Seeing Green

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.

Addng Green Paint on I Street at S. Capitol Street

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:

  1. I Street and South Capitol Street
  2. C Street NE between 15th and 16th Streets
  3. 14th and Rhode Island Avenue, NW
  4. R Street, NW between Rhode Island Avenue and 7th Street
  5. R Street, NW and Connecticut Avenue
  6. 4th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, NE
  7. Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW
  8. Columbia Road and 18th Street, NW
  9. 4th Street, and I Street, SW

R Street, NW at Connecticut Ave

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.

15th and C Streets, NE

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.

Typical Intersection on L Street, NW

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

For more information about DDOT’s Bicycle Program visit

Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT Associate Director for Policy, Planning and Sustainability
Jim Sebastian, DDOT Supervisory Transportation Planner
Mike Goodno, DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist

About DDOT Blogger

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) develops and maintains for the District of Columbia a cohesive sustainable transportation system that delivers safe, affordable, and convenient ways to move people and goods - while protecting and enhancing the natural, environmental and cultural resources of the District.
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11 Responses to Seeing Green

  1. Thanks for all you do to make this city more bike-friendly. Keep up the great work!

  2. I #bike ride R St NW #DC daily so I sincerely appreciate this!

  3. victorharden says:

    Tried the L St. route today beginning at 25th to 15th ST NW. Cars began to take over the bike lane immediately entering L at 25th. Two delivery trucks unloading firmly in the bike path and 1 policeman pulled in the bike lane, put on flashing emergency lights and what appeared to be the officer running an errand. Lots of work to get drivers a bit more cognizant of emerging bike lanes in DC

  4. Vijay DSouza says:

    While I appreciate these bike lanes (and use them)… doesn’t this make it difficult for businesses to get deliveries or, for example for a taxi to drop someone off safely? If you make it too hard for people to follow the rules, then they don’t follow them right? Just like the useless and unenforced bike/bus lane on 7th St NW by the Verizon Center.

    • DDOT Blogger says:

      Thanks for your comment/question. Actually, we worked extensively with the property managers along L Street to relocate the loading zones either across the street or on side streets. It might require a little more walking on their part, but that is a lot safer for everyone than parking in the bike lanes. In addition, there’s nothing prohibiting taxicabs from dropping off passengers on the south side of the street.

  5. First, thanks so much for the new L St bike lane. Can you describe the proper procedure for a cyclist who wishes to turn RIGHT from the L St bike lane onto the 15th St CycleTrack? Thanks!

    • DDOT Blogger says:

      Liz, great question. At the intersections, between the crosswalk and the stop bar for vehicles, there is space for cyclists to cross the lanes of traffic on L Street, when the walk sign is lit, and then continue south on 15th Street.

  6. Steve Seuser says:

    Thanks for all these efforts to make biking safer and easier in DC. It’s the only way more people will feel comfortable biking in high traffic areas. I use the Pennsylvania Ave.,15th St. and the L St. cycle tracks frequently. On L St., it looks like we still need more arrows painted on to the roadway, especially more straight only (no turns) arrows on the main roadway to the right of the cycle track at intersections. Motorists are missing the opportunity to turn into the far left lane ahead of left turn intersections, and then at the intersection they awkwardly turn left, regardless of what is happening to the left of them. I’d suggest either a standing sign or pavement markings to let drivers know to move into the far left lane if they intend to turn left at the next intersection. K St. must have something similar signage to let drivers know to move into the access lane if they intend to turn right at the next intersection. Could there be signs that say No Left Turn from Main Roadway at key intersections as well?

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