Closer to Completion: New Construction on the Met Branch Trail!

A bird’s eye rendering of the Met Branch Trail around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This Saturday at 10am, DDOT is breaking ground on the next phase of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will connect Brookland to Fort Totten Metro station. There hasn’t been any major construction on the MBT since 2013, so this is a huge win!

After a handful of delays, in November 2017, DDOT awarded the contract to complete design and begin construction on the next phase of the popular multi-use trail. WABA’s been working on getting this trail built since the 1990s; this new construction will link the trail to the Fort Totten Metro Station, provide direct access to three new neighborhoods, and cut out the steep (and smelly) Fort Totten hill.

And it moves the Met Branch Trail one step closer to completion.

Existing MBT in green, new segment in blue, interim on street route in red (Source Google Maps)

Once complete, the MBT will connect Silver Spring to Union Station, in a mix of on and off-road trail. The trail will also be a key connection the East Coast Greenway, the largest connected walking and biking route in the nation.

Details for the groundbreaking ceremony:

Saturday, July 28th

10:00AM to 11:00AM

Between Gallatin St and 1st Pl NE (map)

Click here to see the event flyer.

Attend our August Advocate Training

For more than three years, planners at the District Department of Transportation have been studying options for an Eastern Downtown protected bike lane to link Pennsylvania Ave to Florida Ave through Shaw. Through public meetings, stakeholder consultation, exhaustive reports and detailed design work, DDOT’s leadership and staff have turned over every stone. All that’s left is the decision on where it will go.

After a long wait, it looks like we may get a decision soon.

We need to be ready. So we are hosting an advocate training next week. Join WABA’s advocacy team to untangle DC’s transportation planning process, learn the tools of an effective bike advocate, and take a deep dive into the the Eastern Downtown project.

Better Bicycling Advocate Training
Thursday, August 2nd
6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Shaw Neighborhood Library
1630 7th St NW, Washington, DC (map)
Sign Up

Questions about the training? Contact Garrett Hennigan at 202-518-0524 x210 or garrett.hennigan@waba.org

One final push for MoCo’s Bike Plan

July 11 Update: The record will remain open until August 24th for comments on the Bicycle Master Plan. The Council’s Transportation & Environment Committee will review the plan and comments in depth at a worksession on September 17.

Montgomery County is one step away from adopting the most innovative and rigorous bicycle master plan in the country. But we need you to help us push it over the line!

On Tuesday, July 10, the County Council will hold the final hearing on the plan. And based on what they hear, the Council will make final changes and vote to adopt it. This plan will guide the next 25 years of bicycle planning and construction in Montgomery County, so this is a pivotal moment for biking in the county.

Take Action

With your help, we can show our Councilmembers that the Bicycle Master Plan sets the bold vision that Montgomery County needs for a bikeable, healthy, accessible, and sustainable future.

That vision is as ambitious as it is thorough. It lays out:

  • an extensive, 1,000 mile, low-stress bicycle network of new protected bike lanes, trails, and quiet neighborhood streets, which will comfortably connect bicyclists of all ages and abilities to the places they need to go;
  • a network of high-capacity “breezeways” between activity centers that allows people on bikes to travel with fewer delays, where all users – including slower moving bicyclists and pedestrians – can safely and comfortably coexist.
  • new design standards for safe and accessible protected bike lanes, trails and intersections;
  • new programs to build out the network, support people who bike and encourage more people to give it a try;
  • Abundant and secure, long-term bicycle parking facilities near Metro and MARC stations;
  • And rigorous metrics to evaluate the county’s progress in carrying out the plan.

The plan represents more than two years of tireless work analyzing data, researching best practices from around the world, and thorough community input at dozens of public workshops and stakeholder meetings. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.

Here’s how you can help:

Email the Council:

Click here to send your councilmembers an email asking that they support the plan without major changes. The plan was created through more than two years of rigorous data analysis and exhaustive community input. It is the gold standard of data-driven and community-involved planning and will guide Montgomery County to being a world-class community for bicycling.Together, we can push it over the finish line.

