Support Needed for Bike Facilities on Oregon Ave., NW

From the project website:

The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are proposing rehabilitation of the 1.7-mile segment of Oregon Avenue, NW, between Military Road and Western Avenue….

The purpose of the proposed action is to rehabilitate Oregon Avenue to satisfy operational and safety needs and done so in a manner keeping with the setting of the project area. Context sensitive solutions will take into account the adjoining land uses – residential developments to the west and Rock Creek Park to the east. Improvements to the corridor will consider all modes of transportation including buses, bicycles and pedestrians.

Currently, this portion of Oregon Avenue is significantly degraded and contains no provision for bicyclists.  Unfortunately, some neighbors oppose the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave.  Therefore, it is important that neighbors and District residents who support or would benefit from bicycle facilities along Oregon Ave. provide input on the project.
View Oregon Ave EA in a larger map

The four transportation alternatives are as follows:

  • Alternative 1: No Build.  This alternative would include spot repairs but no improvements for bicyclists or pedestrians.  The EA states that it “does not meet the purpose and need of the project.”
  • Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build.  The second alternative would create no bicycle accommodations of any kind, but would include a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side of Oregon Ave.

Alternatives 3 and 4 are both divided into a southern and northern section at Bingham Drive, in which the southern section is built according as in Alternative 2: Minimum Width Build (i.e. no bicycle accomodations, 5 ft. sidewalk on west side) due to limited DDOT right-of-way.

In the northern sections:

  • Alternative 3: Shared Use Path.  The third alternative incorporates a 10 ft. shared use path on the west side to serve two-way cyclist and pedestrian traffic.
  • Alternative 4: Bike Lanes.  The final alternative would provide a 4 ft. bike lane in each direction and a 5 ft. sidewalk on the west side, with the bike lane and sidewalk separated by a 10 ft. vegetated swale.

WABA supports the inclusion of bicycle facilities on Oregon Ave., so clearly favors Alternatives 3 and 4 over those alternatives that do not provide any bicycle facilities.

In Alternative 3, much depends on the design of the multi-use path–and many cyclists who approach from the roadway will prefer to stay on the roadway rather than mix with pedestrians regardless.  In Alternative 4, there is an on-road bicycle facility in each direction–though the east-side lane abuts a curb and is only 4 ft. wide.

While individual cyclists may reasonably differ in their preference for a multi-use path or bike lanes, WABA supports the on-road facilities included in Alternative 4.  Here, the multi-use path is so short than any advantage in safety due to physical separation may be surpassed by the added danger of entering and exiting the path outside the normal flow of traffic.  Additionally, many cyclists will prefer not to mix with pedestrian traffic or divert to a multi-use path that extends less than one mile, and therefore will choose to ride on-street even where the path is present.

Therefore, WABA supports Alternative 4.  We recognize that under most circumstances, the east side bicycle lane should be wider than 4 ft. when alongside a curb in order to meet AASHTO standards.  However, given the space constraints and the included reduction of the travel lanes to 10 ft., the incorporation of a mountable curb with 4 ft. bike lane provides the best proposed Alternative.

Please CLICK HERE to contact the project team and provide your input.  Comments must be received by July 29.

The full Environmental Assessment of this 1.7 mile stretch of Oregon Ave. can be found HERE.

Recap: “What to do After a Crash?” Discussion

Thank you to everyone who attended WABA’s “What to do After a Crash” discussion on Tuesday evening, and special thanks to Peter Baskin, Bruce Deming, and Tom Witkop–our trio of bicycle lawyers–for sharing their wisdom with us.

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Everyone who attended received a copy of the revised “Pocket Guide to Washington, DC Bike Laws” and advice from attorneys who represent cyclists in Virginia, Maryland, and the District.

For those who were unable to attend, the basics are covered in the RESOURCES section of our website HERE.

We look forward to hosting more of these informational events in the future and hope to see you there.

East of the Anacostia “Get On A Bike” Contest Winners

Several months ago, WABA asked residents of Wards 7 and 8 to tell us what they would do with a new bicycle and how it would change their lives. The response was overwhelming.

Last week, we contacted the lucky winners of our Get On a Bike contest and delivered five brand new 2011 Jamis Commuter bikes, plus locks and helmets, to their doorsteps.   Thanks to BicycleSPACE and On-Guard for supporting the giveaway.  And thanks to DDOT for helping to expand beyond our initial goals and provide a total of 50 Capital Bikeshare memberships as part of this program.

When Sondra, a resident of Fairfax Village was asked how a bike would change her life, she responded: “If I had a bicycle I would ride into the sunset, the sunrise, and ride for no reason at all because I love the outdoors.”  As an active member in her community, Sondra feels like this new bike will impact not just her own lifestyle but those of her friend’s and family’s as well. “In the long run it will make me stronger and healthier, and I envision that others will be encouraged by me and will want to follow suit.”  When we met up with Sondra and delivered her new bike she couldn’t contain her excitement and burst into song, belting  “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!”

The most common responses among applicants were increased physical activity and improved personal well-being.  Rob of Hillcrest, another winner claimed that a bike would lead to a more active and healthy lifestyle. “A bike would provide an opportunity for my partner and I to explore our neighborhood as well as neighboring communities from a different perspective in addition to much needed cardio exercise.” The last time Rob road a bike was more than 10 years ago.  After his first spin around the block Rob exclaimed, “I am one Happy Camper, no- I’m one Happy Biker!”

Others, like Keith, were already considering using a bike for daily commuting.  “I would like a bike so that I can begin to commute to work. I currently drive and would like to change that habit. It really isn’t that far and it’s about time that I joined this bicycle movement.”

