Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Is there really a problem with the 15th Street bike lane?

DC Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) claimed this morning that the 15th Street bike lane is "not working" because of the impact on drivers from the new left turn signals.


Photo by Eric Gilliland on Flickr.

Evans generally emphasized that he supports bike lanes and committed to keeping the lane in place, but criticized the new, two-way version of the 15th Street lane. He said that the turn restrictions have further narrowed 15th for most drivers, and that the delays in turning make drivers miss green lights on adjacent streets.

When DDOT converted the lane to two-way, it added left turn signals at the intersections where cars can turn left from 15th across the bike lane. Formerly, cars could turn left or right off 15th anytime when they have the green light. Now, during most of the green phase, left-turning drivers have a red arrow; they can then turn at the end of the green phase just before cross traffic gets the green.

Without this, drivers would turn left and many would not look for a cyclist traveling in the bike lane in the same direction. This restriction is an important step to make the two-way lane safe, and given that people haven't been getting hit, it seems to achieve this end.

However, it also frustrates drivers. On Twitter, Tom Sherwood said that he's heard a lot of complaints about "long waits" for these lights. TwistedTidings replied, "It's also annoying when drivers make those turns far too close to crossing pedestrians. City living means annoyance."

Evans alleged that bicycle advocates are reluctant to look into problems with the lane because they don't want to open up the possibility of shrinking or eliminating the lane. People "don't want to give an inch when [they] get an inch," he said.

Is that true, or is this just an issue of drivers being furious at losing even the smallest amount of privilege? Traffic still moves fine on 15th, though it's become less of a speedway. DDOT modified the lane to reduce the number of bollards, for instance, based on resident comments that the bollards were unsightly.

Or does the lane go too far to inconvenience drivers for little bicycle benefit? DDOT had a lot of public meetings before creating the lane's first version, though they went ahead with this new iteration based on professional judgment and very little public discourse. Some bike advocates love the two-way option, while others don't like it.

Personally, I rode a bicycle and drove on the street in both iterations. Riding in the rightmost sharrow lane on 15th when the cycle track was one-way, cars repeatedly tailgated me, passed extremely close and cut back into my lane rapidly after passing me. The drivers generally seemed impatient and surprised to have to deal with a person on a bicycle in the street. With the new lane, it's very comfortable.

Driving on the road, it's more time-consuming to drive up 15th and turn left on P to get home versus going through Scott Circle. As a result, I'm less likely to take 15th when driving. This seems to be a benefit for residents, who generally would prefer drivers use the main arteries like Massachusetts Avenue and 16th Street than residential streets like 15th, P, and R.

When Evans talks about the bike lane, he seems to acknowledge that the lane is valuable on an intellectual level, but then react to specifics on a personal level from his experiences driving and not from using the lane on a bicycle. I hope Evans would try bicycling in the area a few times as well.

Still, there are indeed a lot of complaints. Are there ways to address these concerns without making the lane dangerous? Could modifications lead to a bicycle facility that is as good (or better) for cyclists, while also gaining more neighbor and driver support?

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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I wonder if changes to the timing could address some of the problems of getting to subsequent lights before they turn red. I'll be curious to see if my friend who drives on 15th has noticed the change. As a biker, I definitely appreciate having the south-bound lane option, so would hope that wasn't removed.

by DCster on Feb 28, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

Is there some sort of reasonably objective measure of success for the bike lanes that we can look at? Any sane person could have predicted complaints from drivers now that traffic on 15th is slower than it used to be, so to call this evidence of failure isn't fair.

by Jon Renaut on Feb 28, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

If we're opening up complaints about the 15th street bike lane, has anyone noticed how ridiculously bumpy the southbound bike lane is?

by Andrew on Feb 28, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

I agree with DCster--the problem is the timing of the lights on 15th street. I walk to work most days, but occasionally I have to drive to work because of client meetings, and I have generally found that my trip home up 15th street takes a really long time. It's not uncommon to get stuck at each light because the timing of the lights seems to be off.

Usually what has happened to me is that if you get stuck at the light at P street, you then end up getting stuck at every other light up to S Street (where I usually turn left).

I don't mind the left turn signals at all, it's the timing of the lights that's the problem.

by alissa on Feb 28, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

I just did the 15th St SB contraflow on Saturday.

Three observations.

1. The bricks near the curb MIGHT be a problem for some people. Didn't bother me, but traffic was very light.

2. It would be nice to have bike-own lights on the SB side on cross streets. Actually easy to forget if you have the right of way or not.

3. Turning left from the SB lanes seems very unnatural to me and i wasn't sure of the best procedure.

by charlie on Feb 28, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

While I'm improvements could be made, I think the biggest issue is the lack of familiarly of cars with regard to lighted bike intersections. His issue wasn't about 15 street being structurally deficient but more that drives didn't understand how to navigate turns. That's an education problem. I should have followed up, just wasn't feeling well today, sorry.

by Randall M. on Feb 28, 2011 12:28 pm • linkreport

Andrew: I've noticed that. It's a big problem. It's too bumpy to be comfortable for someone on a bike.

by David Alpert on Feb 28, 2011 12:28 pm • linkreport

Balzac! 15th is already (still) too wide and therefore too much of a raceway for commuters headed north. The left-turn arrows calm that down, and delay drivers for maybe 20-30 seconds as they wait to turn left on P, R, S, U, and wherever else.

by Jack Love on Feb 28, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

Agreed with other posters: this seems to be a problem with light timing that probably occurred when the left turn lights were put in.

And yes, Andrew - I often ride south in the northbound lane if there's nobody else coming. It needs repaving. Next time 15th gets done, attention should be paid to the bike lane.

by OctaviusIII on Feb 28, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

I use this bike lane a lot. If anything, I think the restrictions on cars making left turns aren't nearly enough. When I'm biking I go 20+ mph in the bike lane. Then cars lazily turn left. Rolling back existing safety measures makes no sense.

The real problem with the 15th St bike lane is that it continues north of Florida. That hill is far to steep for most people to bike up. I would like it to connect over to 14th and 16th which are much easier to ride. Obviously there is no lane on 16th St. On 14th St the bike lane ends at the hill. There is a bike lane north of about Euclid and South of U but not in between. What's that all about? That hill is rideable.

by Nick on Feb 28, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

Second Jack Love.

Let's slow traffic down. I don't have proof here but I'd be willing to bet that slower traffic is safer for everyone involved. If people don't like that their commute takes another 8 minutes they can move or change mode, both of which benefit transit in the city on the whole.

