Introducing Mark Blacknell, WABA’s New President

Hi, Mark Blacknell here. I’m a cyclist. And a driver. And a pedestrian. And WABA’s newest Board President.

Yesterday, my fellow WABA board members placed their confidence in me, electing me President along with re-electing Martin Moulton as Vice President, Paul d’Eustachio as Treasurer, and Randall Myers as Secretary. The board – and WABA as a whole – owe Barbara Klieforth a debt of gratitude for her years of dedicated service as President. Thankfully, she will be remaining on the board, and will continue to help guide WABA.

I feel very lucky to be taking this on right now. We’ve got a membership who actively support our mission. We maintain good relationships with most area governments. We certainly have a fantastic and effective staff.  In short, we’re in good shape.

So what’s left to do? Plenty. Here’s my personal agenda:

  • First and foremost – we need to keep pressing on the basics: infrastructure, enforcement, and education. The area has definitely seen some successes in recent years: infrastructure expansion in DC and Arlington, an explosion of interest in Capital Bikeshare beyond its original limits, and the introduction of an anti-assault bill for cyclists in DC. We can’t rest, though, as we’ve still got  long way to go on infrastructure, uptake of cycling by new bikeshare users will require greatly expanded education efforts, and that anti-harassment bill? Is still sitting in committee. We can’t rest, even when it comes to the basics.
  • I also look forward to supporting and expanding WABA’s efforts to reach out to communities that haven’t traditionally been a focus of bike advocacy. The development of our East of the Anacostia project has been thrilling to see, and I hope we can build the capacity for similar efforts with the “Invisible Cyclists” of our immigrant communities. The gender gap is something that should concern all cyclists, and I eagerly anticipate the next step in the process started at the Women’s Bicycling Forum. Shorter version: cycling is for everyone, and our advocacy should reflect that.
  • Finally, I’ll be working to improve region-wide cooperation and communication among cycling advocates. WABA can’t – and doesn’t need – to be at the table for every cycling issue that comes up in the greater Washington area. We can, however, help connect and support local advocates in addressing their local issues.  On the other side of that coin, I hope to engage my fast friends in MABRAland and my dirty friends at MORE to ensure that when big cycling issues are on the line, we can bring our full and joint voice to the discussion.

So that’s my hope for WABA in the future. But I can’t – WABA can’t – do any of this alone. We need your help and ideas. So I’d very much like to hear about yours. You can always reach me at Mark (at) waba.org, share your thoughts in the comments below, or say hello at the next WABA event.

P.S. That rumor that Shane Farthing started on Twitter, about me wanting a Katy Perry-led bike ride in DC?  Totally a joke.  (Unless you’re reading and interested, Katy.  Then you should call me.)

Where Did All the Bike Lanes Go?

2011 was not the year for bike lanes in the District.  Since 2006, DDOT has  installed on-street bike lanes at a rate of four to eight additional miles per year. Less than one mile of new bike lanes was installed in 2011.

As DDOT nears the end of the timeframe laid out in 2005’s Bicycle Master Plan, the target for miles of bike lanes installed per year gets fuzzy. On average, the Master Plan calls for 10 miles of new bike lanes per year. The more recently adopted 2010 DDOT Action Agenda sets a goal of 80 miles, total, of bike lanes and protected cycle tracks by 2012.  As of today, the District has about 50.

DDOT had planned to install about 6.5 miles in 2011.  Of that 6.5 miles, approximately 4.25 miles are studied, designed and ready for installation.  But these have not been installed due to internal delays at DDOT.  The bike planners seemingly have done their part, but 2011 will end without these lanes installed, as it is now too cold for road striping.

The other 2.25 miles of that 6.5 that were slated for installation but have been put on hold for various reasons including a lack of ANC approval or a delay in necessary roadwork and signal work.

The map below shows on-street bike projects we expect in the next year.

  • Red indicates projects slated for 2011 that are planned, designed, and ready–but not installed.
  • Orange indicates projects slated for 2011 but pending additional work (ANC approval / additional roadwork) before they are ready for installation.
  • Purple highlights projects slated for 2012.

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After installing less than a mile of bike lanes in 2011, DDOT needs to dramatically improve its performance just to meet the 10 mile per year average of the Bike Master Plan, much less the 80 mile goal of the Action Agenda.  This year’s performance is unacceptable, and signifies broken promises to the District’s cycling community.

Director Bellamy and, ultimately, Mayor Gray need to recognize that this year’s performance is unacceptable, and that major improvements are needed in 2012.