Take Action

Share your story at Tuesday’s Hearing:

Sending a letter is a quick way of showing your support, but showing up in person shows that you mean it. Hearings are the perfect place to tell your bicycling story. Will you join us at the hearing to speak up for this visionary plan?

Bike Master Plan Council Hearing
Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30 pm
Council Office Building (Third-floor hearing room)
100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD, 20850

Sign up to testify by July 10 at 10 am and reply to let us know that you will be there. If possible, email a written copy of your testimony in advance of the hearing by email to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Read the full plan here and the proposed network here.

A Permanent, Safer Crossing for the Capital Crescent Trail

Intersection of Capital Crescent Trail at Little Falls Parkway. Image courtesy of Montgomery Parks.

After Ned Gaylin was struck and killed while crossing the Capital Crescent Trail at Little Falls Parkway in October 2016, Montgomery Parks moved swiftly to make the intersection safer.

In January 2017, Montgomery Parks reduced the speed limit from 35mph to 25mph between Hillandale Road and Fairfax Road, in addition to removing a lane of traffic in both directions. Signage, flex posts and lane striping were also added.

These changes effectively made the street safe and were greatly appreciated, but they were only temporary. Now, Montgomery Parks is considering a permanent fix to the trail crossing.

Join us on Wednesday, June 13th at 7pm for the first public meeting to discuss this trail crossing, concept drawings, and project alternatives.

Community Meeting #1

When: Wednesday, June 13th at 7pm

Where: Somerset Elementary School (in the All-Purpose Room/Cafeteria)
5811 Warwick Place
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

We are grateful that Montgomery Parks and county leaders are taking the right steps to improve this trail crossing by prioritizing safety over speed.

Pop-up protected bike lane coming to Bethesda on Friday

Pop-up bike lane in Winnipeg, Canada. Image courtesy of Bike Winnipeg.

Downtown Bethesda is getting a special surprise on Bike to Work Day!

To support the thousands of people biking to work through Bethesda this Friday, Montgomery County is creating a pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Avenue. Early Friday morning, crews will set up cones and signage to transform parking and travel lanes into eight blocks of blissfully, low-stress bikeway for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you are coming from North Bethesda on the Trolley Trail or Silver Spring on the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, this pop-up protected bike lane is for you. It will start at the traffic circle at Cheltenham Drive, going west to cross Wisconsin Avenue and then south on Woodmont Avenue to the Bethesda pitstop near the Capital Crescent Trail. It will be open from 6am to 8pm. Come experience it with us!

For Bike to Work Day, Bethesda will get its own pop-up protected bike lane on Woodmont Ave. Image courtesy of MCDOT.

Help make the most of this awesome day!

  1. Ride the lane – biking in Bethesda has never felt like this. Don’t miss it.
  2. Take photos and share them with us!
  3. Get businesses on board – help us show that protected bike lanes are great for business. The lane is open until 8pm, so stop, shop, and share your excitement about the lane.
  4. Register for Bike to Work Day at waba.org/biketoworkday and say hi to WABA at the pitstop!

Read more about Friday’s pop-up protected bike lane in the Montgomery County press release.

PS: Did you know that a permanent protected bike lane and more are coming to Bethesda? Learn more and show your support at waba.org/bethesda.

DDOT Breaking Promises on C Street NE

Image from Google Street View

At a public meeting late last month, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff announced an alarming change of plans for their C St. NE rehabilitation project that cuts critical safety improvements for people walking and biking to speed more cars through the neighborhood. We are baffled by the changes and what they mean for DDOT’s commitment to its Vision Zero principles and ending all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2024.

