Come learn about the much-anticipated cycletrack on M Street NW at our “Walk the Tracks” event next Mon., May 6 at 6:30 p.m. WABA staff, members, and supporters will walk the length of project, starting at Thomas Circle, and discuss the proposed bike lane. Staff from DDOT and the Golden Triangle and Downtown BIDs will be present. This event is a chance to have your questions answered about the project, its design, and the timeline for its construction.
The proposed one-way westbound cycletrack will extend from Thomas Circle at 14th Street NW to 28th Street NW in Georgetown. The cycletrack will be 1.3 miles in length. Last fall, DDOT constructed a one-way eastbound cycletrack on L Street NW. When complete, the L Street and M Street cycletracks will be parallel routes that establish a major east-west crosstown corridor for bikes—and add to the growing network of physically separated Green Lane Projects in our city.
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Capital Bikeshare station on the west side of Thomas Circle. We will walk 1.3 miles west along M Street NW, ending in Georgetown. After the walk, those interested in enjoying a cold drink can do so at a local Georgetown business. If you are planning on attending our “Walk the Tracks” event, please RSVP here.
In January, we reported that construction had stalled on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail bridge over the CSX tracks on the east side of the river. It appears construction activity has restarted at the bridge site with DDOT posting photos on their Facebook page of a large crane posting the bridge’s main span.
We took a field trip to the site and snapped the photo above to see the progress ourselves. The bridge’s main span is now in place. Final work will include the bridge decking and finishing the approach ramps. Take a minute and read the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative’s update on their project website explaining the progress, which says that a spring opening of the bridge is expected.
We want to thank DDOT for making the completion of this bridge a priority.
On Mon., March 25, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public hearing on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and safety. The committee will also hear public testimony on the proposed Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013 (read the full text of B20-0140). The proposed legislation would amend and update sections of the D.C. municipal regulations as they relate to bicycling in the District of Columbia.
If passed, the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013 would make the following updated or amendments:
- Bicyclists’ use of leading pedestrian intervals: Bicyclists could get the same head start as pedestrians at signalized intersections where pedestrians are given few extra seconds to start crossing a street. Allowing pedestrians and bicyclists the opportunity to get into the intersection before cars make them more visible to drivers.
- Bicycle and pedestrian detours: The mayor would be allowed to require permits obtained from the District Department of Transportation for projects that block sidewalks, bike lanes, or other pedestrian or bicycle paths to provide safe accommodatiosn for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Aligns bicyclists crash infractions with similar pedestrian one: The bill adds penalties “failure to yield” and “colliding with a bicyclist” infractions, similar to current pedestrian infractions. The penalty for “failing to yield” to the bicyclist would be three points points and a fine of $250. “Colliding with a person riding a bicycle” would be six points and a fine of $500.
- Ability to make an audible noise: The bill modifies the law that requires all bicycles to be equipped with a bell, instead requiring all bicycle riders to “be capable of making a warning noise either with a bell or mechanical device, or with his or her voice, audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet.” It also removes a section prohibiting bicyclists from a making a noise within the established quiet zones (Title 18 Section 1204.7)
Please sign up to testify in support of the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013. The outlined changes represent a series of minor but important changes to make bicycling safer and easier in the District of Columbia. As this bill moves forward, you can track the status of it through the DC Council’s online legislation tool. Thanks to Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells for their leadership in making DC a world class bicycle city.
Date: Mon., March 25, 2013
Time: 11 a.m.
Room 500, John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20004
Hearing announcement and details
- Sign up to testify.
- Show up at least 20 minutes before the hearing starts.
- You will be required to pass through security. Bring a state-issued ID.
- Bring at least 8 copies of your written testimony to submit for the record.
- You will be given three (and only three) minutes to testify. You don’t have to use all of the time! Make your point and be brief.
- Your written testimony and supporting documents can be longer than your testimony, so feel free to get into details in writing.
- The committee chair will bring up a panel of 3-4 people to testify in a row. You will all give your testimony and then stay at the table for questions.
- Be sure to thank the committee chair and any present councilmembers.
Photo by Flickr user thisisbossi
Last night, we asked you to take action to oppose a mandatory helmet law introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates’ Committee on Environmental Matters. In response, some of you asked for additional information on the “debatable” effects on bicyclists’ safety and the negative impacts on cycling that a mandatory helmet law would have.
