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DC’s Plan For More Protected Bike Lanes

by Shilpi Paul

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On Tuesday afternoon, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) invited reporters, bloggers and interested bicycle enthusiasts to hear more about DC’s push to add safer bicycle lanes in the city. Representatives from DDOT also shared updates regarding new bicycle lanes in the works on L Street and M Street NW.

DowntownDC BID’s Executive Director Rich Bradley noted that as DC’s density grows and the commercial district sees a “compression of space,” with more workers filling less square footage, the city will need to build up public transportation and bike infrastructure, including lanes and bike parking.

Martha Roskowski, Project Director with the Green Lane Project, said that many people are reluctant to hit the road without a feeling of protection.

“The number one reason people don’t ride bikes is safety,” said Roskowski. “So the question is, how do you make people feel safe?”

Protected bike lanes are one solution. Shielded by a barrier of some sort, like posts, parked cars or a curb, protected bike lanes feel safer, and are safer, according to a recent study. In DC, they can be found on 15th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue. Other solutions include routing bike lanes onto quiet, residential streets, ensuring that they are connected in a logical way, and painting them a color to deter cars from driving on them.

DDOT has found that these sorts of bicycle infrastructure improvements, perhaps unsurprisingly, increase bike usage; since 15th Street’s protected track was installed in October 2009, the number of bicyclists in the area has grown by 272 percent. Additionally, car speeding has gone down on the street.

As DDOT constructs more lanes, they are also getting better at analyzing bike behavior. They found, for example, that almost half of bikers don’t follow traffic signals like red lights and stop signs. Rather than fight bikers on their behavior, DDOT is exploring the idea of perhaps using yield signs or flashing lights to make the streets safer for both bikers and drivers.

As for when bicyclists around the city will see those new lanes mentioned above, the L Street option is currently under construction and should be ready relatively soon, and the M Street lane may be operational by next summer.

See other articles related to: green lane project, ddot, biking, bicycle lanes

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcs_plan_for_more_protected_bike_lanes/6201

14 Comments

  1. Frank said at 1:29 pm on Wednesday October 24, 2012:

    Copenhagen offers more protection to its bicyclists by creating a curb lane protected by an additional curb between the cars and the bicycles.  Bikers there also stop at lights and stop signs.

    In DC, my biggest pet peeve from bikers is them both speeding through stop signs assuming that cars will avoid them and going the GNORW way on a one way road.  Somehow they think bicyclists are exempt from one-way traffic rules. 

    I can’t tell you how many times I have turned onto a one-way road and almost turned directly into a biker.  Smushed bikers make ugly street art.  I say this loving biking myself.  Bikers please be aware of your surroundings!

  1. A said at 2:44 pm on Wednesday October 24, 2012:

    As both a regular cyclist and driver in the streets of Washington, I must agree with Frank.  It is unbelievable how reckless so many cyclists are.  Recent example: cyclist blowing through a red light while the cyclest was wearing headphones and did not even glance in the direction of the uncoming traffic.

    Even in the streets of NYC you see some crazy cycling action, but usually there it is more hard core cyclists that are paying attention.  I see so many Cap Bikeshre cyclists crusing without a helmet, against traffic, drifting through lanes as if they are on some traffic free country road in Nebraska.

    I thoroughly enjoyed biking in the Netherlands, in both Amsterdam and the countryside, where there seemed to be a lot more common sense on the part of cyclists (and observed the same in Denmark).  So, though it’s great to create infrastructure to encourage biking like in those countries, the cyclsists will also need to be educated.

  1. A said at 2:46 pm on Wednesday October 24, 2012:

    And I would like to add, there is one thing to create the bike lanes and another as to whether they will be used.  On 15th Street there are a number of cyclists that ignore the bike lanes and just joint the automobile traffic flow.  That may be, in part, because it’s getting fairly congested in the bike lanes.

  1. ACyclistinTheSuburbs said at 9:22 am on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    “Bikers there also stop at lights and stop signs.”

    I am guessing because the cycle tracks there have their own lights, and light cycles at intersections work for cyclists - plus I think many bike ways avoid intersections altogether.

