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Bikeable/Walkable Disney World

On my recent vacation we went to Disney World for a few days. At our "resort" they had bicycle rentals, but you could only ride them around the resort itself. And the same is true of other resorts. The parks and resorts are spread out over a large area, but not so far you couldn't bike between them - if there were ways to do so, but even BikeOrlando says

Biking between resorts is not recommended as there is a lot of traffic on the main arteries.

I would have strongly considered getting a Surrey and throwing the family on it to go to various parks, if a grade separated trail network connected everything. (Then I could buy a Monte Cristo without feeling guilty about my blood sugar).  

I'm not going to figure out what that would look like, but at least one person took a crack at it (I'd add a trail along Osceola Parkway). It would be even better if one could do Surrey-share and pay by the day, picking up bikes as needed and leaving them when they don't. It would be an added amenity in itself (people would probably like to run, walk and bike the paths just for fun) create a healthier, cleaner park and it might even reduce their transportation costs if it lets them run fewer buses. 

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A Surrey

On the last day I had to pick up a rental car from their on-site rental car facility. My app recommended taking the Monorail to the Polynesian and then walking the 1.3 miles to the Car Care Center, which seemed reasonable to me. The route unfortunately took me along a road with no sidewalks (pretty common) but I was OK with it. Traffic was backed up and slow. Still, Disney Security picked me up and gave me a ride because it was just too dangerous to walk along the road. If a trail system can't be built, maybe some sidewalks? 

CaBi to DCA

Last week I rode Capital Bikeshare to National Airport, and while it was not as good as it could be, it still worked for me.

The plan was to get everything to the airport with our car, drive the car home and then for me to meet up with the family at the gate. This would be cheaper than parking at the airport and easier than trying to get 3 car seats on to Metro or into an Uber. I dropped Mrs. Washcycle, Trike and Tandem - along with all our luggage - at the terminal and then drove the car home.  We had built a lot of extra time in, in case traffic was bad, which it wasn't. After driving to the airport and back I was 2/3 of the way into it, and way ahead of schedule so I decided to bike it instead of Uber. It didn't too much longer on Capital Bikeshare.

From the station at 23rd and Crystal, I crossed Crystal and walked south along it and then up the airport access ramp to Airport Access Road. Once on airport property I followed the signs. 

Unfortunately there is no Capital Bikeshare station at DCA itself, but the station at 23rd and Crystal Drive in Arlington is only about a 10 minute walk from Terminal A (more like 14 to terminal B and C). It's about the same from the station at 26th and S. Clarke Street, which makes more sense if coming from the south. 

All things considered it worked pretty well for me. But....

  1. It would really help if there were a couple of stations on airport property, preferably one at the old terminal and one at the new one. There is plenty of space, so that's not the issue. In 2012 MWCOG noted that "The MWAA Board has refused to have Capital Bikeshare on its property," but since then it seems they changed their tune. Last year, Arlington announced plans for a station there and reportedly MWAA was on board. Not sure what the hold up is. But it would good for visitors and employees. Perhaps Arlington can get a station moved closer to airport property, if not on it.
  2. Until then, CaBi should advertise the close in stations as DCA access stations. They should add signs to them that designate them as such, including a walking map with a travel time estimate. And they should add this to both their website and DCA's.
  3. Some wayfinding between the close-in stations and the terminals would help too. Not everyone writes a bike blog after all. That could be signs, trail blazes or a line pained on the ground. 

It won't work for everyone, but it could work for more people. 

DDOT proposes new, extended bike lanes in Capitol Hill area

DDOT is proposing the extension of the bike lanes on New Jersey Ave SE. Currently they run one block form D to E, but DDOT wants to extend them under the SE Freeway to I Street where they would connect with east-west bike lanes. They've met with ANC 6B so far and will meet with ANC 6D (where the southern block is) at their September 12, 2016 meeting

The portion of the new bike lane within 6B will be installed this fall, while installation of the 6D portion south of the freeway must wait until the [Virginia Avenue Tunnel] and other constructions projects in that area are completed.

But wait, there's more.

Mike Goodno provided the Committee with an overview of this proposal but also mentioned an upcoming DDOT proposal for an east/west bike lane along E Street to 6 th Street SE and then along South Carolina to provide a route to Eastern Market

[They] also advised about a proposal to fill the gap in the north/south bike lane along 14th Street SE between D and E Streets SE.

