L Street Bike Plan Released; New Cycle Track Will Mix With Motorists For Left Turns

WASHINGTON -- Many bicycle advocates in the nation's capital point to the cycle track on 15th Street NW as the critical piece of infrastructure that made biking in and out of downtown more accessible to casual riders.

Separated from motorists in a protected bike lane, the cycle track connects the U Street corridor with Pennsylvania Avenue's bike lanes via Lafayette Park and McPherson Square.

It's been so successful that there can be bicycle backups on 15th Street during peak travel periods.

Now, District of Columbia officials have released designs for a crosstown complement on L Street NW between New Hampshire Avenue and 12th Street NW, a major eastbound one-way thoroughfare through the heart of the city's central core.

Unlike the 15th Street cycle track, L Street's will have cyclists mix with left-turning traffic at select intersections. And the cycle track is only being designed for eastbound use.

L Street currently has 4 lanes. The cycle track will occupy 1 lane, on the north side, which is the left as you travel down L. The other curb lane, on the right or south side, will allow parking and loading outside rush periods and will be a travel lane during rush.

Where cars can turn left from L, the lane uses the "mixing zone" design, where left-turning cars merge into the bike lane and mix with bikes approaching the intersection. There are also "bike boxes" at each corner, letting cyclists move in front of waiting traffic, such as when they plan to turn right.

While a westbound crosstown cycle track is in the works for M Street NW, a major one-way thoroughfare one block north of L Street, there is currently no current public timetable for implementing that piece of bicycle infrastructure but design work is progressing.

The work to create the L Street cycle track is supposed to start this summer.