Met Branch Trail Coming to Fort Totten

Last week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) took the next major step to extend the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Brookland to the Fort Totten Metro. In a press release, DDOT announced that it is seeking proposals from firms to complete final design and build the new trail segment. Once the contract is awarded, construction could be complete in about 18 months. This will be the first major trail construction since the southern 2.2 mile section opened in 2010.

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

This new phase will extend the sidepath on the east side of John McCormack Dr to the base of the hill across from the Fort Totten waste transfer station. Instead of heading up the hill, as it does today, the trail will continue north alongside the CSX tracks east of the Transfer Station. At the Fort Totten Metro, the trail will climb up and over the Green Line tunnel portal, then descend back to street level.

A bird’s eye rendering of the trail alignment around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This phase of construction will add nearly a mile of new trail, improving walking and biking access to the transit hub and the new development surrounding it. The project will include stairs for a direct route down to the Metro entrance and an improved trail through Fort Totten Park westward to Gallatin St, where the interim route continues northward. The new 10-12 foot wide trail will include lights, security cameras, and a relatively gradual grade compared to the steep climb up Fort Totten Dr. For more renderings and detailed design drawings, go to metbranchtrail.com/resources/.

When complete, the Met Branch Trail will span more than 8 miles between Union Station and the Silver Spring Metro Station. So far, the southern 5.5 miles are a mix of off-street trail, protected bike lane, and low traffic streets. Once built out from Bates Rd to Fort Totten, about 2 miles will remain to be built through Manor Park and Takoma to the Maryland line. DDOT finished 30% design for this last phase in 2016 and aims to complete final design in 2017.

February Advocacy Roundup


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Welcome to our February Advocacy Roundup!

Before we dive in, we wanted to let you know that we recently received an honor for our work: Bike Law, a national network of bicycle crash attorneys, awarded WABA its Advocacy Win of 2016.

Now, here’s that roundup:

Bike Laws and Policies

Maryland Legislative Session:

The Maryland legislature has several technical but extremely important bills on its agenda this session. These bills would:

  • Legalize the use of hybrid pedestrian activated beacons or “HAWK” signals in MD,
  • Ensure that bicyclists riding in crosswalks are legally entitled to the right of way,
  • Give Montgomery County the authority to lower speed limits on certain roads, and
  • Create a task force to study bicycle safety on Maryland’s Highways.

Read our more detailed analysis here, and if you’re a Maryland resident, sign this petition in support of the legislation.

Virginia Legislative Session:

Virginia also has several bills we’re watching: One ensures that towns won’t lose state funding for maintenance if they convert travel lanes into bike infrastructure, the others are aimed at curbing dangerous driver behavior. We’ll have more details later in the month, but you can read our summary here.

The City of Alexandria has made two important decisions recently:


Low-Stress Bike Network

Two good options for a short new section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Buzzard Point Park, a two-block section of waterfront at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, will soon become a part of the Anacostia River Trail network. WABA is pleased to see that the Anacostia Riverwalk (an urban segment of the entire Anacostia River Trail system) was a prominent element of both concepts. Read more.

A Safer Trail Crossing of Little Falls Parkway

In January, Montgomery County implemented a road diet and speed reduction on Little Falls Parkway around the intersection with the Capital Crescent Trail. These changes, rolled out quickly with inexpensive materials, dramatically reduce the risk of crashes at this busy trail intersection. Read more.

Silver Spring’s 2nd & Wayne Ave Bike Lanes

In December, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation shared early designs for the county’s fifth protected bike lane project in Silver Spring including what will be the County’s first protected intersection. Read more.

DDOT decides to decide later on a Shaw protected bike lane

DDOT released its final report on the Eastern Downtown protected bike lane project. It’s a long report, and we’re still putting together our analysis, but the short version is:

  • DDOT will advance two options to 30% design, then decide which (if either) to build. The two options are both two way protected bike lanes, either on 6th St NW or 9th St NW.
  • A ‘no-build’ alternative is still on the table.
  • Assuming a build option moves forward, the timeline for project completion would be in sometime in 2019.

