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Welcome, Zebras, to Pennsylvania Avenue

A giant panda cub in Woodley Park! A red panda in Adams Morgan! And now: Zebras on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Yesterday, DDOT installed a set of zebras—small physical traffic barriers—on the 1200 block of the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack. The plastic devices are intended to curb the high rates of illegal u-turns across the bike lanes.

Since the installation of the cycletrack in 2010, cars making u-turns across the lanes have caused many crashes with bicyclists. The zebras will provide some physical separation for bicyclists from car traffic.

These zebras are a pilot project, so DDOT only installed them on the 1200 block. Before installing barriers along the entire corridor (and potentially other cycletracks in the city), the agency wants to study the zebras’ effectiveness. The most important questions to answer are whether these new traffic control devices reduce the rate of u-turns across the bike lane and if that leads to a lower crash rate for cyclists. If the zebras are successful at reducing crashes and making the lanes safer, DDOT intends to install them along the entire bike lane.

The length of the study period is currently unknown.

This is the latest development on the Pennsylvania Avenue NW cycletrack. That zebras have been installed is a step in the right direction to make the lane safer for cyclists—one of WABA’s goals. Earlier this year, u-turns across the lanes were made illegal by emergency rulemaking by the D.C. Council, and there has been increased enforcement by MPD. Zebras comply with the strict historical nature and national significance of Pennsylvania Avenue. DDOT sought approval from the Commission on Fine Arts before installing them.

The zebras are produced by a Spanish company, Zicla. According to Zicla’s technical specifications, the zebras should be spaced no more than 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) 8.2 meters apart. It appears that DDOT installed the first row of zebras at a spacing of 12 feet. This will need to be corrected.

We’ll continue to follow the progress of improvements along Pennsylvania Avenue and insist that the cycletrack is safe and comfortable for all cyclists. See more photos of the zebras, taken yesterday morning, after the jump.

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The Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013: Victory for D.C. Cyclists

On Oct. 17, the D.C. Council passed the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013. It was then signed into law by Mayor Vince Gray and will be submitted to Congress for a 30-day legislative review.

This is a great victory for bicyclists in D.C. Among the many new provisions in the law, its signature component introduces two new driving infractions with appropriate penalties to protect bicyclists as vulnerable road users.

This legislation also amends and updates sections of the D.C. municipal regulations as they relate to bicycling in the city. The Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013 makes the following updates or amendments:

  • Bicyclists’ use of leading pedestrian intervals: Bicyclists can get the same head start as pedestrians at signalized intersections, where pedestrians are given few extra seconds to start crossing a street. Also allowing bicyclists the opportunity to get into the intersection before cars makes them more visible to drivers.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian detours: The mayor will be able to require permits obtained from the District Department of Transportation for projects that block sidewalks, bike lanes, or other pedestrian or bicycle paths to provide safe accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Aligns bicyclists’ crash infractions with a similar pedestrian one: The bill adds “failure to yield” and “colliding with a bicyclist while failing to yield” infractions, similar to current pedestrian infractions. The penalty for “failing to yield” to a bicyclist would be three points points and a fine of $250. “Colliding with a person riding a bicycle” would be six points and a fine of $500.
  • Ability to make an audible noise: The bill modifies the law that requires all bicycles to be equipped with a bell, instead requiring all bicycle riders to “be capable of making a warning noise either with a bell or mechanical device, or with his or her voice, audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet.” It also removes a section prohibiting bicyclists from a making a noise within the established quiet zones (Title 18 Section 1204.7)

You can read the full text of the law (B20-0140) on the DC Council website (PDF).

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association thanks Councilmember Mary Cheh for her leadership on this bill and the many co-sponsors who supported this critical effort. Washington, D.C., is becoming a national leader in bicycling and this new law helps protect the many new people who choose to use a bicycle for transportation, recreation, or fitness.

WABA is a membership-based nonprofit 501(c)3 organization representing the interests of bicyclists in the Washington region. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation online now or joining the organization as a member to help us continue to do great work—like push for bills like the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act of 2013. If you join this week during our annual membership drive, you’re eligible for great incentives. WABA has 41-year history of successful local advocacy powered by our members.

