DDOT promoted George Branyan to Manager of the Active Transportation Branch

Last year Jim Sebastian, who came to DDOT back in 2001 as the Bicycle Coordinator, was promoted to be the Associate Director for Planning and Sustainability which left no specific person in charge of the Active Transportation Branch. That's the group that manages biking, walking, Capital Bikeshare, Transportation Demand Management, Safe Routes to Schools and probably some other things I missed.

At this month's BAC meeting it was announced that George Branyan, who's been DDOT's Pedestrian Program Coordinator for the last 13 years, will be filling that role permanently. I guess now they need to hire a new pedestrian lead. 

Anyway, that fills one of the three lead jobs that were empty when the year started. 

I'm not sure if Arlington is going to fill the Bicycle & Pedestrian Programs Manager job that David Goodman used to do or if they're just going to stick with their current staff (I'm less familiar with how it works over there and the BAC doesn't have it's notes up from the December meeting when it was discussed). 

I'm also not aware if Alexandria has hired anyone to fill the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Manager position that they advertised. 

Bike sharing helps cities achieve goals; newspaper and researcher reports otherwise

image from placemanagementandbranding.files.wordpress.com

Bike sharing has a lot of benefits. In addition to providing an alternative mode of transport, saving users money and travel time, increasing access, making roads safer and encouraging bicycle ownership; it reduces GHG emissions, is good for public health and reduces congestion. The last three should not be surprising since bike sharing results in a net modal shift from driving

The Phase II member survey results show that bikesharing is causing a diverse array of modal shifts within the different cities surveyed.

The survey also found that bikesharing reduced respondents driving by large amounts in all cities. In Montreal and Toronto, 29% and 35% reported driving less. In MinneapolisSaint Paul and Salt Lake City, 53% and 55% reported driving less, and in Mexico City, 53% reported driving less. Very few respondents reported driving more.

And since driving is a significant cause of GHG emissions, bad for public health and a cause of congestion this is exactly the outcome we'd expect.

I'll note that some of these effects are counter-balanced by people who shift from transit and walking.  Those shifts involve more complicated trade-offs, with smaller impacts and are not as consistent as shifts from driving. For example, with walking

More respondents in Mexico City, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and Salt Lake City increased walking than decreased it. In Montreal and Toronto, more reported walking less often than more.

Similar complexities are found with transit and biking. But those shifts don't change the fact that bikesharing reduces GHG emissions and improves health.

So it was surprising when the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Times recently had a disturbing headline about bikesharing "Boris bikes don't improve health or reduce pollution." It was also wrong. But there are layers of wrongness built into it. It's like a game of telephone where each person is not only getting the statement wrong due to normal errors, but each is also acting in bad faith. 

The Times was a little wrong

The Times article was basically regurgitating a press release from the Royal Geographic Society about a recent study on bikesharing, so when it was quoting it - which it did often - it was at least getting that right. But even then it got the main things wrong.

They state that the study shows that bike sharing schemes "do not cut carbon dioxide emissions" a claim highlighted, with the most damage, in the title. But that's wrong. The claim from the RGS study is that "Bike share schemes ... are not very effective at ...reducing CO2 emissions" which is not the same thing as doing nothing. I'm not very effective at cleaning dishes, but they aren't as dirty when I finish as when I started (sorry everyone I've ever shared a house with). 

The article goes on to claim that bikesharing bikes "aren't having a positive effect on public health" and that "people on the outskirts [of cities], who are likely to be on lower incomes and in greater need, do not benefit." Each of these statements wrongly represent what the RGS press release says. As the press release says there aren't very effective, not that they're doing nothing. The underlying studies make it clear that they DO have benefits for health and CO2 reduction and that they do benefit people with lower incomes. 

The RGS press release was a little wrong too

As noted, the press release from the Royal Geographic Society "Bike sharing schemes mostly benefit healthy, wealthy, young white men" makes different claims than those in the Times article. Mostly that it exaggerates the claims from doing "little" to doing nothing. 