Don't change it back, add bulb outs (parallel to 15th) to further mitigate traffic speeding down the letter streets and make a bike haven out of the 15th St Corridor.

by David F-H on Feb 28, 2011 12:38 pm • linkreport

I suggest marking most of the intersections "no left turn". Then drivers will be happy to wait for a green arrow at the few intersections that still allow left turns.

by Alan on Feb 28, 2011 12:39 pm • linkreport

Councilman Evans should recognize that the car delays are making 15th a safer street. Per DDOT's new complete streets policy, the street now accommodates all modes pretty well, and more safely than it did when it was 4 one-way lanes for cars.

I would recommend the councilman review his statement "People 'don't want to give an inch when [they] get an inch," and apply it to the car culture that has dominated our cities and excluded safe travel for others for far too many decades.

by Will on Feb 28, 2011 12:41 pm • linkreport

@Nick - I actually prefer going up the hill on 15th - it's harder work, but a shorter distance. But I'd love to have a better option for switching to 14th, and I'd love to have a reasonable way to get from the northbound cycle tracks on the left to the bike lane that continues on the right north of V.

by Jon Renaut on Feb 28, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

"Councilman Evans should recognize that the car delays are making 15th a safer street."

On what basis would you make this assertion? Do you have data showing usage and accident rates before and after?

I'm certainly not arguing that I think the bike lanes are bad, but I can't think of how these changes could make 15th street "safer." Turning traffic has an additional complexity that didn't previously exist. People will change lanes much more often because of backups from cars waiting to turn. Visibility into the bike lanes is poor because of parked cars. I can certainly understand why cars would "lazily make turns" as Nick said, when bikes are coming through at "20+ mph" in a narrow lane with a row of parked cars concealing it: because they're being cautious.

I think this discussion is important, but even avid enthusiasts of the project need to acknowledge that the lanes have substantially increased the complexity of travel on 15th Street, and as such it seems unlikely that it increased safety.

by Jamie on Feb 28, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

I consider myself to be very pro-bike and I'm a huge fan of the 15th Street bike lane, so please don't construe my comment to be in anyway about losing an inch of space reserved for bicycles :)

Generally, I think this city does have a problem with managing the timing of signals at intersections. In the few cases where there are lights that are supposed to be timed in sequence, you end up having to constantly increase speed to keep up with the greens to make it to the end of the run. That's certainly what happened with 15th Street. It really shouldn't be that hard to say that someone travelling between 20mpt and 25 mph should be able to make it from Masschusetts Avenue to U Street on 15th street without having to stop more than once due to signals.

by Phil Lepanto on Feb 28, 2011 12:51 pm • linkreport

The bike lanes have made one block of my occasional bike commute much more pleasant (especially on the way to work, when before I'd have to take the sidewalk or go all the way up 15th to M, cross, then ride half a block south to get to the Post's garage).

But I'm starting to wonder whatever happened to the bike lanes planned for L and M, which were once supposed to have been open by now. DDOT's site still lists them as being in the "planning" stage, but that page doesn't seem to have been updated since September.

- RP

by Rob Pegoraro on Feb 28, 2011 1:06 pm • linkreport

Our " planners " need to go to Germany where these light timing "problems" were figured out 50 years ago for bicycle tracks. Also- Denmark and Holland are way ahead of us here in the USA- where we seem to always be trying to re-invent the wheel when it has been figured out and worked out elsewhere quite to everyone's satisfaction and in a safe manner. People from other , more bicycle -friendly countries must look at us and sigh- or laugh.

by w on Feb 28, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport

Neighbors living along that stretch have complained to me that the left turn lane (and red left arrow) has resulted in frequent blaring of carn horns by commuter who don't expext to find a regular lane suddenly turn into a left turn lane (usually you have to go one lane over to find a turnoff lane) and not realizing what is going on 3 or 4 cars ahead of them, resorting to blaring their horns at what from their vantage point looks like a car stopped in a through lane.

I think we're getting back to what was said earlier. When you try to please too many people, you end up pleasing no one because your compromise delivers nothing to anyone. Given the very low percentage of bicyclist users (5%) compared to the high number of motorist users (95%), we'e be remiss in not trying to please the motorists even it meant incoveniencing the bicyclists. And the councilmember who to keep his job must look harder at those numbers than the rest of us, knows this too. He'll get those inappropriately placed turn lanes removed.

by Lance on Feb 28, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

I think its great that DDOT has been experimenting with innovative designs along this corridor. As I understand it, the entire roadway will be resurfaced in the next couple of years and there will be an opportunity to evaluate what is and isn't working and make changes accordingly.

Where DDOT has fallen a bit short on this project is with public input and outreach. Chris Ziemann made a good run at it a few years back when changes were first discussed, but even that lacked the continued engagement of stakeholders. Until this changes and there is a consistent input and outreach process this will continue to happen. Motorists will be confused and angry, and bike advocates won't be in front of the agency as needed because they have no ownership of what it is they're supposed to be defending.

There are some design elements that were left out of implementation that are still needed, i.e. colored pavement marking through intersections. I still don't know why some of these weren't done the first time.

Some stuff just doesn't work well, like the southbound light timing during AM peak travel. They are timed so that if you stop at one light, you stop at most all of them. I generally stop at all lights on my bike, but will jump the light at T (after stopping and checking there is no cross traffic) so that I get a 'green wave' of sorts. I shouldn't have to break the law to do that.

From my observations the left turn problem is a bit exaggerated. The only intersections where I've noticed cars not make it through a full left turn signal phase is at P and U streets, and only during evening rush hour. That can maybe be fixed with timing changes. Left turns onto R street don't always make it, but that's because of backed up traffic on R. That problem predates bike lanes on 15th or even on R for that matter.

The real traffic problem is north of U street- cars funnel into the middle lane to head up the hill and block the entire U intersection doing so. Drivers haven't adapted to the changes and found other routes. There was a TCO out directing traffic a week ago. That should a regular occurrence. Or they could make 15th north of Florida 2 lanes by removing the bike lanes ***IF*** they would put a climbing lane and downhill sharrows on 14th to replace it. Most cyclists prefer that hill anyways. I think the bike coordinator Jim Sebastian and a few amateur racers are the only people in the city that like going up that hill anyways.

by jeff on Feb 28, 2011 1:20 pm • linkreport

I've found the left turn from 15th onto U Street to be a big clusterfunk. The turning signal is pretty short (maybe 10 seconds?) and invariably there's someone in the crosswalk after the left turn signal is on. Result? Cars not being able to turn left, backup into the left driving lane, cars scooting to the right and cutting off others, honking horns, etc.

