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M Street cycle track design improves on L Street experience

DC’s next cycle track is slated to open this August, along M Street in downtown DC. The M Street lane will serve people riding westbound, complementing the eastbound-only cycle track a block away on L Street.

Lots of people use the L Street lane, but cars and trucks frequently block it, and the mixing zones where cars cross the bike lane to turn can be confusing. Planners are learning from how L Street works, and will try some different designs on M.

Proposed M Street cycle track at 17th Street, NW. Image by DDOT.

The bike lane itself will be slightly narrower, and a row of parking will separate the bike lane from the general travel lanes in some places. Mike Goodno, bike planner for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), expressed hope these elements will dissuade people from driving or parking in the lane.

Both lanes are on the north side of their respective streets, which means that while L Street’s is on the left, the M Street bike lane will be on the right. In addition to full-time parking along most of the lane, blocks where M Street is wider will also have part-time parking on the south side.

Because there’s an extra lane in between, the mixing zones on M Street will be totally different. Instead of the gradual merge of L Street, drivers will turn toward the bike lane at a sharper angle, and are supposed to yield to bikes before crossing into the right turn lane. New York uses a similar arrangement for its Grand Street cycle track.

Mixing zones on L (left) and New York’s Grand Street (right). Photos from Streetsblog.

One trade-off is there’s no more green paint in the mixing zone. However, the spaces in front of driveways will be green, to make it clear to drivers they’re not supposed to stop in the bike lane.

At some corners, like 22nd Street, there won’t be a mixing zone. Instead, drivers cross the cycle track during an exclusive signal phase, like on 15th Street.

According to Goodno, many of the changes come simply because M Street is wider than L, offering more room to try different options for the lane. If they work well, some could make their way back to L Street.

DDOT will present its plans and accept public comments at a public meeting on Wednesday, May 15, 6:30-8:30 pm at the West End Library.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

May 3rd, 2013 | Permalink
Tags: bike, transportation



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