Design Template by Bikingtoronto

Chicago recognizes bike parking as alternative to car parking

DC should really replicate this new Chicago policy:

The reforms, expected to be introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting, would allow developers to benefit from transit-oriented development incentives if they build within 1,360 feet of a transit station, up from the 600 feet allowed now. Along pedestrian-designated streets, which are streets with high concentrations of retail stores, the zones would expand to 2,640 feet, up from 1,200 feet.

Residential developers in those expanded zones would not be required to provide any off-street parking spaces if they provide one bike parking spot for each unit in the building, plus offer either a bike rental station or car-share station on site. If a developer can't provide a station, it would need to provide a financial contribution to a bike-sharing station nearby.

Wharf project to create a new connection between Banneker Circle and SW Waterfront

Getting from L'Enfant Promenade and Banneker Circle/Park to the SW Waterfront by bike currently involves riding down L'Enfant Plaza to 9th Street and then crossing Maine; or using the sidewalk to get to the intersection of 9th and Maine. It's a somewhat circuitious route, especially for those who are going north along the waterfront. But, to fulfill a zoning requirement, the Wharf project will build a new, temporary, direct pedestrian connection. The connection will consist of stairs and a new at-grade crossing of Maine, but include an ADA ramp that will work for cyclists. 

The temporary project also includes landscaping, improvements to pedestrian crosswalks, lighting installation, universal accessibility, and stormwater management. The purpose of the project is to provide a safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing pedestrian connection between the overlook at Banneker Park and southwest waterfront. The project is needed to improve urban connectivity by providing greater accessibility between the waterfront, Banneker Park, the National Mall, and surrounding areas. 

Banneker area

Project area

There are two concepts for the project and, to me, the better of the two is a no-brainer.

Concept 1 would try to create a direct path down the hill. This would require a switchback ramp and stairs down the hill from a point a little way from the bike/ped access to the Case Bridge.


Concept 1

Concept 2 would build a curving connection directly from the Case Bridge access point along with an ADA compliant sidewalk on the east side. The west-side ramp and stairs would connect to a new signalized crossing of Maine Avenue. 

Concept 2

Both projects include landscaping, crosswalk improvements, lighting and stormwater management.

Personally I think Concept 2 is the better design, because of the way it removes switchbacks - allowing for a more fluid connecton - and the way it connects into the Case Bridge access. The design should include a curb ramp from the L'Enfant Plaza roadway, as well as a bicycle friendly transition area where the three connections meet - one with lots of room and natural curves as oppossed to sharp turns. The stairs should include a bike trough and there should be signage directing users to the Anacosita Riverwalk Trail and East Potomac Park via the Case Bridge. [update: And the sidewalk along the south side of the circle should be widened for trail traffic from the bridge to the "New ADA compliant ramp"]

If only it would include a fix to the Case Bridge access that didn't require that ridiculous swithcback

NPS will host a meeting on this project on August 11th, 6-8pm at the Wharf offices, 690 Water Street, SW and they will be accepting comments on the scoping document until September 2nd.

As protests go, this is one of my favorites

In San Francisco, the Wiggle is a route from Market Street to Golden Gate Park. In response to a comment by a SFPD captain vowing a crackdown on cyclists running stop signs, cyclists plan to protest.

The bike coalition opposes the crackdown because it wants police to follow the city’s Vision Zero guidelines of prioritizing enforcement of the five behaviors most likely to cause traffic collisions in San Francisco, all of which involve cars and drivers: failure to yield to pedestrians, speeding, running red lights, ignoring stop signs and violating turn restrictions.

How will they protest?

At 5:30 p.m., scores of bike riders plan to gather at Waller and Steiner streets and pedal the Wiggle, coming to a full and complete stop — bike stopped, at least one foot on the pavement — at every stop sign and red light. Protest organizers are predicting gridlock.

Update: The results:

While traffic elsewhere along the Wiggle seemed to be flowing freely, Steiner Street between Waller and Duboce came to a virtual standstill.

Frustrated drivers tried to dodge the backup by driving in the wrong lane and had loud boos rained down upon them from the gaggle of cyclists.

 at one point, a police cruiser rolled past the slow-moving protest, saying over the loud speaker “Thank you for obeying the law,” eliciting loud cheers from the crowd.


