Bike Lane on 15th Street, NW


Ah so here’s what it looks like. I’ve never seen one that was between the curb and parked cars before. Do you think it makes parallel parking harder? I imagine as a cyclist it is preferable to be in a lane like this rather than next to moving traffic, right?

38 Comment

  • This is the way a lot of european cities do it and its super successful!

  • yeah, this is fantastic – though why didn’t they put a bit more of a curb in so it’s clear where to park and where the bike lane boundary is?

  • I rode down it last night and I really like it.. but some jerk managed to park in the bike lane. I wouldnt be surprised if a lot of people try to do this double parking trick, and I hope they get ticketed.

  • Why didn’t they just keep the mini pylons up for demarcation? Or were they removed due to Graham’s complaints?

  • This method is definitely safer for the cyclist. Sometimes these kind of lanes raise the bike lane up to the level of the sidewalk for added separation and to help the cars park correctly. However, doing so requires understanding from pedestrians to not walk in the bike lane.

  • I agree that a little curb between the parking lane and the bike lane would help enormously. Paris has bus/taxi/bike lanes that are demarcated that way and it helps a lot.

    The last I checked, alas, there was not penalty for driving in a bike lane. That said, DC parking enforcement is fairly efficient, so hopefully illegal parking in the lane will be dealt with appropriately.

  • I think they’re installing a small raised ‘quick curb’ between the bike lane and parked cars, but DDOT has already made so many missteps with this plan that it may not happen now. Everything from the contractor mistakenly going a block too far north across U st to misspelling “yeild” and “trun” on the pavement markings. Also this is supposed to be southbound only, but a majority of northbound cyclists are/will also use it, because DDOT refuses to put a northbound lane, and is just planning ‘share the road’ marking northbound. And before anyone brings up the fact that there are bike lanes one block over on 14th, let me just say that those lanes are absolutely USELESS because they’re used for double parking and as business loading zones 90% of the time.

  • There needs to be a curb. How else would you know that the bike lane is there? (imagine after rush hour ends, or after street cleaning, when there is no one else on that street).

  • I’m for anything that keeps bikers off the roads and sidewalks. They are a menace.

  • There are a number of issues with this bike lane. DDOT in it’s infinite wisdom, instituted the plan on 15th as a hybrid that no one in the neighborhood considered or voted on. As such, we get a compromise solution that is worse for 15th street and DC in general. Some of the problems include: 1) See those reflector strips to indicate the bike lane. The street cleaner cannot get to the curb (even when the cars are moved – DDOT acknowledges that this is a problem) or else the refectors will get ripped off. So all of the trash, leaves, etc. will just sit in the bike lane without gettting picked up. 2) It makes it less safe for cars and cyclists when cars are crossing 15th street on streets with no lights, like Swann. Cars will have to nudge out into the bike lane to see if it is safe to cross. Not good. 3) The northbound bike lane is shared with cars. While it sounds good in theory, tell that to a cyclists trying to “share” the lane with MD commuters leaving the city at rush hour. Not safe at all. 4) The stated goal of DDOT was to slow down traffic and make 15th street feel like part of the neighborhood, rather than a freeway. This plan hasn’t acheived that. It simply decreases the number of lanes for traffic. Cars travel just as fast (because the lights are timed). They are just more congested. 5) I see more cyclists (including a cop on a bicycle the other day), using the contraflow lane to go northbound (wrong way), rather than southbound. If meter maids are going to ticket people in this neighborhood for failing to park 15 ft from a stop sign, for which there is no correct signage (and yes, I have been ticketed for this), then they need to ticket cyclists going the wrong way and Sunday church attendees for triple parking. 6) Cars continue to park in the bike lane. 7) It’s unclear this is safe for cyclists. When cars travel north on 15th and take a left, their vision of oncoming cyclists is blocked by the cars in the street. And please don’t give me the argument that this works in Europe. Totally different situation. 8) Very few cyclists will use this. Why take 15th and risk hitting all of the contraflow lights as a cyclists, when you can catch every light in the bike lane on 14th. If you don’t catch the light, you simply run it. On 15th, cyclists can run the light because of cross traffic and oncoming vehicles taking a left.

    This project has been an abomination from start to finish. The bike lane isn’t working (hardly anyone used it this past week) and 15th street feels more like some weird experiment than part of the neighborhood. The correct solution would have been alternative #4 in this proposal.

