Portland cycle track. Photo by BikePortland.org.

Cycle tracks on M Street SE/SW may be a gleam in Tommy Wells’ eye right now, but DDOT is hoping to move forward aggressively to build cycle tracks on several roads in downtown DC including Pennsylvania Avenue, a road Congressman Earl Blumenauer is eager to see get the cycle treatment.

According to DDOT’s announcement, in addition to Pennsylvania, they plan to install the lanes on I, L, and 9th Streets, as well as extending the 15th Street lane downtown.

DDOT is keeping the drawings under wraps until the public meeting on Thursday, March 18th, but a few details have leaked out.

For Pennsylvania Avenue, according to a source, the lanes will run in the center of the street from 15th to 3rd Streets NW. Some intersections will get bicycle signals with leading intervals so cyclists can start before turning cars enter the intersection. Plastic bollards will separate the lanes from general traffic where appropriate.

DDOT hopes to build the lanes by Bike to Work Month in May. The lanes require approval from NCPC and the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA), making this an aggressive timetable.

On I and L, the lanes will run on the left side of the one-way streets, opposite the buses. There are some places where pedestrians get a leading interval; in those places, signs will direct cyclists to cross with the pedestrians to take advantage of that.

As WashCycle reported, some have been asking why use I street instead of M; lanes on M could extend farther to the planned lanes on 9th Street and on-street bike lanes on 5th rather than ending at New York Avenue between 10th and 11th.

If DDOT sticks with I, they should also factor in buses into the analysis. H and I Streets have some of the heaviest bus traffic in the city, and also some of the greatest delays. They should have a dedicated bus lane during peak periods and parking off-peak.

Such lanes could save the District government significant amounts in WMATA contributions by reducing bus delays and the consequent labor expenses as well as rider frustration. If DDOT is already studying the streets, they should identify the best way to do that as well as install a cycle track.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.