Media Contacts: Jack Pfeiffer (EOM) at (202) 727-1751; John Lisle (DDOT) at (202) 671-2004
(Washington, DC) Mayor Adrian M. Fenty along with Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Gabe Klein and members of the biking community held a ribbon cutting today in celebration of the District’s new pilot program, a protected bicycle lane on 15th Street, NW. The pilot “contra-flow” bike lane allows cyclists to go southbound between Massachusetts Avenue and U Street through a section of 15th Street that is one-way for northbound vehicular traffic.
“This bike lane clearly shows the new direction we’re taking when it comes to safety,” said Mayor Fenty. “We are willing to try innovative, new approaches to ensure residents who cycle, or walk, enjoy the same protections as those who drive.”
The contra-flow bike lane is the first of its kind in the District. It is designed to give bicyclists more protection from cars than a typical bike lane. The bike lane is separated from moving vehicular traffic by an 8-foot parking lane, as shown in the diagram below.
“Separated bike lanes have been installed with great results in other cities including New York, Montreal and Madison, Wisconsin, and they are the logical next step here in the District as well,” said Director Klein. “Half of our residents don’t drive to work: they bike, walk and take public transit, and we need to provide the infrastructure for them to get back and forth safely.”
How does the contra-flow lane work?
Bicyclists ride southbound in the bike lane. At intersections they follow the pedestrian signals because there are no north-facing traffic signals. New signs remind cars turning left from 15th Street onto one of the cross streets to yield to oncoming bicyclists and pedestrians.
DDOT has also installed new shared lane markings in the right-hand, northbound lane of traffic. This means that northbound bicycles are sharing the lane with cars, and the markings serve as a reminder that cyclists are permitted by DC law to use the entire lane.
Will this affect traffic?
DDOT analyzed the traffic impact of removing a lane of traffic on 15th Street and found there would be no degradation in the level of service for motor vehicles in the corridor. With three remaining lanes there is more than enough roadway capacity for the number of vehicles passing through.
Also, the bike lane and the removal of one travel lane should slow traffic speeds slightly and make it easier for pedestrians to cross 15th Street.
Learn more about DDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian programs.