May Advocacy Roundup

Welcome to the May Advocacy Roundup! First off, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Robert Gardner and I’m the new Advocacy Director here at WABA. Having been here for the past month, I’m so excited to work with the team and with you amazing advocates around the region.

But, enough about me. Without further ado, here are a few updates on our advocacy work:


DDOT breaking promises on C Street NE

The 60% design plan significantly rolled back provisions that would improve C Street NE for cyclists and pedestrians. Read more.


What’s going on with the Louisiana Avenue protected bike lane?

It’s been radio silent on any updates – find out why and what’s happened since here.


A Pop-up Surprise in Bethesda

On Bike to Work Day 2018, Bethesda got a pop-up protected bike lane! Read more about how the lane came to be.


Veirs Mills Road has Vision Zero potential

The Montgomery County Planning Department has an ambitious plan to turn Veirs Mill Road into a livable, bikeable, walkable corridor—learn more about the plan here.


Continue to speak up for better biking in the region

The region held several public meetings on key roadways in DC, MD and VA, including Connecticut Avenue NW, 20th, 21st and 22nd Streets NW. Read more.


Long Bridge improvements need to serve bicyclists

Long Bridge is the rail bridge you can see from the Yellow Line as you cross the Potomac River. It’s getting a long-planned, much-needed upgrade from two tracks to four. Read more.


Upcoming Trainings and Workshops

Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes Open House

Protected bike lanes could soon be a reality in Crosstown. DDOT will develop preliminary designs for bike lanes for travelling east and westbound in D.C., closing a bicycle network gap from Columbia Heights to Brookland. June 12, 6:00PM – 8:00PM, Raymond Recreation Center

Learn More

Capital Crescent Trail Crossing and Little Falls Parkway

Montgomery Parks is having its first community meeting regarding a permanent fix to where Capital Crescent crosses Little Falls Parkway. June 13th, 7PM, Somerset Elementary School.

Learn More

Silver Spring Social Rides

The Silver Spring Social Rides series is almost over and it’s been a blast. Join us for the last two rides in June! All rides begin at One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

Sign up!


Are you on your local WABA Action Committee?

All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

See what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.


WABA in the News

Trail etiquette reminders from cycling group in Asburn, Va. – WTOP, April 23, 2018

Who has a right to D.C.’s sidewalks? – WAMU, May 14, 2018

The invasion of the scooter bros: A new tribe whizzes past the haters on DC sidewalks. – The Washington Post, May 17, 2018

Road Biking While Female – Outside Online, May 23, 2018


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Meet Robert Gardner, our new Advocacy Director

Hello!

I’m Robert Gardner, the new Advocacy Director here at WABA. I feel so privileged to be able to be back home here in the DMV and work with WABA to make the region a fun, safe and exciting place to bike for everyone!

I’ve spent the past 10 years working on national and international advocacy campaigns based in DC and in Brooklyn, NY. It was during my time doing environmental advocacy, that I was lucky enough to live and work for a time in Amsterdam — it is was there that I really caught the bicycling bug. The culture of biking for everyone really blew me away. Having braved the Georgia Avenue commute between Takoma Park and Gallery Place for years, I always felt like I was competing for space — racing cars to try and stay safe. I’m so happy to have had that education and to see the importance of urban planning in changing the way that people use public space.

I hope to continue the progress WABA has made over the past 46 years, and I’ll work hard with our incredible advocacy team to make our region the safest, most enjoyable place to ride in the country.

As Advocacy Director, I am thrilled to work with our community organizers on the Vision Zero campaign, with the Capital Trails Coalition, our action committees and in partnership with advocates across the region. Looking forward to the road ahead!

Bike trivia about me:

My ideal commute: A leisurely pace on protected bike lanes!

My style of riding: I commute to work, grocery shop, and run errands on my bike, so I am generally in an urban setting. I take safety very seriously, so you’ll always find me stopped at red lights.

That one bike do I wish I still owned: I had a mid-70s Schwinn Le Tour that was canary yellow that I commuted on for a year — someone must have “borrowed” it from a Metro stop because I haven’t seen it in a few years.

