News & Politics

Construction of M Street Bike Lane Will Begin This Year

Starting on Monday, to be exact.

DDOT officials showed off blueprints for the M St. cycle track in May. Six months later, it's finally going to happen. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

It turns out the frequently stalled bike lane along M St., Northwest, will be built in 2013 after all. The District Department of Transportation said late yesterday it will begin construction next Monday after months of delays and objections raised by businesses and organizations—ranging from churches to strip clubs—with real estate along the route.

The lane will run through between 14th and 28th streets, Northwest, adding a much-needed westbound route to complement the eastbound lane on L St. For most of its route, the M St. lane will be a cycle track protected from car traffic by flexible bollards and a parking lane.

But between 15th and 16th streets, it will be a plain, unprotected bike lane, courtesy of the complaints raised by the Metropolitan AME Church, a historic congregation that complained to city officials over the summer that a bike lane on the other side of the street would interfere with its worshipers’ parking needs. DDOT assented to the great frustration of cycling advocates who have long wanted a safe corridor through one of the city’s most congested streets. Camelot Show Bar, a nearby strip club, wanted the same exemption as the church, but was not successful.

Even with construction set to begin on Monday, DDOT will still need to work aggressively to complete the job before the new year. The bike lane is expected to take four to six weeks to complete, contingent on the weather. As DDOT has said before, it can’t build a bike lane in the rain. There’s a 70 percent chance of precipitation next Wednesday.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.