But even the press release doesn't match the work by Dr. Médard de Chardon. [The press release is about the presentation of a study by Médard de Chardon. It doesn't say which one, but much of the territory is covered in his study on "Bicycle sharing system 'success' determinants" so I'll be using that in this post]

The press release states that 

  1. The total amount of carbon produced in London from the rebalancing vans is not offset by the amount saved from use of the bike share scheme.
  2. They are not very effective at improving health
  3. They are not very effective at lessening road congestion
  4. They are not very effective at promoting transport equity

But here again the claims in the release state things with more certainty than they're stated in the paper and they elevate the negative results of outliers without noting that they are the exception. For example on item 1 above, the paper says.

Multiple studies have shown that publicized estimates of carbon dioxide reductions are often overstated as only a small portion of car trips are replaced using Bike sharing systems (BSS) (Ricci, 2015). In the case of London it is estimated that the vehicles rebalancing bicycles within the system may surpass any emission reductions from modal shift (Fishman et al., 2014a).

So the rebalancing vehicles MAY offset emissions, but they may not. Furthermore, of the four cities studied by Fishman, London is the only city where they found that mode shift didn't offset re-balancing, so it seems deceptive to make that the "example." 

The claim that they aren't very effective at improving health is also not backed up by the study. Instead it says:

The shift from sedentary travel modes to cycling has clear health benefits but net quantities are overstated due to the reduction
in walking, which has greater health benefits for a fixed distance traveled.

Overstated is not a synonym for "ineffective."

On congestion, again the PR gets it wrong. The study calls the claims of congestion reduction "unproven", it does not say that they are proven in effective. 

Finally, on equity, the study does make the claim that bike sharing "members [are] more likely be wealthier, younger, white, male and own a car, compared to the local population" and that it is "one of the most inequitable forms of sustainable transportation infrastructures.” So one out of four isn't bad. Perhaps this is the part he should show as an example. [More on the equity issue below] 

The release also asks whether a bike-share system in which each bike is used less than twice a day (as many are) is the best use of public funding for cycling. That's a great question, but he's not an economist and he, as near as I can tell, he doesn't even try to answer it. 

Then he really goes off the rails. 

“In reality, bike sharing schemes are a false solution. They look sophisticated and are technologically cool, but they don’t create much useful or progressive change.

It’s worrying that we are getting bike share schemes instead of concrete improvements to transport infrastructure.”

A solution to what? His own studies show that they have many small, but real benefits. That seems to indicate that it's at least PART of the solution to some of the problems he brings up. And if it doesn't create much useful progress, the question is compared to what? He's not arguing that bike sharing is a bad thing, only that other things are better. That's always a complicated question and he makes  a poor case that something else is.   

I do agree with him when he says that it's important to more effectively redistribute public space for better cycling infrastructure, and if we have to make a choice between street changes and bike sharing (as they did in London) it's wise to ask which is the better investment. But this press release, and the 2017 study, don't do that.

The study is wrong too, and isn't really a study of 'success determinants'

Again, I'm going to use the 2017 study here and I recognize that he may have a new study out which would make this wrong.

Médard de Chardon's study is really a study of how many Trips each Bike takes per Day (TBD) in various systems (Of the 75 systems studied CaBi is 22nd with 3.0 TBD, 3rd best in the US). In that sense it's useful and interesting.

Where it gets off track is where it tries to push an agenda - namely that because many systems have a low TBD, bike-sharing is a poor use of resources. 

He first claims that "success" for bikesharing is not defined. And for that he cites a paper that states that 

Whilst predominantly enabling commuting, bike sharing allows users to undertake other key economic, social and leisure activities. Benefits include improved health, increased transport choice and convenience, reduced travel times and costs, and improved travel experience. These benefits are unequally distributed, since users are typically male, younger and in more advantaged socio-economic positions than average. There is no evidence that bike sharing significantly reduces traffic congestion, carbon emissions and pollution.

But, at least for Capital Bikeshare, that's not true. When the program was starting, MWCOG submitted an application to the US DOT for a TIGER grant. In that they clearly stated what they saw as the benefits/goals.

The benefits they foresaw were user cost savings, user travel time savings, increased access, congestion reduction, emissions reduction, healthcare cost savings and accident reduction. They also saw benefits in getting users to purchase and use their own bikes - something that just doesn't show up in tpbpd. 

