This cyclist is riding south on 15th Street NW, where cars only travel north. What's the safest way for him to make a left turn? Image by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

Some of DC’s bikeways run in two directions on a street while the cars can only travel in one. On 15th Street NW, for example, the bikeway runs both north and south, but cars only go north.

Reader MacKenzie wants to know the right way to turn toward a destination that’s on the opposite side of the bikeway.

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 Bicyclist Association suggests a “two-stage turn” onto Q Street from the 15th Street bikeway.

An example of a two-stage turn. Image by 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.

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This post originally ran in 2015, but since the issue is still relevant to anyone on a bike, we wanted to re-run it!

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.