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First, you act as if the neighborhood residents who are against this lane are anti-cyclists. That is simply not true, there are safety issues (cars turning left can't see cyclists coming the other way because of the parked cars, and if cyclists are going both ways now, which DDOT seems to be acknowledging, will cars look for them coming the wrong way on the contraflow lane?) and a multitude of other problems with this bike lane, which other cyclists have noted on different blogs. I have already seen a number of close calls for cyclists, especially in the shared lane going north.

The neighbors want bike lanes, they just don't want the current configuration. Alternative #4 of DDOT proposals (center turn lane, north and southbound vehicle lanes, north and southbound bike lanes, parking on both sides) would have been ideal.

Second, the reason residents say it doesn’t have a neighborhood feel is because that was one of DDOT's stated goals when they took on this project. And no, it didn’t have a neighborhood feel before, nor does it now.

From DDOT’s website:
“15th Street itself, with one-way, high-speed traffic, resembles an urban freeway and does not reflect the neighborhood through which it flows. The capacity of the street (four lanes, one-way) is more than necessary for the traffic volume, particularly since the street narrows to one lane at the north end.
In order to reflect its residential character and make walking and bicycling safer and more convenient, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is examining the possibility of adding bicycle lanes and converting the operation to two-way traffic.”

The current bike lane accomplishes very few of the goals it set to fix. Many cyclists refuse to admit the problems with the contraflow lane because they are just happy to a have more cycling infrastructure.

Third, you don't need a radar gun to see traffic hasn't slowed. Don’t be ridiculous. Those of us who live on the street can see it.

Finally, residents and cyclists should work together to get a safe and proper solution. If you don’t get the residents buy-in on this, it will be gone in a year. And labeling us things like “anti-commenters” doesn’t help. We have the right to have our voices heard instead of having a contraflow bike lane installed in our neighborhood that whimsically caters to cycling enthusiasts and MD commuters.

I don't think the residents are anti-cyclists nor did I imply that. ["anti-commenters" was not my word, but rather a quote].

I've been on 15th. I can see cars in the oncoming traffic lane when I'm in the CF bike lane. Why can't they see me? How is this fundamentally different than a traditional one-way street with a left lane from which left turns are made, a parking lane and then a sidewalk with pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk? Can drivers see pedestrians coming the opposite direction, or are they blocked by parked cars? Isn't this the same thing, but with the sidewalk/crosswalk replaced by a bike lane? If drivers take the turn slowly, they should have no problem seeing cyclists.

How would alternative four have made more of a neighborhood feel than this? What are you looking for in the neighborhood feel department?

Rereading the 15th street Reconfiguration plan I see two goals.

1. adding bicycle lanes (there is now a southbound lane)
2. and converting the operation to two-way traffic (bikes are traffic so that is done too).

Slowing traffic was not a goal. Frankly, that may be unrealistic. The rules of induced demand go both ways. So taking away capacity doesn't really slow traffic it just moves it elsewhere. But it is the norm that people slow down on narrower streets. The amount may be imperceptible (1-3 mph for example) but it may still be there.

WABA, in my experience, is always glad to work with residents to get a proper solution. What would that look like in your opinion?

Short of a conversion to a 2 way street, the only way to slow/calm traffic on 15th--between K Street and Florida/V is the installation of photo radar. At every block.

I empathize with the residents along 15th because that street ruins their neighborhood. These massive, multilane one-ways are relics of 1970s traffic engineering, and should be done away with.

Now if DDOT f-ed up the public involvement process for the 15th conversion, shame on them, and they deserve criticism. But now that DDOT is finally moving to make the city more bicycle-friendly, perhaps they deserve just a little bit of slack from the non motorized public. Does anyone else agree?

DDOT is making positive steps and has made some big improvements. But they've also had some big misses - not insisting on a sidepath on the Oxon Cove bridge for example and so they still need a nudge here and there. But overall I'd give them a solid B+ over the last 5 years.

Regarding public involvement, let quote this site:

"Again, comments were solicited. 15 people favored it. 2 opposed it and 52 people's opinions were not counted. DDOT called these 52 "unrelated (such as preferring a different alternative, two-way traffic in general, etc)." How is wanting one of the other alternatives, or a two-way street "unrelated"? I think that is an overwhelming voice against Alternative 5. That's like voting "none of the above" at least."


