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Penn. Ave. bike lanes delayed


Update, 4:45 p.m.: Gabe Klein, director of the Department of Transportation, called to clarify that the delay in the opening of the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue might not result in the lanes growing tighter.

But Klein said the lanes need to be "redesigned" to enhance the safety of bicyclists. As currently constructed, he said, cars may not realize that the lanes are reserved for bicycles because there is no physical barrier.

"We don't want cars entering the bike lanes because they think it's a car lane," Klein said. "People are used to bike lanes that are smaller."

Klein said he expects that it will take several weeks for the lanes to be redesigned so they are "distinctively recognizable" as bike lanes.

"This is America's main street, so I want to get this right," Klein said.

Original post: Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration is delaying the opening of the bicycle lanes under construction on Pennsylvania Avenue because officials have concluded that they are not yet ready for prime time.

The lanes, which stretch from the White House to the Capitol, were widely expected to be open by Friday, National Bike to Work Day.

But John Lisle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said the lanes need "more tweaks." Lisle said the lanes, as currently constructed, occupy too much space on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"When we originally installed them, they put them outside the median, and the combination of the bike lanes and the buffer took an entire lane of traffic," Lisle said. "So what we think we are going to try to do is squeeze the bikes more in the center of the roadway.

Fenty, an avid cyclist, may announce a revised schedule for opening the lanes Friday morning at a National Bike to Work Day rally at Freedom Plaza.

At 7:45 a.m., Fenty (D) and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, will bike from Garfield Circle in Capitol Hill to Freedom Plaza. The rally will begin at 8:45 a.m.

Despite the delay, Lisle assures D.C. Wire the bike lanes "are still coming."

"We have gotten a lot of feedback already, we have gotten feedback from cyclists and feedback from drivers, so we are going to tweak them and try to make them better for everyone," he said.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

-- Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  May 20, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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The bike lane and the buffer lane took up an entire lane....Didn't anyone think to MEASURE THIS WIDTH....BEFORE putting the stripes down???????????

I'm sure most engineers know the width of a lane on Penn. Ave....all they had to do was look at the NUMBERS.....that's like a carpenter making a door only to discover later that it is TOO WIDE for the doorway......Oh well.......

Posted by: pentagon40 | May 20, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I say throw the bikers in the fray like everyone else...I had to ride in Pennsylvania Ave streets to learn cars don't care one way or the other whether you have a lane or right of way.

The only true way of protecting bikers is putting up a barrier between them and the cars...take 7th St. as an example. *rolls eyes*

Posted by: cbmuzik | May 20, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I still have my "Bike to Work" T-shirt, with a 1980 date on it. Biked from NOVA into DC, or MD into Friendship Heights, for nearly two decades. We didn't have bike lanes then, so why not just INCREASE the riders on this year's BtW day??

Posted by: jkellett | May 20, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

As an occasional cyclist, I always feel safer when I see more bicycle riders sharing the road. One rider is just too easy to ignore. I think the more bike riders on the city's streets, the safer the streets become for all...since we take away the privileged status of drivers and their machines and remind everyone that public roads belong to all the public, not just the ones who are able to drive cars.

Posted by: MichaelBenefiel | May 20, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

who needs them to "open?" i've been riding in them for several weeks.

Posted by: looj | May 20, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh Gabe, why am I not surprised at your continued complete irresponble managing of your job.

First you spend millions of dollars on streetcar track construction, never having figured out how you are first going to power the things which are now years behind schedule.

Then you fast track a project that you admit wasn't designed on a street that carries tens of thousands of cars per day, wasting hundreds of thousads, perhaps millions of dollars to not even get it opened before it needs to be "redesigned".

You must have some awesome blackmail on someone because you were never qualified for the job and you should have already lost it.

Posted by: Nosh1 | May 20, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

wasn't the flat median lane used as a bike lane on Penn Ave?

And yes, they foolishly took two car lanes to add bike lanes of the same width with the same white color stripping. the striping should be yellow or some other color.

