If you drive, ride or walk around the District this fall you might notice something different about our streets, particularly at some key intersections. DDOT has been adding green paint to some of the city’s bicycle lanes. The coloring is being placed in “conflict zones” where motor vehicles cross the bike lanes to make right turns; at locations with high crash rates; and in places where the bike lane shifts from the right side of the road to the left of a right-turn only lane.
The goal is to improve the visibility of the bike lanes and cyclists using them, and to reinforce that a cyclist traveling through an intersection has the right-of-way over a motorist making a turn. Research of similar lanes in Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas has shown an increase in the yielding behavior of motorists and a reduction in bicycle conflicts with turning motorists.
The locations already completed include:
- I Street and South Capitol Street
- C Street NE between 15th and 16th Streets
- 14th and Rhode Island Avenue, NW
- R Street, NW between Rhode Island Avenue and 7th Street
- R Street, NW and Connecticut Avenue
- 4th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NE
- Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW
- Columbia Road and 18th Street, NW
- 4th Street, and I Street, SW
DDOT has been training and using its own crews to apply the green paint. That will build
the expertise in-house to install and maintain them more rapidly in the future.
It’s Not Just Paint
To color the lanes DDOT is using a product called Ride-A-Way™ which the manufacturer describes as “a durable, colorized, slip resistant and skid resistant coating suitable for delineating areas for preferential use such as bike lanes, bus lanes and other vehicular or pedestrian traffic uses.”
This type of coating is used for bike lanes in other cities including New York and Baltimore, as well as our neighbor to the south, Arlington County.
What You Should Know About Green Lanes
The green paint doesn’t guarantee safety – that requires your cooperation. Here’s some information that will help everyone share the road.
- By DC law, cyclists are granted the same rights and responsibilities as operators of motor vehicles. When making a right-turn, DC regulations require you to make that turn as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. This means that you should look, and yield, for cyclists before merging across the bike lane to make your turn. This should be done whether the lane is colored or not.
- For bike lanes that are to the left of a right-turn lane, you should look for cyclists that will be merging from the right side of the road to the new location of the bike lane. DDOT has colored some of these “merging zones” to highlight the areas where cyclists and cars must make this maneuver.
- In addition, the bike lane may be colored on the approach to the intersection to emphasize that this is a dedicated space for bicyclists. Do not drive in this area. This is a reserved space for bicycle travel.
- The green paint is being used to highlight conflict areas. These are places where cyclists and cars cross paths, such as an intersection approach where cyclists must merge to the left of a dedicated right-turn lane, or where cars must cross the bike lane to make a right-turn.
- The paint is meant to improve the visibility of the bicycle lane, and has been proven to increase motor vehicle yielding behavior. However, please remember that you should continue to follow all rules of the road. By DC law, cyclists are granted the same rights and responsibilities as operators of motor vehicles.
L Street Cycletrack
Over the next few weeks DDOT will be resurfacing L Street, NW and adding a protected bike lane on the north side on the roadway between New Hampshire Avenue and 12th Street, NW. The separated lane is designed to give bicyclists more protection from cars than a typical bike lane, and to prevent delivery vehicles from illegally parking in the bike lane. However, there will be merging zones at intersections where vehicles and bicycles may cross paths and those areas will be marked with green paint as well.
Green Lane Project
This might just confuse you, but the District is also one of 6 U.S. cities participating in the Green Lane Project. “Green” in this case doesn’t necessarily mean green paint; green lanes are dedicated, inviting spaces for people on bikes in the roadway, protected by curbs, planters, posts or parked cars. Like the L Street cycletrack or the bike lanes on 15th Street, NW and Pennsylvania Avenue.
DDOT is working with the national bicycling nonprofit Bikes Belong Foundation to identify additional opportunities for new bicycle infrastructure in the District. For more information about the initiative visit www.greenlaneproject.org.
For more information about DDOT’s Bicycle Program visit dc.ddot.gov/bikes.
Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT Associate Director for Policy, Planning and Sustainability
Jim Sebastian, DDOT Supervisory Transportation Planner
Mike Goodno, DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist