Streetfilms: The Capital’s Colossal Contraflow Cycle Track

Creative infrastructure improvements in the nation’s capital.

From Streetfilms

6 Responses to “Streetfilms: The Capital’s Colossal Contraflow Cycle Track”

  • scherzo says:

    This is a worse than bad idea. It will create (no matter how many warning signs are erected) a hazardous situation at every intersection due to bicycles appearing where they are not expected. And what is the purpose of having 2-way bike traffic on a 1-way street? Are bicyclists unable to use the opposite one-way street that almost certainly exists just one block away?

  • The Tiny Homestead says:

    I like the bike lane being sheltered from the cars, but I think biking against traffic on a one way would make me nervous. I guess it’s worked well for them though because they talked about adding more lanes like that on other streets.

  • Sharper says:

    I wouldn’t be so sure, scherzo. By definition, the drivers and bicyclist are going to be approaching each other and passing on their respective lefts, which is about as standard a traffic scenario as you can expect. If D.C. drivers and bicyclists can’t see the other approaching, chances are they can’t see anything.

    Ultimately, what I think this comes down to is a realization that bicycles have different needs than automobiles, and that innovations that work well for cars, like paired one-way streets, have to be reconsidered in light of the existing traffic patterns and the traffic that city planners are preparing for. Note that in the video, it was explicitly stated that bicyclists were *already* using the one-way street against its intended purpose — “voting with their feet” as it were in favor of two-way traffic on that street. This contraflow lane makes that traffic flow much safer.

  • Alan says:

    I agree, the design seems counter-intuitive, yet there have been good reports on separated contraflow lanes from other areas. It’ll be interesting to see how it works. Let’s hope they’ve done their homework and that they’re not actually putting people at greater risk.


  • Frits B says:

    Why counter-intuitive? All one-way streets in Holland, except the really narrow ones, are open for two-way bike traffic. It just needs to be accepted as normal. And as Sharper points out, drivers and cyclists approaching from opposite directions can see each other which is a lot safer than when they move in the same direction.

  • jamesmallon says:

    Never got contra-flow lanes, apart from the fact that some areas are designed in Toronto where all streets go only in one direction for six blocks in a row; however, I just realised more benefits than they mentioned in the clip:
    – you are less likely to get doored if you and the car owner are facing each other
    – pedestrians are more likely to jay-walk on a narrower street, which though annoying is in fact the sign of a livable semi-pedestrianized zone
    – cyclists are protected by cars, which are the only things drivers care about hitting.

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