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Capital Bikeshare in Arlington continues to grow

In a recent briefing memo Arlington county staff reported that for the 6th year in a row, Capital Bikeshare usage in the county continues to grow. 

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Admittedly that is with more bikes and more stations in each year. In fact, in 2016 they've added 5 stations and expanded 6 others; still growth is growth and in June they set a record with 31,000 trips in Arlington. It will be interesting to see how the system grows as stations are added to Tysons Corner and Falls Church. Being at the center of several pods should create more trips than being on the periphery. 

Speaking of Capital Bikeshare, they have a new bike - the Candidate, to promote the special offer of free CaBi rides on election day (just the one on Nov 8th, not the one on Nov 28th).

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Together with 30 fellow two-wheeled campaign staffers, THE CANDIDATE is hitting the campaign lanes and trails to tell you that Capital Bikeshare will offer FREE Single-Trip Fares on Tuesday, Nov. 8, to provide another transportation option to get you to your voting location.

That’s right: Capital Bikeshare will offer FREE one-way fares at every station in the system to encourage you to take active transportation to a station near your polling place. THE CANDIDATEbelieves that voting is the duty of every citizen of this fine nation and is riding high on the campaign saddle to make it easier to #VoteByBikeshare.

Spot THE CANDIDATE and snap a picture between now and Election Day to help spread the word. Let’s get the #VoteByBikesharemessage to the masses and promote sustainable transportation on Election Day up and down the ballot.

Montgomery County Police tell cyclists to be more careful, not going to talk about speed or design (also you aren't protected by force fields, in case you're one of the many people who think you are)

As reported on Thursday, the Montgomery County Police Department held a press conference on bicycle and pedestrian safety. Unfortunately the whole thing was tone deaf, ignored the real issues with last week's fatal crash and safety in general and (as reported in Bethesda Magazine) devolved into victim blaming.

If you watch the video, Didone says that the reason for the event is that there has been a surge in serious bike/ped crashes in the last 16 days and the purpose is to discuss "what are some things we can do to prevent this so that this trend doesn't continue." He then says that when there is a serious crash of this type, the public tends to focus on driver speed and street design, but that - unbelievably - "today's discussion isn't going to talk about either of those things."

OK, so we're going to discuss bicycle and pedestrian traffic safety, but we aren't going to discuss two of the biggest issues in serious and deadly crashes. Got it. 

Instead he wants to talk about how pedestrians and cyclists don't always have the right-of-way, like "when a pedestrian is not crossing in a crosswalk." Which would be far less ridiculous if he weren't standing in front of a freaking crosswalk. The same crosswalk in which a cyclists recently died, precipitating this media event. 

His next example, when crossing at a signalized intersection and the signal says don't walk, is interesting and true, but also completely irrelevant. 

But his main concern is this piece of Maryland law

A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield

Because "that's what happens very frequently." This is stated without evidence, and, in fact, in contrast to other evidence presented later. He then goes on to point out that pedestrians think they always have the right of way and

they may think that the crosswalk becomes a force field...or that drivers can stop on a dime.

Jeepers H. Christmas! No one thinks that. No one is confused about this part of the law or about the lack of force fields. Everyone understands that they can't just jump out in front of a car without giving it time to stop. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny that they think that THIS is the piece of education that the public needs.

I'm sad to say that he goes on. 

"Physics has also told us that every time a two-ton vehicle comes into contact with a bicyclist or pedestrian, that the bicyclist or pedestrian loses every time,” Didone said. “It’s the longest losing streak that I know of. They lose every time.”*

Here again, he seems to be implying that bicyclists and pedestrians are just too dumb to know that cars will hurt them. I hear this kind of comment all the time, with that same implication - that this is news to me, but once made aware, I'll be more careful.

I'm here to say that we do know. We are all too aware. There isn't a week that goes by that someone doesn't pass too close to me and give me a little scare. And I'm scared because I know that if I get hit, it's not going to go well for me. Because of physics (which I did once teach). So really, this is not the problem.

So Didone called a press conference to tell vulnerable users things they already know. Which should be embarrassing since his colleague then noted that, yeah, this isn't really the problem at all. In fact it's probably the opposite.

Since 2011 there have been 10 collisions including Monday’s fatal incident at the crossing. Drivers were found to be at fault by park police in the other nine, according to Pelicano.

And the article makes the point that the investigation into the most recent crash has not been completed so we don't know what the cause is. But yeah, we should definitely waste some time addressing a couple of things (lack of common sense by vulnerable users, and lack of understanding of basic physics) that are NOT the cause of crashes at this intersection. The actual causes, well we're not going to discuss those. 