We vocally and overwhelmingly approve of helmets here at WABA. All of our staff and volunteers wear them, we require participants to wear them at all WABA events, and we teach how to wear them properly in all WABA education classes. Helmets provide an important last line of defense in the safety equation during a crash. When everything else has gone wrong, helmets have saved many bicyclists from more serious injuries or even death. We don’t get on our bikes without our helmets and we strongly encourage every cyclist out there to wear one.
However, mandatory helmet laws requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets are not effective at increasing helmet usage without significantly affecting ridership. There are many studies that show helmet usage increases when laws are passed—but critically, not without a negative effect on overall bicycle ridership. In Australia, ridership dropped 37.5 percent between 1985 and 2011 after such a law was passed. During the same time, population growth was three times higher than the growth of cycling, meaning following the passage of a mandatory helmet law, there was a net decrease in bicycling.
These laws negatively impact bicycle ridership by throwing up one more barrier (financially and behaviorally) to bike riding. Therefore, a potential bicyclist will be driven to choose another mode of transportation. Additionally, a recent New York Times article quoted Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney: “Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified—in fact, cycling has many health benefits.” Jong has studied the public health impacts of bicycling and has concluded that the positive health benefits outweigh risks of helmetless riding 20 to 1. In a country in the midst of an obesity epidemic, encouraging a few miles of bicycling everyday could lead to a considerable reduction in overall healthcare costs. And as jurisdictions like Montgomery County consider bikesharing programs, it’s important that those programs are accessible. Mandatory helmet laws in Maryland could potentially kill the momentum for bikesharing, as the law would promote a sense of danger for cycling, ignoring the obvious overall health benefits.
And finally, these laws are merely an easy “fix” for legislators that distract from larger safety issues—such as the lack of safe, separate and comfortable places to ride. Adults and kids need safe spaces to ride on our roads that are separate from cars. We at WABA believe there are better legislative ways to keep bicyclists safe, such as better and more targeted enforcement of current traffic laws (especially distracted driving), increased bicyclist education, and, most importantly, the construction of separated bicycling facilities.
Helmets are an important part of keeping bicyclists safe and WABA enthusiastically supports their promotion and use, but mandatory helmet laws do more harm than good.
The Maryland House of Delegates is considering removing the “under 16″ age requirement of its current mandatory helmet law in HB 339 to require all bicycle riders to wear a helmet. Please take a minute and contact the members of the Committee on Environmental Matters and ask them to oppose HB 339.
In April 2012, Mayor Gray cut the ribbon for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail bridge on the river’s west side. This was the first of two riverwalk trail bridges planned to pass over the CSX tracks. The second bridge, on the east side of the river, should have been completed this past July. But in January 2013, we still don’t have a finished bridge.
According to the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the contractor for the project struck an underground object and needs to move or redesign the final few supporting structures. The project is stalled while DDOT and the contractor hash out who pays for the changes. The AWI team says a completed bridge is months away, if not longer.
Completing this bridge will link the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail from the Frederick Douglas Bridge to Benning Road. In 2014, when the Kenilworth Garden trail section is complete, the Riverwalk Trail will link D.C. to Maryland’s Anacostia Tributary Trail System, which is over 50 miles.
We hope DDOT will find a solution soon to complete the bridge.
Over 1,800 bicyclists crossed the 14th Street bridge on Sept.13th, 2011.
That number has no doubt increased by now. Most cyclists riding on the bridge during the morning rush are coming from Virginia to major employment hubs: Federal Triangle, downtown D.C., and Capitol Hill. Those “in the know” riders are conditioned to the fractured connection between the 14th Street bridge and the 15th Street cycletrack. That’s not typically the case with new riders and visitors to the city who don’t know about, or can’t find, this important connection.
The connection between the bridge and the 15th Street cycletrack simply does not accommodate the amount of traffic that crosses it. Improving the connection would also allow cyclists to easily access from the bridge D.C.’s growing network of protected bike lanes outside of 15th Street, including those on Pennsylvania Avenue, L Street NW, and, soon, M Street NW. Extending the 15th Street cycletrack would give cyclists access to downtown bike lanes and multi-use paths on the National Mall.
Three easy projects, described below, would help to better connect the 14th Street Bridge to the 15th Street cycletracks.
