Plan for Florida Ave is Better, But Plenty of Room For Improvement

Rendering of a protected bike lane on Florida Ave NE (Source DDOT)

On Tuesday evening, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), showed its 30% design plans for the Florida Avenue NE Multimodal Transportation Project at a crowded public meeting. Compared to the recommendations released last year, DDOT has made strong improvements to safely accommodate people who bike, including a new two-way protected bikeway between 2nd St and West Virginia Ave. However, the plan still leaves many challenging conflict points and safety issues unresolved, particularly east of West Virginia Ave.

DDOT is accepting comments on the project website through March 15. We encourage anyone who lives, works, or travels through this corridor to review the plans and leave comments and suggestions for how the plans could be improved to make Florida Ave a safe corridor for all road users.

A Protected Bike Lane on Florida Ave

Two-way protected bike lane on Florida Ave NE with “floating bus stop”

DDOT proposes a two-way protected bike lane on the south side of Florida Ave from 3rd St. to 9th St. This lane would be 8-10 foot wide and separated from car traffic by a 1-2 foot concrete curb. The design includes dashed green paint across conflict areas like driveways and bike lane markings through some intersections for added visibility. At cross-streets, left turn arrows will limit turning conflicts between turning drivers and bicyclists traveling straight and two stage turn boxes will help bicyclists queue to cross Florida Ave. At bus stops, the plans call for “floating bus stops” which run the bike lane behind the bus stop, allowing busses to take on passengers without blocking the bike lane. Compared to the standard 5 foot painted bike lanes proposed last year, these designs offer a relatively low-stress option for riding a bicycle on the west end of Florida Ave.

The protected bike lane, while a big improvement, does has some unsolved issues. On the west end, between 2nd and 3rd St, it transitions to a wide shared sidewalk, where bicyclists will mix with pedestrians walking and bus riders exiting the bus. At West Virginia Ave, where a left turn lane reduces available width, the protected bike lane will again transition onto a shared sidewalk, also at a bus stop, where pedestrian and bicyclist conflicts are inevitable. These are unacceptable compromises.

Design mixes pedestrians and bicyclists on narrow sidewalk at West Virginia Ave

Addressing these safety compromises is straightforward but requires DDOT to prioritize vulnerable road users. On the western end of the project, DDOT should reduce the road to 4 lanes of traffic and maintain the protected bike lane underneath the railroad bridge. At the eastern end, the design should eliminate the left turn lane onto West Virginia which would create enough space for the protected bike lane. Both of these design changes would demonstrate a commitment to the safety of people walking and biking over the convenience and speed of driving.

Shared Lanes on the Eastern End

Minimal changes to Florida Ave between West Virginia Ave and H St.

Between West Virginia Ave and H St. NE, DDOT plans to bump out curbs at cross-streets and widen sidewalks where they are too narrow, add trees and streetlights, and install new traffic signals at some intersections. But don’t expect any improvements for safe biking. At West Virginia, westbound bicyclists are encouraged to go north to Morse or south to G or I. And while that will work for some, many people on bikes will stay on Florida, so it really ought to be safe too.

DDOT’s plans make minimal changes to the roadway, which will remain two lanes (10’ and 13’)  in each direction with off-peak parking. DDOT says this configuration is required to move high peak traffic volumes while still accommodating the community’s parking needs. Unfortunately, the plan’s wide travel lanes are likely to encourage illegal and deadly speeding, rather than decrease it. And the extra-wide curb lane may make more trouble for bicyclists than a narrower one would. That extra road width could be used to widen the sidewalks or create median refuge islands for people crossing.

Review the Plans and Weigh In

If you live, work, play or travel in the Florida Ave NE corridor, head to the project website to review the presentation materials and comment using the comment form. The project team needs to hear what aspects of the design work and constructive feedback on needed improvements. Specific and detailed comments are always most helpful. The comment period closes March 15.

Submit Comments

Bike Car-Free In DC

From our partners at DC Bike Ride

DC Bike Ride will be here before you know it! The streets will be closed and you will be cruising traffic-free through DC/VA. Don’t miss out! There’s no better way to see the city and spend some quality time with your friends and family. There’s still time, Early Bird rate will end 2/28. Save $10 before price increases on March 1. Register today!

