New contraflow bike lanes, “bike boxes” and traffic signals for cyclists are going in at the intersection of U Street, 16th Street and New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Photos from flickr courtesy of DDOTDC

DDOT shares the news and great photos on facebook. For the bikers – how much will this improve your rides?

60 Comment

  • I think this is awesome. But, of course, I must gripe about what I see as a zero enforcement policy by DC police on vehicles that cross into bike lanes. I’ve had cars actually veer into the bike lane while I was beside them. I’ve seen cars driving half in bike lanes with police cars either behind them or watching them drive by, and surprise! The police ignore it. Bike lanes are useless if motorists drive in them with no repercussions. And in DC, that is all too common.

    • I must also gripe; about the complete lack of enforcement by DC police on cyclists who ignore basically every traffic law on the books. You have to stop at red lights! You have to stop at stop signs! You have to signal! You SHOULD where a helmet! You should not weave around cars when there is gridlock. You ARE NOT SPECIAL!

      And I LIKE bicycling, but you guys have to respect automobiles and pedestrians just like drivers try to respect you.

      DL – I realize that you are probably a model cyclist and these comments are not directed at you in particular.

      • though you have a point to an extent (i think you’re wrong if you really think drivers have some special level of respect for cyclists), the best solution is for the laws to change to reflect that bikes should not have the same rules as cars. this is why the bike signals are great. this is why we need more bike lanes. all of your complaints are moot if we have the appropriate infrastructure. in the meantime, of course cyclists are going to break laws that don’t match reality (e.g., if there were bike lanes, there would be no need to weave through traffic; if there were bike traffic signals that differed from car signals, there would be no need to run stop signs and lights, etc. — see amsterdam). cars who turn right on red when they’re not supposed to and peds who jaywalk make the same sorts of infractions.

        • EXACTLY!

          Why should bikes be required to stop at a 4 way stop sign if cars are already stopping? “supposedly stopping”

          Weaving through traffic IS NOT illegal and would not be necessary if there were bike lanes.

          Going 20 in a 25 mph speed limit city road also IS NOT illegal however motorists will try to run you off or honk you which is very dangerous to us because we cannot hear anything else, become disoriented and hit a pot hole and get ran over by an SUV.

          LEGALLY we can ride in front of traffic on most streets in DC but we usually don’t out of courtesy and overall efficiency of the road. This compromises our safety by having cars blow past us.

          • I don’t know you, but you must be joking. Why should bikes stop at stop signs? And you advocate riding in front of cars? Are you kidding me? Every bicycle safety expert tells you to ride as close to the side of the road as is safe. Stopping at stop signs saves lives. There is a simple credo in the community of safety oriented cyclists:

            3000 lb car + 180 lb bicycle = Bicycle loses. Every time.

          • Not joking. On some streets there are road hazards, pot holes, drains etc that are positioned near the side of the road. I cannot safely ride over a pothole so I must swerve around it. If I am sharing a lane with a car I cannot swerve or I will die as your genius algebra shows. This is why it is LEGAL and safer (if drivers don’t intentionally try to run you over) to ride in the center of the lane on slow streets.

            You cannot expect bikes to function like cars but then not respect us in the roadway!

            As far as bikes stopping at stop signs saving lives, AT A 4-WAY STOP, if the car has stopped it can’t kill anyone. A bike hitting a stopped car isn’t deadly. Obviously, if the cross traffic does not stop the bike should definitely stop.

      • I too must gripe about those ignorant of traffic laws. “Weaving” around cars is called lane-splitting, and it’s perfectly legal. Don’t bitch at me because you’re the idiot trying to barrel 3000 pounds of steel through the street and you got stuck behind some other idiot trying to do the same.

        Also, helmets aren’t required by law for riders over 16.

        Finally I must gripe about the design and placement of the contraflow lane. A protected lane, separate from parking and traffic, like the 15th Street lane, would be much safer. As it stands, this “lane” entices traffic from both directions in the same lane. I worry about cars swerving into the lane to park, and drivers not paying attention as they pull into traffic who will be looking behind them for cars instead of in front of them for bikes.

        • 15th street is great. Being separate from traffic feels so nice (except turning cars not looking if a bike is coming legally down that stretch). People don’t seem to think about the 3000 pounds of steel vs. well, nothing protecting us.

