Let’s make Veirs Mill Road better

Late last year, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his Vision Zero Action Plan, committing the county’s agencies to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the county by 2030. On Thursday, the Planning Board will hold a hearing on its first contribution to achieving Vision Zero – the Veirs Mill Master Plan.

Send email comments in support

Sign up to testify

Veirs Mill Road, which stretches four miles between Wheaton and Rockville, is one of the county’s highest risk roads—five people died in crashes in the corridor in just two years.

The road is built for moving cars and not much else. Sidewalks are missing throughout the corridor, even next to heavily used bus stops. There are no safe places to bike. In most places, crossing the street requires darting across five lanes of highway-speed traffic.

The Planning Department wants to change Veirs Mill Road to slow drivers and protect people walking, biking and taking the bus. Among the many planning topics, the draft Veirs Mill Master Plan proposes dozens of Vision Zero recommendations including:

  • Build a combination of 2-way protected bike lanes, sidepaths and neighborhood greenways for a continuous, safe, and low-stress bicycle route,
  • Build continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road,
  • Implement the proposed Bus Rapid Transit plan for Veirs Mill,
  • Add trees and landscaping to buffer people from cars,
  • Add new traffic signals, refuge islands and protected intersections that give people walking and biking priority for crossing the road,
  • Remove high speed turn lanes,
  • And reduce the speed limit to 35 mph.

All of these recommendations are essential to transforming Veirs Mill into a safe road and a connected community. But the plan and its Vision Zero priorities need vocal enthusiasm to gain the support of the Planning Board and County Council.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get to know the plan. You can read the executive summary or the whole document here.
  2. Write comments in support of the plan and send them to MCP-Chair@mncppc-mc.org. Your comments can be broad or specific. Highlight the transportation and safety elements that are most important to you.
  3. Comments by email help a lot, but delivering them in person makes a huge difference. Sign up to attend Thursday night’s hearing and tell the Planning Board what you think of a safer Veirs Mill Road. Sign up to testify here.

Speak up for better places to bike across the region?

How are you helping make DC a better place to bike this month?

We hope you’re out riding your bike, of course! But you can go a step further by attending an upcoming public meeting to support building new protected bike lanes across the city.

C St. NE Rehabilitation

Thursday, April 26 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Rosedale Recreation Center
1701 Gales St. NE

DDOT is nearing final design on a rebuild of C St. NE from 14th St. to 21st St. NE and parts of North Carolina Ave. The new design would drastically reduce speeding and includes protected bike lanes, shorter road crossings, and more green space. More info at the project page.

Connecticut Ave Streetscape in Dupont

Thursday, April 26 6:00 pm
Wework Dupont
1875 Connecticut Ave NW, 3rd Floor

Discuss ideas for a new bike and pedestrian friendly Connecticut Avenue streetscape between Dupont Circle and California St NW! This project includes a deck-over plaza from the Dupont Circle to Q St. Show up to make the case for protected bike lanes! Find more information at the project page.

Veirs Mill Road Master Plan

Thursday, April 26, 6:00 pm
MRO Auditorium
8787 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring
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The Montgomery County Planning Department wants to change Veirs Mill Road to slow drivers and protect people walking, biking and taking the bus. Among the many planning topics, the draft Veirs Mill Master Plan proposes dozens of Vision Zero recommendations including:

  • Build a combination of 2-way protected bike lanes, sidepaths and neighborhood greenways for a continuous, safe, and low-stress bicycle route,
  • Build continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road,
  • Implement the proposed Bus Rapid Transit plan for Veirs Mill,
  • Add trees and landscaping to buffer people from cars,
  • Add new traffic signals, refuge islands and protected intersections that give people walking and biking priority for crossing the road,
  • Remove high speed turn lanes,
  • And reduce the speed limit to 35 mph.

Agenda

21st & 22nd St. NW

Wednesday, May 23 6:00 pm
West End Library
2301 L St NW

This is the first public meeting for the 21st/22nd Street NW protected bike lane project. DDOT staff will share existing conditions findings and draft selection of three alignments to advance to 10% design. More information can be found here.