    Cyclists generally value their lives and safety - they rarely “blow through” anything, in my experience as both a cyclist and as a driver.  Many will treat a stop sign as a yield sign - the so called Idaho stop, which is legal in Idaho, because it makes sense - and can be safer.  A smaller, but still large number, will treat a red light as a stop sign.  If red lights were timed for bike traffic, drives might have a better understanding of why some cyclists do that. 

    Of course lots of drivers fail to come to a full stop at stop signs - and engage in other violations, like speeding, failing to signal turns, etc.

  1. ACyclistInTheSuburbs said at 9:26 am on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    “I see so many Cap Bikeshre cyclists crusing without a helmet”

    its odd that you focus on that, yet want DC cyclists to cycle more like folks in the Netherlands, where helmet use is much less widespread.

  1. ACyclistInTheCity said at 9:29 am on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    “And I would like to add, there is one thing to create the bike lanes and another as to whether they will be used.  On 15th Street there are a number of cyclists that ignore the bike lanes and just joint the automobile traffic flow.  That may be, in part, because it’s getting fairly congested in the bike lanes. “

    No one goes there, its too crowded?

    Naturally some fast cyclists will prefer the road - its not easy to pass on the cycle track, especially with bikes coming in the other direction - and of course they still legally have the right to bike in the travel lanes.  But for the large numbers of slower, less experienced, less confident cyclists, the cycle tracks are a great thing.  I cycled on 15th street the other day, and it added to my desire to move to DC. I am sure the L and M tracks will be heavily used, and will add to the desirability of DC as a place to live.

  1. TR said at 12:44 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    I both drive and bike. I find an unusually high number of bikers acting like daredevils on the streets.  They need to be more cautious at intersections.  They do not always have the right if way.  They need to stop at 4 way stops and take their turn. They want to act like both a car and a pedestrian. They can’t be both. I is becoming more difficult to drive with bikes darting out of intersections and weaving through traffic. There needs to be some rules. For now - it appears to be “anything goes”. And if there is a bike lane, a bike should not be allowed in traffic. This goes for Rock Creek Parkway too where some bikers don’t want to use the bike trail.

  1. ACyclistInTheSuburbs said at 1:50 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    wow some very similar comments under different handles.

    Once again, cyclists have a huge interest in self preservation - they mostly don’t do things that risk their lives. Full stopping at a 4 way stop CAN be both problematic and unnecessary for cyclists (and is a rule violated by cars quite often). And they are neither cars nor pedestrians - they are vehicles, but with specific charecteristics (like they wobble and fall at very low speeds). 

    And the presence of a bike lane does not mean bikes should be excluded from the main travel lanes for many reasons.

  1. A said at 3:20 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    Wow, ACyclistInTheSuburbs, you really cannot believe that maybe more than one person hold similar views about cyclists on the roads of DC?  I know nothing of and have nothing to do with TR.  I can, however, echo his/her sentiment about “becoming more difficult to drive”.  It is at least weekly that I have to do some unexpected emergency action in my car to avoid cyclists, most often having to brake when turning into a one way street to have a cyclist coming right at me!  And I’ll admit I’ve done the same thing as a cyclist, but recognizing, in part, from encountering the same behavior while I’m driving, I’ve stopped doing so.  I’m surprised there is really any “controversy” over the view that cyclists should also follow rules of the road, just as drivers should too (like stop at cross walks for pedestrians, no blowing through red arrows thinking it is optional, not crowding cyclists when the cycilsts have right to ride in a particular lane, etc.).

  1. wylie coyote said at 4:16 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    I do the “Idaho stop” at stop signs mentioned above. As a cyclist, I do see many cyclists using stop signs as yield signs. I have rarely seen a cyclist blow through a red light when there is “imminent” oncoming traffic. I have seen them do it when oncoming traffic is more than half a block away. I have never seen a near miss between a bike and a car, nor have I ever seen a car do “emergency evasive manuevering”. I bike at rush hour, through downtown.

