City Cycling is a hit in Alexandria

Last Saturday, we kicked off the fall education season with our first City Cycling class of the season. We met Saturday morning in Jones Point Park, where the Mount Vernon Trail crosses under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. After discussing the basics of helmet use and fit, and helping students get to know their bikes a bit better, our instructors set up a series of skill-building exercises.

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Instructor Allyson Brown gives students the lowdown on brakes.

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Instructor Sam Mazur showing off a Capital Bikeshare bike.

We believe confidence comes from controlling your bike in everyday situations, so we start with the basics and students progress from there. The exercises gradually get more complex and we try to mimic the situations and challenges riders may encounter on the roads and trails, all in safe and controlled space.

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Students navigating the course during exercises.

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A pair of students gets a feel for braking from behind the saddle.

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Instructor Allyson Brown demonstrating an avoidance weave.

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A student successfully pulling off the instant turn.

After a short break, everyone gets ready for a ride. Half the group took advantage of the Mount Vernon trail to practice safe passing, trail etiquette and communication skills before venturing out into a quiet neighborhood nearby. The other half explored Old Town Alexandria’s bike routes, rode alongside drivers, and even practiced taking control of the travel lane.

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Instructor Brenda Ruby leads the group on the Mount Vernon trail.

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You can never be too courteous when passing pedestrians on trails.

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Taking the lane on Cameron St. in Old Town Alexandria.

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Instructor Sam Mazur makes sure no riders get left behind.

When the riders returned, they were full of smiles and ready to turn around and get back out there! They left with new skills, more confidence, and a wealth of new information, helpful tips, maps, and guides. We know they’ll be out there riding well and helping other cyclists.

If you haven’t taken a City Cycling class yet, now’s the time! You can check out our upcoming fall schedule here. All classes cost $10 to reserve a space, or you can walk-up to any class for free. Riding a bike in the city is for everybody, come on out and get started!

A First Step Toward Better Bike Lanes in MD and VA

Two way protected bike lane illustration from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

This week, WABA sent letters to local departments of transportation requesting consideration and adoption of the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) Urban Bikeway Design Guide. The NACTO guide presents state-of-the-practice solutions that create safe, enjoyable complete streets for current and new bicyclists.

The NACTO guide provides county traffic engineers with additional designs for innovative bicycling facilities that use several techniques to encourage new bicyclists, primarily by separating bike lanes from car traffic. The guide also has recommendations for designing on-road facilities such as buffered bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), bike boxes, contraflow bike lane and other facilities.  Adoption of the NACTO guide by local DOTs clears one of the many obstacles to building protected bike lanes.

Why protected bike lanes?

Protected bike lanes keep current bicyclists safer while encouraging new people to use bicycles for transportation. WABA is working to increase the miles of protected bike lanes throughout the region. Learn about our advocacy priority and our local campaign to build a protected bike lanes in Bethesda. More local campaigns are coming soon.

We sent letters to the Directors of Transportation for Fairfax County, Prince Georges’ County, Montgomery County and the City of Alexandria*.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Arlington County have already endorsed the guide and are currently implementing protected bike lanes. We will publish the written responses we receive from the departments to the blog.

Read the full letter requesting adoption of NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide.

* Update: The City of Alexandria has also endorsed the NACTO guide. 

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

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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.