Alexandria Spokeswomen Are On a Roll

10152996_1376507422634751_74342430398535397_nOn Sunday, May 4th Alexandria women will join together for the Women on a Roll Ride. The group will wear green, gather at Jones Point Park, and tour local bike shops to declare and share their support for women’s biking.

“Women are a powerful consumer force,” says the League of American Bicyclists in its August 2013 “Women on a Roll” report on women’s cycling, “but too often they do not feel welcome in bike shops or do not feel products address their desires and needs.”

This is where the green comes in. The group wants to visually show that women who bike mean business; they represent spending power.

The ride is being organized by the Alexandria Spokeswomen, who formed in September 2013 out of a city focus group on women’s cycling with the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and WABA’s Women & Bicycles.

Click here to view the Facebook event page, and click here to register.

Alexandria Board Recommends Delay of Plan to Calm Traffic on King Street

King Street is the missing gap in the bicycle network. The City’s traffic calming plan will improve conditions for pedestrian and transit riders. Source: City of Alexandria.

Dan Mehaffey and Jim Durham are City of Alexandria residents and local advocates for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Richard Baier, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director, presented on Monday a plan to meet the direction of City Council and calm traffic on King Street. The plan is the outcome of professional work by City Staff, numerous community meetings, and a compromise to keep as much parking as possible on King Street. The meeting went into the early hours of Tuesday when the Traffic and Parking Board voted 5-2 to recommend delay in implementing the plan, a change from a similar November 25th vote of 6-0 recommending delay. Board members Greg Cota and Kevin Posey voted against further delay after listening to Mr. Baier’s presentation and public comments, in which a majority of speakers, all Alexandria residents, spoke in favor of the City’s plan.                                                                                            

The flashpoint in the plan is the 27 parking spaces on King Street between West Cedar and Highland, where the majority of houses face North Terrace View, not King Street. Chairman Thomas “Jay” Johnson, Jr. heard testimony about the parking usage by City Staff. In 20 random samplings of the 27 spaces, the average count was 1.2 cars. At most, five cars were parked in the 27 spaces.  The 27 spaces do not include the 10 spaces west of Highland which were kept as parking spaces as part of a compromise that also added three additional spaces to the street parking on the other side of King Street.

Mr. Baier’s expert testimony focused on how the traffic calming measure before the board would re-allocate the use of public right-of way to create a safer King Street in a section that is heavily used by pedestrians to access the King Street transit hub. The Alexandria Transportation Commission, the Environmental Policy Commission, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Park and Recreation Commission submitted letters of support for the plan.

The board also heard from Alexandria residents including residents of the affected neighborhood who favor the city’s plan and want the safety measures afforded by the city plan. The safety measures include pedestrian crossings, separation of use for walkers, bikers, and motorists, and a compliant lane narrowing shown by the Highway Capacity Manual to reduce speeds by between 1.9 and 6.6 miles per hour. The King Street speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the section, but motorist speeds are well in excess of the limit. Opponents of the plan also cited safety as a reason for their opposition to the plan described as safe by not only the professional planners on city staff but also in an independent review by a  professional engineering firm.

The traffic calming plan now goes to City Council for a March 15th hearing with the Traffic and Parking Board’s recommendation.

A clarification, from the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee: “Although the original parking information was technically correct, parking needs are based on peak usage not average usage. In an effort to be as clear as possible, we have updated the numbers to stress the peak usage for all parking in the stretch (six cars for 37 spaces) instead of the average usage for the 27 spaces that will be removed (just over 1 car).”

 

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Alexandria Board Recommends Delay of Plan to Calm Traffic on King Street

King Street is the missing gap in the bicycle network. The City’s traffic calming plan will improve conditions for pedestrian and transit riders. Source: City of Alexandria.

Dan Mehaffey and Jim Durham are City of Alexandria residents and local advocates for safer streets for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Richard Baier, Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services Director, presented on Monday a plan to meet the direction of City Council and calm traffic on King Street. The plan is the outcome of professional work by City Staff, numerous community meetings, and a compromise to keep as much parking as possible on King Street. The meeting went into the early hours of Tuesday when the Traffic and Parking Board voted 5-2 to recommend delay in implementing the plan, a change from a similar November 25th vote of 6-0 recommending delay. Board members Greg Cota and Kevin Posey voted against further delay after listening to Mr. Baier’s presentation and public comments, in which a majority of speakers, all Alexandria residents, spoke in favor of the City’s plan.                                                                                            

The flashpoint in the plan is the 27 parking spaces on King Street between West Cedar and Highland, where the majority of houses face North Terrace View, not King Street. Chairman Thomas “Jay” Johnson, Jr. heard testimony about the parking usage by City Staff. In 20 random samplings of the 27 spaces, the average count was 1.2 cars. At most, five cars were parked in the 27 spaces.  The 27 spaces do not include the 10 spaces west of Highland which were kept as parking spaces as part of a compromise that also added three additional spaces to the street parking on the other side of King Street.

