Dear PoPville – Why are new Painted Bike Lanes Marked only for 30 Feet?

Dear PoPville,

I’ve been noticing new bike lane markings around the city. The attached picture (above) is looking East on Columbia Road from the intersection of 18th Street, NW, and shows a neat new green bike lane marking. I like them. As a car driver, I find these marking much more useful in identifying bike lanes from my vehicle.

My questions: Why is the lane marked only up about 30 feet, or will the lanes be only close to intersections? Will all lanes be marked like this throughout the city? What are the stripes for at the beginning of the other end of the marking?

20 Comment

  • Greater Greater Washington and Beyond DC have talked about this:

    The main purpose of the green paint is to increase visibility at conflict points between cars and bike lanes, so painting the crossover point along the cycle track is a natural idea. It looks like DDOT will use the same hatching pattern they use at R and Connecticut, which seems to work well.

    • Indeed. And they aren’t painted in other areas for a simple reason: paint is expensive. I have that explanation from someone who knows.

      • [citation needed]

        Paint is paint, it’s not some super high-tech space material. If the city can’t afford to paint the roads we’re in trouble.

        • Paint isn’t just paint when it’s on a road. It needs to not be slippery when wet so everyone on a bike doesn’t wipe out when they’re on it. It’s not the same stuff you paint your living room with.

        • spoken like a true asshole who’s never actually had to do anything like this, but still thinks he knows everything about it.

  • I also LOVE the green painted bike lanes as both a cyclist and driver. Apparently, the green paint is expensive and so the city is targeting dangerous intersections. Hopefully, they’ll get positive feedback and set aside some more funds for it.

  • The striping is in what’s known as the “mixing zone” where bikes and cars need to cross.

  • Cool, can we paint the sidewalks green where there is a higher likelihood of being mugged?

  • I wonder if they plan to do this at the intersection of 5th street and Harvard (top of the McMillan reservoir) where the bike lane (and most bicycles) jog from the right side of the road, hugging the reservoir to the left side of the road as 5th street angles east to become Michigan and the bike lane moves to the left to guide bicycle traffic up Warder street.

    Lots of conflict between bicycles and very high speed traffic there, and the only place in DC where someone has intentionally tried to hit me with their vehicle (because they were incensed that I would be “outside of” the bicycle lane).

    • Give it some time. Plenty of people will intentionally try to drive into you, or spit on you, or slam on their brakes once they’re past you, or curse you out, or drive 3 feet from your rear tire or plain just not pay attention and try to turn into you.

      • Well, I’ve been biking in DC daily for more than 8 years so either I’ve been very lucky or I’m in for a bad few months to come 🙂

        I mean yeah people have intentionally braked in front of me plenty and thrown things out their windows at me. But intentionally try to hit me with their vehicle? Not a very common occurrence for me.

  • I hope they paint the westbound lane on New York Avenue at 11th where cars turn right o go on I Street instead of New York. That thing is a 2-lanes-of-traffic-ignoring-the-bike-lane deathtrap!

    • a better question to ask would be why is there a bike line there at all?

      i road NY Ave all the time before there was a bike lane. now that there is a bike lane, I am forced into it, and it is not as safe as the shared road, particularly not as safe as the left lane in this particular strip.

      if you haven’t been to this corner during morning rush hour, you aren’t going to understand. But if you have, and you still think bike lanes are generally a good idea, then you should go stand out there for a minute and reconsider how effective a helmet or a white line on the pavement is.

  • We are finally moving towards true European-style bike lanes. Now get them off the damn roads and we’ll be all set.

    • in europe they make the cars get off the roads so the people can walk and bike on them, and have their fair share in the community space. Everyone here gets a sore deal as soon as they step out of an automobile.

  • I find the green paint helps identify the mixing zone and what people are supposed to do. We so often times have cars turning across bike lanes when they are supposed to merge. And we have cyclists riding up on the right side of cars, even when they’re turning right, because there is this mindset that bikes need to ride to as far right as possible. Green paint here helps everybody know what to do.

    The L Street cycletrack being built right now will have mixing zones and painted green bike lanes as it approaches the intersection just like this.

    • I thought that they had decided not to install this cycle track because the 15th street track has proven that such systems create a far more dangerous environment than what exists in standard roadsharing. it isn’t safe to travel 30 mph in a vaccum.

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