That last bike lane extension is near my house, so I'll be glad to see it extended, though It would be better if it went another block and a half to the Potomac Avenue Metro - or if there were a contraflow bike lane on the one-way block between E and G (there's no F Street SE until you get east of Texas Ave). 

A bike lane along Pennsylvania Avenue doesn’t seem to be part of DDOT’s current plans.

From the Archives: The Tour de Trump comes to Arlington and Washington

Before he was the most unusual presidential candidate in US history, Donald Trump was the sponsor of what was intended to be the American version of the Tour de France. Dreamed up by future entertainment tonight co-host John Tesh, and organized by college basketball commentator Billy Packer, the Tour de Trump (later the Tour DuPont) featured cyclists such as 1995 and 1996 winner Lance Armstrong (who won in 1995 and 1996) and 1992 winner Greg LeMond and it passed right through the DC area. 

“I’ve never been to a cycling event in my life. I don’t even know how to put air in the tires,” admits Packer, who announced every NCAA Final Four from 1975 to 2008. But when Tesh gave him the idea, he was intrigued. “I thought: Hell, Jersey’s got some mountains, and I had business investments in Atlantic City, so I know that the casinos would possibly be a sponsor,” the 76-year-old says of his original concept, which he planned to call “Tour de Jersey.”

Trump offered to be the cycling competition’s primary sponsor and partner with Packer on the new venture. As for the name, Packer threw out the suggestion of calling it the Tour de Trump. Trump agreed.

The Tour DuPont ran for five years, from 1991-1996. In 1993, a young rising cycling star named Lance Armstrong finished second. But DuPont pulled its sponsorship at the end of 1996 after planning delays for the 1997 race and after a legal fight caused a rift between Packer and Plant. (The end of the sponsorship also happened to come months after DuPont heir John du Pont murdered wrestler Dave Schultz.) 

The 8th stage of the 1989 Tour de Trump ran through Arlington, well not really through. SI described it as

16 monotonous laps between the United States Marine Corps War Memorial and the Pentagon.

And the Post wrote 

that stage was in an isolated area and drew few spectators, unlike the Richmond stage, which finished downtown and drew more than 150,00

Davis Phinney was the winner. The next day they went to Baltimore.

The 1990 race skipped the DC area, though it too went to Baltimore.

The Tour, by then the Tour DuPont, came back to Arlington in 1991 for Stage 3, which was won by Rolf Aldag. You should see some familiar sites in the footage below.

That year a stage also ended in front of the Columbia Mall.

In 1992, the Tour DuPont held, on the "rim-jarring streets of Washington, D.C.", a time trial for the final stage. It appears to be a ride from RFK Stadium up to the northern portion of Rock Creek Park and back.  LeMond won the race, but not the stage.

In 1993 the race came to Maryland, and again in 1994 (skipping the DC area), but in 1995 it skipped Maryland and DC, starting in central Virginia. The 1996 ended in Richmond.

(I'll be on vacation this week, so no blogging).

Arlington's NFATC's Master Plan update is a chance to make it less of a barrier

The National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington wants to update their Master Plan so that they can expand and enhance 6 buildings, add a new parking structure and improve some of the security features (most importantly the fence). GSA has started the scoping process for an Environmental Assessment they intend to prepare for the Master Plan. Comments are due in August 19th and there won't be another opportunity to comment until the EA is completed. 

Screenshot 2016-08-12 at 12.44.58 AM

The facility currently has a bike trail from S. Utah Street to S. Quincy with a spur to 1st Place. Arlington County maintains the 12-foot wide trail west of George Mason (the West Parcel) and the State Department maintains the 10-foot wide trail, east of George Mason (the East Parcel).

I used to bike George Mason Drive through here several times a week, but haven't been out there in a few years, nor did I have much of an opinion about the site at the time, but looking at it I have two suggestion.

  1. The trail currently passes underneath George Mason through a tunnel (though it involves dismounting and climbing down and then back up stairs). Nonetheless, you can't get to the trail from George Mason because there is fencing separating the street from that area. This seems a bit silly since the area on the other side of the fence is not secure - you can bike or walk right up to it.  They should remove this unnecessary fencing and create connections from the trail to George Mason on both sides of the road.
  2. Since the perimeter fencing is likely to be removed anyway, why not push it back about 12 feet from S. Quincy to 3rd Street South and extend the trail to there (red line on image below). Those sides of the facility are all parking lots anyway (so not much of a security threat, I suspect) and it would create a complete trail connection to S. Glebe Road. 

