Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bike lanes (contraflow) & "sharrows" being installed on G & I Streets NE this week and next

DDOT is in the midst of installing bike lanes and sharrows on G and I Streets NE.  The rationale for the lanes is in part a hope that H Street streetcars and streetcar tracks will be free of bicycles because cyclists will prefer to use G and I Streets.  The streetcar tracks are wide enough that many bicycles can get stuck in them. 
The new lanes are going in on G Street currently.  They are "contraflow lanes" meaning that they are for cycling in the opposite direction that traffic drives on these one way streets.  So the set aside lane on G Street is for east bound cycling.  "Sharrows" are also being installed.  These are signs on the road indicating that cyclists are welcome to share the road with bicyclists and may bike in the same direction as the traffic.  Thus, if you want to bike westbound on G Street, you are welcome to do so with the flow of traffic and cars should respect that they are supposed to share the road with you. 
A couple of matters are important to keep in mind.  First, bicyclists are supposed to stop at stop signs.  This may be especially important when using the contraflow because cars will not be used to looking both directions before crossing G or I Street and may therefore be less likely to see a cyclist approaching from the opposite direction along those streets.  Second, the bike lanes are not protected by anything more than the painted double yellow line on the road and may be impacted by cars parking next to them and by people opening car doors into them.  Please be mindful of this when biking and when using the parking lane.  The lanes are new, there are likely to be some implementation issues as everyone gets used to them.  Finally, although I and others strongly urged DDOT to address the poor condition of the road -- especially along the middle portions of G St -- they did not repave prior to installation, so the road remains bumpy for cyclists in places.  Again, please be careful when biking or driving down either street.
Big thanks to a handful of ANC Commissioners from ANC6A and ANC6C as well as other neighborhood leaders who helped bring these to fruition.  And to DDOT's bike guru Mike Goodno who managed the project and who has been in the neighborhood this week overseeing its implementation.  A Q & A with some helpful additional background from DDOT follows. 
Why bike lanes on G and I Streets? 
G and I Streets are one-way, low traffic volume roads popular with cyclists. They provide a safe and attractive alternative to cycling on the much busier H Street commercial corridor, and were recommended in  the city’s 2005 Bicycle Master Plan. Up to 60 bicyclists per hour have been counted on these streets.* The  soon-to-open streetcar line on H Street increases the need for these lanes due to the danger to cyclists of  getting their bicycle wheels caught between the streetcar track and roadway. 
What will the lanes look like? 
The new bike lanes will look different than most of the lanes you see around the city. Placed outside the parking lane, the outer bike lane line will be a solid double  yellow line separating the adjacent travel lane. This will provide a dedicated space for bicyclists to travel against traffic (contra-flow). Within this lane will be bike symbols and arrows indicating the contra-flow direction. Shared lane markings, or sharrows, will be placed in the adjacent travel lane indicating that cars and bikes must share this lane. In essence, each street will remain one-way for motor vehicles, while bikes can now travel in both directions. 
What are the benefits of contra-flow lanes? 
The contra-flow lanes provide better connectivity for bikes, reduce dangerous wrong-way riding, and decrease trip distance, making cycling a more attractive travel option. New Hampshire Avenue, NW has a similar design. 

What about traffic? 
Traffic flow will remain the same for motor vehicles - one-way westbound on G St, and one-way eastbound on I St. Bikes are the only vehicles allowed to travel both ways. There should be no negative effect on traffic flow. 
Will parking be affected? 
The amount of parking will remain the same. The only difference is that, on the bike lane (left) side of the road, drivers must cross the double yellow line to park. They should first look for oncoming bikes, then,  when clear, cross the bike lane and park against the curb, facing in the direction of motor vehicle travel. 
When will the work be done? 
DDOT will install these lanes in April 2014. 
Where can I get more  information on this project? 
Mike Goodno, Bicycle Program  Specialist, 202 671 0681,


  1. I used it today. A little bumpy and on one block vehicles have to veer into the bike lane because of road work however a vehicle did stop for me to let me go through first on the contra-flow lane. Great addition!

  2. I used it too. A great addition and well designed, but totally bumpy in the middle. What a shame they didn't get it together to repave prior to installing.

  3. Can anyone explain why the bike lane on G St is a double yellow line instead of white like everywhere else? It creates the illusion that there is 2 way traffic on the street so now there are even more people going down the wrong way.

  4. There is 2 way traffic, for bicycles. Bicyclists traveling with traffic share the lane and those going against travel on the other side of the double yellow line. Do you mean that you've seen more motorists going the wrong way?