Bike Lanes, Not Sharrows, For K St. NE

Following requests from ANC 6C and Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, DDOT recently completed a Vision Zero corridor study of K St NE extending from 12th St NE to 1st St. NE.  As a result of this safety assessment and community input, DDOT has concluded that a road diet that removes rush-hour restrictions on residential parking is both feasible and appropriate.  DDOT is considering four road diet alternatives, but only one would improve K St. for people on bikes.

DDOT’s  recommendations

Based on the crash data, recorded speeds, and community input, DDOT has put forward four alternatives for K St.  All four alternatives remove the weekday rush-hour parking restrictions, creating full-time parking instead.  The alternatives principally differ in terms of the number of intersections to gain a center turn lane and the number of full-time parking spaces available along the corridor. Only Alternative 4 adds bike lanes. See the four alternatives here.

Alternatives 1-3 force bicyclists to share the lane with drivers, leaving no room for safe passing.

Alternative 4 adds bike lanes and full-time parking to K St.

What are rush-hour parking restrictions?

Rush-hour parking restrictions are a common tool to transform a residential roadway into a multi-lane vehicular traffic corridor by restricting residential parking during peak weekday hours in the peak direction. On K St., this entails the weekday transformation of the roadway from two lanes to three lanes twice each day.  In past decades the District imposed these restrictions in order to push more car commuters through residential neighborhoods.  Unfortunately several of these configurations survive.  Examples can be found on Florida Ave, Rhode Island Ave, Columbia Road and many others.

Rush-hour parking restrictions often result in high traffic speeds, an increase in the number and severity of crashes and higher volumes of traffic than would be otherwise possible on residential streets.  It also forces neighborhood residents to shuttle their parked cars from one side of the street to the other side multiple times a day to avoid ticketing and towing. All four alternatives trade rush-hour parking restrictions for full-time parking, and that is great!

Only Alternative 4 is safe for all users

Unlike alternatives 1 – 3  which force people on bikes into the same shared lane as drivers, Alternative 4 adds bike lanes, which create a separate space for biking. This is significant because many cyclists who presently commute during rush hour on K St ride in the curbside lane thereby allowing faster moving vehicular traffic to proceed via the make-shift passing lane.  Absent a dedicated bicycle lane, any road diet on K St would in fact place bicyclists in more, and not less, danger during their daily commutes, particularly given that many drivers have grown accustomed to speeding through the corridor at excessive speeds.

By offering dedicated bike lanes, Alternative 4 offers cyclists a safe and comfortable option to ride on K St instead of residential sidewalks, including those sidewalks in front of J.O. Wilson elementary school and the District’s Senior Wellness Center.  As seen on similar streets all over the city, creating dedicated spaces to bike in the street reduces bicyclist/pedestrian conflicts on the sidewalks and in intersections.

Network Effects: East/West Connectivity

At present, there are no bike facilities in NE DC that extend east-west across the train tracks and North Capitol Street.  Major roadways in the area such as Maryland Ave, Massachusetts Ave and Florida Ave all have obstacles that presently prevent such connectivity (i.e., the Capitol, Union Station and the Virtual Circle at Florida Ave and New York Ave).  By adopting Alternative 4, we could create a continuous 2.2 miles of bicycle lanes on K St linking Trinidad, Near Northeast and NoMa to Mt. Vernon Square.  See the on-going NoMa Bicycle Network Study and Eastern Downtown Study.  DDOT’s 2005 Bicycle Master Plan and the 2014 moveDC plans both identify K street as an essential bicycle corridor.

Speak up for a balanced approach to the K St NE road diet

On Thursday, ANC 6C’s Transportation committee is meeting to discuss the K St. NE alternatives and make a recommendation to the full Commission before its September 13th meeting. Please email the ANC 6C commissioners and ask that they support Alternative 4 for a balanced road diet that considers the safety of all roadway users.

Email ANC 6C

You can also attend tonight’s Transportation & Public Space meeting to speak up in person.

ANC 6C Transportation & Public Space Committee
Thursday, September 7th, 7:00 pm
Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center
700 Second Street NE

The Beach Drive rebuild moves north

(read our last Rock Creek update here.)

We’re nearly a year into the reconstruction of Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. In total, this will be a 3.7 mile trail rebuild, but it’s broken into four segments.

Let’s take a look at the status of the project, and what’s on the horizon for the months ahead.

Segment 1 (Shoreham Drive to Tilden Street/Park Road) was completed on August 28, 2017.

This segment includes a repaved and widened trail alongside Beach Drive and the (slight) widening of the sidewalk within the Zoo tunnel.

Rock Creek Conservancy and National Park Service threw a block party on the newly completed segment. It was great to experience the fresh pavement (on both the trail and road) without cars! The event was a great reminder of how important (and fun!) Open Streets events are, and we’re pleased to see National Park Service gave people a chance to enjoy this new space before letting the cars back onto it.

Take note—the trail that goes through the Zoo property (that allows trail users to bypass the tunnel) will be reconstructed by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in a subsequent phase. It’s still in bad shape right now, but there are plans in motion to reconstruct that segment.

