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This was only a matter of time. I'd love to have the initial bike lanes back.

I've commented on this many times already. Nearly every time I've used PA Ave I have had to be extra, extra cautious and repeatedly advise pedestrians that they are standing in the bike lane.

It's not their fault. It is PISS POOR (re)design. The lanes, as originally designed, were fine. The retrofitting to placate AAA has made them needlessly hazardous.

Washcycle had a good point a few weeks ago. Come this fall pedestrians will be nearly invisible in the dark and against the back lights of traffic.

A special word of caution. The intersection near the Wilson building is particularly confusing for pedestrians. I noticed that the bike lane on Pa Ave will have the green but auto traffic won't. The pedestrian signal to cross PA is "don't walk" but since the cars are stopped many do anyways.

Twice now I've got sight of a head or two, the rest of the body screened by the cars, scurrying across the avenue only to appear suddenly in front me smack in the middle of the bike lane as I'm at full speed.

I was on these lanes for the first time yesterday. I hate to complain about them because of all the hate and discontent they created with the auto community. But...

Heading west at the far western end of the bike lane, it puts you to the left of two left turning lanes onto 15th street. When I turn onto 15th street I should be on the right of traffic. I found it very tricky to navigate. I'm sure a new cyclist who is attracted to the bike lane because of perceived safety would be quite challenged by this dilemma.

Luckily have developed superior vehicular cycling skills and was quite at home mixing with traffic and moving across two lanes of traffic to avoid a left hook from behind.

All in all, I never thought the original Pennsylvania Avenue set-up was very dangerous. I've ridden it with my 13-year old daughter who has a well developed sense of risk aversion. She didn't bat an eye.

I'm still not sold on the Penn Ave lanes after a pretty close call with a taxi making a u-turn. As ingrained as illegal u-turns are in this city, and as complacent as the cops are about pulling cab drivers over, I think that's the bigger accident waiting to happen when you put a bike lane in the middle of the street.

And yes, pedestrians in the islands are generally dicks about moving out of the bike lane, or having a bell rung at them while they jaywalk.

Yes, there are safety problems with the bike lanes.

But my major concern with the design is that by effectively instructing pedestrians to stand in a vehicle lane (which is what a bike lane is) it creates the appearance that bicyclists are dangerous scofflaws who have no regard for pedestrian safety, even when the bicyclist is using the lanes in a law-abiding and safe manner.

The design effectively indicates that both bicycles riding through an intersection and pedestrians stopped in it are in the right, even as it creates a dangerous situation for both parties.

Unpredictable behavior (such as taxis making illegal uturns) is always a safety problem, but this design flaw has created a predictable, dangerous problem, and that's what's most frustrating about it.

I wonder if pedestrians don't differentiate between separated bike lanes and multi-use paths. Therefore think it is OK to just stand or walk in the bike lane because it is supposed to be a shared space.

This would be analogous to drivers thinking every multi-use path is a dedicated bike trail (bike only).

@twk - no it's because in order to restore another empty lane for automobiles to mostly *not* use they had to pinch the bike lanes down towards the center and INTO the pedestrian refuge islands.

I doubt not more than 1 out of a 100 pedestrians would realize that the refuge island, with its brick surface, is now also a bike lane.

While the comments here represent some valid concerns, NONE of them really apply in this particular case. If the description as given is true, this is clearly a case of a pedestrian walking against the light. No amount of "refuge space" in the median would alleviate that.

I flat out don't use those bike lanes. They were built for PR reasons, not safety reasons. They don't add anything. In fact they add ambiguity to what tourist pedestrians have to observe and understand. The more variables you throw at people, the more they will miss, or the more ambiguity they'll be confused by.

The human brain can only calculate so many things so fast, so keep it simple.

I don't use the 15th Street contra-flow lane either, but I see how it expanded the bicycle infrastructure, so I've come around to accepting it.

The pedestrian *was* walking against the light. This happens almost every morning because without sufficient car traffic through that section of PA Ave, pedestrians assume they can cross safely.

@SY
I've never ridden PA Ave in the mornings. But in the evening rush hour I readily agree. There is such little traffic on Pa Ave that many pedestrians can cross with no particular urgency.

With the present narrow bike lanes the cyclist has no safe means of avoiding a pedestrian who suddenly steps into your path.

You can't go left as that runs you straight into the signal poles. And to go right into the lane of traffic is chancy. Sure hope there is no bus there at that moment.

I ride along Pa Ave in front of the Whitehouse daily. Wandering pedestrians abound. Sure I'm careful. But I've also got a long sight line to see them and plenty of room left or right to avoid them.

Before the re-stripping of Pa Ave the bike lanes would have given you some extra safety margin to avoid the pedestrian without having to brake so hard that you crashed.

All may be true, but it sounds like this rider needs to learn some basic cycling skills...he saw a pedestrian well in advance and still almost ran in to them? Keep your weight far back on the bike for sudden stops...

I'm coming around to the Montreal version of piste cyclables, cycle tracks, two lanes, separated, on one side of the street.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/4770592213/

Richard, In my conversations with DDOT personnel including Gabe Klein, they'd love to do that. But it is way more expensive and time-consuming then what they've been doing. They're trying to get infrastructure in fast.

Brendan, "They were built for PR reasons, not safety reasons." No, they were built to encourage more people to bike. They were in the 2005 bike plan long before there was any PR element to them. And from what I've seen they have succeeded in getting more people to bike on Penn Ave.

I realize what I wrote sounds a little harsh. I don't commute but I have been riding in DC traffic for many years. Ride defensively. Assume all pedestrians and motorists are complete idiots, watch in advance for problems. Practice riding in safe areas for sudden stops, popping out of clips if you use them etc. There seems to be many new riders out there...much more important to me than bells and whistles and helmets are pro-active riding skills...the police have a term...avoidable accidents...someone may not have been at fault, but could a given incident been avoided? No opinion really on bike lanes, it is what it is, we have to deal with what's out there as best we can.

Even though bells are recommended/required in some jurisdictions, I don't think a lot of pedestrians know the significance of a bell sound behind them. Many simply seem to be confused by the bell or assume it's background noise from a block away.

I've only ridden in the bike lanes in non rush-hour times. I rarely see anyone, cyclist or pedestrian, in the lanes at those times, so I can't really comment on the experiences of other people here.

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