Demand That DDOT Reverse Course

C St. NE is a relic of DC’s long-past highway building days. At five lanes wide, it was designed to funnel rush hour commuters through the neighborhood into downtown DC. But highways make terrible neighborhood streets during rush hour. When uncongested the rest of time, empty lanes tempt drivers to step on the gas. In 2013, when the 11th St. bridge was completed, drivers found different routes, leaving C St. NE empty even more of the time. Today, C St. NE is overbuilt for cars and underbuilt for the people who live, work, play, bike and walk along it.

The critical long-term solution has been in the works since 2006 when Rosedale residents started organizing to demand solutions to chronic speeding, unsafe crossings and stressful biking. DDOT responded with over a decade of studies — the Capitol Hill Transportation Study, C St. Traffic Calming Study, C St. Multimodal Corridor Study, and MoveDC Plan — which helped create a vision for a calm, multimodal street with fewer travel lanes, more frequent, shorter crossings, green space, and protected bike lanes where moving cars is not the priority.

C St. NE 65% plans presented in February

In 2017, DDOT started work on plans which promised to deliver on that vision. In February 2018, staff presented 65% design plans that would:

  • Remove a travel lane from each direction to help reduce speeding
  • Add curb extensions at nine intersections for shorter pedestrian crossings
  • Add new crosswalks at 17th Pl and 20th St
  • Create 11 raised crosswalks at cross-streets to encourage slow-speed turns
  • Add curb-protected bike lanes on C St. and North Carolina Ave NE
  • Create five “floating” bus stops that keep buses and people on bikes separated
  • Add dozens of new trees, green space, and improved river-friendly stormwater management
  • Preserve full-time parking on every block

These plans reflect a decade of study, community discussion, and consensus building around the safety concerns on C St. NE. Residents and experts in traffic safety have been engaged and actively participating in support at every step. Indeed, this project promised to deliver a safe, complete street that would have set a new bar for Vision Zero projects (view the full plans here).

But in April, DDOT announced drastic design changes, striking many of the most critical safety features of the plan. See the new plans here. The changes would:

  • Remove seven of the nine curb extensions at 16th St, 17th St, 17th Pl, 18th St, 18th Pl, 19th St, and 21st St, making pedestrian crossings longer and more risky especially for children and seniors
  • Add back the third travel lane planned for removal on six blocks. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially in off-peak hours, in exchange for less driver delay at rush hour. Ironically, DDOT staff are now considering adding traffic signals at two crosswalks because the new proposed design makes these crossings less safe
  • Eliminate full-time parking on six blocks either during rush hour or at all times to make room for turn lanes. Residents will lose access to as many as 50 parking spaces for the convenience of moving cars quickly
  • Eliminate some raised crosswalks
  • Reduce the size of bus stops to move buses out of the travel lane

All of these changes are required, DDOT staff claim, because traffic models show that removing a lane in each direction will create unacceptable delay for drivers by 2040. But traffic models only tell the driving part of the story and they are notorious for overestimating future driving habits. We should not compromise safety today to avoid theoretical delay in 20 years.

Revised April plans. Pink shows curb extensions cut from the plan. Blue cars indicate parking restrictions.

DDOT’s new plan to preserve the C St. NE speedway is simply indefensible. It dismisses a decade of work towards an inclusive design that meets community needs. It contradicts four studies that show lane reductions are needed. It trades away critical safety features for greater risk to vulnerable road users. And it cuts residential parking used today to speed more cars through the neighborhood.

But worst of all, the plan is a glaring contradiction to Mayor Bowser’s commitment to end traffic fatalities by 2024. In December 2015, Mayor Bowser released her Vision Zero Action Plan, and pledged that her administration “will do everything in our power to eliminate transportation fatalities and serious injuries, because no loss of life is acceptable.” To achieve this, the action plan promises that “streets should be designed for all users and need to be built to account for inevitable human errors.” It declares that “streets must be engineered to self-enforce a safe speed,” and that “design speed limit and posted speed limit must both prevent serious injury.”

In March 2018, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen worked with MPD to put a targeted focus on traffic enforcement along the C Street NE corridor near Eliot-Hine Middle School and Maury Elementary. After about an hour each day for three weeks, MPD issued 76 speeding tickets to people driving 11-30+ mph over the speed limit.

