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New bike lanes coming to D.C. this summer

Wednesday - 5/1/2013, 6:56am  ET

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A cyclist bikes down M Street NW where in August, a new bike lane will be put into place. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

WASHINGTON - Dedicated bicycle lanes are already in place on L Street and 15th Street in Northwest D.C., and more are on their way to the nation's capital.

WTOP has learned that new bike lanes will be put in place on M Street NW in August. They'll run from Thomas Circle at 14th Street to Georgetown at 28th Street.

"The 15th Street route from U Street to Pennsylvania Avenue has proved incredibly popular with more than 300 users per hour during rush hour," says Jim Sebastian, transportation planner for the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT).

"This provides another east-west route, L and M Street combined, to get people from Georgetown across downtown D.C."

DDOT has studied the preliminary impact of bicycle lanes on overall vehicle traffic along L Street and found only a slightly negative impact. Planners are hopeful that over time more people will choose bikes and trains over cars.

"The M Street bike lane also connects well with the trail network. In Georgetown, you can connect up with the Capitol Crescent Trail and go to Maryland or go over the Key Bridge into Arlington," says DDOT's bicycle program specialist Mike Goodno.

Like the Disrict, Arlington also has a robust Capital Bikeshare network, which could allow cyclists to make longer trips across state lines.

Montgomery County is also planning to unveil a Capital Bikeshare network late this summer, which includes 30 stations across the Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Friendship Heights, Bethesda and Medical Center areas.

Another 20 stations will go into place in the mid-county area of Rockville and Shady Grove.

DDOT hopes these new lanes not only will appeal to recreational bicyclists, but to commuters as well.

"People can come out of their neighborhoods, hook up with 15th Street to come downtown, and if they work to the west, for example, they can make a right and head towards Georgetown. Later they can use L Street to get back home," Sebastian says.

However, DDOT also admits it will have to eliminate parking spaces along M Street to make room for the new bike lanes. Goodno estimates between 40 and 80 spaces will be removed -- less than the 150 spots that were eliminated along L Street last year.

"It's always a balancing act to provide as many options as possible for people to get around this city," he says.

DDOT will present the plan at a public meeting at the West End Library (1101 24th Street NW) on May 15.

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