Downtown D.C. business leaders are bracing for a projected 12-percent growth in transportation activity by 2015.
To accommodate all that traffic, DDOT hopes new infrastructure will encourage more commuters to regularly bike to work, but bike security is a concern.
“What we’ve found about bike lanes in general and facilities is if you build it they will come,” says Jim Sebastian, DDOT bicycle program manager.
D.C. has been recognized as a national leader, one of six cities part of the Bikes Belong Foundation’s Green Lane project, sharing best practices and providing strategic and technical assistance.
“The number one reason more people don’t ride bikes in survey after survey is they are scared,” says Martha Roskowski of the Bikes Belong Foundation. “They’re afraid of getting hit by a car.”
Under Mayor Fenty and now Mayor Grey, DDOT has multiplied the size of Capital Bikeshare and continues to add bike lanes downtown.
“Basically it’s been going up every year,” says Sebastian. “In particular the last year or two when we’ve not only done bike lanes but also bike sharing."
DDOT’s latest project expanding D.C.’s biking infrastructure is the L Street Cycletrack, designating the separating one lane of traffic for bikes only from New Hampshire Ave. NW all the way to 12th St. NW.
“You add some kid of barrier, buffer and create a dedicated space for bikes on the street and people start to ride,” says Roskowski.
Another concern for cyclists is theft.
“Once you arrive you have to have a safe place to lock your bicycle because we know bicycle theft is the number one property crime,” says Ellen Jones of Downtown D.C. Bid, Infrastructure and Sustainability.
D.C. council member Mary Cheh, who chairs the committee on transportation, wonders if MPD could devote more resources to bike theft. Just a few weeks ago, her own bike was stolen around 9 a.m. from the corner of 13th and Massachusetts Ave, even though it was locked up.
“It’s easy to get them and to sell them. I don’t think it’s a big priority as a theft matter. It should be, but I don’t think it is,” says Cheh.
With major growth expected in coming years, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District is hoping the combination of safe and convenient bike lanes along with secure parking facilities will result in more cyclists and less traffic.