Montgomery County is Fixing the Capital Crescent Trail Crossing of Little Falls Parkway

On October 17, Ned Gaylin was hit and killed crossing Little Falls Parkway while out for a morning ride on the Capital Crescent Trail. This past  Wednesday, Montgomery Parks announced that it is taking swift action to dramatically reduce the risk of fatal crashes at this busy trail intersection.

Anyone who has walked or ridden the Capital Crescent Trail into Bethesda knows the Little Falls Parkway crossing. It is one of only two at-grade road crossings between Bethesda and Georgetown. After a sharp turn, the trail emerges from woods to an unsignalized crosswalk across four lanes of traffic. Signs remind drivers to be on the lookout for trail users and trail users to use caution before entering the crosswalk. However, the road is designed as a highway with two wide lanes in each direction and a 35 mile per hour speed limit.

As built, this intersection is a recipe for disaster. In September 2016, 87,000 walkers, joggers, and bicyclists passed through this intersection. A safe crossing requires every player to be fully attentive, know their responsibilities, and carry them out without mistake. A person walking or biking must approach the crosswalk with caution. She must be sure not to enter the crosswalk in the immediate path of an oncoming car. Four lanes of drivers must see her, must recognize their responsibility to yield, then slow down and come to a stop.

Now consider what actually happens on our roadways at any given time: add a litany of distractions and competing motivations. Drivers, facing wide lanes, a high speed limit and an attention grabbing green light down the road do not want to slow down. Bicyclists don’t want to lose their momentum and start again from a dead stop. Pedestrians do not want to wait for a break in traffic. Everyone is in a hurry. In practice, most people do the right thing, but we need a road designed to minimize conflicts and reduce the risk of harm, acknowledging that not all humans behave perfectly at all times.

Road diet plans from Montgomery Parks. Purple lines indicate new striping. Purple circles indicate flex posts.

A Fix is on the Way

Wednesday night, Montgomery Parks, which maintains Little Falls Parkway and the Capital Crescent Trail, announced new changes to Little Falls Parkway which will simplify crossing interactions and dramatically reduce the chance of crashes that could cause a fatal or serious injury. A road diet on Little Falls will reduce the parkway to one lane in each direction between Hillandale Road and Fairfax Rd. The speed limit will be lowered from 35 mph to 25 mph in the same area. Signage, flex posts, and pavement markings will give drivers ample warning for this new configuration and speed reduction.

Thank County Leaders For Taking Action

Each of these changes will make Little Falls Parkway safer for drivers and trail users. The road diet will remove the outside travel lanes, which shortens the crossing distance and makes trail users more visible as they approach the crosswalk. Drivers will approach the intersection more slowly, which shortens the distance a car travels before coming to stop after the driver hits the brakes.

Going to one lane also prevents the cause of many fatal crashes on multilane roads, in which one driver yields and comes to a stop, but the driver in an adjacent lane does not stop because the crossing person is obscured behind the stopped car. Under Maryland law, drivers must stop at an unsignalized crosswalk if a vehicle in an adjacent lane is already stopped for a pedestrian, but in practice, many drivers don’t do so. This is a chronic problem on Little Falls Parkway. Going from two lanes to one lane will eliminate the problem entirely.

If a crash does happen, it will be at a lower speed, and that means fewer and less severe injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. Studies show that when a driver traveling at 40 mph hits a person it will result in a fatality 90% of the time, but just 10% of the time at 20 mph. Speed kills, and road design has an enormous impact on speeding. By changing the speed limit and narrowing the road, drivers are more likely to comply.

Some will object to these changes, raising concerns about increased traffic and delay on the parkway. However, road diets like the one proposed often accommodate as many vehicles as the wider road they replace by creating a separated space for turning vehicles and eliminating weaving. Moreover, this will keep people from getting hurt, which ought to be the priority. Empirical research shows that road diets reduce overall crashes, including car on car crashes by 29%. Elevating safety over speed is just the right thing to do. At a time when Montgomery County is working to increase safe transportation options and creating a Vision Zero action plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities, we cannot turn a blind eye to safety for the sake of a few seconds of delay.

For the full details, see the plans here.

Rapid Implementation Saves Lives

Starting later this month, Montgomery Parks will implement these changes using relatively cheap materials like lane striping, flex posts and signage. New York City took a similar approach, using paint, planters, and flex posts to test traffic calming, sidewalk widening, pedestrian refuges, and intersection changes. Many of these inexpensive installations are now cast in concrete after a pilot phase. County staff are studying a permanent fix on Little Falls, but planning could easily take years and millions of dollars to install a signal, re-route the trail to another intersection or redesign the road. In the meantime, this fix will immediately make the crossing safe for millions of trail users each year.