Segments 2 and 3 are now closed to all traffic.

Beach Drive is now closed from Park Road/Tilden Street NW to Joyce Road NW (immediately south of Military Road NW). Originally planned to be addressed as two separate phases, both segments 2 and 3 will close at the same time so that work can begin concurrently on both.

The bicycle and pedestrian detour for these segments are Ross Drive and Ridge Road, which will be completely closed to cars until Fall 2018. And just like Segment 1, it’s important that people biking and walking stay out of the active construction zone on Beach Drive!

These segments of construction will impact the portion of the road that is usually closed to cars on weekends. That means that on the weekend, bicyclists will only be able to ride on Beach Drive from Joyce Road north to the Maryland line, but Ross and Ridge will be alternatives to Beach Drive to connect further south.

WABA has been advocating for this project for decades. More than 2500 WABA supporters demanded the rehabilitation get back on track in 2014, and many have fought for years prior to prioritize this project with NPS and other relevant agencies.

DDOT will tackle the trail sections through Rose Park, northwest of Rock Creek (the trail on the Zoo property), a new bridge across Rock Creek near the Zoo, and a trail extension on Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT’s anticipated construction start is Summer 2018 and the approximate cost of construction is about 11 million.

You can find more information about DDOT’s plans here: https://ddot.dc.gov/page/rock-creek-park-multi-use-trail-rehabilitation-project

If you want more info, visit the project website: go.nps.gov/beachdrive

Let’s not delay the Met Branch Trail another 5 years

Last week, ANC 4B’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee met with DDOT to talk about the future of the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Manor Park, Lamond Riggs, and Takoma. After nearly 3 hours of discussion, we’re still not sure who supports this trail, which is not good.

Tonight, that committee is holding a larger public meeting, and we want you to be there. Despite years of planning that have created a terrific trail plan, some ANC members are asking for major changes that will both delay and jeopardize the success of the trail.

The committee’s decision, and the full ANC resolution later this month, is an important one. If they green light the route that DDOT has spent years developing, planners can finish design work and start construction. If the ANC asks for big changes, we’re back to the drawing board, setting us back years, and likely resulting in less direct, less continuous trail.

Ward 4 needs a complete Met Branch Trail.

Attend Tonight’s Meeting

Come show your support for the Met Branch Trail as it is planned on Blair, Aspen, and Sandy Spring. Tell your trail story and help us demonstrate the need for and benefits of the trail.

ANC 4B Public Works & Infrastructure Committee
Tuesday, September 5, 6:30 pm
Shepherd Park Library 7420 Georgia Ave NW

More on the Met Branch Trail

When complete, the Metropolitan Branch Trail will be an 8 mile multi-use trail from Union Station in DC to Downtown Silver Spring in Maryland. So far, the southern half is complete to Brookland. The largest unfinished section is in Ward 4. Next year, DDOT will finish design and start construction on the piece from Brookland to Riggs Rd. leaving the last piece in ANC 4B. Click here for a map of the trail under design.

Georgetown Branch Trail detour options during Purple Line construction

As you’ve almost certainly read, the Purple Line is moving forward.

The end result of this project includes a big win for biking in the region: a paved, grade separated trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring. But the construction phase will include unavoidable disruptions—the entire Georgetown Branch Trail from Bethesda to Stewart Avenue will be completely closed starting September 5.  It will remain closed for the duration of construction.

There are a number of workable on-street routes, many low-stress and relatively direct, but things get a bit complicated here because the town of Chevy Chase has so far refused to allow the county to sign a trail detour on its roads.

At present, the official signed detour is on Jones Bridge Road, which is a busy thoroughfare with narrow sidewalks and no bike infrastructure. If you’re a confident bicyclist*, it may be fine. If you’re not, it will be a stressful experience.

It is, of course, perfectly legal to ride on Chevy Chase’s neighborhood streets. Here’s one relatively low stress option that’s only about half a mile longer, and only slightly hillier. If you’ve got another detour you like, share it with us on Twitter or Facebook.

And here’s a map with a couple of detour options through Chevy Chase, depending on where your Silver Spring start/end point is.

We’re working with Montgomery County and the Town of Chevy Chase to improve the signed detour, and we’ll keep you posted.


* Sound good? Take a City Cycling Class!

Buying Bikes on a Budget

Concern about high costs is a common barrier to riding a bicycle for transportation. There’s a stereotype of a “real” cyclist–the skinny dude on a space-age bike, dressed head-to-toe in spandex. Embedded in that image is expensive gear that may be hard to maintain and/or costly to replace. Even articles in the bicycle media often advocate for buying the more expensive bicycle and accessories.

There’s some truth in the idea that “you get what you pay for”, i.e. that more expensive bikes and gear are higher quality. But that’s also a privileged viewpoint, assuming that all potential riders have money to spend to begin with. At WABA, we want to get as many people riding as possible, lowering the barriers to bicycling in every way we can, including the barrier of price.

