DC Bike Commuting on the Rise

As more people choose to travel and commute to work by bicycle, "sharing the road" will become more of an issue in the DC area
As more people choose to travel and commute to work by bicycle, “sharing the road” will become more of an issue in the DC area

Recent trips to try cases for disabled clients in the District of Columbia reminded Doug Landau that commuting by bicycle is becoming a preferred mode of transportation for many DC area residents.

Our nation’s capital has one of the highest percentages in the country of commuters who bicycle to work. Currently, the District of Columbia is ranked fourth nationally. Since 2000, the participation by Washington area commuters has increased from 1.2% to 3.9% according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Lawyer Landau has seen an increase in morning and evening bicycle commuter traffic from the windows of his office overlooking the 20 mile marker and caboose of the W & OD Trail. Additionally, the Capital Crescent Trail, 4 Mile Run, and the Mount Vernon Parkway path are seeing increased bicycle commuter usage. The biking boom can also be seen in the number of new Capital Bike Share stations, painted bike lanes, and other bicycle infrastructure improvements.

However, Landau notes that the activity can still be dangerous, despite safety improvements and increased participation in 2-wheeled travel.

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation 2014 crash data found that last year there was a 26.7% increase in bicycle related injuries.

The DC Council introduced the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015 in an effort to improve our nation’s capital’s approach to motor vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. Suggestions for making bicycling better in the DC area include adding bike lanes to every commuter street and insuring the bike lanes are inside of where cars are parked to separate the bike lanes from motorized traffic.

Bikers have been hit by cars, “doored” (hit by a car door open while passing on the bike), and caused to crash due to defects in road surfaces. Landau notes, “education as to the rules of the road for cyclists and motorists will help everyone to safely share the road. Having represented bicyclists who have been doored, struck, and ridden off the road, I have seen many needless injuries. As cycling to work grows in popularity, my hope is that community safety standards for 2-wheeled travelers will continue to improve.”