Dan Mehaffey and Jim Durham are City of Alexandria residents and local advocates for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Richard Baier, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director, presented on Monday a plan to meet the direction of City Council and calm traffic on King Street. The plan is the outcome of professional work by City Staff, numerous community meetings, and a compromise to keep as much parking as possible on King Street. The meeting went into the early hours of Tuesday when the Traffic and Parking Board voted 5-2 to recommend delay in implementing the plan, a change from a similar November 25th vote of 6-0 recommending delay. Board members Greg Cota and Kevin Posey voted against further delay after listening to Mr. Baier’s presentation and public comments, in which a majority of speakers, all Alexandria residents, spoke in favor of the City’s plan.
The flashpoint in the plan is the 27 parking spaces on King Street between West Cedar and Highland, where the majority of houses face North Terrace View, not King Street. Chairman Thomas “Jay” Johnson, Jr. heard testimony about the parking usage by City Staff. In 20 random samplings of the 27 spaces, the average count was 1.2 cars. At most, five cars were parked in the 27 spaces. The 27 spaces do not include the 10 spaces west of Highland which were kept as parking spaces as part of a compromise that also added three additional spaces to the street parking on the other side of King Street.
Mr. Baier’s expert testimony focused on how the traffic calming measure before the board would re-allocate the use of public right-of way to create a safer King Street in a section that is heavily used by pedestrians to access the King Street transit hub. The Alexandria Transportation Commission, the Environmental Policy Commission, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Park and Recreation Commission submitted letters of support for the plan.
The board also heard from Alexandria residents including residents of the affected neighborhood who favor the city’s plan and want the safety measures afforded by the city plan. The safety measures include pedestrian crossings, separation of use for walkers, bikers, and motorists, and a compliant lane narrowing shown by the Highway Capacity Manual to reduce speeds by between 1.9 and 6.6 miles per hour. The King Street speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the section, but motorist speeds are well in excess of the limit. Opponents of the plan also cited safety as a reason for their opposition to the plan described as safe by not only the professional planners on city staff but also in an independent review by a professional engineering firm.
The traffic calming plan now goes to City Council for a March 15th hearing with the Traffic and Parking Board’s recommendation.
A clarification, from the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee: “Although the original parking information was technically correct, parking needs are based on peak usage not average usage. In an effort to be as clear as possible, we have updated the numbers to stress the peak usage for all parking in the stretch (six cars for 37 spaces) instead of the average usage for the 27 spaces that will be removed (just over 1 car).”
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The District Department of Transportation has released its proposal of bike lanes to install in 2014. You can view the proposed facilities on a full map of the city or on a one-page spreadsheet, both on DDOT’s website.
At the top of the list are several 2013 projects, such as the M Street cycletrack and contraflow bike lanes on G and I streets NE. The 1st Street cycletrack between M and K Street will ostensibly be finished this spring; this will be a critical on-street connection between the Met Branch Trail and Union Station.
Other facilities to get excited about include bike lanes on 14th Street NW from Florida Avenue to Columbia Road, a connection of the 4th Street SW bike lanes across the National Mall to Pennsylvania Avenue, and climbing lanes on Malcolm X Avenue SE and Rock Creek Church Road NW.
If you don’t see a project you desire on the 2014 list, check out the proposed Move DC bike facilities plan. Move DC is DDOT’s 20-year multi-modal plan for all the District’s transportation modes. A draft plan for public review and comment is expected this spring, with a final version to be released over the summer. Once the Move DC plan is adopted, DDOT will begin planning and implementing projects from it. D.C.’s bike network is planned to grow to over 74 miles of cycletracks, 122 miles of bike lanes, and 133 miles of multi-use plans.
While what DDOT has released is merely a list of proposed bike lanes for 2014, we hope that the agency will meet its required goal of installing 10 miles of lanes per year. Go get ‘em, DDOT!
Tonight, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board will hear public testimony for the King Street Traffic Calming project at 7:30 pm at City Hall. Will you attend tonight’s hearing and show your support for safer streets in Alexandria?
The City of Alexandria is proposing to calm traffic and improve conditions for pedestrians, transit riders and bicyclists by constructing bike lanes on King St from Russell Road to Janneys Lane and by adding and upgrading crosswalks. Neighbors have long complained of safety issues on this street caused by drivers frequently speeding and rolling through stop signs. This project will address these safety issues. The City’s proposal will also make the street safer for pedestrians creating a safe space on the street for bicyclists, removing them from the sidewalks. Learn more about the City of Alexandria’s proposal online on the City’s website. This proposal directly benefits pedestrians, residents, bicyclists, bus riders and drivers.
