Lots of Progress on Repaving the 15th Street Bike Lane Though Not Everyone Understands the Concept


Thanks to [email protected] for sending:

“looks like the new 15th street bike lane is working like a charm. Just installed the white dividers today.”

55 Comment

  • What the heck is that car doing in the lane!

  • WHY is that car sitting in the bike lane? I hope it’s waiting patiently for a its ticket.

  • google ‘vehicular cycling’ if you want to know why this bike lane and most other bike lanes in the city are dangerous and discriminatory. please do some heavy reading, perhaps try it out yourself on your bike, and let me know what you think.

    • have you ever been to the netherlands? that is how bike lanes should work. pretending that bicycles are appropriate to ride in the same lanes as motorized vehicles is laughable.

    • Dangerous and discriminatory? Someone’s being overly dramatic. I can’t wait until these lanes are finished so I won’t have to use the 14th Street “bike lanes” which are almost always blocked by delivery trucks and double-parked cars.

      • I’ll say it is the perfect spot to throw on my Klan robes and have a cross burning. I just don’t feel safe doing that out in the regular street

    • i’ve been riding bikes in dc for a long time, 15 years or so. bike lanes and especially this type of bike lane has made it incredibly much safer. of course its discriminatory, that’s the freaking point. you use a loaded word without having the sense that sometimes it is preferable to separate different modes of transit. bikes are neither cars nor are they pedestrians.

    • i just read the vehicular cycling manifesto. wow. what a crackpot.

    • Google “vehicular cycling criticism” if you want to know why the concept of “vehicular cycling” is dangerous and discriminatory. Please read things other than those that confirm what you already want to believe, and perhaps try bike lines out yourself on your bike (if you even have one).

  • I’m @danvilla. Took this pic from my office window across the street from WaPo. Daily people park in that lane. I thought it was hilarious though…the DDoT crew was just up the block installing the new dividers. I’m no expert but, seems to me the dividers need to be way closer together.

  • Shoulda thrown a u-lock through his back window. I almost got run over last night by some lady (you guess what state her plates were from) who decided to pull into the L St track.

    • Cause vandalism is always a good choice!

    • I’m going to bet MD. Every time someone does something stupid in a car, I check the plates and it is a MD driver. I like Maryland, but why are the drivers so bad?!?!

      • Agreed, they really are sh#t drivers. And I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Boston, and NYC/NJ, so I know my crappy drivers.
        When life is cheap, why care about safety? When you consider the laws to be something that are constantly used to screw you over, why follow them and be invested in the Rule of Law?

      • Because they probably moved here from whichever state you come from.

    • Which part of the L Street track? There are merge in spots for cars that are wanting to make a left turn onto Connecticut, 17th, etc. that forces them to cross the bike lane.

      • It was not one of those sections… because this lady went thru the plastic uprights to cross.

        • Ugh, f#cking morons. Seriously.
          That area gets so traffic clogged after work, so I imagine multiple people drive down it everyday in order to lessen their commute by 5 minutes. They really need to put some sort permanent barrier that will damage the car, if they try to access the lane.

    • That L Street track scares the heck out of me. I see drivers using it all the time. They need to put pylons at every break to prevent drivers from coming out of the alleys and using them or turning into them to make a left before they’re supposed to.

  • DDOT should put a camera in that lane, that goes off based on vehicle weight (ie not by bikes). This is ridiculous – we have a very serious safety problem with pedestrians and bikers in this city.

    • They could also put a heavy bollard at the end of the bike lane so cars can’t enter into the track. That’s probably a cheaper solution.

      • I suspect that will be a no-go because it will also keep out emergency vehicles.

        • again, look at the dutch – they have bollards which can be remotely lowered to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

          i’ve said it several times in this thread, but it really can’t be repeated enough – the dutch have totally figured this out, and if we want successful bike lanes in the city we would do well to copy their approach

          • It is not only design, it is acceptable societal norms that affect how these things work. Do you think people drive down small busy neighborhood roads in NL at the same speed they do in DC? The Netherlands system is not set up to restrict bikes, it is set up to restrict cars. The system here is the opposite, and limits the rights of bikers and pedestrians in favor of the automobile industry.

          • Sorry to be a debbie downer, but in a litigious society such as ours there’s no way the dutch solution would fly. Imagine the lawsuits when one of the bollards malfunctions and a rushing ambulance either crashes or is delayed such that the passenger/patient dies. I would love to see some way to block cars from the bike lanes because I think a segregated lane is really important, but I just don’t think the bollard idea (retractable or not) will work here.

          • you should take a cab in amsterdam if you think dutch drivers don’t drive quickly down small busy neighborhood roads.

  • Only way this will ever work is to put the bike lane at the same level as the sidewalk. We all know that if it weren’t for the curb, cars would drive on the sidewalk and ‘take the lane’ to get around traffic.

    • In Montreal, the major downtown East/West bike lane is segragated from the road by a three foot (thereabouts) curb between the road the the dual lane bike path. This is how they should have done 15th street and L street bike lanes (and soon to be M street). A cheaper alternative is to use concrete barriors, similar to what you find in a parking lot…like they do in Ottowa. Here’s a pic:

      • The easy and obvious solution is to take a look at how the bike lanes in Amsterdam are designed, and match them exactly. Generally a good rule of thumb is – when the dutch design something, you should copy it. they’re pretty solid at designing stuff.