Any human size, any budget: there’s a bike out there for you!

Many potential riders decide to buy used bikes to save money. Last-year’s-model sales at local bike shops, consignment bicycle stores, and person-to-person sales are all options for getting great bikes at a more reasonable cost.

Second-hand and last-year’s-model bikes are not only for new riders, either.  Many women in WABA’s Women & Bicycles buy an inexpensive bike to keep around for riding through bad weather or when locking up in public for long periods of time.

But there are some risks–everything from craigslist scams to parts on the verge of wearing out to purchasing stolen bikes.

So what’s the most practical and safe way to ensure you get a good quality machine?

  • Local bike shops

    Many shops will begin to mark down bikes in the early fall to make room for new models. These sales can be extremely cost effective. Just like when you purchase any new bike, you may get access to services like simple fittings, different models and sizes to choose from, and included tune-ups.

  • Consignment shops

    While rarer, you can find bikes at area consignment shops. These are often sold as-is and may not be covered under a return policy, so make sure you ask questions before buying.

  • Peer-to-peer

    This might be the single most cost-effective way to get a new-to-you bike. Craigslist, the DC Used Bicycle Marketplace on Facebook, and of course, the robust W&B forum all offer ways to look for your new steed. There are dozens of options at a wide range of price points.

Ashley Blue, the WABA PAL coordinator, on her secondhand bike!

More helpful tips

Shop smart. Try a few different models and, if possible, different sizes. (In Women & Bicycles, a quick survey of women who are 5’7″ reveals that we ride bikes ranging from 47cm to over 56cm! Everyone’s body is different, and your bike size will be different too!)

When buying peer-to-peer, make the sale as public as possible. If possible, it’s preferable to meet in a public location like a coffee shop or on the street instead of in someone’s house.

When buying second-hand, look for obvious signs of damage or rust. Dents are not necessarily a dealbreaker, but examine what you are buying carefully.

Warning signs of stolen bikes include: pictures not matching descriptions, high-end bikes at suspiciously low prices, lots and lots of bikes from the same seller, and sellers not knowing answers to specific questions like “where did you buy the bike originally?”

Take the time to do a test ride, to see if the bike fits you well enough. If you are in immediate discomfort, you might need a different style or size of bike.

We definitely recommend you take the bike to a local bike shop, or to a local bicycle co-op, to give the bike a check-up to make sure it’s safe and ready to roll.

Learning to do your own maintenance will help you keep your (mostly) new steed rolling happily for years to come.

Wrapping up

Whether you buy a last-years-model, a consignment bike, or a second-hand bike from a private party, there are great options for getting rolling without breaking the bank. Bicycle riding should be affordable and accessible to everyone. No matter your body size or your budget, there’s a bike out there for you!

Are you women-identifying or women-aligned and a lover of all things bike-related? Sign up here to join the Women & Bicycles email list!




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Women & Bicycles sharing the bike love

 

Learn to Pilot a Tandem Bike with WABA!

WABA and MWABA!

The DC Bike Ambassadors have been teaming up with the Metro Washington Association of Blind Athletes (MWABA) all summer to grow our community of bicycling friends by partnering our pilots (the person up front who steers the bike) with MWABA’s stokers (the person in the back who provides extra pedaling) for great tandem riding!

We had our first Tandem Pilot Training Session in May. Since then, we’ve participated in many more rides and training sessions with MWABA. If you would like to join in on the fun, our next tandem training session will be Friday August 25th from 5-7pm at the Eastern Market metro station. Helmets will be required and tandem bikes will be available to try out. No tandem experience (in either position) is necessary but patience and willingness to make mistakes and learn are highly encouraged.

Quick Tandem Tips

For those excited to try tandem riding for the first time, a few things are key to a successful outing:

  1. Communication — You should already be communicating regularly with those around you in everyday bicycling life; signally when turning, alerting those behind you verbally and with your hands so that they know that you are about to slow down or come to complete stop. When it comes to riding in tandem with a partner, you should also communicate when you are going down a hill and want to start coasting, when there is an upcoming bump or pothole in the road.
  2. Flexibility — As a pilot, it is much easier to adapt to your stoker’s riding style than the other way around.
  3. Perseverance — Do not worry if you can’t get it on the first try. Even very experienced pilots need time to adjust to a new stoker to make a well-oiled tandem team machine.

We hope to see you there!

Sign up here

If you would like to learn more about the DC Bike Ambassador Program please join our Facebook page for all the latest updates.

A Day in the life of Trail Ranger

WABA’s Trail Rangers are a near-constant presence on DC’s trails, and they work harder than just about anybody else around here. Here, for the first time, is your chance to experience a day in the life of a Trail Ranger. Enjoy!

Interested in keeping in touch with the team? Sign up here! Yes!




Photo credit: 501pix Photography

Whew! That was quite a ride, wasn’t it? Next time you see a Trail Ranger be sure to give them a wave and a smile. They’re working hard to make the trail better for all of us.

Full photo shoot can be found here.