I've found some of the other left turns off 15th Street to be quite dangerous, particularly at night, when there's a cyclist coming down the lane and I'm not sure if he/she is going to stop or try to get around me somehow.

Re: traffic signals - I was on way upper Wisconsin Avenue late Friday night. The signals were a total disaster, with each consecutive signal being a different color. Result? Cars were literally stopping at every single light from the Whole Foods to Friendship Heights.

The legacy of Gridlock Gabe!

by Fritz on Feb 28, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

@charlie:

I second your suggestion for signals for the SB bike lane. As a pedestrian who regularly crosses 15th, I've found that I can't just walk into the cross-walk when I have the right of way -- I have to look north to make sure there isn't a cyclist coming south who might not be aware of me. It's not the inconvenience of looking that bugs me; it's that general sense that even when I have the right of way, I need to vigilantly make sure I'm not about to be run over.

And speaking as a pedestrian, I think the bike lanes need to exist as is for longer before anyone makes a decision. I have to admit that I'm still adjusting. The left-turn signals have changed the timing of the lights so I can no longer anticipate when I'll be able to cross, which means that I still sometimes come close to walking into oncoming traffic because I'm unconsciously waiting for the NB light to turn red and forgetting to wait for turning traffic. That's not a "problem" with the new pattern; it's me having some trouble adjusting to the pattern because of ingrained habits. I'm guessing drivers are having to make some similar adjustments.

As for the speed of NB car traffic -- given that 15th winds up bottlenecking in Columbia Heights where traffic must merge with 16th, perhaps a decrease in overall usage is actually desirable.

by Emily on Feb 28, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

The left arrows need to last longer. There's too much bike crossing time the way it is right now. As use of the bike trail picks up, make the arrows shorter again.

And, yes, the southbound lane is way bumpy. Yesterday, cars were parked ALL up and down the bike lane near M Street. It was gratifying to see $65 parking tickets on most of them.

by aaa on Feb 28, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

The downtown segment of this bike lane is crucial for bike safety. The Penn Ave. lanes otherwise dump you out onto a dangerously busy 15th Street with no suitable way to continue westward without interfering with cars, pedestrians, or both.

by John on Feb 28, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport

So he says cyclists don't want to give an inch when they've gained one but he doesn't quite acknowledge that vehicles lost an inch, and are maybe trying to get back theirs?

That said cars there already have way more inches to give (figuratively and literally) in this scenario.

by canaan on Feb 28, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

@emily

I agree with your comments regarding crossing over 15th St as a pedestrian. I have been nearly hit by bikers a lot of times, particularly when crossing over 15th St at P St. Just as it is important for cars to be aware when making a left hand turn of anyone in the bike lane or crosswalk, bikers also need to stop when pedestrians have the right of way. The bike lane doesn't give bikers the ride to blow through the intersections and risk hitting pedestrians who should be able to safely cross.

I think that most bikers do obey the law and stop or at least slow down and check for pedestrians, but there are a number of bikers who just keep on going and don't slow down to check before crossing an intersection. Ultimately, I think there will probably always be a lunatic fringe--both in cars and on bikes, and on foot, who don't obey the traffic laws.

by alissa on Feb 28, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

@Lance- Amazing how civil this discussion in and then you go throw out some hyperbolic mode share numbers. Can you reallly not make your point- which was certainly valid this time- without this BS?

@Rob Pegoraro- What if any notices have gone up at the Washington Post about the bike lanes? I've noticed a lot of Post staff using it as parking on the weekends. I even saw a car with bike racks on the roof parked in it one Sunday.

by jeff on Feb 28, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

Lance, have you asked me? I'm a neighbor living along that stretch. My bedroom is within earshot of 15th Street and the noise that keeps me awake at night is the sound of car tires whizzing through the light. Honestly, I can't recall hearing any honking on 15th Street. The honking I do hear is impatient drivers on Q who won't give the lead car two seconds to start moving when the light turns green.

My wife and I recently moved to DC and we chose the neighborhood because of two things - P Street retail and the physically-separated bike lane. Whenever traffic is slowed there are two sure outcomes - residents will have an easier time sleeping and the street WILL become safer. The chance of a pedestrian fatality when hit by a car traveling 40 mph is 85%. At 20mph, the chance is 5%. I'll take those odds when I'm on foot and I think the parents of the young children living on my street will take them, too.

And as for the timing issue - A driver who turns from a street with timed lights (a green wave) should not expect to hit a green on the next light they reach. Think about it - when you leave one stream and enter another you have to "reset" your position in the next green wave. If you turn left from 15th Street, you should expect to hit a red at 16th. When the next light turns green on 16th, you can expect to be at the beginning of the next west bound green wave.

Keep the left turns limited for the safety the cyclists and pedestrians.

by KG on Feb 28, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

Does anyone know if DC installed bike counters (like Arlington recently did on the Custis trail) at any point along the 15th street track?

I'd be curious to know how bike traffic levels have changed since the expansion. I know that I (a non bike-owner, but a recent convert to CaBi) have found myself using it at least once or twice a week of late for my evening commute.

by Jacques on Feb 28, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

Facts are now hyperbole? Who knew?

A little off topic, but I do enjoy Tommy Wells' carrying the water for DDOT in their oversight hearing today. His refutation of the crappy Gray transition report is classic Perry Mason: The report says X, Y, and Z; DDOT is that true? DDOT responds: No. Wells: Ok then, I'm convinced!

Also, DDOT's plan in case their attempt at negotiating with Amtrak doesn't work out? It's secret. But they've got a plan. They just can't talk about it. Brilliant!

Tommy's showing his oversight of DDOT will be as diligent and hard-hitting as it was of DHS.

by Fritz on Feb 28, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

Lance (1) "Neighbors living along that stretch have complained to me that the left turn lane (and red left arrow) has resulted in frequent blaring of car horns by commuter...."

This is an entirely different problem. There are plenty of intersections in the city where turns off of one-way streets are guarded by arrows, mostly to protect pedestrian traffic, which receives a complementary walk/don't-walk signal. See L Street around Connecticut, for example. Any driver waiting to make such a turn can see the red arrow up to 5-6 cars back.

Honking is just stupid - who doesn't want to move forward in an automobile when they have a chance? Honking for the sake of sounding one's horn is probably illegal too. I somewhat doubt your premise that many residents have complained to you about this, nor do I believe you can attribute it to the cycle track on 15th, since there is no accurate way to determine why a particular motorist is honking their horn.

But more specifically to your point, perhaps DDOT should put some left-hand arrows in the road to signal that the motorist is in a left-turn lane.

