Cycling to the Game

Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard

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!

By Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard  |  April 4, 2008; 2:26 PM ET  | Category:  Kyra DeBlaker-Gebhard
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Comments

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I'll be doing this some too, but from North Arlington. I'm figuring the most direct route is to Rosslyn, picking up the Mount Vernon trail there, down past Roosevelt Island, down the river to the 14th Street Bridge, then picking up Maine Avenue heading southeast after you pass the Tom Jeff Mem, with Maine taking you straight to M Street. It should be about 50 minutes or so. I'll report back once I've done it.

Posted by: OutsideTheLaw | April 4, 2008 4:02 PM

On a few occassionas I have traveled from SW-Waterfront to my home in NE by way of M Street SW/SE. It can be a very bumpy ride, so use caution if you are on a road bike with less substantial tires. I've got a hybrid that handles the bumps well, but some of the potholes can be overwhelming.

Anyone out there bike to the Navy Yard from Virginia--I know there are some out there--who could recommend an alternate route?

Posted by: Kyra | April 4, 2008 4:07 PM

Wow, I can't believe you already have so much advice for bikers! Nice work. With all the bike racks we've been hearing about, I hope more people can use your advice and bike in.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 4, 2008 9:14 PM

Although it's under construction now, something to consider in the future as a scenic alternative is the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which will follow the Anacostia and the Southwest waterfront area, passing the new stadium. Parts of it are already complete and are supposed to officially open this spring.

Coming from the west, for example, instead of taking Maine Avenue to M Street, you could follow the trail along the Washington Channel Promenade, then take P Street right up to the ballpark.

Posted by: Drew | April 7, 2008 2:37 AM

I remember hearing something about a bike check at one of the parking garages. Anyone know what I'm talking about (since I don't).

Posted by: Lance | April 7, 2008 8:58 AM

Check the rules again. Biking on the sidewalks within tke CBD is ILLEGAL! A list of the boundaries is online somewhere.

Posted by: OTP | April 7, 2008 9:42 AM

CBD?

Posted by: Kyra | April 7, 2008 10:54 AM

Ah... CBD is the central business district. Yes. I am aware of this law and I follow it when riding to work downtown.

Like I said, I ride on the sidewalk along Maryland Ave NE, which is outside of the central business district. (I am occasionally yelled at when riding on Maryland Ave... hence my aside above.)

WABA, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, is a great resource for all things biking in the District and beyond.

http://www.waba.org/areabiking/bikelaws.php

Posted by: Kyra | April 7, 2008 11:13 AM

I too am wondering about biking to Nationals Park from Va. I'm thinking of taking the 14th Street Bridge, but from there I'm still looking for the optimum route.

Posted by: WFY | April 9, 2008 5:22 PM

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