The tree across the street from my old house was hit 3 times over 10 years. I would expect Didone to tell it how it could avoid getting hit. "Maybe wear a reflective vest? Have you ever studied physics? Also, I notice you're not wearing a helmet." This kind of victim blaming isn't new. Women have been putting up with this crap for years. But it's frustrating.

And I wish that we could just blame this on the police, but Jeff Dunckel, the pedestrian safety coordinator for Montgomery County shows up and also spends his time admonishing pedestrians. 

Dunckel said cyclists and pedestrians should ride and walk “defensively” and urged cyclists to use “extra caution.” He encouraged them to wear light-colored clothing and reflective material.

That is all wonderful advice. Here I've been just using regular old caution, when what I needed was "extra caution" (what some people call "Unagi"). If only those 9 victims had shown extra caution and worn whiter shirts those drivers wouldn't have made a mistake and crashed into them.

Greg Billing is interviewed and is the voice of not batshit crazy. 

He said drivers, pedestrians and cyclists must all make quick decisions at crossings and on roadways. “I firmly believe those decisions shouldn’t be deadly. That means the system, primarily the design of our streets, trail crossings and bike lanes have to be designed to prevent mistakes from being fatal.”

“If we’re going to be a vision zero community we have to start acting with urgency,” Billing said. “There has to be urgency because people are literally dying on our streets.”

Sigh, but Greg, we aren't discussing street design. We're discussing bad pedestrian behavior that is so frequently at fault (Frequently being 0% of the time at this crosswalk) and the physics of force fields. It's like he's not even listening. He's not alone. Capt. Rick Pelicano, a spokesman for the county’s park police department also discussed one of the issues that must not be mentioned.

Pelicano said the parks department, which has jurisdiction over Little Falls Parkway and the crossing, plans to meet with county officials soon to discuss possible changes to the crossing that could make it safer. That could include moving the crossing to the intersection of Little Falls Parkway and Arlington Road, where there’s a traffic signal, or adding stop signs on the roadway at the crossing to force vehicles to stop, according to Pelicano.

Moving the crossing is not really a solution either. It just gives them the ability to force trail users to stop (since now the crosswalk sign will be in play and users will no longer always have the right-of-way - as Didone so usefully pointed out). It has the added benefit of inconveniencing everyone using the trail too. 

There are other possible solutions. Putting the crosswalk on a speed table, narrowing the road to one lane, creating a trail bridge, closing Little Falls Parkway, investing in that force field thing they were talking about, or something else would all make this trail crossing safer and protect pedestrians from their irrepressible urge to fling themselves into traffic in the hopes that they will win in a collision with a car (the streak has to break some day right? Just look at the Cubs).

But Didone makes it clear that he opposes engineering improvements - because of the cost. When asked what it would hurt to add in a flashing light he replied

 It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And keeping money safe is his primary job. Trail users are somewhere farther down his list.  He cited the Henson Trail crossing of Viers Mill Road where 2 cyclists have died in the last year as an example of how engineering solutions are just not as useful as reminding cyclists that cars are really big.

 We put millions of dollars of safety on, and cyclists didn't even push the button.

I don't know if Osorio, the cyclist who died there in the summer, pushed the button to activate warning flashers or not, and I'm not sure how the police would either. But it's ridiculous to say that people aren't pushing the button. Obviously some are. 

This "better engineering isn't the solution" line isn't new. After the Osorio crash someone from SHA argued the same thing.

The problem, said David Buck, an SHA spokesman, is that engineering solutions alone cannot prevent all fatalities. Enforcement and education are also needed — catching speeding drivers and encouraging cyclists and pedestrians to activate the flashers.

Unfortunately, Buck said, citing a crash report and Montgomery County police officials, the two cyclists in the deadly collisions did not push the button to activate the flashers.

Again, not sure about Osorio, but I'm positive that the victim in the earlier crash, Frank Towers, didn't push the button. I'm sure because it hadn't been installed yet. I'm surprised Didone didn't call for the solution that Buck did at Viers Mill - cyclists should dismount and walk their bike across. 

Didone continued on about the Henson Trail crossing of Viers Mill Road.

Didone said in both Veirs Mill Road collisions the bicyclists were determined to be at fault after police investigations.

Which....isn't true. In the first crash, the driver was cited for "Passing a vehicle stopped for pedestrian at crosswalk". He was acquitted on the technicality that a cyclist is not a pedestrian and that there is no law protecting cyclists in that situation. 