Then they calculated the value of each trip at $1.20. So as long as the subsidy is less than that, it would seem the system is a success. I did the calculations after one year and showed that it was. Now if Médard de Chardon wants to reanalyze the MWCOG calculations, update them and/or make them more robust that would be great. But he doesn't.  And I'll note that of the 9 benefits listed here, his paper misses 5 of them. 

He then goes on to state that the benefits for road and public transit congestion, carbon emissions, cycling modal share, health and equity have been shown to be hard to measure, trivial or non-existent. But the studies he cites contradict that. One is quoted above listing all the benefits. Another merely says that "the majority of scheme users are substituting from sustainable modes of transport rather than the car" which is not the same as saying there is no mode shift from cars or even from modes that do less for health. The third, written before CaBi started doesn't even make that claim. But even the most damning of these, by Ricci, which says that "there is no evidence that bike sharing significantly reduces traffic congestion, carbon emissions and pollution." (emphasis mine) also notes that nearly 20% of all bikeshare trips were shifted from car. There is no explanation for how hundreds of thousands of trips can be shifted from car to bikeshare without reducing congestion, emissions and pollution.  It seems the word "siginficantly" is doing all the work. Médard de Chardon does cite a study that claims that, in the case of London, the low car-to-bike shift rate combined with much higher than average rebalancing miles, leads to an increase in carbon emissions. It makes the case that in a city where few drive, bike-sharing will do little to reduce driving. 

But one thing Médard de Chardon does is cherry-picks his studies. If one claims that it does little to reduce emissions, but does improve health. He'll cite it when he talks about emissions and use another when he wants to talk about health. For example, he cites one study to make the claim that

Additionally, women using London’s BSS have reduced health benefits, compared to men, owing to increased rates of injury 

Which sounds negative, but that studies conclusion is that

London’s bicycle sharing system has positive health impacts overall, but these benefits are clearer for men than for women and for older users than for younger users.

Which sounds less negative. 

When he notes that the systems have benefits

They provide an alternative mode of transport, increase accessibility, trip resilience and flexibility, lower the barrier to exploring urban cycling, increase the visibility of bicycles, bicycle awareness by drivers and normalizing the image of cyclists in casual clothing

He then attacks those benefits on the grounds that they "do not spread evenly among classes and race," which is a way to minimize them. For that he relies on Melody L. Hoffman's "Bike lanes are white lanes."

There may be lessons to be gleaned from that book, but we should be clear that it's not a "study" of equity, it's not based on such a study and when she writes about bike sharing she's talking entirely about one system - Minneapolis' Nice Ride - and almost exclusively relying on interviews. So her claim that bike sharing is "one of the most inequitable forms of sustainable transportation infrastructure" in the United States; that's her opinion. It's not based on some metric of inequality and a comparison of various "forms of sustainable transportation infrastructure." 

It is true that there's an equity issue in bike sharing, but that is true within biking as a whole, and so if the argument is that we should not invest in bikesharing to instead invest in protected bike lanes, you're not really solving the problem. It's also true that Médard de Chardon's study does a bad job of making the case about equity. And it makes no attempt to show why a system which unevenly spreads benefits among classes and races does not benefit those with lower incomes. It's possible the benefits are uneven and that low income people still benefit. 

Finally, he makes a dubious claim that 1 TBD is a significant threshold since. 

This value is psychologically important as systems below this have some bicycles being unused each day. More worrisome are the 10 systems with ratings below 0.5 TDB, as this means most bicycles are not used on a daily basis

It may be that 1 TBD is so low that the costs exceed the benefits. Or that 0.5 is. But if so, it won't be for psychologically symbolic reasons. And it likely won't be universal. In an un-system like New York's, where the taxpayers pay nothing, who cares how low the TBD is? And as he notes, any attempt to maximize TBD run counter to efforts to increase equity. 

Just to pile on a bit, he also ignores the number of people who are encouraged by bikeshare to buy and ride their own bikes. 

