Bike Lane Blockage on 15th Street for Days


“Dear PoPville,

Attached is a picture of the 15th street bike lane at U street Sunday afternoon. I just don’t understand why it is allowed for this construction truck to block the bike lane, especially at such a busy intersection. Its dangerous. I live at nearby; I drive, I walk and I bike in the area. A few weeks back you posted a picture of a car blocking a bike lane — presumably those people would be ticketed and towed if left for days; why is this vehicle allowed to do so essentially without penalty? This willful disregard for the few safe paths is one of the reasons people who ride bikes feel unsafe in the city. And don’t get me started on the terrible light synchronization of the 15th street bike lane — you basically hit every red light riding at a medium pace…”

49 Comment

  • It’s okay everyone, the driver put cones there!

  • Accountering

    This seems like an easy one. Do the exact same thing you would do if they parked that car in the main lanes. Tow them away.

  • Assuming (risky to do, I know) they have the DDOT permit to block a travel lane (bike or car) there isn’t anything that can be done. It sucks just like when car travel lanes are shut down for cranes or other construction equipment

    • In those cases they make safety precautions to push traffic into other lanes. This doesn’t happen when bike lanes are blocked and it should, especially when traffic is forced into opposing lanes.

  • I think this was related to some sort of water or sewer emergency in the block north of U street last week.

  • yeah the timing of the 15th street lanes is really poor in the morning. If they actually rode the bike path a few minor tweaks could go a long way….especially between rhode island and mass ave. If you dont pedal like a mad man you get stucks for both lights which can add up to 3 minutes on your ride, and a whole lot of sweat!

    • Sorry folks, the lights are timed for the cars not bikes. We must obey the same rules the cars do…

      As for the blockage, clearly you can get around it on both sides, but if you see no permits anywhere and you feel the need, call 911.

      • not to nitpick but I can see you can only get around the left side. the right side is fully blocked by the extended ground stabilizer.

      • the problem is that when i left the bike lane to detour around it (going 27mph, no less — because of the aforementioned light issue — i ride fast to keep up with the lights) a driver pulled up beside me and berated me for being in the road. WTF are we supposed to do? because cars like to speed, the driver yelled at me for slowing him down from 35mph down to the speed limit, and then squeezed me over almost pushing me into the construction zone.
        drivers swerve around objective road hazards all the time, but when cyclists do it, for some reason it gets drivers’ blood pressure up. blocking the bike lane and not having adequate signage to show that there is a lane diversion is dangerous.

        • Never attempt to find logic in this type of anger from ignorant and self-righteous drivers. Take the lane, assert your right of way, ignore the screams of road ragers and, when possible, always make eye contact with their incredibly-embarrassed significant other in the passenger seat.

          • + a million for the significant others comment

          • i am fairly aggressive about asserting my ROW and taking the lane, but i’ve also been hit THREE times in the last 2 years of regular bike commuting. and no, it’s never because i was breaking the law and “deserved” it. my worst accident was a car driving the wrong way up a one way street that ended with a headon collision and me sprawled across their hood. somehow the driver still saw fit to get out of the car and yell at me to watch where i was going.
            the problem with this advice is that when so many drivers and auto-users don’t realize that cyclists have a legal right to use the roadway, the passenger may be just as aggressive as the driver in berating you. i’ve gotten into entire discussions with passengers who have rolled their windows down to yell at me to get the F*** off the road. my point was that it doesn’t matter that i can keep up with traffic, follow all the laws (yes, even stopping for red lights, except where i’m allowed to roll through like every morning on my commute through chinatown), and know what my rights are. many drivers lack the basic understanding that cyclists have a right to the roadway as well.

          • I think all car-owners and cyclists know the types of drivers you’re talking about… I believe they’re known colloquially known as “assh**es”.

    • Truth. Way faster (and safer, IMO) to ride with traffic on 9th street.

    • Yes, and when you pedal like mad betwen RI and Mass ave, you are putting the people in the 2 crosswalks across 15th (at N st) in danger.

  • The big problem is the confusion this is causing for bikers. Instead of just driving around it, they stop in the middle of the street to think about what to do next. I’ve seen multiple people stop to take a picture of it and nearly get hit by cars. Yesterday a guy ran right into it because he was looking down at his phone.

    • PDleftMtP

      I’m not thinking that people riding like idiots get chalked up to the construction company’s account – nobody made them stop in traffic to take pictures or not look where they were going. Yes, it’s inconvenient and disruptive – construction usually is.

      • Yet, I’ve never seen a construction vehicle block a lane of travel on a major street before. And the 15th Street bike lane is one of the most traveled bike lanes in the city. This is the equivalent of parking a bulldozer in a travel lane of 16th Street during rush hour….for days. That would never be permitted.

        • Too funny. That damn bulldozer ruined my (and several others) commute so much that I still have PTSD

        • Construction crews blocked lanes of traffic on North Cap near Michigan for weeks a few months ago. I wish it didn’t happen, but it does. If they don’t have the appropriate permits, call to have them towed, otherwise I’m not sure there is much you can do.