“Why was that?” Didone asked. “Because the witnesses observed that the bicyclists did what bicyclists do far too frequently. They do not want to slow their momentum or come to a stop before entering the roadway.”

No they don't, but if there's a car coming, they usually do. But again, Didone is inaccurate. Towers - at least - was crossing the road with a stopped car in the closest lane and then he was hit in the next lane. So, whether he stopped or not is sort of irrelevant (and I'm not sure if it is even known). 

One thing the two have in common is that at both crossings, trail users want a traffic light of some sort added in.

At some point Didone did note that drivers have some responsibility to protect vulnerable users.

Didone said all drivers must stop on multilane roads when a vehicle in another lane stops to allow a pedestrian to cross. This issue was brought into focus earlier this month when video showed a van striking a woman walking in a River Road crosswalk on Oct. 4.

But he added that 

the video showed the pedestrian who was struck appeared to be on her cellphone. He urged pedestrians to pay attention while crossing roadways.

“Pedestrians need to do their part,” Didone said.

Let's not forget that in some of these cases, pedestrians - while not breaking the law - were not perfect either.

*Actually there was a case in the late 1990's in Mt. Pleasant when a driver lost control of their car, hit a cyclist, and then crashed into a tree. The cyclist was fine, and the driver died. So, the losing streak isn't necessarily worse than that of the Washington Generals

Cyclist struck and killed at BW Parkway, US-50 interchange

A cyclist was struck and killed overnight in Prince George's County. Not much is known beyond that at this time. In fact, it appears that everything known about it comes from two PG County police tweets. 

Fatal crash on Kenilworth Ave at HWY 50 involving a vehicle & a bicyclist. Happened at 1:15am.

NB Kenilworth Ave at HWY 50 is closed due to a fatal crash involving a veh. & a bicyclist. Driver stayed on scene.

And the first one included this photo:

image from

Going north on DC-295 out of DC, 295 becomes the BW-Parkway and splits into the BW-Parkway and 201 Kenilworth Avenue at US-50.  From the photo it appears that this occurred at that split just north of the US-50 overpass. I've driven through there, but I've never biked it and can't imagine I ever would. And certainly not at 1:15am. But just because it's not an appealing place or time to bike, doesn't mean it's illegal. I have biked southbound Kenilworth in this area to get to 459/Arbor Street, so it's not unheard of.

Anyway, we'll see if more is reported on this, like the name or gender of the cyclist or details about the crash.

From the archives - Cubicles that contain bike wheels as well as fax machines

With this week's death at the Capital Crescent Trail's Crosswalk, today's From the Archives, featuring a 1999 interview with then WABA executive director Ellen Jones (now Director of Infrastructure & Sustainability at the DowntownDC BID) is somewhat timely.

Arlington: My topic of conversation is near and dear to every bicyclist's heart: Stop Signs on bike paths...I know why the signs are there, and I admit that I feel a twinge of conscience whenever I simply slow down, see if a car is coming, and then blow through it -- but I still do....You're thoughts?

Jones: Safety involves cyclists, motorists and, on trails, all the other users of the trail.

Yes, there should be warning signs for motorists and trail users at intersections with trails.

Also timely is the intro on WABA's (failed) effort to close part of Beach Drive to motor vehicle traffic.

Bicyclists, runners, gardeners, equestrians, and all types of Rock Creek Park lovers are urging the National Park Service and the government of the District of Columbia to conduct a test weekday closure of the section of the Park (Beach Drive north of Brandywine) that is currently closed on weekends. This will help the decision-makers to find out what effect, if any, such a permanent closure would have on the surrounding neighborhoods, general traffic flow and the quality of the Park experience. You can help by urging Mayor Williams and Rock Creek Park Superintendent Adriene Coleman to conduct this test.

That never happened, but with the reconstruction of Beach Drive this year, it will; and for much longer than one day. 

This question made me chuckle a little

Do you think stuffy workaday Washington is ready for cubicles that contain bike wheels as well as fax machines?

If only because you're much more likely to find a bike, and less likely to find a fax machine.

Interestingly, WABA's position on bicycle helmet laws seems much more accepting of them then than now; which is more interesting since a ~2008 photo on the cover of the Post of Jones without a helmet elicited some angry letters about how unsafe it was and how irresponsible the Post was being. But, of course, WABA is still the "parent organization" of the pro bicycle helmet law Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

Jones: The main benefit of helmet laws is the educational effect that such a law has in a community.