Screenshot 2016-08-12 at 1

What else am I missing? If you ride around there and have a suggestion (biking through the facility?) leave a comment here and send a comment in.

First round of Transform 66 multimodal project will add to bikeshare

This month, VDOT kicked off the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Project, which will involve adding tolls to that section of I-66

Work crews will install eight overhead toll-collecting gantries and about 125 signs on I-66 and local roads approaching the highway.

This will not impact the Custis Trail. It will only allow tolling on drivers who currently can't use I-66 at all - those driving SOVs during rush hour. It might reduce Custis Trail traffic, but if so, not by much.

One goal of the larger Inside the Beltway project is to improve multi-modal transportation (that's us) and some examples of what that might involve are trail improvements and bike facilities that make bike commuting easier. Recently 10 projects, worth just under $10 million, were approved as part of the FY2017 Transform 66 Multimodal Project including $500,000 for bike share. This is just the first round of funding, but I'm not sure if it will be an annual thing or not.

A later part of the project, widening 4 miles of I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, is just starting the Environmental Assessment process and aims to open the new lanes in 2020. It also doesn't appear that that project will impact either the Custis or W&OD trails. 

So the Inside the Beltway Project will invest in cycling, but through toll-funded projects that will be determined later.

The Outside the Beltway Project, on the other hand, will build the I-66 trail which will extend from the Custis trail all the way to Haymarket. It will also add other bike facilities. Specifically, Phase I of that project will consist of

Adding new park-and-ride facilities with pedestrian/bike facilities and connections along with roadway improvements at the following locations:

  • Gainesville in the northwest quadrant of the University Boulevard overpass
  • Manassas along Balls Ford Road, west of Route 234 Business
  • Fairfax County Government Center surface lot near Monument Drive (southeast quadrant)

Enhanced bicycle and pedestrian access in Fairfax County and Prince William County by adding new parallel corridor-wide bikeway, trail, and sidewalk improvements. In Fairfax County the parallel shared-use paths (SUP) are to connect the following:

  • Route 650 (Gallows Road) to Route 243 (Nutley Street)
  • Blake Lane to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road)
  • Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) to Jermantown Road
  • Jermantown Road to US 50 (Lee Jackson Memorial Highway)
  • Route 608 (West Ox Road) to Fairfax County Parkway
  • Fairfax County Parkway to Route 645 (Stringfellow Road)
  • Route 645 (Stringfellow Road) to Route 28 (Sully Road)

It will also widen I-66.

I don't think Phase 2 has been defined yet.

Berwyn bike/ped bridge replacement opened in June after original was accidentally destroyed

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I'm a little late to the party on this, but back in late June, Metro reopened the pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Green Line that was knocked down by a construction crane back in April of 2015. Work on the replacement had been frequently delayed. Even last December it was to be opened in April. 

Bridge-building standards have ...changed since the bridge was built in the early 1990s, leading to more significant reconstruction being needed, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said.

Teachers living in Berwyn Heights who work at Holy Redeemer School — located on Berwyn Road in College Park — now have a connection to bike to work, which is an asset, said Brie Hall, the school's secretary to the principal.

In addition to offering a more attractive, cleaner steel framing, the newly reconstructed segment has also been designed to stand for a longer period of time

Metro officials will consider renovating the entire bridge with the same design within three to five years


When a bike lane isn't a "Bike Lane"


In DC every bike lane that is painted is a bike lane, no different than any other, but in Arlington that's not necessarily true. 

In DC a bike lane is defined by DC Regulations (DCMR 24-3399)

a portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs. 

And that is similar to the definition in Virginia

"Bicycle lane" means that portion of a roadway designated by signs and/or pavement markings for the preferential use of bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.

But in Arlington the county code states that (bolded by me)

Where the County Board has by ordinance designated a bicycle lane for the exclusive use of bicycles, a motor vehicle may cross a bicycle lane for the purpose of entering or exiting adjacent property, for making a turn, or for the purpose of parking, but no person shall stop, stand or park a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane, nor shall any person drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane for a distance of more than one hundred (100) feet.

And there is some concern that this preempts state code. It certainly confuses it. The main difference here is that in DC and by Virginia code it is the markings on the street or signage that makes it a bicycle lane - with all the restrictions that that entails, while in Arlington it may be a bike lane, but motor vehicles are not restricted if the County Board had not designated it a bicycle lane by ordinance. 

