Towards a Safer Suitland Road

Suitland Road runs 1.6 miles from Southern Ave. in SE DC to Silver Hill Road (MD-458) in PG County. Despite being a crucial step linking nearby neighborhoods, shops,, transit and employment centers, Suitland Road offers a hostile experience for anyone traveling by foot or bike. With 18 foot lanes, drivers easily drive above the 30mph speed limit. There are bus stops, but no continuous sidewalks to get to them. There is ample room for bicyclists, but no accommodations to make them feel safe. Suitland Road is a convenient connection, but only if the trip starts with car keys.  WABA’s Action Committee for Prince George’s County is working to change this imbalance with it’s first campaign: A Safer Suitland Road.

In a county known for its difficulty accommodating and protecting vulnerable road users, Suitland Road is a clear candidate for new infrastructure.  The road’s wide lanes and shoulders offer drivers a tempting opportunity to push speed limits, but they also leave ample room for bike and foot traffic without removing car lanes.  Requiring only design and minimal changes to the roadway, adding protected bike and pedestrian lanes would be a cost effective addition to a roadway with a 10 year history of declining vehicle use.  If completed, these protected lanes will extend the reach of DC’s bike lane and trail network to Silver Hill Road and the Suitland Federal Center offering better connections to nearby neighborhoods, shops, employment centers and transit.

Bike and pedestrian routes along Suitland Road would benefit local businesses, give local residents easier access to transit, help commuters and students get to work and school,  and reduce unsafe speeding — all without removing travel lanes.  We look forward to working with officials from the county and Maryland State Highway Administration to make this corridor a safer place for all who use it.  For more information, please see the campaign page.

Learn more about the campaign

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Which street configuration would you prefer to ride and walk? Image from Google Street View

WABA Holiday Party

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All WABA members are invited to join us on Monday, December 15th at Smith Public Trust in Brookland for an evening of holiday tidings and bicycle cheer. Smith Public Trust is near the Brookland Metro/just off the Met Branch Trail.

Come eat and drink with us in celebration of this year’s advocacy successes and mingle with fellow WABA members. The party is free, and we’ll be accepting donations (a $5 suggested donation) to WABA at the door.

The Holiday Party Raffle is back again!! We’ll be raffling off some really cool prizes (see all the prizes we’re raffling off below – we’ll update the list as we get more prized in) throughout the evening. Every WABA member will get a raffle ticket when they arrive (auto-renewing members get 2 tickets!) and we’ll have additional raffle tickets available for donations. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit WABA’s ongoing advocacy work.

Plus, as a way of saying “Thanks” for supporting WABA this year, the first 100 WABA members to come out to the party will get a craft beer on us.

Interested in lending a helping hand? We’re looking for a few more volunteers to help make the holiday party magic happen, greet WABA members, and help out at the WABA table. Sign up here to volunteer.

When: Monday, December 15th from 6:00-10:00pm

Where: Smith Public Trust, 3514 12th St NE (in DC’s Brookland neighborhood)

Who: WABA Members

RSVP: Join the Holiday Party event on Facebook and invite your WABA member friends (or those who you can convince to join)

*Please note this party is for members only. WABA is a member supported non-profit organization and your yearly membership dues fund our ongoing advocacy and outreach work.*

Not yet a member? No problem! Join today, or join at the door. We’ll be running a membership special at the door, so you can join for the first time (or renew your membership) for only $25 (a ten dollar discount)!

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What can you win at the WABA Holiday Party Raffle?!

  • A pair of passes to the bike-themed holiday light show at Dominion GardenFest of Lights near Richmond, VA  — a fun roadtrip for you and that special someone or your BBF (best bike friend) — donated by the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
  • Hand-crafted jewelry - a pair of earrings and a bracelet made from cleaned, reused and hand-painted bike chains accented with beads – made by Molly Fitzgerald (a WABA member!)
  • A bike themed and hand painted decorative storage tin – also hand crafted by Molly Fitzgerald
  • A pair of entries to WABA’s next ride event: the Vasa Ride at the Swedish Embassy in March 2015
  • A City Bikes tune up for your bicycle, valued at $100
  • Two tickets to the upcoming Matisyahu show at 9:30 Club on December 22
  • A BicycleSPACE $50 gift certificate and a brand new BicycleSPACE t-shirt
  • More prizes to be announced soon!
Thank you so much to each and every one of the raffle donors for their generous support of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

 

 

 

It’s time for the entire region to adopt Vision Zero

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The ghost bike placed in Gaithersburg in memory of Andrew Malizio.

Last week was a grim one on the roads in the Maryland suburbs. A driver killed Andrew Gerard Malizio, on Route 28 in Gaithersburg while making a left turn. Less than two days prior, a driver killed a cyclist in Lanham, then left the scene. These deaths are tragic, and they are unacceptable.

Vision Zero, developed in Sweden and recently adopted in New York City, is a robust set of changes to transportation policy, road design, and law enforcement designed to eliminate traffic fatalities. It is based on the principle that no one should die on our roads. Period.

The District’s mayor-elect, Muriel Bowser, has endorsed bringing the Vision Zero Initiative to DC. We support this proposal and look forward to working with the District to ensure that it is implemented well. Today we sent  a letter to the Executives of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties challenging them to bring the same commitment to their own jurisdictions. Here’s the letter:

County Executives Baker & Leggett:

I write to you both because last weekend, each of your counties saw the death of a person bicycling on its streets. While the details of the circumstances of these crashes are unknown, we know that each death is a tragedy.

As WABA awaits more details in the hope that we can offer assistance to the victims’ family and friends—we also hope to learn from these tragedies ways to prevent them from happening in the future.

