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D.C. To Begin Construction On M Street Bike Lane Next Week

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The 1.4-mile bike lane will ferry cyclists from Thomas Circle to 28th Street NW.
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The 1.4-mile bike lane will ferry cyclists from Thomas Circle to 28th Street NW.

After several delays the M Street cycle track project is ready to go, as long as the weather cooperates.

The District Department of Transportation says it will begin construction of the 1.4-mile protected bike lane from Thomas Circle NW to 28th Street NW on Monday unless the pavement temperature drops below 40 degrees, the minimum temperature for striping to stick to asphalt, according to DDOT planners.

The westbound cycle track was supposed to be built in August, then October. Now that construction finally is ready to begin, bicycling advocates are applauding the District.

Shane Farthing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said M Street’s project will be an improvement over its twin that runs eastbound between the same two points one block to the south on L Street NW.

“M is already going to be better than L in a number of different ways, from the width and from the bike lane being on the other side of the street. And I think, bigger picture, what we have here is an evolution of design of cycle tracks in the city,” said Farthing, who said there is no single national standard for constructing protected bike lanes in urban traffic environments.

Cyclists are unhappy DDOT will not reverse changes to the project’s design between 15th St. NW and 16th St. NW that were made to accommodate the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, a historic black congregation that draws large attendance for Sunday masses as well as mid-week events. The church successfully lobbied DDOT to build only a regular bike lane on its block in order to preserve parking spaces on M Street and the flow of traffic.

“We are still disappointed that there was a change to the design,” Farthing said. “We are concerned there was a removal of the separation [from traffic] that keeps bicyclists safer, so we’d still like to understand why that was done.”

Construction is expected to take three to five weeks. Weather is the key variable. DDOT plans to shift parking along the corridor to create a barrier for bike riders while removing a total of 74 spaces throughout the 1.4 miles.

“Most parking and loading along the north side of M Street will remain, but will be shifted just south of the bike lane. From 14th Street to 17th Street, some rush-hour parking restrictions will be removed to allow full-time parking. From 17th Street to Connecticut Avenue, traffic volumes require removing some of the parking to accommodate traffic lanes. From Connecticut Avenue to 26th Street, some parking will remain rush-hour restricted while other areas will change to full-time parking,” a DDOT statement said.

M Info Sheet Nov 2013_11-20-13

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