New stairs, ramps, bike lanes, and crosswalks make for better connections to the Wharf

Staircase

It's now easier to walk or bike between L'Enfant Plaza, the Case Bridge, and the Wharf. Just before the opening of the Wharf, the District Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, and Wharf co-developer PN Hoffman began a project to reshape Banneker Park, located at the south end of L'Enfant Plaza in Southwest DC.

The project added a staircase from Banneker Park to Maine Avenue, bike lanes around Banneker circle and to 9th Street, two ADA-compliant paths from L'Enfant to the Wharf, new and improved crosswalks, and a long-sought curb ramp to the Case Bridge pedestrian path.

The Francis Case Memorial Bridge has long included a bicycle and pedestrian path between Banneker Circle and Ohio Drive on East Potomac Park, but frustratingly cyclists had to transition to the street without a curb ramp or stay on the sidewalk.

Banneker3

The project has changed the trailhead into a wide landing where the sidewalk, stairs, and path meet with a curb cut. Some of the wall and trail fence was removed to make it feel more open, and the bollards are far enough apart to allow for a cargo bike to pass through.

Landing

The staircase from the landing to Maine Avenue has a bicycle runnel on the far side to allow cyclists to roll their bikes up and down the stairs. It leads to a new controlled crosswalk to make for a safer crossing to the Wharf.

Buffered bike lanes were added to Banneker Circle and the section of L'Enfant Plaza between it and 9th Street. Unfortunately, those have already attracted tour bus parking.

Banneker Bike lanes

In addition to the stairs, the old path from L'Enfant Plaza to Maine and 9th has been replaced with a new ADA-compliant path across the road to two other paths. One leads to the new crosswalk at the base of the stairs, and the other to the corner of 9th and Maine streets.

BannekerPath

The sidewalk along the north side has been widened all the way to the tunnel under 395 (see the old sidewalk here).

MaineSidewalk

Further away at 12th and Maine, pedestrians will find new curb ramps and improved crosswalks.

Now, if they could improve the surface of L'Enfant Plaza north of Banneker Circle so that biking there isn't miserable, we'd really be getting somewhere!

Alexandria is updating its Environmental Action Plan

Last year, Alexandria started updating its Environmental Action Plan. 

The Environmental Action Plan is the City's blueprint for creating a thriving, sustainable community. In June 2009, the City adopted the comprehensive Environmental Action Plan 2030, aimed at achieving the vision and principles outlined in the City's Eco-City Charter and ensuring the City continues to move toward environmental sustainability. The update process involves City residents, businesses, staff and the Environmental Policy Commission.

The Environmental Action Plan (EAP) 2030 update is done in two phases. This first phase is for short-term actions recommended within five years to FY 2023.

Biking can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other transportation-related pollution, so naturally the plan includes actions that will encourage people to switch from driving to biking. So far they point to Capital Bikeshare, Vision Zero, Complete Streets and bike paths as actions they've taken that fit in with the EAP along with education, planning and other policies

In the near term they're going to more aggressively reduce GHG emission (20% by 2020) which could lead to more biking. 

There are more work sessions coming up with the next one on April 30th. 

Congestion pricing: when the right answer is just too hard to implement

image from encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com

A task force convened by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was tasked with recommending solutions to the severe traffic congestion problems in Manhattan’s CBD and identify sources of revenue to fix the ailing subway system. 

I mean, OK. But this isn't that hard right? If only there were one thing that could solve those two problems at once.

Obviously it's congestion charging and it's heartening to see that, yes, that is what the task force recommended. The system could raise $1.5 billion annually, which while a lot of money, is nothing compared to the $100 billion that congestion will cost the economy of the metropolitan area over the next five years.

Fix NYC recommends a phased approach.

Phase One initiates investments to improve transit connectivity between the CBD and the outer boroughs and suburbs and calls for immediate stepped up enforcement by NYPD of existing traffic laws.

Phase Two calls for a surcharge on taxi and for-hire vehicle trips in the CBD at the conclusion of a ten month period to allow transportation service companies to install the appropriate GPS technology in all vehicles.

Phase Three features the installation of a zone pricing program, first for trucks, and then for all vehicles, entering Manhattan’s CBD below 60th Street.

