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RE the "Kenilworth section" of the ART - do you mean the section between Bladensburg and Anacostia Park/Benning Rd? Does "60% done" refer to construction or design? Did they give a projection completion date? (sorry to ask so many questions).

Benning Road to the District Line, I don't know about the little piece from the District Line to the existing section north of U.S. 50. 60% refers to design - I'll correct that. They did not give a completion date, but according to DDOT's website that date is 10/12/2012.

WOW! I love the idea of some east/west cycle tracks! That would make getting around downtown Via bike a heck of a lot easier!

What is the impetus for having cycle tracks downtown? Are people scared about mixing with the volume of traffic there? My only issue with downtown personally is how long it takes to get anywhere with all the red lights and congestion. So I'm skeptical of physically separated lanes that would make it hard to filter, get around obstacles, pass a slower cyclist, etc. Plus, doesn't that make turning a lot more dangerous?

Is there a very bicycle-friendly city (e.g. Amsterdam, Copenhagen...) that has these and they work? My gut feeling is it's a really bad idea. I think physical separation would be great on a high-speed artery with few junctions (say, route 50 in Virginia), but terrible downtown.

It seems like they chose L St. because M St. runs into Scott Circle near 14th St. L St. has a longer straightaway.

Interesting idea though I probably won't use these cycletracks much.

I wonder how they are going to find space for the I street cycletrack. It's complete [automotive] gridlock at both rush hours with double parking, delivery trucks, cabs, valet parkers, bus stops, etc. In reality there is only one open lane at most times. Are they going to narrow the sidewalk?

Scott F, yes some people are scared to ride downtown. You don't see them, because they're scared to ride downtown. The impetus is that DDOT is trying to make a more bike friendly city that balances use of space along the lines of Montreal and New York. I'm not sure if they make turning more dangerous. I would say not necessarily - there's not enough info yet.

I would say most bicycle-friendly cities use some form of cycletracks including the two you mentioned. Amsterdam tries to separate bikes and cars on any road with a speed limit over 20mph, for instance.

Eye street - they didn't give any details since they're having the meeting later, and the BAC meeting always runs over.

M Street, it does run into Thomas circle, but then it goes all the way to New York Avenue (and Florida with a slight detour) and more naturally flows into Georgetown. One problem is that it's one-way west on the west side of Thomas, and one-way east on the east side of 5th NW.

The gaps in the cycle track plan are plain to see from the map. Why not try to connect the east west cycle tracks with the north south ones (assuming 9th Street will be two way)? I'm unsure why Eye Street was chosen over M. Getting to the Key Bridge in a car during the evening rush is somewhat difficult on M Street east of Gtown, but on Eye its damn near impossible. Taking space away from Eye could be a non-starter. M Street does hit Thomas Circle, but you can easily convert the bike lanes to a separated facility, and it appears to have more capacity and less congestion.

I can be convinced, but for now, consider me still a skeptic. I refer you to a heavily footnoted Wikipedia article:


As said article notes, most crashes in urban areas involve turning vehicles, not cyclists being rear-ended. And crashes involving turning vehicles go way up when any kind of physically separated bike path is used. Basically, I don't see how it's safe.

I also don't see how it's practical, not having space to pass a slower cyclist in front of you. If the cycle track is built, will we be legally required to use it? If not, will drivers and MPD officers know that? (I can answer that second question right now: No, of course they won't.)

I'd be scared to ride on a busy downtown street where use of a cycle track is required. It just seems like a recipe for disaster, no different than riding on the sidewalks. In fact, if it's anything like the poorly designed cycle track at MIT, pedestrians might even walk in them:


The blog about MIT's cycle track generated some good discussion on the problems cycle tracks have:


More funding and attention given to cycling is usually a good thing, but in this case, I'm not a fan.

The wikipedia article states that crashes go "way up" on a set-back path as opposed to a bike lane. These cycle tracks are neither. They are bike lanes with a border of some sort. So it's not really applicable.

You will not be legally required to use the cycletrack (I have no idea what drivers and MPD will know, but their ignorance is not really a point to stand on). I'm not sure how wide they'll be, but the ones I used in Montreal made passing very easy.

I doubt these cycletracks will be like the ones at MIT (up on the sidewalk). They will surely be in the road separated by parked cars, poles, a painted buffer or a combination.

But I suppose we should wait to see what DDOT is proposing before we go to arguing about it too much.

Here's Montreal's


And NYC's


You will not be legally required to use the cycletrack

Are you sure about that? Under current law bike lanes are part of the roadway, and as such you are required to use them in situations where you are required to keep to the right. Have you heard any discussion about what the legal status of these cycle tracks will be? Will they be roadways, sidewalks, or some new third thing that doesn't yet exist in the law? Are they expecting new law to be written? If they are a new, third thing it seems like a stretch that the city would create these things and then not expect people to use them.

