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I didn't see you say that the PennAve bike lane is going mostly in an unused median that cars couldn't use anyway. True, no?

Brendan: not the case. The median is not changing and will still be there. What AAA is up in arms about is that DDOT is taking the street for 4 lanes each way to 3 lanes each way in order to put the bike lanes in.

If you are a member of AAA (or even if you aren't), call Lon Anderson at 202-481-6820 and tell him you want these bike lanes!

I repeat:

Lon Anderson

As for the Examiner post, what would be optimal on that section of Georgia/7th is the type of cross section you have on E St NW between 5th and 13th...with a travel lane, a bike lane, and a parking lane in each direction and a 2-way center left turn lane. Unfortunately, that type of cross section requires over 50ft of pavement width (E St does it with 54ft), and Georgia/7th just isn't that wide once you're south of Howard University. You'd either have to take out some sidewalk width or you'd have to take out one of the parking lanes at the corners, and I can't imagine either of those options going over very well...

AAA is, of course, stupid in their assertions, but I still can't understand why anybody sees these bike lanes as an improvement. I was told previously that's because I already ride and I'm comfortable riding in traffic on PA Avenue, so let me be more explicit: How is it an improvement for the meek and beginners to move from a lane at the edge of the road to a lane to the middle of the road? Plus, you're supposed to use the crosswalks to get out of the lane? Talk about mixed messages. Again, I just don't see these lanes as very practical.

Thank you, Mr. Washcycle! LOL @ "The only explanation for Powell's nonsensical responses is that she was literally driven crazy by this."
I've heard muttering about the new lanes from coworkers and I will from now on direct them to this post. Great stuff.

It would be great if you could get with WABA and put up a comment letter for this. I wrote my own but your knowledge would have made it much stronger. There are only 3 comments up currently, so cyclists can carry the day if organized.

If anyone's interested, I found a paper that shows the bike lanes can actually reduce congestion (Dixon 1996). But of course, reporters don't bother to do their research...


Another David, thanks. I hadn't seen that before.

Chris, here's how I see the bike lanes and why they're an improvement. First, it doesn't prevent anyone from riding in the right hand lane just like they used to. So if you don't like them, there is no change. Second, for those who don't like riding with traffic, they now have a buffered bike lane, with plenty of space, away from car doors and buses. It also adds a bike only left turn signal, which is pretty great. So going straight is better, turning left is better and turning right is the same.

There is nothing magical about the right hand side. In fact it is probably more problematic with more conflicts because of buses and taxis. The center might be the best place to ride. A bartender I talked to in NYC was telling me that he thinks of the 2nd lane from the right as the bike lane, because it gets him away from all that traffic. So the center lanes have that same advantage.

Just found another paper, showing that if bike lanes exist, people will use them


For those of you who have AAA membership and would like another choice please conciser Better World Club http://www.betterworldclub.com/

I have no connection with BWC, just outraged by a lobbying group that does not poll its members for its position and/or having positions that I do not support. You have a choice.

This is excellent commentary Washycle! Excellent!!

I wonder how much good it will do, but...hang in there.

just to help with the understanding of the operations - there will be no left turn bike signal.

What is happening is all motor vehicle left turns will be controlled with left turn signals so they don't hit you when you are riding your bike straight through the intersection.

To turn left you will have to use the crosswalks. You can do it two ways - proceed across the intersection (far side) and wait in the median for the signal to change to the north south street for left turns or use the nearside (crosswalk) when the light changes to north/south streets for right turns.

Of course, you can always merge into the adjacent vehicle lanes and ride with the motorists for left and right turns or just stay out of the bike lane altogether and ride with traffic.

With Bill's comments that's why I think it's kind of a confusing set-up which won't necessarily provide an assist for new cyclists who are afraid of riding on the road. Even if it is a better option, they need to ride on the road someplace to try and get there. I know I sound like a broken record here, but I'm not convinced that each incremental infrastructure change is the best investment towards the cyclist safety.

OK, whatever, I know I'm not really going to convince anyone here, and I certainly don't want to be considered a troll ... so, with that, I'm getting off my soapbox.

Presumably AAA doesn't mind how tour buses park illegally along Penn Ave all day long. Praise be to dDot for making this fine statement on a better future for all Americans. Who benefits more than suburban car drivers from less car congestion?

No, bike lanes do not cause congestion, and indeed in many cases they relieve it. It's worth pointing out, however, that one of the ways that bike lanes reduce congestion is by reducing capacity (when they take away car lanes), which discourages drivers from using the roads. (Fewer cars=less congestion.) I happen to think that this is a good thing. AAA, unsurprisingly, doesn't. And from their point of view, as advocates for those who use cars to get places, this makes a certain amount of sense.

My point is that this is less of *factual* disagreement than a *political* one. It is a question of competing visions of transportation and quality of life.

