Archive for November, 2012
You’re invited! Join WABA at Mayor Gray’s Press Conference as we say “Thank You” to DDOT and announce the opening of the new L Street NW Protected Bike Lane.
Date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Location: 15th and L St NW (Northwest Corner)
For more information about the project check out:
On Twitter? Show your thanks using:
Tomorrow, at his weekly press conference, Mayor Gray is expected to announce an emergency rulemaking by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) clarifying the illegality of U-turns through bike lanes in the District, including on the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes.
WABA will provide further response once we have seen the complete text of the regulation, but we are appreciative of this prompt action by the Mayor’s office and look forward to greatly improved enforcement by the Metropolitan Police Department against U-turns across the bike lanes (once they are re-striped for the inauguration).
For a recap of the history of this issue, see: http://www.waba.org/blog/2012/11/stop-u-turns-pennsylvania-ave-beyond/
WABA is pleased to announce the hiring of Alex Baca as our new Communications Coordinator. This is a new position at WABA, and a necessary one to better engage our members and the cycling community in the advocacy and outreach work that is our mission.
The creation of this position is part of a larger organizational effort to dedicate additional staff time to direct advocacy and grassroots outreach region-wide. As bicycling grows throughout the region, WABA staff dedicate a larger percentage of our days doing the work of expanding bicycling and working for safer streets and therefore have less time to thoughtfully communicate our work and our efforts to a variety of necessary audiences, from our members to the potential funders whose support we need to make our organization and efforts sustainable.
We have long been familiar with Alex as a WABA member and an intelligent voice on cycling-related issues in the region, and we are delighted that she has agreed to join our team and use that voice to help tell our story and bring better bicycling to the Washington area. Alex comes to us from the Washington City Paper where she has served as Assistant Editor.
(Alex will begin her work with WABA in December, but I encourage those interested in her prior work on bicycling issues to read this article.)
What could be better than touring the European countryside by bike? Touring the European countryside by bike while someone else handles the logistics! Czech Active Tours, a small bike touring company, provides fully supported bike trips throughout central Europe. Your lodging, breakfasts and dinners, a tour guide, and luggage transport are all taken care of, allowing you to focus on the sites rather than on the planning.
Visit an olive oil mill in Spain. Walk the streets of Seville. Enjoy a boat tour of Budapest. Meander through Austrian vineyards. Tour Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and castles in the Czech Republic. Czech Active Tours makes this all possible. And by bike!
Join Czech Active Tours on any of their bike tours and save $100 as a WABA member. For every member that takes advantage of the discount, they will donate an additional $50 to WABA. For the month of November only, Czech Active Tours is also offering a special discount to WABA members. For groups of four or more, they will offer an additional $50 off per person and $50 off bike rentals.
Now THAT’S a member benefit!
The following is a recap of last week’s meeting, hosted by DDOT, on the proposed changes to Broad Branch Rd courtesy of Garrett Hennigan. Thanks to Garrett for attending on behalf of WABA and providing this recap. If you are interested in attending public meetings on behalf of WABA and reporting back through this blog, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always need more advocates, as there are always more bike-related meetings with opportunities to influence projects throughout the region.
Broad Branch Road NW Public Meeting Summary (Nov 8)
DDOT presented four alternatives for the rehabilitation of Broad Branch Rd. from Linnean Ave. to Beach Drive (~1.7 miles). The alternatives ranged from maintaining the current design to a significant widening of the right of way with additions of curbs, gutters, a sidewalk, and a single bike lane. Each successive alternative builds on the previous one.
Create a safe facility for all travel modes – auto, bicycle and pedestrian
Eﬀectively manage stormwater runoﬀ
Avoid / minimize use of parkland by staying within the DDOT right-of-way to the extent possible
Preserve and protect environmental resources – both man-made and natural
Utilize environmentally sensitive materials and designs that are in keeping with the context of the project area
Alternative 1 No Action
This essentially maintains the current configuration of the road. There would be no changes to intersections, no additions of curbs, gutters or retaining walls. This was included (hopefully) merely for comparisons to the other alternatives.
This alternative maintains the current 2 x 10’ lanes with the addition of curbs and gutters the whole length of the road and retaining walls where needed. Pedestrian improvements are limited to a 1,000’ sidewalk at the very north end of the project (from Linean 2/3 of the way to 27th St.) and a possible sidewalk or trail at the southern end connecting the Soapstone trail to sidewalks at Beach Drive. Rain gardens are included where space is available, though the engineers were unable to give any specifics on how much of the road would include these. They also propose a reconfiguration of the Brandywine intersection into a T with a stop sign which is supposedly safer.