Some bike lanes in the County have been designated, and some have not. 

It might seem like a trivial footnote or loop hole, but the recent ruling in Montgomery County on cyclists in crosswalks brings to light how important it is to clarify the law. 

The 50 States & 13 Colonies ride returns for 2016, bigger and better than ever.

Ride every state named street and avenue in the District. 60ish miles of big hills, new friends, and falling in love with your city.

Ride date: Septemer 10th, 2016.
Registration opens: August 10th, 2016 at high noon.

You can read up on the ride here.

You must be a WABA member to register, so if you're not, join now so you don't miss out! Last year this ride filled up in less than 48 hours.

I did the first one of these a long time ago (It was on Flag Day and it was about 200 deg out). Despite the heat, and the multiple flat tires, and the downpour it was a lot of fun. I've don large parts of it several times since then. It changes every year, because the city changes so much. Totally worth doing. 

From the archives: The Transit Benefit Program Act of 1993

In 1993, newly elected president Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore put together a Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The year before that, then-president George H. W. Bush had signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which committed the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. The CCAP was intended to lay out a comprehensive set of strategies - or actions - that would meet these obligations and "respond to the threat of global climate change and guide the United States toward environmentally sound economic growth." (And that's why climate change is no longer an issue. Wait, what?) Interestingly, CCAP doesn't mention bicycles or cycling at all. It does, however, mention parking and that is how bike commuting gets into the mix.

Action #19 proposed a cash-out option for employees who currently get free parking. Employees given free parking at work would have been given the option of retaining the parking space, or accepting a cash allowance equal to the market cost of the parking space. Because the cash-out would be taxable, this program would have the added benefit of reducing the deficit by $2.2B over the next 6 years. While this doesn't mention biking, it's easy to see how this would benefit bike commuters. This action was made possible, though not mandatory, with the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997.

At the same time that the Clinton administration was addressing un-taxed free parking as a way of dealing with climate change, it was also dealing with the impending expiration of the 3-year transit benefit program (the "Mikulski Amendment"). That program had been offering some federal employees $60 a month in tax-free transit benefits in lieu of the $155 tax-free parking benefit since the beginning of the year as an effort to clean up the air, reduce energy use and reduce congestion. It had shown some success as 21% of the people taking the benefit had switched to transit once it was created. But the benefit was unfunded so only about half of all agencies offered it. 

As a way to make the transit benefit available to more people, the administration submitted the Transit Benefit Program Act of 1993. It aimed to make the transit benefit program permanent and would have permitted Federal agencies to charge up to commercial equivalent rates for parking space and related services and then use that revenue to defray the cost of the transit benefit program. The idea was not popular with the federal employees unions, just as it had not been popular when proposed in 1979.

At the time the DOT bill was submitted and CCAP was completed Del Eleanor Holmes Norton held hearings on the mass transit subsidy program available to Federal employees and included in those hearings were bicycle advocates (like Allen Greenberg of LAB -then LAW- and Warren Stern of WABA) and others (such as the Campaign for New Transportation Priorities, the Surface Transportation Policy Project and who wanted to see the program expanded to include those who commuted to work by bike or foot. They also suggested that agencies be able to use some of the parking revenue to provide secure bicycle parking.

LAB suggested that the subsidy be offered to all commuters, except those who drive alone, regardless of commuting cost (which is basically a cash out).

The current policy of basing an employee commute subsidy on the employee's cost of a particular commute option doesn't make sense. By this logic, the highest subsidy would be provided to those commuting by helicopter and airplane and the smallest subsidy to environment-friendly bicycle and walking commuters who are frequently less affluent than their car-commuting coworkers.

Warren Stern of WABA testified that if commuter costs must be included, then the benefit should still be offered to those who commuter by bike or foot. 

While I think that we all agree that minimizing pollution and energy usage is in the public interest, the net effect of the current employee incentive program is in many cases contrary to this objective. Employees that use the most polluting form of transportation, those who drive, receive the largest incentive. Employees who use the least polluting and the least energy intensive form of transportation — that is bicycling, walking — are excluded from the program. To me, this doesn't make sense.

Assistant Secretary Stoll of DOT testified last week that we needed to question the assumptions we have made that favor auto- mobile transportation over public transportation. I believe we also need to question the assumptions we have made that favor motorzed transportation of all forms over nonmotorized forms of transportation.

