Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 22nd, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Publisher’s note: After a bumpy road that included a redesign and a delayed opening, the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. finally opened today. I first heard U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer mention this project back in June of 2009, so it’s exciting to see them become a reality. He wrote the article below after attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new lanes today.
“The inauguration of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes is truly an extraordinary event for our nation’s capital and for American cycling.”
The last 20 years has provided many highlights for me, watching our work on environment and transportation take hold in Portland and around the country. It’s no secret that the bike progress is a special source of satisfaction and pride. Being able to bring to pass bike lanes on Terwilliger Boulevard, watch the Eastbank Esplanade get completed, and to see bike boulevards spring up around the city were each a special source of joy.
I can honestly say that nothing has given me more satisfaction than today’s formal opening of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes.
This project started as I was cycling up Pennsylvania Avenue to last year’s National Bike Summit. [I rode the same stretch with Blumenauer in 2008.] I added to my remarks a challenge to reconfigure that wasted space into bike lanes and see if we could bring that to pass as a test of our ability to get things done, and as a national symbol of cycling. [Read my report on Blumenauer’s Summit speech where he mentions the lanes.]
Luckily, we had the right people in the audience and in positions of authority. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood gave what was his first of now many major bicycle speeches. We had support from other Cabinet officials, and most important, we had a Transportation Director here in DC, Gabe Klein, working with a Mayor who has vision. 15 months later they are now a reality.
(Photo: Earl Blumenauer’s office)
Gathering the horsepower at the dedication today was probably the greatest concentration of transportation leadership for any bike project in America. Anytime you get the Secretary of Transportation, the Mayor of the city, surrounded by supportive Council Members, the DC Director of Transportation, the Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House of Representatives, our uber-cyclist, Jim Oberstar, you will have an exciting event and a strong testimony to the importance of the achievement and the power of the symbol.
As Secretary LaHood announced, this was America’s bike lane on one of the most famous streets not just in America, but in the world. The increased usage means hundreds of cars aren’t on Pennsylvania Avenue, and it’s soon to be tied into other bike lane improvements. This will be complemented by a thousand bikes at bike-sharing stations, showing that in our nation’s capital that a little determination and money can have a transformative effect.
As someone who has for the last 14 years made Washington, DC his second home and having made the decision to bring a bike here instead of a car, I have watched with great satisfaction the cycling landscape change in our nation’s capital as an indicator of its enhanced livability, but I’ve never felt better about the progress and of the future than during today’s inauguration event.
Pennsylvania Avenue plays a critical role in the history of inaugurations, but for the cycling movement in America, the inauguration of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes is truly an extraordinary event for our nation’s capital and for American cycling.