She discusses the first purchase by MPD of 400 bicycles and Metro's then-recent decision to allow cyclists on trains outside of rush hour, without permits. And how to lock up to one of Metro's old bike racks.

bike racks at Metro stations are designed to be used with a padlock. If you can manuver your bike into one of those racks (not all bikes can be) using a padlock on the metal tongue located in the metal basket makes your bike almost impossible to steal.

And there is a question about bicycle commuter benefits about 9 years before they became a thing. 

If you are a Federal employee the funds that your agency makes available for Metrocheck can be used to improve bicycle conditions at your worksite - parking, showers, lockers. The Federal Employee's Clean Air Incentives Act is a pretty straigtforward piece of legislation that spells this out.

There's this...

Ellen, please tell us about progress on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. When will it be completed?

Great question.

And this...

There is good news on Route 1. The Maryland State Highway Department has agreed to accommodate bicyclists on this important road. Accommodation will probably be a striped wider shoulder.


But I have no idea what the question about the Mt. Vernon ramps is about.

This is a pretty funny exchange

Bethesda: Ellen, do you feel that it is dangerous for me to ride my unicycle along 495 in the morning on the shoulder?

Jones: I think it could eliminate your commute altogether.

There are some usual question about scofflaw cyclists - though this are focused on couriers (ah, the olden days) - and sidewalk cycling. And from a cyclist who rides in the road only to have drivers yell at him to "ride on the path!". I'm glad that doesn't happen anymore. Also about bike racks on the Mall.

And Bob Levey makes a great prediction:

More and more people are sicker and sicker of gridlock. They will try commuting by bike, and by the thousands, they will grow to love it.

Capitol Trails Coalition introductory video

This video, about the Metropolitan Branch Trail, produced by the newly formed Capitol Trails Coalition, makes me say "Oh, I want one of those in my city." And then I remember that I already do.

REI and Fairfax Bikeshare - It's a big day

Two big things are going on today, the opening of REI along the Metropolitan Branch Trail in DC and the start of Capital Bikeshare in Fairfax County

The Capital Bikeshare program will provide residents and visitors short-term, on-demand access to bicycles at 29 stations located in Reston and Tysons.

The program is primarily targeted at workers who might be looking for ways to travel short distances to their office or a restaurant, without getting into a car.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Tysons Partnership President Michael Caplin and Fairfax County Bicycle Program Manager Adam Lind will participate in ceremonies in Reston at 2 p.m.and Tysons approximately 3:15 p.m.

Reston Celebration will be held at Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station, Capital Bikeshare station on the plaza at bus bay F, 1862 Wiehle Avenue, Reston.

After the conclusion of the Reston celebration, take Metrorail Silver Line (approximately between 2:36-2:58 p.m.) for an 8-minute trip to the Spring Hill Metrorail Station in Tysons.Capital Bikeshare station located just as you exit the station on the east side of route 7, 1576 Spring Hill Road, Vienna.

And more expansion is coming

Falls Church is hoping to add its own bikeshare program next year.

Meanwhile, in DC, REI (which sells bikes and, reportedly, other items) will be hosting a 3 day grand opening block party at its new location in the old Colisuem adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

image from

Oh, and installation of Wilson Boulevard's new protected bike lane started this week as did work on part of the new Rock Creek Park Trail.  And, there's a new project update from the Klingle Valley Trail:

Construction crews continue to take advantage of the favorable weather on site and completed all concrete placements of the gravity retaining wall on the east end of the project. Additionally, all foundations for the trail's light poles are now installed in the ground (a total of 52!). Upcoming scheduled activities include installing the electrical manholes and conduits that will power the new pole's LED luminaires.

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MoCo Police will hold press conference on bike and ped collisions today

Yesterday the Montgomery County Police announced that they would host an event on bicycle and pedestrian safety. The day before - according to NBC - that they stated that, in this week's fatal crash on the Capital Crescent Trail, "they believe Gaylin did not stop before he entered the crosswalk."

Captain Tom Didone, Director of the Traffic Division, will speak about the following topics:

  • Traffic issues and trends encompassing pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
  • The challenges that motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists face to remain safe on the roadways during decreased daylight hours.
  • Newly introduced legislation that addresses bicyclists’ safety.
  • A demonstration will be given regarding gauging the distance needed for a pedestrian to safely cross a roadway upon approach by an oncoming vehicle.

Detectives from the Collision Reconstruction Unit will be available to discuss the general protocol followed for fatal collision investigations.  The Collision Reconstruction Unit on-scene investigative utility truck will be present.

(note: no new information will be given on these recent, ongoing investigations).

Representatives from the Maryland-National Capital Park Police may also speak about collision safety on the trails.

The event will be at 11:00am near the Little Falls Parkway at the Capital Crescent Trail.

