June Advocacy Roundup


Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

Here’s the latest version of “what we’ve been up to lately.” Read straight through or skip ahead to updates from Maryland, Virginia, or DC.

If there’s a specific project that you don’t see here, check our March and April roundups.

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Greater Washington Region

Metro SafeTrack — Try it by bike!

Brief Explanation: WABA has been working closely with WMATA, the District Department of Transportation, and other local agencies to provide comprehensive alternative bike routes, temporary street safety accommodations, bike convoys and bike buddies to help folks around the region try their commute by bike during SafeTrack safety surges.

Current Status: The first safety surge, East Falls Church to Ballston, began June 4th and will continue through June 16th. The surges will continue rolling through the year.

Action to Take: Volunteer with WABA during SafeTrack by signing up here. We need bike buddies, convoy leaders, and more— now, and as the year unfolds.

National Park Service Paved Trails Plan

Brief Explanation: In April, the National Park Service released a draft of a study for creating a seamless trail network for the Washington Region. It includes 120 capital and programmatic recommendations, many of which are excellent.

Current Status: WABA and supporters submitted formal comments and more than 1,000 supportive petition signatures. The comment period has closed.  We anticipate the study to be finalized and released by fall 2016.


Protected Bike Lanes on Memorial Bridge

Brief Explanation: The National Park Service is in the process of rehabilitating the Arlington Memorial bridge. The partial closure and rehabilitation of the bridge represents a huge opportunity to rethink how the bridge operates in the context of the city’s transportation network. WABA has asked that NPS be forward-thinking about the design, and include protected bike lanes across the bridge and better connections to the memorials on either side of the bridge.

Current Status: WABA and supporters raised these issues three years ago. Unfortunately, the Park Service has not listened and continues to move forward with an Environmental Assessment structured to protecte the status quo.

Custis Trail Improvements

Brief Explanation: The widening of I-66 inside the beltway will likely result in increased car traffic in Arlington from jurisdictions west, posing challenges for the bicycle and smart-growth-oriented county. As a partial mitigation of the highway expansion, Virgina should reconstruct and upgrade the Custis Trail from the Beltway to the Potomac River, including shortening and flattening circuitous sections and removing all trail grades in excess of five percent.

Current Status: WABA sent a letter to the Arlington County Board requesting that they ask the Virginia Department of Transportation to undertake these trail improvements as part of the highway expansion project. Download and view the letter here.


Silver Spring Circle Protected Bike Lane Project

Brief Explanation: WABA’s Montgomery County Action Committee hosted a walk-along tour of the planned Spring Street and Cedar Street protected bike lanes in downtown Silver Spring.  Representatives from Montgomery Department of Transportation joined to speak about the project planning process.

Current Status: Construction is expected to start this summer.

Action to Take: Get involved with the Montgomery County Action Committee! Meetings are the 4th Monday of each month at 7pm in the Civic Center in Silver Spring. More details here.

Updates to Park Rules and Regulations

Brief Explanation: The Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) is updating the rules and regulations governing the region’s parks. These rules are of particular interest to the bicycling community insofar as they govern the hours trails are open, speed limits on trails, the use of electronic bicycles on trails, and the right of way at trail crossings.

Current Status: WABA submitted letters to the Prince George’s and Montgomery County Planning Boards. The rules will be updated and finalized later this year. Download a copy of our letter here.

Big Funding Win for Bicyling in the Montgomery County Budget

Brief Explanation: Montgomery County Council unanimously approved the County’s 2017 Operating budget and six-year Capital Improvements Program. The budget maintains funding for a number of long- term trail and bikeway priorities AND increases funding for the Bicycle Pedestrian Priority Area Program by 150%! This was an initiative of Councilmember Hans Riemer, supported by WABA advocates.

Current Status: With this additional funding, Montgomery County Department of Transportation can do more great street safety projects at a faster rate, including careful study, planning and implementation of the network of protected bike lanes that will constitute the Silver Spring Circle.