This is a common problem with bike-specific facilities -- they are installed with little thought about where they fit into the existing legal and regulatory framework. Maryland still hasn't decided what the rights and duties of cyclists and motorists are when a bike path crosses a road.

I'm confident that cyclists will not be required to use the cycletracks. In DC you don't have to use the bike lanes and I expect the same to be true with the cycletracks. I don't think there is anything near the political will to change the law to require use of cycletracks and we could probably pass a law to clearly state that cyclists don't have to use them. But, it is something to bring up at the meeting.

DDOT does "expect" cyclists to use the cycletracks, just as they expect cyclists to use the bike/ped lane on the 11th street bridge. But in neither case will they require it.

In DC you don't have to use the bike lanes

Bike lanes are part of the roadway. In situations where you are required to keep to the right, and the bike lane is the right-most portion of the roadway, you are required to use them. There is no exception to the keep-right law for bike lanes.

On my commute this morning, an MPD officer hassled me about turning left from V onto 16th. He asked why I wasn't in the bike lane, I said "I'm turning left" and he said I'm required to be in the bike lane regardless, and should use a hand signal, as if that would mitigate the insanity of turning left from the far right side of the road.

Of course, this is NOT the law, but the situation illustrates what we're going to face if we get shiny new bike facilities that at times, we have good reason not to use. For example riding one block on L St then turning left (just as I did on V St). Drivers will honk, cops will give you trouble, traffic on the main roadway may be moving faster -- it won't be fun. Admittedly, this is kind of a worst-case scenario, but that's my fear.

The Montreal cycle track looks okay. It's wide enough to allow safe passing (only because it's two-way, though). And there are no parked cars between the main roadway and the cycle track. It will probably still increase turning-related collisions, but I might support something like that. Let's wait to see what exactly DDOT proposes, I guess.

Contrarian, The "Pocket Guide to Washington, DC Bike Laws," which is a joint product of WABA, DDOT and the MPD, reads:

Does a cyclist have to ride in a bike lane?
There are no regulations in DC which state that bicyclists must use a bike lane when one is provided.

Nor is there any case law, that I am aware of where a cyclist has been ticketed for not riding in the bike lane. Even under your reading of the law, all that your saying is a cyclist has to ride in the rightmost part of the lane, whether that part be a bike lane or not. Grind out the thermoplastic and you're still riding in the same place. Still, I don't think that is the law. I think you are free to choose not to ride in the bike lane - especially because it is usually close to parked cars and you may move over to avoid "doors that may open."

Scott F, I hear you. Cops and drivers will misread the law. That is no different than now, and it could easily be an argument for not building bike lanes or bike trails or sidewalks or any of the places that drivers think cyclists should be. It is a reason why drivers and MPD need to be educated. I hope you got the officer's name and/or badge. There are places to report such things.

washcycle, I think that's a rather idealistic view -- we can work towards drivers and cops being better educated in the law, but that's not the reality today. But I might support cycle tracks depending on the design. It WOULD increase comfort (not the same as increasing safety), and that would probably get more people riding which might in turn increase safety.

This is assuming there's a clear line of sight between the main roadway and cycle tracks (ie, no on-street parking), like the Montreal example. Otherwise, IMHO it's a recipe for disaster. Because these cycle tracks could be done wrong, and do pose SOME risks even if done right, I remain cautious in my support.

There are no regulations in DC which state that bicyclists must use a bike lane when one is provided.

That is a true statement that leads to a false conclusion. What DC does have is a law saying (with exceptions) that cyclists have to ride to the right of the roadway, and a law defining a bike lane as part of the roadway.

all that your saying is a cyclist has to ride in the rightmost part of the lane, whether that part be a bike lane or not. Grind out the thermoplastic and you're still riding in the same place.

Except that's not how bike lanes are implemented in DC. If you look at the DDOT bike facilities guidelines, the minimum width for a road with no bike lane and parking is 20' -- 10' for the travel lane and 10' for the parking lane. The minimum width for a road with a bike lane is also 20' -- 8' for the travel lane, 5' for the bike lane, and 7' for the parking lane. When they put in a bike lane, they don't make the road wider, but they move the edge of the roadway 3' to the right.

Now yes, you could argue that moving a paint stripe doesn't change your safe and practicable position on the roadway. But that's a losing argument. You'd have to somehow convince a judge that you are better qualified to judget the safety of the bike facility than a trained traffic engineer following DDOT and AASHTO guidelines. Good luck with that.

Here's the real problem. DDOT doesn't make traffic law, and it doesn't enforce traffic law. It builds facilities. When it creates new facilities it needs to circle around with the Council and MPD and integrate them into the legal framework. This is something we as cyclists should insist upon.

Who has right of way between a cyclist going straight in a bike lane and a vehicle turning right (a la Alice Swanson)? Undefined. Is double-parking illegal in a bike lane? Undefined. I'm very worried about DDOT creating facilities like cycletracks and bike boxes without really any thought as to how these are going to be integrated into the rest of traffic.

