- It's beautiful. It's amply wide enough for cyclists of varying speeds to maneuver around each other and since it's only one-way, people won't have to worry about moving back over and cutting off the person they just passed. This frequently happens on the two-way 15th Street cycle track and it will be a welcome change. Unfortunately, it's also wide enough for someone to drive or park a car in. This is problematic. Curtailing this will require considerable driver education and considerable enforcement.
|This gentleman needed to go to CVS.|
- Bollards everywhere but the mixing zones (and parking garage entrances). This is a protected lane, meaning that there's some physical separation between cyclists and drivers. Obviously, this provides an extra level of comfort and the perception of safety.
- The mixing zones aren't terrible. My biggest concern about the design of this lane has been, and continues to be, the mixing zones, where car traffic merges across the bike lanes so drivers can make a left turn. Traffic was fairly light this morning (and not irrevocably snarled, as some of our finer media outlets might have predicted) and I didn't have any trouble negotiating the mixing zone with any drivers, mostly because I didn't arrive at any at the same time as any drivers. There will definitely be a learning curve here for all users. My biggest concern about the mixing zones isn't for when traffic is moving quickly, but rather when volume is heavier and drivers, in an attempt to move to the left, block it. This will be annoying. I also wouldn't mind if there were some bollards on the inside of the solid green painted area, providing a bit of a buffer between the track and the turning cars.
- The intersections aren't painted or striped. There's a green painted area at the end of the bike lane, but no stripes or paint across the numerical cross streets. I think that some road striping that "suggests" how cyclists should move back to the left would be very beneficial. At one intersection, I had a driver to my left who was making a left turn and a driver to my right who was proceeding straight. In an attempt to accommodate the guy on my left, I stayed pretty much in line with the green patch when I rode forward and this put me rather close to the driver on my right. Some additional road stripes that indicated where I was supposed to be would make this clearer for everyone.
- There are a lot of parking garages on L Street and this is going to be an issue. In order for drivers to access the parking garages, they'll need to drive across the bike lane. This creates more opportunity for potential conflicts and everyone will need to use abundant caution in order to abate this. I worry more about the afternoon rush than the morning one- when the garages empty and drivers need to "poke" their cars out into the cycle track in order to get a clear view on oncoming traffic. This happens on 15th too and I can't really think of a way to avoid it. Drivers will need to learn to look for cyclists and vice versa. Likewise, drivers will need to learn not to block the cycle track while awaiting their turn. Another thing I saw drivers do was to pull into the cycle track before making the left turn into the parking garage. This is a problem that could be solved with a centrally placed bollard at the "entrances" at each intersection. Or just with learning and time.
- Cycle tracks are great pedestrian refuges. Can't make it all the way across the street when you jaywalk? Chill on the cycle track. Again, nothing new here. Just something that will happen.
- Hotel loading zones. There are a few places along the way where the cycle track gives way to 30 Minute Hotel Loading Zones. Obviously, this is less than ideal.
- The (temporary) problem of the unfinished lane. This will only be a concern for another few weeks, but right now the unfinished lane (the parts without the bollards) look like a regular narrow bike lane next to a regular wide travel lane and this might prove confusing to both cyclists and drivers. Like I said, this problem will go away soon, but just keep that in mind if you ride it in the next few weeks.
I don't have an overall assessment because I don't think it's fair to provide one on an unfinished project. I look forward to seeing it when it's completed and all of the bollards are down and green paint is painted. I suspect that, like all pieces of new infrastructure, it will take some time for the users to adjust and the rules and norms to be established. Nonetheless, I expect these things to get sorted out and for the lane to become a permanent and welcome fixture in #bikeDC.