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“I believe an environmentalist starts at home,” Mr. Nagle says.

This is all well and good, but the barriers of safety, parking, shower facilities, logistics, clothing choices, time, distance and physical demand (not everyone is ready to ride 20 to 30 miles a day) still remain.

“I know, but if you can break down one or two, maybe that’s enough to make bicycle commuting an option,” Mr. Sebastian says. The DDOT’s goal is that by 2025, about 5 percent, compared to the current 1 percent, of Washington’s population will commute by bicycle.

“This area is in many ways ideal for bicycle commuting,” Mr. Gilliland says. “We have gentle topography and a mild climate.”

He cites Denmark, where about 30 percent of residents commute by bicycle, as a model. Imagine waking up one day and seeing 30 percent of the region’s population riding bicycles. Yeah, not very likely. Americans love their cars — always have and always will, right?

“Yes, cars are definitely part of a cultural, institutional mind-set,” Mr. d’Eustachio says, “but I still believe that if you build them — as in bicycle lanes and trails — they will come.”