April Advocacy Roundup

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VIRGINIA

VA Dooring Bill Signed into Law

Brief Explanation: SB 117 requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50. Getting “doored” is an all too common cause of crashes between bikes and cars, often resulting in severe injury to the bicyclist.

Current Status: Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Virginia residents, advocates, and legislators, SB 117, the “dooring” bill, passed both the Virginia House and Senate. On April 1, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law.

Funding for Complete Streets in Alexandria

Brief Explanation: Alexandria’s Complete Streets program is key to the city’s strategic objectives — protecting the safety of residents, building a multi-modal transportation network, enhancing the health of citizens, and supporting the wellbeing of our youth and children.  Last year, the program delivered nearly $1.5 M in safety fixes for intersections, schools and neighborhood streets. But if the city’s proposed budget is enacted as-is, funding for the Complete Streets program will be reduced to about 1/3 of it’s current budget in FY17. This will have direct negative impacts to the safety and well-being of Alexandria residents and visitors.

Current Status: After years of neglect, the city is to be commended for more than doubling the Street Reconstruction (Paving) budget, from $2.6M in FY14 to $5.6M in FY16 and proposed for $5.3M in FY17. But by not providing commensurate funds for Complete Streets, the city is prioritizing the convenience of motorists over the safety of people who walk and bike. WABA members and supporters have weighed in on this issue and we will have more updates after we see the final budget.

Update Arlington’s Bike Plan

Brief Explanation: Arlington’s bike plan is obsolete. It was written in 2007, when sharrows were the most exciting development in bike infrastructure.  It predates protected bike lanes, Capital Bikeshare and Vision Zero. Implementation of many of the projects called for in the plan have faced significant citizen opposition, because the plan lacked the robust, inclusive public process that is needed to generate consensus and support.

Current Status: Earlier this month, hundreds of Arlington residents sent in comments asking that the County update the Transportation Master Plan’s Bicycle element in the coming fiscal year. While specific funding was not identified in the 2017 budget, the County Board did make updating the plan a clear priority for staff in the coming year. We will continue pushing for robust public engagement as staff approach the planning process.


MARYLAND

A New Campaign for Montgomery County: Create the Silver Spring Circle

Brief Explanation: With the dense mix of transit, offices, entertainment, shops and homes, Silver Spring should be a paradise for walking and biking. But it’s not. Due to high speed traffic and a lack of dedicated space for bikes on the busy streets in downtown Silver Spring, most residents don’t feel safe biking in the road.  The Silver Spring Circle would trade excess road space for protected bike lanes, creating a connected, low-stress bike network in downtown Silver Spring.

Actions to Take: Come to the Campaign kickoff May 14th. Sign the petition to create the Silver Spring Circle.


Washington D.C.

Greg Kenyan McDuffie Tamara

Contributory Negligence

Brief Explanation: Contributory Negligence is an antiquated legal doctrine that limits bicyclists access to justice and compensation after a crash with a motor vehicle. The District of Columbia is a national outlier, as it is one of only five states that still use contributory negligence to allocate fault. The vast majority of states have updated their negligence standard to a fairer system.

Current Status: On April 21st, the Judiciary Committee voted 3-0 to move the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act out of committee and recommended it for consideration by the full D.C. Council. The bill will now be considered by the full DC Council when it meets as the Committee of the Whole sometime before summer recess. It needs seven votes to pass the Council, and the Mayor’s signature to become law.

Action to Take: Sign up to receive action alerts about opportunities for further public comment and testimony as they arise. We’ll need everyone’s involvement to get this across the finish line.

L St and Safe Accommodations

Brief Explanation: The L Street protected bike lane is a key part of the city’s transportation infrastructure. Following its completion in 2013, bike ridership on L Street exploded, increasing 65 percent within the lane’s first year of installation. The 1500 block section is a particularly important piece of the network because it intersects with the protected bike lanes on 15th Street and M Street.

Current Status: A permit issued to Carr Properties for the old Washington Post building site construction completely eliminates the protected bike lane and the sidewalk on the north side of the street, while leaving two vehicle lanes open. For more than two years, the publicly accessible portions of L Street will consist of a 13 foot motor vehicle lane (with sharrows) an 11 foot motor vehicle lane (formerly used for parking) and the southern sidewalk.