          The helmet thing is pointless too (I wear a helmet, but people say “wear a helmet” like it’ll save you when an idiot plows you down).

          • saf

            It will save your brain when you fall/lay it down. No, it won’t save all of you every time, but…

            (I ride a motorcycle. My helmet is my friend.)

        • You don’t get it… this is the way of the future. Take a look at SFO with all their bike lanes.

          If its done right and the laws are enforced it works very well.

      • Bikes “run through” red lights when it is safe to do so because it takes a lot more to get us up to speed, especially when going up hill, and that 3 second head start to get me moving could be the difference between me making it through the light and a car not looking and speeding too fast while I’m trying to find my footing.
        Furthermore, bikes ARE “special” in that they are not cars and they are no pedestrians. When you don’t like what I’m doing I have to follow car rules, but when a car hits my wife on her bike the driver was given a $50 ticket for “striking a pedestrian”.
        People need to realize bikes aren’t motor vehicles and bikes aren’t pedestrians. It is a THIRD MODE of transportation that needs to be taken seriously. But thanks for jumping on bikes so quickly

        • Could you possibly be any more self obsessed? So what in the world makes YOU the sole arbiter of “when it is safe” to run a redlight? I suppose you fully support drivers making the same decision and resulting justification? No? Imagine my surprise. You give all us who love to cycle a bad name.

          I love to cycle but there have to be rules, predictability, etc if bikes want to use the same road. For that reason, there aren’t two completely separate rule books when it comes rules of the road.

          You purposely break rules based on your own subjective justification, and then have the gall to assign all responsibility for whatever negative reaction results to the driver. Ridiculous.

          • We are only self obsessed with our own safety. If I was endangering others it would be different.

            Car drivers kill thousands of innocent people every year running red lights so no they do not get the same consideration.

            There should be rules and regulations for bikes however, “operate as a motor vehicle” is not sufficient enough to keep bicyclists safe. Do you think the rules governing bikes in DC are great?

          • I stop at red lights. If no one is coming I’ll continue on. If I even see a car (whether it is anywhere close or not) I’ll stay put.
            I assigned responsibility to the driver? Never did that. If I ever did something stupid on my bike I can accept blame and responsibility for it, but never once did I assign responsibility to the driver. I assigned responsibility to the driver when my wife was hit while she was following the laws, then yes, I assigned responsibility to the driver, and that was the only responsibility to drivers I assigned in my post.

      • anon. gardener


        • anon. gardener

          and by +1, I am referring to bikers needing to obey traffic laws. If having a red light for bikes works, I will be really happy. Maybe people will finally get it that yes, those red lights apply to you, too. Bikes are small. Cars are big. I make every effort to be on the look out for bikes, but if you come whizzing through a stop sign when it’s my right of way and I’m already turning, I am going to have a hard time avoiding you. And give me an effing break about needing time to get up to speed. if you want speed, drive a car or a motorized bike. So maybe you have to walk up a hill or wait at a red light – isn’t that better than getting hit by a car.

          Hopefully these new measures will make better citizens of both car drivers and bike riders.

          • my friend got pulled over by MPD the other day for running a red light on his bike. the officer yelled at him for 30 seconds before he got a call for more serious crime. he explained that you can get hit or hit pedestrians. my friend felt like a jackass.

  • I love the bike traffic lights!

  • I just need to point out that installing contraflow bike lanes here is absolutely hilarious when you consider that a year ago, MPD was stationing officers at this intersection in order to ticket bikers who were going the wrong way down that tiny stretch of New Hampshire.

    Well, I suppose I should be happy someone talked some sense into them and not be such a negative nancy

  • the bike traffic signals are the most important thing here. all of the car vs. bike vs. pedestrian tension is reduced significantly when we acknowledge that cars, bikes, and peds all require different rules and regulations. yes. more, please!

  • I used it this morning, after reading about it on GGW.

    To get there, I adjusted my route so that I ended up using the bike lane on V St. instead of travelling west on U St. So to the extent that the 16th/New Hampshire contraflow lane is an attempt to re-route cyclists from busy U Street to quiet, one-way, lane-striped V St., it was a success.

    GGW notes that there is an induction loop that triggers the bike signal, which is better than wasting light cycles for bikes that aren’t there.

