WASHINGTON, D.C. — I finally got around to bicycling on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Northeast DC.

Years ago, I worked in a building abutting the trail, so I had some superficial familiarity with it. I’m glad I finally got experience it on two wheels.

Milepost 0 – 3

I picked up the trail from Union Station, specifically the 1st Street bike lane1. A protected bike lane goes through NoMa2 to M Street NE where it turns right (east).

At the Red Line/Northeast Corridor, the trail turns right again (south) and begins its dedicated portion. A hairpin ramp puts the trail onto its own viaduct, parallel to the tracks with a razor wire fence between them. This was my favorite portion of the trail.

After Florida Ave NE, the MBT is at grade again on its own alignment. The trail goes past Altheia Tanner Park (stay alert), Lost Generation Brewing Co. on S Street NE near 4th St NE, Rhode Island Ave Metro station, and City State Brewing.

This dedicated right of way is short-lived though as it “merges” onto Edgewood Street NE after Franklin Street NE. No bike lane, just sharrows and a few MBT signs. Edgewood becomes 8th St NE.

At Monroe Street NE, the trail picks up again with a right turn just after crossing and before Arts Walk. I missed it the first time and wound up headed west in the Monroe Street bike lane. I wound up on the sidewalk of Michigan Ave NE heading east. I found the trail along John McCormick Rd NE. The opposite side is part of the Catholic University of America campus.

Milepost 3 -5

The McCormick Rd section is really just a wide-asphalt sidewalk with telephone poles near the street. The good news is there are not any at-grade intersections. At about milepost 3.8, the situation improves a little with marked pavement and shortly thereafter, the poles cross the street and go along the other sidewalk, though sign post remain. Approaching milepost 4.2, the trail resumes its own right-of-way. Opened recently, this section climbs and curves up the hill that the Green Line tunnels under just west of the Fort Totten station.

Rolling down the hill, this section of the MBT ends at 1st Place NE, near the Transit Police building.

I completed my journey there and turned around. Several miles of on-street travel awaited northbound and I wasn’t feeling too curious. Someday, that maybe resolved, but no time soon.


Past and Future

The MBT concept was developed in the late 1980s. The goal is to sconnect it to the Capital Crescent Trail in Silver Spring, Md. That would form an arch over the northern tip of the District. The most optimistic completion looks to be 2028, according Wash Cycle: The Other GAP trail 2022: An updated status of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Only 40 years to get it done! We hope.


There is a far amount of coverage of the MBT from several sources:


1I would sometimes walk from Union Station Metro to my office. I’d count the cyclists using the bike lane between Union Station and M Street NE. Typically, it’d be 12 or more, closer to 20 sometimes. In December. During a 10ish long minutes walk.

2 which should have been branded the historical Swampoddle name

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