Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

New Bike Lanes Open on M


M Street will see the opening of new bike lanes from 14th Street NW to 29th Street NW within the next two weeks.

Sam Zimbabwe, the associate director for policy, planning and sustainability for the District Department of Transportation, said that the construction of the bike lanes was inspired by a need to protect bicyclists, pedestrians and vehicles on the busy street.

“The M Street cycletrack will provide a safe, protected facility for bicyclists on a busy downtown street where there currently aren’t facilities,” Zimbabwe wrote in an email.

According to a study conducted in 2010 by the DDOT exploring ways to improve downtown bike facilities, L Street and M Street would be ideal locations for improved facilities, namely bike lanes, due to the high bicycle traffic.

Acting upon this recommendation, the DDOT installed bike facilities in late 2012 on L Street, which provided an eastbound connection transecting downtown. The M Street cycletrack will serve as its counterpart going westbound.

“The L Street cycletrack has seen a big increase in bike traffic since installation, and our review of safety and usability has found that there has generally been an improvement since the installation,” Zimbabwe wrote.

Construction on the new M Street bike lanes began in December 2013, but the high volume of snow this winter delayed construction until early April. The bike lanes will be completed within the next week or two, depending on the weather.

“The installation at this point consists of finishing the pavement markings, installing new signs and installing flexposts to create the barrier for the bike lane, and adding green paint at intersections,” Zimbabwe wrote.

Bill Starrels, the vice chair of Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the commissioner for the region including the expansion, noted that, based on previous experience, the construction of these bike lanes could result in an increase in congestion problems.

L Street has been horrendous with traffic,” Starrels said. “The street is just tough right now, especially making left turns.”

While he recognized this possibility for an increase in traffic, Zimbabwe pointed out the potential positive effects the bike lanes could have on sidewalk traffic.

“To create the cycletrack, we are reducing the capacity of the street for cars, but in our analysis, the impact will not be severe,” Zimbabwe wrote. “So, depending on who you are, the cycletrack could both help and hinder traffic for all modes.”

Zimbabwe added that the bike lanes will pull cyclists off the sidewalk, where they put pedestrians in danger.

“The lack of facilities mean that some brave cyclists use the road, while others illegally use the sidewalks,” Zimbabwe said. “The installation of the cycletrack will provide a protected facility in the street, which we think will not only attract more cyclists, it will actually attract them from other streets, like K, and get them off the sidewalks, where they are a hazard to pedestrians.”

At approximately $250,000, the cost of installing the bike lines will be paid for through local funds from the Capital Improvement Program, a six-year plan for the improvement of the District’s infrastructure and facilities.

“We just want to make sure it’s done in a safe and orderly way,” Starrels said.

Stephen Yin (SFS ’17) expressed enthusiasm for the changes in order to reduce congestion and improve travel in the Washington, D.C., area.

“[The bike lanes] would make my commute time a lot shorter because I usually have to walk my bike because of the risk of getting hit by a car,” he said. “The current absence of biking lanes makes it very hard and sometimes even dangerous for bikers like me to get where I need to go.”

Eugene Kim (SFS ’17), however, said that he felt the bike lanes would be a negative addition to M Street since the street space is already limited.

“It’s just not that necessary. However, that is coming from a young kid who doesn’t mind taking risks at times. I can see how other cyclists, especially those who approach it as a serious sport, would desire to have a separate lane for safety concerns and simple convenience,” he said.

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