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Poll: The 15th Street Bike Lane

by Borderstan.com November 23, 2009 at 7:00 am 1,087 8 Comments

The 15th Street NW bike lane has been operational for a couple of weeks. What’s your opinion of it and its effect on this stretch of 15th Street? The bike lane is a pilot program, and the city says it will review the street’s new configuration after one year to see how it is working out.

Note: Read WashCycle’s take on the lane and other future options.


  • Susan Volman

    So far, it is working fine, but I think DDOT needs to add some additional signage or markings on the street. Specifcially, there should be some warnings to bicyclists at the alleys that enter onto 15th St. from the west, and/or signage on the alleys warning drivers about the bike lane. As a resident, I am careful to look left for bikes, but the alleys are used by a lot of non-residents who may not be aware of this unusual arrangement. Second, white stripes should be painted in the areas in front of where parking is allowed along the left parking lane — the solid white line delineating where parking ends is not sufficient. Cars have been parked in front of the legal parking spaces, e.g., just south of Corcoran St. and other locations. This makes it difficult for cars to turn left onto the street and also for pedestrians to see traffic on 15th St.

  • Travis Moore

    The 15th st lane is great; an important advancement towards protected bike lanes in the city. This is how bike lanes are commonly developed in bike-friendly places in Germany, Australia and Denmark. Kudos to DDOT! Keep up the good work.

  • David

    As I understand it, this bike lane grew out of neighborhood concerns over speed of traffic on 15th street. I think the lane is great, and I plan to use it.

    However, traffic went from fast to dead. Specifically (and this was always the source of the problem) the lights are timed to somewhere between 35 and 40 miles an hour–WAY too fast. Plus, the cross-traffic lights are much longer. Add these two to the now slowed traffic, and one must stop at almost every light. This isn’t a fair solution, including for residents. The lights need to be timed to a slower speed (30 or below) to allow traffic to flow in the now narrower corridor.

  • Chuck

    This configuration violates all commonly understood and practiced rules of the road al over the globe. Riding against traffic on a one-way street is counter-intuitive to all traffic and bike safety rules. No amount of self-interested rationalization will change it. With so many non-residents from al over the world driving in DC, this contrived entitlement for bike enthusiasts is a public safety hazard.

  • David

    Sweeping (and unsupported) generalization, Chuck. I have never biked on 15th street, nor do I have plans to, but the configuration makes perfect sense to me.

  • 15th St Chuck

    For David – A few sites discussing practical bike safety rules:http://www.be-safe.org/css_com/bicycle/rules.html, http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/safety.htm, http://bicyclesafe.com/

    No desire to get into a P%#sing contest here. Just a discussion of the facts.

  • Maurice W.Dorsey

    Get rid of it.

  • Matt

    Seems to me this is all working quite well.
    My fear (as a 15th street resident and a daily cyclist) was that there’d inevitably be accidents between super-fast cyclists and northbound motorists who aren’t familiar with the layout. But it’s not happening so far.
    What’s kept this from happening, I think, is the yellow safety cones that got installed to keep people from parking cars at intersections. As a cyclist who uses the lane every day, I can tell you that you do really need to slow down to navigate past these. And that’s a good thing.
    RE the timing of lights, two things:
    1) it used to be that if you caught a green at, say, Rhode Island, you were absolutely going to make the lights straight through to U without having to go especially fast. Now, at rush hour, you’ll see a couple of cars at the tail end of things having to stop for a red at, say, S Street. This is hardly an oppressive change, and during non-rush hours things flow as they always did. It’s still a very effective south-north commuter route.
    2) from a southbound cyclist’s perspective, the timing of the lights slows things down. You’re going to hit a couplle of reds. And again, that’s probably a good thing as long as cyclists obey the signals. (which they should!)

    By the way, RE the danger of people not knowing to look for southbound cyclists, the southbound cyclists were always there, going against traffic. They just never had a lane before.
    And since the lanes have been implemented, I’ve seen precisely zero southbound CARS, which is a thing you’d see quite a bit with the old 4-lanes arrangement.

    Bottom line: a good compromise between cyclists (who wanted a safe, fast southbound route and had to settle for safe), commuters (who wanted to keep their northbound freeway and got to keep 75% of it), and the stop-sign-at-every-corner gang, who wanted to turn 15th street into a pasture and instead got marginally slower traffic.


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