Greater Greater Washington

Striping will start soon for contraflow bike lanes on G and I Streets NE

Now that spring is around the corner, DC is getting ready to install new bike lanes around H Street NE. Signs have started going up on G and I Streets NE for bicycles to legally travel in both directions on each street.


DDOT construction drawings for I NE at 7th.

For cars, I Street remains one-way eastbound, while G Street is one-way westbound. According to an email from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT)'s Mike Goodno, the agency will start striping the lanes in the first "one to two week opening of warm weather and clean pavement."


Signs for the contraflow bike line on G NE. Photo by the author.

DDOT considered several options to safely allow legal two-way bicycle traffic on G and I Streets NE, some of which would have changed parking to diagonal or converted both streets to two-way operation for both cars and bicycles.

They chose an option to place the contraflow lane between parked cars and the primary traffic lane, with parallel parking remaining on both sides of the street. ANCs 6A and 6C supported this choice as well.

You can download the full 95% design drawings for G Street and I Street.

Where else can this work?

While this project will create the city's longest stretches of such contraflow lanes, there are a few other small sections of contraflow bike lanes combined with sharrows in one-way DC streets, such as the 200 block of R NE near the Metropolitan Branch Trail and on New Hampshire Avenue near U Street NW.

This particular configuration is most practical at locations where there is room for a single bike lane, but the street has light enough car and truck traffic that sharrows would work well in the main travel direction. Are there other locations in DC where this method would be successful?

Tony Goodman is an ANC Commissioner for 6C06 in Near Northeast/NoMA and member of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a Construction Project Manager with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and has lived in Washington, DC since 2002. 

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Awesome! My girlfriend lives right by here and this would be a great alternative to biking on H Street when traffic gets dicey.

Contraflow bikelanes like these would work wonders on Woodley Place, NW in Woodley Park. Currently, Woodley Place from Calvert to Woodley Road is one way northbound, while Woodley Place from Woodley Road to Cathedral Avenue is one way southbound, to prevent cut-through traffic on Connecticut Avenue.

Woodley Place is an attractive alternative to busy and congested Connecticut Avenue and is the route that I, along with a lot of other bikers, take to avoid the mess on Connecticut during rush. DDOT considered putting in some contraflow bike lanes for both segments of the street but when ANC3C had a discussion about them (along with a climbing lane on Cathedral from Rock Creek Park), opponents outnumbered supporters by like 5 to 1, even though the proposal called for NO loss of parking spots or anything :(

I really hope DDOT is still planning to put in these lanes up in Woodley but I haven't heard anything about it since. Anyone got any information about them?

by Gregory on Feb 25, 2014 2:20 pm • linkreport

I think Columbia at 16th east where it goes from bidirectional lanes with bike lanes to one way with nothing could use this.

by BTA on Feb 25, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

Hey....my girlfriend lives right by there too...Why that two-timing little floozy!

by David C on Feb 25, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

To follow on the discussion about Woodley Place NW, on the other side of the Ellington Bridge there is a similar opportunity, on Lanier Place NW and Argonne Place NW. Similar situation, with bikes having a big safety incentive to avoid Columbia Road, and one way streets (mostly) that have relatively light traffic loads.

Another area near the Ellington Bridge is the short one way southbound stretch of Biltmore Street NW, which a lot of cyclists use to get to the bridge from Columbia Road, but to avoid the 18th/Columbia intersection or the impossible left from Cliffboune Place NW onto Calvert Street NW.

by DCJoe on Feb 25, 2014 5:28 pm • linkreport

I've often thought that traffic in Georgetown would flow better if the narrow two-way streets were converted to one-ways with counterflow bike lanes. Anyone who has driven or biked through there has had to wait a ridiculous amount of time for two cars to squeeze past each other. Why not remove the conflict, and devote the extra 80% of a car lane width to a bike lane?

by jmarcusse on Feb 25, 2014 6:03 pm • linkreport

G Street had many serious potholes and other poor pavement. One hopes a resurfacing will accompany these new lanes.

by Mikeindc on Feb 25, 2014 8:53 pm • linkreport

I've said it before and I'll say it again: 17th Street in Dupont needs these lanes.

When it was redone a few years ago, residents opposed making it two-way saying that trucks park there to load and unload and would block one direction. But now it has a bike lane alongside 2 lanes of traffic that don't move very fast since there are stop signs every other block.

Meanwhile, people who want to get from farther down 17th to shops here, the CaBi station at the Safeway, etc. either have to take 16th which is harrowing, go pretty far out of the way to 18th and perhaps use part of busy Connecticut or Massachusetts, or ride the wrong way in the bike lane or sidewalk. A lot of people just ride the wrong way in the bike lane because it's not that busy and southbound riders can just move over to one of the travel lanes.

It would work much better to have a contraflow lane going northbound and sharrows heading south.

by David Alpert on Feb 25, 2014 11:55 pm • linkreport

I think somebody 'round here is as crazy as hell -- and I don't believe its me. I hope this works. It scares me. Who's gonna watch out for the senior citizens who've been owning homes in the neighborhood for 70 years? They have a difficult time crossing at 6th and G as it is (going west on G Street). "Everybody talking 'bout heaven ain't going there."

by bullfrogcorner on Feb 26, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

I'm sure the drivers will, they always be counted on to keep a watchful eye for pedestrians. But the cyclists, what incentive - other than avoiding hurting themselves and others - do they have to avoid collisions? I agree, it is scary to move people out of 2000 lb vehicles that regularly go up to 40mph on neighborhood streets and instead get them on smaller vehicles going much slower.

by David C on Feb 26, 2014 9:48 am • linkreport

What does this have to do with senior citizens? If they are at a crosswalk (or otherwise in the road) people will need to stop for them.

by BTA on Feb 26, 2014 9:49 am • linkreport

instead get them on smaller vehicles going much slower. and can swerve out of the way much easier and have a greater field of vision.

by drumz on Feb 26, 2014 10:00 am • linkreport

I can't stress the importance of these lanes enough. As Gregory, David C, David Alpert, and others have pointed out, the application for this type of configuration is very broad, and is the next step for making complete streets in our neighborhoods. You can look at almost any existing bike lanes on one-way streets and see how flipping the lane to the other side and making it contraflow, along with adding a sharrow in the vehicular direction of travel would do wonders for bike mobility and traffic calming.

