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“What’s worse is that there are generally a lot of bicyclists in the First Street lane, and I worry eventually someone will get hit.”

by Prince Of Petworth May 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm 15 Comments

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to alert you to a potential traffic issue I’ve been noticing more than more. There’s a very weird intersection around the southwest corner of Union Station, where the cabs/cars/buses that have dropped off people in the front come out to either Mass Ave (turning left or right) or going straight down E Street. If you look at the map, though, there’s also a small lane that comes out of First Street NE. The traffic lights are not well angled, so when the Union Station lane gets the red light, the First Street lane gets green, but I’ve seen several times cars (cabs in particular) from Union Station mistaking the second green as theirs, and driving out. What’s worse is that there are generally a lot of bicyclists in the First Street lane, and I worry eventually someone will get hit.”

  • above7-11

    The entire redesign of Columbus circle has been an epic disaster. Whoever designed and approved the multiple two lane roads with islands separating them clearly had no idea what they were doing! The traffic back up is always epic.

    • QBus

      I completely agree. The traffic engineer(s) who designed that clusterf##k should be fired. After a year of construction and millions of $$$ or whatever it took it’s arguably WORSE than before. Consequently, I typically direct those I am picking up from Union Station to a street corner nearby (which is, of course, exactly what they don’t want happening, traffic-wise).

    • Anon

      I live in Capitol Hill and can’t take Uber Pool if I’m headed west because there’s good chance someone will request a pickup from Union Station and we’ll be stuck there for 20 minutes.

      • Anonymous

        THIS. I’ve experienced the same situation at least 3 times and I no longer take Uber Pool from my house for this exact reason.

  • siz

    yeah, this is a terribly designed circle for basically all modes of transportation. you should send an email to lief dormsjo

  • ERD

    For bus users travelling east, they put the 96, 97, D6, D8 and X8 all at the same stop. It takes forever for the buses to pull away. To get to the stop from Union Station, pedestrians only have about 20 second to cross 6 lanes of traffic plus a median.

    The bike lanes around the Circle are some of the thinnest, and being on a curve When a bus passes, it scares the crap out of me. I used to have a Bikestation membership, but getting around the circle is a disaster. Was glad that bikeshare is on the other side of the station.

  • Gary

    I personally fear this circle (even while driving sometimes). So, I always ride one of the backroads that avoids this circle. Even driving I’ve seen this problem where E street and the circle leaving union seem to have the green at the same time. The road one over towards the capitol has no bike lane but is a lot less traveled and feels a lot safer. I’m one of those cautious bike riders who’d rather live then worry about if my rights as a bike rider are being infringed upon.

  • Mo

    This area is a s*&^show. I ride my bike up Mass Ave going eastbound around Columbus Circle most days. There are multiple bus lines trying to get around each other; pedestrians j-walking or generally unsure of who’s turn it is; and cabs making questionable/stupid maneuvers in and around; and MD drivers in DC being aggressive. Even without the west side nutty intersection, the Circle is a jarring bike experience most days. In definite need of a re-do!

  • endgewoodEric

    I just witnessed this last week!

    I used to be at this intersection every other day when I rode to work, and never saw this happen. But its been about a year now and yeah, just saw it last week. It was a scary occurrence.

    Could it be that the lights have been slightly tuned and so the Union Station lane sees the light more directly now?

    • Zvuv

      Now that you say this, I think maybe you’re right, maybe someone has shifted the street lights. I’ve noticed a few pedestrian lights being turned a quarter-way on smaller streets in Capitol Hill. I wonder if someone does that on purpose???

      Because yes, I’ve been commuting here for a long while, and I’ve only started seeing this issue recently.

      • Anonymous

        “I wonder if someone does that on purpose???”
        I guess it’s possible that someone is doing it on purpose but the usual explanation I’ve heard for this is that trucks hit them when they cut corners too closely. Signals that are not facing the right way is definitely the type of thing that you should report to 311 (or directly to the relevant entity, is it DDOT?) immediately.

        • Zvuv

          That makes sense, I hadn’t considered that. I’ll be passing by there today, I’ll take a look to see if the lights are in fact pivoted, and if so, will call 311.

          • JohnH

            Reporting this stuff to DDOT has actually been helpful. They respond to everything and I’ve had luck getting traffic lanes repainted, crosswalks repainted, etc.

          • Zvuv

            FWIW, the lights were correctly angled, so that’s not the issue.

  • Effie

    What’s worse is when all the cab drivers get in line behind each other and block the lane oncoming traffic, then it becomes a complete standstill.


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