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View Full Version : 15th Street Bikeway in DC goes South



Dirt
12-13-2010, 08:32 AM
I thoroughly enjoyed riding in on the new extension of the 15th St. Bikeway this morning. It now extends all all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue and then changes over to "sharrows" as it goes further south to Constitution. I didn't ride further to see how far the sharrows go.

The bikeway has two-way traffic on the south-bound side of 15th street. It was brilliant until you get past the Treasury building and the church vans decided to park in the bikeway while they wait in line for their White House tours. Construction trucks were also lined up in the bikeway awaiting clearance to enter the the secure area of the Ellipse. That will continue to be a problem. The Methodists with the church vans got a bit upset when I asked them to find a different place for their vans. Oh well. :D I love them anyways.

Over-all the cycling experience on the new 15th St. Bikeway at the south end was extremely pleasant. I'll post up photos tonight. :D

Hugs and kisses,

Pete

skreaminquadz
12-13-2010, 09:13 AM
Pete - did you ride studded tires this morning? I got lazy and Metro'd in today. I'm trying to see if I should mount the tires yet or if it's still too early.

Dirt
12-13-2010, 10:15 AM
Didn't need studs this morning. I used cross tires and they were plenty good. 700x35c Kenda Small Block 8's are sticky enough that they do well with wet pavement and snow on top. The Mt. Vernon boardwalks were slick as snot. I rode across them and had no trouble. I saw (and photographed) the snow-death-angel where someone appears to have taken a digger on the slippery boards.

If the trails are still wet tonight, they'll be icy tomorrow.

OneEighth
12-13-2010, 06:09 PM
I don't think the bike lanes extend below Pennsylvania Avenue. Sort of an odd transition with the southbound lane being normally taken by vendors and---if I remember correctly---the sidewalk being officially off-limits to bicyclists from there all the way down to the Jefferson Memorial. Not sure that prohibition is enforced much. Only heard from one cyclist who was told not to ride on the sidewalk where the path dumps off the bridge by the Jefferson Memorial. But, after all, that's just another excuse to bang a left and do a loop around the point and that's a good thing.

Regarding tires, I have ridden Vittoria Cross XN Pros for the last couple of winters and have found them to roll fast than my Kendas and to be stickier in the wet. They also did fine in the snow.

Looking forward to the pix of the snow angel and sincerely hoping not to make my own...

Dirt
12-13-2010, 06:32 PM
I also don't know how much further north it goes at this point. Right now it appears to just connect Pennsylvania Avenue east of 15th Street with Pennsylvania Ave. West of 15th Street.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5283/5258813395_768ddb3ea1_b.jpg

Dirt
12-13-2010, 06:36 PM
You can see that two of us rode past this incident. This must have been the first time this individual rode the boardwalks in the snow.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5208/5259419106_c35bf43ec1_b.jpg

I wouldn't call this a strike, but it is certainly a spare that would be easy to pick up. ;)

All joking aside, these boardwalks are seriously slippery.

OneEighth
12-13-2010, 08:26 PM
Thankfully, they stopped painting them. The paint ony made it worse. Probably not a bad idea to write to the National Park Service when Spring gets here to remind them not to do any more painting unless they are going to add sand to the paint or use a product that has a no-slip finish.
Not that they've got the budget to do anything anyway...so this may just be a moot point.

Dirt
12-14-2010, 06:49 AM
Back on topic: There was a line of 6 buses parked in the 15th Street bikeway this morning. They looked at me like I was from outer space when I suggested that they should move because they're completely blocking the bike lane.

(My "outer space" comment is not intended to imply that I am NOT from outer space. I will neither confirm, nor deny that.)

Happy day.

Pete

girlonabikedc
12-14-2010, 09:10 AM
I rode the 15th St. cycletrack this morning; I was glad to see that the lanes were painted south of Mass Ave, but there were no barriers to prevent cars from straying into the track, and it appears the parking signage hasn't changed resulting in cars being parked all along the cycletrack, completely blocking the bike lanes from Mass Ave to Vermont Ave. I look forward to when they are fully completed. Still, I had a pleasant ride. :)

invisiblehand
12-14-2010, 11:55 AM
I have not gone south of the Treasury Building yet.

Personally, I thought going south is just plain awful. Pretty narrow and you're pretty close to pedestrians which tend to crowd the path. Especially when it is as cold as it was yesterday and today since they tend to be in a rush. I imagine that leaves and such in the fall will make short run around the building interesting. I went around it today and just rode in the regular lane. Going north, you have an interesting trade off. I can skip two left turns -- south side of Treasury to travel lane of 15th ST to north side of Treasury on Pennsylvania Ave -- but instead travel contraflow with cycling light and car lights on either side of me. Maybe I'll see how icy the Ellipse is ...

girlonabikedc
12-14-2010, 12:53 PM
Ugh, on my way back north, it kinda sucked. Vermont Ave lanes were clear (except for one metro truck driven by someone who can't park). No problem. Then I cross the street and UH OH, I either had to get on the sidewalk (illegal in that area) or head into ONCOMING TRAFFIC because the lanes were blocked by parked cars. Luckily I was able to scoot across the street to get into the vehicular northbound lanes without getting smooshed by a car. But still, bad planning DDOT! The barriers to keep cars from driving/parking in the bike lanes should have gone up BEFORE the lanes were painted.