        • Though in this case, things that work in the Netherlands might not work here because that is a country of cyclists. The number/density of cyclists is higher and everyone is at some times a cyclist (even if they are driving a car at the moment), so the culture is different. I suspect some people driving in these lanes are clueless, but most see an open lane wide enough to drive in and feel entitled to use it. In Amsterdam, you don’t have to deal with that problem when designing your bike lanes.

          • or you could design the bike lanes like the dutch do, in a manner that excludes vehicular traffic.

            the netherlands wasn’t always a “country of cyclists” fyi.

  • this stretch has been ridiculous. Everyone who I’m sure regularly commutes suddenly forgot its a bike lane. Had a guy screaming at me when he was driving down it (after being painted, no barriers) and myself and 2 other bikers wouldnt let him pass

  • It’s a design issue. The lanes are too wide. Drivers see them and think that they’re supposed to park there. I don’t think they’re being malicious, it’s just that they don’t know any better.

    • Exactly. The lanes are actually too wide. Make them smaller so cars can’t fit in them. I suspect they did this so emergency vehicles could enter the lane, but why? Other countries seem to handle their emergency services just fine with narrow bike lanes that are physically separated from the roadway.

      • they are actually too narrow for a two way cycle track.

        • Agreed. If you are in a car lane you average 4 feet on each side of protection/time for people to stop between a collision/hitting a person inside a car or other vehicle. Most bike lanes in DC are more like 6 or 8 inches, with no structural protection around the biker such as a frame..

  • Maybe part of the problem is a lack of uniformity. Those of us who don’t bike aren’t as apt to pay attention to the nuances — Wow! Bike Lane!! — that people who do bike do. I’m used to bike lanes with pained pictures of bikes on the pavement. — which I don’t see in the above picture. It would be nice if there was a uniform DC/M/VA type of bike lane with some type of clear demarcation to indicate that only bikes belong there, coupled with massive driver education and signage. Many drivers rarely drive in areas with bike lanes, and genuinely don’t know the rules (i.e. making turns that cross the lanes). Clarity helps. It’s not always about being hostile or entitled.

    • Sorry, that’s “painted” pictures,

    • you could paint the bike lanes green. you know, like the dutch do. see above.

    • This is a really good point – being more consistent in signage and other indications would be useful. Not all bike lanes will be exactly uniform (e.g. L St vs Pennsylvania Ave) but as much as DDOT can use consistent cues that would help.

    • gotryit

      Really?? You drive by there and think “I should cut into that area and drive there!”??? A line of bollards and all the lane markings are more than nuances, they’re what you should be paying attention to when driving.

      • I agree. I’d like to think that a metro area such as ours, full of highly educated people, can be smart enough navigate city streets that include bike infrastructure. However, we shouldn’t take things for granted. Seems people are not smart enough to know not to text and drive.

        I agree with Anonymous 11:17. I think that if cities all around the world are adopting biking as an alternative transportation strategy, municipal governments should invest in some sort of driver education campaign. It is a rather major change for American cities and drivers in those cities.

      • I think that ideally, streets and signage should be designed on the assumption that the person behind the wheel is an elderly, terrified person, who rarely drives, and is unfamiliar with the neighborhood. What types of cues and directives would help this person clearly know what to do — and what not to do — when trying to get from point A to point B. Yes, I realize that this doesn’t describe most drivers — but it does describe a significant chunk of us. If I’ve never seen a bike lane, or the bike lanes that I”m used to look and function one way — what cues would I need to appropriately navigate streets that have them — particularly if they look and function differently from what I’m used to? What cues make traffic circles easier for those who’ve never encountered them. And no, honking and yelling at such drivers doesn’t make it easier — it makes it much much worse, because now they have multiple things to be anxious about.

  • I work on L Street and have been witnessing drivers simply have no clue how to handle its bike lane for some time. It blows my mind that something like this is so confusing to some drivers.

    That said, I do agree that the plastic divider thingies are way too far apart from one another, cars routinely go through them to get to the turning portion of the lane way too early. It drives me batty but I suspect they just don’t realize there’s a merge section coming up closer to the intersection. I wonder if that was done on purpose because they figured people were going to drive through them anyway so maybe it lessens damage to the plastic thingies?

    What’s worse is seeing people drive past the official merge portion and turn left from the middle lane, this happens on the regular too and everyone gets away with it.

  • DC (MD and VA) need to step up education, for drivers and cyclists.

    And I do think DC needs to PAINT the cycle track/bike lanes green, increase the number of bollards on 15th/L/M, fix the zebra screw up created on PA Ave. Make it standard, so people easily learn what to do.

    Many people do not know which rule to follow (do you merge into the bike lane to turn right? (YES), do you merge into a cycle track to turn? (NO!), and the L St/M street….. you do merge thru the bike lane which then becomes a dual shared lane (as the turn lane is for cars, but the bike lane is then only separated from the turn lane by paint.).

    And of course, train the police on what the laws are, and then demand the police enforce them. Because really, that photo is abhorrent.

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