A Rebuilt Rock Creek Park Trail is One Step Closer

Trail rehabilitation would include widening the trail through the tunnel. Photo credit: neinfein

The long wait is over. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) released today the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail. Also released today from DDOT is the required Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI, the best acronym ever) from Federal Highway Administration, a document that allows the repaving and upgrade of the trail to finally move forward.

In February, we asked our members and supporters to sign a petition to NPS and DDOT to release the Final EA.  Final design, engineering and construction could not move forward without the environmental review process being finished. Over 2500 people signed our petition in less than 10 days. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sent a letter to NPS asking for a complete status update in March. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition.

Over the coming weeks we will dig into the Final EA and FONSI to understand how the project will move forward and what has changed since the Draft EA. As for a rebuilt trail, DDOT now must finish the final design and engineering which is already budgeted for Fiscal Year 2014. Construction funds are available when the final design is ready. Learn more about the entire rehabilitation on the DDOT website.

A little more waiting, but a new trail is one major step closer. Wahooooooo!

You Get a Cycle Track, You Get a Cycle Track

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The recommended downtown bike network in the draft Move DC plan. Every dashed white/pink line is a proposed protected bike lane (cycle track).

At Friday’s ribbon cutting for the First St. NE event, Mayor Gray announced the release the much anticipated Move DC draft Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan. The draft plan is a giant step forward for biking in the District of Columbia. It’s worth repeating, the expansion of bicycling as a mode of transportation for the next twenty years in Move DC are some of the most ambitious in the entire United States.

To get to the juicy details first, the Move DC draft plan proposed an expansion of the bicycling network with over 200 new miles of bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) and trails. The total envisioned bicycle network would be 136 miles of bike lanes, 72 miles of protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), and 135 miles of trails – the finished network would be a whopping 343 miles of dedicated bicycle infrastructure!!!

The entire draft plan with appendices is over 500 pages so there is still plenty of information, data, policies recommendations and plans to dig through. The bicycling element examines existing conditions, current policies and highlights the recent growth. Bicycling in DC is the fastest growing mode of transportation and it is in this context DDOT outlines a substantial growth in the bicycle network. DDOT planners hope to have a majority of city residents within a 2 minute bike ride of a protected bike lane or trail.

This plan represents a huge step forward for bicycling in DC. However, DDOT has set a less than ambitious goal for total bicycling increase in their Bicycle Element Performance measures. The goal over the 25 year period is an increase in bicycling to 12% of all trips that start and end in the District. According to the US Census most recent American Communities Survey (2012), DC’s bicycling commuting rate is 4.1% for work trips. Since 2005, the commuting rate has increase about 30% each year. Projecting the growth out 25 years to 2040 at a 30% growth rate would be an overall 12% bike commuting mode share but only for work trips.

The ACS data is notorious for under counting bike commuting and only considers work trips, not all trips. Estimates put work trips as only 1/6th of total trips made by a person. Non-work travel includes grocery shopping, going out to dinner, picking kids up at school, etc., which are generally shorter and closer to home. Biking makes up a larger portion of non-work trips for the very reason they are shorter. DDOT’s 12% goal for all trips in the city to be made by bike should be more ambitious.

Included in the draft plan is a thorough update and progress report on the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan (pdf).  DDOT gives updates on the 14 core recommendations outlines in the master plan. Many major initiatives have been finished or are nearing completion. Other projects such as the Met Branch Trail and Rock Creek Park Trail are years behind schedule. It’s worth reading the full progress update and see how much has been done, and how much is still left to do.

The public input process began last year in February with a major kick-off event and three rounds of public meetings. There were also online surveys, webinars, and a bimonthly advisory group meetings. WABA members and supporters tirelessly participated in the public input process. The Move DC plan is a big step forward for biking in the District, but we’re not done deal yet.

A plan of this scale has not be undertaken in recent DC history. From the beginning, WABA and other transportation advocates have asked does this plan process become the plan for the entire agency. The draft Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan is a detailed framework in which all future policies, funding, project planning, engineering and construction are decided within.  The process of adoption is now becoming clear but more complicated by other current policy and political discussions.

DC Council is a considering a reorganization of DDOT, and other transportation related agencies such as the DMV and Taxi Commission (full Council bill). DDOT would the primary agency responsible for implementing a future Move DC plan. The Council has also voted to reduce future streetcar funding, a primary transit mode in the Move DC plan. The additional developments complicated the overall discussion of Move DC but also highlight the issue of transportation a prime concern to be addressed in a growing DC.

