M Street Cycletracks at Risk

Photo by AJFroggie.

As reported by GGW, it appears as if the proposal to bring cycletracks to M St. (and L St.) is on hold, if not dead. This is bad for Georgetown.

A cycletrack is a special bike lane where parking spots are moved away from the curb and a two way bike path is put there instead. There is a very successful cycletrack on 15th St. from Pennsylvania Ave. all the way up past U St.

Cycltracks are a great way to give bikers a safe and comfortable ride on city streets. GM takes the 15th st. cycletrack home from work frequently, even though it is somewhat out of his way. And installation on a street like 15th St. has little effect on car traffic since the street was not congested prior to installation.

DDOT has had plans on the books to bring crosstown lanes to compliment this north-south route. The most recent plans called for installation of the lanes on L and M Streets from the Mt. Vernon Square area all the way to Georgetown (or Foggy Bottom in the case of L St.) This would hugely benefit Georgetowners as it would provide a quick and safe bike route to and from home. Plus, the ANC is strongly pushing for the installation of a bikeshare station at the south end of Rose Park, which would be right at the west end of the M St. Ultimately, GM would like to see the cycletrack brought all the way through Georgetown, but getting it to the doorstep would be a good first step.

But that appears in jeopardy. At the hearing for his confirmation as Director of DDOT, Terry Bellamy stated that the plans are “on hold” and when Councilmember Tommy Wells asked him whether that meant they wouldn’t build them, Bellamy responded “we may not.”

This is a bad start for Bellamy and his boss, Mayor Gray. Surely there are larger issues facing DDOT and the Mayor, but that is no reason to shelve a very worthy project like this.

If you agree with GM, add your name to this WABA petition.


Filed under Bikes

10 responses to “M Street Cycletracks at Risk

  1. RNM

    What is the GM obsession with making traffic worse in Georgetown, making it a less viable place to visit, shop, dine, etc… Seriously, putting in bike lanes on already highly congested streets would effectively require removal of a lane of traffic or parking. Add in the dedicated lanes that have been talked about for either buses or streetcar tracks and why not just shut down M Street all together. While we are at it, dismantle the Key Bridge. Seriously, some of the suggestions in this blog are myopic and irrational at best. Nothing against bikes, but last I checked they can share the road…then again most of them don’t follow traffic signs. In an ideal world of limitless space this would be a wonderful idea, but last I checked we live in reality and a reality that was based upon street layouts that are very old. Good demise to a good idea in a bad place.

  2. Bicycling on M Street (cycletracks or no cycletracks) is akin to going into fresh water in Sarasota, Florida. Chances are you’ll get run over (or eaten by an alligators).

  3. GM

    My “obsession” is in providing and enhancing alternative means for getting to and from Georgetown. This is because automobile traffic to and from Georgetown is too high and we can’t build more capacity. I get it that you would rather count cars than people. That’s a very popular view, particularly in the suburbs. But I’d rather focus on what transportation choices serve the most people, not the most license plates. DDOT found that the 15th St. bike lanes increased bike traffic by 40 percent. I would like to see some thing like that here in Georgetown.

    And the fact is that M St. east of Georgetown is not overly congested (it only gets backed up once it enters Georgetown due to the merge with Pa Ave).. Like 15th street, it can add a cycletrack with minimal effect on traffic (that traffic, by the way, which is overwhelmingly coming from Virginians and Marylanders simply driving through Georgetown, not actually visiting, shopping, dining, etc.).

    I agree with you that a bikelane on M St. actually in Georgetown would have to be considered along with possible transit lanes, parking, etc. And maybe it’s not possible. I think it is and that if something has to go, it’s the parking spots, which ultimately get used by a tiny percentage of Georgetown visitors. But that’s not even on the table here anyway.

    I understand that you think six lanes is still not enough space to set aside even a sliver for something other than automobiles. Like I said, that is a very popular opinion, and one that has given us a lot of traffic and lovely places like Rockville Pike.

  4. andy

    GM – totally agree – but I think that water street is currently underutilized and would make a great location for a bike lane since it would connect to C&O trail. With the sidewalks as narrow as they are on M – I’d also not want to encourage any bike parking on M.

