The Baron Karl Von Drais Bikecentennial Velocipede Cup and Birthday Party - Sponsored by Proteus Bicycles

image from upload.wikimedia.org
2017 marks the 200th birthday of the bicycle, and we are going celebrate it with the only velocipede race/birthday party in the world.*

Festivities will occur on June 11th, 2017 starting at 3pm at the RFK parking lot where the velocipede (or "Laufmaschine" if you prefer) races will commence.

You don't actually have to find a 19th century dandy-horse to compete, as any bike will do. You just can't pedal the bike you do bring. Taking your pedals off will be allowed - and even encouraged, as will adjusting your seat heights. Bring your own bike to the race, though adults may race on standard bikes. We will have races and trophies for all ages - even among the Skoot group, so bring your kids and their bikes too. Though the race will be on a short course, helmets will be required.

Entry is free, but we will be encouraging a $5-$10 per entry donation (more is welcome) to Kingman and Heritage Islands Park. Race day registration is allowed, but registration is limited, so register early. Register for the race here.

This is meant to be more fun and silly than competitive. Because Karl Drais, the inventor of the bicycle and our race's namesake, was German we will be celebrating all things German. So wear a German racing kit, or lederhosen or a dirndl. Bring party hats for the birthday party.

In addition, Velocity Bicycle Cooperative will be there and can help with any simple bicycle repairs that you man need.

After the races we will head to Biergarten Haus at 1355 H Street for refreshments and a birthday party. If you're only interested in the party, we will aspire to be there by 5pm.

May the fastest scorcher win! 

Thanks to Proteus Bicycles in College Park for graciously sponsoring the race and Velocity for providing volunteers.

*That I know of. Please don't google to determine if that is true. 

What: The Baron Karl Von Drais Bikecentennial Velocipede Cup

Where: RFK Stadium Parking lot, beneath the East Capitol Street Bridge

When: June 11th, 3pm

Followed by 

What: The Bicycle's 200th Birthday Party 

Where: Biergarten Haus, 1335 H Street NE

When: June 11th, 5pm

Velocity image from pbs.twimg.com


From the Archives: Biking to work

 The League of American Bicyclists organized the first Bike to Work Day in 1956, but WABA organized the first one in DC in April 1977, about 5 years after it was formed. Of course people had been biking to work in DC for far longer than that. 

By 1898 ...a division head in the Treasury Department noted that there were 400 Treasury Department workers riding daily to work, for whom the department was building a bicycle stable.

In 1980, the federal government saw real potential in bike commuting (this was during the 1970's energy crises that spawned movies like the Road Warrior)

A study released by the DOT estimates that by 1985 the number of bike commuters could reach one to two million nationwide. In 1975 there were only about 470,000 such riders. DOT has launched the study to find ways of increasing bike riders,hip as a form of transportation. Bill Wilkinson of DOT's Environmental Safety Office, says the department will now attempt to find out "what the obstacles to bike use for transportation are, what the potentials are and how much energy can. be saved through wide-spread bike use." The study found that the country could save between 300 and 600 million gallons of fuel per year and significiantly reduce air pollution if the number of bikers continues to increase.

It didn't quite work out that way. In 1980 there were about 530,000 bike commuters and by 1990 the bike commuting rate would actually drop from 0.5% to 0.4% and the total number down to 500,000. But starting in 2000 that began to turn around. Nonetheless, there still aren't quite one million bike commuters in the US, let alone two million

Screenshot 2017-05-20 at 11.11.20 PM

While cheap gas probably played a part in that, a lack of investment didn't hurt.

As a result of the study, Secretary of Transportation Neil Goldschmidt has announced a program to make bicycle commuting easier and safer and raise it to the level of a "full-fledged" transportation mode. The DOT program will work toward the elimination of hazards such as narrow traffic lanes and inadequate shoulders, provide training in bicycle skills, promote increased enforcement of traffic laws related to bike accidents, provide more bike parking facilities and work toward increased bicycle use in conjunction with mass transit. 

Much of this wouldn't start until the late 1990's, which is when bike commuting did start to pick up. 

