(Some) Met Branch Trail construction this year in Silver Spring

Metropolitan Branch Trail Silver Spring

The Met Branch Trail along the Red Line near Montgomery College in Silver Spring. Photo credit: Dan Reed

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) will begin construction on the first section of the Met Branch Trail (MBT) in downtown Silver Spring this year. County Councilmembers asked MCDOT to build any sections of trail ready to go during the March budget work session.

New details emerged about the MBT phasing at the Transportation and Environment Committee (T&E) budget work session on April 20th  (you can watch the full discussion online here at 38:10). The construction of two buildings near Progress Place interfere with the trail construction between the Silver Spring Transit Center and B&O Train Station. Rather than wait until 2018/19 when the new buildings are complete to begin design and construction, MCDOT is willing to construct sections of trail now. Where possible, the MBT will be wider than the 10 foot minimum trail width and the trail will be fully lit at night.

The Met Branch Trail, when finished, will be a 8 mile trail from downtown Silver Spring to Union Station. Roughly 50 percent of the total trail is complete. About 1 mile of the MBT is in Montgomery County. The City of Takoma Park section is complete. The remaining unbuilt trail section is about .6 miles long. See our MBT priority page for further breakdown on trail progress and recent information.

See the full breakdown of trail sections and their anticipated construction schedule below.

The full MBT in Silver Spring will not be complete until 2019/2020. But, the community will see some progress this year and every year until it’s complete. Thank you to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. We appreciate their willingness, responsiveness and flexibility to adjust the construction schedule. Trail projects are hard and take time to build. Showing some progress, even small pieces, are important to keep the public engaged and excited. Thank you to Councilmembers Berliner, Hucker and Floreen who serve on the T&E Committee for their continued committment of growing bicycling in Montgomery County.

WABA’s advocacy is supported by your membership dollars. Join or donate to WABA today.

Click this one button to make biking better

Want to make biking better?

click this button

It really works!*

OK sure it’s a cute gimmick, but here’s the thing: one of the best ways to make biking better in our region is to get more people on bikes. More people on bikes means more people demanding better infrastructure. More people on bikes reinforces the growing consensus that bicycling is a legitimate transportation option.

Bike to Work Day is a great chance to help that person in your life who’s bike-curious give bike commuting a shot.

So go ahead and click that button a few times. Get your friends to click the button too. Invite a neighbor or a coworker or a friend to ride with you. It’ll be great!

*If the button doesn’t open your email client, write this email:

To: [your coworker, friend, or neighbor]

Subject: Want to bike to work together on Friday?

Message: Friday is Bike to Work Day, let’s do this!

I’ll meet you at X.

We can grab a bagel at the X pit stop on our way.

Sign up here: waba.org/biketoworkday

Bike to work day: This is going to be great.

Bike to work day: This is going to be great.

Ride Arlington with us this Wednesday!

Folks, our next Community Ride is this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Arlington.

Sign up!

In each of our Community Rides, we explore a different topic related to riding in the DC area. This time, we’re discussing haulin’, which means carrying a lot of stuff on your bike.

We’ll talk about (and bring, so you can get a feel for how they work!) panniers, trailers, and other creative everyday biking solutions for hauling stuff from groceries to tents and sleeping bags.

For example: Meet my friend Will.

Will Haulin Ride 1_lowres

Sometimes Will has to carry a lot of stuff on his bike. Sometimes he even has to carry a whole garden.

He attaches a trailer to his bike to get the job done.

Will Haulin 3_lowres

There are lots of ways to make your bike a good option to transport everything you need for your day. You don’t have to use Will’s way — you can make your own!

Join us on Wednesday to ride around Arlington, to air your deepest bike questions, to haul stuff, and to eat tacos!

See you there?

Tour de Fat is 3 weeks away!

The coolest bicycle festival you will ever go to is just three weeks away. The Tour de Fat will be held on Saturday, May 30th at Yards Park in DC. What’s even cooler? The free festival, sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, raises a ton of support for WABA and other local bicycle non-profits! So come out and celebrate with us.

If you can’t wait for the big day, the good folks at New Belgium have a bunch of chances to celebrate and get in the Tour de Fat spirit between now  and May 30th. (P.S. We saved the best for last, so make sure to check out the whole list!):

This rad DC bicyclist traded in her CAR for a BICYCLE at the Tour de Fat last year!   (Photo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing.)

