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ANC Commissioner Janis Hazel and his CaBi

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From East of the River

An avid cyclist, Tolson can be seen every day using Capitol Bikeshare around the neighborhood. “I've been riding all my life,” he said. “I started at nine years old, when I was delivering papers.” In recent years he gave up his car and began using public transportation, car sharing services like Car2go and Enterprise, and Uber. However, cycling is his main mode of transportation. Although Tolson has two bikes at home, he often uses Bikeshare to travel. “For $75 a year it's worth it to leave them in the basement,” he explains. “It saves money on tires and repairs.” He recommends Bikeshare as a cheaper alternative for recreational cyclists.

Maryland falls, Virginia climbs in Bike Friendly States rankings

The League of American Bicyclists released their annual Bicycle Friendly States rankings last week and Maryland and Virginia both did well, ranking 10th and 13th respectively. But for Maryland this represented a drop, from 7th in 2014; while Virginia managed to climb from 18th. Washington state came in first, again, and Alabama came in last, again. 

Maryland's score dropped in both the "Legislation and Enforcement" and "Education and Encouragement" categories and they received only 49 out of 100 possible points. They got credit for a new state Bicycle Plan, but their feedback includes a lot of issues that really do need to be addressed. LAB recommends that the state

  • Amend Maryland’s safe passing law which requires a minimum distance of 3 feet so that there are fewer exceptions to the minimum distance requirement
  • Improve bicycle-related crash reporting. As highway safety plans are based on crash data, under-reporting of bike crashes has made it difficult to assess the effectiveness of Maryland’s efforts to improve bike safety.
  • Adopt performance measures, such as mode shift or a low percentage of exempted projects, to better track and support Complete Streets/Bike Accommodation Policy compliance. Conduct analysis of how Complete Streets approaches have improved roadway conditions so that the public and agency staff understands the importance of Complete Streets.
  • Adopt a mode share goal for biking to encourage the integration of bicycle transportation needs into all transportation and land use policy and project decisions. • Improve bicycle network connectivity so that more people can access retail, work, and educational facilities safely and conveniently by bike. Consider innovative approaches to network analysis based on stress levels experienced by bicyclists.
  • Provide specific training to engineers and planners on how to implement the Complete Streets/ Accommodation Policy in everyday decisions.

Virginia's score dropped in the "Legislation and Enforcement" category, but improved in the "Infrastructure and Funding" and "Education and Encouragement" categories and the state received 41 out of 100 possible points. They got credit for a new 3-foot passing law and dedicated state funding, but also identified areas for Virginia to improve:

  • Update law that makes maintenance payments to cities based upon the number of moving lane miles available and which discourages road diets and bicycle lanes in urban areas. Road diets can substantially increase bicyclist and pedestrian safety without significant impacts on automotive mobility. Policies should support road diets and not punish communities for implementing road diets by reducing payments when automotive lanes are removed.
  • Adopt a law prohibiting a motorist from opening an automobile’s door unless the motorist is able to do so safely. Virginia is one of only 10 states to not have this type of law.
  • Incentivize and document compliance with Commonwealth Transportation Board policies related to inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in projects.
  • Dedicate state funding for bicycle projects and programs, especially those focused on safety, eliminating gaps and increasing access for bicycle networks. Creating programmatic funding allows local communities to better understand how to access state funding or helps guide the state’s funding priorities for maximum impact.
  • Adopt a mode share goal for biking to encourage the integration of bicycle transportation needs into all transportation and land use policy and project decisions.
  • Adopt a vulnerable road user law that increases penalties for a motorist that injures or kills a bicyclist or pedestrian. Model language is available here.
  • Add bicycle safety as an emphasis area in the state Strategic Highway Safety Plan and aggressively fund bike safety projects.

Cyclists still aren't freeloaders

This has been discussed here before, but, since the claim that drivers pay for the roads and cyclists don't is so pervasive, it's worth repeating: cyclists more than pay for their fair share of the road. This is backed up in great detail by US-PIRG (United States Public Interest Research Group) in the latest version of their "Who Pays For Roads" report. Spoiler alert: not drivers. 

A 2014 analysis by Advocacy Advance of statewide transportation improvement programs (STIPs)—short-term, fiscally constrained plans of transportation projects required of states under federal law—found that less than 1.5 percent of all funds were programmed for bicycle, pedestrian or shared-use projects

Non-User spending

Bicyclists and Pedestrians Already Pay for Most of the Roads they Use

As general taxpayers in their communities, people who walk and bike help pay for the maintenance of streets, which are predominantly dedicated to the storage and movement of motor vehicles.

The degree to which urban streets are dedicated to automobiles is illustrated by a 2014 analysis of the use of roadway space in San Francisco, one of the least auto-oriented cities in the United States. The study found that 71 percent of all paved road area within the city was devoted to general traffic lanes geared primarily toward the movement of cars. An additional 11 percent was devoted to freeways (which are automobile-only) and state highways, and 15 percent to on-street vehicle parking. Only 2.4 percent of street space was devoted to transit-only or bike-only lanes—this, in a city in which private automobiles account for fewer than half of all trips. Thus, a San Francisco resident who does not use a car would pay most of the levies that support the city roads while using only a tiny portion of that infrastructure.