I live on 14th St. NE, and using this paradigm for the pairs of 14th & 15th NE/SE, 4th & 6th NE/SE, and C & D NE would really open up the possibilities for safer cycling without taking up any additional roadway space.

DDOT is really on the right track with this plan.

by Will Handsfield on Feb 26, 2014 10:57 am • linkreport

Other locations where a contraflow lane would be helpful and feasible:

T St NW(between Rhode Island Ave and North Capitol)
Biltmore Ave NW(between Calvert St and Columbia Rd)
11th St NW(between Otis Pl and Spring Rd)

by Tyler on Feb 26, 2014 11:01 am • linkreport

Am I misunderstanding or will I have to look for bicycles going in the "wrong" direction as well as motor vehicles going "one way"? Yeah, somebody 'round here is crazy as hell. Is that what contraflow means?

by bullfrogcorner on Feb 26, 2014 11:04 am • linkreport

There are already contraflow lanes in DC. 15th Street and New Hampshire Avenue notably. They'll have their own lane so you shouldn't have a problem at all. Just don't drive in the bike lane.

by drumz on Feb 26, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

It's essentially the same as a two way street. Most of us cross them daily. I fail to see how this is a greater burden.

by BTA on Feb 26, 2014 11:11 am • linkreport

@Will Handsfield using this paradigm for...4th & 6th NE/SE

I disagree about this pair in particular. The reason that the contraflow lanes are important on G and I NE is because DDOT is trying to strongly discourage people from biking on H St, which has dangerous streetcar tracks and significantly more traffic. 4th St and 6th St, on the other hand, are the major southbound and northbound streets in their vicinity, respectively. I bike on each of them 5+ times every week and frequently car traffic is so backed up that I pass a dozen or two vehicles while I sail by in the bike lane. If you changed those lanes to contraflow lanes, you would still have bikes using them in the direction of traffic flow because bikers don't want to sit in traffic behind cars. So many salmoners, in other words. Plus what happens when the contraflow lanes need to cross Stanton Park?

The 4th St and 6th St bike lanes are not broken; please please please do not try to "fix" them.

by Ampersand on Feb 26, 2014 11:42 am • linkreport

19th Street NE between Benning Road and Stadium-Armory, or even all the way down to Barney Circle. There is a major lack of bike facilities east of 15th Street NE, including only one Capital Bikeshare station (at Stadium-Armory) despite quite a bit of bicycle traffic through Barney Circle, Kingman Park, and Rosedale. Bike lanes would probably also do well to slow down automobile traffic through those areas.

by Dave Murphy on Feb 26, 2014 12:08 pm • linkreport

It's essentially the same as a two way street.

This. For anyone complaining about "confusion," it is a two-way street with a bike lane instead of a regular-width lane. That is it.

by MLD on Feb 26, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

i think G Street is going to continue to be a one way street with a two way bike line...

i think you're confused (or maybe its me?).

by bullfrogcorner on Feb 26, 2014 12:47 pm • linkreport

Uhh... Did they talk to any of the actual residents who live on I or G street? We live on I street. Parking is a nightmare, now we have to look both ways when trying to park our car on the street?! If you've looked at the size of the bike lane, it's enough for 1 cyclist at a time.... so you're now encouraging either bike on bike collisions or bikes to veer into on-coming traffic because the road is 1-way(if they are going against the flow of traffic).

Why would it have been so hard to have the bike lane going in the same direction as traffic?

As someone who bikes and LIVES in this area.... I street IS already a primary road for bicyclists. I rarely see anyone actually biking on H street. Why? Because it's a bad idea!

Great to add bike lanes, but making them 2-way on a 1-way street is not safe especially as parking is still allowed on BOTH sides of the street.

I've already seen motorcycles go the wrong-way on a one-way street, let's see how long before cars start going the wrong way thanks to this.

Thanks for asking residents about this DC!!!

by Ilivehere on Apr 15, 2014 9:43 am • linkreport

Did they talk to any of the actual residents who live on I or G street?

yes.

"the transportation committees of both Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) along H Street supported a plan to let cyclists ride in both directions on G and I Streets, while keeping car traffic one-way."

If you've looked at the size of the bike lane, it's enough for 1 cyclist at a time.... so you're now encouraging either bike on bike collisions or bikes to veer into on-coming traffic because the road is 1-way(if they are going against the flow of traffic).

The bike lane is ONLY for cyclists going against traffic. Those going with traffic should ride in the all-traffic lane.

Why would it have been so hard to have the bike lane going in the same direction as traffic?

It would have been easy, but it would not have accomplished the goals of the project, which was to make these streets bi-directional for cyclists.

by David C on Apr 15, 2014 10:01 am • linkreport

I live on I street and think it's an absolutely terrible idea. Every single day now, I see cars turning the wrong way off of number streets because they see the double yellow line and assume the street is now two-way. Cars barely fit in the car lane. It's not safe.

by zfp on Apr 15, 2014 10:39 am • linkreport

I live half a block of I st and love the new lanes. I have seen many bikers using them and no new car related problems. In addition I haven't heard any of my neighbors (many of whom bike) complain.

by h st ll on Apr 15, 2014 10:44 am • linkreport

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