This includes curbs, gutters and rain gardens for stormwater management, the T intersection at Brandywine and new retaining walls from Alt 2, but adds a 5’ sidewalk on the west side for the entire length of the road. This significantly widens the required right of way and includes retaining walls on both sides at the steep side slopes. This widening would take out at least 170 trees and add a 4’ wide planting strip between the road and sidewalk.
This candidate includes all of the Alt 3 additions (including sidewalks and retaining walls) with further widening of the road to accommodate a single 4’ painted bike lane in the northbound lane. Due to limited space, there is room for only one bike lane. Sharrows would be included on the southbound lane.
The proposals do nothing to alter the alignment of the road, so windy blind turns are (understandably) here to stay. DDOT folks also didn’t have anything to say about traffic calming or any other efforts to reduce car speeds, though they did say the speed limit would stay at 25mph. It is important to note that Alt 4 is the only candidate that really achieves their first goal of creating a safe facility for all modes. Given that widening the road requires numerous retaining walls and that they want to minimize using parkland, however, it looks like the 4th alternative would be very expensive. Jim Sebastian mentioned that if the full bike lane were not possible, it may be possible to widen the northbound lane by a few feet to give cyclists some space. This was merely an offhand suggestion, though, so certainly not part of any existing plans.
You can find all the info so far at http://www.broadbranchrdea.com/ and the handout from the meeting at http://www.broadbranchrdea.com/documents/Brochure_20121108.pdf
Mark you calendars! WABA’s Annual Member Holiday Party is just around the bend. Celebrate the season and jingle and mingle around with fellow members and WABA staff. Not a member? Not to worry, JOIN NOW and support WABA’s work to make your life on a bike– that much more safe and enjoyable.
Date: Wednesday, December 12th
Time: 7pm to 11pm
Location: Smith Commons
Address: 1245 H St. NE, Washington DC
Cost: $5 suggested donation for members.
For more information check out our event page and be sure to share with your friends.
Want to lend a hand during the party and work towards a free WABA membership? Sign up here: http://bit.ly/UB1i4j
Get a glimpse of our Holiday follies, check out pictures from last year:
Big thanks to Smith Commons, our Holiday hosts, and to LA Johnson for her very beary nice artwork!
Yesterday, I wrote about some of the changes coming to the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes. Unfortunately, nothing I wrote about there is likely to fix the issue of illegal U-turns by motorists through the bike lanes.
But I also spent much of the day yesterday trying to get to the bottom of the enforcement issues and why we aren’t seeing more police ticketing motorists for this. In past weeks I have communicated with numerous police officials, including Chief Lanier, who have seemingly understood the issue and the safety concern. So I kept pushing a bit on why we aren’t seeing more enforcement.
Bottom line: It’s a problem with the law.
When an MPD officer writes a ticket, the person ticketed has the opportunity to challenge that ticket through adjudication. This process is handled by the DMV, not the police. And on this issue, the DMV adjudicator has interpreted the laws in a way that does not prohibit mid-block U-turns across the cycletrack. Thus, MPD is reluctant to ticket motorists when the agency adjudicating the tickets has deemed such a ticket invalid.
WABA disagrees with the interpretation DMV is applying. Bike lanes are travel lanes, and it is illegal to make a U-turn across an adjacent travel lane. But we do not mean to villify DMV here. The agency seemingly shares a concern for the safety of cyclists and would support a change in the law to make the mid-block U-turns legal. They simply don’t believe current law allows for such interpretation.
So where does that leave us?
This is an opportunity. There is a solution to this problem and it can come in either of two ways. Either the District can interpret existing law as prohibiting U-turns across the lanes (which would accord with WABA’s interpretation and seemingly DDOT’s based on the design and MPD’s based on the initial willingness to ticket), or the legal ambiguity can be clearly resolved by legislation.
We intend to work on both possible solutions and push quickly for resolution. This may be especially important as the L Street cycletrack comes in. We do not know DMV’s detailed legal reasoning, but it is possible that the same interpretation that would find U-turns across Pennsylvania Avenue to be legal might also find left turns by motorists who skip the “mixing zones” and cut across the cycletrack through the intersection on L to be legal. (That is speculation, but it sufficiently concerning speculation that we need to move quickly to find a solution so that MPD can enforce the rules of the cycletracks in a way that is consistent with their design.)
As we just discovered this root cause of the enforcement difficulties, our approach is developing. But we will need action from the District–whether the executive or legislative–quickly on this. If you are willing to be engaged in this campaign to make our cycletrack safer, please click the link below. We will need the help of the bicycling community to get this resolved quickly.
