Extending the 15th Street cycle track through downtown has given people a great way to ride north-south without having to fight with car traffic. However, trucks which habitually double park downtown have started parking in the bike lane.

On a ride downtown yesterday, I encountered multiple trucks parked in the lane, including a Comcast truck and a USPS minivan. Multiple readers have sent in photos of FedEx trucks in the lane.

Left: Comcast truck in the lane. Photo by the author. Right: FedEx truck. Photo by Thomas J.

This forces people on bikes into the general lanes. For people riding southbound, that’s a little risky when the street is busy, but for people riding northbound, they have to ride against traffic to go around the truck.

On the block between I and K, however, two trucks were parked not in the bike lane itself, but in the general-purpose lane adjacent to the bike lane:

USPS and UPS trucks parked next to, rather than in, the bike lane. Photo by the author.

This is a more sensible place for trucks to double park. They shouldn’t double park at all, but there perhaps aren’t enough loading zones for the trucks that do need to park, and unfortunately some zoning decisions over the years removed many of the internal alleys in those downtown blocks.

Before the lane existed, the curb lane in some of these blocks had parking, so trucks still had to double park in the second-rightmost lane. Now, if they continue double parking in the second-rightmost lane, they’re still parking in the same place.

It appears that these trucks park next to the lane because the vertical posts are too closely-spaced for them to get in and out. Smaller trucks, however, can maneuver between the poles. DDOT expanded the spacing based on residents’ requests, but perhaps in this commercial downtown area, they need to add poles?

The bigger question is, can DC effectively accommodate these trucks without forcing them to block either people on bikes or people driving? There could be loading zones just around the corners, though FedEx and UPS trucks typically aren’t willing to park a block away. I’ve even seen a delivery truck double parked next to some parked cars when there was a giant open space just 10-20 feet away.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.