By David Cranor – Washington D.C. blogger
December 28, 2012

Source: Green Lane Project

mkt_val3Chicago isn’t the only city celebrating a new cycletrack. Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray opened the new cycle-track on L Street earlier this month. Several dozen citizens showed up to celebrate the opening and to ride the new cycle-track, which went from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting in a matter of months.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the intersection of L and 15th Street where the major east-west green lane and the major north-south one meet, and served as a reminder of DC’s strong committment to creating complete streets. A committment that Mayor Gray reiterated during his speech and earlier in the month when he announced emergency rulemaking to prohibit drivers from making illegal U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle-track. There had been differing opinions as to whether mid-block U-turns were illegal at all times or just when cyclists were present. By clarifying the rules the District has shown that it takes a coordinated effort involving transportation planners, law enforcement and political leadership to create streets that are safe for people.

When the Mayor took the mic, he pointed out that DC is expected to grow to 800,000 people by 2032 and that “there is no way we can sustain that kind of population in a reasonable fashion if we simply add automobiles.” Cycling and streets that encourage active transportation aren’t just important for the environment, public health and road safety, but they’re also critical to the business and economic future of the city.  Other cities have realized the same thing, with Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel saying that “You cannot be for a startup, high-tech economy and not be pro-bike,” which means that green lanes are now a key part of any city’s amenity portfolio.

Mentioned several times was that this cycletrack is not the end, but a beginning. Soon, the city will work on the westbound compliment to the L street cycletrack on M Street. Furthermore, the city still plans an additional 30 miles of bike lane to bring the toal to 80. Nonetheless, cyclists were glad to celebrate this milestone and capped the ceremony with a group ride along the track – which is sure to be draw at this spring’s Bike Summit.