Housing Complex

D.C. Has 72 Miles of Bike Lanes. Ward 8 Has Zero.

A map of D.C.'s bike lanes (in green)

A map of D.C.'s bike lanes (in green)

Earlier this week, I wrote about D.C.'s so-called bike deserts, parts of the city that don't have access to a nearby bike shop. The lack of places to fix a flat or buy spare parts discourages biking in parts of the city where low incomes and sparse transit options should theoretically make biking appealing, I wrote—but an equally or more important factor than bike shops is biking infrastructure, which, I speculated based on personal experience, is less developed east of the Anacostia River than west of it.

Well, now I've got some numbers. Here, courtesy of the District Department of Transportation, is the number of miles of bike lanes by ward:

Ward 1: 10.92
Ward 2: 18.14
Ward 3: 5.86
Ward 4: 8.27
Ward 5: 6.17
Ward 6: 16.86
Ward 7: 3.47
Ward 8: 0

That's right: In Ward 8, there are no bike lanes, according to DDOT's figures.

Now, I should add two caveats. First, these numbers don't include off-road bike trails, like Ward 8's Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which offers some of the most pleasant biking in town. And second, DDOT doesn't list bike lanes on streets that form the border between two wards as belonging to either ward, and there are 0.59 miles of bike lanes listed separately as being shared by wards 7 and 8—presumably the lane on 25th Street SE and Naylor Road SE. Still, a caveat to that caveat: I've been listing the "grand totals" of bike lanes, which include not only dedicated lanes, but also shared lanes and bus/bike lanes. Looking only at proper bike lanes, the mileage shared by wards 7 and 8 is just 0.32 miles.

(For what it's worth, while Ward 2 has the most bike-lane mileage, Ward 1 has the most bike lanes as a proportion of total road mileage: 18.5 percent, to Ward 2's 15 percent and Ward 6's 12.5 percent.)

So why has Ward 8 missed out completely on the bike-lane bonanza? It may have to do partly with politics and partly with the fact that much of Ward 8 is rather hilly. But it's also a chicken-or-egg problem. It's hard to justify installing bike lanes in neighborhoods where not a lot of people bike. But not many people will start biking until there's bike infrastructure to make them feel comfortable riding. If people in those neighborhoods start clamoring loudly for lanes, though, we might start to see some lanes installed.

Map via DCGIS

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Ward 8 is home to the Suitland Parkway Trail as well, if we want to talk about off-road trails. It has the chicken-and-egg problem going on too. Doesn't go anywhere (ends at the DC/MD line) so no one uses it, and no one uses it because it doesn't go anywhere.

    Build it into MD, to Suitland at least, let's say, and you'll see more use!

    This goes along with my comment on the last post, again. You've mentioned boundary issues between the wards, but we have to look at boundary issues with neighboring states when discussing things like this. To not do so is to purposely ignore a large part of the story.

  • ml

    i thought this piece was interesting, as i do live in ward 8. the first thing i thought of were the 'bike lanes' that run along suitland parkway, as well as the anacostia bike trail.

    but i do disagree with the last paragraph, more specifically, "It's hard to justify installing bike lanes in neighborhoods where not a lot of people bike."

    ward 8 has plenty of people who bike, myself included. often on my way home i see lots of people biking across the 11th street bidge and penn. ave bridge. we are not aliens- we do bike, and do other things just like every other citizen of the city. but unlike other areas of the city, we are often overlooked when it comes to the full city living experince.

  • Kelly

    Ward 8 resident bikers: talk to your Councilman. I'm curious what his response will be when you ask why you have no bike lanes. Please video the conversation, if you can. Thx.

  • New Guy

    **ml** you said "unlike other areas of the city, we are often overlooked." In DC, the citizens are represented by their councilman, who represents their interests to the city council and mayor. If you have no bike lanes, it is b/c you and your fellow citizens have not lobbied for it, or your city councilman doesn't think it is a priority.

  • washcycle

    Aaron, there's one other caveat.