You may be aware that several progressive jurisdictions across the country, including New York City, have adopted “Vision Zero” commitments to work to eliminate traffic deaths and major injuries within a set period of time. Locally, Mayor-Elect Bowser has embraced such a commitment for District of Columbia.

In the wake of these tragic deaths, I ask each of you to consider your county’s commitment to Vision Zero, and to the principle that every human life is valuable and should be protected in our policy decisions, in our transportation designs, and in our enforcement priorities.

As an organization representing thousands of bicyclists in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, WABA is committed to advocating for safe streets for all people who bike. We will continue to work in your counties to promote infrastructure, enforcement, and education programming that keep people safe.

I challenge you to truly commit to operating your government in a way that values the life of every individual on the roadways and aligns its priorities ensure human safety over vehicular speed.
I challenge you to adopt a Vision Zero approach to protecting the lives of all people—whether driving, biking, walking, or otherwise using the county’s roadways.

Every life matters. This weekend serves as a sad reminder that our public policy choices do not yet fully reflect that principle.

WABA, and I, look forward to partnering with you to do the work to eliminate roadway deaths in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.
Sincerely,

Shane Farthing
Executive Director

In the next year, we’ll be talking more about Vision Zero. Stay tuned.

Montgomery County Passes New Road Code

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Under the new road code, we should be seeing many more protected bike lanes in Montgomery County, like this one on Woodglen Rd

Tuesday was a big step forward for people who walk and bike in Montgomery County’s urban areas!  The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Bill 33-13 which redefines urban road standards and promises to make the county’s streets more inviting to bicyclists and pedestrians with slower vehicle speeds, better bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian accommodations.  With a new emphasis on creating complete streets, especially in urban areas, this bill is an important step forward for the county.

The bill sets new standards that limit vehicle travel lanes to 10 feet and establish a maximum target speed of 25 mph in urban areas.  Narrowing lanes and lowering speeds will help create streets that are more welcoming to all modes of travel on increasingly busy urban street.  And to further accommodate vulnerable road users, new definitions and improved requirements for protected bike lanes, shared use paths, and sidewalks will ensure that road engineers are building facilities that accommodate, if not encourage, walking and biking.  The bill also includes new standards that decrease turning radii at intersections, meaning lower vehicle speeds at crosswalks and shorter crossing distances for pedestrians.  You can read the full text of the bill here.

In january, WABA testified (read) in support of the bill and today we applaud the council for taking these important steps for safer and more accessible streets.  We thank councilmembers Berliner and Riemer for sponsoring the bill and all those who contacted their councilmembers in support.  Though the road code changes are limited to county roads, this is a needed step  for the region and a bold example for other jurisdictions to follow.

Contributory Negligence Bill Tabled for 2014

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Today, D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety tabled a proposed bill to improve access to compensation for crash victim–effectively killing it for this legislative session. Mary Cheh (Ward 3) introduced the motion to table. Councilmember Evans (Ward 2) and Chairman Mendelson voted to table the bill. Councilmember Wells (Ward 6) voted against the motion.

The “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014″ (Bill 20-844) was introduced by Councilmember Grosso, Wells and Cheh in July to provide relief to vulnerable roadway users whose claims are inappropriately denied by insurers, and who cannot secure representation in the courts due to the economic effect of the liability standard.

We are deeply disappointed that the economic concerns of the insurance industry and the D.C. Trial Lawyers Association derailed progress on a bill that would have meaningfully helped hundreds of crash victims receive the recovery they are fairly due for injuries resulting from another party’s negligence. We will continue to work to resolve this systemic problem.

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Our Future Trails Celebration was a blast!

Last weekend WABA partnered with REI to bring the region an event that celebrated our amazing network of biking and walking trails.

Even though it was pretty chilly outside, hundreds of people came out to warm up with us in our heated tent, enjoy some free cookies and coffee, get their face painted, play some games and learn about the network of trails that exists and future plans for expanding trails in DC, MD and VA. Check out photos of the celebration and read on for more highlights of the event below.

One of the highlights of the event was the three trail tours of the nearby Metropolitan Branch Trail led by our very own Trail Ranger Coordinator. About 45 people joined us on bikes for informational tours on the trail, and many even took advantage of the free bike rentals we provided for the tours.

Another highlight of the day was REI. This celebration and WABA’s current advocacy project around the Arlington Boulevard Trail (you can read all about our concept plan for this new Virginia trail here) was made possible with REI’s amazing support. They even brought out an REI bike mechanic to the celebration, who became the star of the whole show with a line of bicyclists at least 10 deep the whole day, to help fix people’s bikes for free! REI also had their incredibly beautiful signature camp set up to let event participants see what it’s like to bike camp in style.

Interested in staying in touch and receiving updates about WABA’s work on regional trails? Sign up for trail-related news here.

WABA would also like to thank the NoMa BID for their partnership in helping to make this event happen.

ARTCRANK DC raised $2,300 for WABA

In case you missed it, a few weekends ago ARTCRANK DC came to DC’s 1776 venue (right on the 15th Street cycletrack, conveniently). With prints and posters from more than 20 local artists on display and for sale, the event brought together bicycle lovers, art lovers, and of course beer lovers for an awesome poster party for bike people.

We’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Oskar Blues Brewery for donating the beer for the event so that WABA could take home the proceeds from all beer sales during the show to help fund our ongoing regional advocacy and outreach efforts.

Artcrank logo blackWABA would also like to say a big bicycle thank you to the ARTCRANK team for coming to DC for their first ever show in our Nation’s Capitol and for selecting WABA to be the non-profit cause partner of the show. Thanks to ARTCRANK and Oskar Blue we raised over $2,300! We can’t wait till they return in 2015.

And a huge thank you to all of our beautiful volunteers!

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