Secretary Stoll testified that incentives for use of public transportation should be extended and increased so that public transportation can compete effectively on an equal basis with automobile transportation. Mr. Mead of the GAO testified that by making the playing field more even, agencies participating in the program were able to encourage people to ride Metro. That is, if by minimizing the disadvantages of one form of transportation; that is, the cost associated with driving, it obscures the benefits of other forms such as bicycling and the use of public transportation.
We at WABA believe that the administration's proposal should be expanded to provide a comparable subsidy for bicyclists. We believe that bicycle commuting is a legitimate form of transportation and should not be excluded from Government support. We believe it should be treated in the same way as public transportation is treated. While bicycle commuting isn't for everyone, it deserves a level playing field with other forms of transportation.
Madam Chairwoman, there is no form of transportation that meets the societal goals that we all support better than bicycle transportation. Every person who commutes by bicycle is not in a car or another polluting form of transportation. The benefits of bi- cycle commuting don't stop there. Bicycling is healthy. This is advantageous — this advantage is becoming even more important in light of the Federal efforts to deal with our current health-care crisis.
We simply propose that bicycles be treated on a par with public transportation, that the Government subsidy policy be neutral as it relates to public transportation and bicycles. Whatever standards of accountability are required for the public transportation subsidy can also be met by bicycles.
Some assume that bicycle commuting is free and, therefore, it does not deserve a subsidy. This is a false assumption. I have submitted to the record some estimates I have made, and these actu- ally fall very closely to estimates other groups have made for bicy- cle commuting costs. I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have on this estimate, but the bottom line is that it costs roughly $600 per year to commute by bicycle. These costs break down into roughly $50 annualized for a new bicycle each year, $350 for normal maintenance and part replacement, and $150 a year for access to showers. This is an important point. Federal agencies, at least the one I work for, offer free parking, but for those people who bike to work or walk to work and may desire showers, they have to pay for it.

Stern went on to talk about how much shower access cost ($50 a month) and the time spent maintaining a bike. Norton questioned him on that part "You want a subsidy for keeping your bicycle in decent shape? You think that really should be included in what the Government would pay for?"

Norton then went on to question the group of speakers who wanted to expand the benefit to those who don't take transit. It seems like she was trying to hear the arguments she would need to expand the program, because she later states that.

I would like this legislation to be as comprehensive as possible, and I would like to get it passed, and I would like not to see some amendment to strike part of my bill. I would like to see recognition of cycling and walking in this bill, and I think that would be a breakthrough.

And I would like to see ideas — not that cash-out ideas that won't flow because we don't have the data and, even if we did, we don't know if we would apply in a given situation. We are experimenting with whether or not we will even get pay for parking, and of course we need to get it in the agency^s own budget. But what I do think is missing are enough specifics on what the bill might say that could be written into it this time indicating that the committee wants agencies to recognize the entire spectrum of alternatives to the car. And I would ask you — since I am going to vote and I am going to end this hearing now, I would ask you, to the extent that you are able and have ideas that you might work through, to be in touch with the staff so that this bill could, in fact, for the first time be truly comprehensive.

At one point she is asking about the goal that is achieved through such an expansion and Stern notes that "the fundamental goal is to clean the air, and I believe that there is nothing that meets that goal on a per dollar basis better than including bicycles in the subsidy." Stern crtiticizes the administration for making transit expansion the goal instead of the means to a goal like clean air or better health. 

She also tries to understand how the cash out is paid for, because getting one fewer person to drive to work doesn't make the cost of parking that already exists go down. "Nobody's going to sell off the land."

Stern drops in a nice statistic in support of funding bicycling, 

a Harris poll...concluded that 18 percent of adults — that is several million people — say that they would sometimes commute by work by bicycle if employers offered financial incentives.

Regardless of the testimony and Norton's support, the Transit Benefit Program Act didn't become law, but the Federal Employees Clean Air Incentives Act did. It did not expand the transit benefit to include bike commuters, something that wouldn't happen until 2007, but it did allow federal employers to create programs to encourage commute means other than single-occupancy vehicles including allowing agencies to furnish space, facilities and services to bicyclists. It also made the Mikulski Amendment permanent (in 2000, a Clinton Executive Order would require all agencies to offer transit benefits, not just make them optional). 


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