In what I think is an error in judgement, the Fix NYC plan recommends spending 100% of the money on items in the Subway Action Plan. Not to take anything away from transit, but at least some of the solution to congestion is found in cycling and walking. 

I would also disagree with this:

The Panel believes the MTA must first invest in public transportation alternatives and make improvements in the subway system before implementing a zone pricing plan to reduce congestion.

I'd say, first you get the money. Then you get the transit. And then you get the women (to feel safe riding bikes). Things are going to be awful in the near term no matter what, might as well get to phase two as fast as possible and then follow that with the transit investments in phase one made possible by the revenue. 

Congestion charging in other cities has reduced congestion, raised revenue, made streets safer and improved air quality. Thus it's surprising that more mayors aren't clamoring to institute their own. San Francisco has shown a lot of interest (and still is) as has New York, but most other attempts are limited to tolling and HOT lanes, some of which don't even allow for the revenue to be spend on anything but car infrastructure. Instead, apparently, we're all getting electric scooters or something. Did not see that coming.

A previous effort to institute congestion pricing in NYC in 2008 failed at the state legislature, as this one might, but improved technology has allowed them to draw a smaller cordon this time. One that may be more politically viable. 

Congestion charging, even if it invested nothing in cycling, would make biking more appealing as cyclists would not be required to pay and cycling would become safer. That's what happened in London. 

research showed that cycling in the inner city increased by an impressive 66% since the introduction of the congestion charge. Cycling has also become safer: crashes in Central London decreased by 40%.

And if some of the revenue is plowed back into cycling, as was done in Milan, then that would further increase the appeal of cycling. 

 

Setting up a congestion pricing system, and using the money to improve transit, biking and walking is probably the biggest things we can do to reduce congestion, improve mobility, improve health, reduce pollution and grow the local economy. Ideally I'd like to help people to get on bikes by removing barriers or entice them with carrots, not force them with a stick; but if roads get safer with less congestion and revenue goes into improved facilities, I think that's a program that's more carrot and more barrier removal than it is stick.

It's such a no-brainer that it's really a question of when we're going to do this, not if. The sooner the better. 

Maryland Pedestrian and Bicycle Access to Schools Act

House Bill 285, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Access to Schools Act, has unanimously passed both the house and the senate in Maryland, and (I think) is only awaiting signature from the Governor.  The bill would require the Department of Transportation to collect and consolidate available information from State and local agencies regarding an unmet need for safe pedestrian and bicycle access to schools in the State; requiring the Department to report its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before January 1, 2020.

It took on quite a few changes in the house, that seem to have limited its scale so that it no longer requires DOT to report recommendations. 

I'm not sure what the thinking is behind this bill. Maybe it's just an attempt to wrap their arms around the size of the problem? Regardless, we'll see how this report turns out I suppose. 

Other bills that passed include creating a state Complete Streets Policy, funding a Complete Streets Program

Bills allowing drivers to cross a double yellow line to pass a cyclist, creating a parking cash out and creating a carve out of the contributory negligence rule for pedestrians and cyclists failed. 

NVRPA considering ways to separate cyclists and pedestrians on the W&OD Trail

At a Arlington County Board meeting late last year, "Paul Gilbert, executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks), said his organization is mulling ways to separate those on foot from those on two wheels."

That's a great idea. I've been on trails like that and I think it makes all users happier. 

“I love the potential separation,” County Board member John Vihstadt said. “I think that will be well-received by both sets of users.”

I couldn't find out anything about the briefing, which may have not occurred in an official Board Meeting. I did find where NVRPA agreed to lease some park land to the County so that they could improve a bus stop east of South Wakefield Lane, but that doesn't appear to impact the trail or cyclists. 

The project will include new curbs, ramps, and gutters and a bench. A fire hydrant will also be relocated as part of the project.

2019 to be a very busy year in DC trails (if the TIP is to be believed)

Last November, DC amended the FY 2017-2022 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and it puts a lot of work of interest to cyclists into 2019. 

One of the most important changes to cyclists is that the bulk of funding for construction of the Metropolitan Branch Trail ($11M) was placed in 2019 signaling that DDOT plans to start construction on L&M Streets and Fort Totten soon. 