DCBR 2017. NO BOTTLENECKS!

We have made several improvements to DC Bike Ride to enhance the experience for all of our riders. Our new “point-to-point” course features a new start location in West Potomac Park, just south of the Lincoln Memorial, and the same finish line as last year on Pennsylvania Avenue in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.  With the new start, we can release corrals more slowly to reduce congestion on the course! Not only will the course be longer, the start will be smoother and we’ve also eliminated the bottleneck near the 14th St. Bridge.

SPONSOR-A-RIDER PROGRAM

With our partner, WABA, we are proud to introduce the new Sponsor-a-Rider Program for 2017. Gearin’ Up Bicycles has just been confirmed as one of the non-profit partners of the program. Thanks to your generous donations, we will be sponsoring 10 riders from their organization!
So far, we have received 312 donations totaling $2,200 and 46 scholarships! We are working closely with WABA to reach a fundraising goal of $4,800 and 100 scholarships. Many thanks to all of you that have joined in our efforts to spread the bike joy!

To donate and to register, visit dcbikeride.com/.

Bike Camp! 2017 registration is now open!

Bike Camp! is back and bigger than ever! We are super excited to offer four sessions of Bike Camp! this year, three sessions of City Explorers and a week of Bike Build. City Explorers focuses on having a blast and building the skills take longer group rides and discover fun activities across the city. Campers at the Bike Build Camp will (surprise!) build up a bike from an empty frame to a safe and ride-able bike that they will get to keep! Registration is only available while space lasts.

For all of the exciting details, including how to register, visit the Bike Camp! page.

city explorrers
Session I | June 19-22 | Ages 8-10 | $300/child
Session II | July 10-14 | Ages 10-12 | $300/child
Session III | July 17-21  | Ages 12-14 | $300/child

  • City Explorers Camp will focus on building bike comfort and skills, route creation, group riding, and longer rides.
  • Campers will ride every day (weather dependent), and as much as 20 miles per day!
  • Campers will bike to different field trips and volunteer opportunities across the city.
  • This camp will include basic bike maintenance, such as how to fix a flat tire.
  • This is a great camp for campers who want to see the city, visit new places, and build community.
  • While campers outside of the age ranges will not be turned away, the activities at each session will be geared to those ages.

bike build camp
 Bike Build Camp | June 26-29 | Ages 8-14 | $400/child

  • Bike Build Camp will focus on mechanics training and mastery of bike parts.
  • Campers will build a bike from the frame up under the guidance of Gearin’ Up Bicycles.
  • Campers will have the opportunity to go on multiple shorter rides during the session.
  • This camp will include at least one hands-on visit to a local bike shop maintenance department.
  • This is a great camp for campers who want to work with their hands, make a bike that they can keep, and explore a little too.

Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday
Location: KIPP DC Shaw Campus, 421 P St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Click here for all the details on Bike Camp!, including how to register.

If you have any questions, please email bikecamp@waba.org or call 202-518-0524 x222

Tom Sherwood of NBC4 Washington will host the Bicyclists’ Choice Awards

We are excited to announce that Tom Sherwood of NBC4 Washington will host this year’s Washington Area Bicyclists’ Choice Awards on February 28th.

Photo Courtesy of NBC Washington

The Awards will take place at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health on Tuesday, February 28th from 7:30-9:00pm. Anyone is welcome to attend the party and admission is free. There will also be complimentary food from Cava as well as beer and wine. We hope that you will celebrate the people and places that make our region a great place to bike. If you wish to attend, please RSVP for the Awards event here.

It is also the Bicyclists’ Choice Awards and that means that we need YOU to decide the winners. Voting will be open through February 21st. Vote for your favorites here.

Additional information about our annual Bicyclists’ Choice Awards can be found here.

Don’t let DDOT ignore bike safety on Florida Ave NE

Florida Ave NE is a crummy place to bike and walk (Source Google Street View)

Since 2013, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been studying ways to make Florida Ave NE between First St. NE and H St. NE a safe corridor for people who walk, bike, and drive. After a tragic 2013 pedestrian fatality, DDOT began a planning study, and finally released a final report last February. On Tuesday, February 21st, DDOT will host a long-awaited meeting to share preliminary engineering designs for what we hope are major changes to this car-focused corridor.

