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Why is D.C. the Best Cycling City?

By District of Columbia Bar

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Photo: DC Bar Voices Contributor, Peter Anderson enjoys some time bicycling when he's not in the office. 

Washington, D.C. is undoubtedly the best city for cyclists. Although D.C. doesn’t have the best weather, there are several other reasons why D.C. is a great city for biking.

Sharing is Caring - D.C. was the first U.S. city to adopt a bike share program. The program, initially known has SmartBike, began with humble beginnings, but has bloomed into what is now a robust Capital Bikeshare program. The program now has over 350 stations all over the D.C. Metro area. It makes it much easier to get around the nation's capital to see all of the great sights, which brings me to my second point.

Unmatched Views - In no other city can you bike past the Washington Monument, White House, Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol, all in one hour! What D.C. may lack in natural beauty, it compensates with historical landmarks and architecture. For those who wish to be in nature, D.C. has that to offer as well with stunning views of the Potomac and an extensive series of trails outside of the city.

Bike Lanes - Research shows that protected bike lanes make cycling safer. D.C. is leading the way in safe cycling infrastructure, having added an awesome protected bike lane along Pennsylvania Avenue, between the White House and the Capitol.

Bike Commuting - D.C. has a very large number of cyclists who commute to work, according to 2014 census data. Updated data show that D.C. is now the number three city for bike commuting. The Alliance for Biking and Walking's 2016 Benchmarking Report found that 16.7 percent of commuters in D.C. ride or walk to work based on data from the American Community Survey 2011-2013, the Federal Highway Administration, and other national sources. Not only is bicycling a healthier way to commute, but it is also more environmentally friendly and will hopefully relieve some of the congestion caused by the maintenance issues on the Metro.

Advocacy - Go on Twitter and type in #bikedc. There you will find a large group of cycling fanatics pointing out everything from dangerous drivers, to poor road and sign design. D.C.’s cyclists are a very passionate and vocal group who, like many in D.C., are not afraid to lobby for change. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), a non-profit group, is at the front of the fight in D.C. to improve infrastructure for cyclists by adding more protected bike lanes and even changing laws. WABA recently played an instrumental role in lobbying for a bill to carve out an exception solely for bicyclists to D.C.’s contributory negligence law -- a law that prevents injured people from recovering compensation for their injuries if they were even 1% negligent in the accident. The new law WABA has shepherded through the D.C. Council is expected to pass this summer and make D.C. cyclists a special class of plaintiffs not subject to contributory negligence. The new law will allow injured D.C. cyclists to recover compensation if they were less than 50% negligent in the accident.

Peter Anderson is an associate attorney at Grenier Law Group. You can contact him online or follow him on Twitter.

Think your city is the best for cycling? We're looking for D.C. Bar members around the world who want to tell us why your city reigns supreme. Submissions should be 300–500 words and will be used for our blog, D.C. Bar Voices. E-mail Thai Phi Le at tle@dcbar.org for more information or questions.