With the Presidential election behind us, DC now begins to prepare for another inauguration and parade. As before every inauguration, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol will be resurfaced in advance of the parade.
In a meeting with DDOT officials today, we were informed that:
- Resurfacing is likely to begin on or about Tuesday, 11/13, and last about two weeks.
- The cycletrack will be re-striped as part of the project.
- The newly striped cycletrack will include several improvements, including additional space to accommodate turning/waiting bicyclists at the intersections with 15th St. NW and 4th St. NW.
- The plastic bollards will not be returned immediately, as they are generally removed in winter to enable snowplowing equipment the ability to clear the street and the cycletrack.
- When the bollards are replaced, they will have new bases that will be flush with the road surface, which should make the whole removal/replacement process easier in the future.
We had hoped that this resurfacing would provide an opportunity to address some of the larger safety issues–especially those related to illegal, dangerous, and all too frequent U-turns across the bike facilities. We have reached out to the Commission of Fine Arts in an attempt to open dialogue about their rejection of colored visual pavement marking but have not received a response to our inquiries yet. DDOT is also seeking to identify physical barriers that might prevent mid-block U-turns but allow for the political, maintenance, security, and other needs that–let’s face it–make Pennsylvania Ave. a bit different.
No suitable product meeting all the parameters has been identified in time for next week’s resurfacing, but DDOT continues to seek solutions that might be implemented in the spring.
For those who rely on the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack, you will still be able to travel on the unmarked street. While light timing will not be changed during the project, we cannot recommend continuing to ride in the center of the roadway during construction, so we encourage cyclists who wish to use Pennsylvania Avenue to ride in the right lane as you would any other road without a center cycletrack. For those who prefer a route with bicycle facilities, your best alternatives are the bike lanes on E St. NW & G St. NW. Other alternatives with little traffic might be Madison Dr. NW & Jefferson Dr. SW along the Mall.
The 15th St. NW cycletrack between Pennsylvania Ave. NW & New York Ave. NW should not be affected.
This past weekend WSSC discovered a problem with one of their sewer manholes and was forced to set up a temporary sewage pump-a-round that crosses over the surface of the Capital Crescent Trail. The crossing is located several hundred feet south of mile marker 5.5. The 4-inch line is covered with a plywood ramp and several traffic drums are in place to alert the public. The ramp should not be a problem for pedestrians. However, cyclists should reduce speed and use caution when crossing the plywood ramp.
WSSC is working out the details for the manhole repair and hopes to be finished in a week or so. Other options for the location of the pump-a-round pipe were considered. However, given the forecast for another storm coming up the coast on Wednesday. Placement of the bypass line through the adjacent stream culvert did not seem to be a viable option.
Here’s a quick WABA quiz:
A. The number of WABA supporters
B. The number of schoolchildren who have received instruction this year through our bike education curriculum
C. The staff hours spent working on our 2012 advocacy initiatives
D. All of the above?
D-It’s something that helps make all of those things possible- It’s our Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) number.
Over the years, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association has been the lucky beneficiary of tens of thousands of dollars through the Combined Federal Campaign organized by the United Way for the National Capital Region. Our loyal supporters, many of whom are also federal government workers, make this possible every year by writing in the WABA CFC #93587 on their form, and then a set donation amount is taken out of their paycheck as often as they choose. The United Way collects the money and sends WABA a check twice a year. In the past, it’s been difficult to determine the individuals who give their hard-earned money through the CFC to support better bicycling throughout Washington DC. But recently the United Way has improved their data collection process and it’s easier for us to track and thank those who support us so generously.
The CFC sign up season runs from September 1 to December 15th so we are right in the middle of this important annual ritual. To those who have supported us through the CFC over the years, we thank you. To those who are federal workers but have never signed up to donate through the CFC, please consider donating this year to WABA. Every penny you direct to WABA will go to support our efforts in creating the most convenient, safe and reliable network of bicycle trails, cycletracks, bike lanes and routes.
CFC donations also pay for us to testify at a council hearing, weigh in on a plan at a transportation planning board session or send one of our League Certified Instructors to a local elementary school to deliver our bike education course. Whether you choose to donate $1, $5, $25, or more every pay period, please know that any amount is very much appreciated and takes us a long way towards creating the transportation system our region deserves.
Help us spread the word about WABA and the CFC program. Print out and post the attached flier in your office so that others will have the number handy when it’s time to sign up.
PS-If you make, or are making, a contribution through the CFC currently and would like a WABA membership to be included, please contact us.