Looking south in the two-way bike lane at 15th and Q Streets NW. Photo by Luis Gomez from Borderstan.

Some of DC’s bikeways run in two directions on a street while the cars can only travel in one. Reader MacKenzie wants to know the right way to turn toward a destination that’s on the opposite side of the bikeway.

On 15th Street NW, the bikeway runs in north and south, but cars only go north.

I usually ride south on 15th Street NW, and then need to turn left onto Q. There is a little left turn lane, but I’m never sure if I am supposed to wait until the light for Q Street is green, or if I can go as long as no one is coming, like a driver turning left on a road with two way traffic would. What’s the proper way to do this?



For MacKenzie’s scenario, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association suggests a “two-stage turn” onto Q Street from the 15th Street bikeway.


Example of a two-stage turn. Image from DDOT.


That means when there’s a green light on 15th Street, continue through the intersection to the southwest corner. Then wait in extra space that is not the crosswalk or within the 15th Street bike lane, with the bike facing east on Q Street. Then proceed on Q when the light changes.

A two-point turn is also an option for those riding bikes north on 15th. But since riding north means riding with the flow of car traffic, it’s also OK to merge across 15th to turn right on Q.

Do you have a question? Each week, we’ll pose a question to the Greater Greater Washington contributors and post appropriate parts of the discussion. You can suggest questions by emailing ask@ggwash.org. Questions about factual topics are most likely to be chosen. Thanks!

Michael Lewis is a native of Montgomery County and currently lives in Olney. He has a BS in Community & Regional Planning from Temple University in Philadelphia. An avid rider of Metrobus and Metrorail, he was formerly a Professional Development Associate at the American Planning Association and an intern at the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County.