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DDOT considering L Street bike lane changes, safety improvements

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Drivers complain the L Street cycle track took away much-needed street parking and loading zones along L Street.

Meanwhile, bikers complain the cycle track is not safe and needs improvements. Some have even documented near misses – with cameras mounted on their helmets.

Bicyclist Evan Wilder has uploaded dozens of videos to his Youtube channel, documenting when drivers in D.C. illegally drive through, park in or turn across the cycle track.

The separated bike lane runs along the north side of L Street Northwest, from New Hampshire Avenue to 12th Street.

In response, DDOT said it's listening to the complaints and suggestions to improve safety. Spokesperson Monica Hernandez said DDOT is considering additional barriers along the cycle track or making the bike lane more narrow.

These safety concerns are not new. It's been nearly a year since DDOT’s ribbon-cutting at the L Street cycle track.

When D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and DDOT officials gathered that day in December to celebrate the bike lane’s opening, many cyclists noted the potential problem.

Many months later, they are still concerned about widely-spaced and missing plastic posts.

Some want more barriers – maybe Zebra humps, like those just installed on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Others want more enforcement by M.P.D. and D.P.W. officers.

“There's laws on the books. People flout them and there's no penalties for it,” said bicyclist Malcom Jones.

Bicyclists said the worst culprits are often delivery trucks.

“When they take up the entire bike lane… you have to literally go into the street just to get around them. I think that defeats the purpose of a bike lane,” said bicyclist Miles Holen.

One delivery truck driver – who parked his truck legally on 15th Street – said it's unfair that DDOT took away half of the parking along L Street to build the bike lane on the north side. He said it means more time circling the block and more gas expenses for him.

Other drivers said the cycle track was poorly designed, with so-called "mixing zones" requiring left-turning traffic to cross into the bike lane.

But at least one cyclist thinks it's not the design; it's about respect. He said drivers and his fellow riders need to be more careful.

“Everyone needs to pay attention when they're riding. If you're riding, you probably shouldn't have headphones in. You should be watching for cars and cars should be respectful of people on bikes too,” said bicyclist Mike Norris.

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