Greater Greater Washington

See 32 years of DC bike lane growth in one animation

DC has had a smattering of bike lanes since at least 1980, but the network only started to grow seriously starting in about 2002. This animation shows the growth of DC's bike lane network, from 1980 through to 2012.


Animation from Betsy Emmons on MapStory.

From 1980 to 2001, literally nothing changed. Then in 2001, two short new bike lanes popped up. The next year there were 5 new ones. From then on, District workers added several new bike lanes each year, making a boom that's still going on.

This animation ends in 2012, so it doesn't include recent additions like the M Street cycletrack. But it's still a fascinating look at how quickly things can change once officials decide to embrace an idea.

In a few years, a map showing the rise of protected bike lanes might start to look similar. That map would start in 2009 with DDOT's installation of the original 15th Street cycletrack. It would expand slowly through this decade, then maybe (hopefully), it would boom as moveDC's 70 mile cycletrack network becomes a reality.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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That was pretty interesting. It would be nice to also see a version of the "planned" rollout schedule, but I wonder how ordered the list is at this point.

by The Truth™ on Jul 23, 2014 11:47 am • linkreport

I think it would make more sense to concentrate on connecting all these little spurs together into a network. It is frustrating how the bike infrastructure stops/starts so often.

by staypuftman on Jul 23, 2014 12:17 pm • linkreport

Missing on the map are the many trails accessible to bikers. And Arlington's bike lanes.

by Jasper on Jul 23, 2014 12:21 pm • linkreport

Anybody know the story about how Capitol Hill go its bike lanes so long ago? It always seemed to me that the streets there were perfect width for 2 parking aisles, 1 driving lane and 1 bike lane, by providence.

by JR on Jul 23, 2014 12:33 pm • linkreport

Does a bike lane exist if it doesn't exist? The south bound bike lane on Park Road, just south of the bridge over Piney Branch had faded away so much you almost can't tell it was there.

by Turtleshell on Jul 23, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

DDOT has told me that Capitol Hill and the old part of the city gets more bike lanes because the street widths predate the car. Once the car took over, they built roads that were some multiple of 10 or 11 feet wide, perfect for X lanes of car travel, but before that they would be more random. So if DDOT had a road that is 26 feet wide, that will fit two parking lanes and one travel lane. If it's 31 feet wide, they just made the travel lane wider. It's in these places that the travel lane is just "wider" that they were able to put in bike lanes.

by David C on Jul 23, 2014 10:47 pm • linkreport

David C - on any street/road, it's simple enough to take that new standard multiple of 10 feet and divide it into two 5 foot bike lanes.

by Dave G on Jul 24, 2014 8:53 am • linkreport

True, but that involves taking away a car lane. Which I and many others are fine with, but still engenders controversy.

We appear to be done with the era of "easy" bike lanes and into one that will actually involve tradeoffs.

by drumz on Jul 24, 2014 8:55 am • linkreport

Yes, but my point is that, when it's called for, the space is generally there to convert a general purpose lane into two bike lanes.

by Dave G on Jul 24, 2014 9:39 am • linkreport

You thought that we were ever in an era of "easy bike lanes?" Sometimes it's been easy, other times not. I don't expect that to change.

by Dave G on Jul 24, 2014 9:41 am • linkreport

By "easy" I mean, being able to stripe one without actually taking away any driving space (and most parking space).

Whenever one of those is put in DC there's not a lot of fuss anymore. (Not as true in other jurisdictions, like we saw on King Street).

But for DC to get to the next level they are going to have to start doing more cycle tracks and other things and that means taking away a lot more parking or a driving lane and the cycle will begin anew.

by drumz on Jul 24, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

Not a lot of fuss? You must not have been paying attention when the church on M St NW demanded, and got, no bike lane in front :-)

by Dave G on Jul 24, 2014 9:55 am • linkreport

The M Street cycletracl is from the "post-easy" period.

There are two reason why the bike lane network has seemed kind of random. The first is that they tie bike lane installation into road paving. So there isn't a plan for installing bike lanes. There's a plan to repave roads, and bike lanes piggy-back on that.

The second is political. DDOT has tried to avoid conflict by installing the politically easy lanes first. These have begun to taper off, so a few years ago they started going after the harder lanes - that require taking away parking (and on Penn travel lanes, but then they backed off that). This is where we are now.

In the future, they're going to be trying to convert more travel lanes to cycletracks and bike lanes, so it's only going to get harder.

The hope is that each bike lane creates a larger constituency for the next. It's like island hopping.

On this subject, DDOT's tumbler page has a photo of Penn Ave from 1970. It's interesting that the median is much more narrow than now. Which means that at some time before 2000, some of the roadway was taken away to widen the median - which is now the ccyletrack.

http://ddotdc.tumblr.com/image/90663887954

by David C on Jul 24, 2014 10:19 am • linkreport

No that was a cycle track, and that part was downgraded to a "normal" bike lane.

I expect as cycle tracks get more popular we'll see more "why can't it just be a bike lane?" type opposition which while annoying, does signal a shift that cycling is more normal that it has been before.

by drumz on Jul 24, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

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