Keep Our City Moving by Bike: Attend a MoveDC Meeting This Month

The U.S. Census just released data from its 2012 American Community Survey. One of the notable results? D.C. is biking a lot more.movedc-bikefacilities

The bicycle commuter rate jumped from 3.2 percent in 2011 to 4.1 percent in 2012. That’s a 28 percent increase in just one year. How did D.C. increase bike commuting by a full percentage point in such a short period of time? The city government made bicycling a transportation priority and followed through with it: There has been investment in 60-plus miles of bike lanes, a few miles cycle tracks, new trails, hundreds of bike racks, a full youth and adult education program, the launch of Capital Bikeshare, and much more. The 2005 Bicycle Master Plan set aggressive goals for the city, including an increase the rate of bicycle commuting from 1 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2015, as well as reducing crashes involving cars and bicycles.

Now we need to think bigger. The District Department of Transportation is currently planning the next 20 years of transportation investments through a process called MoveDC. MoveDC, which we’ve blogged about before, is a technical multi-modal study and public engagement process to set the course for D.C.’s transportation future. The process began with a kickoff event in February, followed by one round of public meetings in April and another in June. The final round of public meetings will be in October.

DDOT will present three general approaches to a future transportation system. The first approach is called “Stay the Course,” which focuses on incremental changes and prioritizes keeping the system in a state of good repair. There is no new funding associated with this plan, and it assumes that current funding levels will stay constant. In this plan, 70 miles of sidepaths and trails, 60 miles of bike lanes, and three miles of cycletracks would be constructed by 2040.

The second approach is dubbed “Get to the Center” and focuses on addressing downtown congestion for all modes: walking, biking, driving, and transit. “Get to the Center” assumes that if the issue of getting into and out of downtown is prioritized, congestion elsewhere in the city will ease. Under the “Get to the Center” plan, DDOT would build 46 miles of sidepaths and trails, 56 miles of cycletracks, and 57 miles of bike lanes by 2040.

The third approach DDOT is proposing is called “Connect the Neighborhoods.” In this plan, DDOT would focus on short-distance travel between neighborhoods with livability being primary driver of investment. The approach would work to increase connectivity, access, and efficiency of travel between neighborhoods and key destinations. For bicycling, DDOT proposes building 39 miles of sidepaths and trails, 74 miles of cycletracks, and 66 miles of bike lanes by 2040.

Which is the best for bicyclists? Clearly, “Stay the Course” will get us more of the same: incremental change such as new bike lanes when a repaving project happens, cycletracks that stop and start, trails that take years to finish. A new approach is needed. DDOT’s planning staff has presented two compelling ideas of how to tackle the transportation issues the city is facing. However, choosing between a focus on commuter traffic in and out of downtown or travel between neighborhoods is a false choice. D.C. has to address both issues while meeting the SustainableDC goal of 50 percent transit mode share and 25 percent walking and biking mode share.

DDOT planners should be commended for presented aggressive goals for new bicycling facility goals to encourage new bicyclists. The final plan must be a hybrid approach that combines the best of both ideas.

Get involved to make that kind of plan happen! There is one final round of public meetings in October to comment on these approaches. Please attend and express your support for bicycling. The dates for the meetings are below with links to RSVP with WABA. DDOT is also collecting feedback via an online survey tool called MetroQuest. Please take 10 minutes and submit your feedback online.

SESSION 1 (tentative)
Mon., Oct. 21, 2013
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Union Station
625 First St. NE
Washington, D.C. 20002
Google Maps
RVSP for this meeting

SESSION 2
Tues., Oct. 22, 2013
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., presentation at 7 p.m.
Benning Neighborhood Library
3935 Benning Road NE
Washington, D.C. 20019
Google Maps
RVSP for this meeting

WEBINAR
Thurs., Oct. 24, 2013
Noon to 1 p.m.
Sign up via www.wemoveDC.org starting Oct. 10

SESSION 3
Sat., Oct. 26, 2013
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
DCUSA Retail Center
Second floor between Target and Best Buy (near escalator and elevator)
3100 14th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20010
Google Maps
RVSP for this meeting

SESSION 4
Wed., Oct. 30, 2013
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Petworth Neighborhood Library
4200 Kansas Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20011
Google Maps
RSVP for this meeting

PARTICIPATE ONLINE, ANYTIME
Oct. 1, 2013 through Oct. 30, 2013
Online: Launch MetroQuest

DDOT Discussing 11th Street NW Bike Lane Next Thursday

The rest of this lane could be safer.

Officials from the District Department of Transportation will attend a meeting of the ANC 1B Transportation Committee to explore possible changes to 11th Street NW between Florida Avenue and Vermont Avenue. DDOT will help committee members and residents examine changes to parking or travel lanes to better accommodate bicyclists. Currently, the 11th Street NW bike lanes extend two miles from Monroe Street NW in Columbia Heights south to Massachusetts Avenue. There is a seven-block break in the bike lanes between Florida and Vermont avenues.

