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This bike box is blocks from my house. I wonder how well it will actually work. The intersection is an awkward five point design with blocked sight lines and a long light cycle, so its hard to get a jump start on cars.

Right now you can scoot up on the right of cars and continue along. Will drivers react positively to a biker positioning themselves in the bike box after they have been waiting 90 seconds for the light to turn?

This block of commonwealth is really the only unfriendly block for a couple of miles. North of this intersection you have a wide shoulder, and north of that it is a dead end street that connects to 4 mile and the mvt. South of this intersection you have bike lanes and traffic calming speed bumps with bike cutouts. In the end I appreciate the thought to make Del Ray (even more) bike friendly, but don't know if I'll actually use the box.

No way I would use that unless there's some sort of priority lighting to allow the cyclists to proceed before the cars do. Is there any signage indicating to card drivers what they're supposed to do? What are they thinking just placing one random bike box down?

I agree. In general glad to see Alexandria addressing what is a very busy road for cyclists heading to and from the MTV Trail. There currently isn't any signage and there definately should be. Also, the bike box is much smaller than those I've seen elsewhere. Hopefully they'll put in a BB on Commonwealth on the opposite side.

Hurray for Alexandria! It's another small step forward that, I hope, will be noticed by drivers.

I think this is a positive step even if it mainly just confuses drivers. I'd rather be honked at by a confused driver than ignored by one who can't be bothered to slow down to avoid hitting me.

@ontarioroader: There is a sign (visible in a different pic I took) that makes it clear that cars and bikes have different stop lines. "Stop line here except bikes" or something along those lines. There is no priority lighting, though.

I ride through that intersection in that direction at least about 200 times a year and never really had any problems before. I agree w/ David's comment about appreciating the thought, and I have generally found Alexandria's cycling-related efforts to be well-intentioned and generally on the mark. I'm scratching my head a little over the location of this bike box. There is a new traffic pattern at the intersection since an entire lane was basically lost to a sidewalk that was added. Maybe it's some sort of concession for that?

The one thought I have had is that the light can sometimes be a bit short, especially at rush hour as the intersection accomodates traffic from five different directions. On occasion, lined up behind too many cars to make my left turn, I have missed the light. Maybe this is an attempt to usher cyclists through to the head of the line so that doesn't happen...

Thoughts for improvements:

1. Paint the box so it stands out more (and probably make it a little bigger). I've already seen it somewhat regularly ignored by drivers, although there were no cyclists in the box at the time and since when have drivers really stopped at designated stop lines?

2. Make it easier for bike to maneuver to the front of the line to use the box. There is not a bike lane leading up to the box, just the old remnants of a second car lane. It can sometimes be a bit of a tight squeeze between stopped cars and the gutter/curb if the cars meander to the right... a marked/painted bike line leading up the box might make it more useful. (as described here --- http://www.portlandonline.com/TRANSPORTATION/index.cfm?c=46717)

Generally, though, kudos to Alexandria for thinking of us and taking steps to make things better.

Very odd. I'm pretty skeptical of bike boxes to start with, so at first glance, this looked to me to be taken from the same playbook as the planned redundant bridge at the other end of Comm Ave.

However, perhaps the set back stop line for cars is not so much to give cyclists a headstart in mixed traffic, but intended more as a safety measure to cut down on the right-hook risk for cars making the sharp uphill right onto northbound Mt Vernon Ave.

How wide is the pavement in the bike lane? It looks like half the bike lane is really the gutter pan, with a large seam in the middle of the bike "lane".

@Stephen, it's not really technically even a bike lane there. Alexandria city bike maps show the entire length of Commonwealth Ave. being an "on-road bikeway", but they don't dsitinguish between bike lanes and sharrows on their maps.

There is a bona fide bike lane futher along Commonwealth beginning on the other side of Mt. Vernon Avenue. Most cyclists (myself included) along this strecth tend to ride in the right tire track of the road and only filter up along the curb past cars if going straight through the intersection. That's at lowed speed, though with the cars stopped, so it's easy enough to deal w/ the narrower passage and the possibility of crap in the gutter.

If I'm making my usual left turn, I normally just line up behind whatever cars may be in line at the light. Not sure if I'll try filtering up front and then getting in the box to make a left turn or just stick with my current approach.

From a cycling perspective the whole intersection as redesigned is probably far from ideal. I was still excited to see the bike box, even if its utility may be suspect. Gotta start somewhere...

Blid Pilot mentioned it to me this week when we caught up on the MVT. After I got back from my training ride today for the Crystal Ride on June 13 (50 miles are long!), I looked at the box and just could not get myself to stand in it...

Whenever I take that route, I always ride on the right and move up past the stopped cars to the front, sometimes I can even go through...

I agree that the City has to start somewhere. On a positive note, the cars were clearly stopped before the box today (even before I arrived)

Doesn't Commonwealth have sharrows? Or am I thinking of Mt. Vernon?

Both of them have sharrows but it seems a little haphazzard to me. Although Mt Vernon gopes all the way down to the light on Braddock...

If this is only one, and we do not expect many more, are we creating a hazard? Most drivers and even many cyclists do not know how these work, and cyclists will do one thing, and the motorists will expect another. Its hard enough getting people to obey the rules of the road without adding additional complications.

SJE, it is the only one so far, but DC is planning to put it many and I would be surprised if Alexandria stopped at one. I do agree that some education is needed.

I like the bike box there. I used to ride Commonwealth to grad school once a week and I did find this to be a difficult intersection. This would make it easier for me to do what I normally do anyway, which is filter up to the front and then get in front of the cars. Once I'm moving fast enough to be out of the wobbly phase, and there is space, I move over to let cars pass.

It should help with the left-hand turn onto Mt. Vernon. I often have cars creeping up on me when I position myself in the traffic lane so I'm not blocked by people going straight.

Since I almost always continue on Commonwealth, the slight left turn is not an issue for me. I can see how that is beneficial for those turns.

Let's see how many more of these bike boxes we'll get to see...

I got an E-mail back from the city about this bike box. It was actually striped by a contractor for the adjacent Triangle property redevelopment and was done as part of that redevelopment. City staff felt a bike box here was justified due to the large number of bicyclists, the signal cycle, and what the city perceives as difficulty for bicyclists making the left turn from SB Commonwealth to SB Mt. Vernon. The city will monitor its use and looks forward to input from users.

Right now the city budget is tight, but they are considering adding bike boxes at other locations...I couldn't get a specific list of intersections being considered, though.

Thanks for that, Froggie! I'll be giving the box a try tonight, I guess. My last couple commutes home, for various reasons, have taken me either straight through that part of the intersection or nowhere near it at all, so I haven't yet had occasion to take full advantage of it.

I do have one concern, and it's not about the box per se, but rather about how drivers will react to cyclists using it. I just hope they will understand what's going on, and not interpret cyclists use of the facility as some sort of "arrogant cutting in line by cyclists" or something.

In the absence of a large number of bike boxes across the city and a related public service message campaign to educate people and get them used to the proper use and purpose of bike boxes, I wonder if some sort of signage at that intersection might help to explain to drivers (and to cyclists) that it's OK for cyclists to filter past and then move into the bike box. I can see a lot of drivers taking its intended use as an affront otherwise.

Nice. I live only a couple blocks away, but I do not ride thru this intersection. I ride Commonwealth daily to Old Town, with no problems. I must say most drivers in Alex are decent and I have never had any issues, however I avoid Mt. Vernon thru Del Ray. Occasionally I ride to the post office, or businesses on Mt. Vernon, and I usually ride the parallel streets and come in thru the side.

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