Mr. Baier’s expert testimony focused on how the traffic calming measure before the board would re-allocate the use of public right-of way to create a safer King Street in a section that is heavily used by pedestrians to access the King Street transit hub. The Alexandria Transportation Commission, the Environmental Policy Commission, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Park and Recreation Commission submitted letters of support for the plan.

The board also heard from Alexandria residents including residents of the affected neighborhood who favor the city’s plan and want the safety measures afforded by the city plan. The safety measures include pedestrian crossings, separation of use for walkers, bikers, and motorists, and a compliant lane narrowing shown by the Highway Capacity Manual to reduce speeds by between 1.9 and 6.6 miles per hour. The King Street speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the section, but motorist speeds are well in excess of the limit. Opponents of the plan also cited safety as a reason for their opposition to the plan described as safe by not only the professional planners on city staff but also in an independent review by a  professional engineering firm.

The traffic calming plan now goes to City Council for a March 15th hearing with the Traffic and Parking Board’s recommendation.

A clarification, from the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee: “Although the original parking information was technically correct, parking needs are based on peak usage not average usage. In an effort to be as clear as possible, we have updated the numbers to stress the peak usage for all parking in the stretch (six cars for 37 spaces) instead of the average usage for the 27 spaces that will be removed (just over 1 car).”

 

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Show Your Support Tonight for King Street Traffic Calming

Tonight, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board will hear public testimony for the King Street Traffic Calming project at 7:30 pm at City Hall. Will you attend tonight’s hearing and show your support for safer streets in Alexandria?

The City of Alexandria is proposing to calm traffic and improve conditions for pedestrians, transit riders and bicyclists by constructing bike lanes on King St from Russell Road to Janneys Lane and by adding and upgrading crosswalks. Neighbors have long complained of safety issues on this street caused by drivers frequently speeding and rolling through stop signs. This project will address these safety issues. The City’s proposal will also make the street safer for pedestrians creating a safe space on the street for bicyclists, removing them from the sidewalks. Learn more about the City of Alexandria’s proposal online on the City’s websiteThis proposal directly benefits pedestrians, residents, bicyclists, bus riders and drivers.

The Traffic and Parking Board already heard the public testimony about this project in November. The overwhelming majority spoke in favor of the project but they deferred the vote. Do not let them defer safe streets tonight.

There are a few vocal and well connected neighbors opposing this project because of a loss of a small number of public parking spaces. This stretch of King Street is a neighborhood street with mostly single family homes with driveways. The City of Alexandria observed about 95% of the parking spaces were vacant over a three month period this year. This unused public space should be utilized to make our streets safer for all. Kids should be able to bike to school, residents should be safe walking to the Metro station, and visitors should feel comfortable riding Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.

There is a definite possibility that the vote will go against the bike lanes or be delayed. The opposition is vocal and motivated. Please attend the public meeting and support King Street Traffic Calming!

Transportation and Parking Board Hearing
Monday, February 24th, 7:30 pm (Tonight)
Council Chambers, City Hall (Market Square, King St at Royal St)
Info: http://www.alexandriava.gov/TrafficParkingBoard
You must sign up to testify by 7:45 p.m. – download the speaker form (pdf)

After tonight’s hearing, the Alexandria City Council will hold a public hearing in March and vote on this project. A favorable vote from the Traffic and Parking Board tonight will go along way to a vote to proceed from City Council. Tonight’s vote is important.

Share with the City of Alexandria your personal experience biking, walking or driving on this stretch of King Street. If you cannot make tonight’s hearing, send an email to the Traffic and Parking Board in support of the King Street Traffic Calming.

King Street Bike Lanes Decision Appealed

king-street-is-the-missing-link

King Street is the missing link in the bicycle network. Bike lanes would connect the exciting and planned network. Source: City of Alexandria.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the city of Alexandria will hold additional public meetings on the controversial King Street bike lanes. In December, Director Rich Brier wrote a letter to residents along King Street saying that he would direct his staff to proceed with the installation of the bike lanes. Residents upset with Brier’s decision are using a 50-year-old city law to appeal his decision.

