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All this talk about "educating" drivers/cyclists on how to use the L-Street bike lane concerns me. Parking is one thing, but actual flow through the area is another. A design shouldn't need explaining, it should be pretty darn easy to decipher. I haven't biked through the area yet, but I might have to make a trip downtown.

I drove on L for the first time a couple of weeks ago and had basically no idea what to do when the time came to turn left. It's a human interface disaster.

More specifically, in the parts where the left turn lane has no parking or standing during the work week, how do you make the left when there are cars in the left turn lane? There's still a solid line for the bike lane, so it seems like the left hook is actually mandatory?


Im pretty sure the first time I drove onto an expressway, I needed help figuring out what to do (I had a driving instructor with me at the time) despite having ridden on expressways with my parents for years. Similarly people get confused the first time with traffic circles, srvice lanes, etc. Given that cycle tracks are new, and most people approaching the L street track have never ridden on one quite like it before, I think some education is reasonable.

A delivery truck (between 15th and 16th) and a limo (by Hotel Quincy?) in the lane yesterday at 7:45am. The right hand turn from the lane on to the 15th street cycletrack is very hazardous on green.

I think they should protect the cycletrack fully and make it two-way, like the 15th street track. Put in protection cuts at garage entrances. Better for cyclists to just deal with cars turning through the lane mid-block or across the lane at intersections than the current high-speed merge setup coupled with cars and trucks parking in the lane.

Between the incessant parking in the lane and it's non-protected nature (waiting in the green stripe at 15th to make a right with cars speeding past on your right and on your left is ridiculously hazardous!) this cycletrack just needs a full redesign.

It's too intimidating for non-expert riders. The purpose of protected tracks is just that -- bikes can ride without the worry of being run over from behind at any speed they wish to ride. It's a safe place to ride, protected from same-direction traffic. This track fails that basic human test.

Peregrine Espresso on 14th has been delivering by bicycle ever since that location opened (two years ago?)


"waiting in the green stripe at 15th to make a right with cars speeding past on your right and on your left is ridiculously hazardous!"

I hope that's not how you approached this.

I agree that the the safe methods for completing this right turn, which are to do a box turn by riding in the left turn lane and hopping into the 15th street cycletrack north of L or to merge into the right motor vehicle lane ahead of time, are not clearly spelled out to the users of this cycletrack.

What would help is having a standard for cycletracks throughout the city, so one doesn't work completely different than all the others. And this standard ought to be more protected than the current L-Street cycletrack and not require the large number of merges between the multiple modes.

This will surprise noone - really, not even me: last week I rode downtown DC (my commute is from upper NW to Bethesda) after work to meet my wife and for the first time got to use the L Street Cycle track - it was ~6 PM and sure enough a car was parked in the bike lane (19th - 20th?) and none of the drivers speeding (yes they were speeding) in the car lane would let me merge in (my right arm extended). Really, really annoying....

that route to the mall from bethesda is ugly, boring and BUMPY. there's nothing of interest and it traverses pasts the homes of SUPER SUPER rich people and their homes..until you hear the roar of the highway....

these are the same people who oppose anything that promotes social and economic justice. they are all white. they are all booooo-ring. none ride a bike for transport.

@Urban - that's exactly the mistake I made! I'm a seasoned bike commuter in DC (10k miles per year for the last couple years), and I totally screwed up that turn yesterday. I was concerned with a delivery truck blocking the lane and merging traffic from my right and didn't plan ahead and ended up stopped in the green stripe at the 15th street intersection with no way to go right or left and cars whizzing by on both sides!

I'll go out of my way to use DC bike infrastructure just on principle, but I think from now on, I'll just take the right lane on L and risk getting honked at rather than using the cycletrack. It's too hazardous to merge in and out of traffic when the track is blocked, and having to make a left turn behind a line of cars, just to pull off short on the 15th street track and do a 180 to go south is also a pretty awkward maneuver.