Protected Bike Lane on Louisiana Avenue could connect MBT to Penn Avenue Lanes

The DDOT representative to the Bicycle Advisory Council recently announced that DDOT was working with the Architect of the Capitol and the ANC to extend the soon-to-be-completed protected bike lane (PBL) on 1st Street NE from Union Station to the PBL on Pennsylvania NW via Louisiana Avenue NE/NW.

The 1st Street NE PBL extension to Union Station is almost done, with the resurfacing to begin soon (if not already underway) followed by the installation of the concrete blocks similar to those further north. When done, First Street will become a one-way street with a two-way PBL, where now traffic is allowed to go two directions for part of the way. The PBL on this block will be two feet wider (10') than on the sections farther north, as DDOT now views 10' as the minimum for such facilities. There will be a loading zone on the opposite side of the street. 

DDOT has been meeting with the AOC, local ANC and Councilmember Allen's staff to discuss extending the PBL further south, along Louisiana Avenue where it would connect to Pennsylvania Avenue via either 1st or 3rd. Discussions are preliminary and no alternatives have been defined yet, but the response has been mostly positive. One potential roadblock is that the design will likely require the removal of parking along Louisiana. Parking is under the purview of the Sergeant at Arms, not the AOC, and they are concerned about the loss of parking. But if all goes well, work could begin next year.

Study on the East End Bikeway, which would install a mile-long north-south bikeway on the east side of downtown, continues. They've collected data on traffic volume, parking, transit use, land use etc...They've also been reaching out to stakeholders, especially churches to address concerns early. They'd like to have a public meeting on it soon, perhaps September, and present alternatives. There will be choices about designs and about which street(s) to use. 4th and 8th have been ruled out, but they may get bike lanes. On other streets the options are a one-way PBL on each side of the street; a bi-directional bikeway on one side or a pair of one-way PBLs on adjacent streets such as 5th and 6th. The aspiration is to have the 30% design completed by the end of the year, with installation to start next spring. 

DDOT has only installed about 2 miles of bike lanes so far this year. They've been busy filling small gaps, which are nearly as much work as longer lanes, but with less mileage; but DDOT thinks they're critical pieces which will pay off. They've installed a couple of small bike lane sections on 2nd and 3rd NE near Rhode Island Avenue; bike lane and sharrows on 19th Street NE/SE on Capitol Hill (This was originally to be a complete rebuild of the street, but became restriping only); bike lanes and sharrows on 49th street NE; a pair of one-way bike lanes on Galveston and Forrester Streets SE and one-block sections on 4th and 6th NE near Stanton Park. They plan to do the same thing on 11th and 13th near Lincoln Park too. 

Design and community outreach is underway on the north section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. They're meeting with community groups, taking soil borings near the trash transfer station and the Metro tunnel and working on the 305 design which they hope to complete this year.  The stickier sections are the crossing of Riggs Road and the area near the Brookland Metro entrance. They hope to start construction in 2017. 

DDOT and DPW are creating a snow clearing plan for bridges for next winter. Last year no one was responsible for the 14th Street Bridge so it wasn't cleared. They are trying to prioritize bridge sidewalks for clearing and then DPW and DDOT are dividing up responsibilities, so that every bridge will eventually get service. 

Capital Crescent - Little Falls Trail Connector Meeting tonight

I apologize for the late notice, but there is a meeting tonight about the planned design and  construction of a hard surface trail connection between the Capital Crescent Trail and the Little Falls Trail near the Bethesda Pool.  

The objective is to improve safety, efficiency and reduce conflicts on current route used by bikers near the Bethesda Pool and adjacent parking lot. The connector plan includes the crossing of Hillandale Road.  Park staff will available to answer questions at the Montgomery County Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center from 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm.

The current route used by bikers to connect the Little Falls Trail to the Capital Crescent Trail is through the Bethesda Pool parking lot which has led to conflicts when the pool is open.  To improve safety, efficiency and reduce conflicts, a trail connector is proposed for construction near the Bethesda pool.

There are two design ideas. One builds a trail around the southern side of the pool and the other around the northern side.

