets NW. The city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for physically separated lanes to accommodate pedal-powered commuters who currently have no east-west right-of-ways. Yet Gray’s government barely made moves to begin installing the lanes this year.

Cycling infrastructure in D.C. certainly hasn’t gotten worse, and it’s still some of the most extensive in the country. Thanks to the rapid growth of Capital Bikeshare, more people than ever are calling themselves city cyclists. But top-down momentum for two-wheel-specific stuff—like physically separated lanes or dedicated bike parking facilities—has practically vanished. The lanes on L and M will supposedly be installed by spring 2012. But don’t bet your U-Lock on it. It’s approaching the end of the year, and there’s been nary a public meeting on this purported priority.