This is the heart of his failure to define bike sharing as a false solution. He has no idea what level of TBD/subsidy is cost-effective. He has defined no set of metrics for defining benefits. He makes to attempt to set a cost on systems. It may be that London's system increases emissions but is still cost-effective. 

It would be fair of him to say that systems need to define goals and metrics for success. That they need to analyze those regularly to see if those goals are being met and to what extent. That they need to try to define those metrics as benefits and compare them to costs. But he's simply not in a position to call bike-sharing a false solution. Certainly not across the board, and not in a city like DC with 3.0 TBD and high car-to-bike mode shifting. 


So, I would love to see a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of bike-sharing across a broad spectrum of cities. But this isn't it. And without one I don't see how anyone can claim that they are a "false solution."

Cyclist killed in 3rd bike fatality in DC area this summer

The Post reports that

Mario Yattum, 33, of Lanham, was on his bike in the median at the intersection before he entered the roadway and was hit by a car travelling west on Annapolis Road, police said. Both the car and the bicycle were traveling on Annapolis Road near Morley Road about 10 p.m. when the collision occurred, according to the police.

This was on Sunday night. And here's the press release all the reporting is based on.


Work on Clarendon Circle Rebuild to start next week

Screenshot 2018-09-17 at 11.58.09 PM

Next week, Arlington County will start work on the Clarendon Circle intersection improvement project which will add bike lanes and a queue box to the intersection, along with a host of other improvements.  

There will be bike lanes, with green paint, in both directions on Clarendon Blvd/Wilson Blvd, and going east on Washington Blvd. There will also be a queue box for cyclists going from Washington Blvd to north bound Clarendon Blvd. There are already bike lanes on Wilson and Clarendon north of the intersection.  Update: the image below is the right one. The bike lane going south will continue south on Wilson and then onto Fairfax) 
image from mizook.com
While not a bike project, it's interesting that they're closing N. Irving (in the bottom center of the image above) to help simplify the intersection. In it's place will be a green streets element
In addition, the project will be
  • Reducing intersection size and tightening the intersection geometry
  • Shortening pedestrian crossing distances and widening crosswalk areas
  • Better aligning Washington Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard
  • Upgrading traffic signals
  • Installing new Carlyle streetlights
  • Providing wider center medians at all crossings
  • Adding curb extensions at the Liberty Tavern corner
  • Planting new street trees

The first phase of construction will last about 10 weeks. 

Montgomery County Bicycle Plan costs are overstated


Breezeway Network from the Draft Master Plan

Later today, the Montgomery County Council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee will meet to discuss the proposed Bicycle Master Plan

The plan proposes creating a "1,100-mile network of bikeways includes 573 miles of sidepaths, 172 miles of trails, 128 miles of bikeable shoulders, 99 miles of separated bike lanes and 48 miles of neighborhood greenways. More than one-quarter of this network currently exists." 

Today's meeting will focus on the plan's recently completed Fiscal Impact Statement (FIS) which sets the cost of the 25 year plan at $3.1 billion, which doesn't consider "substantial" land acquisition costs. This is admittedly a lot of money, however, it doesn't accurately define the cost of the plan. That is the price if every single mile of planned bikeway is built. The planning staff states up front that they realize it won't be. 

Such a large network is proposed so that opportunities to Implement the preferred bicycling network are not lost when yet unknown circumstances arise, such as future capital projects and development applications.

In other words, some of these are unfunded lines on maps, which is how they'll stay unless something unforeseen happens. If some other entity such as the state or federal government decides to built a project that intersects with the plan, it gives the county the ability to push them to build the facility. And many of these facilities, about half a billion dollars worth, are expected to be built by private developers.

Putting unfunded projects in a plan is not unusual. In DC, the 2005 bike plan included a bike path along the old rail spur to St. Elizabeths. That planned, but completely unfunded path, was considered years later when DHS decided to develop the property and now a path will extend along that route and then all the way across Ward 8. This is how a lot of facilities wind up being built. But many of these lines never become trails or bike lanes.

It's unrealistic to include them all as costs, since the plan is for the county to never pay for them or at least to never pay the full price.  And it feels disingenuous for the County Executive to claim that "implementing the scope and timing of the proposed plan would cause extreme duress to the capital and operating budgets" when the plan is not to implement the full scope. 