        • There’s one lane of NY Ave outbound completely blocked for construction and has been for months. Most streets near major projects are severely impacted for weeks of months at a time. We live in a growing city, deal with it. I’m sure if the construction was on teh opposite of the street, the bike lake wouldn’t be obstructed.

        • Yeah, can we agree that this is just wrong? Construction blocks lanes of traffic on major streets all the time.

    • “Yesterday a guy ran right into it because he was looking down at his phone.”
      -another biker

  • In looking at the above picture, it seems there is plenty of room for a bike to go around —even with the cones.

  • I am not trying to be an asshole in stating this, but where would you like them to park the truck for a temporary amount of time? The street so drivers can get annoyed, the sidewalk so walkers can get annoyed? Its not the trucks forever home, so can you please just make a concession for a few days and chalk it up to city living? If its still there in a month, then you have a fair right to complain. Sheesh.

    • Why not one of the parking spaces? Or one of the three north-bound travel lanes? Why take up space on on one of the city’s signature bike routes?

    • +1000000. Anytime anyone/anything dares to block a bike lane, it’s like a sign of the apocalypse. Sometimes, in a city, you have to go around things that are temporarily blocking your path. Happens for cars when someone double parks or is waiting to parallel park, or a lane is being repaired; happens to walkers when a sidewalk is under repair or people are standing in the way. It’s not the end of the world; just deal with it and stop whining about things 99% of the world wishes was their biggest problem.

  • the idea of the truck’s “forever home” is cracking me up.

  • I think this vehicle is no longer there. Biked by this morning and don’t remember seeing it.

    Also, the outrage about this is totally unfounded. There was always plenty of room to go around the tractor.

    I for one was just impressed at how quickly DC water came out to make repairs. On Friday it looked like multiple houses were flooded and they replaced a huge pipe. Think about your poor neighbors. It could have been your house! Did the tractor REALLY inconvenience you that much??

  • This is why I bike to work on 16th street
    besides wanting to go FAST

  • The comment “…you basically hit every red light riding at a medium pace…” made me giggle out loud. I have yet to see a biker stop for a red light UNLESS there was traffic coming from the cross street. Bikers just go through red lights at will, and we all know that’s true!!! Whatever happened to the police’s plan to stop and ticket bikers who were breaking the law??

    • you have yet to see a biker stop for a red light unless there was traffic coming? Well let’s fix that. Enjoy.

      • Serious question from someone who bikes to work every day. Yes, the red lights are annoying, but I’m not sure I see what’s wrong with having to stop at 8 lights. What number would be acceptable? Cars and pedestrians have to stop too on various times.

        Is it inconvenient? Sure. Are there better ways? Probably. It is somehow unusable? Absolutely not. I don’t get the blanket statements here that it is somehow a diminished route because you have to stop at lights. The track was built to separate bikes from traffic and for safety, not for speed. The complaining reminds me of the cabs who said 15th St was ruined with the cycle track came in.

        • I think the 15th cycletrack is fantastic. I just don’t use it heading Southbound because of the light timing. You’ll hit a majority of the lights consistently, which will double your travel time over that stretch versus taking the adjacent streets. I certainly don’t expect them to change it as 15th street is one of the smoothest northbound vehicle travel lanes in that part of town. Some riders are okay with and use it, some aren’t and head elsewhere. If you’re used to riding around town outside of protected bike lanes either in line with traffic or along side it in a bike lane, then hopping over for a few blocks into a protected lane where the flow moves much slower seems pointless. I don’t mean to complain about it, that’s just the way it is.

          • Makes sense. Cool video, and nice counter point.

          • figby

            I live on the 15th St “signature” “cycletrack” and I have to say the users have become more more considerate, safe and law-abiding (including respectful of pedestrians) in the past year or so.

        • I suppose it’s a matter of individual taste/patience. Snarky comments above not withstanding, I do stop at lights. And on that cycletrack I get stopped at them all. It’s too many for me, so I take other routes, even icky bumpy hazardous 14th Street. But the track is obviously still well used, so that’s good. So I am at least one biker detoured by the light timing, diminishing the value of the route to me. (Also, I’m never more tempted to run a light I shouldn’t after getting stopped just as the light is turning at the fifth block in a row). I’m not one of the ones “complaining” above, but I do think a little tweaking could make the route better.

    • Then you haven’t watched 15th st bike lane traffic during commuting time. But thanks for your uninformed opinion.

  • Oh for heaven’s sake – everyone has to deal with commuting hassles. Drivers, Metro riders, walkers, cyclists… Please stop making us look like the Hilariously Entitled Cyclist from Portlandia.
    This is a work vehicle, not a delivery truck.

    • While I sort of agree, the cycle track is a little different because going around an obstruction like this requires traveling against traffic (bike or car) which is really undesirable, unlike a regular bike lane obstruction where you just merge into the next lane. And there are like four regular traffic lanes…

    • it’s forcing traffic into a one way lane in the opposite direction. Yes we can all survive, but for safety they should be required to make a precaution to redirect bike traffic around the affected area.

  • Try contacting Kishan Putta. Back when I lived near 15th he as the ANC commissioner in charge of the 15th St bike lane and was able to get it upgraded recently. He should be findable as he’s running for a citywide CM position.

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