Good news for D.C. bicyclists. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced plans to expand and add new bike lanes on five major roads downtown.
As part of the city's effort to become more bike friendly, the proposed lanes will run along Eye, L, 15th and 9th streets N.W. DDOT also plans to place a bike lane down Pennsylvania Avenue as well. The bike lane on Pennsylvania will convert the thoroughfare's median into bike lanes, which will be separated from traffic by flexible plastic barriers. Cyclists will be protected along Eye and L streets with similar plastic barriers there too.
The barriers will be able to be easily removed for presidential inaugurations or similar events, said Jim Sebastian, bicycle program manager for DDOT.
But what do these new bike lanes mean for drivers?
Although the new proposal is dedicated to protect the District's cyclists, the reconfigured roads will decrease the current four lanes of traffic to three with the exception being at intersections. However, a big impact of the bike lane proposal is the possibility of taking more cars off the road, said David Alpert, founder and editor of GreaterGreaterWashington.org. "The advantage of this proposal is that is encourages more people to bicycle and [fewer] to drive," said Alpert. "Bike lanes can carry more people because they take up less space than cars."
While the DDOT is working with the Golden Business Improvement District and the Downtown BID to asses the impact on local businesses, Alpert suggests that the bike lane expansion has potential of bringing more customers to various businesses in the area. "People who bike rather than drive will have the ability to stop at the side of a store or restaurant and shop [or] eat at their leisure, as opposed to drivers who have to commit to where they are going," said Alpert.
The estimated cost of converting each block is between $10,000 and $20,000, according to DDOT. Money to support this proposal will come from funds allocated last year.
DDOT is currently discussing reconfiguring as many as 52 blocks, and the total possible price for the bike program could cost as much as $1 million.