New sidewalk on the Interim Metropolitan Branch Trail:

That steep, smelly section of Fort Totten Drive has a new “climbing sidewalk.” Details here.

Alexandria Bike Campus Takes A Big Step Forward

A team of volunteers spent an enjoyable morning with crowbars, preparing the space at Jones Point Park for bike campus installation once it warms up enough to paint. Read more here.


Looking ahead:

DDOT released revised Vision Zero traffic regulations. We’re still working on our analysis, and will have an action alert soon. You can read a summary in the Washington Post.

DC Council Agency Oversight Hearings (PDF link) are coming up over the next few months. Keep an eye out for our testimony.

We’re hosting a regional Vision Zero Summit on Friday, March 31st. If you’re a policymaker, transportation professional or law enforcement professional, or you know one who might be interested, keep an eye on our summit page for more details about speakers and panelists next week.

The National Park Service is looking for feedback on the Anacostia Management Plan. You can read the plan and share feedback here. WABA will be submitting comments and asking members and supporters to do the same! The deadline for submitting comments is March 18, 2017.


Public Meeting Calendar:

DC: Alabama Avenue SE Corridor Safety Study

Saturday, February 11, 2017 | 10 am – 12:30 pm
THEARC 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE

DDOT is hosting the first meeting to discuss safety along the Alabama Avenue SE corridor.  DDOT aims to identify and address multimodal safety concerns and to improve the overall quality of the network for all users.  At this meeting, existing conditions and current traffic/crash data will be shared to capture ideas and suggestions from participants. Alabama Ave is an important bike corridor and would make an ideal protected bike lane corridor.

DC: Tactical Urbanism at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road

Monday, February 13, 2017 | 6:30 –  8 pm
NoMa BID Lobby 1200 First Street, NE

DDOT invites you to a meeting to discuss the Tactical Urbanism project at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road, NE. The purpose of this project is to increase safety at the North Capitol/Lincoln Road, NE intersection through immediate, short-term improvements that will lead the way for a larger intersection safety project. DDOT will present a draft design concept and gather comments from the community at this public meeting. Rapid implementation of safety projects like this are a key part of DC’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

DC: VRE Midday Storage Facility Public Meeting

Thursday, February 16, 2017 | 4:00 – 7:30 pm | Presentation at 4:30pm and 6:30pm
Bethesda Baptist Church 1808 Capitol Ave NE

Virginia Railway Express intends to replace its current storage space leased from Amtrak at the Ivy City Coach Yard in DC with a new storage yard alongside New York Avenue. The project will include planning, designing, and constructing a permanent midday storage facility for VRE trains that travel into the District from Virginia.

Fairfax: Lee District Bike Lanes Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 16 |  6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Groveton Elementary School, 6900 Harrison Lane, Alexandria

Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a community meeting to discuss proposed bike lanes in the Lee District. Representatives from FCDOT and VDOT will present plans for the project, which includes sharrows/shared lane marking, bike lanes, pedestrian improvements and overall safety.

More details here.

DC: Florida Avenue Multimodal Transportation Project

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | 6:30 pm – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm
New Samaritan Baptist Church 1100 Florida Avenue NE

DDOT will share 30% designs for multimodal transportation improvements along Florida Avenue NE from First Street NE to H Street/Benning Road NE. This project will add new wider sidewalks, bike lanes, new signalized crossings and streetscape improvements for a safer street. In the last project update in March 2016, DDOT’s preferred alternative eliminated many of the popular and safety-critical elements such as protected bike lanes and a road diet to curtail speeding. We hope that a year of work has found opportunities to point the project in the right direction.

DC: New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project

Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 6 – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm
Gallaudet University’s I. King Jordan Student Academic Center 800 Florida Avenue, NW

DDOT is in the early stages of planning significant streetscape improvements to beautify New York Avenue from Florida Avenue to Bladensburg Road. The project will study improvements to public space in the corridor, including curb, gutter, streetlights, plantings, trees, benches, public art and other public space improvements. Additionally, DDOT will develop concepts and designs to improve safety and quality of life for people who use New York Avenue, including a new multi-use trail connecting the National Arboretum and Metropolitan Branch Trail, and future transit services throughout the corridor. Read more at the project website.


