Much of last week’s confirmation hearing for DDOT Director Terry Bellamy went smoothly. He said the right things, including stating support for improved bicycling. But when asked about specific projects, things went less smoothly.
In recent months, we have seen little progress in improving the District’s cycling infrastructure. This is especially disappointing given the success, obvious even to the most casual rush-hour observer, of the 15th Street cycletrack and the Pennsylvania Avenue lanes (which are frequently characterized as a cycletrack as well).
The L & M Street cycletracks are crucial to providing a much-needed east-west connection through downtown that is safe and accessible–not only to experienced cyclists but also to the many novices who cycle downtown, encouraged by the success of Capital Bikeshare and other infrastructure improvements.
For many, these cycletracks are seen as a litmus test for the Gray administration’s support of cycling. While District cyclists have been consistently reassured that Mayor Gray supports cycling and shares our vision of a bike friendly District, we have seen extremely limited improvement in bicycle infrastructure or enforcement during his tenure to-date. This project provides the Mayor and DDOT Director Bellamy the opportunity to continue the progress in improving the District’s downtown for cyclists.
More Bike to Work Day follow-up news, on Thursday, June 24, 2011, the D.C. Lottery congratulated Joseph Tobing of Silver Spring, Maryland as the winner of its customized performance hybrid cycle and accompanying gear. The total value of the prize package was worth over $700. Tobing, an avid cyclist who bikes to work regularly and is a Computer Science professor at Washington Adventist University, was on summer vacation when he received notice of his win. “This was quite a surprise,” he said, “This bike is nicer than the one I have now!”
Today’s confirmation hearing included a great deal of conversation about bikes generally, including trails, trail maintenance. Bust most notably, Bellamy stated that the L & M cycletracks were “on hold.”
This is the first time (to our knowledge) DDOT has publicly admitted that these long-planned and long-promised bicycle facilities are delayed over the amount of on-street parking that would need to be removed.
Previously, DDOT’s stated rationale had been a need to further study the impacts of the existing cycletracks before continuing.
Now that we know the real reason, there is more we need to know:
Who is objecting to the parking removal?
How many parkers per day will be inconvenienced, compared to the projected cyclists served?
Is DDOT committed to resolving this as a question of rational public space usage, or is it defaulting to “existing condition” that favors automobile storage over cyclist mobility?
Will the public be invited to participate in an honest discussion of the progress and evaluation of this project?
When considering the benefits, as Director Bellamy states, will health and environmental benefits be included?
WABA is committed to seeing these vital east-west connections through downtown completed as planned and holding DDOT and the District government to its commitment to cyclists.
We appreciate many of the priorities Director Bellamy stated today and look forward to working with him to improve the District for cyclists. However, we cannot accept “we may not do it” as DDOT’s update on a promised piece of critical infrastructure.
To see the hearing, CLICK HERE. The majority of the detailed bicycling discussion begins at 2:28.
The WABA education staff was up in Ward 4 this morning getting more kids on bikes and even teaching a few to ride for the first time. The hot weather is not so bad when you you got two wheels, a cool breeze, and a snow cone.
Yesterday, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the Council of Governments’ Commuter Connections honored Orbital Sciences Corp in Sterling, VA in the Employer Challenge for Bike to Work Day. Facilities Director Patricia Najera accepted the award on behalf of Ortibal who had 107 employees participate on May 20th’s Bike to Work Day. The top five organizations, agencies and companies with employees participated in Bike to Work Day were identified and then a winner was randomly selected. The winning organization is honored with a catered luncheon! Want to win next year? Start recruiting co-workers for next year’s Bike to Work Day which will be May 18th, 2012
Ortibal Sciences Corp accepts the 2011 Employer Challenge for Bike to Work Day
Our neighbors to the north in New York City have had a tough spring of bike backlash as bicycling has been growing. DC has not been immune to the negative reporting either. Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay writes a sensible and civil piece entitled “The City and Bikes: Rubber Meets Road” and tones down the hyperbole and rhetoric around bikes.
As he discuss the state of cycling in NYC and it’s future growth especially the impending 10,000 bicycle sharing system on the near horizon, he gives DC the nod of victory. “[Bikesharing] is long overdue. It’s a little embarrassing New York doesn’t already have it. Washington, D.C. beat us.”
Gay reasonably finishes with, “look all around you. The bikes have won, and it’s not a terrible thing.” We’d argue it’s a good thing.
Whether you were promenading on the dance floor, competing for raffle prizes and silent auction items, looking glamorous in the photo booth, or observing the many enchanting performers from afar, it was obvious that fun was had by all at Bike Fest, our annual fundraiser.
The Bike Fest Bike Build Contest was the highlight of the evening. Three local shops, including City Bikes, Oasis Bike Works and Papillon Cycles, went head-to-head to assemble the most creative, hand-crafted bicycles from new and used parts, using less than $250. Votes were cast and the margins were slim. Papillon led the pack and was hailed this year’s champion with it’s sleek and sturdy english touring bike design. City Bikes’ reinvention of the cargo bike and Oasis’ “Thrixie” a three-spead fixie mountain frame were also star attractions. We can only hope that next year’s Bike Build participants were taking notes!
Our group of dedicated volunteers for contributing their time and creative energy to Bike Fest (and a personal shout out to the dedicated woman who traveled the farthest and worked the hardest. Thanks Mom!).
ESP Sound for setting the stage and bringing the noise.
Fortunately the evening was documented from start to finish by filmmaker Edward Eastep and photographers Eric Brewer Immel, Patricia McDougall and Jason McCool. For more pictures check out our event slideshow. Once again, thank you to all those who attended, we hope you enjoyed the sites, sounds and activities of the evening and we look forward to seeing you all at next year’s Bike Fest!