Pilot Project Adds Solar Lights to Select Downtown Bike Lanes


(Photos Courtesy Of DDOT and Saris)
A section of bike lanes surrounding L and 15th streets in DowntownDC are now illuminated as part of a pilot program in the District created by bike product manufacturer Saris Cycling Group and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).
“This pilot is at the intersection of the city’s existing cycletrack network, a key component of the DowntownDC ecoDistrict,” said Richard H. Bradley, Executive Director of the DowntownDC BID. “The ecoDistrict focuses on innovation and sustainability; smart ways to get higher performance out of the built environment, including our transportation infrastructure.”
Saris’ self-charging solar cell Cycle Guide Lights have been placed along the divider of the two-way cycletrack on 15th Street NW between K and M streets and along two mix-zone merge areas on L Street NW between 16th Street and Vermont Avenue. 
“We’re hoping that even in a minor way it helps cyclists know that they’re welcome in downtown streets and that we’re trying new things to help make it a more hospitable environment,” said DDOT Bicycle Program Specialist Darren Buck.
The lights were donated by Saris, which has already helped integrate their lights into the traffic framework in the cities of Chicago, Portland, Ore., and in areas surrounding Madison, Wis. Saris approached District officials about adding lights to D.C. bike paths. DDOT said the location was chosen to offer both a two-lane bicycle lane and mix-zone areas within close proximity. The lights were installed by DDOT officials on Feb. 27, in time for the National Bike Summit March 3-5. 
Saris Product Manager Sarah Reiter said her company targeted Washington, D.C. because of the city’s existing commitment to bike transportation, including participation in the Green Lane Project, which supports protected bike lanes. D.C. “has been progressive and aggressive in making themselves more bicycle friendly and innovative,” Reiter said.
Reiter said Saris hopes their lights in Downtown increase the timeframe during which cyclists feel comfortable riding and decrease barriers for individuals to choose cycling for transportation.
Saris says each light—typically $140 each—operates for 5-7 years, can handle up to 20 tons of weight, and incurs no maintenance costs. 
Both Saris and DDOT are eager for feedback from cyclists, drivers and observers on their pilot program.
DDOT will soon be conducting street sample surveys on the lights and in the coming weeks will be posting a user survey online. Saris currently welcomes direct email feedback on the program.
The DowntownDC BID’s ecoDistrict supports biking as a sustainable transportation choice. On Bike to Work Day, May 16, the ecoDistrict will once again sponsor the Freedom Plaza pit stop (14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW) where all are invited to show up for t-shirts, prizes, snacks, guest speakers and more. An estimated 900 cyclists showed up at Freedom Plaza last year. 
[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fid”:”4519″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”253″,”style”:”line-height: 1.538em; width: 200px; height: 44px;”,”width”:”1160″}}]]
What do you think of the pilot solar light program in DowntownDC? Follow DDOT on Twitter at @DDOTC to find out when their surveys will be posted online. To respond now to Saris, email Reiter directly: sreiter@saris.com.