CCT Connector LFT

Tentatively, a 2nd meeting is scheduled for September. Deisgn will continue into early 2016, with bids solicited for construction in late winter 2016.

A ride on the Kenilworth Section of the ART

I recently took a ride on the completed, and not-so-completed parts of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail's Kenilworth section - Benning Road to Maryland. I didn't ride all of it, as some of it is not open (and I may have ridden parts that aren't open yet - shhhh). The photos are below. 



Where the trail from Benning Road will eventually connect to Anacostia Ave NE.




 The new Educare school will be the first building along the trail, which in this section appears to be on the west sidewalk.

IMG_3203Parkside Plaza, a New Park along Parkside Place (with bike parking). Not along the trail, but not far from it.


Anacostia Ave NE along the trail


 New, wider sidewalk along Anacostia Ave NE


Along Anacostia Avenue, the sidewalk on the west side is a bit wider than on the east.


New playground in Parkside along the trail


 It's unclear if the trail will go in front of these houses, or stay on Anacostia Avenue NE. If the latter, the PBL on Hayes doesn't go that far.


 The trail follows a sidewalk built along the back of the new Parkside development. I wish they had planned the trail in conjunction with the lighting poles better. 


Trail as sidewalk leading to Hayes Street NE


On Hayes, the trail becomes a real protected bikeway, but it isn't yet completed and work seems to have stopped, allowing debris and weeds to invade.


Not really safe for riding with these big holes in the pavement.


The trail will leave the PBL along Jay Street to cross Watts Branch via this trail and bridge


Just north of Deane Avenue, the newly paved trail picks up.


View of the football field from the trail


 I wasn't the only person using the trail before it's opened.


Cars on the trail already?


View of the Arboretum from the trail


Near the river, the pavement stops; most likely because trucks are still accessing this part to build the bridge across the Nash Run/Kenilworth Marsh. This part passes through the woods and provides views of the river.


Bridge across Nash Run/Kenilworth Marsh, currently under construction.


A large bird (turkey buzzard?) that was guarding the bridge.


Art and bike parking near the pedestrian bridge over DC-295 at the corner of Hayes & Kenilworth Terrace.

Metropolitan Branch Trail could be functionally completed by 2018

Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Council passed an act to authorize the county to plan, design and construct the County's remaining section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail by 2018.

According to a document from February, phase II (as seen below) would be completed in FY 2018 - the same year DC plans to finish the Fort Totten section - along with an interim trail for phase I. The interim trail is being built because "there is no guarantee that the Ripley II project - a private project [behind which the trail will run] - will be completed on schedule." If all three sections are completed by then, the trail will then be functionally complete, with cyclists able to ride from Silver Spring to Union Station on the trail, even if that includes a few short interim sections.

The trail in Silver Spring will now be 12-feet wide (instead of 10-11) with 2 foot buffers and the whole thing will be lit at night. 

Screenshot 2015-07-24 at 11.18.16 PM

Maryland Highway projects to improve Route 1 and build lots of shoulders, a bike lane and a path

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently killed Baltimore's red line transit project, and in this case Baltimore transit users loss is (to a very small extent) Washington-area cyclists gain. The governor announced $2B worth of highway projects, some of which have a varying amount of bicycle benefits. Most notably will be improvements to Route 1 in College Park.

The US 1 College Park Pedestrian, Bicycle and Safety Improvements project will spend $30 million to reconstruct US 1 to a four-lane divided highway with a raised median and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian accommodations from College Avenue to MD 193.

And just outside the immediate area, near Fort Meade, Annapolis Road (MD -175) between Reece Road and Disney Road will be expanded from two to six lanes, with a median, on-road bicycle lanes in each direction, a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side and a 10-foot, shared-use path on the south side of MD 175.

Additionally, the I-270 interchange project in Montgomery County (which does not represent new funding) will include bicycle and pedestrian improvements along Watkins Mill Road within the project area and to the Metropolitan Grove MARC station.

Farther from DC the projects will build many "bicycle-compatible shoulders.