    Safe for cyclists, slows down traffic, and makes 15th a part of the neighborhood.

    I understand that DDOT Director Gabe Klein is an avid cyclist. I really wish he and others would have strongly considered all of the reprecussions to adding this bike lane before dropping 100K to create something that simply doesn’t work.

  • The worst place where people park in the bike lane is between Mass Ave and Rhode Island. I walk by there every day and see cars parked there, as well as a cab stand where the cabs will sit in the bike lane instead of the reconfigured lane.

    PLEASE CALL 311 to report illegally parked cars in the bike lane, as well as the illegally sitting cabs. I do this nearly every day, and they have been ticketing. Please help out and do the same.

  • I have also seen people double parking at the ends of these lanes (and not on Sunday…)

  • Sorry for all of the typos in the previous post. Typed that very quick.

  • complain, complain, complain!

  • Not as safe as people think. In fact, it’s dangerous BECAUSE inexperienced cyclists will THINK they’re completely safe. Mark my words: the contra-flow lane will have a serious bike-car collision before the regular northbound bike lane on the other side of the street does.

  • does doing it this way increase the chances that bikers will get “doored?”

  • We’ve done these in NY and they’ve been hugely successful. Well used, safe. And totally enhanced street life. Added bonus is that NYC has seen a radical uptick in number of bike commuters — taking cars off the road.

    Good DDOT for giving it a try. Hopefully they’ll learn from any mistakes and use this as a fast prototype to test design issues. You never know unless you try something.

  • I parallel parked on 15th this weekend and it was weird. I’m suppotive of the concept but parking in this set-up is just something to get used to.

  • @andy: in this case, probably not, since parked drivers are facing oncoming southbound cyclists.

  • That’s a good point above (see Fuud). Won’t cyclists who are traveling southbound be obscured by parked cars, so that the cars traveling northbound and making a left turn (across the bike lane) may not see the cyclist until too late?

  • I cannot imagine that this will be ok or work in the long run.

  • @Elmer Fudd…actually, there are small vaccum-type vehicles that the city uses on the streets (on display in Adams Morgan every Saturday and Sunday morning) that would totally be able to get down the new bike lane. It won’t be the same as the street cleaners (these just suck stuff up), but they will be able to clean those bike lanes.

    There was not one double or incorrectly parked car this morning (around 7a.m.) on that stretch of 15th. Granted some of them seemed to have a few issues with straightening up, but they all were within the lines for parallel parking.

  • I love how anything done in DC that is done in any other city in the world either wont work or will kill people. How stupid can people in this town be? Just like the uproar when Metro said they would pull the trains to the front of the station. If you don’t understand how to get on a train in a different spot, you’ve got more issues than a transit issue. If you don’t know how to ride a bike in a bike lane, might as well sit around your apartment and drool.

  • Vonstallin

    I’ve look and stared at this picture, but I just don’t get it. Is their a lane on the left side also? or just a curb?

    I cant figure this out.
    please show me another picture someone.

  • @tony: To answer your question quite seriously, people in this area are extraordinarily stoopid when it comes to transit. Have you ever seen what it’s like on the beltway (or other major 45mph+ road) when it rains? or, heaven forbid, snows? And try to change something, and, oh my god, World War Five (that’s why we still have the “original” metro seat colors on some of the seats in the new trains). People just can’t cope, but that is the area and demographic of the population that is here in DC. If this helps to retrain people, we’ll all be better off, but I don’t have that kind of faith in the people around here.

  • tony: our 37% adult illiteracy rate would be a start….

  • i know people are skeptical, but i’ve been using the new lane for a week and half now, and think it’s great. way better than fighting with cars on 13th or 14th. so far i don’t think i’ve seen one car coming out of a non-traffic light street during morning traffic. the cabs that parking in the lane south of rhode island are a problem, though. i do think a curb for the parked cars would make a lot of sense and help with the cab problem. oh, and cops on segways (like the one that passed me this morning) shouldn’t be riding the wrong way in the lane.

  • Attention All Motorists-

    As you cross 15th Street, be prepared to yield to me as I shoot into the intersection from the far side of this new row of parked cars. Do not honk or shout expletives at me for ignoring traffic signals. You forfeited the right to complain when your carbon footprint became larger than mine. I have been using the word ‘sustainable’ in casual conversation since 2003. I acquired my first man-purse in 2005. So back off.

