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Metropolitan Branch Trail 2.0 - Trail Improvements

The NoMa BID presented a vision of an improved Metropolitan Branch Trail a couple of weeks ago, but that wasn't just limited to new and improved trail connections. 

8th Street Bike Facility

One of the more interesting ideas was the addition of a bike facility, either a 10' wide side path or an 8' wide bi-directional protected bike lane, to 8th Street. Currently the trail moves on-road here along sharrowed lanes. 





The lights on the Met Branch Trail, and their poor reliability, have been an issue for some time. The BID proposes replacing them with new fixtures (at no cost) or with electric-powered, as opposed to solar, lights (which would be much more expensive). They also propose transferring maintenance of the lights on WMATA property from DDOT (which is their responsibility, but which is not included in the current contract) to the NoMa BID or another non-profit.

Call Boxes

Though not without concern - cost being the top of the list - they recommend continuing to pursue the installation of police call boxes along the trail


They also recommend adding security cameras to the trail (at locations seen in the image at right), but recognize that locations for mounting and funding are issues that need to be addressed.

Mile Markers

These were mentioned and rendered in the previous post on this, but the BID recommends adding mile markers to the trail or to markers along side it. 



Conflict zone painting

Trail users complain about the difficulty of merging users at different speeds at places like Florida Avenue, N Street and the Rhode Island Avenue Ped Bridge. Pavement markings could be used to warn trail users and "joiners" and mark zones of conflict. Also a center line indicator could help. 

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New York Avenue Park

Though not much of a Park, the park just south of New York Avenue would do the best it could with what it has. Artistic lights under the bridge, a bench and some landscaping.


Metropolitan Branch Trail 2.0 - Enhanced Trail Connections

In addition to the new trail connections proposed by the NoMa BID during the recent MBT Safety and Trail Access meeting, there were also suggestions to improve existing connections.

Enhanced Connections

Monroe Street:

At Monroe street, they propose improving the connection to the east side of the tracks. 9th Street north of Monroe is currently a bus oval for accessing the Brookland-CUA Metro, but would be rebuilt as an ordinary street. What form the improved connection would take is unclear, but Monroe currently has bike lanes, so perhaps using the wasted hash area on the north side to create protected bike lanes is what they have in mind. 



T Street:

At T Street, the proposal is to improve the entrance and to add wayfinding and other amenities. In the rendering below, a map of the trail is painted along the edge of the old Sanitary Grocery Company warhouse, mile markers have been painted on the trail, flowers planted along it and a green screen added to the fence, the bollards are repaired, wayfinding directs trail users to Bloomingdale, and a bench has been added to the south side of T. 


The area between T and the Sanitary building would become a park and T Street would more explicitly serve as the connection to McKinley Tech and Bloomingdale.


Randolph Place:

Randolph Place isn't specifically mentioned, but a rendering related to the Penn Building gives an idea of what it could look like.

Here's been more opened, with mileage markers, flowers, bike repair stations, a wayfinding pole and trailhead parking.



R Street

At R Street, where the trail's Z-turn is, the proposal is to soften the trail turn and add wayfinding and amenities. Softening the Z-turn and creating open space on the north side of the trail, will likely have to come from the developer of the parcel, because at the NoMa Parks meeting a couple of days later, they made it clear that they were only pursuing a purchase of the southern half of the lot, not the part adjacent to the Z-turn.

In the rendering below, there are markings on R Street, a new CaBi Station, managed green space between R Street and a new building, and a softer pair of trail turns with public art on the space created to the north. Also the Penn Center building at the left has had some art added to it, with the loading zone along R Street cleaned up a bit and the dumpsters removed. 




Metropolitan Branch Trail 2.0 - New Trail Connections

At the recent NoMa BID-sponsored Metropolitan Branch Trail Safety and Trail Access meeting the BID presented nearly two-dozen ideas for ways to improve the MBT. The MBT has always seemed somewhat diminished compared to the concept originally proposed by WABA in 1999, but these concepts, if carried out (and one of them is already probably dead) would bring the trail much closer to that promise.

