Today for the first time in my adult life, I biked to work. My 2 mile commute from Shaw to Georgetown makes for an ideal bike commute distance. However, I usually take the G2 bus across P Street which usually takes 30 to 45 minutes since I get off at P and 30th Street in Georgetown and walk several blocks south. Today, I made the trip in just 15 minutes, meaning my average speed was around 8 miles an hour. My route took me by the ghost bike above, a memorial to Alice Swanson.
I’m not the only one with biking on my mind. Richard Layman posted this morning a roundup of various biking news. As for the much-discussed D.C. bike sharing program, although I posted about it in April and the Post reported bikes would hit city streets in May, WashCycle reports we will have to wait until sometime in August.
An aspiring planner I met with yesterday asked me whether there’s a massive effort afoot to make every American city more bikable. While I can’t say it’s “massive,” it does seem like I hear about biking at every turn. After Alice Swanson’s tragic death, I was invited to a grassroots meeting to talk about ways to make DC more bike friendly. The bike lane network continues to expand here, and I noted with satisfaction that one graces the street in front of my new apartment in Cambridge (on the right, seen complete with bikers!).
Meanwhile, I’m noticing more and more bikers on D.C. streets. While I may just be more attuned to them, it’s reasonable to assume increased gas prices, more bike lanes, and crowded public transit may be causing a noticeable mode shift towards bikes. From a planning point of view, we have much work to do, both in the way of transforming our cities to be more accommodating to the bike and understanding the dynamics of biking better. Transportation planners regularly record automobile traffic volumes on city streets using automated devices, often reporting the results on maps. I’ve never heard of something similar for biking, but it seems it’s only a matter of time before bike lanes feature devices quietly counting their users, allowing planners to fine-tune the network with every bit the care we spend on automobiles.
Top photo by Rudi Riet