The Traffic and Parking Board already heard the public testimony about this project in November. The overwhelming majority spoke in favor of the project but they deferred the vote. Do not let them defer safe streets tonight.
There are a few vocal and well connected neighbors opposing this project because of a loss of a small number of public parking spaces. This stretch of King Street is a neighborhood street with mostly single family homes with driveways. The City of Alexandria observed about 95% of the parking spaces were vacant over a three month period this year. This unused public space should be utilized to make our streets safer for all. Kids should be able to bike to school, residents should be safe walking to the Metro station, and visitors should feel comfortable riding Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.
There is a definite possibility that the vote will go against the bike lanes or be delayed. The opposition is vocal and motivated. Please attend the public meeting and support King Street Traffic Calming!
Transportation and Parking Board Hearing
Monday, February 24th, 7:30 pm (Tonight)
Council Chambers, City Hall (Market Square, King St at Royal St)
You must sign up to testify by 7:45 p.m. – download the speaker form (pdf)
After tonight’s hearing, the Alexandria City Council will hold a public hearing in March and vote on this project. A favorable vote from the Traffic and Parking Board tonight will go along way to a vote to proceed from City Council. Tonight’s vote is important.
Share with the City of Alexandria your personal experience biking, walking or driving on this stretch of King Street. If you cannot make tonight’s hearing, send an email to the Traffic and Parking Board in support of the King Street Traffic Calming.
How did you get to work today?
Without a cleared bike trail, did you drive to work? Did you take a crowded bus? Or, did you squeeze onto a full Metro train?
Snowstorms highlight a government’s true prioritization of transportation means. In Arlington, major roads and highways get plowed first. Secondary and neighborhood streets are next to have snow removed. When all else is finished, the trails and bike lanes might be cleared—often days after snowfall, if at all. Evidently, clearing a cul-de-sac before the Custis Trail reflects Arlington’s transportation priorities.
Data from Arlington County’s trail counters show trail traffic drops to close to zero for days after snowfall. Cold weather doesn’t discourage riders, but snow-covered trails are unbikeable.
Arlington County should prioritize snow removal from main commuting trails and give cyclists the option to commute by bike in the days following a snowstorm. County board members have expressed concerns over the effectiveness, environmental impacts, and resources related to clearing such trails. While these are all understandable issues that need to be addressed, they have not even directed the County Manager to try to do so.
Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Communities build great networks of bike lanes and trails — and then maintain them. Keeping trails reliably cleared throughout the winter sustains mobility for bicyclists.
Tell the Arlington County Board to direct the County Manager to develop and prepare a snow-clearing plan for the county’s bike trail network and to provide the resources to test and implement that plan in a predictable manner.
Thank you for helping to create a community where bicycling is a year-round transportation option.
The Rock Creek Park Trail is, literally, falling into the creek.
In fall 2013, the National Park Service had to put up a fence along a section of the Rock Creek Park Trail to keep its users from slipping into Rock Creek. Repaving, rehabilitating, and upgrading the trail—as WABA has called for NPS and the District Department of Transportation to make moves to do—could have prevented this. But NPS and DDOT have moved extraordinarily slowly on matters related to Rock Creek.
In June 2013, we posted an extensive progress report on the project’s status to the WABA blog. There has been no public movement on the Rock Creek Park Trail since December 2011. We are still waiting for a Final Environmental Assessment to be released, more than two years since the last public meeting regarding the trail. Enough is enough.
WABA is calling on its members and supporters, along with community members and leaders, to sign a petition to fix the trail. We have waited too long for the Rock Creek Park Trail to be repaved and upgraded.
The spring riding season is almost upon us. It’s unfortunate and the fault of NPS and DDOT that the region’s riders will go another year of biking in the nation’s capital with a crumbling, inadequate, and unsafe Rock Creek Park Trail.
The Virginia state legislature is about halfway through its 2014 legislative session. There are a number of bills related to bicycling that are working through the Senate and House of Delegates. We posted a quick rundown of bills WABA is watching on the blog a couple of weeks ago.
