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Biking for Gold

Whether a novice, a weekend warrior, or an everyday bike commuter, you have probably noticed the plethora of new biking facilities being established in the DC region.  In Fairfax, almost every new paving project includes bike lane striping; in Alexandria and Arlington, bike connections to employment centers and other transit hubs have been a priority for years.  The District has been creating new bike lanes and trail facilities on what seems like a daily basis.  

Bikeshare, bike friendly buses and a host of new bike oriented facilities are transforming this region, and the hard work is now paying off.  In early March, the League of American Bicyclists awarded the District a Gold rating for bicycle friendliness.  This is rarified territory, as only 30 other communities have been designated Gold, and DC represents the first metro area on the East coast to receive such a designation.

In a recent Washington Post article, it was noted that:

Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, said the District moved up  from Silver status by showing commitment to adding miles of bike lanes and offering bicycling education, including ensuring that every second-grader in the city gets bicycling classes, and by  integrating bike-sharing and working to making biking accessible in every neighborhood.

The last State of the Commute Survey (2016) found that bicycle commuters account for almost 5% of all commuters in DC.  This level of bike commuting ranks DC as the second highest in the US, following only  Portland, Oregon. 

According to the Washington Post article:

“The growth in the number of people biking is a reflection of ‘the bicycling culture’ in the city,” said Nesper, who presented the District’s Bicycle Friendly Community award at the annual National Bike Summit…in March.  

The next level of achievement, which only Portland currently merits, is Platinum.  

Highlighting the progress that has occurred, the Post article mentions: 

Jeff Marootian, director of the District Department of Transportation, said reaching Gold status recognizes the city’s transformation into a bike community in the past decade. From 2008 to 2018, he said:

The number of people biking to work more than doubled from 7,000 to 17,000.

The city’s SmartBike DC system, the first municipal bike-share system in the country with 10 stations and 100 bikes, became Capital Bikeshare, with 270 stations in the District alone, 400 stations throughout the region and 4,000 bikes. And, there are hundreds more bikes through the dockless bike systems.

The bike lane network grew from 30 miles to more than 80 miles, including eight miles of protected lanes.

New bike racks in downtown went from 700 to more than 3,500.

And this year, he said, plans are to add more protected bike lanes in multiple locations, including Virginia Avenue SE and in Georgetown.

“In 2008, we were number six in the country for biking to work by city residents. Now we are number 2,” Marootian said.  “That’s really just the beginning. We are not even close to done.”

All of these achievements and indices are positive signs that our region is embracing the DATA mantra that we all need to Live More and Commute Less!  Give it a try this May 18 and participate in Bike to Work Day – you may find it is a lot easier to do than you think.

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