WABA in the News

Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Project Meetings in the District

Construction crews are on their winter breaks, but the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) are ramping up planning on a number of projects relevant to people who bike in the District. Please consider attending these meetings this month and speaking up for the needs of bicyclists.

 

Alabama Avenue SE Corridor Safety Study
Saturday, February 11, 2017 | 10 am – 12:30 pm
THEARC 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE

DDOT is hosting the first meeting to discuss safety along the Alabama Avenue SE corridor.  DDOT aims to identify and address multimodal safety concerns and to improve the overall quality of the network for all users.  At this meeting, existing conditions and current traffic/crash data will be shared to capture ideas and suggestions from participants. Alabama Ave is an important bike corridor and would make an ideal protected bike lane corridor.

Tactical Urbanism at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road
Monday, February 13, 2017 | 6:30 –  8 pm
NoMa BID Lobby 1200 First Street, NE

DDOT invites you to a meeting to discuss the Tactical Urbanism project at North Capitol Street and Lincoln Road, NE. The purpose of this project is to increase safety at the North Capitol/Lincoln Road, NE intersection through immediate, short-term improvements that will lead the way for a larger intersection safety project. DDOT will present a draft design concept and gather comments from the community at this public meeting. Rapid implementation of safety projects like this are a key part of DC’s Vision Zero Action Plan.

VRE Midday Storage Facility Public Meeting
Thursday, February 16, 2017 | 4:00 – 7:30 pm | Presentation at 4:30pm and 6:30pm
Bethesda Baptist Church 1808 Capitol Ave NE

Virginia Railway Express intends to replace its current storage space leased from Amtrak at the Ivy City Coach Yard in DC with a new storage yard alongside New York Avenue. The project will include planning, designing, and constructing a permanent midday storage facility for VRE trains that travel into the District from Virginia. VRE will work with members of the community, stakeholders, and property owners to assess potential impacts and determine ways VRE can be a good neighbor.

Florida Avenue Multimodal Transportation Project
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | 6:30 pm – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm
New Samaritan Baptist Church 1100 Florida Avenue NE

DDOT will share 30% designs for multimodal transportation improvements along Florida Avenue NE from First Street NE to H Street/Benning Road NE. This project will add new wider sidewalks, bike lanes, new signalized crossings and streetscape improvements for a safer street. In the last project update in March 2016, DDOT’s preferred alternative eliminated many of the popular and safety-critical elements such as protected bike lanes and a road diet to curtail speeding. We hope that a year of work has found opportunities to point the project in the right direction.

New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project
Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 6 – 8 pm | Presentation at 6:30 pm
Gallaudet University’s I. King Jordan Student Academic Center 800 Florida Avenue, NW (map)

DDOT is in the early stages of planning significant streetscape improvements to beautify New York Avenue from Florida Avenue to Bladensburg Road. The project will study improvements to public space in the corridor, including curb, gutter, streetlights, plantings, trees, benches, public art and other public space improvements. Additionally, DDOT will develop concepts and designs to improve safety and quality of life for people who use New York Avenue, including a new multi-use trail connecting the National Arboretum and Metropolitan Branch Trail, and future transit services throughout the corridor. Read more at the project website.

Introducing HDR Architecture, a Leadership Level 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 HDR Architecture.

HDR Architecture is proud to become the newest member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. HDR is a global architecture and engineering firm with nearly 10,000 employees and 220 offices worldwide. We think global and act local, which is exactly why we want to continue supporting our greater Washington, DC community through WABA.

At HDR, we’ve been delivering solutions through smart design for 100 years. Through our projects near and far, we take pride in enriching the ways in which people work, live and play. Ensuring a sustainable world now and in the future is a big deal to us, therefore supporting a bike-friendly community is most certainly a cause we can support.

Learn more about HDR by visiting www.hdrinc.com and follow the hashtag #HDR_DC on Twitter for a view from the local lens of our DC Architecture practice.

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.