    Anacostia was mostly developed after the car came along. This means that the roads were all designed to be the ideal width for car traffic. Older streets in DC - like on Capitol Hill - were not and thus are not some multiple of 11 feet wide, which means that once they put in auto lanes the road often has a little extra space left over. DDOT has been turning that extra space over to bike lanes. That's why Capitol Hill has so many. They turned a lot of wide one-way, one lane streets into normal one-way, one lane streets with a bike lane. They can't do that in Anacostia. In Anacostia, putting in bike lanes means taking out parking or taking out a traffic lane.

    So that's the main reason why Anacostia doesn't have bike lanes. Putting in bike lanes would be a massive fight. That's what DDOT has told me at least, and when I've ridden over there, I've had trouble finding an example of where they are wrong.

  • NE John

    This is pathetic. There should be over a hundred miles of lanes by now - throughout DC.

  • Capital City Records Panhandler

    Kokomo was unavailabe for comment?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ2w25bVDeg

  • NIMBY4Life

    @ Kelly and @ New Guy.

    If there are no bike lanes in ward 8 that is because DDOT doesn't think it is a priority. DDOT is responsible for transportation in the city. Yes, councilmembers can influence agencies, and the Council's Committee on Transportation and the Environment oversees DDOT, but the agency sets the priorities. Therefore, in addition to taking post shots at Marion Barry, take some at Mary Cheh, the chair of the committee on Transportation and the Environment. Grosso and Wells are also on that Committee. Also complain to washcycle and WABA while you are at it, since they also prioritize bike lanes downtown and in NW.

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  • sam ford

    The headline is simply not true. I ride my bike in Ward 8 that is in Anacostia Park at least once a week. I see bike paths along Suitland Parkway in Ward 8. I know the story tries to draw distinctions between park paths and street paths, and paths that are "only" in ward 8 and not share between 7 and 8. Give it a brake!

  • Steve Seelig

    Being that I live in Ward 3, and that Ward 3 has the most roadway in the City, by far, the most roadways in any Ward, having only 5 miles of bike lanes is pretty disgraceful. In fact, aside from Wards 1 and 2, DC is very lame in creating bike infrastructure.

    Mary Cheh held a hearing on this issue, and DDOT promised to keep her updated on their plans for installing all the planned bike lanes in the Bicycle Master Plan. Let's make sure to remind her to hold their feet to the fire.

  • Alf

    "Ward 8 resident bikers: talk to your Councilman. I'm curious what his response will be when you ask why you have no bike lanes. Please video the conversation, if you can."

    And if you can't, the FBI has some experience in videotaping the ex-Mayor-for-Life!

  • noodlez

    FIRST OF ALL BLACK FOLK RIDE BIKES AS OPPOSED TO RIDING A BICYCLE DON’T GET IT TWISTED! WE HAVE RIDDEN BIKES IN THE STREETS OF THIS CITY THE PAST 40 OR SO YEARS WITHOUT STUPID ASS BIKE LANES AND ACTUALLY HAD LESS ACCIDENTS FATAL OR OTHERWISE. I MAKE THIS POINT BECAUSE WARD 8 IS PREDOMINATELY BLACK AND I'M SURE THERE ARE LESS BIKING ACCIDENTS VIS-A-VIS BIKE RIDERS THAN ALL THE OTHER WARDS COMBINED.

    THAT SAID WE ALL KNOW THE MAIN FACTORS BEHIND THE REASON WARD 8 DOESN'T HAVE ANY BIKE LANES AND IT IS BECAUSE BLACK FOLK DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT BIKE LANES ALONG WITH THE FACT THIS IS A PURELY RACIAL ISSUE. DO THE MATH: WARDS 2, 3 & 6 ARE PREDOMINATELY WHITE AND HAVE OVER 40 MILES OF BIKE LANES; WHERE AS WARDS 4, 5, 7 & 8 ARE BLACK WARDS AND HAVE ONLY 18 MILES. ONE COULD ALSO MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT WARD 4 WOULD FALL INTO THE WHITE COLUMN BECAUSE IT IS USED AS A PASS THRU FOR FOLK COMING DOWN FROM TAKOMA PARK.