Shortly after that meeting was a meeting about the NoMa Parks project, and what was clear at that meeting is that they see the MBT as the spine that holds the whole area together. The Metropolitan Branch Trail isn't really like the other trails in the region. It doesn't run through some continuous green space far from most places where people work. The MBT, instead, is at the core of an emerging neighborhood. Not so long ago the whole neighborhood was rail-yards, warehouses, industrial uses and a bus depot, but now a community is growing there. A community without green spaces or much of a history and the one thing that really binds them all together is the MBT. At that NoMa Parks meeting they made the point that Pepco Park was a bit north of the neighborhood, but that it was OK because the MBT made it accessible to everyone. That neighborhood needs the MBT and the same will likely be true farther north as the trail is completed. 

As the neighborhood grows, the MBT will need to grow with it. That's what this plan is - it's a plan to grow the MBT for a growing community. Growing it means making more connections to it, and feeding those connections with slower/more bike friendly streets nearby. It means making the trail safer and more secure. And it means adding park space and active space along it. This isn't so much a plan to improve a trail, it's a plan to build neighborhoods by improving a trail. 

Because there was so much presented (and because I'm on vacation this week) I'm breaking this up into multiple posts.

New Connections:

One thing presented in the plan was numerous new connections between the trail and neighboring communities. 

Franklin Street Alley

On the north side of the Franklin Street Bridge is an alley that while bikeable, is not particularly appealing. The BID proposes making this a part of the trail network, with an enhanced trail and a better crossing of 8th. I've thought that this was necessary since the first time I rode the trail, and it's actually kind of a no-brainer at this point. There's room for a trail with space to spare for green elements of art.



Edgewood Street

Edgewood Street currently dead-ends just above the trail, between the DC Prep Edgewood and Doar PCS schools. The suggestion here is to replace the current green wall...


With a staircase and public space where a young Patricia Arquette can read a book.


Q Street

Another new connection would be made at Q Street, just north of the Pepco station, where a billy goat path used to exist.


New York Avenue and Union Market

Another connection on the south side of the Pepco building could connect the trail to New York Avenue by running along the NY Avenue Bridge, similar to what is proposed at Franklin.

A second, likely more expensive, road connection to Union Market would also serve trail users.


Florida Avenue

While technically not a "new" connection, the enhancements proposed to Florida Avenue would so radically change it that it would be "like new". The idea is to create a protected two-bike bike lane on the north side of Florida from 4th St NE and Union Market to the Washington Gateway development and its connection to the MBT.


Like I said, you can do this now, but cyclists often use the sidewalks here, and then find a somewhat intimidating path under the railroad tracks

Pierce Street

The final new connection would occur at Pierce Street, which could be completed when the building south of there is built.


These connections would add immensely to the utility of the trail, and would likely draw in more users as a result.

Cyclist killed in hit and run involving suspected drag racers

Last night, a cyclist riding on Ritchie Highway in Capital Heights was struck by two street-racing vehicles. The cyclist later died. Drivers left the scene and police are searching for them.

Police believe that racing cars may have led to a fatal hit and run early Saturday morning in Capitol Heights.

The story is developing but  Prince George’s County Police say it happened just after midnight along Ritchie Road between Central Avenue and Ritchie Marlboro Road.  Police think a black Dodge Charger and another black sports car were racing before crashing into and killing a cyclist.

Police later said that the victim, an adult female, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Other coverage here and here

Update: The cyclist has been identified as Donna Holliday Clark, 56-years-old, of Ritchboro Road in Forestville.

Boundary Channel Drive Interchange Part II

To add to this morning's post, here's the presentation from this week's meeting. Not much added from a technical standpoint, but more about the process and the problems with the current interchange. 