There is now an open public comment period to provide feedback on draft plan. Comments are being now accepted online. On June 27th, the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public hearing on the draft plan. After the comment period ends on July 6th, 2014, DDOT will compile comments and make edits to the draft plan. A final plan would go back to DC Council for a vote.

Please comment on the plan, especially the Bicycle section, and express your support for the plan. The next 25 years for bicycling in DC will be very excited if the Move DC plan becomes the vision we build.

Still Seeking a Full Time D.C. Bike Ambassador Program Coordinator

2014 04 12 Cherry Blossom Parade

Photo Courtesy of former Bike Ambassador Coordinator, Megan McCarty

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) is looking for a full-time coordinator for the DC Bike Ambassador program, an innovative grassroots approach to bicycle outreach and encouragement.

The DC Bike Ambassadors are educators and enthusiasts who work to bring better bicycling to the people of the District. Ambassadors are carefully selected for a love of bicycling, an understanding of the benefits that bikes can bring to communities, and effective communication skills. They can be found out on the streets day and night to promote bicycling and act as two-wheeled role models in our city.

The DC Bike Ambassador Coordinator is responsible for all aspects of the Bike Ambassador program, including volunteer recruitment, training and coordination, event scheduling and staffing, developing new strategies and approaches to bicycle outreach and encouragement, and online program support and marketing. The DC Bike Ambassador coordinator will develop, produce and distribute bicycle safety publications, implement bike safety and education presentations, manage volunteer coordination and training efforts, participate in WABA events (both on- and off-bike), and maintain and expand the Bike Ambassador program’s unique trailer program. The position will report to WABA’s Outreach Coordinator.

Responsibilities

 The DC Bike Ambassador Coordinator will:

  1. Develop the calendar of Ambassador events and appear in public as the face of area bicycling.
  2. Communicate an effective and encouraging message about bikes and bicycling to employers, employees, cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and the press.
  3. Develop and implement Ambassador events, including: scheduling, logistics, planning, volunteer coordination, loading and unloading, staffing events, and pulling the bicycle trailer(s).
  4. Run the Bike Ambassador Trailer program, which involves pulling an advertising/public awareness bike trailer to target bicyclist, motorist and pedestrian behaviors.
  5. Administer all aspects of the program, including: budgeting, volunteer recruitment/coordination, data entry, organization/inventory, equipment maintenance, clerical work, grant reporting, etc.
  6. Assist WABA in a non-Ambassador program capacity as needed.

Preferred Qualifications

 The ideal candidate will have:

  1. A strong commitment to WABA’s mission and be a skillful and committed bicyclist with a solid understanding of the principles of bicycling safety and traffic law.
  2. At least two years of combined experience in: project management, events planning/management, marketing and/or volunteer coordination.
  3. Supervisory experience a plus.
  4. Excellent writing, presentation and public speaking skills.
  5. A flexible schedule and willingness to work evenings and weekends as needed.
  6. Experience with Microsoft Office, Facebook and Twitter (for professional purposes), experience with Salsa/Democracy in Action and WordPress a plus.
  7. The ability to pull a bicycle trailer weighing 20 lbs. for 1-3 hours.
  8. The ability to lift at least 50 lbs.
  9. The ability to organize time wisely and multi-task in a relaxed, fun environment.
  10. Conversational fluency in Spanish strongly preferred.
  11. Prior League of American Bicyclist Instructor certification a plus.

Benefits include flexible schedule, vacation, sick and personal leave, and WABA’s retirement and health insurance programs. Compensation: low to mid-$30K’s. This position is full-time, 40 hours/week.

 About the Washington Area Bicyclist Association

Making bicycling better through advocacy and education, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) promotes biking as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation. With 4,000 members region-wide, WABA serves bicyclists throughout the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, including the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

Contact

Send a cover letter with a resume to jobs@waba.org.  No phone calls please.

Position available immediately. Applications accepted until the position is filled.

WABA is committed to providing equal employment opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, sex or age.

 

Women & Bicycles Tip: Approaching Kidical Mass

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This entry is part of our Women & Bicycles blog series. Women & Bicycles is WABA’s outreach and encouragement initiative to build a stronger women’s bike community and get more women on bikes. These posts certainly aren’t exclusive to women, but they’re produced with and through the Women & Bicycles’ programming and staffing. Click here to learn more and get involved.