Rhode Island Ave Protected Bike lane, WB&A extension to DC and more funded by the TPB

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has announced its latest round of Technical Assistance Program (TAP) funding, and of 8 projects that will receive funding, 6 are bike related. Most notable in the immediate DC area are

  • College Park – Rhode Island Ave Protected Bike Lane Design - 30% Design ($55,000)
  • Montgomery County – Developing Educational Materials for the New Infrastructure in BiPPAs and Bikeways Program ($60,000)
  • Prince George's County – Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Extension Feasibility Analysis ($30,000)

And farther out 

  • Charles County – Waldorf Urban Area Bicycle / Pedestrian Connectivity Analysis ($50,000)
  • Fairfax County – Columbia Pike Bike and Pedestrian Study ($45,000)
  • Loudoun County – Engineering Analysis to Improve Bicycle and Pedestrian Connections to Future Metro Stations ($25,000)

It's not a lot of money, but this is the seed money that eventually turns into real projects. 

Here's more details on the projects

Rhode Island Avenue PBL - The project will provide 30% design work for 1.1. miles of new bicycle facilities along Rhode Island Avenue, from Greenbelt Road to Muskogee Street. The project will align with the City's existing efforts on the College Park Trolley Trail. The final deliverable will include 30% design drawings and construction cost estimates. 

WB&A Trail extension - A feasibility analysis will examine the potential for extending the Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Trail along MD 704 from MD 450 to the DC Boundary. The report will include a proposed alignment, potential design issues, implementation phases, funding sources, and illustrative sketches of proposed trail sections.

BIPPA's - The county will develop new bilingual/ADA educational training material to alert users of new safety infrastructure planned in Bicycle and Pedestrian Priority Areas (BiPPAs) and the Bikeways Program Areas. The educational training materials will be piloted in White Flint and Silver Spring activity centers.

Waldorf Analysis - Existing facilities will be assessed to determine local needs for connectivity, circulation, and convenience of bicycle and pedestrian travel in Waldorf. The final deliverable will include facility type and design recommendations, a prioritization schedule for implementation, and cost estimates.

Columbia Pike Study - This study will review and analyze the existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure along Columbia Pike. It will make recommendations that identify progressive infrastructure improvements. The final report will include a map of recommendations, proposed facility improvements, prioritization matrix, and planning level cost estimates.

Loudoun County Engineering Analysis- Building on FY 2014 TLC study, an engineering analysis will support identified improvements for bicycle and pedestrian facilities within one-mile radius of future Metrorail stations. This project would document site-specific data to advance implementation of improvements to address safety issues across all modes. The final product will be a traffic signal warrant analysis addressing the existing conditions and documenting site-specific data.

The WB&A Trail extension to DC would be fantastic. There's one other project worth mentioning because it might include bicycle counters. 

Fairfax County – Technology Plan for a Travel Monitoring Program in Tysons ($45,000) The project will develop a travel monitoring program for Tysons to include continuous and automated counters to collect volumes for all modes of travel. The program will use the data to identify travel patterns, allow for timely programming and funding decisions, and will suggest system adjustments. The final deliverable will identify appropriate tools and technology to collect and analyze the travel data, work with stakeholders, and estimate costs of implementation and operations.

Happy Bike to Work Day

It's Bike to Work Day, if you didn't know. So bike to work whether you work like a dog or not.

image from s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

Comment on the South Park proposals

Arlington County is seeking comments on South Park, the park that Arlington and Alexandria plan to build north of Four Mile run and between US-1 and Potomac Avenue. The park will create a new connection between US-1 and the Four Mile Run Trail. At a recent presentation, they included this image of bike circulation in the area that shows the new connection.

SouthParkTrail

They have set up a survey to get input into a array of options, including the park name (Sorry, no Parky McParkface option). My personal take is that Concept C, with the uninterrupted and shaded connection to four mile run and also the direct connection to Potomac Avenue, is best for cyclists.

ConceptC

Proposed Pennsylvania and Potomac Avenue redesign will not change things for cyclists

The main takeaway for cyclists from the recently released Pennsylvania and Potomac Avenue SE Intersection Improvement Project Environmental Assessment (EA) is this:

Bicycle traffic would continue to use the streets; there are no dedicated bicycle lanes or paths in the Proposed Action impact area. Bike lanes along 15th Street SE and 14th Street SE, which end beyond the project construction limits, would remain. The Capital Bikeshare station located at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue SE and Potomac Avenue SE would remain. The Proposed Action neither affects nor includes any bicycle facilities, and therefore would not contribute to cumulative effects on the bicycle network.