Drivers ticketed going 11-15 mph over the speed limit: 25
Drivers tickets going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 6
Drivers ticketed going 16-20 mph over the speed limit: 7
Drivers ticketed going 21-25 mph over the speed limit: 10
Drivers ticketed going 26-30+ mph over the speed limit: 34

Read that again! 34 people going 50+ mph in a residential neighborhood with not one, but two schools where the posted speed limit is 25 mph. For seven blocks, DDOT’s plan would do little to curb this speeding.

DDOT has a moral imperative to do everything in its power to reduce speeds to safe levels. The February version of the plan does exactly this. The April plan is a mockery of Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero commitment.

We call on DDOT to drop these indefensible changes and instead return to the inspiring, community supported vision presented in February. Last week, ANC 7D voted unanimously to urge DDOT to do the same (read ANC 7D’s letter here). As this plan moves towards construction next year, it must prioritize safety for people walking and biking and actively slow drivers down. While staff have indicated revisions may already be in the works, it is imperative that safe design, not driver delay, is guiding the plan. Please join us in taking a stand for Vision Zero by sending a letter to DDOT.

Take Action

What’s going on with the Louisiana Avenue protected bike lane?

Intersection of Louisiana Ave. at New Jersey Ave.

Since June 2015, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) have been working on plans for a Louisiana Ave protected bike lane to fill a gap in the downtown bicycle network between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave NW. Three years later, planning is stalled and Louisiana Ave remains a dangerous speedway, leaving many asking why.

Despite support from a wide range of stakeholders in DC and on Capitol Hill, the delay is due to a familiar obstacle: car parking. Adding protected bike lanes to Louisiana Ave will require repurposing a handful of curbside parking spaces in the half-mile between Pennsylvania Ave and D St. NE and a few more spaces in the center median of the final block near Union Station. Each of these parking spaces are reserved exclusively for Senate staff. And the Senate Sergeant at Arms, whose office manages the parking supply for the Senate, is apparently unwilling to relinquish any of the spaces needed for this project to proceed.

The red segment is the current existing gap between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave.

In a January letter, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton asked the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Frank Larkin, to reconsider his office’s opposition and allow construction to commence. “Losing a few parking spaces,” she wrote, “is a small price to pay to ensure public safety and help alleviate congestion near the Capitol by encouraging alternative modes of transportation.” Read the full letter here.

Ask For His Support

According to the Architect of the Capitol, who manages the Capitol buildings and grounds, a number of large campus construction projects planned and underway will substantially reduce available parking for the next few years, putting additional demand on existing parking.

But, to place the parking situation in context, there are reportedly as many as 5,800 parking spaces on the House side of the Capitol alone and perhaps an equal number on the Senate side. Two Metro stations, MARC, VRE, more than a dozen bus routes and a handful of regional trails serve the Capitol Complex, giving staff unparalleled transportation options. There may never be a convenient time for this project. A few more years is too long to wait for a safe, bikeable, and walkable Louisiana Ave.

The Louisiana Ave. project has vocal support from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Congressional Bike Caucus, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C and the Regional Council of Governments. DDOT has devoted considerable resources to design work, and plans to fully cover construction costs with local funds. And last year, Congress passed an omnibus bill that included language calling for construction of the Louisiana Avenue bike lanes without delay.

Last month, Frank Larkin retired and Michael Stenger became the new Senate Sergeant at Arms, creating a new opportunity to engage. Please sign our petition to ask him to reconsider his predecessor’s objections and to allow this needed safety project to move forward.

Sign the Petition

Let’s make Veirs Mill Road better

Late last year, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his Vision Zero Action Plan, committing the county’s agencies to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the county by 2030. On Thursday, the Planning Board will hold a hearing on its first contribution to achieving Vision Zero – the Veirs Mill Master Plan.