  1. ACyclistInTheSuburbs said at 4:40 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    well first off, since the new cycle track would clearly indicate the direction to cycle, and it would be difficult to salmon in it anyway, Im not sure why your issue is even relevant here.  I dont understand, are we supposed to NOT build cycle tracks cause some people salmon on one way streets?  I see autos doing incorrect things all the time - should we not build highways because of that? and lots of peds jaywalk - often quite dangerously - should we stop building sidewalks? 

    I do follow the rules of the road, but sometimes its actually dangerous for cyclists to do so, since those rules are not designed with cyclists in mind. If you want more details I suggest looking into a cyclists forum.

  1. ACyclistinTheSuburbs said at 4:42 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    “you really cannot believe that maybe more than one person hold similar views about cyclists on the roads of DC? :

    I never said there couldnt be. I merely noted the similarity of the comments.

    Now, can you explain to me whether when you were in the Netherlands, you saw a lot of folks wearing helmets? 

    There ARE a lot of folks with an agenda against accommodating bicycles.

  1. A said at 5:07 pm on Thursday October 25, 2012:

    In the Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam, most people are not wearing helmets, i.e., helmets are the exception.

    What I did see, however, are most cyclists riding in a more sensible way compared to many things I witness in DC.

    It really is, though, a difficult comparison because “downtown” automobile traffic in Amsterdam and Copengagen is nothing like in DC with the the many aggresively driven buses, trucks, and automobiles.  Also, in the Netherlands there appears be a better balance or respect for each user of the paved areas - pedestrians, cyclists, and cars seem to respect each others rights on the roads.  Also, in many areas of the Netherlands there are broad well paved bike paths (more like mini-roads with bike traffic lights, etc.).

    I’m glad to see the surge of cycling in DC and would be delighted if DC became more like other major cycling cities, even taking away some entire vehicle lanes to dedicate to cyclists.  Whatever the solution is, both cars and bicycles need to keep in mind rules and common sense.

  1. Alonzo said at 3:38 pm on Friday October 26, 2012:

    There is no comparison between the Netherlands and some of the Scandinavian countries in terms of the biking infrastructure in respect to Washington D.C. However, I have visited and the biking infrastructure has been in place for many decades.  I am a Washingtonian, born and raised here.

    I have been riding a bike on the major streets/avenues of D.C. since I was a teenager.  The first rule of biking in the street is extreme vigilance on the bikers part for their own safety.  Motorist don’t have you in mind, well not really.  They’re focused on the other drivers out there.  That’s just a fact of life.  Yes, the mentality in the city has to change towards cyclist, no question, but until then one has to understand the psychology.  If you think that you can ride in the street in D.C. as if you’re on a bike path forget it you will be severely hurt or even killed. No question. Unfortunately, It has already happened to quite a few cyclist. All of them were new comers to the city with an entitlement psychology in reference to the road as a biker. Wrong, way to think here!

    Biking in the street is even more interactive than driving a car. You have to be aware of more activity around you.  For instance, you need to know what’s happening in front of you half a block before you even reach that point. You need to know what’s next to you on your left and right side. You need to know what’s directly behind. You need to be aware of car doors suddenly opening and even anticipating an opening and how to manuever to avoid it.

    (When I ride beside parked cars I am always looking ahead at the drivers side windows to see if anyone is sitting in the cars. It’s a very effective technique and I have avoided many car doors that have suddenly opened).

    The vigilance above should be practiced for your entire commute until it becomes second nature in your thinking.  It doesn’t sound fun and even sounds a bit like work, but it is work that will keep you 99% uninjured or worse…

    For those of you whom ride on the street with your ears plugged. Stop it… You are playing a dangerous game. Your hearing is one of the five senses that you need to manuever in everyday life, effectively. Don’t disable your ears while riding a bike.  Sound advice…

    D.C. biking infrastructure is improving, but it will take years for pedestrians, motorists, and wreckless bikers to adapt to it. 

    It will take decades to match the bike culture of Amsterdam/Belgium or Denmark. For instance at the train station in Amsterdam there’s a parking lot for bikes. There were literally hundreds of bikes parked.  We are a long way from that…

    Alonzo
    BLS

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