Some bicyclists say D.C.’s efforts to promote cycling are not as aggressive as they should be, as biking in the nation’s capital grows in popularity.
Over the past 10 years bicyclists have seen D.C. increasingly become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation. In 2005, the District had only about 17 miles of bike lanes. Now, it has 57 miles and many more on the way. Bike signs and cyclists are now common -- if not always accepted -- on the city's main streets and neighborhoods.
But bike activists say the city can do a lot more.
“Cycle tracks are a critical component in our bicycle infrastructure,” said Ellen Jones, a cyclist and chair of the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council.
“We know that there is a huge demand for bicycling,” she said. “That's what we're all seeing. We also know there is a real need to make bicycling safe. “
One cyclist testified Monday that she calls the Cathedral Avenue entrance to Rock Creek Park “Suicide Drive.”
“Cyclists and pedestrians risk their lives crossing four lanes of fast-moving traffic,” said Denise Cohen, who commutes 20 miles per day to her job as a legal assistant downtown.
“There's nothing to calm or mitigate the traffic,” she said. “So basically we have to rush across there while cars are catapulting down.”
At a council hearing on the District's master bike plan, there was concern a lot has been done to improve cycling in the city, but that too many improvements have slowed.
“We really should be aiming at a higher use of bicycles as other forms of transit other than vehicles,” said Council member Mary Cheh, chairman of the D.C. Council Transportation Committee.
Bike-related crime prevention also is a concern. Cyclists know a bike can be stolen anywhere, and crime can occur on any street or one of a half-dozen city trails.
“Recent high profile assaults on the Metro Branch Trail have shaken users' confidence,” At-Large Council member David Grosso said.