Extend the 15th cycletrack one block south, to Constitution Avenue
Currently, the cycletrack on 15th Street NW ends at Pennsylvania Avenue. Bicyclists headed south are dumped onto a wide street with many tour buses and fast-moving traffic. Less experienced riders often choose the sidewalk, which has heavy pedestrian traffic and can be filled with vendors selling T-shirts and hats. DDOT’s original cycletrack plans included an extension one block south, but that was never built. So let’s build it!
Sign the route
The Mall is filled with multi-use sidewalks to view our national memorials. There is plenty of space on these paths that pedestrians and bicyclists can share. But new riders and tourists do not know the bike routes across the Mall. Wayfinding signs, which can explain the bike route for those traveling between the 15th Street cycletrack to 14th Street Bridge, should be installed. Those signs should also tell pedestrians to be aware of the presence of bicyclists. Bicyclists who feel comfortable using the road can still do so, but signing the route would give an alternative to inexperienced riders.
Fix the path to the 14th Street Bridge and multi-use sidewalks around the Tidal Basin
The paved path from the Jefferson Memorial to the 14th Street bridge needs serious repair. The 8-foot width is insufficient, and DDOT long ago placed an interstate sign support directly in the path of trail users. The path needs to be widened to at least 12 feet, and the sign needs to be moved. Also, the multi-use sidepaths around the Tidal Basin, between the bridge, need attention. There are pinch points along desired riding routes, especially at intersection of 15th Street SW and Maine Avenue SW. Fixing these small issues would go a long way for improving the riding experience.
The 14th Street Bridge is a major river crossing for area bicyclists coming to downtown from Virginia. Now is time to finish the connection with a few immediate fixes.
View Connect Virginia Cyclists to DC in a larger map
In a few months, DDOT’s largest project to date will be finished without promised bicycle and pedestrian connections built in. The 11th Street Bridges is the largest element in the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative and is a critical way to connect bicyclists and pedestrians from both sides of the Anacostia River. It is also necessary for use of the entire Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.
But the finalized bridge will not directly connect the Riverwalk Trail on both sides of the river to each other. This is a failure.
The 11th Street Bridges project represents a $370 million investment in the regional transportation network. Missing interstate connections are being built to remedy the awful cut-through traffic that communities east of the river have experienced since the first 11th Street Bridges were built over 50 years ago.
The new local 11th Street Bridge is to include a “14 foot sidewalk/bikepath” to connect local communities and the Riverwalk Trails, which run parallel on both sides of the river. The resulting project will be a 14-foot sidewalk, minus the space occupied by lamp posts, streetcar catenary supports, railings and fences—so, effectively, 10 feet or less. And, it will not connect directly to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail on the east side of the river!
In the project’s current state, bicyclists coming south from the Ward 7 and Maryland (via the new Kenilworth Garden Trail section) wishing to get to Capitol Hill will have an extra and unnecessary route to the bridge. Traveling south along the Riverwalk Trail, trail users will have to bike or walk on-street along Good Hope Road into Anacostia. Then, they will have to turn left at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road onto 11th Street towards the bridge. This circuitous route adds an additional one-third mile of walking or biking to access the bridge from the Riverwalk Trail. The actual distance between the Riverwalk Trail and the local bridge sidewalk/bikepath is about 200 feet part.
The old 11th Street Bridge, which was recently removed, did have a direct connection to the trail along the downstream side. This shouldn’t be lost with the new bridge—because it wasn’t planned to be lost.
Planning for the new bridge began when DDOT completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement in October 2007. The FEIS includes a direct connection between the Riverwalk Trail and the local bridge (see page 60). DDOT chose a design-build construction process to speed up project delivery and stay within a constrained budget. The result of the design-build process has been frustrating for those trying to stay involved.
In June 2012, I contacted DDOT to inquire about the lack of a direct connection from the local bridge to the Riverwalk Trail. A few emails were sent around, with more people copied each time. In the end, there was no answer for the lack of this important trail connection.
At last night’s the Ward 8 Transportation Task Force meeting, representatives from DDOT and the project team were on hand to give a progress report. When asked about why the trail connection was not being built, two answers were given. The DDOT representative said the previous trail connection on the old bridge was “not ADA compliant,” so it wouldn’t be replaced. And when pressed on the fact that the FEIS includes the connection, project manager Pete McDermott said DC Water was planning to dig in the area, so no connection would be built.