Action to Take: Report suspected violations of the Safe Accommodations Act to District Department of Transportation (DDOT) staff at the Public Space Regulation Administration. They will ask for information on the location, entity occupying public space (e.g. Pepco, Ft. Myer, etc.), and a brief description of what you encountered.  Photos of the location are especially helpful.

15th Street Bike Lane Connections at the White House

Ramparoo! New Paint and ramps make it easier to bike through Lafayette Park on segment of the 15th Street protected bike lane.

Brief Explanation: Thanks to some hard work by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and a bit of prodding by WABA, navigating past the White House on the 15th Street bikeway just got a little easier. DDOT, in collaboration with the National Park Service (which oversees the property) and the Secret Service (which is in charge of security for the area), installed new paint and curb ramps at the intersection of H St NW and Madison Pl NW.


TRAILS

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail—Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment

Brief Explanation: Construction of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Segment  is in full swing, and expected to be completed by this fall. This 4-mile segment fills a gap from Benning Road to Bladensburg Waterfront  completing an almost 70-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails on the Anacostia River and its tributaries.  It includes boardwalk sections that meander around trees and wetlands in the Aquatic Gardens and other National Park lands.

As it passes through the Mayfair and Parkside communities, the trail travels on widened sidewalks and protected bike lanes, linking these neighborhoods to more than 40 miles of trail, numerous schools, businesses, libraries, museums, shopping centers and transit stations. 

Parkview bike lane 1

Current Status: The protected bike lane is one of the first to be developed in Ward 7, and it is nearly completed.  Extensive public outreach was done during the years of planning from 2004 to 2014. Unfortunately, some neighbors of the project have complained about the loss of the parking in front of their townhouses and are asking the city to remove the protected bike lane on Hayes St.  

Action to take: Residents of Ward 7 who want more safe places to walk and bike in their neighborhoods should contact their government officials at DDOT and the City Council to speak up in favor this and future projects.

Purple Line and the Capital Crescent Trail

Brief Explanation: WABA has been working for more than two decades on making the vision of a seamless trail from Georgetown to Silver Spring a reality. The Purple Line will make substantial improvements to a portion of that route, transforming the Georgetown Branch Trail segment into a safe, viable transportation and recreation connection between two of the county’s hubs of activity (Bethesda and Silver Spring).

Current Status: Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved a contract for a team of companies to build, operate and maintain the Purple Line, a 16-mile transit line that will link the Red, Green, and Orange lines in the Maryland suburbs. We will continue to track progress on the development of the trail, and will keep you informed along the way.

Met Branch Trail

Brief Explanation: When completed, the MBT will be a 8-mile multi use trail from Union Station in the District to Silver Spring, MD. The finished segment we have today is the result of more than 25 years of  steadfast effort from committed residents, advocates, and planners through a lengthy public process. But we aren’t there quite yet.

Current Status: There are two segments that MCDOT is currently engaged in. From the Maryland line to the Silver Spring Transit Center, the designs look good, with one exception: the B&O train station just off of Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. Montgomery Preservation Inc (MPI), the nonprofit that controls this site, has spent years resisting proposed solutions, rejecting compromise design alternatives, and declining the County’s attempts to compensate them for the space the trail requires.

Action to Take:  Sign up to receive updates and action alerts from WABA about the Met Branch Trail.

Rock Creek Park Trail

Brief Explanation:  The Rock Creek Park Trail is in deplorable condition. Since 2014 when 2,500 WABA members and supporters signed a petition demanding action to rehabilitate the trial, a lot of work has been done. Over the next three years, the trail and beach drive will be completely reconstructed and improved.

Current Status: The funding is allocated, the engineering designs are complete and construction contracts are issued. We anticipate construction starting any day now. Beach Drive will be fully rebuilt and repaved over the next two years. It will be a long construction project but the road will a last another 50 years. 

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive update on this trail in coming weeks.

Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Trail

Brief Explanation: The Washington Baltimore & Annapolis trail (WB&A) is a paved multi-use trail that runs from Maryland Route 450 in Prince George’s County to the Patuxent River at the border of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties. Efforts are underway to extend the WB&A trail north-eastward over the Patuxent River and toward the Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Current Status: WABA released a report that provides a preliminary analysis of extending the current WB&A trail in the opposite direction: southwestward to connect with the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (ART) at the Washington, DC border. Extending the WB&A trail to the ART at the Maryland/Washington DC border would provide analogous trail connectivity for a large area of central Prince George’s County serving residents and visitors.


Meet Advocates in Your Neighborhood

Vasa 2016

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 and more reason to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

Click here to see what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.

We’re fine tuning the way this monthly(ish) update works, so if you have thoughts on how to make this information more useful, send a note to communications@waba.org.

Fabulous Fun at the Trail Ranger Scavenger Hunt!

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail was alive with hearty adventurers, creativity and merriment at the Treasures of the River Trail. Now in its second year, the Trail Ranger scavenger hunt saw teams explore the hidden corners of the twelve mile trail system, compete for fabulous prizes (big thank you to Blue Jacket!),  and put their ingenuity to test. Herons, egrets and cormorants were spotted, fantastic sturdy boats were built, and forts found. It was a great afternoon to introduce new and familiar faces to the many treasures of the trail!

Anacostia River Festival Abuzz with Bikes

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Anacostia Park was bustling on Sunday with the first annual Anacostia River Festival. So many people from near and far away from the trail came down to the riverbank to listen to music, paddle canoes, ride the trails and connect with their neighbors. Lots of folks stopped by our booth to better understand how the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail connects, see what the future holds when the Kenilworth section opens up in 2016 and swap ideas for summer rides.

Anacostia Fest 2 (1)

Trail Rangers also led two groups around a guided loop of the trail to introduce the trail to new and familiar riders alike. The five mile loop up to Benning Road allowed us to explore both banks of the river, see some of the many connections the trail has to the street grid and spot a few herons. It was a beautiful blue sky day to be out for a ride, and the trails were full of people coming and going from the festival.

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Anacostia River Festival is This Sunday

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Have you lived in the Washington area for a while, yet still, somehow, not been down to the Anacostia River? Well here is your chance to explore the river AND have a blast with family, friends, and neighbors!

On Sunday April 12th, join WABA, the National Park Service, the 11th Street Bridge Park and dozens of area organizations for the first Anacostia River Festival! This year’s festival celebrates the natural world by focusing on the Anacostia River, its history, ecology, and the communities along its riverbanks.

For all those first timers and trail lovers, we are leading group trail rides on the beautiful Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which runs both banks of the river in DC. Bring a bike and see the river, the trail, and the re-emerging wildlife for yourself. These relaxed pace rides will depart at 12:15 and 2:30 pm and last about half an hour. We’ll get you back with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the festival. Learn more about the rides at waba.org/riverfest

Festival Details

Sunday April 12, 2015 12 – 4 pm
Anacostia Park at Good Hope Road & Anacostia Drive, Southeast DC (map)
For full festival details and activity updates, see bridgepark.org/ARF

Want to help us make it happen? We are still looking for a few volunteers. Sign Up Here

Treasures Abound And Good Times Found!

Over 70 brave explorers came out to join in WABA’s Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt this past Saturday. Sporting costumes, colorful headwear, impressive team branding, and almost giddy excitement, the 25 teams came prepared for some serious riddle sleuthing and river wandering.
Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

Once out on the trail, teams fanned out in all directions to unravel a list of riddles and uncover the trail’s hidden bounty. Some of these “Trail Treasures” –landmarks, sweeping views, riverside hideaways, and unexpected attractions– proved quite tricky, but well worth the trip.

Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

Since the mark of a modern privateer is the right balance of braggery, skill, and tech savvy, teams collected points by tweeting and instagramming photos of their team at each trail treasure.  With a little encouragement and so many sights and props for inspiration, teams dove headfirst into the competition with some great results.