Now, Lance 2 ("When you try to please too many people, you end up pleasing no one because your compromise delivers nothing to anyone. Given the very low percentage of bicyclist users (5%) compared to the high number of motorist users (95%), we'e be remiss in not trying to please the motorists even it meant incoveniencing the bicyclists.")

Welcome to Government 101 - the art of the compromise. Not everyone gets everything they want. Roads are a limited resource and bicycles have every right to use them. Turning 15th back into an evening motorcross rally (which is has been for years) is not "incoveniencing the bicyclists," it is subjecting them to danger. Four lanes, as it was as recently as 2008, is way too much. Think Rock Creek Parkway at unidirectional hours.

I challenge your 95%/5% figure as being utterly meaningless. Is this overall number of vehicles? Humans? Are you counting pedestrians, for whom the red arrows are also helpful? Are you considering overall environmental impact, and the stimulating effect of an enhanced bicycle lane?

by Jack Love on Feb 28, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

This is getting slightly afield but since we're talking about honking, I would love it if that law could be enforced. We have a consistent traffic law enforcement problem in this city: there isn't any, with the exceptions of those automated taxation cameras. Those are great for making some cash but they have no effect on how people drive and safety, except perhaps within 50 feet of either side. The one on 16th Street is the archetypal example: people slow down to 15 MPH right before it, and they're back up to 45 by the time they cross Colorado Avenue.

If police in this town actually pulled someone over for a traffic violation, ever, people might actually get it in their heads that they could be pulled over for speeding and running red lights... and do it less.

I hate honkers. And car alarms, and people who don't take in their trash cans all week causing trash to blow all over my street, and people who don't yield to pedestrians. The only thing that will change these things is the police starting to enforce them. That effort would have a far more profound effect on safety and livability in this city than the thousands of signs, signals, and automated enforcement device, which it seems clear have not changed anything.

by Jamie on Feb 28, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

"Generally, I think this city does have a problem with managing the timing of signals at intersections."

Signal timing is more of an art than a science, especially in a city which has streets designed for pedestrians and horses, not cars. I'm sure if there were a way to time intersections under such a scenario it would have already been implemented.

Problem is that while drivers on 15th Street may want a clear shot up, I'm going to wager that cross-town traffic (primarily on P and U Streets) would also like to have their lights timed perfectly. Timing the lights for one set of drivers most likely interferes with others. End result: Nobody is happy.

by Adam L on Feb 28, 2011 2:23 pm • linkreport

I do not live near 15th Street but visit the area frequently. I grew up in Minnesota where folks are much more used to "sharing the road" generally and are likely to be a bit more patient and move at a slower pace. Having said that, the new bike lane configuration is much better than having the lane on the right (headed north) being designated as a bicycle lane. 15th Street is now so much more slow that I will take other pathways. I disagree that 15th Street wasn't meant to be a main thoroughfare. Prior to the addition of the bike lane, it was 4 lanes of traffic with parking on both sides. How is that not a main thoroughfare? I also disagree that slowing cars down is good. Sure it may increase safety, but I bet residents don't like car exhaust either. So, my view is that you have to balance safety and efficiency across modes. I think allowing traffic to move along 15th Street in a way that helps get folks to where they want to go as fast and safely as possible is key.

I live near RFK on a speedway for commuters coming in from Maryland, and it's much more hazardous than anything I've ever seen as a bicyclist, pedestrian or driver in the 15th Street corridor.

And, put an excise tax on bicycles and accessories where funds are dedicated to bike safety improvements!

by Bicyclist Who Also Drives on Feb 28, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

If honking-at-left-turners-waiting-for-a-light is really an issue, it could be addressed by creating left turn bays. Since we are talking about only three intersections this might mean the eliminating of as many as six parking spaces.

But really, parking in the bike lane downtown is more pressing. Thank god they are ticketing (now if they would only take down the signs that say "2 hr parking) too.

by egk on Feb 28, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

As opposed to Tommy Wells who's bent over backwards for DDOT in their oversight hearing, Mendo is beating the snot out of Terry Bellamy and his answers/logic.

by Fritz on Feb 28, 2011 2:37 pm • linkreport

@Alyssa -- I had a similar experience and 15th/New York and 15th/G Street which are (effectively) T-interections with the 2-way bike lanes across the top of the T. I have seen (and was the unfortunate pedestrian in one case) a number of near misses of pedestrians walking off the west curb with the WALK signal when 15th NB/SB is red. It is a little surprising since these are high pedestrian volume crossings. I would welcome hearing other's observations of these two locations and at 15th/F St.

by Some Ideas on Feb 28, 2011 2:41 pm • linkreport

I also disagree that slowing cars down is good. Sure it may increase safety, but I bet residents don't like car exhaust either.

Maybe I'm having problems visualizing this, but how does increasing auto throughput solve the exhaust problem exactly? You'll simply get more cars rolling through as traffic flows better. It's not as though, with some marginal increase in throughput, you'll suddenly run out of cars, and 15th street will be empty.

(Not that private auto exhaust is particularly problematic, anyway, in the age of ultra-refined gasoline and the catalytic converter).

by oboe on Feb 28, 2011 2:43 pm • linkreport

I definitely think that there is a need for bike signals. I took a left onto R Saturday night with a green left signal, and a cyclist blew through the intersection right as I was turning. If I had not paused and risked being honked at by my fellow motorists, I might have hit the cyclist. He might not have stopped were there a red bike signal, but at least that would have reminded me that there is a bike lane there and that I need to be extra careful when making a turn like that.

I live off of 15th Street at N, and so I am also a frequent pedestrian on this street as well (I work at 15th and M). Anything we can do slow down traffic on 15th a little is very welcome as well. I've gotten into shouting matches with people as I cross N Street--people who see a green light at Rhode Island Avenue and speed up to make it, thinking that as long as there isn't a pedestrian directly in their path, they are following the law. That crosswalk is not to be driven through when there is a pedestrian anywhere present in it. Exhaust is the least of your worries when you are forced into a game of Frogger with taxi cabs.

