Photo Friday: Bicycle signs and Bicycle Pavement markings are different | Washington, DC USA #activetransportation

Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Path, Washington, DC USA, note the different symbols on the road and on the sign (View on

As I was reading Jeff Olson’s excellent book “The Third Mode: Toward a Green Society” (see: Just Read: The Third Mode: Toward a Green Society, (how engineers impact our health as much as doctors) | Ted Eytan, MD). I was looking for examples of some of the issues in the book, and I conveniently found one on this bicycle trip.

Note how the graphic on the bicycle sign does not have a person on it, the one on the road does. This is because, as Jeff explains, the The Federal Highway Administration’s signage and pavement marking committees do not meet together, resulting in lack of uniformity.

This doesn’t mean that the world is static. I just learned that FHWA (@USDOTFHWA) has a Health in Transportation group: Health In Transportation – Planning – FHWA.

Also, let’s point out that there is a bike path with a buffer from car traffic on Pennsylvania, making it possible to ride from any neighborhood in Washington, DC to the US Capitol (in the background) safely. Our cities are changing. Active transportation is back.

One more quote from The Third Mode:

At a fundamental level, the design of the built environment cannot continue to be based on a single mode of transportation (the automobile) or even on two modes of transportation (automobiles and public transit). In order to create a safe, healthy, sustainable public realm, we need these options plus the third mode solutions of walking and bicycling.

Okay, and one more about the transformation of the engineering profession.

At some level, as a culture, we have lost the consciousness of understanding what makes places good, and we have trusted the engineering, architecture and landscape design professions to provide us with the built environment we inhabit. As a result, traffic engineers have ended up in a significant position to organize our lives around motorized mobility, architecture has become a fashion show that is more concerned with high art than the context of buildings, and landscape architecture has continued to perpetuate the suburban development model.

As usual, I see many parallels to clinical medicine 🙂


Ted Eytan, MD