Help Us Thank Montgomery Parks for Swift Action

When tragedy strikes, excuses are never in short supply and decisive action to change the status quo is often met with opposition. Montgomery Parks and the Planning Board deserve enormous credit for their quick work to prevent future crashes on the Capital Crescent Trail. Please sign our petition to thank the department staff and Montgomery County leaders for their action.

Thank County Leaders For Taking Action

Give the Gift of Better Bicycling

The air is getting chillier, the leaves have fallen, and the days are getting shorter.  You know what that means:  The holidays are upon us!

In the season of giving, what better gift is there than beautiful trails, safe bike lanes, and better bicycling for everyone? Give the gift of Better Bicycling with cool WABA jerseys, t-shirts, and socks from the WABA Store!  We’ve even put together some gift bundles with a 1-year WABA Membership certificate to make it an easy one-stop shop.

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Don’t forget that WABA members get 20% off all purchases at the WABA Store.  Contact membership@waba.org for the discount code.

‘Tis the season…to add more lights

Riding a bike around Washington, DC can be a bit intimidating, for sure. But, if you keep your eyes up and take in some of the sites, it can also be awe inspiring. WABA wants to inspire you during this dark and cold season by riding around downtown DC and take in some of the more impressive light displays on the Lighting the Way community ride.

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Unlike some of our big signature rides WABA community rides are usually shorter weeknight events, sort of the bike equivalent of taking a stroll. Generally a dozen or two riders will ride 4 – 6 miles at a conversational mosey. No one gets left behind, no matter their skill level, and we stop a few times to discuss different riding scenarios and take in some beautiful sights one can only enjoy while riding a bike.

So clear your calendar next Wednesday, December 14th and join us. The ride will begin at 7th and Indiana Ave NW, by the Archives Metro station (map). We will depart shortly after 6:30 p.m. In addition to taking in some scenic lights, we will also be giving them away! Thanks to the DC Bike Ambassadors, we have a number of bike lights to give away to to riders we see along the route that don’t have any lights on their bike.

Finally, since the highly anticipated WABA Member Holiday Party is the same night, after the ride ends near City Center DC, a group of people will continue on to Boundary Stone, to arrive around 8:30 p.m.

The 5th Annual Hains Point 100 is December 18th!

It’s gray and cold and wet outside today, but soon you too can be as happy as these people:

That’s right, the 5th Annual Hains Point 100 is almost here! This year’s event will be on Sunday, December 18th, and you can find all the details at the official website: www.hainspoint100.com

Follow the event-

What is the Hains Point 100?

This fabulous event began five years ago when Megan Jones decided to ride 100 miles around Hains Point in East Potomac Park to raise awareness and funds for WABA’s Women & Bicycles program. Since then, hundreds of riders and their friends have joined in, lending their voices and leg muscles to spread the word about our program.

How do I get involved?

Participating is easy! Simply sign up to ride and the choices are up to you!

  • Ride 100 miles around the park loop (about 33 laps)
  • Ride 100 kilometers (about 19 laps)
  • Ride for  100 minutes
  • Have fun with 100 new friends (bike a few laps, take photobooth pictures, eat pie!)
  • High-five 100 people
  • Tweet 100 times with the hashtag #hp100
  • Get 100 people to donate
  • Bring 100 friends to the event
  • The possibilities are endless…

Anything else?

Still on the fence, huh?  Nelle and I can help! Look, here’s a handy checklist of reasons why you should ride:

  1. Choose-your-own-adventure ride. Start when you want. Ride as long as you want. Stop for snacks and prizes.  Pet people’s dogs.  Ride funny bikes.  Drafting is legal.  Time trials are legal.  Slow rides are legal.  
  2. It’s impossible to get lost or off-track.  The route goes around Hains Point… and around, and around. No electronic devices needed… but if you ARE on Strava, it will be hilarious.  
  3. Did someone say snacks? There’s potluck snacks… and I even hear there’s a pie guy coming.
  4. Look at all the awesome ride sponsors! Must. Win. Door Prize.  
  5. Ride with the finest of D.C.’s bike advocacy community, including all those people you’ve only gotten to see on Facebook or in the news. And you’ll bond over the fact that we have survived 2016, and we are still kicking it in DC, riding our bikes in circles in the wind around a peninsula in December.
  6. This is a locally organized, sustainable, homegrown, organic event, coordinated by one very dedicated supporter of the Women & Bicycles program.  
  7. You’ll get bragging rights for riding 100 somethings around Hains Point.
  8. What a great opportunity to practice your counting. One hundred miles is 33 laps! 100 Minutes is 100!  One minute is 60 seconds!  Do you have kids who like to count?  The Hains Point 100 is the perfect event for them!
  9. Normalize winter riding! Mittens, gloves, fun scarves, reindeer horns on your helmet…
  10. Your donations to the Hains Point 100 will help get more women on bikes. One hundred percent of the ride proceeds will be donated to WABA’s Women & Bicycles program, helping to fund another year of dedicated outreach.