Even though I almost got hit by a cyclist while crossing 15th at M legally on Friday, I generally am in favor of more concessions to cyclists. Eventually when we have more cyclists in the city, I think the cyclists overall will mature and start to obey more traffic rules. I wasn't there when cars were introduced to DC, but I can imagine that equestrians had some of the same complaints about those reckless motorists.

by retrostyleguy on Feb 28, 2011 2:52 pm • linkreport

@oboe -- Slowing cars isn't the issue with emissions per se, it is having the traffic flow so slow that continuous movement breaks down and the cars begin to start and stop repeatedly. The starting/stopping requires more engine HP to get the vehicle moving and increases emissions significantly (simplified version).

by Some Ideas on Feb 28, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

Oil prices are rising fast and will continue to rise. Solid bike lanes are needed to offset the economic impact of these oil price rises.

by David J on Feb 28, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

I thought that the SHARROWs were much better than the cycletrack which hides me -- lately I have been riding a recumbent and pull a trailer with the babies -- until just approaching an intersection. Consequently, I stopped using the cycletrack and simply ride up 15th ST in the right lane where the transition to the bike lane at U ST/Meridian Hill is much easier than the wacky stuff I see people do from the cycletrack. IME, it solves almost of the problems that people are talking about here.

If one really wanted to traffic calm 15 ST into a true livable neighborhood street, making it bidirectional would be the better option, IMO. Cars notice/respect other cars a lot. If you want, put a bike lane in both directions -- or narrow lanes with SHARROWs in the right lane -- and the intersection conflicts would be easier for everyone to handle with less driver/cyclist irritation.

by Geof Gee on Feb 28, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

Seriously?? Cars have FIVE OTHER ROADS to travel north on in the immediate vicinity, and they're complaining about a little delay on 15th when making a left turn? I'm not even going to listen.

by M on Feb 28, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

Jack just doesn't get it. The point is to slow auto traffic down on 15th. It's not a freeway Jack. Re-time the turn signals but they're crucial for safety to bikers and pedestrians.

Many years ago I was run over by a car at 15th and S while on the sidewalk. Totally pinned under the car. Back then 15th was too fast and it still is. Most of the neighbors at the town halls supported making it two way in the redesign to slow it down even more (like we did with 13th Street years ago).

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 28, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

Are the left turn arrows accompanied by a "no turn on left" sign, or can drivers legally make the left turn from a one-way onto another one-way during the red arrow phase?

If there's no sign prohibiting the legal left turns on red, than the motorists are complaining about nothing.

by JJJJJ on Feb 28, 2011 4:35 pm • linkreport

One real problem with the bike lane is how many people park in the southern portion (i.e. between K & M, I counted 8 last night)

The left turn arrows don't seem to have much effect, drivers generally seem to ignore them.

If us cyclists want drivers to utilize 14th or 16th for more driving, we should shift a lot of our cycling over to 15th or 11th. It amazes me how many cyclists use 16th during rush hour when 15th is exponentially safer, and just the right thing to do.

by @SamuelMoore on Feb 28, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

@JJJJJ:
When motorists face a red arrow, that means "no turn on red".

Also, I believe that left turns on red (ball) from a one-way to another one-way are prohibited in DC anyway.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 28, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

If us cyclists want drivers to utilize 14th or 16th for more driving, we should shift a lot of our cycling over to 15th or 11th. It amazes me how many cyclists use 16th during rush hour when 15th is exponentially safer, and just the right thing to do.

Yes, I could not agree more!!

by M on Feb 28, 2011 4:40 pm • linkreport

Jack Evans "supports bike lanes"? Seriously? Evans public statements and actions evince a complete lack of support for bike lanes, or bikers. He may give bike the occasional lip service, but he only seems willing to get down on his hands and knees if it's to cater to the needs of cars, or his donors.

by Paula Product on Feb 28, 2011 4:41 pm • linkreport

@Geof Gee 'If one really wanted to traffic calm 15 ST into a true livable neighborhood street, making it bidirectional would be the better option.'

That was one of the most voiced options at the neighborhood meeting which DDOT held before actually putting in the bike track. (The meeting was held to solicit ideas for calming this residential street.) Despite this being perhaps the option with the highest consensus at the meeting, DDOT saw to it that it didn't get implemented ... because they obviously already had plans for the street as a test site for a cycle track and that was all they really cared about. Not about calming the street as they'd advertized when the called the meeting. As one person at the meeting noted to me 'the only thing that's going to come out of this is a bike lane of some sort ... look who's here representing DDOT ... someone from the bicycle dept." And boy was he right. The first thing they did was set up a survey where the two-way traffic option couldn't possibly 'win' because it got listed twice with only a slight variation (i.e., they ensured the vote for this option would be 'split') and then they made sure all the other options had bike lanes in both directions. The final product, the one SB cycle track and the sharrow NB weren't even one of the options to choose from. Talk about a clusterfunk. They approached the community with the promise of ensuring this was more of a neighborhood street, and left it for us instead as a place to test their theories ... adding bike commuters to the car commuters ... rather than ensuring it couldn't be used by either ... which they would have done, had they really cared to return this street to the neighborhood as they had claimed in calling for the meeting.

by Lance on Feb 28, 2011 5:04 pm • linkreport

@Lance

I live on 15th and used to be adamantly opposed to the bike lane. I have come around, though, as I generally think it's good for the neighborhood.

I don't really hear horns except at rush hour and am happy that 15th has slowed significantly. If you wan't out of the city fast, take 16th instead.

All that said, I originally wanted a two way street but after thinking long and hard about, I have changed my mind. The reason: 16th street. It is noisier than (I have no way to prove this) 15th because it has two-way traffic. That means it has traffic at all times going in and out of the city. 15th just has ruch hour at 5 PM. That's it. I may be wrong but I think for sake of noise, one-way is better. Just my opinion.

by Claude Henry Smoot on Feb 28, 2011 5:47 pm • linkreport

@ Lance-
None of that is true. This dates back to 2007 when there were 4 new design options and 1 no build. Of the 4 design options two were two-way and two were one-way. DDOT did use some new math/fuzzy logic to pick the 'winner' because there was hardly a clear majority. I'm happy to forward you the documents they sent out at the time if it keeps you from simply making stuff up. I personally wanted it two-way as well, but no need to play Texas and rewrite history here.

@@SamuelMoore
11th and 15th often are too slow or take cyclists too far out of the way. There's also a lot of destinations for cyclists on 14th and 16th- shouldn't cyclists be able to safety use those streets to get to them?

by jeff on Feb 28, 2011 7:47 pm • linkreport

I remember when 13th Street was alternating one-way and how miserable that was for residents. Even though it's still heavily used 13th is much tamer now.