@Greenbelt - I don't even follow my suggestions. I turn right at whichever red light I hit and then make my way from there. Easier than merging or doing a box turn, but will sometimes put you on 16th or 14th, which aren't quite as friendly as 15th.

I love that pizza delivery rider. Unfortunately, they changed the boundaries for their delivery zones when the Dominoes on 15th closed, and now he won't come up to my house =(

I always supported them specifically because I liked that he delivered by bike.

I'm a big fan of the PA Ave and 15th St cycletracks, but haven't tried L St yet. They way people describe it, it sounds as though the best feature of a cycletrack, that it is non-expert friendly, has been lost in this case.

On the 15th St cycletrack, by contrast, I heard a fairly careful non-expert blurt out "this thing is great!" (My sister, visiting from her small town car-topia, on a CaBi).

I've taken to going a block out of my way to ride the L Street cycletrack in solidarity with the progressives. Most of it is fine. You do have to be cautious at each left turn location, every other block or so, and be especially careful at New Hampshire. There's nearly always a truck illegally parked there, and cars often turn illegally from the second lane across the cycletrack.


While frustrated, my comment should not be misconstrued: the L street track is great, and easy to follow (I had no problem on that first occasion). I did have the problem I describe, and didn't even mention at least one car making a left from the go-straight (to the right of the track) lane: but all in all, at rush hour the track is still much better than a non-track street. After all cars double park and make illegal turns all the time.

The problem with turning left to do a box turn onto 15th is that the vehicular traffic does not anticipate you suddenly moving into their lane. They see you in a cycletrack and expect you to stay put there because there is 0 chance they're thinking you may want to go right or left onto the 15th St cycletrack. I've tried this method before and it's asking for trouble.

I work about a block and a half north of this location and have ran into this problem several times. Often I move to the left or right of the track and wait for the red light because going either of the other two directions is begging for a collision (nevermind the people who try to turn right from the left turn lane over the cycletrack).

Going to 14th for me would be useless because I'm north of 15th & L so I would have to ride up 14th, around the circle (which no one respects the painted bike lanes) and then back down M. 16th is an option, albeit, I get slightly nervous as people seem to think that tunnel right past M is some sort of highway entrance.

I'm with Greenbelt on this one--a two way cycletrack that huges the left side or right side of L would be ideal.


"The problem with turning left to do a box turn onto 15th is that the vehicular traffic does not anticipate you suddenly moving into their lane"

I was suggesting going from the cycletrack to holding steady in the left turn lane to turning left into the front of the southbound 15th street cycletrack lane and then heading south from there to complete your right turn. This wouldn't require any sudden movements.

"I'm north of 15th & L"

So you're turning left out of the cycletack? You've got me confused. Turning left from the left turn lane across zero lanes of traffic isn't the issue. It's turning right which requires some planning ahead or the box turn.

WABA just posted a cycletrack 101 write up where they discuss exactly what we're discussing here.


They say to merge with traffic and turn as normal, do a box turn, or cross with the pedestrian signal.

For the L-Street cycletrack, crossing with the pedestrian signal to turn right would be difficult as there isn't a safe place to wait for the pedestrian signal as Greenbelt pointed out.

Nice things about each main cycletrack in DC

1) Penn Ave - Plenty of space

2) 15th street - sheltered from traffic by a parking area.

3) L street - convenient location

Here are the problems with the main cycletracks in DC

1) Penn Ave - Light timing, esp by the Capitol.

2) 15th Street - Paving (or lack thereof)

3) L Street - being on the left side of the street.

to expound on the last one, the problem (that I've seen emerge from) being on the left is that left turning traffic (in the correct lane for that, not talking about wrong lane hooks) drifts into 'your' (the bike) space because of left side steering column. Plus, the bike space immediately next to every left turn lane is physically smaller, by quite a bit.

IMO I would add being 2-way to the issue list for the 15th St track. I see some like it but when I tend to use it I'm riding counter to the main flow of traffic.

That makes for frequent kamikaze head-on approaches by passing cyclists.

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