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Sightseeing by bike in DC -- where do I have to get off the sidewalk?

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Sightseeing by bike in DC -- where do I have to get off the sidewalk?

Old 02-16-16, 02:12 PM
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GAPavedTrailRdr
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Sightseeing by bike in DC -- where do I have to get off the sidewalk?

Hi Everybody,

We are planning to do some sightseeing in DC and we'd like to start at the National Mall and make our way up to the Chinatown area. Is that area part of the downtown area where you can't ride on the sidewalk? Where are the boundaries of that area?

Thanks!
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Old 02-16-16, 03:57 PM
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I haven't done DC in a while, but as a general rule, I would stay off the sidewalk all the time. Here in New York, it's illegal. Everywhere else, it's just plain dangerous (and maybe illegal, too.)

Anyway, here's a cut-and-paste from my website, describing the ride my wife and i took there about twenty years ago. I don't think they have moved any of the monuments!

The Major Monument Tour
We happened to have done this ride on a rainy day, which may be why it turned out so good! Basically, Washington, DC is not very rideable when the streets and sidewalks are jammed with tourists. However, by taking the train into DC from our hotel in a nearby town called Greenbelt - and by successfully predicting that there would only be enough rain to scare 3/4 of the tourists away, we ended up with no driving or parking hassles and only a minimal number of tourists to deal with. We also hit a huge festival called "Taste Of DC" on Pennsylvania Avenue, which really added festivity to the ride. I'd recommend timing your trip to catch this event.
Start your tour at the Union Station, then follow this rough cue sheet:
0.0 Cross Mass. Ave in pedestrian crosswalk in front of Columbus fountain. Turn left; then make right onto First Street NE. Ride up hill past Supreme Court.
0.5 Right onto grounds of U.S. Capitol. Continue down Capitol Hill.
0.8 At bottom of hill, cross First Street NW, circling around Navy Memorial.
0.9 Stop at Grant Memorial and bike around the north rim of the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Cross Third Street NW and enter Madison Drive, which parallels the Mall on the north side.
1.3 National Gallery of Art. Continue along Madison Drive.
1.4 National Air and Space Museum is on left across Mall. The National Archives, repository of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, is on right across Constitution Avenue.
1.5 The National Museum of Natural History (right) houses the Hope diamond, an insect zoo, dinosaur skeletons, and millions of other artifacts.
1.7 The Mall ends here, at 14th Street, but Madison Drive continues one more block to 15th Street.
1.9 Cross 15th Street in pedestrian crossing and ride up hill to Washington Monument. Take path that veers off to right and follow to crosswalk across 17th Street.
2.2 Walk bike across 17th Street in crosswalk and enter wide, hard-packed dirt trail that runs beside reflecting pool.
2.5 Visit Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Rest rooms under Lincoln Memorial. Follow sidewalk to left around memorial and cross Independence Avenue near Ericson Memorial. Cross Ohio Drive and enter bike path, heading left.
3.3 Follow Ohio Drive as it veers left and cross Inlet Bridge over the Tidal Basin. As soon as you've crossed the bridge, bear left to Jefferson Memorial. After visiting memorial, double back across the bridge and take West Basin Drive to right. This leads past the famous cherry trees, a gift from Japan.
3.9 At fork, bear left, following signs toward Lincoln Memorial. Cross Ohio drive and reenter the bike path, heading right.
4.2 Pass under Memorial Bridge, where the path narrows.
4.9 On right is Kennedy Center.
5.1 Left to Thompson's Boat Center, then bear right and walk bike on brick sidewalk along Georgetown waterfront. Fountains, outdoor cafes, etc.
5.2 Turn right, exit waterfront complex, and enter Wisconsin Avenue, riding uphill.
5.3 Cross bridge over C & O Canal. Continue up Wisconsin to M Street and turn right. Watch for heavy traffic in the heart of the Georgetown commercial area.
5.4 Cross M Street at 31st in pedestrian crosswalk and walk bike to Old Stone House at 3051 M Street NW. Continue east on M Street to 30th Street; then turn left up 30th Street through Georgetown residential district.
5.8 Turn left onto R Street, skirting Oak Hill Cemetery and Montrose Park (right).
5.9 Turn right onto 32nd Street.
6.0 Turn left onto S Street, then right onto Wisconsin Avenue. Heavy traffic and a steep climb.
6.9 Turn right onto South Road on Washington Cathedral grounds. Take road to right of building, past the peaceful Bishops Garden. Bear left at nursery and exit cathedral grounds at Woodley Road NW.
7.1 Turn right on Woodley Road.
7.2 Turn right on 34th Street. Watch for heavy traffic.
7.7 Turn left onto Massachusetts Avenue NW. See U.S. Naval Observatory on right.
8.0 Embassy buildings everywhere
8.8 Continue on Massachusetts Avenue through Dupont Circle.
9.1 Turn right onto 17th Street NW and continue to intersection of 17th and M Streets.
9.5 At I Street, 17th Street intersects with Connecticut Avenue. Bear left on Connecticut to Lafayette Park.
Walk bike through park and cross Pennsylvania Avenue, now a pedestrian mall, in front of the White House. Turn left and follow Pennsylvania Avenue past Treasury Building.
9.7 Turn right on 15th Street NW. Just past Treasury Building, cross in pedestrian crossing into Pershing Square. Cross 14th Street and enter Western Plaza. Walk or ride across the plaza; then cross Pennsylvania Avenue and continue riding down "Avenue of Presidents."
10.3 Pennsylvania Avenue NW ends at foot of Capitol Hill. Turn left on First Street NW and follow past intersection with Constitution Avenue. Bear right on Louisiana Avenue.
10.6 Return to the starting point, Union Station.

Have fun!

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Old 02-16-16, 07:47 PM
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It isn't necessary to ride on the sidewalks. Downtown D.C. has bike lanes on almost all the roads. Over the last few years, we have become a very bike friendly town.
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Old 02-17-16, 05:54 AM
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Grillparzer:

Can you tell me if my "Monuments" tour described above is still correct and relevant? Perhaps now that there are bike lanes, there are better roads to use? Thanks!
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Old 02-17-16, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Grillparzer View Post
It isn't necessary to ride on the sidewalks. Downtown D.C. has bike lanes on almost all the roads. Over the last few years, we have become a very bike friendly town.
Thank you Papa Tom and Grillparzer. I've got my bike map of DC and it is marked up with a number of off-street trails around the monuments, but it is a little confusing what is reserved for pedestrians and what's supposed to be an off-street trail in that area. Anyway, thanks for the monument route Papa Tom, I'll take a look.

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Old 02-17-16, 11:52 AM
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Brought to you by the magic of Google:

https://ddot.dc.gov/sites/default/fil...de-Oct2012.pdf

See pg. 10 in particular.
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