April Advocacy Roundup


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VA Dooring Bill Signed into Law

Brief Explanation: SB 117 requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50. Getting “doored” is an all too common cause of crashes between bikes and cars, often resulting in severe injury to the bicyclist.

Current Status: Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Virginia residents, advocates, and legislators, SB 117, the “dooring” bill, passed both the Virginia House and Senate. On April 1, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law.

Funding for Complete Streets in Alexandria

Brief Explanation: Alexandria’s Complete Streets program is key to the city’s strategic objectives — protecting the safety of residents, building a multi-modal transportation network, enhancing the health of citizens, and supporting the wellbeing of our youth and children.  Last year, the program delivered nearly $1.5 M in safety fixes for intersections, schools and neighborhood streets. But if the city’s proposed budget is enacted as-is, funding for the Complete Streets program will be reduced to about 1/3 of it’s current budget in FY17. This will have direct negative impacts to the safety and well-being of Alexandria residents and visitors.

Current Status: After years of neglect, the city is to be commended for more than doubling the Street Reconstruction (Paving) budget, from $2.6M in FY14 to $5.6M in FY16 and proposed for $5.3M in FY17. But by not providing commensurate funds for Complete Streets, the city is prioritizing the convenience of motorists over the safety of people who walk and bike. WABA members and supporters have weighed in on this issue and we will have more updates after we see the final budget.

Update Arlington’s Bike Plan

Brief Explanation: Arlington’s bike plan is obsolete. It was written in 2007, when sharrows were the most exciting development in bike infrastructure.  It predates protected bike lanes, Capital Bikeshare and Vision Zero. Implementation of many of the projects called for in the plan have faced significant citizen opposition, because the plan lacked the robust, inclusive public process that is needed to generate consensus and support.

Current Status: Earlier this month, hundreds of Arlington residents sent in comments asking that the County update the Transportation Master Plan’s Bicycle element in the coming fiscal year. While specific funding was not identified in the 2017 budget, the County Board did make updating the plan a clear priority for staff in the coming year. We will continue pushing for robust public engagement as staff approach the planning process.


A New Campaign for Montgomery County: Create the Silver Spring Circle

Brief Explanation: With the dense mix of transit, offices, entertainment, shops and homes, Silver Spring should be a paradise for walking and biking. But it’s not. Due to high speed traffic and a lack of dedicated space for bikes on the busy streets in downtown Silver Spring, most residents don’t feel safe biking in the road.  The Silver Spring Circle would trade excess road space for protected bike lanes, creating a connected, low-stress bike network in downtown Silver Spring.

Actions to Take: Come to the Campaign kickoff May 14th. Sign the petition to create the Silver Spring Circle.

Washington D.C.

Greg Kenyan McDuffie Tamara

Contributory Negligence

Brief Explanation: Contributory Negligence is an antiquated legal doctrine that limits bicyclists access to justice and compensation after a crash with a motor vehicle. The District of Columbia is a national outlier, as it is one of only five states that still use contributory negligence to allocate fault. The vast majority of states have updated their negligence standard to a fairer system.

Current Status: On April 21st, the Judiciary Committee voted 3-0 to move the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act out of committee and recommended it for consideration by the full D.C. Council. The bill will now be considered by the full DC Council when it meets as the Committee of the Whole sometime before summer recess. It needs seven votes to pass the Council, and the Mayor’s signature to become law.

Action to Take: Sign up to receive action alerts about opportunities for further public comment and testimony as they arise. We’ll need everyone’s involvement to get this across the finish line.

L St and Safe Accommodations

Brief Explanation: The L Street protected bike lane is a key part of the city’s transportation infrastructure. Following its completion in 2013, bike ridership on L Street exploded, increasing 65 percent within the lane’s first year of installation. The 1500 block section is a particularly important piece of the network because it intersects with the protected bike lanes on 15th Street and M Street.

Current Status: A permit issued to Carr Properties for the old Washington Post building site construction completely eliminates the protected bike lane and the sidewalk on the north side of the street, while leaving two vehicle lanes open. For more than two years, the publicly accessible portions of L Street will consist of a 13 foot motor vehicle lane (with sharrows) an 11 foot motor vehicle lane (formerly used for parking) and the southern sidewalk.

Action to Take: Report suspected violations of the Safe Accommodations Act to District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff at the Public Space Regulation Administration. They will ask for information on the location, entity occupying public space (e.g. Pepco, Ft. Myer, etc.), and a brief description of what you encountered.  Photos of the location are especially helpful.