Kidical Mass
Family biking is becoming more popular, more normal, more safe, and more fun thanks to the Kidical Mass groups forming throughout the United States.

Kidical Mass groups are volunteer-run initiatives that organize family bike rides for all ages and all experience levels. The groups find flat (or flattest), short, and scenic routes that start or end with treats.These adorable and lively events help demystifying family biking and encourage more Americans to take it on for recreation and transportation.

In just a few years we’ve seen a surge in these groups here in the D.C. metropolitan area. Find one closest to you, tell your friends, volunteer, start your own, join the ride!

First St. NE Cycle Track Ribbon Cutting Tomorrow

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WABA will be celebrating the completion of newly rebuilt First St. NE Street at a community event hosted by the  NoMA Business Improvement District (BID). Mayor Vincent Gray will cut the ribbon on the new street which includes DC’s first curb protected cycle track. Construction began in the spring of 2013 and lasted about a year.

Come join the fun and thank DDOT for this awesome new protected bike lane. WABA Bike Ambassadors and Trail Rangers will be at the event, so stop by and say hello. The 2014 WABA Trail Rangers will be riding the cycle track almost daily on their way to the Met Branch Trail. The celebration will include goodies, music and more.

Event Details
When: Friday, May 30.
11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Where: grassy field adjacent to 1100 First Street, NE
(intersection of Pierce and First Streets, NE)
What: Neighborhood celebration of the completion of construction on First Street, NE. Free goodies, food, and more will be available from the NoMa BID.

Be an Advocate at Bike to Work Day

Be an Advocate at Bike to Work Day. Photo Credit: gypsybug

People take notice when 17,000 people bike to work on a single day, including your elected representatives. Bike to Work Day has grown more than 10% per year in recent years as more people choose to commute on two wheels. Despite this incredible growth, bicycling captures only limited attention from local governments. Bike to Work Day is your opportunity to advocate for bicycling by simply signing up and riding.

There are almost 80 local pit stops this year. Many local elected officials and decision makers will be in attendance for Bike to Work Day. Councilmembers, County Board Supervisors, State Delegates, State Senators, Members of Congress or even a Senator might make an appearance. Important decision makers such as Directors of Transportation Departments, officials from State Highway and DOTs and other planners and traffic engineers could be at a pit stop too. This is an ideal chance to speak with these decision-makers.

Follow these few tips to make the most of this opportunity:

  • Know your elected officials and other decision makersUse our handy legislator look-up tool and be familiar with your representatives. It’s also worth familiarizing yourself with local transportation officials such as the Director of transportation or Public Works.
  • Ask if they are planning to attend Bike to Work Day – Send them a message and inquire if they are attending Bike to Work Day. Include in your message an invitation for them to attend a local pit stop.
  • Plan what you want to say – Practice your elevator speech. You’re only going to get 30 seconds to speak to them. Introduce yourself, including where you live and what your bike commute looks like. Ask them to support a project or for their help in addressing an issue. Ask how to follow-up. Thank them for their support.
  • Introduce yourself at the pit stop – Identify the official and introduce yourself. Be respectful of others speaking with them and wait your turn to speak.
  • Thank them for attending and their support of bicycling – Appreciate their attendance of Bike to Work Day and general support of bicycling. It goes a long way to thank and appreciate people first. If they have recently supported a specific initiative, mention it and give credit where due.
  • Have an “ask” – What do you want them to do? Have a one sentence “ask”. Good example include “could you send a letter of support to DOT about this bike trail?” or “please ask the state DOT to address the issue of biking on this road?”
  • Be respectful of their time (be quick!!) – You might only get 30 seconds or less. Officials have busy schedules and multiple appointments in a single day. Be respectful of their time at an event.
  • Follow-up that day – Make sure to ask how you can follow-up with them. Should you email them or is there a staffer who you should reach out to directly. Send a follow-up email that day!

If you need ideas of what to ask your representatives, see the WABA Advocacy Priority list and ask them to support these initiatives. The WABA Advocacy Priorities represent projects that serve bicyclists throughout the region.

And one last thing, don’t forget to register for Bike to Work Day: especially if you bike every day. This is the one day of the year to be counted (literally). Good luck being a bike advocate and have a great Bike to Work Day.

