Cycling to the Game
I began cycling in the District in 2005, when I moved to the outskirts of Capitol Hill. Nearly a mile from the closest Metro stop, I hated the long walk to Union Station, and I hated waiting for the irregular X8 bus even more. I decided to try biking to work, and I have been biking ever since.
Last spring, my husband and I purchased our first Nationals season tickets. We knew the games would be a fun addition to our summer, and RFK was easy to bike to (Brian, my husband, is also a bike commuter). At least once a week, we rode south on 13th Street NE to East Capitol, which took us straight to RFK. Our only complaint was bike parking. If you didn't get to the game before the first pitch you were often relegated to street-sign lock up.
As the 2008 season approached we started to get nervous about our ride to Nationals Park. Was the terrain too rough? What about excessive hills? What about the M Street traffic?
While Brian rides to the Navy Yard every day, I am three months pregnant and easily winded on most bike rides. Though I plan to ride my bike well into my pregnancy, I get nervous when traveling by bike to a new, unfamiliar location.
We nervously set out this past Saturday for our first ride to Nationals Park. Instead of following my husband's path to the Navy Yard -- south on 13th Street NE to 11th Street SE -- we decided to ride west on Maryland Ave NE to 4th Street NE. I am already comfortable riding on Maryland Ave and the sidewalks are wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists (yes, we can ride on the sidewalk, so stop yelling at us!) and the incline is not too severe. At 4th Street NE, we headed south all the way to The Yards, and took the newly paved back roads to the stadium. The ride was a breeze, as 4th Street, complete with bike lane, is down hill all the way to the Anacostia River. While the area just south of the freeway is in need of new blacktop, the commute was a pleasant one, and took us a total of 25 minutes from front door to bike racks. And boy are there bike racks! On just about every side of the park you can find secure bike racks.
If you are heading to the park this spring and summer from Capitol Hill, I highly recommend using 4th Street NE and SE to get to the park. And for those from upper Hill East, try using the East Capitol bike lane to travel to 4th Street. If you live in lower Hill East, try traveling west on M Street SE, between 11th Street and South Capitol.
When planning your return trip home, I would recommend the bike lane on 6th Street heading north. And if you are like me and would like to avoid a severe incline (6th Street can be intense for even the best of riders), try taking M Street SE east to 11th Street SE. M Street may look foreboding, but the hill is manageable for even me!
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