With 15th it seems the powers that be wanted to funnel bike traffic off 16th and 14th and lost their will to really slow traffic down with two-way. Ah, for the days of our old crack-smoking bum of a mayor when progressive things actually slipped through.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 28, 2011 8:37 pm • linkreport

BTW- HuffPo has a fantastic new Bike online mag:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/bike-culture

Seems that uber-progressive city of Cairo is going to ban autos from it's center city. Cairo is so ahead of DC.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 28, 2011 8:58 pm • linkreport

I agree with the pedestrians above, in general---15th & P become a horrible place to walk with the left turn light and the 2 way bike lane. Bikers regularly ignore pedestrians (I walk this at least twice everyday). The left turn light really accomplishes nothing.

by Rich on Feb 28, 2011 9:00 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson, Im not sure what the specific DC law says, the federal manual on uniform traffic devices states that a red arrows on a one-way does NOT necessarily mean "no turn" if not bundled with the proper sign.

And considering so many drivers come from outside DC, it's impossible to assume they know the specific law is in DC. If Maryland and Virginia both say turning left on red is legal on a one-way, then thats what people are expected to do.

So, can anyone clear this up:
1)Do the corners have a "no left turn on red" sign
and
2)If not, does DC law legally allow those turns?

by JJJJJ on Feb 28, 2011 9:13 pm • linkreport

@JJJJJ:
Okay. I can answer both questions brought up about the law in DC:

Can drivers make a left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street?
Short answer: No
Long answer:
2103.7: A STEADY RED SIGNAL alone or the word “STOP” shall have the following meaning:
(a) Vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the
crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before
entering the intersection;
(b) Stopped vehicles shall remain standing until green, green arrow, or flashing yellow is shown, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this
subsection; and
(c) A vehicle facing a steady red signal may cautiously enter the intersection
to turn right after stopping. The vehicle shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

###

Can drivers turn left or right while facing a red arrow?
Short answer: No
Long answer:
2103.8 A STEADY RED ARROW shall have the following meaning:
(a) Vehicular traffic facing the signal destined to proceed in the direction
that the arrow is pointing shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the
near side of the intersection or, if none, the vehicle shall stop before
entering the intersection; and
(b) The vehicle shall remain standing until a green arrow or flashing yellow
arrow is shown.

This information comes from the DC Municipal Regulations, chapter 21, found here:
http://dmv.washingtondc.gov/info/title-18/chap21_pdf.shtm

by Matt Johnson on Feb 28, 2011 9:31 pm • linkreport

Compared to some of the other bike lanes in the city, the 15th street lanes are a delight. If Evans really wants to see some bad bike lanes (perhaps better described as mislabeled vehicle double parking lanes) he should take a look at the stretch of 4th St SW between M and I (at the Waterfront-SEU station). Those lanes are a hazard, with cars parked in them all hours of the day and night, including MPD and other city vehicles. DC went to a lot of trouble and expense to paint them and cyclists have to ride in the vehicle lane or on the sidewalk.

by P. Laidlaw on Feb 28, 2011 9:58 pm • linkreport

Lance,

The actual mode share on 15th is 43.82% cars, 35.74% transit, 12.11% pedestrians and 2.33% cyclists. So the correct ratio of cars to cyclists is 18 to 1, not 20 to 1 as you assert.

by David C on Feb 28, 2011 10:22 pm • linkreport

Thanks for clearing that up Matt.

by JJJJJ on Mar 1, 2011 12:11 am • linkreport

Also, look what I found related to the left-turn-on-red

"Left turns on red are prohibited in the states of South Dakota (unless permitted by local ordinance), Connecticut, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and in the District of Columbia and Guam, as well as in New York City, unless a sign indicates otherwise."

So basically, it is to be expected that many drivers WILL make the left turn on red, as it is legal in the majority of states. Someone coming from another state to see the museums and such may know their states drivers guide perfectly...but has no reason to download the DC guide to look for any differences. I mean seriously, if you're driving from Mass to Virginia, via a day in DC, are you expected to read the drivers manuals of 6 states?

by JJJJJ on Mar 1, 2011 12:19 am • linkreport

@David C 'So the correct ratio of cars to cyclists is 18 to 1, not 20 to 1 as you assert.

Actually no ... you're forgetting to include transit with the cars ... I said 'motorists' ... and that includes the buses ... So, using your percentages ... that's 34 to 1 ... or 97% vs. 3 % of road traffic ...

by Lance on Mar 1, 2011 12:35 am • linkreport

Lance, I will be generous and assume that YOU define the word motorist to include bus riders. But, if so, you are using the word wrong.

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 12:43 am • linkreport

97% to 3% feels about right intuitively. So DDOT has taken a road that used to serve 97% of its users very nicely and turned it into a laboratory to see how to better serve the 3%. The end result is satisfying no one; for drivers, 15th Street is now the worst route to take to travel north out of downtown in the evening, whereas it used to be the best. I simply avoid it altogether now, which must please the 3% who are on bikes.

by Bob B on Mar 1, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

15th Street is now the worst route to take to travel north out of downtown in the evening, whereas it used to be the best. I simply avoid it altogether now, which must please the 3% who are on bikes.

Hey! You should try it on a bike. Works like a charm.

I wonder what that mode share's going to be like in another few years. Also, I wonder what the mode-share is when you only look at DC residents.

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

I wonder what mode share is like from November through March, and July-August? When it's raining? For people over the age of 50? Women? People with health problems?

Of course this has become an ideological battle again. I like bike lanes. The question isn't "should they exist," but "are they implemented in the best way to balance the concerns of drivers, cyclists, and residents on 15th Street."

30 percent of commuters in Amsterdam are primarily bike commuters. That's the ultimate success story. That's a place that has a mild climate, and is geographically flat as a pancake. Even if we had a dramatic culture shift in this country, we could never hope to match those numbers in this city. DC is hilly, more geographically spread out, and we have code red days, freezing weather, snow, sleet, and all that.

Isn't it possible that the implementation on 15th Street is not perfect? Cyclists need to be willing to discuss the consequences to traffic, accept them as legitimate, and not simply say "screw you, get a bike."

by Jamie on Mar 1, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

@Lance and @David C - What buses!? We're talking about 15th Street NW, right?

Here's a little refresher for you "locals" - http://www.wmata.com/pdfs/bus/DC.pdf

Back to the bike lane - The current road design is so safe for cyclists and pedestrians precisely because it separates the movement of thru-cyclists and pedestrians from left-turning cars via a signal phase. There are no opportunities for "left hooks" - the most common type of car-bike crash - as long as everyone obeys the lights.

Anyway, if the left turning cars are causing backups - which I doubt they are - then a good solution is the one mentioned by egk. We can just create short left turn lanes at P, R, and U. This is only a slight variation from the current design and is exactly how NYC does it on the 8th and 9th Avenue lanes. Instead of the current configuration of bumping "out" the bike lane to make cyclists visible, the left turn lane for cars is bumped "in" to get those cars out of the flow of motor vehicle traffic.

by KG on Mar 1, 2011 9:36 am • linkreport

Isn't it possible that the implementation on 15th Street is not perfect? Cyclists need to be willing to discuss the consequences to traffic, accept them as legitimate, and not simply say "screw you, get a bike."