Curbs Coming to DC’s Cycle Tracks

Newly installed rubber curbs on the First St. NE cycle track. Photo: @mattyCampy

Protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) are all the rage these days, especially new lanes with curbs to separate cars from bicycles. Today, DDOT contractors installed rubber parking stops along the First St. cycle track to add additional protection for bicyclists along the section south of K St. NE. The two blocks north of K St. NE are already protected with the very deluxe pre-cast concrete curbs. Within days of “opening”, drivers were already parking in the cycle track.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is currently installing two different cycle tracks downtown. They hope to have them ready in time for Friday’s Bike to Work Day. The M St. NW cycle track is a one-way bike lane protected by parking that extends from Thomas Circle to 28th St. NW (DDOT Fact Sheet, PDF) and the First St NE cycle track is a two-way bike lane from M. St. NE to G St. NE (DDOT Fact Sheet, jpg). Phase 2 of the First St. NE reconstruction which should begin soon will extend the cycle track to Massachusetts Ave. NE.

The on-going issue of drivers using the protected bike lanes for parking and truck drivers using the lanes for loading/unloading puts bicyclists in harms way. DDOT recently ramped up parking enforcement with the #parkingdirty campaign along the city’s bike lanes and cycle tracks, but the issue is still pervasive. The long term solution are physical barriers to prevent cars and trucks from entering the bike lane.

We expect to see DDOT install more rubber curbs along other existing bicycling facilities such as the L St NW cycle track and the Pennsylvania Ave. NW bike lanes. Parking in the L St. NW cycle track is still an on-going issue with hundreds of photos documented on whosblockinglsttoday.tumblr.com. On Pennsylvania Ave, cars make illegal U-turns across the bike lanes causing crashes with bicyclists. Last fall, DDOT ran a pilot test of Zebras on a one block stretch of Pennsylvania Ave. NW after a long #StopUTurnsonPenn campaign. DDOT claims to have reduced the number of U-turns across the lanes despite no official results released. Daily commuters still report U-turns across the bike lanes, including the pilot block.

The next step for the Pennsylvania Ave. NW bike lanes is curbs. National Park Service, Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), National Capital Planning Commission and DDOT all have oversight of Pennsylvania Ave. NW because of it’s national significance causing it to be a challenging street to change. That might not be an issue anymore, the May 15th Consent Calendar for the CFA includes a recommendation of “no objection to the final plans for the installation of low−profile “wheel−stop” lane separators”. With CFA approval, DDOT would be able to install rubber curbs along the entire length of Pennsylvania Ave.

Paint and plastic flexposts has allowed DDOT to test the cycle track concept. If the daily traffic jams on the 15th St. cycle track is any indication, people love DC’s protected bike lanes and want more of them. Increased enforcement of parking in bike lanes and cycle tracks is important to keeping the lanes open and safe for bicyclists but can only go so far. Physically separating and protecting bicyclists with curbs and other barriers is the solution.

 

US Census: Biking up 60% National, up 255% in Washington, DC

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Biking to work has increased 60 percent over the last decade according to a press release from the US Census. Locally, Washington, DC has experienced a 310 255 percent increase of people biking to work in the same time frame. The District of Columbia has the highest percentage of bike commuters of any large city on the East Coast. The US Census compiled data from their 2000 Census and annual American Community Survey (2008-2012).

Launching today is a new interactive online map Census Explore with data on all commuting information. Data on transportation mode, travel times, telecommuting and other information is available nationwide. The US Census is releasing a report today which is their first in-depth analysis of biking and walking to work. The report titled Modes Less Traveled — Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012 is available for download in PDF.

The District of Columbia over the last decade has launched Capital Bikeshare, constructed three protected bikes lanes, painted over 60 miles of bike lanes, installed hundreds of bike parking rack and built new trails. The results are clear that people want to ride their bikes.

Contraflow Bike Lanes Coming to G and I Streets NE

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Freshly painted contraflow bike lane on G Street NE

Now that winter is mostly behind us, DDOT can begin painting new bike lanes. In February, we shared the proposed bike lane installation plan for 2014. Among the planned lanes were new contraflow bikes lanes on G and I streets NE from 2nd Street NE to Maryland/Florida Ave NE. Now that it’s warm enough to stripe pavement markings, DDOT has gotten installation of these lanes underway.

Bike lanes throughout the city are generally 5 feet wide and placed on the far right of the street, next to on-street parking. People riding bikes in the lanes travel in the same direction as the cars to the left. Contraflow bike lanes allow bicyclists to ride in the opposite direction of traffic.

