A Presidential Bikeway

I’m back from Washington DC and I just managed to avoid the chaos that surrounded the inauguration of President Obama. If you were watching footage of the President’s walk down Pennsylvania Ave the other day you might have noticed something unusual on the ground:

A President powerful enough to temporarily close a bike lane

Yep, it’s a bike lane, running down the middle of Pennsylvania Ave, between the White House and the Capitol building. This was installed back in 2010 after my last visit to DC, so I haven’t had a chance to see it up close yet. But it’s certainly noteworthy for its location down the middle of the thoroughfare, typically with three lanes of traffic either side.

3 foot hatching separates the bike lanes from the traffic lanes
3-foot wide hatched buffers separate the bike lanes from the traffic lanes

The bike lanes have a simple painted buffer to separate them from the adjacent traffic lanes. At the intersections, a separate left-turn (our right-turn) lane is introduced and bollards prevent cars from trying to turn through the bike lanes (in fact motorists are generally prohibited from turning left at many of these intersections).

Some bollards at the intersections to help keep the motorists away

The construction of this bike lane has not been without controversy. As late as the week before their official opening the layout got changed, and even recently there have been calls to add more separators to stop cars making (illegal) u-turns across it. The intersections are also rather odd in having pedestrians share crossing refuges with bikes coming through, and any turning riders are expected to use the pedestrian crossing signals.

Nevertheless, an evaluation of some of the recent innovative bikeways in Washington DC found that cycling numbers along this route doubled in the year after installation, while peak hour traffic volumes fell by 15-20%.

Even segways like the bike lanes…

I’m not sure whether I can picture an application for this in Christchurch (down the middle of Moorhouse Ave anyone?). I have thought that the middle of Linwood Ave would make a pleasant cycleway, but that has a wide green median to work with.

What do you think of the “Presidential Bikeway”?

1 thought on “A Presidential Bikeway”

  1. I like it. It’s sort of the reverse of a ‘normal’ road – cycles down the middle and cars on the edges. Anything that makes cyclists more visible seems worthwhile. And just the fact they went and painted it up and DID the thing on a busy wide road like this is to be commended. Would have been very tempting to simply put in another traffic lane.
    Not perfect, but definitely putting cycling ‘front and centre(center)’…!

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