Alexandria, in an effort to be transparent about the decision, will allow two additional opportunities to comment on the bike lane project. The first public hearing will be on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Traffic and Parking Board meeting. The Traffic and Parking Board will make a recommendation to the Alexandria city council. In November, 56 speakers testified at a TPB hearing; 38 spoke in favor of the bike lanes and 18 spoke in opposition. The TBP voted to defer its decision. The second public meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sat., March 15  as part of the city council’s consideration of the TPB recommendation.

During the first public hearings about the bike lanes in fall 2013, concerns from some members of the public centered on the planned loss of all 37 on-street parking spaces on the stretch of King Street that would have the lanes. During a November meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board, staff from the city of Alexandria presented data collected over several months in the spring of 2013. On average, three cars per day were parked in those 37 on-street parking spaces. The revised plan presented in November will retain 10 on-street parking spaces in direct response to citizen concerns.

On-street bike lanes make streets safer for all users. When bike lanes are installed, the average speeds of car drivers are reduced, making the street better for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers. Lanes give cyclists a safe place on the road and an alternative to narrow sidewalks, making those sidewalks better for pedestrians. Alexandria’s professional engineering and traffic planning staff, along with its independent traffic and engineering firm agree that bike lanes on King Street are a wise choice to accommodate all road users.

WABA will continue to advocate on behalf of our Alexandria members and supporters for the installation of the King Street bike lanes. Sign up below to receive email alerts when new updates or action is needed for the King Street Bike Lanes.

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Success: King Street Bike Lanes Will Go Forward

Success! The City of Alexandria will install bike lanes on King Street in 2014.

The City of Alexandria will move forward with plans to install bike lanes on King Street east of the Metro station. In a letter to residents of King Street, Director of Transportation and Environmental Services Rich Brier will direct City staff to implemented the compromise proposal in the new year.

66 speakers testified at the TPB hearing on Nov. 25. 48 spoke in favor of the bike lanes, and 18 were opposed. City residents who spoke in favor of the bike lanes included a high-school teacher, two vision-impaired riders who ride with sighted riders on tandem bicycles, parents, students, and other residents. WABA worked to mobilize the support of Alexandria bicyclists and gave testimony on behalf of our Alexandria members and supporters.

In the four page letter to residents Director Rich Brier writes, “As a professional engineer tasked with ensuring the safety for all users of our street system and after reviewing the data and researching alternative proposals, I believe that the modified plan is the best plan to achieve the common goals of improving safety and balancing the needs of multiple users of King Street.” Read the letter in its entirely on the City of Alexandria’s website.

Learn more about the City’s proposal for King Street online including their original proposal and the late compromise solution. City staff initially proposed removing all 37 on-street parking spaces but late presented a revised proposal that retained 10 on-street spaces.

The City of Alexandria has made an important step towards towards making the streets safer for all roadway users. Please take a moment now and send a note of thanks to the City Mayor and Council. Click this link to send an email of appreciation.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is the leading voice for bicycling in the region. WABA members and supporters enable us to advocate for better conditions for bicycling. Join or donate today to ensure that we can continue to represent you.

 This blog post was update to include a link to the full letter from Transportation Director Rich Brier.

No Decision on the King Street Bike Lane for Two More Months

Bike lane supporters stand up during the Traffic and Parking Board’s vote late night on the King Street bike lanes. Photo credit: @scorchedearthdj

It was standing room only last night for the city of Alexandria’s Traffic and Parking Board’s monthly meeting. The topic of discussion was the King Street bike lane and traffic calming project, which we wrote about yesterday. Sixty-two residents and representatives of local organizations took to the podium to express their opinion on the city’s newest proposal. Forty-two speakers spoke in support of the bike lane project, while 18 were opposed to the plan. The written comments to the board were three-to-one in favor of the bike lane project, according to city staff.

City traffic engineers originally proposed installing bike lanes the complete length of King Street from Russell Road to Janneys Lane, which would have required removing all 37 on-street public parking spaces (this stretch of King Street is a neighborhood street with plenty of off-street driveway parking). Last night, city staff presented a revised plan, which would retain 10 on-street parking spots on King Street and add 3 more on side streets based on the concerns of residents. Residents also requested more data from city staff. That data was presented last night and included an 85th-percentile speed for the street: 35 miles per hour, which is 10 miles over the legal speed limit.

After almost three hours of testimony, board members briefly discussed the topic and voted to defer for two months. The board voted in September to defer the vote for the first time and asked city staff to address residents’ concerns. Now Alexandria residents must wait another two months for a hearing. Which, unfortunately, also means they must wait for a safer King Street.