Metropolitan Branch Trail—Several Steps Closer to Completion

Brief Explanation: Montgomery County Department of Transportation held a public hearing prior to beginning construction of the .6 mile portion of the MBT that crosses the Montgomery College Campus on Fenton Street and King Street and along the CSXT Railroad to Ripley Street. WABA participated in that meeting and also provided testimony to the Montgomery County Planning Board in support of the next phases of the project, which include contruction of a bicycle/pedestrian bridge connection over Georgia Avenue. You can read our testimony here.

Current Status: On May 19th, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the plans for the next two phases of trail construction in the county. The next construction phase of this project will start later this summer, extending the trail up to King Street.

Washington D.C.

Contributory Negligence

Brief Explanation: The Judiciary Committee voted 3-0 to move the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 out of committee and recommended it for consideration by the full Council.

Current Status: The bill will be considered by the Committee of the Whole, possibly as soon as June 21st. The insurance industry has been busy trying to rally Councilmembers to vote against the bill, or to pressure Councilmember McDuffie to pull the bill prior to a vote, by making all manner of outrageously inaccurate claims. (For a taste, check out WABA’s Executive Director Greg Billing debating the merits of the bill with DC Insurance Federation Executive Director Wayne McOwen on this episode of the Kojo Nnamdi show).

Action to Take: Contact your Councilmembers and ask them to support the bill.

Benning Road Streetcar Project

Brief Explanation: Work continues on plans to extend the H St – Benning streetcar across the Anacostia River to the Benning Road Metro and towards Georgetown. In May, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) hosted two public meetings to take comments on Environmental Assessments for both plans. If implemented well, these projects present important opportunities to expand bicycle access in the Benning Rd and K St. corridors. Without attention to key details, though, they pose serious threats to safety and access.

Current Status: The comment period has closed, but there will be further opportunity for comments when the final EA is released, estimated to be in the fall of 2016.

Bike Lanes Closures on L St

Brief Explanation: The protected bike lane on L St NW recently went form being the spine of a low-stress bike network to a dangerous mixing zone with automobiles and heavy trucks— the result of a permit issued by DDOT to Carr Properties, the company redeveloping the old Washington Post building.

Current Status: The current traffic pattern will be in place for more than two years, unless we manage to break through DDOT’s conviction that this consitutes a safe accommodation for bicyclists equivalent to a protected bike lane.

Action to Take: Unfortunately, options for recourse are limited at this point. We recommend contacting the Mayor and your Councilmembers.

Training for 911 Dispatchers

Brief Explanation: As part of a larger collaborative effort spearheaded by WABA to ensure that our city’s expanding network of trails are fully integrated into emergency services, WABA and DDOT’s trail teams held early morning trainings for all 911 dispatchers on how to respond to emergency calls from the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Dispatchers went through a refresher on the trail as we covered how to help callers spot the mile markers, reviewed the many trail intersections in the 911 database, and more broadly, provided context for the trail.

Current Status: Our next step is to lead a walking tour of the trail for dispatchers, per their request.

Traffic/Trail Counts During Rock Creek Park Road Closures

Brief Explanation: For many years, conversations about how Rock Creek Park could be operated so that it does more for non-motorized transportation have gone nowhere, in part because of disputes over the assumed impact any changes would have on traffic elsewhere in the District. This year, we have the opportunity to scientifically measure the traffic impact that will result from a series of road closures along Beach Drive during the road reconstruction. WABA sent a letter to the Mayor requesting that DDOT and National Park Service commit to a detailed traffic count from diversions of these road closures. Read our letter here.

Current Status: WABA staff will meet with DDOT and National Park Service officials this month to discuss the proposal.

Make bicycling better in YOUR neighborhood!

WABA is working to bring advocates together in our local jurisdictions to further our mission of a more bikeable region. The Action Committees empower residents with the tools, training and support needed to win campaigns for better biking infrastructure, policies, and programs.

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.