Archive for February 6th, 2013
Last month, we—and many others—expressed concerns about DDOT’s plans for the South Capitol Bridge after the agency released a video rendering of the project. In response to our concerns, the DDOT Anacostia Watershed Initiative team asked to meet to go over some of the details that were not included in the rendering and to hear our concerns. The team’s message was clear: Designs are still in the early stage and can be improved.
Last night, at a joint meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Council and Pedestrian Advisory Council (with Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chair Mary Cheh in attendance), DDOT’s bike/ped team and the project’s consultants, from CH2M Hill, presented and sought feedback on their lastest ideas, many of which have been developed or improved since WABA met with DDOT on this project in January.
Most notable, given the project’s scale, is the changed alignment of the bridge from the version included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. That alignment was offset from the current bridge to allow space for the current bridge to open during construction in order to allow tall ships. But the lack of any actual tall ship traffic in recent years means there’s really no need for the bridge to open during construction. So the alignment currently under consideration is parallel to the existing bridge on the downstream side. While this alignment change has little impact on bicyclists on the bridge itself, it does allow for an altered configuration to existing roadways and changes connections, especially on the bridge’s eastern end.
Unfortunately, the connections at each end are similar to what we have seen before: They appear to provide space for monuments rather than to efficiently move urban traffic. There are still large ovals surrounded by more lanes than are probably necessary, even for the anticipated traffic volumes. However, the connections to the ovals have been reimagined, and DDOT has indicated that some sort of bicyclist and pedestrian facilities and connections will be included in the ovals.
We don’t believe that these ovals are the best options, but DDOT seems unwilling to undertake changes that would require a new EIS–especially given that the federal planning and aesthetic interests that pushed the ovals would be present in a repeat process. (The already-completed FEIS is not yet finalized, but should be soon.)
The DDOT team has made great strides with bike facilities and connectivity since our meeting in January. On the bridge, DDOT is planning 16-foot bike/ped pathways on both sides, with horizontal separation of markings or signage to show that one portion is primarily for pedestrians and one is primarily for bicyclists. There is not a change of elevation from the walking portion to the biking portion, allowing for flexible space to handle peak traffic of either bike or pedestrian during busy periods, like ballpark events or morning commutes.
Most importantly, that 16-foot bike/ped pathway will be present around the western oval, with eight feet marked for bicycle use. This commitment from DDOT to ensuring safe space for bicyclists to get around the oval is a significant step, and we look forward to seeing detailed designs and better understanding the signal interactions that will allow cyclists to safely reach either side of the bridge and all connections to the oval.And for those who would prefer to avoid the oval, the new configuration leaves a relatively easy connection along Half Street SW to the bridge.
We’re awaiting further clarification that the connections on the east side of the Anacostia will have similar upgrades, and we look forward to seeing these broad ideas for bicycle safety and access fully designed. In the meantime, we want to commend DDOT for progressing on issues of bicycle connectivity and design in a relatively short time. What we were shown last night, while not perfect, is far better for bicyclists.
See a PDF of the slideshow from last night’s meeting below:
It feels like we’ve been talking about our Women & Bicycles program forever. We’re preparing to finally, finally launch it officially in March—and we’ve got a lot to do before then. We sent out the first Women & Bicycles Bulletin to those who signed up for our email list today, and we’re reposting the information here. If you’d like to receive these updates (they’re bi-weekly notices about what’s going on in the program) in your inbox, sign up here if you haven’t already. Otherwise, read on!
A brief review of the Women & Bicycles philosophy: This program is designed to create opportunities for helpful exchanges between two different groups, women who already bicycle and women who are interested in bicycling. To do this, we’re sponsoring a season of workshops, rides, and meetups, all of which will encourage skillsharing. This type of community-based guidance has worked for ages, but it’s a new approach to getting more people on bicycles; WABA’s program is the first of its kind in the country.
Here’s some news and ways you can get involved:
Become a Roll Model
We are looking for 10 women to serve as the program’s bicycling mentors, known as Roll Models. For more information on the role of Roll Models, expectations, time commitments, and the many benefits of getting involved, click here to visit our Roll Model Application. Take a look, pass it along, and apply! (Please submit by Friday, Feb. 22nd.)
We released our logo a few weeks ago. Some people love it, some don’t heart the hearts, and some have questioned the utility of the logo-bike’s wheels. We appreciate the feedback! Women & Bicycles is intended to initiate a regional discussion about perceptions of gender and bicycling. We’re keeping the logo: It originated from a doodle that program coordinator Nelle has drawn on notebooks, dry-erase boards, and thank-you notes since she started biking.
Interact With Us
We’ve set up a Facebook page that we hope will become a consistent resource for all women who bike. It will serve as a place to ask questions, post ideas, upcoming events, new discoveries, and share general bicycling cheer. Click here to join. It’s a private group, but we encourage you to invite your friends.
And we’re on Instagram! Check us out, follow our account (“womenandbicycles”), and tag your women-and-bikey photos with #womenbikeDC. Your photos will be posted directly to our website to show the program in action.
Women & Bicycles Launch Party, Presented by the League of American Bicyclists
We’re throwing a party with Women Bike, the League of American Bicyclists’ National women’s outreach program. It’s also the kick-off to the second annual National Women’s Cycling Forum, part of the National Bike Summit. Join us for drinks, hear updates on the program, learn about what the League’s doing, and interact with women from all across the U.S. who bike for transportation. Click here to learn more and register for the Launch Party.
Register for the National Women’s Bicycling Forum
The day after the launch party is the National Women’s Bicycling Forum, the opening event of the National Bike Summit. The Forum hosts groups and individuals who work throughout the country to get more women on bikes. Check out the program and you’ll notice there are many D.C.-area bike advocacy stars in the line-up. Click here to learn more and register for the Women’s Bicycling forum.
We hope to see you online and in real life soon!
Thanks to all who came out for WABA’s app launch party and happy hour at Red Derby. It was chilly at the rooftop bar, but we were glad to see dozens of members and friends come out to enjoy drinks and tacos.
If you haven’t downloaded it yet, the WABA app is available for iPhone and Android. It includes the D.C. bike laws, fields in which to store information about your bikes, and fields in which to record important details should you be in a bike crash. We’ll be updating the app incrementally, and any feedback you can provide is appreciated.
Your WABA membership supports projects like this app. Keep helping us to do cool stuff by joining WABA today.