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