So basically nothing. Nothing good, but nothing bad. This does not mean there is no need for anything:

The primary safety concerns within the study area are related to pedestrian and vehicle safety associated with traffic. The intersection, as currently configured, presents many conflict points for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Traffic congestion, poor visibility, frequent bus stops, pedestrian jaywalking, closely-spaced intersections with inconsistent traffic controls, and skewed geometry contribute to unsafe conditions.

Bicyclists provided qualitative descriptions of biking conditions during public meetings held for this project. They indicated that existing bicycle lanes provide a safe route for bicyclists heading south through the study area. Bicyclists use the 15th Street SE bike lane south to Pennsylvania Avenue SE. South of Pennsylvania Avenue SE, they use the neighborhood streets that have low vehicular traffic. Bicyclists noted the lack of bike lanes to facilitate traveling north through the study area. Bicyclists indicated they would use Potomac Avenue SE in mixed traffic and travel through the Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Potomac Avenue SE, and 14th Street SE intersection to continue heading north on Potomac Avenue SE. DDOT has identified bike lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue SE within the study area as a long term goal. The project is included in both the District of Columbia Bicycle Master Plan (DDOT, 2005) and moveDC, the long-range multimodal transportation plan for the District (DDOT, 2014). Neither of these plans specify whether the bike lanes would occupy the existing Pennsylvania Avenue SE median or use one of the existing vehicular travel lanes.

And comments received highlighted the desire of cyclists for changes

Intersection improvements need to include making the intersection safe for bicycling. Specific improvement features include a protected bike lane allowing those using the currently located Capital Bikeshare station to access the westbound Pennsylvania Avenue SE lanes, and bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

The major issues the public requested the project team take into consideration during the development of the design alternatives included the following:

• Bicyclist mobility and safety.
• Evaluation of the location of the current Capital Bikeshare station.

Many of the letters received echoed this.

But the various alternatives just don't add anything

The No Build Alternative would not preclude the inclusion of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE in the future, but no bicycle improvements are currently pending within the study area.

Alternative 2 does not include any improvements or changes to the bicycle network. Future bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE as recommended in the District of Columbia Bicycle Master Plan (DDOT, 2005) and moveDC (DDOT, 2014b) would not be precluded.

Alternative 3 would not preclude the addition of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The central public space created by the Rectangle Park Alternative could be modified to accommodate bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The space could also serve as a way for bicyclists to cross the intersection in a more direct way.

Alternative 4 would not preclude the addition of bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The central public space created by the Ellipse Park Alternative could be modified to accommodate bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The space could also serve as a way for bicyclists to cross the intersection in a more direct way

Cyclists will benefit from othee nearby projects though.

DDOT is proposing independent projects at Barney Circle and at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue SE and Minnesota Avenue SE. Both projects intend to slow vehicular traffic in order to provide a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.Both projects intend to slow vehicular traffic in order to provide a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.

No alternative has been selected, but whatever it is, it will require a land jurisdiction transfer between the National Park Service and DDOT. Personally, I prefer Alternative 3., though going north and south on Pennsylvania might be tricky around the oval.

Alt3

New York Avenue Trail Pop-Up

DDOT will be on the New York Avenue corridor for a Pop-Up meeting on May 20th, 2017

Please join the DDOT New York Avenue Project Team in the field! The project team will be available in the project limits to discuss challenges with neighbors and can be found at the following New York Avenue intersections to provide comment and feedback. Look for the blue tent at each intersection! The team will be at each intersection for one hour each!

  • Bladensburg Road NE: 9:00am – 10:00am
  • Montana Avenue NE (in the Circle closest to West Virginia Ave): 10:30am – 11:30am
  • Mount Olivet/9th Street: Noon – 1:00pm

NW Branch Trail Bridge Closed for repair, to be opened ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The M-NCPPC announced last month that a section of trail along the Northwest Branch Trail would be closed due to emergency bridge repair. 

The Northwest Branch Trail is closed between West Hyattsville Metro Station and Kirkwood, Chillum Community and Green Meadows parks to the North. The section of trail is closed due to emergency bridge repair. We do not have an expected completion date.

It's still closed and there's no word on when it will reopen.