Both Senate bills (SB 225 and SB 97) have passed a full Senate vote and will now go to the House. On the House side, two bills failed to report (which means that they failed to be passed out of committee) from the Transportation Committee: Both bills (HB277 and HB320) sought to clarify the law for drivers stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks or passing another car that has stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. One bill (HB 82) passed a full House vote and will go to the Senate.
You can see how your elected representatives voted below. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, use our easy legislator look-up tool to find out.
House of Delegate Voting Record (through Feb 1)
Senate Voting Record (through Feb 1)
The Washington Post reported yesterday that the city of Alexandria will hold additional public meetings on the controversial King Street bike lanes. In December, Director Rich Brier wrote a letter to residents along King Street saying that he would direct his staff to proceed with the installation of the bike lanes. Residents upset with Brier’s decision are using a 50-year-old city law to appeal his decision.
Alexandria, in an effort to be transparent about the decision, will allow two additional opportunities to comment on the bike lane project. The first public hearing will be on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Traffic and Parking Board meeting. The Traffic and Parking Board will make a recommendation to the Alexandria city council. In November, 56 speakers testified at a TPB hearing; 38 spoke in favor of the bike lanes and 18 spoke in opposition. The TBP voted to defer its decision. The second public meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sat., March 15 as part of the city council’s consideration of the TPB recommendation.
During the first public hearings about the bike lanes in fall 2013, concerns from some members of the public centered on the planned loss of all 37 on-street parking spaces on the stretch of King Street that would have the lanes. During a November meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board, staff from the city of Alexandria presented data collected over several months in the spring of 2013. On average, three cars per day were parked in those 37 on-street parking spaces. The revised plan presented in November will retain 10 on-street parking spaces in direct response to citizen concerns.
On-street bike lanes make streets safer for all users. When bike lanes are installed, the average speeds of car drivers are reduced, making the street better for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers. Lanes give cyclists a safe place on the road and an alternative to narrow sidewalks, making those sidewalks better for pedestrians. Alexandria’s professional engineering and traffic planning staff, along with its independent traffic and engineering firm agree that bike lanes on King Street are a wise choice to accommodate all road users.
WABA will continue to advocate on behalf of our Alexandria members and supporters for the installation of the King Street bike lanes. Sign up below to receive email alerts when new updates or action is needed for the King Street Bike Lanes.
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Last week, we gave you a brief overview of what to do in the event that your bike is stolen. In that post, we mentioned WABA’s bicycle owner record sheet, which we’d like to discuss in a bit more detail today.
When a bike is stolen, the first thing you should do is to call the police and report the bicycle stolen. An officer will come and meet you to file a stolen property report. To file the report, they will need the following information: type of bike, color, serial number, a photo, etc.
To make sure you have this information available in the event that you need it, use our form. Download this PDF with fillable fields, enter all the relevant information, and save a hard copy in a safe place. Take some photos of your bike, making sure to capture any distinguishing characteristics (modifications you’ve made to the bike, damage or signs of wear and tear, stickers or other bling). Attach the photos to the record sheet. This information on this form will also be required by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance if you decide to make a stolen property claim.
You can significantly reduce the risk of your bike being stolen by using proper locking techniques with a strong u-lock at secure parking spot in a well-lit area where there’s good foot traffic. DDOT, WMATA, private property managers, and others are working to increase the amount of secure bike parking in the region, but there is still a shortage—and still a chance your bike could be stolen.
The Washington Post recently covered the increase in bike theft in and around D.C., and Fox5 ran a story about an upcoming documentary about a professional bike thief. We hope you’ll never have to use this information, but if you do need it, providing the police with a complete record of your stolen bike could greatly help in its recovery.
Annapolis and Richmond are humming today as Virginia and Maryland kick off their 2014 legislative sessions. This year’s sessions present an opportunity for successful passage of many legislative efforts that will protect bicyclists and make regional roads safer for all users.
Both state legislative sessions are short, and bills move quickly. Maryland’s legislation can be no longer than 90 days; this year’s session is scheduled to wrap up by April 7. Across the Potomac, the Virginia legislative sessions is even shorter: 60 days, with the final day on March 8th. Tracking the sessions is often challenging, but we will do our best to keep you updated.
WABA will be closely following a slate of bills in both states that relate to bicycling and support the work of each state-level advocacy organization, the Virgina Bicycling Federation and Bike Maryland.
