Last night I cross-posted David Alpert's stories about Jack Evans concerns about the 15th Street bike lanes from the BAC oversight hearing. The hearing is viewable here.
During his opening comments Evans stated (somewhat paraphrased) [10:20]
On 15th street, it's critical we keep the bicycle lanes. But the way we got it set up , it's not working right. I know cyclists are reluctant any observations for fear of losing something. I drive 15th street every day, and the way they got it set up is just a recipe for disaster. The left lane is all left turn lanes so you can't go in them, and then they have those bizarre traffic lights with the little bicycle and whether you can make a left or not and it is so confusing and now you have traffic both ways on that left lane and what was once nearly a six lane road has been narrowed down to two lanes and so we have to look at that and we have to look at a better way to do 15th street and I'm getting a lot complaints, of course, from residents and drivers
He's also confused by the bike light at 15th from Penn. he talks about it again as "not working" because drivers and residents are complaing and it's confusing.
What I wanted to say, but hesitated and missed my chance, is that Evans was making the classic science mistake of measuring the wrong thing. He's looking at complaints from drivers and residents and determining that the 15th street cycletrack is "not working." But reducing driver and resident complaints was not one of the goals of the 15th street cycletrack. The goals were to calm traffic, provide more options for cyclists and increase bicycle trips. In addition there is the implied goal of maintaining or increasing safety.
For Evans to say that it's not working, he needs to show that it is not meeting one of these goals. But, he doesn't. I'm not sure anyone can. DDOT really can't accurately study them until after they've been in for a year so that they can compare data without seasonal effects throwing the numbers off.
All he has is complaints from drivers - who have been slowed down BY DESIGN - and residents (though he never goes in to what the residents complain about, so that's impossible to address). There ar no complaints from cyclists or pedestrians. There is no evidence that the road has become less safe. There is no evidence of increased speeding. There is no evidence that it is decreasing bicycle trips. There is absolutely nothing to support his claim that it is "not working".
That is not to say that we shouldn't address changes as needed. If DDOT detects a trouble spot, if safety declines or if somehow it isn't meeting it's measurable goals, then by all means, let's fix it. But right now it is probably too early to say that it is or is not working. And we'd need more than a few complaints from drivers to make that kind of determination.
Of course, Evans is a politician. Perhaps measuring public sentiment is the exact right thing for him to do (to be re-elected). But the goal of DDOT is not to get Jack Evans re-elected. It should measure the right things.