Capital Bikeshare riders don't let a little thing like a bridge stop them from traveling between Virginia and D.C., as a recent analysis showed. While bridges traditionally used to carry vehicles may seem intimidating to cyclists, it's possible to use many safely, as one rider proves with a new route.
The 17-mile continuous route was planned by Tom Allison, a researcher and analyst at a non-profit who lives in Petworth, and crosses ten bridges: Key, Roosevelt, Memorial, 14th Street, "L'Enfant," Douglas, 11th Street, Sousa, Whitney Young Memorial and Benning Road. From his Map Attacks blog:
This ride is really special; it brings together so many diverse views and experiences of D.C. The majesty of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, industrial remnants near Buzzard Point, the raw flow and speed of 395 traffic, booming commerce around Nats Park, RFK Stadium's fading glory, D.C. General Hospital homeless shelter (looming over Congressional Cemetery no less), and some pretty darn serene nature scenes along the Anacostia and Kingman Island. Of course, starting in Georgetown and ending on Benning Rd produces its own socioeconomic contrast.
DCist asked Allison, who has been cycling in D.C. since 2008, to point out some of the trickier spots along the route. There's construction and truck traffic around the 11th Street Bridge, he pointed out via email, and a cyclist must ride against highway traffic along Kenilworth Avenue to enter the Whitney Young Bridge around 33rd Street NE.
And then there's what Allison calls the L'Enfant Bridge, at the I-395 overpass on the channel side of Ohio Drive SW.
Ohio Drive is two lanes there, and there's a double switchback ramp on the west side of Ohio Drive that goes up to a protected sidewalk on the bridge, crosses over the Maine Ave fish market, switches back again and dumps you out at the L'Enfant Promenade. ... Then you take a ramp to circle you down to 9th Street SE. None of these turns or streets are even marked, including the ramp from Ohio Drive in the first place.
While there's clearly a long way to go to make D.C.'s bridges safe for cyclists to use, Allison said he doesn't think this route would have been possible in 2008, when he started cycling in the city. "At least not as safe."