There are few, if any, bicyclists who want to pedal along Sixth Street SE between the Southeast Freeway and Pennsylvania Avenue -- but there is a new and exclusive lane to accommodate them.

To the astonishment of motorists who use the previously two-lane-wide, one-way-north Sixth Street to reach Capitol Hill destinations, new stripes were painted on the road this week, creating one lane wide enough for automobiles and one narrow lane reserved for the rarely seen bikes.

Seward Cross, traffic engineering chief for the D.C. Transportation Department, said the new arrangement is an effort to eliminate a large number of sideswipe accidents on the narrow street, and was supported by the area's advisory neighborhood commissions.

It was impossible to widen the street and impractical -- because parking for residents is scarce -- to eliminate parking on one side of the street, so the only practicable solution was to eliminate one lane of vehicular traffic, Cross said. A right-turn lane is provided at Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cross said the arrangement is the first of its kind in the city and is considered to be experimental, thus subject to revocation. He said an identical auto-and-bike arrangement may be imposed soon on Fourth Street, the southbound traffic artery parallel to Sixth Street.