Regarding slowing down traffic. It was a stated goal in the Draft Addendum:

"Due to the lack of a clear consensus, DDOT developed a fifth alternative as a compromise between the desire to maintain one-way traffic and the desire for more bicycle facilities. This hybrid alternative features three northbound travel lanes, and bicycle lanes in both directions. Next, the existing conditions and five
alternatives were evaluated using 11 criteria that reflect the objectives stated in the June 2008 “15th St, NW
Reconfiguration Alternatives and Analysis” report and the comments from the public meeting and emails. These included reflecting the street’s residential character, SLOWING TRAFFIC, and improving bicycle and pedestrian
safety, etc."


Regarding neighborhood feel. How about not having it as a highway out of the city for MD commuters and cabs. 1-3 mph difference when cars are going 45 mph doesn't really help. Moreover, it's dangerous for cyclists in the shared lane. I have already witnessed agressive behavior towards cyclists on the part of motorists in the shared lane.

If the Washcycle would like to contact me to discuss, I am more than happy to work with you and others in the community to address our concerns and find a reasonable solution.

Why can't they see me? How is this fundamentally different than a traditional one-way street with a left lane from which left turns are made, a parking lane and then a sidewalk with pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk? Can drivers see pedestrians coming the opposite direction, or are they blocked by parked cars? Isn't this the same thing, but with the sidewalk/crosswalk replaced by a bike lane? If drivers take the turn slowly, they should have no problem seeing cyclists.

From the Post comment section:

My only concern and experience was the parking of the SUV's, Trucks that block your view to make a turn, I almost hit a cyclist, turning on to Corcoran St., honestly didn't see the cyclist until the very last second, and some cyclist think they don't have to stop due to them having their own lane.

Posted by: weaverf | November 12, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I really am concerned about safety here. This is not just a NIMBY argument.

OK, well let's place the process question aside. No matter how bad the process was it isn't a reason to oppose the current configuration. It should stand or fall on it's merits.

Thanks for that link, because it does answer the street cleaning question. Even at 5 feet the street cleaning crew assured DDOT that they are able to clean it.
Unfortunately, during the preliminary voting, when there were only four alternatives, people in the community didn't stand up for Alternative 4 or the WABA-preferred Alternative 3 enough. I'm assuming that what you DO want is Alternative 4. That's fine. Alternative 4 is a good alternative too.

But that isn't what people have been saying. The question quoted above is more about what they don't want. They don't want this cycle track. Even you have spent much more time saying what you don't want then what you DO want.

Is this design the best design? probably not. Is it better than it was? Yes.

Is it dangerous? Only if people turn too quickly or fail to realize that a cyclist coming the other direction has the right of way (cyclist think they don't have to stop because they don't when they have a green light, not because they have their own lane). That someone almost hit a cyclist is not evidence that it is unsafe. How often do people almost hit pedestrians in crosswalks? Are crosswalks dangerous?

If you want to start a group that is FOR alternative 3, I would support that. But if all that you can say is you're against this, I can't go with you. But I worry that the ship has sailed on Alternative 3 (or 4).

ms. zorba: if a neighborhood feel is what you wanted to come out of this project at its conclusion, did you press DDOT to turn the road back into a two-way street? i'm not being snarky here, i'm asking a legitimate question.

because clearly, that would be the best way to make the street more neighborhood friendly. that, and taking a lane or so out, widening the front yards for everyone on the street.

As much as I want to love the 15th street contraflow lane, I really hate it. It's one of those arrangements that probably looks great on paper but in reality seems to generate more problems than it solves.

Despite this new "amenity", after riding in it once, I much prefer to ride southbound on 14th (in the bike lane) or on 16th (in the traffic lane). It winds up being slow and cumbersome because despite being a protected lane, the rider has to be aware of pedestrians and cars that are not expecting southbound cyclists on a northbound one-way street. It also makes for some dicey intersections as a driver. It pretty much feels like riding the wrong way down a one way street without the benefit of being able to anticipate driver/pedestrian actions. SO even though it should be an easier ride, it creates more anxiety for almost everyone.

In one ride I nearly hit two pedestrians that cut between parked cars while rushing across the street at mid block to beat the traffic. One block later I almost hit an older woman pushing a grocery cart near an intersection (in both cases I "should" have had the right of way, I think). I've simply never had that many close calls before in a week and those occurred within 4 blocks.

I'm also not a fan of the aesthetics. The yellow plastic poles are hardly an integrated design.

Again, as a cyclist I want to love it, but ultimately it feels like it was done on the cheap and does not effectively achieve it's goals.

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