I can't find where the police reported that Gaylin didn't stop. 

N. Quincy St. Protected Bike Lanes are not going to be easy

Last year, the Arlington Action Committee, with support from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, launched a campaign called Bike Friendly Ballston to try to get Arlington County to install a protected bike lane (also called a cycletrack) to connect the Custis Trail to the heart of Ballston.

Since then, Arlington County staff have been studying the idea between Fairfax and Glebe. In September they had a meeting with the Action Committee and other advocates and recently noted in a memo that the project is more difficult than other such facilities in the county. 

The road width and possible impacts to parking are the main problems staff need to overcome. The width varies widely between 44 and 70 feet which makes a single, standard cross section challenging. As a result urrent and future planned curb lines will need to be modified to fit the PBLs in. The PBLs will have a significant impact on street parking, which will impact existing and planned developments such as Mosaic Park. Construction on Mosaic Park will start this year, which will impact adjacent sections of the road. 

In addition previous public meetings have created an expectation of curbside parking and some frontage has been locked in by some developments.

They aren't giving up though, and a retrofit may coincide with the repaving and striping of N Quincy St currently scheduled for 2017. 

Screenshot 2016-10-18 at 11.57.16 PM

  Implementation of protected bike lanes will have a significant impact on available on-street parking. This will impact existing developments as well as other planned developments such as Mosaic Park.  Mosaic Park is expected to begin construction in late 2016, which will impact the section of N Quincy adjacent to the project with construction staging and operations. Community and Development  Previous outreach efforts to the community may have set an expectation for parking along N Quincy St and intersecting side streets.  Some curb frontage is “locked in” by existing site conditions for some of the adjacent developments

Cyclist struck, killed crossing Little Falls Parkway in Capitol Crescent Trail crosswalk

Ned Gaylin, an 81 year old, retired clinical psychologist and University of Maryland professor, was struck while crossing Little Falls Parkway on his recumbent bicycle. He was struck in the marked crosswalk of the Capital Crescent Trail. There have been 8 bicycle fatalities in the DC area in the last 12 months and 4 of them have been in the crosswalks of suburban Maryland trail crossings. 3 of those in Montgomery County.

Ned Gaylin, was a child and family psychologist, author and professor emeritus at UMD's School of Public Health. He was an internationally recognized pioneer in clinical psychology.

The "Stop for Pedestrian" pylons that were originally installed in the road there have been hit so many times that they have now been moved to the median - where they are less visible.

Gaylin was struck by a 2002 Mercedes E320 driven by Nils Carl Axel Rudelius, 78, of Bethesda, according to police. Investigators believe Rudelius’ Mercedes was traveling southbound when it struck Gaylin.

According to police, Gaylin was traveling eastbound on the Capital Crescent Trail in his three-wheeled recumbent bicycle and was crossing in a marked crosswalk on Little Falls Parkway between Arlington Road and Hillandale Road.

The driver, 78-year-old Nils Rudelius, who hit Gaylin told FOX 5 he is devastated, and did not see Gaylin in the crosswalk.

WUSA reports that the crosswalk is "a defined crosswalk for pedestrians" and that cyclists must dismount and cross as pedestrians. That's the first I've heard of that, and there are no signs there to that effect. But it is true that a cyclist riding their bike across is not protected by the law in the way that a pedestrian is. Even though,

Signs at the crossing warn motorists to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the road.

image from

Police did not immediately say what, if any, charges will be filed against the driver in the case.

I-66 widening will change some Arlignton bike trails

Back in August this site reported that the Transform 66 project, which (among other things) will widen 4 miles of I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, would not impact either the Custis or W&OD trails. It now appears that that was wrong. Istead it might make small, but real improvements to each.

On the Custis Trail, VDOT will need to rebuild the trail underpass near Bon Air Park and Westover. There the trail would be widened, and a sharp, 90 degree turn would be replaced with curved turn. It also appears that just east of there, the trail is modified a little to avoid something (a street light?).

Screenshot 2016-10-17 at 12.08.39 AM

Of course there would now be a 90 degree turn to the stub trail south of I-66, but I suspect that gets less traffic.

The W&OD Trail, meanwhile, would get a new trail bridge at Lee Highway to simplify traffic control at the intersection and eliminate trail conflicts. It would include a stub trail from the base of the overpass to the Fairfax Drive/Lee Highway intersection.

Screenshot 2016-10-17 at 12.13.42 AM

Construction of an additional eastbound lane is expected to start in 2018 and open to traffic in early 2020. I would expect these changes to be on a similar timeline.

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