Posted by: oknow1 | May 20, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it, but I'd rather just see the bike lanes removed if it means taking away a lane in each direction for traffic. Traffic is much worse and my morning commute is much longer and slower than before because of the removal of a traffic lane. This project ceases to be "green" when all of the cars trying to drive down Penn are sitting in traffic while a few stray cyclists use a lane that used to allow traffic to flow smoothly.

Posted by: lauracofer | May 20, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

This is simply a bad, bad idea. The traffic is terribly congested now as a result of the bike lanes. Cabs and bus's loading and unloading.

I was walking on the side walk and the cars and trucks were skirting the curbs on both sides because of the reduced car lanes. Either way pedestrian traffic and cyclist will be hurt or killed as a result of this bad idea.

Posted by: winston61 | May 20, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

When the STREETCARS were in D.C. (soon to return?) THEY had their 'own lane' by virtue of the tracks but these could be driven over by cars when the coast was clear.

If you were pedaling a bike you had to cross the track at 90 degree angles or risk getting your tires caught in the rail grooves.

Pedestrians have THEIR 'own lane' which is generally accessible from the street but elevated by the curb of 7 to 8 inches or so to make it CLEAR that THAT pathway is for THEM.

How about we construct ANOTHER ELEVATED 'LANE' in between the ROADWAY and the SIDEWALK and sized in between the differential between them?

Of course there are intractable problems such as PARKING and SNOW REMOVAL and TOURISTS and VENDORS and ROGUE BIKERS/DRIVERS/WALKERS etc.

Posted by: wpjunk1 | May 21, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Get rid of the bike lanes period, The President of the United States can't even get through. Pennsylvania Avenue is not meant for bikes. Jesus there are other citizens that live in Washington DC. Gone too far, this was the determining factor for me not to support Fenty.

Posted by: zippergyrl1 | May 21, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

As for the lanes - well do they make sense? At an intersection, there are two lanes heading in one direction: inner lane to turn left or right, outer to go through the intersection! Turning left one observes oncoming vehicular and bicycle traffic: turning right one can get hit by bicycle and vehicular traffic traveling in the same direction. So the car is a fault, because the bicyclist got hit by another bicyclist?

Was there really a need for bike lanes down PA Ave? Most bicyclists ride on the broad sidewalks in, around and through the people walking. Are bicyclists going to be ticketed for using the sidewalk instead of the bike lane when traveliing down PA Ave or any other street in DC as a car would? Will bicyclists be ticketed for other vechicular infractions? Illegal left turns, running a red light, weaving through traffic, speeding, etc.?

Another point raised were barriers - how many more barriers will there be in this city? We have barriers around many government and private institutions now, so I guess another barrier is not going hurt, or will this city look even more like fortress than it already does? So what is this whole thing about grand design/plan for the District?

Another point regarding the barriers is what about first responders ability to use those lanes to get through stagnate/stopped traffic. Putting up the barriers limits their ability to get to an emergency quickly.

I am fine with bikes lanes, but bicyclists should adhere to the rules of the road like other vechicular traffic: same direction, stopping at red lights, not doing their figure eights just because they do not wish to have their feet touch the ground. Couriers do this a lot.

As the bicyclists wish their fair share of respect on the streets and roads of this country, they too have to show the same and we will all be safer - the driver, the bicyclist and the pedestrian!

Posted by: benno0721 | May 21, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It’s true: car drivers cannot or will not read what’s painted on the roadways. On 7th Street NW northbound, ignorant drivers from the suburbs clog the lane marked “Bus / Bike Only”. Then they post here that cyclists “weave” around them.

There’s really no need for bike lanes on the Avenue, since it’s already far, far too wide—to the point where tour buses use up a lane each direction to park and idle for hours. Still, it makes for a good symbol for the city and the nation. Bravo, Gabe Klein!

Posted by: SydneyP | May 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with @zippergyl1. This current mayor, Fenty, seems to think like a little child. All he seems concerned with is bike lanes, bike trails, swimming, parks, and hiding information from the adults-public. This man lost my vote three years ago with his, "I'll have to get back to you with that information", how dumb is that?

Posted by: fivetogo | May 22, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

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