The 11th Street NW bike lanes have seen a large increase in bike traffic in recent years. However, that growth of riders has not been without unnecessary tragedy. In May 2013, a bicyclist was killed at the intersection of 11th and U streets NW. In 2012, at the same intersection, a Capital Bikeshare rider was significantly injured after being hit by a large truck.

Residents and bicyclists are invited to attend the meeting on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Thurgood Marshall Center at 1816 12th St. NW. Please consider attending and asking DDOT to provide better accommodations for cyclists.

Image via Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

National Mall Wins Grant for 14th Street Bridge Path

Fixes coming soon!

The bike ride across the 14th Street Bridge will get a little easier soon. The National Mall was awarded a $200,000 Transportation Alternatives Program grant for reconstruction of and improvements to the trail approach to the 14th Street Bridge near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. This was one of the three fixes we wrote about back in January when we discussed improving connections from Virginia to downtown D.C.

The grant will fund widening and repaving of the trail, increasing the width of the sidewalk ramps at East Basin Drive, and relocation of utilities and signage from within the trail alignment. These safety enhancements will benefit the 1,800 bicyclists that cross the bridge daily.

The Transportation Alternatives Program  is new program under the federal MAP-21 Transportation Authorization Bill created by combining the Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to Schools, and Recreational Trails programs. A portion of TAP funding is dedicated to a competitive grants program available only to local municipalities, land agencies, transit agencies and other non-State DOT agencies. This small but precious federal funding gives jurisdictions control over TAP funds for local transportation priorities. The League of American Bicyclists has a handy infographic explaining the MAP-21 TA program.

Yesterday, we alerted you to the an amendment introduced by Senator Rand Paul to cut the Transportation Alternatives program. Cutting TAP would eliminate the exact kind of grant money that will fund this project.

The timeline for design and construction on the bridge path are currently unknown. The National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall, is coordinating with DDOT to begin the process. Congratulations to NPS for its hard work to win this competitive grant—we’re grateful for the increased efforts to make bicycling better on the Mall.

Success! ANC 3D Votes in Favor of Bike Lanes

ANC 3D voted in favor of the proposed New Mexico Avenue NW bike lanes last night. Support WABA for more advocacy successes.

Last night, after an hour of passionate debate and testimony from the community, ANC 3D voted 5-4 in favor of the proposed New Mexico Avenue NW bike lanes and to support the widening of the sidewalk on Nebraska Avenue NW. Supporters of the bike lanes out numbered those opposing by at least 4 to 1! You can read Greater Greater Washington‘s excellent coverage of last night’s meeting.

WABA has been working with commissioners from the ANC, community supporters, and DDOT to help bring this project to life. Many hours of staff and volunteer time were invested in this campaign and it’s our members and supporters who enable us to do this work. Please consider making a donation today and supporting WABA’s work or better yet, become a member! WABA members empower our advocacy and ensure future successes.

WABA would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who came last night and testified in support of the project. There were a number of thoughtful and well-spoken arguments and compelling personal stories.

Will the Rock Creek Trail Be Repaved Soon?

Bike up and downWe’re consistently asked by WABA members and community members when the Rock Creek Park trail will be repaved. The trail is a very popular, multi-use path in Rock Creek National Park that winds north from Georgetown into the park and connects to Beach Drive (which, on weekends, is closed to cars). It’s well-liked by runners, dog walkers, families, and bicyclists, but desperately in need of repair.

The current condition of the trail is rough, rooted, uneven, and too narrow for daily use. A ride on the trail is a bumpy one, due to tree roots cracking the asphalt. The edges of the trail have deteriorated, due to years of unattended grass and weed overgrowth. This has also reduced the usable width of the trail, which was insufficient to begin with: It was originally to be eight feet wide. In addition to the decline of the paved surface, the trail was built with 90-degree turns approaching bridges and a narrow sidewalk on the bridge near the tunnel. When the National Zoo closes its gates, trail users are forced to use the three-foot sidewalk in the tunnel. Many cyclists have chosen alternate routes because the condition of the Rock Creek Park trail has declined.

Plans to rehabilitate the trail have been in the plans since the late 1980s. Federal recreational trail funding  for design and construction was established over 10 years ago. And the federal environmental assessment planning process has been ongoing for over seven years. So why don’t we have a finished trail?