This DC bicyclist traded in her CAR for a BICYCLE at the Tour de Fat last year! (Photo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing.)

Tour de Fat Trivia, Wednesdays at Stoney’s L Street: Swing by after work for Tour de Trivia featuring weekly New Belgium prize packs for the winning team.  New Belgium beers will be featured at $4 pints and $14 pitchers.  Prizes include bicycle 6 pack holders, VIP tickets to Tour de Fat and much more!

Rolle Bolle Party, Wednesday, May 13 from 6-8pm at Vendetta Lounge on H Street NE: Come get a taste of our Belgian roots as New Belgium Brewing takes over the bocce courts with the traditional bocce-like game played in Belgium – Rolle Bolle!  They’ll teach you to play and give away NBB shwag and VIP tickets to Tour de Fat!

H Street Country Club DC Bike Party after-party, Wednesday, May 13 from 10-11:30pm at H Street County Club: Again New Belgium is partnering with DC Bike Party with beer specials and shwag giveaways.  Join a slew of other bike enthusiasts on the ride departing from Dupont Circle as it takes you through this month’s unique DC route. (WABA will be at the start location of DC Bike Party to tell folks about the Tour de Fat, so give us a high five if you see us there!)

WABA and New Belgium’s Tour de Fat Pre-Party & Volunteer Party, Thursday, May 28th from 6-9pm at Churchkey on 14th St NW: WABA and New Belgium are keeping tradition rolling with our annual Volunteer Party/Pre-Party at Churchkey equipped with a raffle for a New Belgium cruiser bike, VIP tickets to Tour de Fat and more. The cruiser bike will be raffled off at 9pm.  All proceeds from raffle sales support WABA!!  For you beer nerds, the beer list will feature 5 unique cask beers, in addition to 15 other New Belgium staples and rarities. All Tour de Fat volunteers (you know who you are – and volunteers are still needed, so sign up here) will get a beer at the party courtesy of New Belgium.

Tour de Fat Pre-Show, Friday, May 29th from 5:30-8:30pm at Yards Park, DC: You didn’t know there was a pre-show?! The Tour de Fat Carnies will be showcasing a few of their performances along with the bands performing. Come hang out for the Yards Park Friday night concert series, enjoy a beer (WABA will be there selling brews!) and get a little free, live entertainment before the big day – make sure you come back on Saturday when the party really happens!

THE TOUR DE FAT! Saturday, May 30th from 10am to 5:00pm at Yards Park, DC: Here’s the deal – New Belgium is generous enough to put on an amazing show for all of us that’s bike themed and free, plus there’s really good craft beer for sale for just five bucks and all proceeds benefit WABA. There’s interactive games, a bicycle pit, a kids play area, a bike ride, soul music from Charles Bradley, fried chicken and pizza, and unlimited high-fives. You just have to come experience the fun for yourself!

We’re also still recruiting volunteers to help us make this amazing bicycle festival happen!

Sign up to Volunteer

We will see you at the Tour de Fat!!

If you could change one law for biking, what would it be?

John A. Wilson Building, Washington, DC
The D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment is convening a bicycle and pedestrian safety task force. The group will discuss the District’s current approach to biking and walking safety and look into possible regulatory and legislative way to improve.  The final outcome will be a report of recommendations to the Council.

The task force has strong representation from city agencies, including leadership from MPD, DDOT, the Mayor’s office, AAA, the insurance industry, and key community and advocacy organizations. AAA’s John Townsend and myself are co-chairs of the task force.

So, if you could wave a magic wand and change one law or regulation, what would it be?

We are looking for new ideas from other communities or other countries. Ideas about laws for both pedestrians and bicyclists are okay. In the past five years, D.C. Council has passed several bills related to walking and bike, including the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013 and Access to Justice for Bicyclists Act of 2012.

The Task Force will deliver a D.C. Council report on laws and regulations. The group will not be debating pending legislation either (i.e. the contributory negligence or a distracted driving bills before Council now), and obviously won’t supersede the standard legislative or regulatory process.

The process is quick. There will be four public meetings in May and June. All meetings will be a roundtable format and open to the public.

Safety Task Force Public Meeting Details
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Chairman’s Conference Room (Room 502)

May 21, 2-4 pm – Pedestrian Safety
May 27, 2-4 pm – Bicycle Safety
June 4, 2-4 pm – Enforcement, Liability, and Reporting
June 11, 2-4 pm – Updating the District’s Laws, Regulations, etc.