15th Street Bike Lane Connections at the White House

Ramparoo! New Paint and ramps make it easier to bike through Lafayette Park on segment of the 15th Street protected bike lane.

Brief Explanation: Thanks to some hard work by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and a bit of prodding by WABA, navigating past the White House on the 15th Street bikeway just got a little easier. DDOT, in collaboration with the National Park Service (which oversees the property) and the Secret Service (which is in charge of security for the area), installed new paint and curb ramps at the intersection of H St NW and Madison Pl NW.


The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail—Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment

Brief Explanation: Construction of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment  is in full swing, and expected to be completed by this fall. This 4-mile segment fills a gap from Benning Road to Bladensburg Waterfront  completing an almost 70-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails on the Anacostia River and its tributaries.  It includes boardwalk sections that meander around trees and wetlands in the Aquatic Gardens and other National Park lands.

As it passes through the Mayfair and Parkside communities, the trail travels on widened sidewalks and protected bike lanes, linking these neighborhoods to more than 40 miles of trail, numerous schools, businesses, libraries, museums, shopping centers and transit stations. 

Parkview bike lane 1

Current Status: The protected bike lane is one of the first to be developed in Ward 7, and it is nearly completed.  Extensive public outreach was done during the years of planning from 2004 to 2014. Unfortunately, some neighbors of the project have complained about the loss of the parking in front of their townhouses and are asking the city to remove the protected bike lane on Hayes St.  

Action to take: Residents of Ward 7 who want more safe places to walk and bike in their neighborhoods should contact their government officials at DDOT and the City Council to speak up in favor this and future projects.

Purple Line and the Capital Crescent Trail

Brief Explanation: WABA has been working for more than two decades on making the vision of a seamless trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring a reality. The Purple Line will make substantial improvements to a portion of that route, transforming the Georgetown Branch Trail segment into a safe, viable transportation and recreation connection between two of the county’s hubs of activity (Bethesda and Silver Spring).

Current Status: Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved a contract for a team of companies to build, operate and maintain the Purple Line, a 16-mile transit line that will link the Red, Green, and Orange lines in the Maryland suburbs. We will continue to track progress on the development of the trail, and will keep you informed along the way.

Met Branch Trail

Brief Explanation: When completed, the MBT will be a 8-mile multi use trail from Union Station in the District to Silver Spring, MD. The finished segment we have today is the result of more than 25 years of  steadfast effort from committed residents, advocates, and planners through a lengthy public process. But we aren’t there quite yet.

Current Status: There are two segments that MCDOT is currently engaged in. From the Maryland line to the Silver Spring Transit Center, the designs look good, with one exception: the B&O train station just off of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Montgomery Preservation Inc (MPI), the nonprofit that controls this site, has spent years resisting proposed solutions, rejecting compromise design alternatives, and declining the County’s attempts to compensate them for the space the trail requires.

Action to Take:  Sign up to receive updates and action alerts from WABA about the Met Branch Trail.

Rock Creek Park Trail

Brief Explanation:  The Rock Creek Park Trail is in deplorable condition. Since 2014 when 2,500 WABA members and supporters signed a petition demanding action to rehabilitate the trial, a lot of work has been done. Over the next three years, the trail and beach drive will be completely reconstructed and improved.

Current Status: The funding is allocated, the engineering designs are complete and construction contracts are issued. We anticipate construction starting any day now. Beach Drive will be fully rebuilt and repaved over the next two years. It will be a long construction project but the road will a last another 50 years. 

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive update on this trail in coming weeks.

Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

Brief Explanation: The Washington Baltimore & Annapolis trail (WB&A) is a paved multi-use trail that runs from Maryland Route 450 in Prince George’s County to the Patuxent River at the border of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties. Efforts are underway to extend the WB&A trail north-eastward over the Patuxent River and toward the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Current Status: WABA released a report that provides a preliminary analysis of extending the current WB&A trail in the opposite direction: southwestward to connect with the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART) at the Washington, DC border. Extending the WB&A trail to the ART at the Maryland/Washington DC border would provide analogous trail connectivity for a large area of central Prince George’s County serving residents and visitors.

Meet Advocates in Your Neighborhood

Vasa 2016

All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places and more reason to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

Click here to see what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.

We’re fine tuning the way this monthly(ish) update works, so if you have thoughts on how to make this information more useful, send a note to communications@waba.org.