Bicyclists and Pedestrians Impose Negligible Roadway Costs

Compared with automobiles and trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists impose little wear and tear on road surfaces.A general rule of thumb is that the damage a vehicle imposes on a road surface increases to the fourth power of axle weight—that is, a vehicle that weighs ten times as much per axle imposes ten thousand times as much roadway damage as a lighter vehicle. A 200-pound bicyclist with a 50-pound bike, therefore, will impose approximately 1/65,000th the roadway damage of a 4,000 pound car.

Bicyclists and pedestrians also take up little room on roads. A stationary pedestrian takes up one-80th of the space of a parked vehicle, and a bicycle one-20th of the space. Compared with a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour, a pedestrian takes up one-250th of the space, a bicyclist one-100th of the space, and a bus passenger one-67th of the space.

Estimates of the external costs imposed by walking and biking validate the conclusion that it is inappropriate to charge bicyclists and pedestrians user fees. A 2009 analysis by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute estimated that the external cost of a mile of bicycling was less than a penny, while the cost imposed by a mile of walking was 0.2 cents—compared with external costs of driving of more than 29 cents per mile.

Even if people who bike and walk were to be charged fees based on the impacts of their behavior—something that has never been fully required of drivers—those fees would likely be so small as to be barely worth collecting.

All of this has been mentioned here or in the comments before, but it's nice to have some numbers here. More - and citations - can be found in the report. Bookmark it for your Washington Post-based comment arguments. 

Here is the 2011 version, for those who are interested. 

Progress Continues on Three Notch Trail

Construction on Phase 6 of the hiking and biking trail project — a 5-mile stretch running south from Route 236 (Thompson Corner Road) and linking two existing sections of the trail — began in March and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

When completed, the plan calls for a 25-mile trail to run from Deborah Drive in Charlotte Hall through John V. Baggett Park in Laurel Grove to Pegg Road in Lexington Park. The trail is planned to run mostly adjacent to Route 5 in the north and Route 235 in the south.

Federal funding for the portion of the trail now under construction came in the form of $1,788,600 passed through the State Highway Administration’s enhancement fund. State contributors include Maryland Bikeways ($470,180), Maryland Program Open Space ($185,000), Maryland Heritage Areas ($136,877) and SHA’s recreational trails program ($120,000).

Local funding came in the form of $934,561 from the St. Mary’s County government.

When this segment is complete, the Three Notch Trail will run 11 miles from the Charles County line to Laurel Grove.

Former Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) said in November he wanted to make sure that horse-and-buggy traffic could use the new section of trail so it wouldn’t have to mix with high-speed traffic on Route 5. The buggies use the other parts of the trail already.

File this under "things that aren't said enough."

“It’s saved lives over the last few years,” he said. “A little horse manure [along the trail] is a lot better than seeing a dead horse and driver and children on the road.”

For the most part the Three Notch Trail follows an old railroad bed that ran from Brandywine to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The Navy extended the railroad from Mechanicsville to Lexington Park in 1942 to build the base, and used the line until 1954. The line was sporadically used by the Pennsylvania Railroad until 1965. St. Mary’s County government in cooperation with the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative purchased the old railroad line in 1970.

There's more at the link.

East Capitol Street and Benning Road intersection project

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will host a public meeting tonight from 7-9pm to take questions and comments on proposed changes to the East Capitol Street and Benning Road intersection in Ward 7.

The intersection of East Capitol Street, Benning Road, Texas Avenue and Central Avenue is a busy and complex intersection in the District. From 2008 to 2010, there were 102 traffic crashes that injured 54 people, including 8 pedestrians. DDOT began a planning study in 2011 to look at safety and access changes to the intersection and the larger corridor. At this meeting, DDOT will present about proposed changes, present the planning study information and proposals for review.

The meeting will be at the Metropolitan Police Department Sixth District Community Room, 100 42nd Street, NE

Bike to Work Day Wrap-Up

Bike to work day was a success it appears. The weather was on the good side. There was a record number of registrations (17,500), up 4% from last year. And I got a free CaBi bike light which the twins are obsessed with turning on and off (We need it on at all times according to them). 

According to MWCOG, these dignitaries were expected to attend. Did I miss anyone.

