Smoother Sailing Coming to Washington's Best-Traveled Bike Lane

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The busiest bike lane in the District of Columbia will be repaved this summer.

Every rush hour bicyclists bounce along on the potholes and rim-bending bumps that dot the 15th Street NW cycle track, a popular two-way bike lane running from Pennsylvania Avenue to U Street NW. Often cyclists will veer into the oncoming lane to avoid potholes.

"I was coming on 15th between Rhode Island and Massachusetts and this whole series of bumps and forests are here, and I just blew the tire. And while I was trying to cross Mass. Ave. I was riding on a flat," complained Kishan Putta, a Dupont Circle ANC Commissioner who has been pushing the District Department of Transportation since last year to fix the bike lane.

"This is the most used bike lane in Washington, D.C. and it needs to be kept up better," he said.

DDOT is responding, and repaving of the cycle track—which is separated from traffic by a line of parked cars—will begin this summer, about a year after the agency had hoped.

"We hope in the next month or so and it will probably take about three weeks," said Sam Zimbabwe, the associate director for policy, planning and sustainability for DDOT.

One mile of the 15th Street cycle track will be resurfaced from K Street NW north to Swann Street NW, with the two-way bike lane and the buffer parking lane, 18 feet wide from curb to car lane, getting a fresh layer of asphalt. The work will take place in segments, and the roughly 350 cyclists that use the cycle track per hour during the morning and evening commutes will be detoured around the repaving.

Cyclists are grateful -- and they have suggestions for other improvements.

"I like it. It would be great to have it repaved, but I'd honestly like it for them to take a look at the trees up here. It's impossible to see the signals northbound, especially at R Street," said one cyclist.

DDOT estimates the resurfacing will cost no more than $500,000.