How’s the 15th Street, NW Bike Lane Working Out?

Video by

Street Films writes:

“The district DOT has redesigned 15th Street NW between U Street and Massachusetts Avenue to accommodate two-way bike traffic on a one-way street. Northbound cyclists get a shared lane moving in the same direction as car traffic, and southbound cyclists ride in a parking-protected lane. The treatment has also slimmed down the street, removing a vehicle lane and calming traffic.”

However, I (as well as Borderstan) have noticed that many bikers are actually going the wrong way on the one-way lane.


So how for those who use this lane – how’s it working it out? What do you do when a biker is coming at you in the wrong direction? Is there enough room to pass each other or does somebody have to yield?

42 Comment

  • I used it for a while until the snow was dumped there. I actually felt a lot safer there because the lane is protected and cars can’t get in.

  • 8-9 feet wide? seems like this could be wide enough to be a 2-way for bikes (who would already be cramming into 1/3 of that space riding down the side of the busy road along with traffic…

    • The problem with two-way traffic in a separated bike lane is that cars turning left can’t see bikes going north. This is also why it’s really dangerous to ride the wrong way on this lane.

      For it to be safe you would have to install separate signals for the bikes and completely rijigger all the car signals. It would be a big deal, but doable.

      But then you’d have to get the cyclists to actually obey the signals for it to be at all safe. As we all know, that’s not really practical.

  • I used it this morning. I prefer other routes, mostly because of signal timing, but also poor line-of-sight for cars trying to kill me. There is enough room for bicyclists to pass each other safely. Overall, it’s an asset for bikers, and also for users of other modes (walking, driving, metroing) who experience less congestion in their modes because of people who choose to ride.

    Anecdotally, I did have to call out to two pedestrians who were sauntering into bike lanes without looking this morning. But I suppose it was my fault for biking in a bike lane.

    ( “Bicyclists dial their phone like this…and pedestrians dials their phone like this!” )

  • I, for one, am thrilled to see the new bike lanes getting a lot of use. With the way some of these cyclists ride, it’s a good thing they’re using them, because they’d be downright lethal behind the wheel of a motor vehicle!

    On that note, does anyone else think that bicycles should be licensed and require training courses just like motor vehicles? And maybe a license should be required for pedestrians as well, to keep them from wandering into the street while talking on their cell phones.

  • bikers thinging that rules that apply to others don’t apply to them?? I don’t believe it

  • I bike both north and south on 15th street all the time, using the proper lanes, and I wish DDOT would stripe the parking protected lane for 2 way bike traffic, and do away with the lane on the other side of the street. The parking protected lane is plenty wide enough for two bikes to cross in different directions. The so called “bike lane” for northbound traffic is totally disregarded by auto traffic, and is dangerous for everyone. If all bikes were in the parking protected lane, cars would pay more attention to bike traffic when making left turns at intersections, and would be less likely to not see a biker and cause an accident.

    As a biker, I really like the “parking protected” lane concept. It’s a clever way to protect bikers, without expensive curbs and barriers that also interfere with traffic flow.

    • I agree! I would like to bike more but am still too fearful with the current system. Your solution would get me (and presumably many others) back on the bike lanes.

  • Is any one else pissed that 15th street is no longer the secret weapon of those who needed to get up north quickly? Oh right, the self-entitled bikers, that’s who.

  • If I’d been quicker with my camera this past weekend, you would have receieved a great picture of a guy biking south on 15th. He was flying, and on the sidewalk just next to the bike lane. The lane wasn’t obstructed, and wasn’t being used. The whole thing was perplexing to say the least.

  • ban bikes and remove all bike lanes!

  • ban commuter vehicles from outside dc from passing the metro-accessible region!

  • I’m just glad to see a bicycle lane with some real protection. I don’t put much faith in a line of paint.

    If you’re a bicyclist (or at least a fan of wanting to be one), don’t forget to join Washington Area Bicyclist Association. They fight for better riding and were instrumental way back when they got bicycles allowed on the metro.

  • I think the parking protected bike lanes is the ONLY way to go in a metropolitan area. We’re still going to get the inevitable crash at intersections, but the white striped lane did nothing for anyone. This is at least useful, even if it isn’t perfect.

    We need to make sure that at the bus stops the drivers aren’t opening their doors directly into the bike lane or someone’s going to get schwinned.