The final report of possible recommendations will be available by July.  The timing will fit nicely with the launch of DC’s Vision Zero Action Plan in the late summer / early fall.

So, what can the Council change to make biking and walking safer in D.C.? We have some initial ideas but what are your ideas? Send us your ideas and thoughts to advocacy@waba.org.

Introducing Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC, a WABA Business Member

WABA’s Business Members understand the importance of a community that bicycles. Their membership supports our advocacy, outreach and education. Our business members are committed to a sustainable future of our region and are adding their voice to a growing number of bicycle-friendly businesses supporting WABA. Today meet Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC.

Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC is a law firm located in Washington D.C. is dedicated to representing injured clients and their families. Staff members are multilingual and can speak English, Spanish, and Tagalog. The office is actually located right next door to fellow WABA Business Member BicycleSPACE.

SERC Triathlon 2014

David Ginsburg is an avid cyclist himself

David Ginsburg is an avid bicyclist along with his wife. They have participated in various rides and sprint triathlons around the area. He understands many of the issues associated with biking in and around a city, and the firm recently posted a blog about contributory negligence. We are proud to call Wingfield & Ginsburg, PC, a WABA Business Member!

Do you own, work for, or patronize a business that is a good candidate for our business membership? For just $300 or $800 per year, you can show your support for a bike-friendly region and WABA’s advocacy and get all sorts of perks, including your very own blog post! Details here.

How many U-turns across Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes did we count in one hour?

Written by WABA Member Dave Salovesh

Too many.

Nobody thought adding safe bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue was going to be easy. Yet, just in time for Bike to Work Day 2010 they came to the center of America’s Main Street between the US Capitol and the White House. Even before marking was complete, riders saw one of the biggest challenges firsthand: drivers making U-turns across the new lanes.

Quite possibly the first U-turn on Pennsylvania Ave NW on May 7, 2010. Photo credit:

Was this the first U-turn on Pennsylvania Ave NW? Photo taken on May 7, 2010. Photo credit: Dave Salovesh

It takes time to get used to any changes, and everyone hoped this behavior would diminish as drivers became accustomed to people using this space. That was not the case, and by late 2012 drivers were observed making U-turns at the rate of almost one per minute in just one block.  D.C. Councilmembers, the Mayor, MPD, and DDOT responded with emergency regulation banning U-turns, increasing enforcement, and planning design changes to reduce driver confusion and prevent this risky infraction.

Separating bike lanes from general traffic, and keeping motor vehicles out, is the best thing cities can do to keep people bicycling safe. While there may be reasons  that options for D.C.’s roadway engineers to protect bike lanes are somewhat limited, there are solutions out there to help.

DDOT uses these methods and others to protect cyclists using protected bike lanes over D.C., and they’re very helpful. In 2013 a pilot program was approved to test zebra barriers on one block. And, in 2014 an additional study was started to evaluate the use of rubber parking stops. Preliminary results have demonstrated that both are effective at reducing U-turns and other lane incursions. DDOT uses a combination of flex-posts, rubber parking stops and concrete curbs to physically separate bike traffic from motor vehicles in other parts of the city.

13 illegal U-turns in one hour on April 23, 2015 in the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Ave NW, including one near miss.

With the return of pleasant weather we’ve seen an increase in people enjoying bicycling in D.C. Unfortunately, that has also brought an increase in crashes, and on Pennsylvania Avenue over the last two weeks there have been at least three crashes due to U-turns across the bike lanes. We documented at least 13 vehicles making U-turns across the bike lanes in 1400 block during a single hour of evening traffic.

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The third crash involving a bicyclist and U-turning driver on Pennsylvania Ave NW this spring. Photo credit: Dave Salvesh

The steps to make Pennsylvania Avenue safer from U-turns have been known for years, but have not yet been fully implemented. During that time countless crashes and near-misses have happened. Drivers persist with the mistaken understanding that this space reserved for bicycles is open for them as well. And unfortunately, many bicyclists have decided the risk is too great for them or their families. They have found alternate routes, or some may even choose other means of travel.

Now is the time for that to change. The D.C. Council, and the Mayor should push DDOT to produce a definite timeline for installing a protective barrier along the entire length of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes, as a high priority project. All the pieces are ready, the pilots and studies are complete and the need is great. We know how quickly D.C. can accomplish good work when it’s necessary. Can the safety of Pennsylvania Avenue’s bike lanes be improved before Bike Month 2015 ends?