In addition, the planning staff notes that many of these facilities are dual-use and so should not count entirely as a bike plan cost. There are 23 bikeable shoulders that are also highway safety projects (and unlikely to be built unless to provide shoulders for drivers) - the cost of these make up $1.8 billion of the costs. The 450 miles of sidepaths will also serve pedestrians and should be discounted accordingly. 

For these reasons, the planning board estimates the fiscal impact of the bicycle plan at less than $1.9 billion. 

The OMB estimate is bad enough, but then it gets worse. The Deputy County Council Administrator that leads on transportation then submitted a memo arguing that $3.1 billion, instead of overstating the costs, understates it and that the real cost is $6.5 billion.

The deputy argues that there are $2.5 billion worth of bikeways identified in the plan that are not priced out. When the planning board noted that they are not all going to be implemented he asks "[then] why are they all master-planned?" As if the answer, that they are placed in there just in case an opportunity arises, isn't pretty clear. He also points out, as stated by OMB, that the land costs are not included. 

He then argues for a major descoping. 

One way to reduce this cost while generally respecting the Planning Board's priorities is to delete from the master plan the projects in Tiers 4 and 5, and many (but not all) of the bike-able shoulders in Tier 3.

Note that this will not actually save the county any money, but it might prevent bike projects from being built anyway. The deleted projects are ones that won't be built if the county has to do it. They are only there as placeholders in case someone else - a developer, Maryland or the federal government to name a few - can be convinced to build them. And having it in the plan makes it easier to get them built under those conditions. 

In a stark contrast, there's no discussion at all of the fiscal impact or budget busting scope of the Master Plan of Highways and Transitways which is also being updated. 

The committee is meeting today at 2:45pm in Rockville, and I'd encourage all County residents to contact the council or their members to make sure the Bicycle Plan keeps its current scope. 


  • A lawyer for our good friends at the Chevy Chase Country Club wrote to "request that the Montgomery County Council include language in the Bicycle Master Plan directing that the Club is not obligated: (1) to dedicate right of way; (2) to install; nor (3) to contribute to the cost of a shared use path along Wisconsin Avenue simply because the Bicycle Master Plan recommends one, if the Club were to initiate a project on its property sometime in the future." No other landowners submitted comments.
  • The Deputy criticizes the inclusion of road diets as a means of building bike lanes. "In several locations in the Draft Plan, it is noted that in many cases the means to create a bike lane is to remove a travel lane or on-street parking. This should not be a given. Several have testified the obvious fact that removing a travel lane will increase congestion, and that removing a parking lane might hurt local businesses. 
  • The Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, which promotes itself as pro-bicycle and makes many pro-bicycle statements is maybe MORE pro-car. They recommend that the plan should "Focus more on recreation since that is what people who cycle are primarily interested in." The plan is instead focused on helping people to complete short trips by bike and getting the County's mode share up to 8%. They also recommend that they "Remove the potential of eliminating travel lanes to accommodate new bike lanes since their removal could negatively impact congestion and is contrary to other master plans for transit and road networks"; "Analyze any proposals to remove on-street parking to ensure that the removal will not hurt any
    businesses" and remove the breezeway network shown at the top.
  • A law firm wrote that the new plan must comply with the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment and that the plan be revised to state that only projects that generate 50 or more non-motorized peak hour trips must construct bicycle infrastructure

DC reaches goal of 5% bike commute share (just 2 years late)

The Census Bureau released its annual American Community Survey yesterday and for the 3rd year in a row bike commuting was down nationwide, and by an even larger number than last year.  In 2016 data, bike commuting went down from 0.597% to 0.575% or about 22000 people total. In 2017 it dropped to 0.547% which is about 27,000 people. There are now about 836,000 American bike commuters according to the Census. Last year Streetsblog theorizes that the drop in global gas prices worldwide was the cause of the drop, which seems reasonable - people do respond to financial incentives, but the cost of gas isn't really that much of the cost of driving so I'm still skeptical. Adding to my doubt is the fact that since 2014, driving is also down - from 85.7% to 85.3%. The more likely cause is that working from home, which is up more than 10% over that time, is eating into every other mode.