Meeting Details

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | 6:30 pm – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm
New Samaritan Baptist Church 1100 Florida Avenue NE
Please attend and insist on a design that reduces speeding, protects vulnerable road users, and encourages multimodal transportation.

I’ll Be There

Florida Ave Has a Chronic Speeding Problem

Statistics and personal experience tell us that Florida Ave is a dangerous and stressful place to bike and walk. As an example, between 7th & 8th Street, DDOT analysis shows that the average driver exceeded the 25mph speed limit by between 5 and 10 miles per hour. In the same block, the 85th percentile speed, or the speed that 85% of drivers will drive at or below during free-flowing conditions, was 33 mph at morning rush hour, 38 mph at evening rush hour, and almost 45 mph overnight. During the study period, the fastest recorded speed was 70 mph.

Speed and Volume analysis on Florida Ave NE (Source DDOT)

A growing body of research shows that speed kills, and lower vehicle speeds result in fewer and less severe crashes. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle at 20 mph has a 90% chance of survival, but a 90% chance of death at 40 mph. Florida Ave NE, as designed, is undeniably and unacceptably dangerous. If DDOT is serious about Vision Zero, its initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries, then it must address this chronic speeding problem.

Pedestrian and Bicycle crashes in the study area (Source DDOT)

Florida Avenue Needs Fewer Lanes, Wide Sidewalks, and Protected Bike Lanes

Sidewalks on Florida Ave NE

Speeding is a chronic problem in this corridor because the road design encourages high speeds. Florida Ave is up to 6 lanes and 67 feet across. Some lanes are up to 17 feet wide. And while this width may help move cars during rush hour, it far exceeds the needed capacity during off-peak times, leading to a wide-open road and comfortable speeding. Even DDOT’s own traffic models show that the road could function quite well with one fewer travel lane in each direction.

Since so much width is dedicated to moving cars, pedestrians face a long list of challenges on Florida Ave. The sidewalks are in poor condition, but also comically narrow. On one block, the sidewalk is just 2 feet wide due to a light pole in the middle, rendering it impassable to anyone with a walker, stroller, or wheelchair. Pedestrian crossings are very long, and many of them are unsignalized. These challenges are particularly dangerous for senior residents, wheelchair users, and deaf students attending Gallaudet University. Wider sidewalks and shorter crossings are sorely needed.

Finally, Florida Avenue NE is a key link in the bicycle network, yet lacks any kind of bicycle facilities. The high stress environment does not serve the needs of people who bike today. A continuous, low-stress, protected bike lane is required for most people to even consider riding in this otherwise convenient corridor.

DDOT’s Preferred Alternative Misses the Mark

In 2014, DDOT presented 3 alternatives covering a range of options including fewer travel lanes, widened sidewalks, buffered bike lanes, and streetscape improvements. DDOT asked the public to weigh in both at a public meeting and in an online survey (WABA supported these alternatives). Almost two years after the last public meeting, DDOT released a final report. This Washcycle blog post provides a helpful summary.

Surprisingly, even though the issues of speeding, excess road capacity, wide lanes, inadequate sidewalks, nonexistent bicycle accommodations and the resulting major safety issues are discussed thoroughly in the report, the recommended alternative clearly sacrifices essential bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements to keep extra travel lanes and minimize vehicle delay. Citing the need to balance local and regional uses of Florida Ave, the study’s recommended alternative keeps most of the features that the study admits contribute to illegally high vehicle speeds and undeniable safety concerns.

The recommended alternative is not at all beneficial to bicyclists. Even though 85% of those surveyed chose as their #1 choice an alternative that included buffered bike lanes and fewer travel lanes, the recommended alternative adds only 6 blocks of narrow, unprotected bicycle lanes flanked by 2-3 travel lanes. These very stressful bike lanes will not connect to West Virginia Avenue to the east or the Metropolitan Branch Trail on the west end, which leaves gaps on either end of the proposed bike lane. The recommended alternative adds unsafe bike lanes where it is easy for DDOT to put them in, and nowhere else.  For a project explicitly about safety, this project does not promise to do much for bicycle safety.

Read the full planning study here.