Meanwhile the "Safety Improvements Citywide" program, which pays for things like lighting, safety studies, roadway improvements (like at Blair Circle) and such received an addition $918,000 in SPR and local funding. This comes on top of previous increases that more than doubled funding for the program. They also added millions for additional streetlight upgrades citywide, which is nice for those who bike at night. 

Though not a change, DDOT plans to reconstruct C Street NE with a cycletrack in 2019. In the same year they will perform more construction on Pennsylvania Ave SE/Potomac Circle/Barney Circle which includes improving "pedestrian and bicycle access to the Sousa Bridge and along proposed Southeast Boulevard to the 11th Street Bridges."  They also have more than $11M set aside for construction of the South Capital Street Trail, $3.5M for the trail bridge across the Anacostia at the National Arboretum, $14M to replace the bike/ped bridges over Kenilworth Avenue, $27M for improvements to Southern Avenue

In 2018, they have funds set aside to rebuild Virginia Avenue (which they're currently doing) with a new Virginia Avenue Trail on the south side. There's also more than $10M for the Rock Creek Park Trail rehabilitation project, and $19M for the Maryland Avenue road diet. 

The reconstruction of South Capitol Street and a new more bike-friendly Frederick Douglass Bridge, which just started, gets oodles of money over multiple years as does "multimodal" roadway improvements around St. Elizabeths. 

The Florida Avenue Streetscape project is funded in 2020, which is also new. 

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Oddly, there's $3.3M in the TIP for construction of the New York Avenue Trail in 2017. I don't think that happened. 

Many of the programs that support cycling in part or in whole, like goDCgo, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Management Program, Safe Routes to School, Roadway Reconstruction, Transportation Alternatives,  and the National Recreational Trails will continue to be funded as before.

There's also $500k in planning money to improve Aspen Street NW from Georgia Avenue NW to 16th Street NW to include new turn lanes and a multi-use trail on the north side of the street to support the Walter Reed redevelopment.

Edgemont II development will add PBLs to Woodmont and Edgemoor in Bethesda

The proposed Edgemont II project will develop the land immediately adjacent to the Edgemont at Bethesda Metro apartments located at the corner of Edgemoor Lane and Woodmont Avenue. 

The Project proposes to redevelop the Property with up to 301,193 total square feet of residential development (including 115,193 existing square feet to remain in the existing 72-foot-tall Edgemont I building) with up to 282 multifamily dwelling units (including 122 existing units to remain in the existing Edgemont I building), in a 150- foot tall new residential building.

Separated bicycle lanes are planned for both Edgemoor and Woodmont and will be constructed as part of this project. You can see them on the image below.

The Project will construct the Bethesda streetscape on its two frontages and will participate in the implementation of new separated bicycle lanes on Woodmont Avenue and Edgemoor Lane. Each of these improvements will improve access, mobility, and pedestrian safety.

In addition,

Bicycle racks or lockers will be provided within the garage and short-term spaces will be provided along the Property's frontage, with final location to be determined at time of Site Plan, to facilitate bicyclist access to the Property.

They expect a groundbreaking in the 2nd quarter of 2019 and two years of construction.

Edgemoor

And a rendering of the building for those who like such things.

EdgemontII

Army Navy road diet would make room for a PBL

ANMap

Shortly after I wrote about this project in January, Arlington County had a public workshop about the Army Navy Drive Complete Streets project.  Some more material from that meeting is now available. Nothing official has changed about the concept so far, and yet it's possible that the workshop results in some changes. 

On the bike network map above, you can see how Army Navy connects so many of the facilities together and becomes part of the Columbia Pike to 14th Street Bridge route. 

The project will create a bi-directional Protected Bike Lane on the south side of the street, transit lanes for the Joyce to Hayes section and landscaped medians. It will make room for this by reducing travel lanes. No word on which lanes will be for Navy and which for Army.

ANCrosssection

On the west side, the bike lane will pass behind a floating bus stop, but won't extend the bike lane on Joyce to connect to it...

Joyce

and on the east it will have bike boxes and a connection to the shared lanes on 12th.

12th

There are quite a few driveways on this stretch so careful attention will need to be paid to how these cross the PBL. The PBLs will only be 10' wide, which is 2' less than NACTO recommends. And then I have a lot of questions about how cyclists will transition to and from the PBL, but I like the general idea of this for sure. 

