Last Month, Mayor Gray and DDOT cut the ribbon on DC’s newest protected cycletrack on First Street NE in NoMa between G and M Streets. This is a part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), which will eventually connect Union Station to Silver Spring. Next, they plan three short extensions to fill in some important gaps.
Map of gaps in the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Base map from Google Maps.
First Street NE between Massachusetts and G
The cycletrack doesn’t cover one last block of First Street NE just north of Columbus Circle. There is one lane for traffic in each direction, plus metered spaces on the west side.
Delivery trucks often park on the east side as well, facing the wrong direction and blocking northbound traffic. This leaves little room for bikes and no room at all for northbound cars.
DDOT plans to fix these issues by making this block one-way southbound for cars. The northbound vehicle lane will become a two-way cycletrack. A concrete curb, identical to the one on First Street between K and M Streets NE, will separate the cycletrack from other traffic. The parking lane will become a loading zone.
This project will also include rebuilding and expanding the sidewalks, particularly on the east side where a loading dock entrance and bollards currently cause the sidewalk to disappear completely for approximately 80 feet. This will help prepare the street if and when DDOT is able to expand the mezzanine in the adjacent Union Station Metro station.
M Street NE between First and Delaware
The elevated Metropolitan Branch Trail ends at L Street, but there is only a stairway there, so bicyclists on the trail usually exit at M Street. They ride down a ramp onto a wide sidewalk across from the NoMa Metro Station. The trail then continues on-road on First Street NE, but there is a one-block gap on M Street without any dedicated bicycle infrastructure.
This block of M now has one lane of vehicular traffic in each direction, with metered parking on the south side. DDOT’s proposal would remove these 16 parking spaces to create a protected cycletrack.
DC’s 2005 Bike Master Plan and the recently released MoveDC Plan both show protected bicycle lanes for M Street all the way from downtown, past this block, to the end of M at Florida Avenue NE (between 6th and 7th Streets NE). The new M Street NW cycletrack runs from Thomas Circle at 14th Street west to Pennsylvania Avenue at 29th Street (with a one-block gap between 15th and 16th).
DDOT’s Mike Goodno is also preparing designs to add more blocks on M Street NE and portions of M Street NW, but this first block is the highest priority because it would fill a gap in the MBT.
F Street at 2nd Street NE
The MBT technically splits south of L Street into a pair of pathways on 1st and 2nd Streets, NE — on either side of the Union Station tracks. The 2nd Street section primarily runs on widened asphalt or concrete sidewalks which abruptly end at F Street close to Union Station.
The block of F Street between Union Station and 2nd Street, which goes past the Securities and Exchange Commission building, is one-way eastbound with limited parking spaces. However, the street is the same width as the blocks to the east, in residential Capitol Hill, which have two lanes of traffic plus parking on both sides.
DDOT proposes adding an eastbound bike lane on the south side of the street, along with a contraflow bike lane on the north side for westbound bicycles similar to nearby G and I Streets NE.
This will connect to planned bike lanes for F Street NE from 2nd to 8th, which Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C voted to support in September 2013.
ANC 6C will be voting on these new bicycle facilities at its monthly meeting tonight, June 11. The ANC’s transportation committee previously endorsed these projects. DDOT has already begun the procurement process for some of these projects, and is aiming to have all of these MBT sections complete this year.