Of course that's possible. In fact, that's what we're discussing here. But the argument that, of the half-dozen or so north-south traffic sewers in DC, 15th St is now not wholly oriented towards auto traffic doesn't address that. Sorry, but after a century of making it nearly impossible to use anything but a car for surface transportation in the city, and in the wake of a few years of minor tweaks to the streetscape to make alternatives possible, the complaint is that only 3% of trips are by bicycle?

We discuss the consequences to traffic constantly here; of course they're legitimate. But it's pretty clear that the folks who believe "roads are for cars" are willing to accept non-car infrastructure to the extent that there's no impact on auto traffic whatsoever. Obviously that's not going to happen. To the extent that drivers see having to wait 20 seconds at a red light after turning left as a salvo in the War on Drivers", then yes, I think that's pretty unreasonable.

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 9:47 am • linkreport

"To the extent that drivers see having to wait 20 seconds at a red light after turning left as a salvo in the War on Drivers", then yes, I think that's pretty unreasonable."

The notion that bikes shouldn't have to wait 20 seconds for a red light gets discussed here all the time. Is that not legitimate either? This is exactly my problem. You dismiss the concern as inconsequential. The reality is that the effect is much more than 20 seconds a day for each commuter, and there are collateral consequences in terms of increased congestion on other arteries, which makes them worse for everyone (pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists).

Taking a 4-lane road and turning it into a 3-lane road with one shared lane, one lane that has left-turn backups, leaving only a single unobstructed through lane, has consequences far greater than a few people having to wait 20 seconds when they turn. That is obvious to anyone who has driven out of town during rush hour before and after. Dismissing it as "someone having to wait 20 seconds once in a while" is grossly inaccurate and is exactly why your approach to this debate is not productive.

by Jamie on Mar 1, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

Jamie: There isn't one shared lane anymore. It's now 3 through lanes, of which one of them sometimes has cars turning.

Note that on Connecticut Avenue, for most of the length, even when the reversible lane is going your way there are just 3 through lanes, one of which has backups when someone is turning left. In other words, this is still as wide as most of the major arteries outside downtown.

by David Alpert on Mar 1, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

Before we get too far afield in the age old "Drivers v. Cyclists" debate, I'd like to re-interject the pedestrian concerns into the conversation.

As a pedestrian, the biggest problem with the current set-up is that it is much more complicated than the typical streetscape. You essentially have to cross three separate traffic areas (two bike lanes and the central lanes for cars), and too frequently, the drivers and cyclists in those lanes are far more interested in their own speed than your safety. An additional problem is that parked cars separating the bike lanes from the car lanes serve as a visual obstruction that can make it difficult for pedestrians to gauge traffic, particularly at crosswalks that do not include traffic lights.

More signage might alleviate this problem. Certainly SB cyclists could benefit from signs or lights to remind them that they must yield to crossing pedestrians. But that will not alter the underlying issue: the new traffic pattern segregates users, which provides some increased safety for cyclists, but also tends to allow both drivers and cyclists to forget or ignore the existence of all other types of users.

In the long run, I think we would have been better off slowing all traffic on the street, and then aggressively enforcing the existing bike lanes (ticketing double parkers, pulling over cars that cut off or drive to close to cyclists, etc.). It would have taken longer and been a difficult transition for everyone, but it ultimately might have resulted in people learning to actually share the existing road. The current set-up seems to enhance individual senses of entitlement, which, from my perspective as a pedestrian who crosses 15th a minimum of twice a day, has raised my concern for my own safety.

by Emily on Mar 1, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Well, no actually what gets argued here all the time is whether waiting for the light to change (whether on bike or on foot) in and of itself makes one safer. The 20 seconds is rather beside the point.

As to the "backups", and their "leaving only a single unobstructed through lane" you seem to be the only one who has claimed this is a major problem.

Finally, driving in DC during rush hour sucks. It's only going to get worse. Eliminating cycling infrastructure is not going to make things better. It'll just eliminate the alternatives.

Why not narrow the sidewalks, and add another lane or two? There's no reason pedestrians can't walk single-file. One-way single-file sidewalks would make auto traffic marginally better, so what's keeping us? I bet we could get auto mode-share up into the 99% range.

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

@oboe The sidewalks on 15th are already very narrow, considerably narrower than on 16th and 14th. It is nearly impossible for pedestrians on 15th to walk any other way than single file.

by Alissa on Mar 1, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

"Why not narrow the sidewalks, and add another lane or two? There's no reason pedestrians can't walk single-file. One-way single-file sidewalks would make auto traffic marginally better, so what's keeping us? I bet we could get auto mode-share up into the 99% range."

You're kidding right? They should just "walk single file"? What will they do when someone's pushing a stroller, holding their kids hands, unloading their car, or god forbid come across someone biking on the sidewalk? Why not just make them cross the street while you're at it?

Every single thing you say marginalizes every other road user to the benefit of cyclists, as if the consequences to other road users are irrelevant as long as it makes things more convenient for cyclists. That is not "sharing the road."

It's not going to be perfect for everyone, but reducing sidewalk space is a terrible solution.

by Jamie on Mar 1, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

Jamie, I'm pretty sure Oboe's tongue was firmly planted in cheek there.

Check the batteries on your sarcasm detector.

by Alex B. on Mar 1, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

Yeah, I realized that seconds after clicking "Post." In my defense I am not the only one who didn't get it quickly enough :) Though knowing that now, I don't really understand his point. I'm not saying we should take away the bike lane.

by Jamie on Mar 1, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

KG,

You're right. The powerpoint confused me, but the mode share I gave was actually a combination of 15th and 14th Street. That's why it shows transit. Thanks for correcting me.

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

Back when I worked on space shuttle software, we had a running joke. Launches would be stopped at the last minute - often shut down by the software. People would complain to us "you're software scrubbed the launch" and we'd say "you're welcome." Because that's what the software was supposed to do.

For those concerned about the speed of drivers, one goal of the project was to calm traffic (a.k.a. slow cars down). So if you're complaint is that it is slowing down auto traffic, DDOT's response will be "you're welcome." Because that's what it is supposed to do.

The previous, shorter bike lane change reduced the % of speeders from 65.5% to 26.4%. So to a large extent, drivers are complaining that they can no longer exceed the speed limit. To which DDOT should say, "you're welcome."