Collissions in cycle tracks tend to increase because many more people are riding, not because it is a patently facility type. Quite the contrary, NYCs cycle tracks have decreased crashes for all modes. But the were designed very carefully, and with a lot of thought for how conflicts at intersections should be mitigated.

Maybe part of the answer is to establish routes leading from the suburban periphery to the City? As a D.C. intern in 1991, I recall being stuck in traffic jams between Centerville, VA and the last Metro train station. What a hellish commute THAT was!
Also, don't forget about the huge influx of tourists clogging the sidewalks, et. I think this proposal is going to require further thought. Thanks for your time.

A continuous 9th Street bike lane would be awesome. It'd ALSO be awesome if the police actually ENFORCED the "buses / bikes only" rules in the right lane of 9th Street downtown.

DC should only allow bike racers guys under age 40 in full regalia on carbon fiber skinny tire equipped bicycles to ride , PERIOD. No other types of bicycles should be permitted,such as regular people with regular clothes, workbikes, or those doing their shopping or running errands on their bikes. Sit up posture bikes should also be banned.
No children no elderly, no families, no women- unless they can ride in the streets with the cars and get into the groove with the latest in racer fashions. Let's clean up cycling in DC.

w, I figured you might have a bone to pick with my comments.

I'm a regular person with regular clothes who rides in order to shop, run errands, and commute -- as do many of my friends, including women. My ride is not quite a "beater bike," but let's just say it was inexpensive and looks "lived-in." No skinny tires. I admit to being under 40, but that's the only thing you got right about me.

My concern is that a separated cycle track on a busy downtown street (with lots of turning!), while it will FEEL more comfortable, will actually INCREASE collisions. As far as I can tell, this is a demonstrated fact, but I didn't check Wikipedia's source. Feel free to go to the "Segregated cycle facilities" article and pull up their citations. It certainly matches my experience. My worst crash, and several near-misses, resulted from entering intersections while riding on the sidewalk -- a segregated cycling & walking facility.

I'm willing to support cycle tracks because the increased comfort may induce more people to ride, which is good in itself, and which in turn can increase safety (the "safety in numbers" effect). But that assumes the cycle tracks are designed carefully to minimize risk. In particular, if on-street parking is planned between the cycle tracks and main roadway, blocking line of sight, then I'm an opponent. I think that would be very dangerous. Don't you?

And since these roadways have lots of on-street parking right now, which could be impractical or at least politically toxic to remove, I'm not optimistic.

Long a city cyclist, and having spent a great deal of time living in Copenhagen, visiting Amsterdam, etc. I say: Please CHANGE the word from Cycletrack to something a bit less 'racey'. No matter the configurations choices, the nomenclature will surely turn off MANY would be 'takers'.

In Copenhagen, I believe it's just referred to a a cycle lane, etc., nothing too crazy. In most cases they ARE separated, and, yes, there are the impediments of overcrowding in these lanes during rush hour, etc. But, generally they have their own signaled lights, and it works fabulously well.

(Same can be accomplished with great striping, and especially providing a cushion of space for bikes at car 'right turn' areas . . . emphasizing 'bike right of way' area, as in Portland Oregon's system)

Huh, I didn't even think of the term "cycle track" as having racing connotations. It does seem to be the established term in the U.S. Any ideas for an alternative? It has to be different from "bike lane," since that normally just means a stripe of paint.

the benefit of the cycletracks is that they will attract many NEW cyclists. Experiences in other cities has shown just HOW MANY new cyclists can be produced a well managed network of separated cycletracks.

In any case, the safety of the cyclists is primarily a function of the number of cyclists using the road. Even if the cycletracks only increase the number of cyclists by a tiny amount, this will still result in quite impressive improvements in cyclist safety. But realistically, a network separated cycle tracks could be very popular among the large numbers of people who currently feel unsafe biking with cars.

The benefits of the cycletracks far outweigh any consequences. It is rational then, to put them anywhere we can. But we are not always rational. Still, we are seeing some progress!

twc wrote:

You will not be legally required to use the cycletrack (I have no idea what drivers and MPD will know, but their ignorance is not really a point to stand on).

I'm with Scott F:

Drivers will honk, cops will give you trouble, traffic on the main roadway may be moving faster -- it won't be fun. Admittedly, this is kind of a worst-case scenario, but that's my fear.

The idea that *technically* there's no legal requirement is pretty thin gruel. The ignorance--and ignorant antipathy--of the motoring public is certainly, absolutely relevant.

Positive: Cycle tracks will encourage more newbie cyclists, which is an unmitigated good thing.

Negative: Poorly designed cycle tracks are much more dangerous than simply riding on the road.

Of course, you see this everywhere: the CCT is *hugely* popular, with lots and lots of bike traffic. It's also much, much more dangerous than, say, riding out River Road from Potomac. Folks who don't know much will feel safe; folks who ride a lot will *know* they're unsafe.


Where you been?

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