Here’s a DDOT flyer with more details

Biking & Walking in Regional Planning

Planning for easier walking and biking usually happens at the local level, but major decisions, affecting billions of dollars in transportation funds, happen at the region’s Transportation Planning Board. The TPB is updating its long range transportation plan, called Visualize 2045. For the first time, biking and walking connections to transit and trails could have a special focus in this plan! Attend a meeting to make sure biking and walking projects get the funding they need.

Rockville: April 26, 7pm
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850

District of Columbia: May 1, 7pm
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
777 North Capitol Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Arlington: May 2, 6:30pm
Arlington County Public Library
Central Library Auditorium
1015 North Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22201

Fairfax: May 8, 7pm
Providence Community Center
3001 Vaden Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031

Learn more at https://www.mwcog.org/visualize2045/participate/

Recap: Second Annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit

In the three years since DC Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to eliminating all roadway deaths and serious injuries by 2024, the city has actually seen an increase in traffic deaths. Attendees of second annual Washington Region Vision Zero Summit gathered to discuss strategies and policies to reverse this trend.

One of the goals of the Summit is to to foster  a sense of urgency around Vision Zero – so that governments honor their commitments and use their action plans to create immediate, substantive change on the roads. One life lost on the road is one life too many.

The Summit, presented by WABA and Uber, featured speakers from diverse sectors across the Washington Region. Elected officials, policymakers, civil rights and disability rights advocates, public health experts, and tech companies spent the day exploring systemic ways to end traffic fatalities.

In a keynote address, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered an update on the District’s efforts to eliminate traffic deaths.

DC Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Charles Allen, Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, and Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson participated in panel discussions about regional collaboration and protecting vulnerable road users.

Region-wide, DC,  the City of Alexandria and Montgomery County, have made commitments to Vision Zero.

Our region has an opportunity to be an example for the country as a place that prioritizes people over vehicles. D.C. should be leading this charge to save lives – and that’s why the Vision Zero Summit is important.  

Find a gallery below featuring pictures from the daylong summit!

Special thanks to our Vision Zero Summit Sponsors!

Title Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsor

Bronze Sponsor

Hundreds of people speak up for a better Long Bridge

The Long Bridge is a rail bridge across the Potomac River, and it’s getting an upgrade from two tracks to four. This project represents a once-in-a-century opportunity to create a new, continuous biking and walking connection from Crystal City to DC’s waterfront core. Unfortunately, the current designs only go halfway. You can find more info here.

Last month, we encouraged people to take action and contact the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the agency overseeing the project. Their assessing the environmental impact of the project, so it was an an ideal time to speak up for better bicycling connections.

And speak up you did! Throughout the month of January, more than 1600 people contacted DDOT and let them know that the river isn’t the only barrier for people who walk and bike. A better trail bridge would consider and provide solutions for getting past two major highways and the tangle of dangerous intersections, congested sidewalks, and freeway ramps that separate DC from Arlington.

WABA was proud to stand with numerous other groups and elected officials that sent official comment letters to DDOT, including Arlington County, DC Bicycle Advisory Council, Councilmember David Grosso, DC Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Southwest Business Improvement District, and Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling.

A public and agency update is planned for sometime this spring. Sign up for WABA’s advocacy updates if you want to stay up to date on this project!

 

What’s going on with the Met Branch Trail in Ward 4?

On Tuesday, December 5, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B is hosting an informational meeting to discuss and debate the merits of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) in Ward 4. This meeting is a key opportunity for Ward 4 residents and 4B neighbors to get to know the project and encourage elected commissioners to support the trail as planned. If you want a continuous biking and walking trail connecting Silver Spring and Downtown that also makes Blair Road safe for all, come to Tuesday’s meeting!

ANC 4B PWI meeting on the Met Branch Trail
Tuesday, December 5
5:30 pm – walking tour meets at Peabody St. & Blair Rd NW
6:45 pm – indoor meeting at Takoma Village Co-housing (6827 4th St. NW)

Let us know you’ll be there

If this sounds familiar, it should. Since June the District Department of Transportation has been seeking ANC feedback on the MBT 30% design plans so that design can continue towards construction. In that time, the PWI committee, ANC commissioners, and the full ANC have held numerous meetings on the details of the route, design, benefits, and impacts of the MBT. DDOT’s plan routes the trail off-street alongside Blair Road from McDonald Pl to Rittenhouse then in a repurposed travel lane from Rittenhouse to Aspen St.