I look forward to meeting many of you at Bike to Work Day!

What’s going on with the Louisiana Avenue protected bike lane?

Intersection of Louisiana Ave. at New Jersey Ave.

Since June 2015, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) have been working on plans for a Louisiana Ave protected bike lane to fill a gap in the downtown bicycle network between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave NW. Three years later, planning is stalled and Louisiana Ave remains a dangerous speedway, leaving many asking why.

Despite support from a wide range of stakeholders in DC and on Capitol Hill, the delay is due to a familiar obstacle: car parking. Adding protected bike lanes to Louisiana Ave will require repurposing a handful of curbside parking spaces in the half-mile between Pennsylvania Ave and D St. NE and a few more spaces in the center median of the final block near Union Station. Each of these parking spaces are reserved exclusively for Senate staff. And the Senate Sergeant at Arms, whose office manages the parking supply for the Senate, is apparently unwilling to relinquish any of the spaces needed for this project to proceed.

The red segment is the current existing gap between Union Station and Pennsylvania Ave.

In a January letter, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton asked the Senate Sergeant at Arms, Frank Larkin, to reconsider his office’s opposition and allow construction to commence. “Losing a few parking spaces,” she wrote, “is a small price to pay to ensure public safety and help alleviate congestion near the Capitol by encouraging alternative modes of transportation.” Read the full letter here.

Ask For His Support

According to the Architect of the Capitol, who manages the Capitol buildings and grounds, a number of large campus construction projects planned and underway will substantially reduce available parking for the next few years, putting additional demand on existing parking.

But, to place the parking situation in context, there are reportedly as many as 5,800 parking spaces on the House side of the Capitol alone and perhaps an equal number on the Senate side. Two Metro stations, MARC, VRE, more than a dozen bus routes and a handful of regional trails serve the Capitol Complex, giving staff unparalleled transportation options. There may never be a convenient time for this project. A few more years is too long to wait for a safe, bikeable, and walkable Louisiana Ave.

The Louisiana Ave. project has vocal support from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Congressional Bike Caucus, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C and the Regional Council of Governments. DDOT has devoted considerable resources to design work, and plans to fully cover construction costs with local funds. And last year, Congress passed an omnibus bill that included language calling for construction of the Louisiana Avenue bike lanes without delay.

Last month, Frank Larkin retired and Michael Stenger became the new Senate Sergeant at Arms, creating a new opportunity to engage. Please sign our petition to ask him to reconsider his predecessor’s objections and to allow this needed safety project to move forward.

Sign the Petition

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
.

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/

Spring Advocacy Roundup

Hello there!

It’s been a while since our last Roundup, but that just means we have more to share.

Here are a few of the major highlights of our recent advocacy work:

Vision Zero Summit

WABA Executive Director Greg Billing, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and DDOT Director Jeff Marootian at this year’s Vision Zero Summit.

Too many people die on our roads in predictable, preventable crashes. On March 15th, WABA gathered policymakers, advocates, experts, and implementers to explore systemic ways to turn Vision Zero commitments and action plans in to substantive change. Read the recap here.

Long Bridge improvements need to serve bicyclists

Long Bridge is the rail bridge you can see from the Yellow Line as you cross the Potomac River. It’s getting a long-planned, much-needed upgrade from two tracks to four. This project is a once-in-a-century opportunity to attach a biking and walking trail to the new bridge, creating a continuous non-motorized connection between Arlington and DC, but the current trail designs only go halfway—from the Mount Vernon Trail to Hains Point. Read more.

Bethesda needs a complete, protected bike network

The abrupt 5+ year closure of the Georgetown Branch Trail made the long-standing challenges of getting to and through Bethesda by bicycle an urgent safety problem. With only a handful of disconnected, unprotected bike lanes, Bethesda’s streets are too stressful and hazardous for most people to bike on, and are certainly no substitute for the Georgetown Branch Trail. Hundreds of WABA advocates in Montgomery County called for the County to expedite plans to design and build the proposed Bethesda network. Executive Leggett’s proposed budget for FY2019 now includes $3 million over the next three years for that work. Read more.

