Georgetown's K Street protected bikeway, under the Whitehurst Freeway. Image by BeyondDC used with permission.

Recently, DDOT and Georgetown Business Improvement District installed a protected bikeway on Water Street NW that will, in its completed form, provide a low-stress connection between the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) and the Rock Creek Trail and their respective networks. This short connection fills an important gap, and it's a significant contribution to the development of the broader regional network sought by the Capital Trails Coalition.

The importance of building this regional network is obvious to people who walk and bike the region's trails. But in this video, I ask a different question: Who does this new bikeway serve?

I use the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's low-stress origin-destination analysis tool, called BikeAble, to examine the extent to which this relatively short protected lane makes the Capital Crescent Trail (and thereby the full network to which it is connected) accessible to risk-averse bicyclists who avoid high-stress routes.

For origins, we analyzed all residential parcels within Ward 2. The single destination is the CCT trailhead.

We found that the new connection, though short, punched above its weight. Before it was put in, virtually no one could access the CCT without taking a high-stress route. After this protected bikeway was put in, that number jumped — now roughly 2,000 residential parcels and the people who live on them are connected by nearby, low-stress biking routes to the CCT.

Thanks to Philip Shutler for extracting the data and running the analysis.

Shane Farthing is Senior Director of Active Transportation Programs and leads the Research-into-Practice team at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. He was formerly Senior Advisor to the Montgomery County Planning Board, Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, head of the Office of Green Economy in the DC Department of the Environment, Lecturer in Public Policy at George Washington University, and has been involved in planning and economic development projects throughout the region. Shane has graduate degrees in law and public policy from GWU and a Bachelor's in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University.