D.C.

Zebra-stripe speed bumps in D.C. prevent illegal U-turns

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Flexible posts, obvious signs, and now – zebra bumps.

The goal of these recently installed bumps is to keep drivers from making illegal U-turns onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Black and white in color, you can spot them between 12th and 13th Streets in Northwest Washington.

It’s only been days since they were placed on the road, and already, bicyclists are concerned about their effectiveness.

"These things are useless," says John Renaut.

Renaut lives in Columbia Heights and rides his bike every day. He says Pennsylvania Avenue is still too dangerous.

"The first day they put these things, I watched a cab bounce right over them... It's not going to be make a difference," he says. "The cab literally bounced over the bumps -- so it wasn't that he went in between them, it's that he went over them and didn't care."

Critics say the problem is the gap between the bumps – it’s too wide and still allows cars to get through." Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Transportation admits the gap is a couple of feet wider than what the manufacturer says it should be -- but that there is a good reason for that: he city wanted to make it look good.

Officials say aesthetics are a big deal when it comes to what some call American’s main street. So the bumps were symmetrically and evenly placed between the road stripes.

"I'm glad to see something is being done to keep motorists from making U-turns," says John Fleckner.

Fleckner of Georgetown is an avid cyclist, and when it comes to city riding, he has seen huge improvements over the years.

"Whether this is successful in stopping that, I'll have to see, but it says that somebody is paying attention to the problem," he says.

"What I think they should do is take out a lane on either side and make a big bikeway down the middle," says Renaut. "You don't need this many lanes of cars on this roadway. It's not a highway."

City officials say they will continue to pay attention to the issue, and that they can always add more bumps or take them out completely. For now, they just want to see how effective they are with bikes and drivers.

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