G and I streets are narrow one-way streets on Capitol Hill that see low volumes of traffic. After community outreach with the two affected ANCs, the decision was made to install long contraflow lanes on the streets. (See the considered alternatives in a Greater Greater Washington blog post.) Shared lane markings (sharrows) are being installed in the center of travel lane for bicyclists traveling in the direction of traffic. The contraflow lanes are being placed on the far left side of the street and will be striped with a double yellow line. Bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction of traffic will use the 5-foot wide contraflow lane. The project also includes signs warning drivers that bicyclists are using the one-way streets in two directions.

Generally, contraflow lanes are installed with a painted buffer or are physically separated from traffic. There is a one block example of a parking-buffered contraflow lane on the 200 block of R Street NE near the Met Branch Trail. G and I streets are too narrow to float parking away from the curb and place the buffered contraflow in that space. Neighbors objected to losing parking to provide the necessary space for buffered contraflow lanes.

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gi2iTypical blocks of G & I Streets NE with sharrows and 5 foot contraflow bikes lanes. 

G and I streets were chosen for improvements to help provide an additional route for bicyclists traveling east and west in the H Street NE corridor. The streetcar tracks on H Street NE have caused a large number of crashes, including some very serious injuries, for bicyclists. Adding contraflow bike lanes to G and I streets creates two new east-west routes along the H St corridor.

Unfortunately, DDOT began installation of traffic signs related to the contraflow lanes back in December; this confused drivers and bicyclists alike. The yellow warning signs and small stop signs were installed four months ago, but the pavement markings didn’t begin to go in until last week. DDOT should have kept the signs covered until the bike lanes were painted. An especially harsh winter pushed the installation later expected, but the poor timing of the sign installation demonstrates that DDOT needs to plan better for construction of bike facilities.

DDOT will monitor the bicycling traffic and traffic operation on G and I streets. Its engineers will assess the contraflow bike lanes’ effectiveness and safety. Learn more about the project from DDOT. In a city with many narrow one-way streets, contraflow bike lanes are another tool for connecting the bicycle network where the conditions are just right.

While hard to know for sure, we believe the contraflow lanes on G and I streets are the longest continuous contraflow bike lanes in the country. It’s great to see them finally be installed, especially as the busy spring bike season begins.

DDOT Proposes Bike Improvements for Florida Avenue NE

florida-ave-ne-alt-3On Thurs.,  April 3, the District Department of Transportation held its third and final meeting for the Florida Avenue NE Multi-Modal Study. After a rash of crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists, the surrounding neighborhoods called on DDOT to make safety improvements that would slow the speeds of drivers, upgrade sidewalks, and add bicycling facilities.

The area of study is Florida Avenue NE from New York Avenue NE to 14th Street NE. Also being considered for improvements are 6th Street NE from K Street to Penn Avenue in Florida Market, and West Virginia Avenue NE north from Florida Avenue alongside Galludet University. Greater Greater Washington has an in-depth discussion of the proposed alternatives, which area also available on the project website.

There are three major alternatives (and a few sub-alternatives) for Florida Avenue NE. Determining what is the most bicycle-friendly option is a bit of a challenge at first glance. All alternatives include wider sidewalks, additional crosswalks, and more street trees. We have examined the all of the proposed alternatives and have concluded that the following elements are the best for bicyclists:

Florida Avenue NE

  • Alternative 3 with buffered bike lanes from 3rd Street NE to 6th Street NE
  • Alternative 3A with 5-foot bikes lanes from 6th Street NE to West Virginia Avenue
  • Alternative 3 with 5-foot bike lanes from West Virginia Avenue to 14th Street NE

6th Street NE

  • Alternative 2 with cycletracks north of Florida Avenue NE and bikes lanes to the south

West Virginia Avenue NE

  • Alternative 2 with bike lanes north of Florida Avenue NE

This is a planning study. It will lead to design work, engineering, and, finally, construction. Currently, DDOT has proposed painted buffered bike lanes and cycletracks throughout these alternatives. Painted lanes were successful in demonstrating cycletracks in D.C. would attract new riders by providing a safer and more comfortable place to ride. Now is the time to build permanent, protected bike lane lanes with curbs, concrete, and planted buffers.

DDOT is accepting feedback through an online survey. The deadline for completing the survey is next Tuesday, April 15. Submit your comments and support for a safer and more bikeable Florida Avenue NE.