Terry Bellamy said during his confirmation hearing as director of the agency that the dedicated lanes were "on hold" and at the risk of cancellation.
During his confirmation as DDOT director, Bellamy surprised D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells when he said that the L and M cycle tracks were "on hold" and at risk of cancellation. Wells, D-Ward 6 and chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee, said he knew that the lanes had been delayed but did not expect DDOT would consider such a major cut.
Bellamy cited a loss of parking, along with the potential for new transit routes and a loss of revenue, as factors that could cut the proposed lanes.
The lanes, which are separated from the car lanes by physical barriers, would be the first lanes to run east to west in the downtown area, similar to those that now run north to south along 15th Street.
Washington Area Bicycling Association Executive Director Shane Farthing said he knew that plans for the lanes had been delayed but was shocked to hear Bellamy say they might be canceled.
WABA drafted a petition in support of the lanes, which has received more than 800 signatures.
Wells said cutting parking downtown would be a tough move politically, but he asked Bellamy to prioritize local residents over commuters who do not pay city taxes.
"Generally it's going to be a D.C. resident who needs that safe bike lane," Wells said.
Data from the U.S. census show that 2.2 percent of D.C. commuters used bikes to get to work in 2009.
For cyclists, the parking spots that Bellamy wants to protect are a major threat.
"The problem with L and M is that they're one way with high traffic and parking, often double parking that makes it hard for a cyclist to go through safely," he said.
Farthing called the threatened cycle tracks "the highest-profile examples" of a bigger delay in making the city bicycle-friendly.
Bellamy said the plans are 65 percent complete, and he needs to meet with the city's bike safety team before he can weigh the benefits of the proposed lanes.
The concept for the lanes was released in April 2005 as part of the city's Biking Master Plan.