  • @ Elmer Fudd Gantry: I agree with most of what you said, and it’s seeming more and more like there’s no foolproof way to institute bike lanes. At least it seems like that to me. My complaint, though, is off-topic: I can’t give you too much sympathy for getting a ticket for parking too close to a stop sign. That’s the law, whether it’s marked or not.

    My house is next to an alley, and every so often I get some jackass who just pulls in right next to my house and parks. Occasionally, I’m there to witness it, but when I tell them it’s illegal their response is usually something like, “well, I don’t see a sign there,” as they walk away. So, I have to call the police, and when they arrive, the offenders invariably come running out of a house screaming, “I didn’t know! I didn’t know! I’ll move it right now!”

    But they DID know, because I told them. Don’t you think if there were a sweet, legal parking spot next to my house, that my car would be in it? A nice inviting space right by the corner, or next to a fire hydrant, or in front of a hotel, should give you a similar feeling of pause.

    Driver’s Manual

  • Yes to this bike lane. Why so many naysayers? Everyone complains complains complains, but nobody is willing to accept the possibility that, despite its flaws, it just might work. +1 on tonysmallframe’s comments. If you can’t figure this out, you’ve got deeper issues. The lane is great, and although it isn’t perfect, it is a step in the right direction.

    Kudos to Gabe Klein and DDOT for understanding that perfection can be the enemy of good, taking a chance, trying something different, and learning along the way. DC will be a complete streets city in short order if Mr. Klein maintains this sense of vision.

  • Love the plan and would like to see it expanded. As many others have noted, a separate curbed bike lane would be preferable, but if there are impediments to implementing, there should at least be a strong visual cue for cars (both parking and in traffice) and cyclists delineated the bike from auto lanes. Why not paint the lane something contrasting?

  • The criticism is there because I want bike infrastructure, but like so much else here we end up with a half-a**ed ‘politically convenient’ version of what could be. Why use idiotic contractors who can’t read site plans or even spell correctly? Why not have it go both directions instead of forcing northbound bike traffic into car lanes? Best practices for separate cycle-tracks are out there, but this is nowhere near that. Contractors were asking passing cyclists where signs should placed!?! That’s not planning – that’s throwing sh|t up and hoping no one gets killed on your watch.

  • DDOT makes the signs, not the contractors so direct your comments to Gabe Klein.

    And yes, the contractor made a mistake by including 15th St. from U to W….but instead of focusing on that, let’s look at the bigger picture. Why wasn’t that block included in the first place? (one compound word: Grahamstander). I wish the contractor would have finished their “mistake” before the Grahamstander came charging in in his tan-colored VW and blasted our emails with more of his nonsense.

  • Ontarioroader @12:57

    Well said. As someone who lives in this neighborhood and supports more bicycle lanes and green infastructure, it has to be well planned and executed. If the neighborhood is not on board with this, it will not last. My understanding is that this project is being re-examined after a year.

    The current plan is not the safest for cyclists or supported by the neighborhood. It caters to MD commuters and cabs exiting the city. Cyclists and the neighborhood should get together and support a plan that actually makes sense. Parking on each side. Bike lanes on each side. One northbound and southbound vehicle lane and a center lane for “truning.”

  • This bike lane would have prevented my 1995 accident involving the stupid van that turned in front of me into the alley behind the Masonic Temple, forcing me into the slot between the curb and the parked cars (to try and avoid being mashed by the van) doing a chin plant and cracking nine teeth, because there wouldn’t have been any parked cars in my way and I could have continued on my merry way. 15th St. has been slightly underutilized (compared to other North South throughfares in the area) for a long time, it’s the fastest way North and the perfect place for a bike lane. Except for the hill next to Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park, where a gang will knock you off your bike and mug you (as happened to a friend) because you’re going so slow where the hill is so steep!

  • It is amazing how easy it is to un-intentionally damage cars that park in bike lanes with a heavy u lock.

  • I think it’s a great idea. I’m all for more bike lanes! They make it safer for everyone. Also being a bike commuter, I am way way more alert than pedestrians and cars so doubt that left turns would be a problem. That may be experience though, I am not about getting hit.

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