    • ahhh…. ok I see! It would be nice if there was a way to see all the bike lanes so we could avoid heavier traveled streets.

      +1 for DDOT

    • Nice. I think the bike lanes on Q, R, T, and V are SO useful for going east-west through that part of town, and so much safe than biking on U.

      Now if my fellow cyclists would PLEASE refrain from barreling the wrong way down one-way streets, that would be great – I hate almost getting run off the road by someone who thought it would be a brilliant idea to ride against traffic (at night, with no helmet or lights, listening to headphones, etc.) in a 3-foot-wide bike lane.

      The bike lanes are generally laid down in pairs for a reason. There is NO excuse for riding westbound on Q when there are westbound bike lanes on R and V!!!


  • How do the bike traffic signals work? Do they coincide with auto or pedestrian traffic? I would be happy to follow the rules of the road once bicyclists are treated like we exist.

    I think the bike lanes are awesome.

  • i once got pulled over for driving in the bike lane headed south on 14th Street between R and Church (ish). I was new to area and was trying to make a right, but didn’t know which street I could turn on. The cop did not issue me a citation but I am since aware of the bike lane so kudos to that officer.

  • Happy for the bike infrastructure.

    As a car, it’s perfectly safe for me to run a red light when I see the road is clear. Doesn’t mean I do it.

    Not happy for the continued self absorption of bicyclists regarding road rules.

    • Agreed. I am an avid cyclist, and it pisses me off to see cyclists running lights, stop signs, hogging a lane of traffic. This sense of entitlement just makes the rest of us look bad.

      • That is the problem with being a minority. Bicyclists look bad because other bikers break the rules… This is BS.

        Do you think car drivers fret when some jackass speeds past them at twice the speed limit?

        Or when you are walking down the street and somebody jaywalks do you hang your head in shame?

        • Well yes, I do yell at drivers who drive to fast.

          And yes I do bitch at pedestrians who stand in the intersection before their light.

          But then I acknowledge when I break the law, instead of creating a childish excuse for my actions.

          • Well sir I tip my hat to thee.

            I can acknowledge that I am breaking the law, but some laws should be broken/challenged until a better solution is implemented.

    • “Perfectly safe for me…” is exactly the point. Running a red light in car is safe for you, but not for everyone else. The rule isn’t there to protect you so much as to protect other people. Bikes, by dint of not weighing 3000 lbs, are far less dangerous to other road users, so the risk of running the light is really only on the cyclist. Combined with the fact that bikes can’t accelerate to 30 mph in the space of a space of a street crossing, and there’s really no reason why bikes should have to wait for the light to change to green if the way is clear. In fact, allowing a bike the headstart before traffic gets the green allows the cyclist to get up to speed, so in many instances, its actually safer.

      • BS. If it’s safe for me, then it’s safe for oncoming traffic and it has nothing to do with the weight of my car. Motorcycles have to obey the law too.

        It’s about having some semblance of order which makes everything work properly. And if you don’t think your bike can kill people, I’ve got news for you.

        Tough crap on acceleration. That’s just laziness. Cars shouldn’t be accelerating to 30mph in an intersection either. Letting the bicyclist run the red light just creates another awkward situation where the cars are going to try to pass the bicyclist again on the next block. Since it’s ok to share a lane, that’s perfectly legal and acceptable to do.

      • My 69 year old father, while walking here in DC was going through a crosswalk at 18th and T by Lariol PLaza. He looked both ways and saw the bicycle going down hill on 18th street just at Florida (a long ways from T). The biker apparently couldn’t get his bike to stop, blew through the stop sign and swiped my Dad, knocking him down and cutting his arm and face in the process. The biker got up after taking a spill to and rode off. Fortunately some folks from Lauriol Plaza helped my Dad out and I was able to come get him. It’s not a good idea for that, or any biker, to just cruise through stop signs and lights.

  • A bike is different from a car and needs different rules

    • And until those different rules are created, cyclists are legally bound to follow the current ones,.something 90 percent of them simply cannot comprehend.

      • If we do there won’t be enough of us left to warrant changing any rules.

        Once bicyclists cause enough commotion to get everyone’s attention we will get the infrastructure we need. This will also bring DC and other urban areas into the next century. Bikes are the epitome of efficiency for travel 3 miles or less.