  • In Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Caroline Counties, MD-404 will be widened from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway with a median and shoulders to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians;.
  • In Worcester County US 113 will be widened from two to four lanes with a median and shoulders wide enough to accommodate bicycles from Five Mile Branch Road to north of Public Landing Road, a distance of 4.6 miles; and
  • In Baltimore County, northbound MD 140 will be widened from Painters Mill Road to Garrison View Road to accommodate an additional third travel lane and a bicycle-compatible shoulder.

White Flint Ring Road

By Jeff P.
The White Flint Mall is being demolished. In the process they have closed - for how long we do not know yet - hopefully not long - the north/upper entrance to White Flint Community Park, located just behind the mall. This park provides a safe route along community roads to Beach Drive and points South and East.
After contacting someone at Lerner, I heard back that ""The ring road will be closed from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for safety reasons along the demolition site perimeter.  The demolition is scheduled between 7:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. consistent with Montgomery County Code, Monday through Friday (with the exception of national holidays) .  The roads will be open on Saturday and Sunday, and all observed holidays." Admittedly I would have been less upset if they had a sign near the lower end of the park so I wouldn't have found out that I couldn't go on after I had made it up the top. 
As this is my regular commute route I hope to keep updating the community on the state of the roads in the area regularly.
White flint

Driven to Distraction

By Jonathon Krall - crossposted from Alexandria News

Based on the latest report from the League of American Bicyclists, distracted driving is now endemic, so much so that the entire conversation about bicycles and cars on the roads may need to change. Being hit from behind, once considered rare, is now a common cause of car-on-bicycle fatalities. Cities, such as New York, are answering this threat with “vision zero” policies that aim to design fatalities out of our roadways, despite human error.

Previously, intersection collisions were considered most common and were a matter of drivers entering an intersection too fast to look in all directions. According to the LAB report, entitled “Every Bicyclist Counts", the biggest problem may instead be distracted drivers failing to look in any direction at all.

To me, the most interesting studies are those using heavily instrumented cars, where even the driver is monitored. After a period of exemplary behavior, drivers get used to being monitored and their mischief is recorded in detail. The result? People who use phones take their eyes off the road to manipulate the phone, look for the phone, or look at screen. This comes from a 2013 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study: “Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.” At 60 mph, 23 seconds is over 1/3 of a mile.

Virginia Tech reports that “even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.” The main problem isn't so much talking on phone as paying attention to the phone itself.

A “landmark study” by the American Automobile Association Foundation went further, monitoring the level of driver brain activity. Their finding? Distractions can be cognitive rather than visual, leading to dangerously inattentive driving. “Of all the tasks assessed, driver interaction with speech-to-text systems (such as the infotainment and other voice-activated tech offerings in many new vehicles) creates the highest level of cognitive distraction.” The AAAF goes on to say that “By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that 'hands-free' doesn’t mean risk free.” Anyone who has tussled with a voice-recognition system knows how frustrating they can be. In a car, they can be dangerous.

“Hit from behind” crashes should never happen if drivers are looking where they are going. Better reporting, such as straightforward accounts of all local traffic fatalities, would raise public awareness. The public, however, must surely have gotten the message by now. Education, it seems, cannot trump human nature.

With citizen input, Alexandria city staff are currently updating the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. At the February 18 meeting of the Transportation Commission, city staff reported key findings and recommendations, one of which was that “Staff should also conduct additional review of the Vision Zero policy from other jurisdictions to see if it is applicable in Alexandria."

Vision Zero is an increasingly-popular policy requiring road to be specifically designed to reduce traffic fatalities to zero. A simple example is a rural road with a barrier along the centerline, making passing impossible except in designated zones, where the road widens. In places where pedestrians or bicycles are present, vision-zero requires either physical barriers or design speeds below 20 miles per hour, a speed at which the pedestrian survival rate exceeds 90%.

While relatively new in the USA, the Swedish parliament decided, in 1997, to reach zero by 2020. As a result, traffic fatalities fell from seven per 100,000 people to less than three, despite a significant increase in traffic volume. In the USA, that number is greater than 11. By recognizing and designing for the inevitable fallibility of drivers, we can both be human and protect humans. 

The next meeting of the Ad Hoc Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Advisory Committee Meeting is scheduled for August 12, 2015. Citizens are invited to participate.

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