DDOT Installs Safer Sidewalk on the Interim Metropolitan Branch Trail

Sometimes change is dramatic, like the opening of Kenilworth section of the Anacostia River Trail. But the small modifications can have a big impact as well – that one pothole that scares you, the fantastic new bike repair stand, a repaired streetlight. The Metropolitan Branch Trail saw a few great improvements this fall that we wanted to highlight.

New lighting in the pipeline

One of the new LEDs being tested

Durability and reliability of the lighting has posed a challenge on the trail. The original solar lights installed weren’t up to the test with easily broken fixtures and an inadequate power supply from the solar panels. Earlier this year, many of the poles were hard-wired and temporary fixtures installed from Edgewood St NE to T St NE. A new round of work has been done in the last few weeks to continue this farther south, and now poles are wired until south of R St NE. The trail is brighter with more reliable lighting but the final solution is still in the works. Two new LED fixtures were installed on the trail at the S St intersection two weeks ago for testing. Should they be up to the job, the trail will get new and much improved fixtures.

A Brand New Sidewalk

It’s been the talk of the trail – there is a new climbing sidewalk on Fort Totten Drive from Bates Rd NE to Crittenden St NE! We worked with DDOT in an effort to get it installed before Safetrack Surge 10 increased trail traffic and are delighted to see it become a reality. Previously, riders had to cross the street and use the narrow west sidewalk or the far more common choice, ride in the road up the short steep hill. It was decidedly unpleasant. The new sidewalk is designed so that climbing riders can get up without competing for roadspace with the dump trucks and other vehicles.

Pothole Free R St NE

Speaking of new paving, the entrance to R St NE was repaved! The roadway had been cracked and broken for years.

Northern Trail Extension

DDOT is still in the design process for Phase 1 of the Metropolitan Branch Trail extension from Bates Rd NE to Gallatin St NE. We will continue to keep you updated when more is known, sign up for updates on the campaign page.

Feedback and Reporting

If you could change or add one small thing about your trail, what would it be? A trash can, bench, new sign? I’ve been mulling over things but want to know what sticks out for you! We’re curious to know.

See something that needs to be fixed? Check out our resources on maintenance reporting.

You’re invited: WABA Member Holiday Party!

When: Wednesday, December 14th from 6:00-10:00pm

Where: Boundary Stone, 116 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC

Who: WABA Members and your family and friends

RSVP: Join the Holiday Party event on Facebook and invite your WABA friends

All WABA members are invited to join the WABA Staff, Board of Directors, and your fellow WABA Members on Wednesday, December 14th at Boundary Stone in DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood for an evening of bicycle cheer.

Come eat and drink and be merry with us in celebration of this year’s advocacy successes and mingle with fellow WABA members.

The party is free and there will be food and drink specials available for you to purchase at the bar.

*Please note this party is for WABA Members and their close friends and family. WABA is a member supported non-profit organization and your yearly membership dues fund our ongoing advocacy and outreach work. If you have friends that are not WABA Members, bring them and encourage them to become a WABA member at the party!*

Thank you EYA!

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WABA would like to give a great big bicycle thank you to EYA for their support of better bicycling, their title sponsorship of The 2016 Cider Ride, and for bringing out an awesome EYA team to ride along with us last weekend on the Cider Ride.

EYA is WABA’s biggest signature ride event supporter. As the Title Sponsor of our fall community ride event for 2016, 2017, and 2018, EYA is making it possible for WABA to hold ride events that not only bring people together to celebrate bicycling, but also raise support for our on-going advocacy efforts to make bicycling better. EYA is a regional developer with a focus on bicycle and pedestrian friendly urban homes and communities.

Since 1992, EYA has earned recognition for introducing innovative and thoughtfully designed new homes in DC metro area neighborhoods that offer life within walking distance. They share a lot of common goals with WABA members to reduce dependence on cars and encourage new opportunities for more sustainable living.

Thank you so much EYA!

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