Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, June 22, 2017

D.C. adds bike lanes to downtown area

D.C. adds bike lanes to downtown area
wheelin’ in — D.C. is planning to increase its bike lanes from 45 to 80 miles. A section of Pennsylvania Avenue running from the White House to the Capitol will even ban cars from its middle lane.

D.C. is working to become more bicycle-friendly as more bicycle lanes are being added to downtown streets.

The District Department of Transportation is also expanding its bicycle rental program, SmartBike D.C.

D.C. already has 45 miles of bicycle lanes on its 1,200 miles of streets, but the goal is to increase this to 80 miles, according to The Washington Post.

The center of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol may soon be converted to a bicycle-only lane, according to the Post. The bicycle lanes will be installed within a month, in order to have the road ready for the summer bicycling season, according to DDOT.

D.C. has the sixth-highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the country and this number doubled in the first eight years of the 21st century, according to the Census Bureau.

The DDOT has already made some changes towards expanding SmartBike D.C. One is the installation of more than 1,000 bicycle-parking racks in the city. The department has also created a Bicycle Master Plan, which will establish high-quality bicycle facilities and programs over 10 years, according to the DDOT Web site. The DDOT is developing innovative bicycle infrastructure in downtown D.C. and has looked at other cities, like New York and Montreal, for bicycle-friendly designs and ideas, according to the DDOT Web site.

Carol Foster, director of the AU’s Bike Lending Program, said making D.C. more bicycle-friendly will cause students, herself included, to rent bicycles more often.

“One of the most common reasons students don’t use the rentals is because the D.C. streets and sidewalks are too narrow for riders to feel safe,” she said. “I think it’s great that D.C. is ... allowing for safer bike travel. It’s imperative that D.C. becomes more cyclist-friendly so that riders are encouraged to choose a more sustainable, healthier form of transportation.”

Foster also said the bicycle lending program encourages sustainability nationwide.

“I think that by providing better bicycle infrastructure such as lanes, sidewalk widening and bicycle racks, D.C. and AU can become models of sustainability for the rest of the country,” she said.

Student Government President Andy MacCracken enjoys bicycling and said he hopes to take advantage of AU’s bike lending program soon.

“Back in Colorado, I was an avid cyclist. I biked everywhere,” he said. “While I’m all set up to use the Bike Lending Program, I haven’t taken advantage of it yet. I definitely should because I miss biking.”

MacCracken said that not only does he enjoy it but that there are also a number of benefits to bicycling over walking or driving.

“I tend to walk everywhere a lot, but there are definite advantages to biking if you want to get somewhere quickly when there’s a lot of traffic, be green and get some good exercise,” he said.

You can reach this staff writer at nglass@theeagleonline.com.