The first phase of our East of the Anacostia program has  focused on getting bikes on the road by providing free classes for beginner cyclists, free bike repair and maintenance , and the “Get On a Bike” contest–which directly puts five more bikes and fifty more bikeshare riders into the mix east of the river.  In the next phase of WABA’s program, we will be working to get those cyclists with their new skills and new (or newly functioning) bikes riding together and riding regularly.

And as always, we thank the many WABA members and supporters who donated to the East of the Anacostia program.  Our advocacy and outreach initiatives are only possible with your generosity and continued membership and financial support.

Reminder: What to do After a Crash Discussion on Tuesday

WABA’s discussion of “What to do After a Crash” will be held Tuesday, July 19 at 6pm.  Please consider attending this discussion so that you will have the knowledge to protect your rights, or those of a fellow cyclist, in the event of a crash.

You will have the opportunity to ask questions to WABA staff and to local attorneys experienced in representing bicyclists after crashes.

Please RSVP here if you plan to attend.

The Ward 2 Bike Tour with Jack Evans

As mentioned on Greater Greater Washington, WABA routed and participated in a bike tour of Jack Evans throughout Ward 2.  The ride was designed to visit key infrastructure elements that affect bicyclists–both positively and negatively–within the the councilmember’s ward.

We appreciate Councilmember Evans taking a morning to experience his ward from the bicyclist’s perspective and to learn more about the existing and proposed facilities that make the area safer for cyclists.

If you want to try your own Ward 2 Bike Tour, a route similar to the one taken with the councilmember is below:
Ward 2 Cue Sheet-public

Marya McQuirter’s Cycling Journey

I have Marylou Jackson, Velva Jackson, Ethyl Miller, Leolya Nelson, and Constance White to thank for propelling me into the cycling world. I found these New York cyclists more than 10 years ago in a Washington Tribune newspaper photograph. They were posing atop their bicycles after riding more than 250 miles in three days in April 1928. Yes, 1928!

5 cyclists

Once in DC, they started their sightseeing tour with the cherry blossoms, explored the usual Mall sights, rode north to Howard University, and then a few blocks west to the Phillis Wheatley YWCA, where they spent the night. The next day they hopped on a train, with their bikes in tow, for New York.

Two years ago, I went to New York for the day on Acela and I thought of the cyclists. I got home, pulled out the photograph, and started researching. As a historian, I’m accustomed to online research, reading books and articles, and sitting for hours in libraries and archives.

But for this story, that wasn’t enough. I needed to fully experience cycling.  I have been cycling on and off since I was a child. I was very comfortable on a bike and enjoyed riding for pleasure. But being comfortable and enjoying riding didn’t seem quite enough to fully grasp the knowledge and skills that these five cyclists had to have.

So I went online and found WABA’s classes. I signed up for CCC1, where we did basic drills like scanning, signaling, and turning. The instructor also showed us how to fix a flat, which I loved. A few weeks later, I took the CCC2 class, where we did more elaborate drills and a group ride. It was great! I learned the thrills and challenges of riding in a group. The next class, CCC3, was the 3-day certification seminar. I decided to go for it. It was quite intense! And well worth it.

The CCC1 & CCC2 classes (as well as the Learn2Ride class) that I took as a student I now teach for WABA as an independent contractor. I have also started teaching individuals on my own. As a Licensed Cycling Instructor (LCI), I am certified and fully supported by the League of American Bicyclists.

In addition to taking the cycling classes, I also learned how to fix my bike at Bike House, a bicycle repair co-op, conveniently located five minutes from my house. I took one of their Saturday series classes and I was also a teaching assistant at one of their Sunday series classes.

So what’s next? Riding my first century! I have no choice. The five cyclists challenged women 21+ years and older to beat their time. And even though I’m WAY older than 21, I’m not intimidated. Next April, I will take on the challenge with four other cyclists.

I am also researching their personal lives, friendship, and cycling adventure in order to share their stories through visual & textual media.  I hope to have a 5-minute short done by the end of the summer. I envision this as a collaborative project and welcome ideas, volunteers, and donations.

You can learn more about the 5 cyclists project by liking the FB page http://www.facebook.com/5cyclistsproject and checking out the blog http://www.5cyclistsproject.blogspot.com/.

Feel free to contact me directly:  5cyclistsproject@gmail.com or 202.372.5804.

(Marya McQuirter, mentioned in this article from the Washington Post, teaches safe cycling for WABA and is the creator and organizer of the 5 cyclists project.  WABA is proud to be part of Marya’s Cycling Journey and excited to see where it leads.)

WABA Welcomes Councilmember Cheh as Transportation Chair

Early this morning, WABA alerted its members and supporters to a sudden decision by DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown to strip Councilmember Wells of his leadership of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation.  Fundamentally, we were concerned that a change in leadership might mean (1) a stalling of certain proposals and initiatives that WABA and the the bicycling community have been working with Wells and the Committee to push forward, and/or (2) a new leader that would not share our view of the importance of bicycling as a core element of the District’s transportation network.

With the announcement of Councilmember Mary Cheh as Chair, those concerns are greatly eased.  Councilmember Cheh is a cyclist who has demonstrated her support for bicycling during her time on the Council.  So while we are disappointed in the discontinuity itself, we are happy to welcome Councilmember Cheh as Chair of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation and will make it a top priority to work with her, on behalf of our members and the cycling community, to ensure that momentum is not lost in expanding safe cycling in the District.

Congratulations, Councilmember Cheh, and welcome.  We look forward to working with you, your staff, and the Committee staff under your leadership.