IMG_1429.JPG

Yours is a very bad bus

A local cyclist sent me this video of a recent incident in Mt. Ranier involving a WMATA bus. This is at Rhode Island Ave and 34th St, and it occurred yesterday morning.

You can see that the bus driver moves from the inside lane to the outside lane in short order, which by itself is bad driving, but when there is a cyclist there in the middle lane - and you're giving them very little clearance, well...it's not Vision Zero driving.

I think most cyclists have had the experience of a bus driver pulling in front of them and then slowing or stopping, when they could have just as easily waited behind the cyclist. At best its frustrating, at worst it is dangerous.

Adding to the incident, the bus passes so closely that the cyclist can't see a pedestrian crossing the street until about 2 seconds before he reaches him. 

The cyclist had reported this to WMATA.

WABA wants a new Long Bridge that serves more than just railroad needs and interests

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are hosting another meeting on the Long Bridge replacement project, this one will be tomorrow, from 4-7pm at L'Enfant Plaza Club Room (Oh, there's a club for L'Enfant Plaza? How fun.) This will be an

informational meeting to review and comment on the preliminary concept screening results for the Long Bridge Project. Concept screening helps identify and develop project alternatives that will be evaluated in an Environment Impact Statement. This meeting is also a part of the concurrent consultation for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

As a reminder, DDOT is considering replacing the Long Bridge (the railroad bridge across the Potomac). Some of the alternatives considered thus far would include a new bicycle crossing connecting Long Bridge Park and/or the MVT on the Virginia side with Ohio Drive on both sides of East Potomac Park, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and/or 12th Street in SW DC. They're currently in Phase II of the study which involves defining the purpose and need and identifying some preliminary concept alternatives. The last meeting on this was in September of 2016 and since then a few new documents have dropped. 

Screenshot 2017-05-14 at 11.27.44 PM

  • They've issued a Draft Purpose and Need which makes it clear that the purpose and need is all about the railroad, something WABA suggested they change (see below)
  • Defined the study area as the rail corridor and land around it from the Crystal City VRE to CP Virginia, an area that includes both the Mt. Vernon and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trails.
  • They've released a scoping report. "This Scoping Report summarizes the agency and public involvement efforts undertaken, comments received during the scoping period, and additional comments received before the report was finalized." Here are some of the comment notes:
    • Four comments cited the importance of providing a safety barrier separating bikes and pedestrians from rail.
    • Twenty comments supported providing bike and pedestrian access.
    • The Friends of Long Bridge Park and Crystal City Civic Association noted their support for alternatives providing increased local access for the Crystal City community by including a pedestrian and bike lane from Long Bridge Park to the Mt. Vernon Trail and the District.
    • The Southern Environmental Law Center recommended against further consideration of alternatives that would add general purpose automobile lanes at this crossing due to potential impacts to community and environmental resources. However, it was recommended that the EIS further consider a bicycle and pedestrian crossing to connect existing trail networks and reduce air pollution by promoting greater usage of these travel modes.
    • The National Capital Planning Commission recommended the study consider "Maximizing pedestrian and bicycle use and connectivity in a manner that ensures pedestrian access between transit modes"
    • WABA stated that the draft EIS Purpose and Need Statement is too narrowly focused on the needs of freight and passenger rail. WABA further suggested that expanding the capacity, redundancy, and regional connectivity of the bicycle trail network should be a core element of the draft EIS Purpose and Need Statement and selection criteria.

More specifically, WABA wrote

The Long Bridge may be the only blank canvas for a Potomac crossing that the region considers for the next fifty years in this location.

With the scale of the opportunity in mind, we believe that the draft Purpose and Need for the Long Bridge Study is too narrowly focussed on the needs of freight and passenger rail. Indeed, expanding rail capacity, reliability and redundancy are essential to meet the growing demands of a 22nd century rail system. Yet, the regional trail network faces similar challenges to realize long term connectivity plans. Alongside rail improvements, expanding the capacity, redundancy, and regional connectivity of the trail network should be a core element of the study’s purpose and need statement and selection criteria. A Long Bridge replacement without a high-quality trail is a wasted, once-in-a-century, opportunity.

Of the eight Potomac River bridges that connect Virginia into downtown DC,...not one fully satisfies today’s trail standards for width, sight distances or protection from traffic.

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