  • I cruise down it most morning without problems. It’s wide enough that two-way [bicycle, stroller, jogger] traffic isn’t really a problem. Not sure why DDOT made it one-way to begin with, but probably some width standard. One thing they need to fix is to replace the bollards at the ends of the block [mid bike lane] that prevent cars/trucks from parking in the bike lane. I think the snow plows inadvertently tore them out when they eventually got around to plowing the bike lane.

    • You’re right Ontarioroader. It has to do with the width standards. The standard minimum width for a parking protected lane is five feet. That’s to make sure bikes have somewhere to go besides the curb when car doors are opened. Trying to make the lane two-way would, theoretically, lead to a lot of collisions between bikers when northbound riders veer to the left to avoid a door.

  • I love that new lane. I’ve always thought about biking to work, but the idea of biking in commuter traffic terrified me. This gets me close enough to my office that I don’t mind the short distance I have to go on the normal bike lanes. I’ve taken this in the wrong direction and I hope no one minds b/c it really is very wide and feels much safer.

  • I’m just glad that the yellow barriers offer minimal shielding when I splash water from puddles toward all bikers.

  • I’ve tried this a few times – still prefer the bike lane on 14th St.

    The 15th St bike lane is rough and I totally don’t trust cars will look for bikers before turning across the bike lane.

    I feel safer and move faster on 14th St.

  • THe parking protected lane is good. The faux bike lane in the right land of traffic is a ridiculous idea, a traffic lane that encourages bikers to use the entire lane, which means cars get road-ragey when they wind up behind a biker. It’s better to just eliminate it is a car lane than have the hybrid ridiculousness. Also, the re-tioming of the lights was the city’s final way of saying fuck you to conmmuters, who, gosh golly, don’t always live or work by metro stations. I take 16th now, which is the new 15th.

    • The very idea of the city saying “fuck you” to commuters is a wonderful, but unfortunately laughable dream. Seriously…this is 6/10 of a mile on one street. If all you folks in your cars can’t find a way to deal with sharing 6/10 of a mile of road with two full lanes and one shared lane without losing your tempers and minds, you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel to begin with.

  • I mostly bike northbound on 15th, and it is terrible. Despite the signs saying bikes can use the full right lane, drivers just don’t see them (or ignore them). I’ve gotten honked and yelled at so many times that I’ve given up and switched over to 14th, despite its worse physical condition. If they’re going to use the right lane as a northbound bike lane, they need some serious signage, on the road itself, and a solid line separating bikes from car traffic.

  • As a cyclist, I’m glad to see the lane. As a motorist (and really, on 15th Street, I’m usually a motorist), I have two problems: (1) I now have no idea how I’m supposed to turn left off 15th Street — it legitimately scares me that somebody is going to be flying south on a bike as I enter my turn, and (2) with lanes on 14th and 15th, why do cyclists continue to use 16th?

  • The yellow pylons look like dookie and the last time I checked there were two to three of them down on every single block. Still can’t believe the bike lane cost $200k, and that it got constructed without thinking about a lot of the issues mentioned by previous commenters. I bet DDOT will get it all worked out for the downtown extension bike lanes. Oh, wait.

    • The lane is part of a study. That’s why it only goes from U Street down to (I believe) Rhode Island. This isn’t the case of someone failing to execute a tried and true method. Right now the lane, and all the issues you mentioned, are being taken into account for DDOT’s next round of protected lanes.

  • The southbound lane on 15th St. is a bit weird but I’ll take it. I despise people going the wrong way in a bike lane, particularly the smaller bike lanes. The bikers going the wrong way typically expect ME to move into traffic and get out of their way. It’s not as bad as scooters using bike lanes though.

  • Ban all wheeled vehicles! All power to the walkers!

  • i’ve found myself riding on the pavement a few times due to people walking or jogging in the 15th st bike lane even though the pavement is completely clear.

  • I like the “sharrows” — the painted indicators on the northbound side of 15th St. (12th Street NE in Brookland has them too.) I prefer riding on the street (in painted lanes) to the separated cycle track, because the separated cycle track has breaks at every intersection. But cars seem to drive with more courtesy when they see the reminders to share the road. If I were less able to keep up with traffic, I don’t think I would prefer the sharrows much.

    I wonder how much value DDOT will get out of this experiment. I guess they will do traffic counts, etc. But in my one experience with a car-bicycle collision (T-boned by a BMW making a left across my lane, his fault thankyouverymuch) Metro PD was unwilling to make any report of the accident, so I am suspicious of any safety data the experiment might produce.

  • DC should impose a commuter tax on all cars without DC license plates that enter the district during the week. Then, use the money for more bike lanes.

Comments are closed.