HB 82 — Following Too Closely: This bill would require drivers of any vehicle to not follow more closely than is reasonable any other vehicle, including bicyclists.
SB 225 – Dooring Legislation: If this law is enacted, drivers and passengers in Virginia will be legally required to exercise care when opening their car doors with respect to adjacent traffic. Dooring of bicyclists by drivers and passengers can cause serious injury and this bill seeks to reduce the potential of dooring.
SB 97 – Three Foot Passing : Current Virgina law requires drivers to exercise care when passing vehicles, including bicyclists, and to give at least two feet when passing. This bill seeks to extend the passing distance to three feet, in line with D.C. and Maryland law.
HB277 – Pedestrians crossing highways: This bill would clarify the duties of vehicles to stop to allow pedestrians (and bicyclists) to cross highways at marked crosswalks. The full bill language helps to define many ambiguities that exist in current law.
HB320: Reckless driving; passing other vehicles at intersections: This bill seeks to amend the legal reckless driving statute by prohibiting a person from overtaking or passing another vehicle stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection when a pedestrian (or bicyclist) is present.
HB92 – Passing a Bicycle, an Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device, or a Motor Scooter – Distance Requirement: This bill seeks to strengthen the three-foot passing law by altering the distance a driver of a vehicle is required to maintain while passing to four feet (with some exceptions).
HB52 – Bicycles and Motor Scooters – Rules of the Road: This bill clarifies that the duties of bicyclists are those defined in Maryland law, which ensures that a lawful cyclist who is in a crash is not denied recovery due to other, hypothetical duties not included in law.
WABA will give periodic updates on bills via our blog (waba.org/blog–you’re reading it right now!). We will also be sending out targeted action alerts to our members and supporters who live in key legislators’ districts. Sign up below to receive updates and action alerts.
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We’ll alert you when immediate action is needed on bicycling issues. Emails are sent only a few times a month (at most). You can unsubscribe at any time.
The District Department of Transportation is proposing a new Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge that will not connect to the Suitland Parkway Trail through Anacostia. The Suitland Parkway Trail’s trailhead is only one mile from the proposed bridge.
DDOT will invest $600 million in a new South Capitol Street / Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge across the Anacostia River. This is the largest capital investment project in the DDOT’s history and represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the design right for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Bridge engineers have been listening to the concerns of bicycling community over the last two years, and DDOT has made improvements to the bridge design for bicyclists and pedestrians. The new span will have two 18-foot-wide multi-use trails, one of each side of the roadway. The sidepath space will be divided into an 8-foot sidewalk and a 10-foot-wide bicycle path. There will be direct connections from the bridge, around the traffic circles, to the street grid and existing or planned trail networks.
But there is a glaring exception: There is no direct connection to the Suitland Parkway Trail from the bridge. The Suitland Parkway Trail is a multi-use path that extends two miles east from Anacostia to the District’s border with Maryland. Prince George’s County is beginning plans to extend the trail another 3.5 miles east to the Branch Ave Metro Station. It is a preferred route for bicyclists because the trail is steady uphill grade ; many nearby residential streets have very quick and steep climbs.
Bicyclists wishing to travel from the bridge to the trail will follow one of two routes. The first is on the south side of the trail, follows the traffic circle around counterclockwise, underneath I-295, and ends at the intersection of Firth Sterling and the Suitland Parkway. This route crosses roads eight times including two high speed interstate ramps. The second route begins on the north side of the bridge, follows the traffic circle around clockwise and ends on Howard Road. Engineers would then paint bike lanes on Howard Road. Neither route ends anywhere near the Suitland Parkway Trail.
Residents who live just up the Anacostia River experience a similar roadway design every day. The unpleasant walk or bike ride from the Pennsylvania Ave Bridge underneath the freeway to Minnesota Avenue SE is nearly the same layout. Pedestrians and bicyclists must navigate a sea of crosswalks, high speed interstate highway ramps and numerous traffic lights. It’s unsafe, unpleasant and intimidating. DDOT should not repeat the same mistake.
DDOT engineers need to propose a direct connection from the new bridge to the trail. This connection should aim to keep pedestrians and bicyclists separated from car traffic, minimize crosswalks and prioritize grade separated trail crossings. Trail user should not have to cross high speed freeway ramps. The design should prioritize the experience of bicyclists and pedestrians. Most importantly, the trail connection should keep kids, adults, and seniors safe and be a direct, safe, and convenient connection of communities.