If you can’t wait two months, please send a message to the Alexandria mayor and city council expressing your support for the King Street bike lanes.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is the leading voice for bicycling in the region. WABA members and supporters enable us to advocate for better conditions for bicycling. Join or donate today to ensure that we can continue to represent you.

Tonight: Save the King Street Bike Lanes

This morning, we emailed a version of the text below to our supporters in Alexandria. We’re posting it on our blog to encourage those who don’t subscribe to our action alerts but live in and around Del Ray to attend tonight’s hearing about the proposed King Street bike lanes, which are in danger of being killed in favor of parking spaces.

Without you, these bike lanes may never come to be, remaining instead parking spaces.

“We want people to be using bicycles and walking,” Alexandria Mayor Bil Euille has declared (as recently reported by the Del Ray Patch).

This winter, the city of Alexandria plans to expand the popular Capital Bikeshare system to Del Ray with five new stations. However, Bikeshare will falter without additional on-street bike lanes, routes, and trails. Alexandria is proposed to construct bike lanes on King Street from Russell Road to Janneys Lane. The western section of King Street is an uphill climb. The proposed lanes will provide a safe place for people on bikes to climb at their own pace, while keeping car traffic flowing smoothy and unimpeded. Neighbors report that drivers often speed on this stretch; bike lanes will calm this fast-moving car traffic. Pedestrains will benefit from a buffer from car traffic and a sidewalk clear of bike traffic. The King Street bike lanes are an unequivocal win for nearby residents, pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and bus riders.

Learn more about the King Street bike lane proposal on Alexandria’s website.

But there are a few vocal and well-connected neighbors opposing the bike lanes. Their main complaint is the loss of a small number of public parking spaces. The stretch of King Street in question is residential, with single-family homes and driveways. The ciy observed that about 95 percent of all street parking spaces were vacant over a three-month period this year. This empty public space should be used to make King Street safer for kids biking to school, residents walking to the Metro, and visitors using Capital Bikeshare to shop in Old Town.

There is a real chance that Alexandria’s Transportation and Parking Board will vote against the bike lanes in favor of these parking spaces. Please attend TONIGHT to testify in support of the King Street bike lane project and demand safer streets.

Transportation and Parking Board Hearing
Monday, Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m. (TONIGHT!)
Council Chambers, City Hall (Market Square, King Street at Royal Street)
More information: http://www.alexandriava.gov/TrafficParkingBoard
You must sign up to testify by 7:45 p.m.; download the speaker form (PDF)

Thank you for helping to make the streets of Alexandria safer.

We’ve Got Business Members. Get to Know Them!

business-membership-logoLast week we announced WABA’s new Business Membership program, and mentioned the first five businesses to get involved. Today, let us give you a more in-depth look at what the businesses that have joined up with us have to offer.

VeloCity Bicycle Cooperative is a non-profit, volunteer-run, do-it-yourself bicycle workshop in Alexandria. It offers trainings, rides, and events to empower and educate area bicyclists through building, maintaining, and embracing the fun of riding a bike. VeloCity actively sought us out for a business membership and quickly became our first member.

Bike and Roll is a bike rental, repair, and touring company with locations in D.C. and Alexandria. It provides hourly and full-day bike rentals, guided bike tours, and bicycle repair and maintenance. A long time supporter of WABA, Bike and Roll has frequently donated its bikes for use at WABA events and classes.

Ecoprint is an environmentally responsible printing company in Silver Spring that uses a 100 percent carbon-neutral printing processes—Ecoprint was “eco” before it was cool. The company has printed WABA’s newsletter and direct mailings for many years and has helped us raise awareness of bicycling issues in an environmentally friendly manner.

KGP Design Studios, LLC is a design firm providing architecture, urban design, and transit planning services. It has been a leader in the livable cities movement, designing premier bicycle facilities including the Union Station Bicycle Transit Center (which is operated by Bike and Roll).

The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company that provides financial solutions for all kinds of investors. Committed to cultivating bicycling as a viable transportation option for its staff, The Motley Fool brought in WABA for an employee-based bike commuter seminar in 2011.

A big welcome and thanks to our business members for making our business membership program successful! If you’re interested in becoming a business member, learn more about the program here.