During the initial planning and scoping for the project, talks between the District Department of Transportation and the National Park Service stalled over a core issue: trail width. DDOT, as the agency funding and constructing the trail, wanted the trail to be 10 feet wide. Rock Creek Park, as the agency with jurisdictional control and administrative authority over the land, rejected widening the trail for its entire length, citing negative impacts to the environment. The negotiations stalled for years.

After much intervention from WABA and the community, NPS and DDOT compromised to widen most of the trail to 10 feet, except for a few pinch points where the eight-foot width would remain. With middle ground reached, the environmental assessment process restarted. A draft EA was released in December 2011 with a 30-day period for public comment.

Under the draft environmental assessment (download the draft here), DDOT would completely repave the entire asphalt surface of the trail and new access trail spurs. The paving would take place on a 3.7-mile segment of the Rock Creek Park multi-use trail from Broad Branch Road to P Street NW; a 0.8 mile segment of the Piney Branch Parkway trail from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue NW; a 0.2 mile segment of social trail from Broad Branch Road to Peirce Mill (referred to as the Peirce Mill trail spur); and a 0.5 mile segment of the Rose Park trail from P Street NW to M Street NW. Also incorporated into the EA is construction of a new, wider bridge parallel to the car bridge that crosses Rock Creek immediately south of the zoo tunnel, and a reconfiguration of the tunnel to allow for a six-foot-wide sidewalk for use during hours that the zoo gate is closed.

With no outward progress on the environmental assessment, and therefore a slowing the implementation phases of design and construction, WABA requested a meeting with Rock Creek National Park Superintendent Tara Morrison and DDOT to discuss the current status and next steps to finishing this project. Currently, DDOT is completing the final EA, which will be released to the public in the late summer/early fall. Following the EA, Rock Creek National Park must issue the decision document called a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI—best acronym ever) for the project to move forward.

Superintendent Morrison and her staff expect the FONSI to be finished by the year’s end. Operating in parallel, DDOT has the trail project at 30 percent design but cannot get to a 100 percent complete design until the FONSI is released. In the bike/ped program’s obligation plan for federal transportation funding, DDOT has obligated to design and construction funds for fiscal year 2014/2015. DDOT is considering hiring a consultant under a design/build contract for this project, which would increase delivery but limit public input during the individual phases—especially between the design and construction phases.

WABA would like to thank DDOT and Rock Creek National Park for meeting with us and for their commitment to finishing this very important rehabilitation. We expect the two agencies to work quickly, efficiently, and effectively to deliver a completed project on time or early. The region has seen a recent renaissance of bicycling for transportation and demands on the infrastructure that support it need urgent attention to sustain that growth.

Ride for Mother’s Day And Women’s Cycling Day

 Mother's Day Picnic Ride

 

Ride with us in celebration of Mothers of the world and women who bike throughout the world. This Sunday our Women & Bicycles program is joining  BikeArlington and Black Women Bike DC to commemorate Mother’s Day and CycloFemme, the global celebration of women bicycling.

The Mother’s Day Picnic Ride begins in three locations throughout the region and we’ll all meet up at Hains Point for celebratory laps and picnic snacks. To get a better look at the ride routes check out our event map. This is a family-friendly, co-ed “sun dress” ride. We’re inviting the whole family to share the bike love and for the men out there, we encourage you to show your support by wearing your favorite sun dress!

To learn more and share with friends, visit our event page.

Ride with the Marlyand group
Please join WABA at the Silver Spring Metro Station at 12pm. We’ll go for an hour-long leisure ride through the city and meet up at Hains Point. After the picnic, you’ll have the choice to take the Metro home, or return to Silver Spring around 3:30pm.

Ride with the DC group
Meet up with the Silver Spring convoy at 12:45pm at the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th St NW and Park St Nw)

Ride with the Virginia group
Please join BikeArlington at the Ballston Metro Station at 12pm. We’ll go for an hour-long ride on some of Arlington’s off street trails and bike lanes through the city, and we will end the ride at Hains point. After the picnic, you’ll have the choice to take the Metro home, or ride home with us.

New to bicycling?
Fantastic! We’re so glad you can join us. Group rides are great opportunities to hone your bike skills through experience and through conversation. We will start and end the ride with a quick skillshare on bicycling and city streets.

What to bring
Your bicycle and helmet are required for this ride. We also suggest bringing water, sunscreen, a picnic item to enjoy by yourself or share, clothing (your sun dress!) that will keep you comfortable depending on the weather, and bring your friends and family. We will have a bike pump, and basic repair tools at the start of all the rides.