Guez...that only works if the reduction in cars equals or exceeds the reduction in lane capacity. This isn't always the case.

@ Read, WashCycle: is that the correct comment form link? The link takes me to the TPB.

Chris, I'm sure you're not alone in your concerns. It will be an unusual set-up. We'll just have to see, but I think it's a step up (and there is the symbolic element too).

Bill, I'm taking that from the Post article which claims that "bikes will have an exclusive green light to turn left when all other traffic is stopped." They may have changed the plans since we were shown them earlier this year.

Eric, that's the link Fox gave.

Car accidents cause gridlock. And yes, people "blocking the box" at intersections. Definitely right that it's a car (or truck) that blocks the intersections, not bicycles.

Ms. Powell lives in NE and drives just under an hour to get to National Archive? NE is served by Red, Green and Yellow Metro. There is no way I would subject myself to driving and parking if that is as far as I had to go. What is her parking cost?
AAA is a car centric association that probably sees its business drifting away.

Not only that, but she could do that trip on a bike in much less than an hour. And her commute time will "double because of the bike lanes?" An extra hour, really?

I'd like to say that I work for AAA Mid-Atlantic AND I'm a cyclist (though in the DE area). Actually, most of my friends through Philly and DE ride. My boyfriend's sole method of transport is bike - rain or shine. So, When I heard about this, I was equally as concerned.

I emailed Public and Government Affairs (I work in Social Media) out of personal concern. Basically, AAA Mid-Atlantic is not anti-bike. What they are fighting against is the addition of a bike lane without formal process (public review, surveys, etc.). If DDOT added another car lane without allowing for public opinion and impact studies, rest assured we would be none too pleased as well.

Like I said, I work in SM so I posted it on the blog today. http://ht.ly/1Ij81 I just wanted to clarify a little bit since I ride, work for AAA and am also a member.

I'd also like to apologize to all the angry Members (and ex-Members) on this thread (there are a lot of you). I hope this clears up the misconceptions out there. Feel free to contact me with questions.

Oh please, Kati. "What they are fighting against is the addition of a bike lane without formal process (public review, surveys, etc.)"

In a word, bull. Nothing in AAA's statements has been about process. They've been very specific: they don't want space taken away from cars and given to bikes. Period.

The process argument is completely nebulous, these lanes have been part of the bike plan for over five years and there has been ample opportunity for public comment.

"If DDOT added another car lane without allowing for public opinion and impact studies, rest assured we would be none too pleased as well." Again, bull. I challenge you to find one case anywhere in the US where AAA has objected to adding lanes for process reasons. Or for any reason for that matter.

The one encouraging thing we should take from this is that AAA feels the need to change their story, we must be reaching them.

It should also be noted that a public meeting WAS done for these downtown cycle tracks (including Pennsylvania Ave). The meeting was back in March, and a few of the commenters on this blog (including myself) attended.

So it looks like AAA MidAtlantic is in social media full-court PR press on this issue. They're hitting all the blogs:





They're all basically the same text cut and pasted. Money quote: "From my perspective, what AAA Mid-Atlantic did wrong was write a press release that caused our position to be misunderstood. " Uh huh.

It is encouraging that this incident seems to have gotten their attention. Let's see if it leads to policy changes.

You can comment on their blog at http://community.aaamidatlantic.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?webtag=aaaMAhome

"AAA Mid-Atlantic remains one of the nastiest and most anti-everyone-not-driving groups." That is not true.

David Alpert's self serving Ad Hominem attacks on AAA Mid-Atlantic in the Washington Post and on his blog are a disservice to bicyclists everywhere. Alpert, like others on WashCycle website, are attacking a group that is simply voicing a logical concern about the best way to safely build bike lanes in the District. But you wouldn't know it by the viral diatribes on various websites and blogs.

As a member, I was upset at the organization after reading your blog.

Unlike you, I picked up the phone and called John Townsend. Not knowing what to expect, I found him willing to listen to my disappointments. After venting at him, I finally allowed him to speak. He patiently reassured me that AAA Mid-Atlantic does not oppose bike lanes. Like the national organization, AAA Mid-Atlantic has a "pro-share the road stance."

In our conversation, Mr. Townsend explained that nowhere in the press release does AAA Mid-Atlantic state opposition to the bike lanes.

He is simply calling for a rational and reasoned discussion of the best practices that ensure the safety of all users.

As stated in the news release, he pointed out, "Some planners are still debating the best approach for adding bike lanes to existing roadways."

We should all be concerned about this.

In the past, AAA Mid-Atlantic has encouraged area motorists to sign a pledge to drive within the speed limit on area streets and roads, and to always watch out for people who are walking and cycling in the region. It supported the DC Neighborhood Pace Car Program, a community safety initiative sponsored by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the District Department of Transportation.

Its website is replete with pro-bike advocacy, information and videos encouraging all motorists to respectfully share the road with cyclists.





