Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heads Up! New Contraflow and Bike Signals Ahead...

Here's the latest from the folks at DDOT. This is fresh off their news release, the headlines are theirs, not mine. I'll let you decide whether safety improves as a result: your thoughts?

DDOT Activates District’s First Bicycle Traffic Signals

Experimental Project Improves Safety at Intersection of 16th Street, U Street
and New Hampshire Avenue, NW
(Washington, D.C.) – The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is making safety improvements at the intersection of 16th Street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue, NW that includes installing the first traffic signals for cyclists in the District. DDOT has also installing contraflow bike lanes on New Hampshire Avenue and “bike boxes” for cyclists on 16th Street as part of this experimental project approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

“We know that this is already a very popular route for many cyclists, but it can be treacherous getting through the intersection,” Said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “These changes will make it safer without impacting other traffic.”

With the addition of the contraflow lanes, cyclists can now travel legally in both directions on New Hampshire Avenue. When they reach the intersection, they will wait for the GREEN bike signal before proceeding into the bike boxes on 16th Street (see the diagram below). Cyclists waiting in the bike boxes on 16th Street will obey the same traffic signals as other vehicular traffic crossing U Street. Cyclists who disobey the bike signal (run the red light) risk colliding with moving motor vehicle traffic on 16th Street.

The bike boxes are designed to make cyclists more visible to other traffic. When the traffic signal is yellow or red, motorists on 16th Street will now have to stop behind the white stop line behind the new bike boxes. They should not stop on top of the bike boxes. Also, please note there are no right turns on red at this intersection.

If this experimental configuration proves to be successful, DDOT may incorporate it into the planned reconstruction of U Street, NW.

Photos of the new safety features are posted on DDOT’s Photostream on For more information about DDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian programs, please visit

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