    IT IS FUNNY READING THE WHITE FOLK COMMENTS AS THEY DANCE AROUND THE ISSUE BY PLACING BLAME ON BLACK COUNCIL MEMBERS AND TOWING THE COMPANY LINE ABOUT SOME DC HISTORY SHIT. WHAT IS TROUBLING IS THAT WARD 6, THE AREA WITH THE MOST MILES, DOESN'T NEED BIKE LANES. I RODE PENN AVE, MASS AVE, C ST & EAST CAPITOL STREET AS STRAIGHT SHOTS INTO THE HEART OF THE CITY ALL MY LIFE WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS. WHAT HAS CHANGED OTHER THAN SOME BAMMA ASS COUNCIL MEMBER CREATING SOME FAKE ASS PANACEA TO RUN ON TO FULFILL HIS POLITICAL ASPIRATIONS?

    WEINERSNITCHEL AS TO YOUR LEDE IN ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE I COMMENTED ON THIS BACK WHEN FLENTY WAS MAYOR. HIS INSATIABLE DESIRE WITH RIDING WOULD HAVE BEEN THE PERFECT ICE BREAKER FOR HIM WITH FOLK FROM THE EAST SIDE. BY IDENTIFYING IN WITH NATIVE WASHINGTONIAN BRETHREN ON THE OTHER SIDE HE WOULD STILL BE MAYOR TO THIS DAY. HE COULD HAVE TOOK HALF THE MONEY HE GAVE TO FLEECEAHOLICS AND PUT INTO A CITY WIDE BIKE PROGRAM.

    THE FLENSTER COULD HAVE STARTED BY SETTING UP BIKE REPAIR SHOPS RUN BY SOME LOCAL COLLEGE ENGINEERING STUDENTS FOR YOUNG FOLK TO LEARN THE NUANCES OF REPAIRS AND MAKE SOME POCKET CHANGE AT THE SAME TIME. HE SHOULD HAVE PUT TOGETHER SOME RIDE ALONGS WITH HIS PELETON SINCE HE WAS CLOSING STREETS WITH POLICE ESCORTS ANY WAY. WHAT A CLAIM HE COULD HAVE MADE BY HELPING TO REDUCE CHILDHOOD OBESITY, PROMOTING HELMET SAFETY AND GIVING YOUNG FOLK THE CHANCE TO EXPLORE THE CITY THROUGH RIDING. HE HAD THE FUCKING CONNECTIONS WITH THE FERRARI OF BIKE MAKERS (COLNAGO). WHO KNOWS WE MAY HAVE THE NEXT TOUR WINNER RIGHT HERE IN THE CITY.

    WHAT IS SO TROUBLING IN ALL THIS ARE WARDS 2 AND 6, THE TWO WARDS WITH THE MOST BIKE LANES, ABUT WARD 8. GO FIGURE?

  • George B.

    I live in Ward 8 and would like to bike to work, but the first 1/3 of my ride would have no or very narrow/poor shoulders or dangerous traffic. DC does have a bike trail "plan" in the works, but it keeps getting postponed. Last year at a public meeting on transporation I was told the South Capitol Street Trail would start in tandem with the new bridge work in 2014. I'll believe it when I see them building it. http://1.usa.gov/1l5yeiH

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  • George B.

    Noodles, you do not speak for everyone of any race in Ward 8 and you can have bike lanes AND also deal with some of the issues you bring up. Also, please take off your Caps Lock if you want your comment to be taken seriously.

  • noodlez

    @GEORGEY-I DON'T BELIEVE ANYWHERE IN MY COMMENT I STATED I SPEAK FOR EVERYONE IN WARD 8???

    ADDITIONALLY I ACTUALLY DON'T CARE HOW YOU TAKE MY COMMENT BECAUSE I'M NOT A CONTROLLING TYPE OF PERSON. DO WITH MY COMMENT WHAT YOU WILL BUT RESTRUCTURING MY COMMENTS FOR YOU OR ANY OTHER PERSON WILL NOT MAKE IT ANY MO SERIOUS!

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  • whiteincongressheights

    As a ward 8 resident, this isn't news. I'm not so much upset about he bike lanes, because really - there's just no where to bike to within the ward. I'd like my councilman and others to really focus on building up the area with something other than "affordable housing". Once we have stores, restaurants and businesses we can rework the infrastructure to accomodate bikes, people and life!

