There are bicyclists throughout D.C., but there aren’t always bike lanes to match—-a point generally overlooked in the faux-outrage over cyclists’ supposed excessive privileges in the city. Biking east of the Anacostia River is often hard, and it’s not just because of the hilly terrain. While the District had 72 miles of bike lanes as of earlier this year, Ward 7 has under four miles of those lanes, and Ward 8 has zero. Yes, there’s the pleasant Anacostia Riverwalk Trail by the river, and yes, a small portion of the border between wards 7 and 8 has bike lanes, but within Ward 8, there are no bike lanes on or alongside streets, even as cycling becomes increasingly popular in the city.
That’s about to change.
Last week, the District Department of Transportation sent instructions to its work crews to construct three bike lanes in the ward. One will run on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE between South Capitol Street and 4th Street SE. One will run on Galveston Street SW between Martin Luther King and South Capitol. And the third will be a so-called climbing hill on Malcolm X Avenue SE between Martin Luther King and South Capitol, running just in the uphill direction, according to DDOT bicycle program coordinator Jim Sebastian; the faster-moving downhill bikers will ride with car traffic. Together, these lanes total around a mile and a half.
These lanes, Sebastian says, will eventually connect to a planned off-road South Capitol Street bike trail. DDOT had considered installing bike lanes on Martin Luther King between Anacostia and Congress Heights. But that plan was scrapped with the start of planning for the development of the St. Elizabeths campus, which Martin Luther King bisects, given the anticipated car demand on the street. (The three lanes being installed aren’t removing any driving lanes or parking spaces.)
Sebastian says the local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners provided a “supportive response” to the bike-lane plans. The lanes, he hopes, will be done in the next month or two.
Map from Google Maps; wobbly lines by Aaron Wiener