 

 

(Sort of) Protecting Homeland Bicyclists from the Threat of Bollards

(This posting provided by Jonathan Krall, Chair, Alexandria Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee)

On Friday, June 29 bicycle advocates and transportation officials met below the Wilson Bridge on the South end of Old Town to discuss mitigation strategies for the the risks associated with a series of bollards on the Mt Vernon Trail at the Wilson Bridge. This meeting happened because of concerns raised by cycling advocates such as blogger John “Rootchopper” Pickett and through the efforts of Eric Wagner (Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee) and Carrie Sanders (Alexandria City Transportation and Environmental Services). The meeting included representatives from VDOT (John Lynch, John Bolecek), Woodrow Wilson Bridge General Engineering Consultants (Bill Barkely), Transportation Safety Administration (Steve Sprague), Alexandria T&ES (Lucas Cruse), Alexandria BPAC (Jonathan Krall, Jerry King, Eric Wagner) and WABA (Shane Farthing).

Cyclists and pedestrians have encountered the bollards in question near each of the two points where the presently-configured Mt Vernon Trail passes under the Wilson Bridge. The bollards, rigid metal posts designed to stop unauthorized vehicles from gaining access to the underside of the bridge, represent a post-9/11 recommendation of the TSA. There are numerous such bollards and other barriers within the Wilson Bridge/Jones Point Park project. According to one representative of the TSA, an unauthorized vehicle can be “a motorcycle pulling a trailer” or anything larger.

These very solid obstacles are a proven hazard to cyclists in the area, having caused two very serious bicycle crashes within the past two months. According to counts performed by Alexandria BPAC, an estimated 750,000 people pass though this area under the Wilson bridge each year, about 2/3 of them on bicycles. Because of the location of one set of three bollards at the bottom of a hill (the ramp connecting to Washington Street south of the bridge), the present configuration is particularly dangerous for northbound cyclists, who are likely to approach these unmarked bollards at speed. Worse yet, if a northbound cyclist passes to the left of the leftmost of the three bollards at this point, she will quickly encounter a high curb that cuts into the trail 5 feet past the bollard. The present, incomplete configuration is a 911-call waiting to happen.

In each of the two spots the attendees discussed at the meeting there is a trio of bollards: one on the (not yet painted) centerline and one each to the right and left of the trail. Planned trail elements include white edge and yellow centerline striping to narrow the trail at the bollards, “path narrows” and “bollards ahead” signage, and yellow (or white) paint and reflective markings on the bollards themselves. The yellow center stripe will split 20 feet ahead of the center bollard to visually separate the two trail-lanes from the center bollard.

The meeting participants agreed on additional measures to protect citizens of the Homeland. First, the dangerous opening to left of the leftmost bollard south of the bridge (as viewed by northbound travelers) will be marked with painted hash-marks outside of the white stripe and will be blocked by, for example, one or more soft plastic bollards. All cyclists at the meeting agreed that, despite signage, the bollards will prove a surprise to cyclists, especially in crowded conditions. In an effort to create a more forgiving design, there will be additional soft plastic bollards within the yellow split-centerline in advance of the solid bollard. This increases awareness for trail users for the dangerous configuration ahead and will reduce the likelihood of dangerous situations or crashes since cyclists who misread the trail configuration will encounter a soft bollard rather than a hard one. At this late stage in the process, it seemed almost impossible to make actionable recommendations for implementation of alternative proposals that would have completely eliminated the need for bollards on the trail. One proposal suggested to remove the center bollards entirely (deemed to make the trail too attractive to terrorists). Another would be to move the bollards south of the bridge to the top of the hill and otherwise block vehicles from entering the trail from the nearby parking lot (too elaborate at such a late stage). On a positive note, VDOT will look at the possibility to make changes to the 4-inch curb and “rock mulch” awaiting any trail user in the case of a fall, all but guaranteeing bloody injuries. General trail design guidelines suggest that there should not be a high, right-angled curb on a trail and in addition, at least two feet of “safe space” (not sharp rocks). Finally, we agreed to monitor the results and take further steps if needed to protect cyclists from bollards along the Mt Vernon Tail within the project area.

One direct safety improvement is VDOT’s assurance to install a variable message sign at the bridge, directing southbound trail users to use the appropriate path (the two destinations will be “Mount Vernon” and “Wilson Bridge Path”) while the construction at the top of the ramp blocking access to the southbound trail towards Mount Vernon is ongoing.

This is a VDOT project. While VDOT deserves recognition for keeping this very busy trail open throughout most of this multi-year project, they do not have the expertise to recognize some hazards to bicyclists and pedestrians. Getting this expertise “in the loop” on transportation projects is an ongoing challenge for planners and builders. Hazards associated with this project and with these bollards have been extensively documented on Rootchopper blog (here’s an example http://rootchopper.blogspot.com/2012/06/mandatory-8-count.html). Anyone who wishes to become proficient at detour design for multi-use paths would do well to study Mr. Pickett’s many examples and critiques.

Wilson Bridge Jones Point Plans