I remain a loyal member of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Here is what the website says about safety:

Sharing the Road - How We All Can Make a Difference

"Each year, there are more than a half-million collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles in the United States. Many of these incidents are the result of motorist, failing to properly yield to bicyclists. The following safety tips can make a difference:

* Motorists need to increase their awareness of bicyclists when making turns and remember to look for bicyclists when traveling in a straight line.
* Check for bicyclists along the edge of the traffic lane before opening car doors so you do not cause a collision when exiting your vehicle.
* Bicyclists also should use bike paths and always watch for turning and parked motor vehicles.
* Bicyclists should be encouraged to clearly communicate their intentions to motorists by using proper turn signals.
* Wearing helmets, visible clothing and using bike paths when available are key factors to ensuring a safe, pleasurable biking adventure"

Nothing there about actually sharing the road. The closest thing is "Bicyclists also should use bike paths" which is not a safety tip, it's a get-the-hell-out-of-the-way tip.

* Motorists need to increase their awareness of bicyclists when making turns and remember to look for bicyclists when traveling in a straight line.
* Check for bicyclists along the edge of the traffic lane before opening car doors so you do not cause a collision when exiting your vehicle.
* Bicyclists also should use bike paths and always watch for turning and parked motor vehicles.

AAA Mid-Atlantic's Rules for "Sharing the Road":

* Motorists should make sure to keep an eye out for bicycles.

* Bicyclists should get the fuck out of the road.

Great stuff, AAA.

Hi Contrarian:

The title of the page talks about sharing the road. How do you feel we could better address the issue. Are there some safety tips we have missed or do you feel that there was not enough emphasis on the need for motorists and cyclists to co-exist peacefully?

Kati: For starters, the AAA page seems to concentrate on helmets. I like helmets, but they do not provide adequate protection in a collision.

Safe cycling is not about helmets, it's about avoiding collisions. See WABA's safe cycling instructions for a good example.

Hi Ron

Thanks for your comment. I passed the link on to our Foundation for Safety and suggested that they expand the section. In a lot of the conversations I've been involved in recently, a common sentiment is that we should be a bit more comprehensive and not just cover the basics.

You are totally correct about safe cycling not being on the defense, so to speak, but should also concentrate on being on the offensive.

I will follow up when I hear from this group and will let you know what changes can be made. Thanks again.


One really important point to drill home to AAA members and drivers in general is that all drivers should expect that they could encounter a cyclist on the roads at any time day or night and any weather. They have a right to the road. Don't assume there will not be one around that blind curve. It used to be taught that you should not drive faster than you can see to stop. What I have observed is full speed head followed "I didn't see them". Cyclists have a responsibility to be visible. In some places they are trying to turn "I didn't see them" from an excuse into a confession of failure to keep proper lookout. So again we kind of get back to the negative impacts of distracted driving.

Keeping the distractions down can save lives and help keep AAA member's from being convicted of vehicular homicide.

AAA could also emphasize that they bigger guys should always look out for the smaller guys. Bikes should look out for pedestrians, cars should look out for bikes, trucks should look out for cars. In short those that can cause the most destruction have additional responsibilities to control their vehicle safely.

The title of the page talks about sharing the road. How do you feel we could better address the issue. Are there some safety tips we have missed or do you feel that there was not enough emphasis on the need for motorists and cyclists to co-exist peacefully?

That's a fair question and I'll try to answer it fairly. Bike safety is a pretty complex topic, lord knows we debate it endlessly here. Frankly, your website reads like it was written by someone who has never ridden a bike in traffic. It dodges the fundamental issue in driver/cyclist interaction, which is that you have to share the road, and sharing means somethimes having to defer to someone else.

It's a complicated subject. My recommendation would be to get someone who knows something about the topic to revise the page. A good starting point is the book "Bicycle Street Smarts" http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/index.htm

It's used as the bicycle driver's manual in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Arizona.

a common sentiment is that we should be a bit more comprehensive and not just cover the basics.

You're giving yourself too much credit. That's not it at all, you're not covering the basics.

I am not sure there is good agreement on what "share the road" means. To a cyclist it means they try to stay to the right, but can and will take the lane if needed for safety. This may temporarily delay cars. From many blogs it is pretty clear that a lot of motorists believe it means cyclists should share by not impeding motorized traffic. As in you're not sharing if you don't let me pass when I want to. Different folks are reading the same signs
differently depending on what side the of windshield you are on. Maybe AAA can help with this most basic concept.

As someone who actually rides down Pennsylvania Avenue during rush hour, these lanes are huge improvement - and do probably help traffic flow. With all the right turns off Pennsylvania, it is very dangerous for riders when people (legally or not depending on the turn) try to turn from the middle lane. While legally in the downtown area you are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, I can't count the number of times someone has yelled at me to not be on the road.

Having used the new lanes, they're fantastic.

The post is very intellectually written, with lots of valuable information

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