Silver Spring celebrates its first protected bike lane

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer rides along the first protected bike lane in Silver Spring, Maryland.

More than 70 bike advocates and neighbors gathered with county officials in Woodside Urban Park to celebrate the completion of Silver Spring’s first protected bike lanes on Spring Street and Cedar Street. Read more.

Ensuring dockless bikeshare is a net positive for biking in the region

Dockless bikeshare has the potential to expand bike sharing and bike ridership in the District and local neighboring jurisdictions. With opportunity comes risk, however, and that is why we have been involved in conversations for the past months with a task force convened by DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST) that included District Department of Transportation (DDOT), several DC Business Improvement Districts, and DC Council staff to discuss priorities for ensuring that this new technology is a positive addition to the menu of transportation options in the DC region. Read more.

Metropolitan Branch Trail clears another hurdle

Final design can now begin for the critical 1.6 mile segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail (and traffic calming project) through Ward 4 to connect Fort Totten to Takoma Park, MD! A hardworking team of neighborhood advocates, community leaders, WABA and DDOT staff, and hundreds of trail supporters built a consensus of support for the trail on Blair Rd. We signed petitions, sent emails, attended corridor walks, strategy sessions, and discussions. Read more.

Incentivize biking and walking to work? DC Council is considering it

Any employer in the District can voluntarily offer commuter benefits to its employees. However, those benefits tend to be car-centric. In March 2017, the DC Council introduced a bill that would require employers that already provide a parking benefit to also provide alternate transit benefits. The bill is currently under review by the DC Council, but you can read the bill’s history here.

A new trail bridge over the Patuxent!

The Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A) Trail will receive $4.7 million for a bridge over the Patuxent River, connecting Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties! This long-awaited bridge will close a key gap in the trail network by linking two segments, connecting communities on either side of the river to jobs, retail, parks, amenities, and much more. The WB&A Trail has been a WABA priority for decades, and this funding commitment is an important win. Read more.

The Capital Trails Coalition convened at fourth annual Trails Symposium

The Capital Trails Coalition leads the movement to bring world-class trails to the region’s backyard. At the Symposium, coalition members dove into topics related to trail use and trail development, including economic development, converting potential trail users into current trail users, how bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure fits into mega million dollar infrastructure projects, and how changing technology will help us build out the regional trail network. Read more here.

Lifting up victims of traffic violence on World Day of Remembrance

Cities around the world participated in the World Day of Remembrance to honor those who have lost their lives in traffic crashes. We gathered at Grant Circle in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC with four local families to remember loved ones lost to traffic violence. Read more.

DC awarded gold status for bike-friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists

More than 400 communities across the country are recognized with the bike-friendly community award, but only 30 have earned gold, a level earned by communities that have made gains in various areas, including bike infrastructure, bike laws, enforcement that protects riders, and educational campaigns. Read more.

Upcoming Trainings and Workshops

Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan – Planning Workshop

March 28, 10:30 AM – 12:15 PM

Carroll County Office Building, 225 North Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) is hosting a planning workshop to inform the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (MBPB). The MBPB outlines a 20-year vision for biking and walking in Maryland Updated every five years, and is updated every five years with the 2040 Transportation Plan.

Sign Up

Next Steps to Extend the WB&A Trail

March 31, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Glenarden Library, 8724 Glenarden Parkway, Glenarden, MD, 20706

The Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail in central Prince George’s County is an incredible multi-use rail-trail and park, stretching nearly seven miles from the Patuxent River to Annapolis Road (MD-450). However, the WB&A Trail is six miles (!) from the nearest trail – join us in our campaign to extend the trail toward D.C. along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue!

Sign Up

What To Do After a Bike Crash

April 26th, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

WABA Office, 2599 Ontario Road NW, Washington, DC 20009

Bruce Deming, the Bike Lawyer, will review bike laws in the region and talk about what to do if you witness a crash, or are in a crash yourself.