Driving, transit, walking and biking are all down; taxis, motorcycles, and working from home are all up. Nearly 8 million people now work from home. In 2006, that was less than 5.5 million. 

But for us, the big news is that DC continues to buck the trend. Bike commuting continues to grow - from 4.6% of all commuters last year to 5%*, which is another record high and means we have met the goal set in the 2005 bike plan for 2015. So two years late, but still a good sign. I suspect that will keep DC in 2nd place behind Portland for major cities, but haven't seen a full list yet.

*Actually it's 4.96%, but the judges say we'll accept the answer.

Unfortunately, driving in DC rose for the first time in a few years, from 38.1% to 39.6%; walking dropped again, to 12.7% from 13.7% and transit use was down. A lot. From 36.1% to 32.7%. Working from home meanwhile was up from 6% to 7.37%.  The biggest growth percentage-wuse came from the "taxi, motorcycle and other" group. It was up to 2.73% from 1.61%. I'm going to guess that's Uber/Lyft.

Elsewhere the news is also mixed:

Arlington which last year tied Boston, dropped a full percentage point from 2.4% to 1.4%.  

Alexandria, which dropped by a 3rd in 2017, came roaring back. It doubled from 0.9% to 1.8%.

Silver Spring, continues to recover, doubling from 0.6% to 1.2% .  

Rockville  which last year dropped from 0.7% to 0.1% rose back up to 0.8%

Gaithersburg which, having reached 0% last year, had no where to go but up is now at 0.2%

Seminary Road could be a Complete Street

Back in 2015, VDOT began work on a new active transportation bridge over I-395 at Seminary Road.

This is one part of a set of transportation projects designed to make travel easier around the nearby Mark Center, where many federal employees were transferred under the Base Realignment and Closure program (BRAC).

The new bridge, which opened in 2016, connected Mark Center Ave north of I-395 with Kenmore Ave south of it (where one can visit the shell of an old Steak and Ale). But other than a couple of blocks of bike lane on Kenmore, it didn't connect to much. It's a large expenditure that created an impressive facility that as of yet is not meeting its potential.

Screenshot 2018-09-12 at 12.09.14 AM

Not wanting to squander such an impressive piece of infrastructure, Alexandria wants to take advantage of scheduled repaving of Seminary on the southside of 395 to create a complete street from the new bridge to Quaker Lane where it can connect to bike lanes on Janneys Lane. It also gets cyclists to Gerald R. Ford Park, which it seems is a thing that exists. 

You can complete a survey about the project here. 


Seminary Road was identified in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Chapter of the Transportation Master Plan for potential improvements to ensure the safety, mobility, and accessibility for all roadway users.. Data analysis conducted through the Vision Zero Action Plan also showed that Seminary Road was a corridor with a high number of KSI (killed or seriously injured) crashes. 

Since the reduction of the speed limit on Seminary (from Quaker to Library Lanes) in 2016, data has shown that safety has improved. However, to sustain this benefit, the roadway design must reflect the posted speed limit as well as encourage and better accommodate people walking, biking, driving, and riding transit. 

There was a walkabout in early May and a public meeting later that month about the Complete Street Project. Unfortunately the public was both for and against bike lanes

Those for bike facilities liked protected bike lanes or at least those with a buffer. Those against thought it would make traffic worse or present a hazard for drivers.

Because this is a repaving project, I'd say there are low odds of getting a protected bike lane, but buffered lanes are possible. While bike lanes might slow traffic, they might also make traffic better. They might do both. But I don't see how they can make a hazard for drivers. Either way, maintaining automobile traffic flow is not a part of "Complete Streets".

At an upcoming public meeting they will present design options and concepts, some with a lane reduction, some without. 

We hope to have a decision with input from the community by September so that the road can be repaved and we can implement short-term recommendations in the Fall. This may be pushed to Spring depending on a variety of factors.

I don't think I've ever ridden on Seminary. I'm not even sure I've driven on it, but people who have or would have weighed in already.