  • spmoore

    Bike Lanes are not and have NEVER been a priority in Ward 8!! A Bike Lane Desert?? Are u Serious??? We need to focus on the fact that Ward 8 is a JOBS desert..its quickly becoming a TRULY AFFORDABLE HOUSING desert...quickly becoming a PUBLIC SCHOOL desert!!..We have been fine without some damn bike lanes!!! Sheesh!!

  • Kim

    @noodlez- I take your comments very seriously. As a lot of us bikers in ward 8 feel exactly the way you do. There are probably more cyclist in ward 8 than the entire city combined. We just don't join high priced cycle clubs, wear "trendy gear" and declare other bikers irrelevant if they don't bike like us. I'm black, female, and have never stopped riding my bike on a regular for both recreational and utilitarian purposes since I learned as a child. White trendies get over yourselves.

  • h st ll

    I do think the second half of Noodlez' comment was quite good.

    There is some low hanging fruit around bike infrastructure and repairs. Both from a taking care of oneself viewpoint and having very valuable skills.

  • justsoyouknow

    I agree with Noodlez. . . In addition bikeriders are the biggest violaotrs of traffic laws--they run lights and disrupt the flow of traffic. Whats missing from this report is the parking spaces removed throughtout the city to add these bikelanes. Drivers and native Washingtonians need to unite and protest adding more bikelanes in DC.

  • Wash cycle

    Noodles, ward 2 & 6 do border on 8, but are separated by a river , which is relevant. Furthermore, ward 2 only borders on 8 via east Potomac island. The closest ward 2 resident probably lives 3 miles or more from the closest ward 8 resident.

    I don't think Aaron is saying this lack of bike lanes is the biggest problem in ward 8. Only that it is a fact, it's interesting and that might tell us something. I think what it tells us is that there are no easy places in ward 8 to put in bike lanes and that Ddot does not like to fight.

    I also agree that looking at just bike lanes isn't very relevant. If the area has many trails, it needs fewer bike lanes. The comparison should be of bike facilities in total.

  • spirit equality

    "Ward 8 resident bikers: talk to your Councilman"

    Actually, Kelly, Ward 8 residents are represented by six councilmembers: their own local ward representative, four at-large representatives and the Council Chair (Ward 8 voters can vote for all six of those positions when they're up for re-election). I think this is a fairness issue, there's no way that there are no roads anywhere in Ward 8 where DDOT can put in bike lanes. The hilliness argument doesn't work, there's a bike lane on one of the steepest hills in the city: 15th Street running alongside Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park.

  • Wash cycle

    Ok, which street in ward 8 would you put bike lanes on?

  • S.E.

    We don't need no stinkin' bike lanes in this city. Residents have been riding bikes in and around the city for years without any problems.

    Hell you have bike lanes and the riders STILL weave in and out of traffic!

    Use the money to update the antiquated traffic light system. Why is it that (especially downtown) the Walk/Don't Walk signs aren't on a separate cycle, i.e. pedestrian traffic cross the street then the vehicular traffic proceed?

  • spirit equality

    @wash cycle

    I don't even live in Ward 8, I just hate a specious argument. I refuse to believe there is not one road in Ward 8 where a bike lane would fit; that flies in the face of common sense. Also, the hilliness argument doesn't work, because as I noted there is a bike lane on 15th running up one of the steepest hills in the city.

    DDOT would have to do the work to determine which street in Ward 8 deserves a bike lane, that's what transportation studies are for. My guesswork on the Internet would be just that: guesswork.

  • Corky

    Have you all considered the possibility that nobody in Wards 8 or 7 really give a damn about bike lanes? That is the most likely explanation. In fact, many in Wards 7 & 8 see bike lanes and dog parks as a legacy of the much hated Fenty and his Whites only DC government agenda. Bike lanes were being created in Northwest while schools were being closed and teachers laid off in NE and SE due to alleged budget shortfalls. And for those in Wards 7 & 8 who do want bike lanes, Noodlez' points are well taken. Nothing East of the River was a priority for Fenty.

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