Sign Up

Ward 4 Vision Zero Community Roundtable

March 29, 6:30 PM – 8 PM

Petworth Neighborhood Library, 4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011

Want to talk about unsafe roads in Ward 4? We want to hear your experiences!

We’ll talk about some of the projects that are already planned for the area, then go for a walk down Upshur Street, look at some of the most dangerous intersections in Ward 4, and have a conversation about the ways they could be made safer.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Jonathan R Stafford at jonathan.stafford@waba.org

New faces!

Have you met Hannah and Jonathan, our new Community Organizers?

Are you on your local WABA Action Committee?

All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

See what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.

We’re Hiring!

Advocacy Director

Membership and Development Coordinator

Part-time Bike Ambassador


WABA in the News

‘Ghost Bike’ memorial for DC cyclist killed in hit and run – WUSA, August 5, 2017

District Transportation Head Dormsjo Bids Farewell to DDOT – WAMU, August 11, 2017

Should Electric Bikes Be Allowed On Trails? – WAMU, August 16, 2017

Virginia lawmakers oppose plan to sandwich I-66 trail between a sound wall and traffic – Washington Post, August 17, 2017

Beach Drive rehab progress: Nearly 2 miles of roadway built, 4.6 miles to go – Washington Post, August 19, 2017

In 1973, a young GSA employee in D.C. had a bright idea: a fleet of loaner bikes – Washington Post, August 30, 2017

Entire Georgetown Branch Trail Will Close For Years During Purple Line Construction – DCist, September 1, 2017

Changing trail design could jeopardize entire I-66 widening project – Washington Post, September 3, 2017

Cycling to work means better health and a longer life. Here’s how to get started. – Washington Post, September 9, 2017

Takoma City Council debates bikes on sidewalks – The Sentinel, September 15, 2017

Dockless bike-share companies race to Washington – Washington Post, September 19, 2017

Bicycles and D.C.: How cycling has grown into a legitimate transit option for the nation’s capital – Curbed, September 20, 2017

Business Groups Attack D.C’s Parking Cash Out Proposal – WAMU, September 25, 2017

Hyattsville asks for public input on transportation improvement – Hyattsville Life, September 28, 2017

Bike-Sharing is Flourishing in Washington. Can the City Handle It? – New York Times, October 1, 2017

Pilot program in Silver Spring to offer dockless bike sharing – Source of the Spring, October 4, 2017

8 Ways to Help Someone Start Riding a Bike – Bicycling.com, October 16, 2017

New York terror attack set to intensify calls for more security to protect pedestrians, cyclists – Washington Post, November 1, 2017

‘Keep on riding.’ Bicyclists pedal on after deadly terror attack on America’s busiest bike path – Washington Post, November 2, 2017

Jones Point Pier Restoration Yields Hands-On Learning – The Connection, November 10, 2017

A Tiny Tax Hike On People Who Bike To Work Helps Explain The Whole GOP Tax Law – Huffington Post, January 11, 2018

No Dock, No Lock, No Problem? Assessing Dockless Bike Sharing In The District – The Kojo Nnamdi Show, January 25, 2018

Gear Prudence: Dockless Bikes Leave Me Cold – Washington City Paper, February 5, 2018

D.C. wins gold in bike-friendliness – Washington Post, March 6, 2018

Traffic deaths continue to soar despite cities’ pledges to get them to ‘Zero’ – Washington Post, March 14, 2018

With Traffic Deaths Going Up, Is Vision Zero The Right Roadmap For DC? – The Kojo Nnamdi Show, March 19, 2018


Sad face.

This will be my last Roundup as your Advocacy Director because I’m moving back to the midwest. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunities I have had at WABA to work with a staff and volunteer team of smart, dedicated, hilarious people I like and respect. I’m extremely proud of the Advocacy team we’ve built over the last two years. WABA has a deep bench of talented, capable advocates in all of you, and I am bursting with excitement for all the great things I see on the horizon for biking in the region.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for your advocacy.

Tamara Evans

Advocacy Director

P.S. Your membership dollars directly fund our advocacy work!

Donate

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.