Northbound cyclists from the White House are in for a heck of a surprise if they decide to use the cycletrack going north.

http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m514/girlonabikedc/cycletrack.jpg

Dirt
12-14-2010, 01:04 PM
Northbound cyclists from the White House are in for a heck of a surprise if they decide to use the cycletrack going north.
Ugh is right. That's part of my daily commute. I can easily avoid it, but I choose to ride it out of sheer stubbornness. They put the dang lanes there, I'm gonna use them. Luckily my smoosh-avoidance system is fully active.

As a side note, I think the forum software is looking for an uncompacted URL for the photo... something that ends in ".jpg" for instance.

Ride safe! That's my plan.

Just161
12-14-2010, 01:22 PM
But still, bad planning DDOT! The barriers to keep cars from driving/parking in the bike lanes should have gone up BEFORE the lanes were painted.




Thanks for the northbound update. I agree they need barriers to fix the parking situation, but I'll cut DDOT some slack here. This is brand new stuff, and everyone's just still getting used to it - bikes and cars alike. I'm just happy they're doing it!

One question: if you approach 15th from the Pennsylvania Ave cycletrack, is there a way to turn right to head north on 15th? A bike-only turn signal maybe?

Dirt
12-14-2010, 02:13 PM
One question: if you approach 15th from the Pennsylvania Ave cycletrack, is there a way to turn right to head north on 15th? A bike-only turn signal maybe?
I tried this yesterday and did not find a good solution. I was in a hurry and just cut to the right turn lane and headed across 15th to the 15th Street Cycleway. I'll be a bit more attentive today and see what makes sense. I'll also take a few photos.

Leaving the 15th St. Cycleway didn't seem to have a good way to get onto PA Ave. Cycleway either. Not that I was able to use the 15th St. Cycleway due to buses. I just jumped over to the left turn lane and went onto PA ave from there.

And you're right! We should give DDOT a break. This stuff is new. Unfortunately due to people parking in the cycleway, it presents an EXTREMELY dangerous situation.

OneEighth
12-14-2010, 02:25 PM
Just in case folks haven't read today's editorial in the Washington Post that touches on cycling in DC: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/13/AR2010121304925.html

Dirt
12-14-2010, 07:19 PM
Okay, so there *is* an easy way to get from Penn. Ave to 15th St. Cycleways. Wait for the right arrow and ride across. Works both ways.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5001/5261626953_82b335c1f6_b.jpg
Obviously cars are willing to share that lane when they have the arrow. ;) I don't actually expect them too.

invisiblehand
12-14-2010, 08:14 PM
And you're right! We should give DDOT a break. This stuff is new. Unfortunately due to people parking in the cycleway, it presents an EXTREMELY dangerous situation.


I agree they need barriers to fix the parking situation, but I'll cut DDOT some slack here. This is brand new stuff, and everyone's just still getting used to it - bikes and cars alike.

Generally, I am a believer that whatever rocks your boat is fine with me assuming you're not hurting anyone else. While I think riding in contraflow lanes, cycletracks, bike lanes, and so on that put you in weird positions at intersections is highly questionable (http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/index.htm), everyone is free to make up their own mind. But weaving in and out of these things to avoid debris, parked cars, and such from these facilities is just plain nutty. Now maybe it is because I have actually seen someone get splatted by a car -- yes, one's innards can get knocked out of someone -- or whenever I see/read the grief after someone gets seriously hurt or killed I think to myself, why don't people do more before this happens, but I would argue one should cut someone slack when the problem is a hard one to solve. That is, if their is serious uncertainty with regards to how to solve the problem, I'd give the responsible people time to figure it out.

Cars parking in the middle of a facility you want to use is not a problem that we can't get a grip on. Everyone knows how to solve it.

YMMV.

Just161
12-15-2010, 08:15 AM
Okay, so there *is* an easy way to get from Penn. Ave to 15th St. Cycleways. Wait for the right arrow and ride across. Works both ways.


Great picture, thanks Dirt. So there's a phase when the only car movement is for Penn. Ave. westbounders turning right to northbound 15th? I.e., no left arrow like in your picture? Don't southbound 15th cars turning left onto eastbound PA cut across the sharrows during that phase?