Legislation to watch in Virginia this session

These are the bills we’re supporting in Virginia in the 2017 legislative session. We’ll keep you posted as the session progresses.

Bicycle lane; penalty for driver to pass another vehicle using lane –  SB 1338 

Prohibits the driver of a motor vehicle from using a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle.

Highway maintenance funding –  HB 2023

Provides that cities and towns that receive highway maintenance payments from the Commonwealth based on moving-lane-miles of highway will not have their payments reduced if moving-lane miles of highway are converted to bicycle-only lanes.

Use of handheld personal communications devices while driving; penalty –  SB 860 

Expands the prohibition of using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle to all communications unless the device is specifically designed to allow voice and hands-free operation and the device is being used in that manner. (Current law prohibits only the reading of an email or text message and manually entering letters or text in the device as a means of communicating.)

The bill expands the exemptions to include devices that are used for navigation or generating audio transmissions if the device is physically mounted to the vehicle.

The bill provides that any violation of this prohibition that occurs at the same time as an additional traffic offense, or if the violation results in an accident, is punishable as reckless driving. Current law provides that a violation of this prohibition is punishable as a traffic infraction only.

Handheld personal communications devices; use of devices in highway work zones –  HB 1606

Prohibits any person from texting or otherwise using a handheld personal communications device while operating a motor vehicle in a highway work zone, defined in the bill, when workers are present.

Careless driving; cause of injury to vulnerable road user – SB 1339

Provides that a person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a vulnerable road user, defined in the bill as a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle, electric wheelchair, electric bicycle, wheelchair, skateboard, skates, foot-scooter, animal, or animal-drawn vehicle, is guilty of a traffic infraction.

When physical education becomes bike education

 

Youth on a bike stopped at a stop sign.

Students at Center City Public Charter School in Petworth discovered the ins and outs of bike riding during WABA’s Bike Week Takeover

Kids around DC are discovering biking indoors this winter thanks to WABA’s Bike Week “takeovers” of Physical Education classes. We recently completed at two Center City Public Charter School campuses—Brightwood and Petworth. WABA coordinated with City Center’s PE teachers to provide a full week of bike-centric education for every 2nd-8th grade PE class.

Each class of students had a wide range of abilities, from those who had never sat on a bike to one tremendous 7th grader who could wheelie or track stand for days. Our curriculum is designed to help every student progress and learn, no matter where they start out. We are able to put all students on a bike by removing the pedals to turn some into balance bikes. Balance bikes work to engage students in learning to ride, without excluding them from the class. While participating, they are also starting down the path to being safe and competent riders. For those that already know how to ride, we help them improve their control and teach them specific skills like the quick stop.

The curriculum includes basic traffic safety, where the students learn how to respond to traffic signals and other road users in safe, predictable, and legal manner. By the end of the week no one was saying that you had to wait for the stop sign to turn green to go!  Students also get to practice their handling skills on an indoor course that includes traffic signals and crossing bike traffic.

Our youth program in DC is supported by DDOT’s Safe Routes to Schools programming, but with your membership and support we can expand to other areas. Join WABA today!

If you work for or know of a public charter or private school that might be interested in hosting our program, please email youth@waba.org and let us know.

Bike Week at City Center PCS by the numbers:

  • Number of schools: 2
  • Number of students: 276
  • Number of class periods taken over: 35
  • Number of student-hours ridden: 604.5
  • Number of smiles: Unlimited

 

Center City PCS Petworth PE Bike Week

Center City PCS Brightwood PE Bike Week

 

 

 

Be a trail superstar, come join the Trail Ranger team!

Ever wanted people to enthusiastically shout “Thank you, you’re awesome” to you on the job? Feel like a trail celebrity? (actual quote from a former Trail Ranger) Be part of a dynamic team of outreach trail champions? Get to directly improve your community through events and maintenance? Be paid to be outside on your bike for six months?

If the answer is yes to any or all of these questions, consider applying to be DC’s trail superstars as part of our fifth annual cohort of Trail Rangers. We have a whole host of plans lined up for this season and we are looking for our team. More information and the job description can be found here. Applications are due February 20th 2017.