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

@ David C - "To which DDOT should say, 'you're welcome'".

You hit the nail on the head. Cutting the incidence of speeding on 15th Street improves the safety and quality of life of everyone in the corridor. That's how we need to measure the success of the changes.

And thanks for the clarification on the combination of 14th/15th mode split. (I wasn't sure if you were making it up at first... sorry). Do you know what the north/south limits of that data are?

by KG on Mar 1, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

KG, It's a power point presentation, which is a terrible way to present information on the internet (as it is meant to be accompanied by a speaker). It's like watching a movie without the sound. Sigh... Anyway it doesn't say, but I would GUESS that it's Mass to U.

by David C on Mar 1, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

I like Oboe's idea about one-way single-file sidewalks. That served up a good chuckle... :-)

I agree that the larger point is that cycle infrastructure development enhances overall city life and sustainability, and that the current low numbers do not indicate a lack of success. Cycle infrastructure has to be built out slowly, just like the roads were (which, as was pointed out, have a 100-year head start).

We have to plan for the city as it should be 20-30 years from now, when there will be modes of transportation that are now only dreams. We might have limits on the size and number and types of gasoline vehicles in the city. Multi-modal planning facilitates that; enhancing the motorcar driver's experience does not.

As for the pedestrians, I agree there is a risk in the current setup. I cross the cycle track very frequently, sometimes in mid-block, and I have trained myself to look both ways. But others may be less observant. I wish we could get rid of the bizarre parking on the left side, which is counterintuitive, but the howl rising from that would be deafening.

by Jack Love on Mar 1, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

I occasionally ride my bike on the 15th Street Bike Track...

IT IS AMAZING!
I LOVE IT!

but... it is not without its risks

expect cars coming our of alleyways and parking garages without any anticipation of the person on the bike

expect taxi cabs to be dropping off or picking up people in the bike lanes

anticipate that there may be an impatient car driver turning left on red

never assume that you are any more safe in the bike track than on the road

on the bike it is the responsibility of the cyclist to be hyper alert

as for the cars...
if they were just obeying the laws on the road as they should
we would not need these adaptations
bikes could just co-exist

but car drivers have proven that they do not know how to behave

by gwadzilla on Mar 1, 2011 1:03 pm • linkreport

I'm generally supportive of the bke lane, and the lights - I don't think they should necessarily get rid of either - but I'll note one issue.

I'd be very happy to put up with the lights and the lack of places to pull over on south-bound 15th, and take another road. (I'm not the driver - I get a ride)

But when we drive down 14th, 16th or 17th instead of 15th, there are still bike riders to navigate around. I know they have a right to be there, and I don't question that, but I do question whether a bike lane on 15th is effective, especially given the traffic with the lights, when it doesn't actually seem to draw bike riders even off of the 2 streets next to it. If it's not effective enough to attract the bikers even with the lights, then what is the point?

by jen on Mar 1, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

If it's not effective enough to attract the bikers even with the lights, then what is the point?

I'm not sure one of the stated goals of the 15th street cycletracks is to dissuade cyclists from riding on any nearby street.

by oboe on Mar 1, 2011 1:58 pm • linkreport

Go Jack!!!

Also,

1. register all bicycles, with taxes for tags and transfer.

2. Insurance is required for all road vehicles.

You want roaad access, you gotta abide to the rules of the road.

by Jack Hammer on Mar 1, 2011 7:40 pm • linkreport

I live on 15th next to the bike lane. Although I don't cycle, the turn arrows have made things much safer for the bikers AND pedestrians. Overall, the bike lane and the turn arrows have slowed down traffic on 15th.

I realize that some people don't like the fact that traffic is now slower (a car lane was removed when the bike lane went in), but those of us who live here DO like it. I would bet that the huge majority complaining about the lane and the arrows do not live in Ward 2, most not even in DC.

But believe me, it is much more sane and safe on 15th if you live here. I still get the occasional jackass who who goes nuts when I have to stop to park on 15th during rush hour, but it used to be worse. I guess it seems bizarre to some of the drivers that people actually live along 15th. The stories I could tell you about drivers going crazy when I had the audacity to park in front of my house -- and it slowed down their commute to Maryland by 20 seconds.

by mattyillini on Mar 2, 2011 6:25 am • linkreport

But when we drive down 14th, 16th or 17th instead of 15th, there are still bike riders to navigate around.

There's plenty of room on 14th and 17th (and 16th in the evenings & weekends) for both bikes and cars. Cars just need to get used to sharing the road with bikes. I don't know why so many drivers reserve their annoyance for bikes, when it's really the freakin' taxis randomly stopped in the middle of the lane in the middle of the block that make it hard to get around...

by M on Mar 3, 2011 3:25 pm • linkreport

@ oboe: what does it matter whether it's a stated goal? Isn't that the point of the quid pro quo going on here? I accept modifications to 15th street that make it friendly to bikes, and less friendly to cars. Therefore, as a car, I go use another road, and leave you on your bike to use 15th.

But if bikers are going to use roads that don't have that bike lane, that implies to me that they don't really care about having them (since they are apparenly comfortable enough on roads without them). If bikers don't care about having bike lanes enough to use them, then why should we mess up traffic patterns and add lights to 15th street for those lanes? It's a waste of both time and money if bikers are going to continue using nearby streets instead of the protected lane on 15th.

by Jen on Mar 7, 2011 9:16 am • linkreport

@Jen:

Well, no. The idea is to establish bike infrastructure to encourage more biking, get bikes off the sidewalks, and perhaps reduce the number of cyclists on streets with no cycling infrastructure.

Not sure where you got the idea that it would mean bike-free traffic lanes everywhere else. If we added a couple of new lanes to I-95 between DC and Baltimore, it shouldn't really surprise you when you encounter a car on the BW Parkway, right? I saw a guy on a bike on Pennsylvania Ave, SE the other day--even with bike lanes on East Capitol Street. Not surprising.

Bike lanes & such are great if they take you where you want to go; if you're going somewhere else, not so much.

by oboe on Mar 7, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

I'm a little late to the game, but I agree with Andrew- the southbound lane is incredibly bumpy. Also, the stoplights are poorly timed for going south. I tried the lane for my morning commute several times when it was first put in, and had to sit at every single stop light for 2-3 seconds. I appreciated feeling safe from the cars, but the constant stops were way too annoying. I've gone back to the more risky (but much quicker) 14th St bike lane.

That said, one of my co-workers loved the 15th St lane and looked horrified when I told him I preferred 14th. So maybe the way it is now, there's something for everyone.

by Kirsten on Mar 9, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

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