Send email comments in support

Sign up to testify

Veirs Mill Road, which stretches four miles between Wheaton and Rockville, is one of the county’s highest risk roads—five people died in crashes in the corridor in just two years.

The road is built for moving cars and not much else. Sidewalks are missing throughout the corridor, even next to heavily used bus stops. There are no safe places to bike. In most places, crossing the street requires darting across five lanes of highway-speed traffic.

The Planning Department wants to change Veirs Mill Road to slow drivers and protect people walking, biking and taking the bus. Among the many planning topics, the draft Veirs Mill Master Plan proposes dozens of Vision Zero recommendations including:

  • Build a combination of 2-way protected bike lanes, sidepaths and neighborhood greenways for a continuous, safe, and low-stress bicycle route,
  • Build continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road,
  • Implement the proposed Bus Rapid Transit plan for Veirs Mill,
  • Add trees and landscaping to buffer people from cars,
  • Add new traffic signals, refuge islands and protected intersections that give people walking and biking priority for crossing the road,
  • Remove high speed turn lanes,
  • And reduce the speed limit to 35 mph.

All of these recommendations are essential to transforming Veirs Mill into a safe road and a connected community. But the plan and its Vision Zero priorities need vocal enthusiasm to gain the support of the Planning Board and County Council.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get to know the plan. You can read the executive summary or the whole document here.
  2. Write comments in support of the plan and send them to MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org. Your comments can be broad or specific. Highlight the transportation and safety elements that are most important to you.
  3. Comments by email help a lot, but delivering them in person makes a huge difference. Sign up to attend Thursday night’s hearing and tell the Planning Board what you think of a safer Veirs Mill Road. Sign up to testify here.

Speak up for better places to bike across the region?

How are you helping make DC a better place to bike this month?

We hope you’re out riding your bike, of course! But you can go a step further by attending an upcoming public meeting to support building new protected bike lanes across the city.

C St. NE Rehabilitation

Thursday, April 26 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Rosedale Recreation Center
1701 Gales St. NE

DDOT is nearing final design on a rebuild of C St. NE from 14th St. to 21st St. NE and parts of North Carolina Ave. The new design would drastically reduce speeding and includes protected bike lanes, shorter road crossings, and more green space. More info at the project page.

Connecticut Ave Streetscape in Dupont

Thursday, April 26 6:00 pm
Wework Dupont
1875 Connecticut Ave NW, 3rd Floor

Discuss ideas for a new bike and pedestrian friendly Connecticut Avenue streetscape between Dupont Circle and California St NW! This project includes a deck-over plaza from the Dupont Circle to Q St. Show up to make the case for protected bike lanes! Find more information at the project page.

Veirs Mill Road Master Plan

Thursday, April 26, 6:00 pm
MRO Auditorium
8787 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring
.

The Montgomery County Planning Department wants to change Veirs Mill Road to slow drivers and protect people walking, biking and taking the bus. Among the many planning topics, the draft Veirs Mill Master Plan proposes dozens of Vision Zero recommendations including:

  • Build a combination of 2-way protected bike lanes, sidepaths and neighborhood greenways for a continuous, safe, and low-stress bicycle route,
  • Build continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road,
  • Implement the proposed Bus Rapid Transit plan for Veirs Mill,
  • Add trees and landscaping to buffer people from cars,
  • Add new traffic signals, refuge islands and protected intersections that give people walking and biking priority for crossing the road,
  • Remove high speed turn lanes,
  • And reduce the speed limit to 35 mph.

Agenda

21st & 22nd St. NW

Wednesday, May 23 6:00 pm
West End Library
2301 L St NW

This is the first public meeting for the 21st/22nd Street NW protected bike lane project. DDOT staff will share existing conditions findings and draft selection of three alignments to advance to 10% design. More information can be found here.

