15th Street cycle track brings concerns for bikers, drivers

Last week, WTOP heard from cyclists about issues on the L Street cycle track. This week, we talked to a commuter with concerns about the 15th Street cycle track and how drivers, cyclists and pedestrians interact as their paths cross.

WASHINGTON – Sherri Hook is like a lot of Washington-area residents.

Her commute is long. The drive from her home in southern Maryland to the law office where she works is “one and a half to two hours — that’s one way,” says Hook.

So, by the time she gets to her 15th Street office in downtown D.C., she feels the stress of every road warrior. Then, she crosses two lanes of traffic and the 15th Street cycle track to get to the entrance of her parking garage.

Hook is often surprised by what she sees. Many times, cars are parked right inside the bike lanes.

“I don’t know why cars — well, drivers — think that they should be parking inside the bike lanes. It’s clearly bike lanes — and marked bike lanes,” she says.

But Hook says she also has an issue with cyclists who get into altercations with drivers. In one case, just a few weeks ago, a cab and two cars sat parked in the bike lanes.

“The bicyclist was screaming at the top of his lungs, pointing and screaming ‘Get out of the way, get out of the way!'” Hood explains.

Hook says the cabbie moved out of the lane, and then the cyclist went up to the parked cars, grabbed the windshield wipers and yanked them into upright positions. It looked to Hook like he was trying to snap them off.

Hook says she’s sympathetic to cyclists, and the cycle tracks are a good idea, but wonders if there shouldn’t be changes. She points out the cars that are parked legally alongside the cycle tracks completely block her line of vision as she makes the left turn across the bike lanes into her parking garage.

As a result, she had a close call.

In the spring, she tried to get into her parking area, making a left turn from across the street, past the parked cars and across the cycle track to the garage entrance.

“I couldn’t see around and had a cyclist who then took evasive action and jumped off of his bike because he thought he was gonna hit me.”

Hook says she’s written to the D.C. Department of Transportation, which recently increased its ticketing of drivers who park in bike lanes — to see what else could be done.

“The attitude of bicyclists might need to be evaluated a little bit — in addition to cars that don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing,” Hook says.

Hook rides a motorcycle and says she knows what it’s like to share the road with larger, heavier vehicles.

“You have to be constantly scanning to see what’s around you.”

While Hook also has questions about how the cycle tracks could be designed to reduce risks, but says much depends on bikers, drivers and pedestrians increasing awareness of who they share the road with.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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