Find party invitations for any occasion at Personalize, preview, and order your invitation instantly.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thing 152: Bike Tour of the Anacostia Riverwalk

If any of you out there are following my Twitter feed, you'll know I spent pretty much my entire weekend on one tour or another. Yes, it was the semiannual WalkingTown DC, which gives locals and tourists alike the opportunity to participate in over a hundred free walking and bike tours. This event is held in the spring and in the fall, and organized by Cultural Tourism DC, and I urge all of you to take advantage of this opportunity!

I started my WalkingTown weekend at 9am on Saturday morning at the entrance to the Southwest fish market, bike in tow. I was there for the bike tour of the Anacostia Riverwalk, along with about twenty other early birds. This tour is put on by the DC Department of Transportation (or DDoT, or "d.") and was actually led by the head of DDoT, Gabe Klein. Allow me a moment to geek out, but how cool is that? If you read this website, you'll remember that Gabe Klein was a bold and progressive choice for the job, having come off of a four year stint as regional VP of ZipCar, and as an advocate for transportation that might not necessarily begin and end with the personal car. And now here he was, in bike shorts and bright yellow biking shirt, ready to give the twenty of us his own guided tour of the Anacostia waterfront.

After giving us an introduction and an overview of the plan to rebuild the Southwest Waterfront area, we cycled in a pack down to the Titanic Memorial, and then east to the Nats Stadium. At the stadium, Klein, with help from three other DDoT employees, talked about the transportation issues surrounding the building of the stadium, and also the colossal engineering project that was the lowering of the South Capitol Street Bridge.

We continued on to the new USDoT, which stands next to the Navy Yard, and they spoke about the grand plan to connect the stadium all the way through the Navy Yard and beyond with new bike trails, hopefully easing some of the commuting congestion for the 20,000 expected new federal workers in the area. Klein mentioned that he's also looking at remaking the bridges, adding extra bus lines down M Street, and hopefully extending the upcoming street car system into the area, along with encouraging mixed-used developments so that people can live, work and play all within walking distance.

After this stop, I get a little hazy, geographically speaking, on where we went next. I know that we rode along a trail that took us next to a boat house where there were crew races:

And then over some railroad tracks and around and behind RFK Stadium, to what I think was Benning Road, where there was a farmers' market. We took a ten minute pause here to use restrooms and refuel, as needed.

From there, we crossed the Anacostia to its east bank, and then rode for several miles along the river, past a roller skating rink, past playgrounds and picnics and people fishing, seeing the crew races and the Navy Yard and the Stadium from an angle that I've never seen before. We met up again at Poplar Point, where one of the DDoT employees talked about the huge mixed-use development they envision some years into the future, with plenty of park land and new housing, retail and work space, all a few steps from the Anacostia Metro Station.

And from there, we went over the South Capitol Street bridge, and back to the fish market. In all, the ride took three hours, I saw parts of DC I've never seen before (and frankly, I'm not sure I can find again), and got an inside look at the vision behind a lot of the development projects that will shape the future of DC.

From there, I had to zip back home to shower and eat before heading to the next tour...Historic Logan Circle.

Related: Before There Was Harlem and North by Northwest