This is hard to describe. I think I need to just go and look at it!!

gregbilling
12-15-2010, 12:10 PM
According to DDOT, the cycletracks should be finished by next Tuesday.

Dirt
12-15-2010, 12:47 PM
Great picture, thanks Dirt. So there's a phase when the only car movement is for Penn. Ave. westbounders turning right to northbound 15th? I.e., no left arrow like in your picture? Don't southbound 15th cars turning left onto eastbound PA cut across the sharrows during that phase?

This is hard to describe. I think I need to just go and look at it!!

Yes. Exactly. There is a light where, assuming everyone obeys the lights, a cyclist can get from Pennsylvania Avenue Cycleway onto the 15th Street Cycleway without getting smooshed. I'm guessing there may be a similar light from 15th to Penn. Ave, but I don't know how that would sync. It would have to be a Bike Only signal because if the cars on southbound 15th get a turn arrow for Pennsylvania Avenue, their path will cross with the bicycles.

That, however, will have to be explored tomorrow.

Tune in next time for "The Never-ending saga of the 15th Street Cycleway."

Love,

Pete

OneEighth
12-15-2010, 11:02 PM
When I rode down 15th Street around 2300 this evening, I noticed that there are now reflective pylons segregating the bike lanes from the car lanes between roughly F Street and where the lanes end at Pennsylvania. So, it looks like this is still very much a work in progress.

girlonabikedc
12-16-2010, 09:18 AM
(sorry if this posts twice, I thought I posted a reply but it didn't appear)

There is a dedicated bike signal to get cyclists from the 15th St. cycletrack onto the Penn Ave bike lanes.

http://i1129.photobucket.com/albums/m514/girlonabikedc/door.jpg

(sorry for the crappy phone pic. The bike signal is on the left, in the middle)

Just161
12-16-2010, 10:09 AM
I checked this out last night, and it looks like the bike-only signal is going to be the solution. As of last night at about 9pm, there was a traffic signal contractor + truck out there parked on the NE corner of the intersection, looked like working on the bike-only light in girllonabikedc's pic above.

Of course, there was 1 bus marked with 1-800-MARINES, 2 black SUVs and 4 black Lincoln Town Cars with US government plates PARKED IN THE CYCLETRACK on the west side of 15th near the White House entrance barrier.

Now I see what you all were saying earlier - when a car parks in the cycletrack, it leaves NO room to bike around. You're forced to swing out and squeeze into the southbound auto lane -- heading northbound, this is directly into oncoming traffic coming at you head-on. Pretty scary and dangerous. Parking enforcement will be crucial here.

Dirt
12-16-2010, 10:20 AM
(sorry for the crappy phone pic. The bike signal is on the left, in the middle)
Coolness! It is really cute! Thanks for the photo. :D

baiskeli
12-17-2010, 09:56 AM
Pretty awesome to see an actual bike signal here. They were everywhere in Amsterdam, along with dedicated lanes - separated by medians, not just paint. I can't remember seeing a bike signal anywhere in the entire U.S. before. That's something motorists can see, and it sends a signal (so to speak) that bikes are part of the mix just like pedestrians.

Dirt
12-17-2010, 10:28 AM
I saw it in action last night. It worked perfectly. Bikes get to cross twice during the cycle of lights.

jrenaut
12-21-2010, 11:33 AM
Any word on whether or not they're going to adjust the timing on the lights? Going south on 15th is painful as it is now. I got caught at every single light, and usually early in the light cycle. With a little practice I could maybe catch a few of them, but right now the time it takes to go from V to the White House is maybe 2/3 riding, 1/3 waiting at lights.

girlonabikedc
12-21-2010, 06:19 PM
Any word on whether or not they're going to adjust the timing on the lights? Going south on 15th is painful as it is now. I got caught at every single light, and usually early in the light cycle. With a little practice I could maybe catch a few of them, but right now the time it takes to go from V to the White House is maybe 2/3 riding, 1/3 waiting at lights.

Me too! It isn't until around P St. that the lights are better synchronized for cyclists. After block after bock of go, wait, go, I'm tempted to simply ignore the signal lights, especially now that the weather is below freezing.

Runner750
01-04-2011, 03:44 PM
Even after P St. the light coordination is bad. I usually have to stop at Rohde Island, Mass, M and K before I reach my turn at Lafayette Sq. I think it is time that we bike commuters join our voices to express this issue. I don't know to whom and how, though....Any thoughts?

gregbilling
01-04-2011, 03:55 PM
Green Wave light signalization would be the obvious solution. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_wave

Programming an optimal lighting sequence against traffic (northbound being the direction car traffic travels) is very challenging if not impossible. And the perfect solution of two greenwaves (one northbound and one southbound) is even more complicated.

Has anyone done some testing of the optimal speed to hit the lights? I'd definitely ride slower/faster to hit the green lights.

Greg