Officials—from local mayors and council members to U.S. Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez—are scheduled to visit pit stops across the region to support the more than 15,000 commuters already registered to cycle to and from work as part of Bike to Work Day (BTWD) 2015. 

lected officials and dignitaries are scheduled to visit the following pit stops:
District of Columbia
Adams Morgan pit stop
Brianne Nadeau - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 1
Capitol Riverfront at Canal Park pit stop
Charles Allen - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 6
Seth Shapiro - Liaison for the Mayor’s office, Ward 6
Capitol Hill at Eastern Market Metro pit stop
Charles Allen - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 6
Elissa Silverman - District of Columbia Councilmember, At-Large
Edgewood pit stop
Kenyan McDuffie - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 5
Fort Totten pit stop
Kenyan McDuffie - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 5
Freedom Plaza pit stop
David Grosso - District of Columbia Councilmember, At-Large
Phil Mendelson - District of Columbia Council Chair
Brianne Nadeau - District of Columbia Councilmember, Ward 1
Mt. Vernon Triangle pit stop
David Grosso - District of Columbia Councilmember, At-Large
Tom Perez - U.S. Secretary of Labor
Tommy Wells - Director, District Department of the Environment
NoMa pit stop
Nicholas Ramfos – Director, Commuter Connections
Bethesda pit stop
Roger Berliner - Montgomery County Councilmember
Peter Franchot – Maryland Comptroller
Michael E. Jackson - Maryland Department of Transportation
Ariana Kelly - Maryland State Delegate
Mark Korman - Maryland State Delegate
Susan Lee – Maryland State Senator
College Park City Hall pit stop
Danielle Glaros - Prince George’s County Councilmember, District 3
Patrick Wojahn - City of College Park Councilmember, District 1
Frederick pit stop
Jessica Fitzwater - Frederick County Councilwoman
Randy McClement - City of Frederick Mayor
Michael O’Connor - City of Frederick Alderman
Kelly Russell - City of Frederick Alderman
Greenbelt pit stop
Emmett V. Jordan - Greenbelt Mayor
Edward V.J. Putens - Greenbelt Councilmember      
Todd M. Turner - Prince George’s County Councilmember
Indian Head pit stop
Debra M. Davis - Charles County Commissioner
John Hartline - Executive Director, Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland
Brandon Paulin - Mayor, Town of Indian Head       
Rockville Twinbrook pit stop
Casey Anderson - Montgomery County Planning Board Chair
Rockville Town Center pit stop
Carolyn Biggins - Chief, Division of Transit Services
Julie Palakovich Carr - City of Rockville Councilmember
Sidney Katz - Montgomery County Councilmember
Bridget Donnell Newton - City of Rockville Mayor
Al R. Roshdieh - Acting Director, Montgomery County Department of Transportation
Silver Spring Discovery Place pit stop
Tom Hucker - Montgomery County Councilmember
Hans Reimer - Montgomery County Councilmember           
Alexandria Carlyle pit stop
Justin Wilson - Alexandria City Council Member     
Arlington Columbia Pike/Penrose pit stop
Chuck Bean- COG Executive Director
Arlington Rosslyn pit stop
Don Beyer - US Congressman, Virginia’s 8th District          
Walter Tejada - Arlington County Board Vice-Chairman
My dream is to see Joe Biden  - the muscle car loving one from the Onion - show up. 

Bikesharing Rebalance button

A few years ago, Capital Bikeshare tried a "Reverse Riders Rewards" program that rewarded CaBi members for moving bikes from “typically full” stations to “typically empty” stations during the weekday morning rush hours as a way to supplement their normal rebalancing efforts. The program didn't last long because, as I recall, it mostly rewarded members for doing things they were already doing. 

What they should do is add a "Rebalance" button to Spotcycle that lets users help rebalance the system. Basically, when you push the button, the app will use your location to identify any nearby stations that are full/nearly full or empty nearly/empty and assign you stations to move a bike between if you're close enough to some. 

And then that's it. 

I'm sure some people would rebalance bikes, out of general altruism. Just like people create data visualizations and hack apps for free. It only takes a few. It likely wouldn't cost anything extra and any additional rebalancing just lowers cost.

Or make a game out of it. Top "citizen rebalancer" every quarter gets a gold member key and public recognition. Or a cupcake. Or socks. Or a free membership. Or maybe you need to do a certain number in a year to get various rewards. Or do it as a lottery. Etc... 

But by making it an assignment, tied to you individually, it should cause people to do actual additional rebalancing. You could even tax people 1/10th of a rebalance if they ask for an assignment and refuse it, so as to keep people from just being opportunistic about it ("Let's see if the trip I going to do anyway will earn me a rebalance").

Anyway, I still think there is a lot of opportunity to use CaBi members to improve the rebalancing, they just have to try and tinker with it. 

Try Capital Bikeshare, courtesy of Red Bull

For National Bike Month, Red Bull sent me a free CaBi three-day pass code. Since I'm already a member, I can't really become a convert, but if you've been bikeshare curious, this is your chance. Leave a message in the comments (and use your real email) and I'll set you up with the code, you'll have to buy your own Red Bull though as I drank all of it they sent me. It turns out that it tastes different without vodka. 

Barriers being installed on penn ave bike lanes (live)

Barriers being installed on penn ave bike lanes (live)

BTWD at Eastern Market

BTWD at Eastern Market

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