View Full Version : 15th St Bike lane problems, anyone else?

04-06-2011, 05:37 PM
I routinely take the bike track on 15th st, and seems like more and more it's about the most dangerous part of my ride. Coupled with the recent WaPo article that bike/ped accidents are up 25% I'm wondering if we're creating new problems .

Seems as though if you actually obey the traffic lights and wait in the bike lane, you're constantly getting right hooked when you subsequently try to proceed at the light change. You're somewhat protected by the pylon line while in the middle of the block, but at every intersection it's now as if the vehicles don't honor nor pay attention that the bike lane is actually a lane of traffic. It's not that DC hasn't put up enough signs.

Anyone else seeing the same behavior? Almost ate the hood of a Malibu today, and it seems like it's becoming more of an occurrence.

04-08-2011, 08:52 AM
I've had the opposite experience on 15th - when the lanes first opened, it was like the red left turn arrows were signs to turn faster. But recently, with the increased parking enforcement, 15th has been a really easy ride, though I am coming through at 2pm rather than rush hour.

You have a link to the WaPo article?

04-08-2011, 12:43 PM
You have a link to the WaPo article?


Interesting.. the 2-3pm timeframe is my preferred time. I'm down around the M st area

Riley Casey
04-08-2011, 01:02 PM
I just spent a week riding the cycle track four times a day on a CaBi bike and had no significant issues with cars turning with the exception of one time where I guessed wrong about a green light - turned out to be a left turn light for the cars . The biggest problem I had was south bound trying to locate the walk signals. They are not located a consistent light pole at each intersection it seems. All that being said I tend to wait for lights out in the cross walk where I can be seen unless I'm likely to be in the way of pedestrians. Visibility is 90% of the solution in my experience. I'm always surprised at how invisible a 6'3" guy in a yellow jacket on a silver bike can be to drivers.

Edit > I probably should have mentioned that I was riding between Florida Ave & P Sts so that is probably not representative of the more office dense area around M St.

04-08-2011, 04:23 PM
Beginning to sound like I'm just getting the luck of the draw then :-P

04-11-2011, 07:11 AM
Part of it may be that it is tourist season. This time of year the city is flooded with the lovable creatures. (I say that jokingly... I still feel like a tourist here after 22 years in the area.) They are sometimes more attentive to the wonders of our Nations Capitol than they are watching out for bicycles and cars.

04-11-2011, 08:09 AM
I'd like to see the rates of crashes relative to number of bikes/pedestrians. Biking is up 68% in the last three years, crashes up 25% this year - we may not be looking at an increase in the actual rate of crashes, just more bikes out there. Not that any crash is a good crash, but when you look at misleading numbers, you often don't come to the correct conclusion. I don't want the city to start fixing the wrong problems.

04-15-2011, 04:18 PM
I used the cycletrack for the first time today. I was coming up 15th northbound from the Mall having completely forgotten it even existed till I got to the first light north of Constitution on 15th and realized it was there (I don't like how they combined north and southbound cyclists on the track since it's clearly not obvious to northbound cyclists that the track even exists if you are following traffic in the right lane). I then did an awkward turn on the sidewalk so that I could position myself to cross 15th at the crosswalk so as to get onto the track.

I was thrilled(!) to be able to pedal along outside, but not in, traffic but my euphoria was very short lived since the cycletrack seemed to disappear after only three blocks(!) - that is, at Lafayette Park. I wanted to go north but all I saw was parked cars and a sidewalk ahead of me and I was now on the wrong side of the road to continue north. Did I miss something here??? How is one to continue on 15th?

Since my destination was Foggy Bottom I hooked a left turn thru Lafayette (which could use it's own cycletrack given the pedestrian traffic) and continued onwards through the streets. Later on that day, I experienced my first road rage incident - a woman in a van was furious that I was "taking the lane" down a one way, one lane street (21 St, NW heading south near the Mall). The incident left me rattled and unlikely to bike thru downtown ever again - I'll stick to the trails and quieter suburban streets.

I fully endorse segregated lanes/tracks as exists in some cities in Europe. I think the reason why DC can't quite get it right here is because it feels obligated to inconvenience the car culture as little as possible. They are trying to carve out a tiny niche for cyclists but aren't willing to go all the way; this creates a lot of half-ass dangerous results. Such a shame.

04-18-2011, 09:06 AM
It's easy to miss, but there is a left turn arrow at the "end" of the track on 15th. If you go left down PA Ave towards the White House and make your first right, the cycle track resumes once you cross I St. It is a little weird, and it's not signed well at all, but it works okay.

05-01-2011, 08:50 AM
I rode on it for the first time yesterday. I definitely noticed that riding southbound, right-turning cars do NOT yield to the bikes, even though the signs instruct them to do so. It's interesting, because they actually cross in front of the bike lane and then wait, yielding to the pedestrians in the cross-walk.

I think there could be a couple of solutions:
1. A special bike/ped signal for the southbound cycletrack where cars are allowed to turn right. The signal would turn green in advance of the traffic light, allowing bikes to get out in front of the cars before they start making their right turns.
2. A bike box that allows bikes to get ahead of the cars at the stopped light.

In reality though, the thing to do might be yielding to right-turning cars. We know they are supposed to yield, but I'd rather wait a few seconds and proceed through the intersection safely. It would hurt if the cops came out and nailed drivers who didn't yield, though.

05-01-2011, 10:07 AM
I took some video of Montreal's cycletrack system last weekend. It was early Easter Sunday, so not very many people out. The Rue University cycletrack starts at about minute 3:00.