The K Street/Water Street riverfront drive past the movie theater and the ice cream store, all the way to Malmaison restaurant, definitely is different now. The 45-degree parking spots between Wisconsin Avenue and 34th Street are all gone.
Instead, from the waterfront park curb out some six feet is a new two-way bike path — a PBL (Protected Bike Lane) in the cycle world’s parlance. It’s one of several being constructed by the District Department of Transportation and popping up around the city.
The PBL’s center line is painted in bright yellow stripes. A two-foot space lined in white separates the mile or so of bike track from a solid line of back-to-front public paid parking spots for cars and motorcycles.
A municipal dock of rental bikes is located at the 34th Street end. A small “bike repair post” is there as well, equipped with multiple specialty bike tools, a pullout stand and an air pump for do-it-yourself fixes of the most common emergency repairs on bicycle tires, seats and wheels.
K Street and Water Street are now a tight two lanes for cars and buses; for the latter, there is no parking.
“It’s pretty great,” wrote one bicyclist on a neighborhood blog. But there is much confusion as well. The main problem so far is when cars (and a tourist bus or two) park in the bike lanes. Even police patrol cars can be seen sitting in a lane.
“It’s only been a week and it’s not all done yet,” said Lisa Palmer, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area. Palmer lives on South Street and has walked the new track several times a day.
The signs aren’t all up yet. And the planters and dividers that will clearly mark the division between the parked cars and the bike bath have been delayed, she said. “They’ve all arrived, but the permit for the ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ movie being filmed in Georgetown prevented them from being set up this week.”
In the meantime, bikers seem to be exploring their options. Riders of all ages were observed not only in the spacious new trackway, but on the Waterfront Park sidewalk parallel to the bikeway and in the street. At 34th Street, the bikeway ends and the street is plainly marked with two-way bikeway signs.
“We all have to have some patience,” Palmer said. She is hopeful the new plan soon will bring order to the area, popular with tourists, visitors, diners, moviegoers, strollers and bikers, who both commute and ride for pleasure. “It’ll all eventually work itself out.”