In October, the ANC passed a resolution supporting just 1500 feet of the 1.6 mile trail plan in Ward 4. On January 22nd, Commissioners will finally vote on a resolution considering the rest.

What is at stake?

Despite strong attendance from trail supporters at meetings, more than 150 petition signatures from 4B residents, and dozens of emails to commissioners asking for support on DDOT’s plan, many commissioners oppose routing the trail on Blair Rd at all, claiming that Blair is somehow too dangerous for traffic calming to work or that delaying drivers for the sake of non-driver safety is unfair and suggesting instead that trail users go to Eastern Ave or 3rd St or other roundabout “alternatives.”

Many options were considered by DDOT during the past four years of planning and community input and found to be unworkable. At this stage, altering the route has dire consequences for the usability and success of the trail, adds years of delay and prevents needed safety improvements on Blair Rd. Traffic studies indicate that the trail as planned could add as many as six(!) seconds per block to peak driver travel times along Blair Road. This is not a good reason to delay a critical regional connection for people biking and walking.

Based on the regional importance of this trail segment, DDOT could decide to move ahead without ANC 4B support, but WABA hopes the Commission will support this long-anticipated addition to the neighborhood.

What can you do to help?

  1. Attend Tuesday’s meeting. Get to know the project, and demand that your neighborhood representative support DDOT’s plan for the MBT and a safer Blair Rd. RSVP
  2. Join our Facebook Group. Get involved in rallying support for the Met Branch Trail in Ward 4.
  3. Sign and share our petition. Help show your elected neighborhood leaders the broad community support for the Met Branch Trail.

You can learn more about the routing and plans for the Met Branch Trail on this interactive map or at metbranchtrail.com/resources.

Contract Awarded for the Met Branch Trail Extension to Fort Totten

A bird’s eye rendering of the Met Branch Trail around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This morning, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced a key milestone for the extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) from Brookland to Fort Totten. After a long procurement process, DDOT awarded the contract to complete the design and construct the next phase of the popular multi-use trail!

This new trail 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 turning up the hill, as it does today, the trail will continue north alongside the train tracks. At the Fort Totten Metro, the trail will climb up and over the Green Line tunnel portal, descend to street level and continue on First Pl NE towards Riggs Rd.

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

This phase of construction will add nearly a mile of new trail, improving walking and biking access to the Fort Totten 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 MBT route continues to Silver Spring. The new 10-12 foot wide trail will include lights 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 Ward 4 to the Maryland line. Completing final design and construction should take roughly 18 months or by spring 2019. This new timeline is almost a year behind the schedule published in May 2016.

Celebrate Silver Spring’s First Protected Bike Lane on Oct 14!

Downtown Silver Spring is taking a huge step towards being a bikeable, walkable and livable community! Over the past few months, crews have been piecing together downtown Silver Spring’s very first protected bike lane on Spring and Cedar St. Over the past three weeks, the project has been taking shape, with new lane striping, green paint, and flex-posts appearing every day along the 0.8 mile corridor. Well, It’s just about complete, and it’s time to celebrate.

On October 14, we are throwing a party to celebrate the first of many protected bike lanes around and through the downtown, promising low-stress, convenient, and safe trips by bike. Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, neighbors, community advocates, County Councilmembers and staff to celebrate and take the inaugural ride on these new bike lanes! Starting at 10am come over to Woodside Urban Park for a festive celebration with activities for the whole family. Then, help us thank county leaders and staff who are leading the charge for more bikeable and walkable communities as we cut the ribbon on the first major piece of the Silver Spring Circle.

Once the ribbon is cut, join us on a community bike ride down Spring St to see and feel what low-stress urban biking is all about. The route will be a kid-friendly loop around downtown with an easy stop at the farmers market before returning to the start. Activities include kid-friendly bike ride, design your own bike lane, playground, face painter, Bike Master Plan team, Montgomery County Commuter Services, and tons of conversation about fun and low-stress biking in Silver Spring and beyond.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this first big step for the Silver Spring Circle!

I’ll Be There!