  5. GM

    That’s not a bad idea, but it wouldn’t do much to improve the bike connection between Georgetown and downtown. Plus, there is so little car traffic on Water St. that I don’t think a cycletrack would be appropriate. Maybe just a simple lane. Although maybe an even better idea would be to turn that stretch into a woonerf. It already kind of behaves like one.

  6. asuka

    Thanks, Mayor Gray! You’re sure showing us uppity…uh…”Ward 2 and 3ers!” Next up: dog parks!

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  8. RNM


    Keep in mind that if you have 10 bike riders and it goes up to 14 that is a 40% increase. So, throwing out a percentage increase on a relatively lightly used means of transportation is a great way to goose the numbers to try and make them say something they don’t.

    Did you enjoy the traffic yesterday afternoon in Georgetown, you know during the fire at Hook. Granted they took all lanes away on M street, leading to side streets being clogged and congested as people tried to navigate through. Take a lane or two away, and that is what will happen. People will move to the side streets. I do drive in this city, and rarely use M Street to get from one side of Georgetown to the other…instead I pop up into the neighborhood. If you make traffic worse, as all of your proposals/suggestions that are at all feasible (in other words dismissing Metro as not likely or feasible given current economics), then that is just going to spread out into the side streets. It is called unintended consequences.

    The reality is that people are not likely to drop their use of cars. DC actually has a very good public transit system to get people in out of the city for work…and a lot of people use it. But many want the freedom of their cars and will continue to want the freedom of their cars. Putting in bike lanes or streetcars will not make people stop driving their cars into town. If you really want to push for something, create free parking at night in various garages around Georgetown and then take away street parking. This would also help parking in the side streets and neighborhoods. It works wonderfully in Bethesda, granted they are city owned garages.

    Georgetown will always have traffic, not sure you have noticed it but we have one of the all too few river crossings at one end of the neighborhood. People will always be using that bridge in and out of the city. Traffic will always be backed up on 34th and 35th street heading out of town during rush hour. It is part of living in a city….people come and go…and trying to get people to use an alternative method of transportation that does not fit their needs is just not that effective. Sorry to say this, but we live in a car culture…if you want to get away from the car might I suggest you follow the Georgetown Cupcake ladies up to NYC. Ultimately, the suggestions that you make show a disconnect from the reality of how people get around…they are very interesting on a planning layout but they seem to presuppose behavior changes that don’t make sense. Frankly, traffic just isn’t all that bad here, so I don’t get mucking up the system.


  9. GM


    You keep complaining about traffic in the same breath you advocate for more free parking. Those two things are very closely related. I realize you like driving eveywhere and you can’t conceive of changing your behavior. But the fact is that people in the aggregate do respond to incentives. If you create an incentive to drive, people will drive. If you create an incentive to walk, bike, or use transit, people will do that. It may be different people that respond, but people will respond.

    Oh and that great situation in Bethesda is anything but:


    And I get that you live in a transit rich neighborhood but still refuse to give up the “freedom” of relying on a car, but one fifth of Georgetown homes own zero cars, and less than half of Georgetowners drive to work. And those numbers shifted significantly towards transit over the last ten years. Not simply because some people did what you consider to be impossible, namely shift from driving, but also because there is constant turnover of residents and many people who have moved into Georgetown do so because they want to be less dependent on cars.

    There are places designed based upon your unshakeable assumptions, and they look nothing like Georgetown or any city, period. Like I said, Rockville Pike is a nice close by example. All the lanes and free parking you could possibly wish for.

    And it’s absolutely awful.

  10. Kate

    I can’t possibly think of a worse – or more dangerous – idea that adding to the already congested traffic on L and/or M Streets – much less in Georgetown. Every time I get in the car I fear hitting a biker (usually racing by me, weaving in and out of traffic, and/or through stop signs, etc.,) or a pedestrian ignoring the traffic lights or jay walking, particularly in the evening hours. I avoid M St. in Georgetown at all costs in order to get in and out from G’town to work or whatever. .(And, yes, I’ve driven the 15th Street corridor and disagree with any description of it not being congested. D.C. IS congested – it just is, and it won’t get better by taking away a
    driving or parking lane, much less adding bike lanes and more bikers. It will just get worse. And, no, I’m not looking for an argument – but I’ve lived a lot of places and nothing has EVER come close to the terrors of driving in D.C.)

    driving or parking lane and adding bikes to the mix. It will only get WORSE.)

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