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020, and be complete in spring 2022. That's roughly the time that the new Army Navy Country Club Access Road, which will provide cyclists access from the Columbia Pike area to Pentagon City, goes forward.

From the Archives: Vision Zero 1896-style

In 1896 a group of cyclists in DC that included the League of American Wheelman and the United Wheelman of the District of Columbia met with two of the district's three commissioners to discuss a list of regulatory changes they wanted to see made. These included lowering the speed limit at intersections for all vehicles, requiring vehicles to make turns from the middle of intersections, mandating lights on all vehicles and that mounted police officers look after teams of horses to make sure they follow the law just as mounted police do with cyclists. Because everyone knows that the teams of horses are the real dangers on the road. 

What's most interesting is this. 

Screenshot 2018-04-15 at 11.36.23 PM

Yep, bicyclists would be empowered to arrest people who throw glass on the street or who park in the bike lane. Ok, that last part was made up, but it would nice. In many cases these laws (lights, speed limits at intersections, etc...) only applied to cyclists. Cyclists were literally making the "if you want to share the road, you need to follow the same laws" argument.

Anyway they have a whole list of rules (park on the side of the street, pass on the left, pedestrians cross at crosswalks, etc...) that are currently law. It's like the first attempt at Vision Zero.

In the end commissioners decided that cyclists could cross intersections at the same speed as drivers and that some cyclists would be deemed special policeman empowered to arrest those who throw glass in the street.

Barry Farm could become the most bike friendly neighborhood in Ward 8 by 2020

Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.36.20 AM

DC could begin demolition of Barry Farm any day now, in fact they're already a little behind schedule, and once they're done rebuilding it, the new Barry Farm could be the most bike-friendly neighborhood in Ward 8. This is a $400 million project that will 

transform the 444-unit public housing complex in Southeast D.C. into a mixed-income community with rentals and townhomes within walking distance of the Anacostia Metro station and other city amenities.

The multiphase project, to be constructed by Baltimore-based A&R Development and the Preservation of Affordable Housing in partnership with the D.C. Housing Authority, is expected to include 1,400 mixed-income homes and about 50,000 square feet of retail space at buildout, with the first units available in 2020.

It will also provide extensive new open space and parks including a larger park at the center; and improved infrastructure including new roads that introduce a new east-west and north-south grid pattern with smaller pedestrian-friendly blocks to improve circulation and pedestrian connections. Those new roads will link the development to the Anacostia Metrorail station and Historic Anacostia through improved pedestrian, bicycle and streetcar route connections, and additional new bus routes through the community.

The project is generally bounded by Sumner Road to the north, Firth Sterling Avenue to the west, the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital property to the south, and Wade Road to the east. 

For cycling there are several items at play. A bike lane will run down the center the parcel on  the eloquently named "Road 4" (or sometimes "Road 3") . That bike lane will connect to another new one on two-blocks of Sumner Road and that will connect to a future trail on the Shepherd Branch rail ROW. On the map below bike facilities are green and pedestrian ones are red.

Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.47.14 AM

Later a new bike/ped bridge could carry people over Suitland Parkway (probably part of the trail again).

Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.50.54 AM

On Sumner the bike lanes will be between parking and a travel lane and on Road 4 it will be between the curb and the travel lane.

  Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.54.05 AM

The trail will not be part of this project but we get some idea what it could look like.

Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.56.02 AM

Screenshot 2018-04-13 at 12.56.43 AM

With such a large ROW, I hope they separate cyclists and pedestrians. And I hope they don't make the trail meander. 

What the drawings don't show is that on the other side of Suitland Parkway is the Suitland Parkway Trail, which will someday be improved, and on the other side of 295 is the future South Capitol Street Trail, which would make this a high trail access community. It's disappointing that the bike lane on Sumner doesn't keep going to MLK Ave and to the pedestrian bridge over Suitland Parkway which would help tie cyclists to that trail better. In the future, we can also hope that there will be a bike/ped connection from the south end of Road 4 to the St. Elizabeths campus and maybe this road can be transformed into a trailhead for a 2nd trail on the south side of Suitland Parkway.

That being said, the project is not without controversy.

Though D.C. officials are pushing ahead, the redevelopment is a tension point between city officials who want to revitalize the community and residents who want to preserve their homes and fear displacement from the first African-American homeownership community in D.C. for freed slaves.

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