Mayor Adrian Fenty by 15th Street’s contra-flow bike lane yesterday—-no police escort in sight!

Yesterday, I did a little reporting on D.C.’s brand new, contra-flow bike lane, which is protected by a lane for parked cars (look closely above.) It’s a pilot project on 15th Street NW, and the District Department of Transportation plans to carefully study how riders are responding.

“We want to see how it works. We know it’s not perfect. There are things we can probably tweak,” says John Lisle, spokesperson for DDOT.

Back before the lane was installed, DDOT gathered information about how many bikers were using 15th Street, how many were going with the flow of traffic or against it, and other observations about bikers’ behavior. Now, the Department is planning on sending out employees again to do the same counts and pull bikers aside to gather feedback.

One problem has already been recognized: Although the contra-flow lane is meant for southbound bikers going against the northbound flow of traffic, “it’s obvious people will use this lane in both directions,” says Lisle.

Go ahead and break the rules, says Lisle. Just watch where you’re going and don’t pedal into anyone.

For the next project, “we’re talking about a protective lane on both sides [of the road],” says Lisle.

The first lane on 15th Street, which took about two weeks to construct (but was in the planning phase for roughly a year), cost $100,000. DDOT is hoping to “roll out” several more protected lanes by Spring 2010, according to department transportation planner Jim Sebastian.

Photo from DDOT Facebook page.