Anacostia Riverwalk Treasure Hunt

For many riders, this adventure was a first time down on the river. We hope that the cheerful trail, wildlife for company, and so many activities, keep them coming back!  If you missed it, check out the photos on our flickr page and consider setting sail for the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail for a voyage of your own!

For the big extra spark of motivation and boatloads of prizes, we owe a rousing Thank You to our Prize Sponsors: Capitol Hill Bikes, Bluejacket, Ice Cream Jubilee, and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

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Five Reasons To Join the Treasure Hunt

On August 30, our Trail Ranger crew is bringing a treasure hunt to the shores of the Anacostia River. If you’re not swayed by promises of a lighthearted team competition wrapped in a bike adventure with cheeky pirate themes, here are the top five reasons to weigh anchor and pedal down to Diamond Teague Park next weekend.

5. There’s Real Treasure in DC’s Backyard!

OK, so truth be told, you won’t see any rubies or gold pieces, but you may be surprised by what your team digs up.  DC has no shortage of sweeping views, so you can expect plenty of those.  But just as exciting are the places where the trees take over and the city fades away.  Come find your new favorite hideaway.

4. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is Amazing!

RiverWalk Ride

The eight mile loop is a pleasure to ride.  With sweeping bridges, easy connections to nearby streets and thriving wildlife, the trail is an attraction all on its own.  And it is only getting better!  Construction is underway on a 4.5 mile connection to Maryland’s Anacostia Tributary Trails, so expect a significant bump in trail users by Spring of 2016.  Quit waiting.

3. There are Boats of All Sizes

We hope not to see any naval battles, but there sure are a ton of ships to board like the Navy’s display ship Barry

Display Ship Barry
or this one

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2. Kids will have blast too!

Our younger, bike savvy explorers can expect a shorter, more directed route mapped out on a treasure map of their own.  Along the way, they’ll find some great views, shoeline riding, and a few surprises.

1. Treasure Maps, Clues, Exploration, Bikes and Prizes!

Bike rides with friends are fun.  Bike rides with friends with treasure maps and riddles are better.  Add costumes, prizes, a little bit of bushwhacking and prizes and you’ve got a real adventure!  Come join in the fun.

Weigh Anchor and Sign Up!

Calling All Treasure Hunters!

Do you have an affinity for nautical themes, bicycles, and vague maps of geographical forms? Do you like exploration, friendly competition and prizes? If so, grab a friend, a bicycle and strap on your skull and crossbones helmet for the first ever Anacostia River Treasure Hunt!

At 10: am on Saturday, August 30th, set sail for the shores of the Anacostia River at Diamond Teague Park for a spirited hunt for all the treasures our city’s other great river has to offer. in days of olde, treasure hunters crossed the seas and beat back jungles in search of precious metals and plunder. Today, we’ll compete for points, earned by following clues, discovering lesser known attractions, and clearing some jungles too! Armed with a treasure map, a sense of adventure and a Twitter handle, your team will take on the competition for points, prizes, and glory.

Hunt Details

Each team will receive a treasure map and a broad list of clues to “Trail Treasures” and challenges scattered up and down the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Since the mark of a true privateer is the right balance of braggery, skill, and wit, teams will collect points by tweeting and instagramming photos featuring their team’s  hunting talents.  With limited time, will your team seek out the large payoffs of tricky and distant treasures or aim for the easy return on simpler clues? Good treasure hunters always have a keen mind for strategy!

Teams that collect the most points or show great creativity will be showered with prizes and glory. The rest will walk away with an album full of reasons to come back for more adventure by bike, kayak, roller skate, or picnic blanket.

Registration is free and open to all. Teams including bike savvy kids are welcome too! We’ll have a shorter, kid friendly map and clue sheet so aspiring treasure hunters can join in the fun.

Treasures Worth Hunting

While the Anacostia has never been a place for precious metals, it is littered with treasures of another kind! These are the sweeping views, riverside hideaways, feats of engineering and pieces of history that make the Anacostia impressive. They are those uplifting scenes of a river alive with wildlife and abuzz with people. They are boathouses, roller rinks and aquariums right in DC’s back yard!  We hope you’ll join us!

Weigh Anchor, Register Now!