 

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What is Cyclofemme?  They’re a socially-driven grass-roots celebration of women on bikes, “We are of a growing community, for a growing community, and 100% volunteer-based. Our annual Mother’s Day ride unites riders, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or bicycle preference to share in the joy of cycling.”  CycloFemme is a day of action, a day to follow through with our pledge to get more women on bikes, and a day to hail the growth of the bicycle movement.  In just one year CycloFemme has gone from 163 registered group rides throughout the world, to 227 rides, and we’re so happy to join in on the celebration. #WeRideTogether

Walk the Tracks Next Monday, May 6

Come learn about the much-anticipated cycletrack on M Street NW at our “Walk the Tracks” event next Mon., May 6 at 6:30 p.m. WABA staff, members, and supporters will walk the length of project, starting at Thomas Circle, and discuss the proposed bike lane. Staff from DDOT and the Golden Triangle and Downtown BIDs will be present. This event is a chance to have your questions answered about the project, its design, and the timeline for its construction.

The proposed one-way westbound cycletrack will extend from Thomas Circle at 14th Street NW to 28th Street NW in Georgetown. The cycletrack will be 1.3 miles in length. Last fall, DDOT constructed a one-way eastbound cycletrack on L Street NW. When complete, the L Street and M Street cycletracks will be parallel routes that establish a major east-west crosstown corridor for bikes—and add to the growing network of physically separated Green Lane Projects in our city.

The event will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Capital Bikeshare station on the west side of Thomas Circle. We will walk 1.3 miles west along M Street NW, ending in Georgetown. After the walk, those interested in enjoying a cold drink can do so at a local Georgetown business. If you are planning on attending our “Walk the Tracks” event, please RSVP here.

Walking and Biking Rank #1 in First Round of Move DC Workshops

http://www.wemovedc.org/media/ideasthatbuild-buildingblocksdata.png

On April 9, DDOT’s Transportation Plan Advisory Committee held its second meeting on the District’s Multimodal Long Range Transportation Plan, called Move DC, following the first round of workshops held earlier this spring. The April 9 meeting built on opinions gathered from those workshops and thanks to WABA members’ particpation, bikes and pedestrians were well represented. “Bikes and Peds Everywhere” was at the top of the list as the most in-demand form of transportation, followed by Metrorail, more local transit, car capacity, and fast transit.

In this meeting, TPAC introduced a building block exercise as a tool to encourage dialogue about planning for the city’s transportation future. It works like a sliding tile puzzle of four blocks, where one block is given for day to day management and commitments, and you fill in the three remaining squares as a “choose your own transportation planning adventure.” Options included different modes of transportation as well as allocation of funds for things like “smarter systems” or “low-cost transit.”

Members of the public and TPAC split into groups to collaboratively build a vision of D.C.’s transportation future. What emerged is informative about attitudes towards transportation in the city and where bikes will fit in. There was restrained but passionate debate of cars versus bikes, agreement on the importance of low-cost public transit, and a general consensus for more local transit. No one wanted to take bikes off the chart, and the most widely supported initiative connected to cars was parking management (how to manage parking management is its own issue). Metro had few defenders; attendees were indifferent to taking it off the board when forced to make fast changes.

For both the TPAC group and the public, the top three agreed-upon priorities were “bikes and pedestrians everywhere,” “more local transit,” and “parking management and expansion.”

What wasn’t chosen is also illustrative—”accelerated good repair,” “sustainability and beauty,” and “fast transit.” Either most people feel these could be incorporated into other systems, or have given up on expecting them all together. More abstract concepts like “smarter systems” and connecting the grid didn’t win fans, either.

The final Move DC plan must address regional transit issues, like the 420,454 vehicle commuters coming into the District each day and the 100,000 people expected to move to the area in the next five years. Necessarily, the plan has to focus on how to get commuters out of their cars and onto other forms of transportation.

DDOT is still soliciting feedback during this initial phase, including the building block exercise. I encourage you to give your feedback and support bicycling if you have not already done so. The public input will help shape the alternatives that are developed going forward. DDOT will continue to accept input on this phase until Mon., April 22nd.

The next round of public Move DC workshops will be in early June. Sign up on the official moveDC list to stay in the loop. Please also sign up for the WABA Advocacy Hub email list for notifications on upcoming Move DC actions and other advocacy alerts.

This guest post is written by Christine Driscoll, an associate at Green Strategies and resident of Adams Morgan. She rides a blue Schwinn traveler and the T Street bike lane is her favorite.

 

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