Don't Block the Bike Box

DDOT's new design for one U Street NW intersection

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010  |  Updated 3:01 PM EDT
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Don't Block the Bike Box

Bikers who ride in D.C. know that a good rule of thumb for commuting through the city is to look every way and pray you don't get pancaked. The District Department of Transportation is experimenting with a program that will give cyclists a new mantra: Don't block the bike box.

A series of new safety improvements installed by the District Department of Transportation at the intersetion of 16th Street, U Street and New Hampshire Avenue NW establishes separate lights and paths for bicycle and automobile crossings through the busy intersection. This intersection-plus is part of an experimental transit project approved by the Federal Highway Administration.

The new intersection features the District's first traffic lights for cyclists. It also includes contraflow bike lanes and innovative bike boxes -- parts of the lane at the intersection reserved for cyclists.

Greater Greater Washington runs down some of the pros and cons for cyclists. But the success or failure of an innovative new intersection design depends more on driver buy-in. The bike box could be a great teaching tool for drivers, who sometimes fail to realize that they are required to share the road with cyclists. But it's unclear how these improvements alone will improve the high number of pedestrian accidents at the intersection.

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