    • And when they get their own infrastructure, they can create whatever rules are necessary. Until such time, you can obey all the normal traffic rules that everyone from tractor trailers to golf cars use.

  • Can you ride down hill (south) on 15th St NW in the mornings? Between Euclid and New Hampshire. I know there are two bike lines but I am not sure if they move with traffic or one is contra flow.

  • This is great. As a bike commuter the increased infrastructure only makes it safer for bikes and cars.

    I like all the ‘you guys’ and ‘all cyclist’ statements on this (and other bike related) comment threads. Everyone….cyclists, motorists, pedestrians….run stop signs, red lights, yield signs on occasions. Some cyclists are jerks and do it on purpose….but then again some motorists are jerks to…and some pedestrians jay walk all the time. Lets stop the ‘all cyclists’ comments.

  • While waiting in the bike lane at red lights, I have seen too many situations where the cyclist doesn’t even slow down at a red light and just misses getting hit by a car or hitting a pedestrian with the right of way b/c their vision is blocked by traffic or they think they are moving fast enough. Obeying traffic laws and using hand signals allows cars, pedestrians and other cyclists to anticipate your next move. Moving to the front of the lane at a red still gives you a head start when the light turns green.

    • Yeah this is stupid, not even to slow down or stop to make sure nothing is coming. When people do that I can’t reason that. I go pretty (really) slow on my heavy old bike and some people just seem to fly by me

  • At the same time, I feel another big problem is that drivers have never really been educated in the proper ways to interact with bikes on the road (does anyone remember anything from driver’s ed class?) with regards to passing, no parking/driving in the bike lane, etc. I feel a little education would go a long way.

    Either way, we need more infrastructure for cyclists. Hooray for progress. More please!

  • Sorry, my full comment was supposed to be…

    As a cyclist, I get annoyed when I see other cyclists breaking traffic laws. Predictability is important; you are expected to stop at a stop sign or a traffic light, and you need to do so for the safety of everyone on the road. If everyone ignored the rules (cyclists, cars, pedestrians) it would be chaotic.

    At the same time, I feel another big problem is that drivers have never really been educated in the proper ways to interact with bikes on the road (does anyone remember anything from driver’s ed class?) with regards to passing, no parking/driving in the bike lane, etc. I feel a little education would go a long way.

    Either way, we need more infrastructure for cyclists. Hooray for progress. More please!

  • Glad to see more bike specific guidance and infrastructure, it goes a way to educating EVERYONE and hopefully making safer for bikers. There are going to be more and more of them without the infrastructure that develop patterns for everyone it would have only gotten worse.

    Pedestrian, bikers, and car drivers ALL have rules they have to obey – and all have rules they don’t obey, but more infrastructure and the like maybe some of that will go away – or at least people will be more aware.

  • (ignoring the thread) This is awesome. I know it’s going to improve my gal’s commute and our weekend trips to the Dupont Circle farmers’ market during the winter.

  • Agreement from me that we bikers need to follow the rules, stop at red lights and at stop signs, signal clearly our intentions to turn and stop, have rear and front lights when riding after dark, etc. It makes sense ultimately as the city gets used to having bikes, cars, and pedestrians using the roads and sidewalks to develop individual rules for each group, but until that ultimately happens, its our responsibility to follow the rules as they are. Coming to a complete stop and then starting up again is not the end of the world, even if it does make your legs work a little more.

  • If you’re smart, responsible, and aware of your surroundings, then just ride. All these rules are ridiculous. NO RULES for cyclist!!! No one obeys traffic laws in Vietnam and they NEVER crash, EVER, NEVER. NEVER happened in the history of Nam.

    But in all seriousness, one simple rule should exist.

    • I can’t tell, but I think you’re being facetious? There are definitely rules of the road in Vietnam, most folks follow them, and there are lots of accidents nonetheless (usually when there’s a breakdown in the rules). My worst accident came when I failed to signal a left turn and was hit by a guy on a motorbike passing me on the left. He was crossing the double yellow to do so, but I was at fault. Predictability is key–meaning always signaling turns and stops, stopping at red lights and stop signs, etc. I don’t think a biker is smart if you’re counting on cars to yield to you. Being responsible and aware of your surroundings is a given.