Bike facilities requested were climbing lanes on steep areas, protected or buffered lanes, turning the slip lane at Howard into a bike-only connection

And the people who wouldn't, have weight in too

bike lanes only encourage unsafe biking

the street specifically Seminary is for cars to go and from, I am sick of accommodating bikers!!

Please stop allowing the 25 actual bike riders in Alexandria to restrict parking or eliminate travel lanes at the expense of 99% of the population who cannot and do not bike.

When bikers obay the law and they are treated like drivers then you make the changes.

On that last point, if you look at slide 7 here, it shows that the average driver is exceeding the speed limit and that lowering the speed limit didn't do much to slow speeds. So even if adding bike lanes does slow traffic, that seems to be a good thing considering that traffic is now going too fast.

If they can eventually make Seminary bikeable from Quincy to Dawes, it would really fill in the area between Holmes Run and Four Mile Run. And if they could add a trail along the tributary of Holmes Run from the Mark Center, through the Winkler Nature Preserve to the Holmes Run Trail, that would be something. 

Busting the clusterfudge. Can we get an Anacostia River Connection to 52nd Ave?

In a set of Christmas Wish List posts that I never completed, I was going to highlight the 12 biggest bicycle dead zones - areas that have to be biked around, like the White House. The biggest of these was was centered on the Tuxedo area of Maryland between Fort Lincoln, Colmar Manor, Cheverly and Deanwood. Here, two highways - the BW Parkway and US 50; two railroads - the Penn Line and Landover Sub; the connections between them; a river; the Arboretum; parks and even Beaver Dam Creek conspire to create a barrier to cyclists that I labeled the Clusterfudge. Even along the edges, Kenilworth Avenue and Bladensburg Road are no picnics to ride on. 


Up until 2016, any trip that would, as the crow flies, pass through the area in red, had to instead go around it on the red line drawn on the map. In 2016, the Anacostia River Trail, the blue line I drew, punched through that area and improved things quite a lot for those going north and south by creating four new connections in the area, but the Clusterfudge is still probably the biggest dead zone in the region; though Arlington Cemetery, with its ever more-limiting rules and ever expanding size is trying to give it a run for its money.

Some help may be on the way. The planned bridge across the Anacostia to the Arboretum and the trail from there to M Street, NE will help a lot. A bike path on the New York Avenue Bridge, a Beaver Dam Creek Trail, and A Fort Lincoln Trail would too, but those are big projects that would take years.

In the short term can we maybe get a trail connection to 52nd Street?

It's not exactly a game changer, but there is no connection to the trail for the 1.5 miles between Beaver Dam Creek and Quincy Run. A connection to 52nd Avenue would break that up and shorten the trip from DC to Cheverly via the trail by about 0.8 miles. A trail connection (the blue line below) would only need to be about 1200 feet to get the job done, and it wouldn't need to be as wide as the rest of the trail.


It could be about 300 feet shorter (the red line) if it could use the access road that connects to the trail in the area (see image below)


As it is now, a trip from DC to Cheverly along the trail requires a ride up to the LLoyd access road. A trail connection to 52nd Avenue would shorten the trip for every destination in the area bounded by Kenilworth Ave, 52nd Ave, Annapolis Rd, Cheverly Rd. and Tuxedo Rd. It would benefit many people with just a short connection.

Then maybe a protected bike lane on 52nd Ave from the trail to Newton St., a bike-ped bridge over the Parkway from Inwood to Viewpoint and a micro-trail from Inwood to the Hospital could follow, creating a complete connection from Cheverly to the trail. 

Casual Users are imperative to the viability of bike share

An interesting part of this study that I left out of the last post on it.

Different Users Account for Different Usage and Revenue

While having a strong foundation of annual members is important to a system’s success, tailoring components of the system to encourage use by the casual user is imperative for a system’s long-term economic viability, especially in lieu of public subsidy. This finding has been further emphasized by recent developments relating to New York City’s Citi Bike program and its apparent revenue shortfall. At present, Citi Bike has a considerably lower proportion of casual to annual users in contrast to cities, such as Washington, D.C.