The community was promised a world-class waterfront with recreational and transportation amenities, including the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. The construction of the 11th Street Bridge fails to provide the high-quality direct connection between the east-side and west-side Riverwalk Trails it assured from its outset. WABA hopes to see this critical connection completed while this project is still under construction and amenable to improvement.
Green Paint has arrived in the Washington region. Arlington, VA and Washington, DC have been coloring bike lanes green over the past few weeks. Green bike lanes increase a driver’s awareness of the presence of a bike lane and helps make the cyclist more visible to the driver.
The paint used to color the lanes is called “StreetBond CL“. New York City has been using the same green color treatment for the past few years. In fact, DDOT painted a test strip of green paint in a bike lane a few years ago on 15th St. SE to analyze it’s durability. The paint is designed to be low maintenance and anti-slip in all types pf weather. The mix both DC and Arlington are using has added grit to increase friction, especially when wet. Many other road and lane markings are very slippery when it’s rainy – this road treatment is not!
You won’t be seeing miles of green paint soon. Painting miles of lanes is expensive, requires on-going maintenance and doesn’t increase the overall safety for cyclists. Instead, DDOT has developed a striping policy for applying green paint to bike lanes. Their focus will be conflict zones (end of bike lanes, mixing zones with cycle tracks, etc), safe zones (bike boxes, floating bike lanes, etc) and at major intersections to guide bicyclists through them.
See the full list of bike lanes in Arlington County planned to be painted green (or have already been painted). DDOT will be painting lanes over the next few weeks and the highly anticipated L St cycle track (PDF) will include green paint (M St cycle track will have green paint in 2013). Officials expect the L St cycle track will be installed during the first few weeks of November. So, be on the look out for green paint in a bike lane near you!
Come speak up in support of an improved M Street SE/SW. DDOT will be holding its third and final meeting on the M Street Southeast/Southwest Transportation Study. The study is evaluating proposed alternatives for multi-modal transportation improvements to the M St SW/SE corridor. Public comments will be taken during the meeting.
The study area is roughly 1.7 square miles along M Street SE/SW and the Southwest Waterfront from 12th Street, SE to 14th Street, SW and from the Southwest/Southeast Freeway south to the Anacostia River/Washington Channel M St. This area is very significant to bicyclists in Washington, DC as it is the crossroads for major bicycling routes and trails including the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Also, there is access to two of the three bridges (South Capitol & 11th Street) in DC that cross the Anacostia River.
DDOT has held two previous public meetings, a very well attended January meeting and much smaller meeting in May. Public input was taken at both meetings and bicycling was overwhelming supported by attendees. Most attendees indentified bicycle lanes in the area and cycle tracks on M Street as a high priority.
The M St SW/SE corridor is rapidly developing into a major destination for employment and entertainment. DDOT has also identified M St in the DC Streetcar concept plan. Streetcars and on-street parking on M St should not come at the cost of bicycle access. Bicyclists should have safe and protected access not just to M St, but on M St!
Come to this final meaning and support bicycling in the SW/SE waterfront area Thursday night (September 13,2012)at 6:30pm at the Amidon Bowen Elementary School, 401 I Street, SW. Read the complete meeting announcement online. We have created a small poster (8.5″ x 11″) you can download, print and bring to the meeting show your support for Cycle Tracks on M St.
(To be clear, this is about M Street SE/SW, not M Street NW)
Arlington County is planning to construct a bike trail connection along Washington Boulevard. The trail would be built on the west side of Washington Boulevard between Route 50 and South Rolfe Street.
Recently, the project has come under criticism from the Penrose Neighborhood Association due to the number of trees that would be impacted by construction. The local blog Along the Pike has complete details of the projects, impacts to the environment and the many health and environmental benefits to come with the bike and pedestrian path.
Your support for the Washington Boulevard Trail is needed tonight at the Penrose Neighborhood Association meeting. A representative from Arlington County will be present to explain the project and answer questions from the community. The local bicycling and trail community needs to have its collective voice heard tonight.
Penrose Neighborhood Association Meeting
Date: Tuesday July 17, 2012
Time: 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: Trinity Episcopalian Church at corner of Wayne and Col Pike – Google Map Bicycle Directions
Thank you for your help in creating a more bicycle friendly Arlington County.