Is Dc bike friendly?
August 31, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

We are going to DC this weekend through Tuesday.and would like to know how Bike friendly it is in the Central area of the city. We will be staying close to the convention center and are considering biking around to the attractions from there. Easy peasy? or watch out?
posted by citybuddha to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Capital Bikeshare has been, as far as I know, pretty successful and has some useful info on their homepage. The touristy part of DC (around the mall) is pretty easy to do on a bike.

This site may be useful (just found it on Google, never used it myself)

Broadly speaking NW DC is the "nice" part (this is a generalization of course). The rest of the city, SE in particular, you're going to want to make sure you have a good lock, don't leave your bike sitting alone for too long, general urban bike safety practices.

I haven't lived in DC since 2009, but nothing major has changed that I'm aware of. Watch out for Bob Novak.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2011

it's a fairly easy city to bike around, i've never had a problem, especially on weekends... the only trouble could be rush hour, as some drivers tend to get aggressive... that said, once you are around the monuments, there are plenty of places to ride, and enjoy...

a good resource is:
posted by fozzie33 at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2011

Well, Capital Bikeshare is insanely popular, and DC is a place where a lot of noise has been made about making it more bike-friendly. I have friends who bike to work in downtown and have complaints, but not too much. I'd say it's easy, as long as you pay attention to where you are, as things like bike lanes and one-way streets can get confusing quick.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2011

The Central Tourist District is super-easy to bike. The Mall in particular is a great place to bike and you will save time between museums.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2011

Oops... I remembered the crazy driving but forgot Mr. Novak passed away in 2009. Sorry Bob, didn't mean to speak ill of the dead.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2011

Broadly speaking NW DC is the "nice" part (this is a generalization of course). The rest of the city, SE in particular, you're going to want to make sure you have a good lock, don't leave your bike sitting alone for too long, general urban bike safety practices.

Wrong, even broadly - bikes get stolen all over the city, and there are parts of SE that have lower crime stats than parts of NW.

DC is no Portland, but many, many folks bike in the area around the Convention Center regularly. Be vigilant and consider using side streets at rush hour, though - the traffic in the blocks around Mount Vernon Square can be heavy, and usually prompts stupid and reckless driving on the main thoroughfares.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:29 AM on August 31, 2011

I was in DC for a brief business trip this week and down near on the Mall there were lots of people on bikes - I was so envious - there seemed to be plenty of room for bikes and pedestrians both. Have fun!
posted by pointystick at 8:31 AM on August 31, 2011

It isn't Portland but many people bike commute.
posted by k8t at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2011

In general, Washington DC is bike friendly and you shouldn't have a problem. The roads around the monuments are big and busy but most have bike lanes (with a weird layout...) and if you're used to cycling on roads in cities it's fine.

Capital Bikeshare is good as other people mention but only really useful for getting from one bikeshare stand to another.

Unless you've got your own bike, check out Bike and Roll who are near to the monuments and will hook you up with a bike, lock and helmet for anything from a few hours to a few days.

I'd also suggest looking over the map of bike lanes Google's got one here and people like Bike and Roll will have the WABA printed bike lane map which may also be hiding somewhere on the WABA website.

If you're staying right around the monuments, it's pretty obvious where the bike lanes are but if you go exploring you can quickly find yourself on roads that are not at all cycle friendy, have no bike lanes and are in generally poor states of repair (think potholes you could dive in)

Finally, although cycling is super-fun, I've heard great things about the Segway tour of the monuments too - you can get on that near to where Bike and Roll are located I think.
posted by tkbarbarian at 8:41 AM on August 31, 2011

I bike everywhere here in our nation's capital. It really is the easiest way around the city.

Since you'll be around the convention center, I'll give you a word of advice: stay off of 9th st, because there are expansion joints in the street that will catch your tire and throw you off. I learned the hard way.

Oh, and stay off the sidewalks.
posted by General Malaise at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Avoid New York Ave, Mass Ave, and Constitution Ave west of the Capitol, and you should be fine.

DC is an extremely bicycle-friendly city, although I don't exactly remember what the bike parking situation is near the mall. The National Park Service won't allow Capital Bikeshare stations to be set up on or near the mall (don't ask), so be mindful of that if you choose to use their service.
posted by schmod at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2011

According to this map [that I hate because of the lack of street names] from DDOT, the Convention Center is JUST outside of the central business district. This matters because it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk inside of the central business district. Otherwise, you may do so-but try to be considerate of pedestrians if you choose to do this. Also, don't be particularly surprised if some pedestrians let their feelings be known to you about riding on the sidewalk-even in the legal zone.
posted by atomicstone at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2011

Biking on the weekend will be no problem; during the day, a little harder. However, it is important to plan your route in advance because DC streets can be a little confusing.

I'd avoid biking near Gallery Place -- it can be kind of crazy. To get from the Convention Center area to the Mall, a good route would be to take 11th or 6th down to Pennsylvania Avenue, which has a bikelane that runs straight down the middle. You can get onto the mall at Pennsylvania and around 4th St (right by the National Gallery). You can also bike all around the Capitol Building, which is beautiful! And if you like, you can bike down Pennsylvania in the other direction to the White House.
posted by yarly at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2011

Oh - and to bike around the Capitol, you go through the big parking lot at the base, then up on the sidewalks or narrow parking lots that hug the Capitol grounds. Don't bike on Independence or Constitution - those have fast-moving traffic.

Pro-tip: you can bike right through most of the car checkpoints at the Capitol and near the White House. They're just meant to stop cars, not bikes, but it can feel a little strange at first.
posted by yarly at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2011

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