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Posted at 9:59 AM ET, 11/17/2009

Half measures on D.C. bike safety

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Kesh Ladduwahetty
Washington

Thank you for the Nov. 14 Metro article “No doubt about it — this lane is for bike traffic,” on the new, protected bicycle lane on a section of 15th Street. It is encouraging to see this incremental step toward encouraging bike use in Washington. Still, this type of measure is too limited to significantly change transit in the District.

If we are truly interested in making bicycle use safe and widespread, we would designate every other street in the grid system, both north-south and east-west, as “safe streets” for bicyclists.

For example, even-numbered streets and D, F, H, K, M streets, etc., would be for bicyclists. Residents and those making deliveries or carrying out other local functions would still be allowed to drive and park on biking streets, but only if they observed a very low speed limit, such as 15 mph. On diagonal avenues and the remaining streets (odd-numbered streets and C, E, G, I, L streets, etc.), motor vehicle traffic would continue as it does today.

This arrangement would give both cars and bicycles full access to every part of the city while providing meaningful safety to bicyclists and still permitting mostly normal speeds for cars.

If the city developed such a policy and provided plentiful, secure on-street parking for bicycles, I would enthusiastically use my bike for regular transportation. But otherwise it will remain locked up in the garage of my condo, gathering dust.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | November 17, 2009; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., transportation  
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Comments

Wow.
So if the city turned over half its streets to you, you would ride your bike?

That's certainly not too much to ask.

Posted by: spamsux1 | November 17, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Comment from John W, who had trouble posting his comment (full disclosure: John is a friend of mine):

"Fine letter with excellent, practical suggestions. Even if all Ms. Ladduwahetty's recommendations are not adopted (e.g., if fewer bike lanes are created, or a small pilot area experiments with her idea of every other numbered and lettered street containing a bike lane), the District will rapidly start down a path to a sustainable, energy efficient city that leads to greater health and prosperity for all its residents. Three cheers for a more bike- and and pedestrian-friendly DC!"

Posted by: keshinil1 | November 17, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

To spamsux1: the idea is not for half the streets to be turned over to ME, but to those thousands of Washingtonians who travel without generating noise, pollution, or global warming fuels.

Posted by: keshinil1 | November 17, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

And the cyclists can see their taxes increase astronomically and city services plunge as gridlock ensues and businesses and the government move to SANE jurisdictions.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | November 17, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me, gridlock is what we have today. We can't get beyond it without drastically reducing use of automobiles.

Posted by: keshinil1 | November 17, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

It needs to be done. I bike every day- its my only transportation and I love it, but I still understand why others don't feel safe. Many, but not all commuters from MD and VA simply do not know how to safely drive around cyclists in the city. Some of them would rather kill you than make it home late and miss the first five minutes of Grey's Anatomy.

Posted by: shreid | November 17, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

i live in frankfurt germany which is a good comparison city for DC (frankfurt: ~550,000 residents and 250,000 commuters mon-fri). most through-roads have bike lanes either on the road-surface (painted red/green) or on the sidewalks. bikes have their own mini-traffic lights at major intersections. bikes are permitted to travel the wrong-way up some one-way streets (signed and only on smaller neighborhood streets). and there are some "bike streets" where cyclists are not restricted to riding only in the right-most one meter area of the road, and autos are limited to a speed of 20-30 kph (~15-20 mph).

i feel the cycling system works ok in frankfurt. i am an avid cyclist, and have only minor complaints usually directed at taxis or right-turning cars who ignore the cyclist going straight (cyclist has priority).

for even more cyclist-friendly cities, visit Muenster (Germany) or most of Holland.

i can only hope the US can start implementing a few bike-friendly paths/streets/lanes as it is a good solution to reduce the number of parking spaces required, number of cars on the road, number of inches in one's waistline, amount of CO2, etc....

Posted by: loull_junk | November 18, 2009 6:09 AM | Report abuse

shreid, I happen to be a Virginia commuter. On my bike. Can we stop it with the broad brush strokes? No one knows how to safely maneuver around cyclists and if they do, they often don't care to. You just might encounter more MD and VA plates at the time of day you ride, but trust me--the DC plated vehicles are no better or worse than those operated by those of us living in the less fashionable jurisdictions.

Posted by: freckleface | November 19, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

In the entire five years that I lived in DC, I needed to use my car less than a dozen times. The main reason most people don't ride bicycles is because they are afraid of the cars. The only real reason you need a car in DC is to feel protected from other people's cars. If the bicycles were better protected from cars, we wouldn't need to use the cars so much in the first place. Places that are more accessible by bike are better places to live.

Posted by: lwatkins4 | November 23, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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