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Where Did All the Bike Lanes Go?

2011 was not the year for bike lanes in the District.  Since 2006, DDOT has  installed on-street bike lanes at a rate of four to eight additional miles per year. Less than one mile of new bike lanes was installed in 2011.

As DDOT nears the end of the timeframe laid out in 2005′s Bicycle Master Plan, the target for miles of bike lanes installed per year gets fuzzy. On average, the Master Plan calls for 10 miles of new bike lanes per year. The more recently adopted 2010 DDOT Action Agenda sets a goal of 80 miles, total, of bike lanes and protected cycle tracks by 2012.  As of today, the District has about 50.

DDOT had planned to install about 6.5 miles in 2011.  Of that 6.5 miles, approximately 4.25 miles are studied, designed and ready for installation.  But these have not been installed due to internal delays at DDOT.  The bike planners seemingly have done their part, but 2011 will end without these lanes installed, as it is now too cold for road striping.

The other 2.25 miles of that 6.5 that were slated for installation but have been put on hold for various reasons including a lack of ANC approval or a delay in necessary roadwork and signal work.

The map below shows on-street bike projects we expect in the next year.

  • Red indicates projects slated for 2011 that are planned, designed, and ready–but not installed.
  • Orange indicates projects slated for 2011 but pending additional work (ANC approval / additional roadwork) before they are ready for installation.
  • Purple highlights projects slated for 2012.

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After installing less than a mile of bike lanes in 2011, DDOT needs to dramatically improve its performance just to meet the 10 mile per year average of the Bike Master Plan, much less the 80 mile goal of the Action Agenda.  This year’s performance is unacceptable, and signifies broken promises to the District’s cycling community.

Director Bellamy and, ultimately, Mayor Gray need to recognize that this year’s performance is unacceptable, and that major improvements are needed in 2012.

12 comments
IMGoph
IMGoph

Susan: You're absolutely right! Thankfully, DDOT just restriped the lane on 4th Street NE (between L and M Streets) that had faded to the point that it wasn't visible at all. It's all bright and new again. Maintenance of many of the nice things we have in DC is something that needs to be worked on. The city often has done a poor job in the recent past of taking care of the nice new infrastructure we've received, be it bike lanes, schools, libraries, rec centers, etc.

Andrew
Andrew

I think of 2011 as, "The Year of the Bike Lane." Surpassing the 50-mile threshold completed enough of the system that a cyclist could ride in dedicated lanes up, down, across and caddy-crossing the District. What an accomplishment! Think of it this way: the first 10 miles of lanes were functionally useless. Scattered across the district, in increments measuring in blocks not miles, the initial bike lanes created an erratic traffic pattern of fluctuating road condition and rights of way. The system grew as planned, thus order formed out the chaos. Motorists quickly picked up the habit of checking the bike lane before exiting their car. A robust discussion arose in the cyclist community about adjusting how we treat intersections. Five years ago I considered street signs, lights, curbs, and sidewalks as suggestions; not as laws to obey. It was all Mad Max out there; and I was not encased in a steel frame, cushioned by self-deploying air bags, and my crumple zones cost a bit more to repair. I remember the first time while entering Thomas Circle a cabby avoided that all too familiar centrifugal drift and respected my right of way. (Raise your hand if you've ever been forcefully introduced to the curb and ended up as a bruised and bloodied yard sale in front of the First National Church or the Brookings Institution.) I suppose I can't justify whizzing through a driver's blindspot as their stopped at an intersection anymore. Keep up the pressure for construction of more bikes lanes, but try to remain impatient. What good is an east-west cycle track if we ignore the ANC's input? We will be relying on those residents living directly along the route to take extra care with their trash, recycling, and shrubbery. Maybe even call 311 or 911 on our behalf. Their input matters. If a ANC holds up a bike lane that has your fancy, go to that ANC monthly meeting. Listen, find out the specifics, and suggest a way forward. Most of the time ANC don't act because they lack enough information to make a decision. It may be as simple as explaining how bike lanes don't necessarily equate to less parking spaces or highlighting how a different ANC solved a similar issue. Final reason 2011 was the Year of the Bike: bikeshare. Our glorious fleet of bright, red cruisers boldly stakes a claim for the cyclists' share of the road.

Avery Palmer
Avery Palmer

On my computer, the lines on the map are showing up as blue (L and M St) and red (NY Ave). Can someone explain which is which?

Sam
Sam

LET'S BUILD A 2 WAY CYCLETRACK DOWN CONNECTICUT AVE NW

Jack McKay
Jack McKay

Sometimes bike lanes are beneficial to us bikers, but sometimes not. Recall that Mount Pleasant resident Alice Swanson was killed by a right-hook truck collision, as she rode in a bike lane, perhaps lulled into a false sense of safety by those painted stripes. And consider also the substandard bike lanes being created by DDOT. Here in Mount Pleasant, bike lanes were "squeezed" in by making the parking lane just seven feet wide (eight feet is the standard, nine feet preferred). Drivers can't or won't park within that seven-foot width, so they intrude on the bike lane, compromising bicyclist safety from both passing traffic and opening car doors. The bike lanes here in Mount Pleasant weren't put there for the benefit of bicyclists, but in a misguided attempt to "calm" traffic. Bike lanes don't slow traffic, and bicyclists who try to stay a safe distance from those parked cars encounter motorists who demand that the bikers ride in "their" lane. But DDOT chalks up those miles of substandard, bicyclist-hazardous bike lanes as their service to bicyclists. They should know better.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper

