DDOT proposes "Park-Its" to improve safety for cyclists, drivers

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - D.C. Police say that a bicyclist was hit by a car Tuesday morning in the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, but the cyclist refused treatment. The driver was later ticketed, and riders were not surprised.

“You know, I see all kinds of quasi-legal behavior both by drivers and pedestrians – and of course, bicyclists,” says cyclist Matt Larsen.

Cyclists have long complained about illegal and dangerous U-turns in the area, and some were even caught on camera. Even these black-and-white “zebra” traffic humps don’t stop rogue drivers. They were installed back in October, but only between 12th and 13th Streets as a DDOT pilot project.

“Even with that…Some of them have been broken because taxis or cars – they just go around. They don't respect the signs,” explains Pedicab driver Cesar Guarcax.

DDOT officials acknowledge the zebras were too spread out, and believe they have found a better, cheaper option called “Park-Its,” which are typically used in parking lots.

“The ones we put out on Pennsylvania Avenue are going to be about as tall as you and I,” says DDOT bicycle program specialist Darren Buck. They will be six feet long with only about eight feet between each barrier.

“It has a little bit of give in case something hits it. But it's solid in that it provides a real a barrier to automobiles from crossing it,” says Buck.

But some cyclists are not convinced that drivers won’t go over them.

MPD says it remains committed to enforcement and education in the area. However, since officers cannot be present on every block 24 hours a day, an engineering solution would help in reducing illegal U-turns.

DDOT officials say the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has approved the “Park-Its” for bike lanes, and once a vendor is selected, they anticipate they will be installed by the end of summer.