      • Signaling helps in that situation, but you were obviously not aware of anything. If you knew who was behind you, you wouldn’t have gotten hit. You should always be at least semi aware of whats going on behind you. It’s like checking your blind spot. If you were turning left you should have been on the far left also and not crossing in front of traffic.

        And I never said count on the yield. In fact never count on anything or anyone on the streets. You can only count on yourself not do do something stupid like you did.

        • I was on the far left–the guy passed me by swinging into the lane of oncoming traffic. He presumably would not have done so had I signaled before beginning my turn. I had signaled to move from the right to the left of the roadway but let up my signaling as I waited for oncoming traffic to pass. Once it had passed, he went to pass me, just as I was going to turn. I knew he was there and clearly stupidly assumed that he would not pass.

          I would add though that it is nearly impossible to know everything that is going on behind you on an urban Vietnamese road (or any road) and that signaling and behaving in a predictable manner–giving those behind you the clearest information on what you will be doing–is always necessary. By extension, stopping at stop signs and red lights are a good idea, just in case your awesome sense of street awareness doesn’t measure up.

          • how are you at fault if he was driving on the wrong side of the road???

            Not signaling doesn’t put you at fault!

  • not having read the thread, i’ll say this, traveling south across 16th along those dotted lines from NH is a death trap for the oblivious. watched someone blindly cost across this section of the street this morning while a car turned north on 16th from U Street (without signaling or slowing) almost hitting a cyclist who wasn’t paying attention either.

    otherwise it’s great!

  • anon. gardener

    \so the risk of running the light is really only on the cyclist.\

    So I’m in my car, and I hit – and hurt or kill – a cyclist who has run a red light. I am going to relive that moment for the rest of my life, we both have to live with the outcome of the accident, and don’t get me started on the insurance/liability situation. If I’m a pedestrian crossing the street and you run me down – same thing. The risk really isn’t just on the cyclist. It doesn’t matter who is at fault – there are consequences for all involved.

  • I feel like I’ve taken crazy pills reading the posts from some of the “minority biker” population in this thread.

    Question: What happens with all of these new rules you all want in place when one day there are more bikers on the roads and not the one or two at a traffic signal at any given time? All of you just make a mad dash to get through a stop sign at once?

    That’s actually kind of funny to picture or imagine 🙂 10 bikers not stopping…just yielding while all of the cars waits for them to move through, sort themselves out and maybe not run into one another.

    No new rules/laws need to be made for bikers…the ones in place are just fine, obey them.

  • While were all sharing bike stories today. I’m pretty avid rider, and while no doubt not the most prolific rider in DC, I log about 200-300 miles a week. I commute almost everyday to work from Petworth to Rosslyn. Part of my commute is on the Metropolitan Branch Trail and part of that is on Ft Totten Dr, which has no shoulder but on street parking on the southbound side. One recent morning a group of 5 other cyclist were noodling along, some even riding side by side and one especially genius rider was literally in the middle of street next to the center line. This really pissed me off because we’re all just trying to get to work, whether its a cyclist or motorist. It would be great if we could all work together to share the road. So as I pedalled past this special guy I asked. “Is there a reason why you’re riding in the middle of the road?” I take that route roughly the same time coming and going everyday and I’m sure some of the same motorists see me on their commutes. My hope is by riding as close to right as I can, and signalling when I need to turn and stopping for red lights that I get some modicum of respect from the motorized commuters. But as much as the rest of us try all it takes is one a-hole to give everyone a bad name.

    Two last thoughts;

    Some states have laws that allow cyclist to go through red lights after stopping and slow and proceed through 4 ways if the traffic is clear. This would be great because as other posters have noted that stopping and starting on hills can be problematic especially if you use clipless pedals.

    And finally, why oh why must people ride down Rock Creek Parkway? There’s a frakkin path right next to it. I can understand the folks that can ride 25+ mph being on the road, but the vast majority are chubby wannabes noodling along at 15 mph.

    /rant off

  • Why does anyone care whether a cyclist runs a stop sign or a redlight? It’s not a big deal people, and drivers need to realize just how deadly their vehicles are to everyone around them. I don’t advocate for being obnoxious, but people (drivers, peds, and cyclists) are going to do whatever they want and I don’t think that making more “rules” and “laws” will fix anything.


    Scooter riders zooming in and out of the bike lanes seem to me to be the most dangerous form of alternative transportation.

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