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Posted at 01:40 PM ET, 05/20/2010

Penn. Ave. bike lanes delayed

Update, 4:45 p.m.: Gabe Klein, director of the Department of Transportation, called to clarify that the delay in the opening of the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue might not result in the lanes growing tighter.

But Klein said the lanes need to be "redesigned" to enhance the safety of bicyclists. As currently constructed, he said, cars may not realize that the lanes are reserved for bicycles because there is no physical barrier.

"We don't want cars entering the bike lanes because they think it's a car lane," Klein said. "People are used to bike lanes that are smaller."

Klein said he expects that it will take several weeks for the lanes to be redesigned so they are "distinctively recognizable" as bike lanes.

"This is America's main street, so I want to get this right," Klein said.

Original post: Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration is delaying the opening of the bicycle lanes under construction on Pennsylvania Avenue because officials have concluded that they are not yet ready for prime time.

The lanes, which stretch from the White House to the Capitol, were widely expected to be open by Friday, National Bike to Work Day.

But John Lisle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said the lanes need "more tweaks." Lisle said the lanes, as currently constructed, occupy too much space on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"When we originally installed them, they put them outside the median, and the combination of the bike lanes and the buffer took an entire lane of traffic," Lisle said. "So what we think we are going to try to do is squeeze the bikes more in the center of the roadway.

Fenty, an avid cyclist, may announce a revised schedule for opening the lanes Friday morning at a National Bike to Work Day rally at Freedom Plaza.

At 7:45 a.m., Fenty (D) and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, will bike from Garfield Circle in Capitol Hill to Freedom Plaza. The rally will begin at 8:45 a.m.

Despite the delay, Lisle assures D.C. Wire the bike lanes "are still coming."

"We have gotten a lot of feedback already, we have gotten feedback from cyclists and feedback from drivers, so we are going to tweak them and try to make them better for everyone," he said.

This post has been updated since it was first published.

-- Tim Craig

By  |  01:40 PM ET, 05/20/2010

Categories:  Tim Craig

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