Beware of bike paths and lanes. They give cyclists a false sense of security. 1987 Grüne Radler review: Police Bicycle Crash Study (Berlin, Germany) "...with increasing experience, it became ever clearer that the sidepaths are dangerous - more dangerous than riding in the roadway. There is a simple reason for this: the design and location of the sidepaths conflict with the most important principle of traffic safety, the slogan 'Visibility is safety'." 1997 Moritz: A Survey of North American Bicycle Commuters (USA and Canada) Study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the accident site data is flawed - many of the accidents taking place while on bicyle paths or lanes were considered to be on the roadway because only the final crash site was considered. 1998 Aultman-Hall: Commuter Cyclist On- and Off-Road Incident Rates (Ottawa-Carlton, Canada) "The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest it is safest to cycle on-road followed by off-road paths and trails, and finally least safe on sidewalks... Results suggest a need to discourage sidewalk cycling, and to further investigate the safety of off-road paths/trails." 1999 Aultman-Hall: Bicycle Commuter Safety Rates (Toronto, Canada) "The relative rates for falls and injuries suggest these events are least common on-road followed by off-road paths, and finally most common on sidewalks... These rates suggest a need for detailed analysis of sidewalk and off-road path bicycle safety." 1999 Franklin: Two Decades of the Redway Cycle Paths (Milton Keynes, UK) "...the most alarming experience of the Redways is their accident record. Far from realising gains in safety, they have proved over many years to be consistently less safe than even the 'worst case' grid roads for adult cyclists of average competence. This is not an accolade for the grid roads, for their safety performance is not good in relation to lower speed roads of more traditional design. But the segregated Redways have proved to be worse. " 2001 Wachtel: Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections (Palo Alto, California, USA) "Bicyclists on a sidewalk or bicycle path incur greater risk than those on the roadway (on average 1.8 times as great), most likely because of blind conflicts at intersections... intersections, construed broadly, are the major point of conflict between bicycles and motor vehicles. Separation of bicycles and motor vehicles leads to blind conflicts at these intersections." 2001 Jensen: Bicycle Tracks and Lanes, a Before - After Study (Copenhagen, Denmark) "The safety effects of bicycle tracks in urban areas are an increase of about 10 percent in both crashes and injuries. The safety effects of bicycle lanes in urban areas are an increase of 5 percent in crashes and 15 percent in injuries. Bicyclists’ safety has worsened on roads where bicycle facilities have been implemented." 2008 Agerholm: Traffic Safety on Bicycle Paths (Western Denmark) "the main results are that bicycle paths impair traffic safety and this is mainly due to more accidents at intersections." 2009 Daniels: Injury crashes with bicyclists at roundabouts "Regarding all injury crashes with bicyclists, roundabouts with cycle lanes appear to perform significantly worse compared to... other design types" 2009 Reynolds: The Impact of Transportation Infrastructure on Bicycling Injuries and Crashes: A Review of the Literature Review claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but the review cherry picks and misrepresents data - only the 2009 Daniels study (out of 26 studies reviewed) concerned bicycle specific infrastructure safety, and the review misrepresented its findings. 2011 Lusk: Risk of Injury for Bicycling on Cycle Tracks Versus in the Street Study claims increased safety on bicycle specific infrastructure, but its street comparisons are flawed - the streets compared were in no way similar other than their general geographic location. Busy downtown streets with multiple distractions per block were twinned with limited access bypasses with few distractions. Visibility is safety. Bike lanes and bike paths make cyclists less visible to other road users and result in more collisions with motor vehicles. Ask transportation engineers and government officials why they dismiss the findings of the safety studies.

Ian Cooper
Ian Cooper

I just wish they would look into the safety aspects more. Bike infrastructure is all well and good as long as it's safe. When the majority of studies find significant safety problems that make cycling on bike infrastructure more dangerous than cycling on the street, you'd think that DOT would take an interest in figuring out why that was so.

D
D

Rahm took the bike lanes to Chicago.

Susan
Susan

New bike lanes are nice. But I really wish they would periodically RE-STRIPE our existing lanes too. Large stretches of Kansas Ave lanes are all but obliterated, and have been since before they expanded between Missouri and Eastern.

BIKESWDC
BIKESWDC

Could use a bike lane on 12th St SW

IMGoph
IMGoph

But they studied, studied, studied, and studied things! If you ever questioned the deliberate-ness of the Gray administration, there should be no question now.

Louise King
Louise King

What is the hold up, DC? Bicycles are clearly the answer for a healthier environment and less congested streets. BikeShare's overwhelming success is evidence of this.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] following is a response from DDOT Director Terry Bellamy to WABA’s posting, “Where Did All the Bike Lanes Go?”: WABA has been a great partner with DDOT as we work to increase bicycling in the District and [...]

  2. [...] bike lanes scarce: DDOT installed less than a mile of bike lanes in 2011. DDOT is falling far short of its goal of 10 miles a year. [...]

  3. [...] to DDOT Director Bellamy for responding to WABA’s highlighting of the slowed progress in bike lane installations in 2011. We appreciate his direct response to our concerns.  We stand by those concerns that the [...]

  4. [...] Washington Area Bicyclist Association asks DDOT why so few bike lanes were installed in 2011.  DDOT Director Bellamy [...]

  5. [...] stand and what’s to come. As the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Greg Billing highlighted in December, the Bike Master Plan called for 10 new bike lanes a year, and initially, D.C. planned [...]

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