You Can Help Improve the Plans

On Tuesday, DDOT will present its 30% engineering designs. Despite what you may hear, there is plenty of time to improve the plans. DDOT’s planning study includes many great ideas for a safe and inviting Florida Ave corridor that encourages biking and walking and keeps safe even the most vulnerable road users. Please join us on Tuesday to hold engineers accountable and demand that this project make Florida Avenue a place where safety is a reality and not a dream.

Join Us At The Meeting

We’re Hiring: Part-time Arlington Ambassador Coordinator

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is looking for a part-time Coordinator for the Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful) Ambassador program, a community-oriented outreach and encouragement program to inspire more road-users to be predictable, alert, and lawful.

This is a short-term part-time position through June 30th, 2017 with the possibility of extension depending on the availability of funding.

The PAL Ambassadors are educators and enthusiasts who engage with motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians of Arlington County to change roadway behavior for the better.  Ambassadors help by attending volunteer nights and PAL block parties where we promote our messages, get creative, and get interactive at intersections.

The Coordinator position is responsible for most aspects of the program, including volunteer recruitment, event scheduling and staffing, and developing and executing new outreach ideas. The PAL Ambassador Coordinator will also maintain and expand the program’s bike message trailer program, involving rolling bike billboards with PAL messaging. The position will report to WABA’s Programs Director.

This position is part-time, up to 30 hours/week and compensation is $15 per hour.

Responsibilities

The Arlington PAL  Ambassador Coordinator will:

  • Be responsible for all aspects of the two monthly PAL events and appear in public as the face of area bicycling:
    • Pizza parties are volunteer engagement and recruitment events where people are introduced to PAL concepts and given a chance to brainstorm ideas for future activities.
    • Block parties are outreach events, geared towards either motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians. Often, block parties will involve a unique message, tied to seasonal themes, other campaigns, or external events.
  • Use social media to communicate an effective and encouraging message about bikes and bicycling to volunteer PAL ambassadors, and bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, including:
    • Facebook,
    • Twitter,
    • Instagram,
    • Washington Area Bike Forum.
  • Run the PAL Ambassador trailer program, which involves pulling our advertising/public awareness bike trailer specific to bicyclist, motorist and pedestrian behaviors, as well as coordinating 2-4 trailer puller contractors.
  • Administration tasks, including: volunteer recruitment/coordination, data entry, equipment maintenance, clerical work, and grant reporting.

Preferred Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A strong commitment to WABA’s mission and be a skillful and committed bicyclist with a solid understanding of the principles of bicycling safety and traffic law.
  • Some experience in project management, events planning/management, marketing and/or volunteer coordination.
  • Great writing, presentation and public speaking skills.
  • A flexible schedule and willingness to work some evenings and weekends.
  • Experience with google suite programs (gmail, hangouts, drive, docs, sheets, forms, calendar).
  • The ability to pull a bicycle trailer weighing 10 lbs. for 1-4 hours per shift (up to  20 hours per week)
  • The ability to lift at least 40 lbs.
  • The ability to organize time wisely and multi-task in a relaxed, fun environment.
  • Supervisory experience a plus.

About the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Making bicycling better through advocacy and education, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) promotes biking as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation. With 6,200 members region-wide, WABA serves bicyclists throughout the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, including the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

Contact

Send a cover letter and resume to jobs@waba.org by Friday, March 3rd. No phone calls please. Position available immediately.

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, arrest record or criminal convictions, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex, or age.

You Make Our Hearts Go “Peddle”-Patter!

What’s the best part about the day after Valentine’s Day? The discounted chocolate, of course. But what’s the second best part? Basking in the glow of some bike-love! The DC Bike Ambassadors spent the holiday distributing handmade Valentines and candy yesterday during #bikedc’s morning commute. The cards were made by our volunteers at our craft night a few weeks ago. The crafting and delivering went so well, that we’re hoping to do something similar in March!

We handed out the Valentines at 15th & R NW, near one of the city’s busiest bike facilities.

And the Valentines were warmly received by all!

If you would like to join the DC Bike Ambassador program we are having our next outreach brainstorming session on Tuesday February 21 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at our offices at 2599 Ontario Rd. All are welcome!

RSVP here

You can also sign up here to join our email list and be notified about future events.

Hope to see you soon!