Here’s a DDOT flyer with more details

Biking & Walking in Regional Planning

Planning for easier walking and biking usually happens at the local level, but major decisions, affecting billions of dollars in transportation funds, happen at the region’s Transportation Planning Board. The TPB is updating its long range transportation plan, called Visualize 2045. For the first time, biking and walking connections to transit and trails could have a special focus in this plan! Attend a meeting to make sure biking and walking projects get the funding they need.

Rockville: April 26, 7pm
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850

District of Columbia: May 1, 7pm
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
777 North Capitol Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Arlington: May 2, 6:30pm
Arlington County Public Library
Central Library Auditorium
1015 North Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22201

Fairfax: May 8, 7pm
Providence Community Center
3001 Vaden Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031

Learn more at https://www.mwcog.org/visualize2045/participate/

Ride into spring with Silver Spring Social Rides

After a chilly winter, trees are getting greener and the air sweeter, meaning spring is finally here! And now that it is fun to be outside again, it’s time to go for a bike ride! Join WABA and the Bike Silver Spring community for a series of social rides to get back in the saddle, meet new friends, and get to know Silver Spring by bike. Rides are fun, free, and most are family friendly.

Earth Day Ride – Sunday, April 22

Celebrate our planet with a family friendly ride We will meet at Veterans Plaza at 10:00am in downtown Silver Spring, and ride up the Sligo Creek Trail to Wheaton Park. On the way back, riders will have the option to help “clean the creek” with Friends of Sligo Creek. The route is 14 miles round trip, mostly on trails and quiet streets. Register here.

City Cycling Class – Saturday. May 5

In a WABA City Cycling class you’ll learn bike handling tips and tricks that leave you feeling more confident, competent and comfortable, whether you’re riding on the brand new Spring St. protected bike lanes or on a hectic and busy street like Wayne Ave. Learn more and register here.

Silver Spring Art Ride – Saturday, May 12

Join us for Bike Silver Spring’s second Art Ride on Sunday, May 12. We will meet at 10:00am at Veterans Plaza and bike around Silver Spring at a gentle pace while learning about some of the public art you see everyday (and maybe a few you hadn’t noticed). We welcome bikers of all ages and skill levels to enjoy this guided tour of Silver Spring public art! The ride will be around 5 miles with many stops. Register here.

Bike to Work Day – Friday, May 18

Join the growing number of bike commuters on Bike to Work Day 2018. Stop by one of the 100+ pit stops in the region for food, prizes and the encouragement you need to get to work by bike.

Nearby pit stops include Silver Spring – Discovery Place, Takoma Park Downtown – Old Takoma, Takoma Park – Sligo Creek Trail and FDA White Oak. If you work in downtown DC, join a 7:00 am convoy from the Silver Spring or Takoma Park Pit Stops. Register for your free t-shirt and learn more at www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.

Memorial Day – Monday, May 28

Monday, May 28 is Memorial Day and streets near the Mall will be closed to auto traffic. Come ride from Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring at 10:00 a.m. We will ride to the beginning of the Metropolitan Branch Trail at the Silver Spring Metro and follow the alignment, including the parts constructed and the signed route, south toward DC and the Mall (about 9 miles one way). After cruising the car-free streets in downtown DCriders will then have the option to ride back the way we came, take the metro back home, or stay in DC for the Memorial Day festivities. Register here.

A Sweet Ride – Saturday, June 9

We know you love biking, but why not sweeten the deal a bit further? Join Bike Silver Spring on Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 am for a casual ride through downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park with stops at several local shops for some delicious sweet treats. Register here.

Bike Safari (Zoo Ride) – Saturday, June 30

Let’s go bikin’ now (everybody’s learnin’ how). Come on a safari with me! Join our pack when Bike Silver Spring rides to the National Zoo on Saturday, June 30! We will meet at Veterans Plaza at 10:00am, ride about 7.5 miles thru Rock Creek Park, and then enjoy a couple hours at the zoo. You’ll have the option to bike back, take the metro, or continue your own adventure from the zoo! Register here.

Rides are made possible thanks to support form the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Silver Spring Placemaking Initiative.