The Arlington Boulevard Trail could still be the next big thing

In 2014, WABA released a concept plan for the Arlington Boulevard Trail (ABT). Unlike the concept plans WABA created for the Capital Crescent and Metropolitan Branch Trail, the Arlington Boulevard Trail already exists. But as WABA points out in the plan, it is discontinuous and below standard. The concept plan called for 3 miles of new trail and miles of upgrade to double the length of the trail. In the long term, it proposed a full multi-use trail to be constructed along both sides of the boulevard.

Despite recent improvements, the ABT has not retained it's position of prominence in the County. The trail opened in 1974 as part of a project to build preferential bus lanes from Seven Corners to North Pershing, but the trail only went as far west as Four Mile Run, where it connected to the county's only other trail. By 1976 it was promoted as one of the "must-see" trails in the region, although that was mostly for it's ability to connect the Four Mile Run Trail to Arlington Cemetery - which at the time still allowed cycling on all of its roads. In 1979, the trail was extended from North Pershing around Fort Myer to Arlington Memorial Bridge, and that's pretty much the area covered by the trail today.

It's not clear what happened to the rush-hour, bus-preference lanes - thought they may have went away when the Orange Line opened to Ballston in 1979. It's also unclear if the trail, which now is mostly on-street between Four Mile and Pershing, was all off-road when opened. Either way, the trail is certainly not a "must see" trail today. A ride out to Four Mile Run or beyond it is mostly a task.  

But the WABA plans aspires to change that. 

As GGW wrote at the time, the trail has some good parts, and some simple to fix parts and then some expensive to fix parts.

There’s currently a plan to widen Arlington Boulevard underneath the Seven Corners interchange, and that would need some sort of path if non-drivers are to avoid a lengthy detour. Another significant challenge lies between Annandale and Gallows Road, where WABA notes that a bridge would be needed to cross 495. That’d likely be the most expensive part of the project.

The report came out just as Arlington County was finishing up improvements to the section of the Trail from Rhodes to North Pershing.

Since then, there's been at least one improvement as the trail was repaved, and some bollards removed, on the section from the Day's Inn to Washington Boulevard as part of a Washington Gas pipeline replacement

Additionally the Capital Trails Coalition has chosen to highlight one section of the trail noted in the Concept Plan, the section from Federal Hill Dr. to Summerfield Rd in the Seven Corners area of Fairfax. This "Will fill a gap in the Seven Corners neighborhood of the existing Arlington Boulevard Service Road path"

Meanwhile, just this week Arlington County announced a few modest improvements to the block of the Arlington Boulevard trail where it's on Wainwright Road, that they have planned for this year. This is between the parts that got work in 2014 and 2017.

The following are the planned updates to the area for summer/fall of 2018:

• Construction of a new, ADA-accessible curb ramp at the corner of N Pershing Dr and Wainwright Rd (the frontage street between Arlington Blvd and the Days Inn hotel). 
• Addition of on-street markings along the eastern portion of Wainwright Rd to separate trail users from motorized traffic. 
• Removal of parking on the eastern portion of Wainwright Rd (VDOT right of way). 
• Connection of the Wainwright Rd on-street trail to the existing Arlington Boulevard Trail as it approaches 2nd St N. 

I thought Wainwright and the ABT were already connected, and it's odd that this wasn't done as part of the pipeline replacement , but whatever. Progress.

Farther out, Arlington has applied for federal highway safety funding to improve the Arlington Boulevard-Washington Boulevard Interchange. "The project will revisit the design of the interchange to improve traffic safety, while also improving the trail connection across the interchange to safely facilitate multimodal movements."

The boulevard trails, like the ABT, MacArthur Boulevard Trail and the planned or under-construction South Capital and Washington Boulevard Trails, don't get quite the coverage that the rail or stream trails get; but they're arguable more important for transportation as they go right through the areas where people live and work. 

The ABT has a long history and, as WABA points out, plenty of potential. It can, or already does, connect to 8 trails including Rock Creek, Mt Vernon, W&OD and Cross County. As proposed by WABA, it could be a real backbone for Arlington County Biking. It would be great to see this once again become a must-see trail. 

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