Also, here's a map of all the road reconfigurations, reconstructions, extensions, cycle tracks, and two-way conversions being studied in Crystal City


BikeArlington Presents: Building the Bike Culture You Want

For those who missed it:

MVT to Long Bridge Drive Connector Trail concepts

As noted earlier, the project team for the Boundary Channel Drive Interchange Project had a meeting last night to get input on the alternatives. Below are the three concepts showing what the design might look like. A thick orange line - for a sidewalk or path - shows a connection between the Mount Vernon Trail spur, along Boundary Channel Drive to Long Bridge Drive.


I like Concept 1 best, based on the drawings. By removing the north ramp from I-395 to Boundary Channel drive, it eliminates an at-grade crossing of a highway ramp. In all of the concepts there are more connections made, and the road under I-395 is reduced from 4 lanes to 2, creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians.


Concept 2 is probably the worst design for MVT trail users.


Man vs. Machine: Race the Grand Canyon Train

I get - and delete - a lot of publicity emails, but this one actually stood out

It’s an epic race that last took place 25 years ago, and now it has returned to take on a new group of challengers. Man (or woman) vs. Machine. Steam vs. Muscle. On Saturday, September 26, 2015the Grand Canyon Railway, in partnership with Grand Canyon Racing, will fire up its venerable steam engine #4960 – a 310-ton behemoth built in 1923 – to take on hundreds of intrepid bicyclists on a 54-mile course that will climb 2,023 feet starting at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to iconic Williams, Ariz.

Last held in October 1991, the race has become the stuff of legend.

The race will begin on Highway 64 in Tusayan, Ariz., departing the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. PDT. From there the course will travel 50 miles south on Highway 64, before merging onto historic Route 66 for the last four miles. The finish line will be at the intersection of Second Street and Route 66 in Williams.

Hosted by Grand Canyon Racing, and sponsored by the Grand Canyon Railway, the event is fully permitted by the Arizona Department of Transportation, and traffic control and law enforcement will be on site for the entirety of the event.

Adding to the excitement and festivities, spectators will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets to ride the train the day of the race and as it competes against its two-legged and wheeled competition. Round-trip tickets are available for the train, which will depart the Williams Depot on September 26 at 8:00 a.m. PDT, arriving at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at about 11:30 a.m. The train will depart the Grand Canyon at 12:30 p.m., and the race will officially begin at 1 p.m. The train will be composed of Pullman Coach Class cars, a café car, and a Luxury Parlor car. A photo run-by will be featured on the North Bound trip for rail enthusiasts. Rates will be $75 for adults and $45 for children 16 and under.

Registration is now open for the race, and participants may register for the race at Race fees are $60 until July 14, and $80 from July 15 through September 24. Registration will close on September 24 at 10 a.m. PDT. Race registration will include a link for discounted lodging at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.

For more information on the train, visit For more information on the race, watch the official race video here.

Bus/Bike lanes to be installed on Georgia Avenue


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This will be on Georgia Ave between Barry Place and Florida Avenue. The lanes, unlike the downtown lanes on 7th and 9th, will be painted red to discourage drivers from using it, but 

Bikes and taxis will be allowed to use the bus lanes, and cars will be permitted to enter for up to 40 feet at a time, strictly to make right turns.

Report bad parking with Towit

It's not an official city app, but it does generate some data on back parkers which a wise DOT would utilize.

The aggressive app, available in Google and Apple versions, “allows civilians to report selfish or illegal parking and dangerous driving in real time,” say its makers. “TowIt works with municipal governments, local law enforcement, and towing companies to remove the barriers required to make cities effectively fight and deter bad parking and dangerous driving habits.”

The app was developed by Michael McArthur in Toronto, where it’s reportedly caught on among local cyclists. He hopes the geotagged map of parking offenders will be of use to the authorities—which is kind of a weakness, as the app’s effectiveness relies on cops and towers actively monitoring it.

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