Posts Tagged ‘DDOT’
On Friday, I will be testifying on behalf of WABA at the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety’s annual oversight hearing on the efforts of the Metropolitan Police Department. On Monday, I will be testifying at the Transportation & Environment Committee’s oversight hearing on the efforts of the District Department of Transportation.
It’s time for me to say something different on behalf of the District’s bicyclists, and I need you to say it with me.
I sat down yesterday to write my testimony for these important hearings, and I realized that these agencies simply are not making the progress they need to make. They are not keeping up with the growth of bicycling in the District and region.
I’m not going to go back into those hearings again—for a third year—and say the same things: the Rock Creek Park Trail isn’t done; the Met Branch Trail isn’t done; protected bike lanes take forever to design, then are downgraded to simple bike lanes when someone objects; police don’t interview bicyclists when they’re involved in crashes; and the police department refuses to enforce the three-foot passing law and other safety laws.
All those things are still true.
But saying them last year didn’t get us anywhere, and saying them again this year won’t either. We need to try a new approach.
Let’s think bigger.
Recently, several big U.S. cities like New York and Chicago, as well as that often-cited bike utopia Portland, have publicly adopted “Vision Zero” policies, dedicated to ensuring that no one is killed on city streets. “Vision Zero” means that there will be zero deaths or significant injuries due to traffic crashes. D.C. pays lip service to this goal with a little-known website stating it, but has done virtually nothing to make it happen.
Let’s make it happen.
For D.C. to truly embrace “Vision Zero,” it can’t just put up a website and call it a day. Key agencies like DDOT and MPD need serious restructuring designed around that goal. Planners need to talk to engineers at all stages of project development. Officers need to be assigned to focus on traffic crime. Budgets need to focus on projects that protect pedestrians and bicyclists. Good designs need to be constructed rather than watered down at the first whisper of pushback. Public employees need to be trained on the importance of bicycling and walking, and how to protect the safety of those who bike and walk.
Vision Zero is more than a slogan. It is more than just a goal. It is a philosophy of prioritizing the protection of the people who use our streets, trails, and sidewalks and organizing the activities of our local government in a manner consistent with that level of priority.
We can do this. The District can be a leader in creating safe streets, trails, sidewalks, and public spaces. The demand is there. People want safer streets. But we need our government leaders to do something bigger than complete a single bike lane or pass a single law. We need them to change their priorities and govern accordingly.
Help change the conversation.
In my testimony before these committees, I will push for precisely this prioritization of people, and the implementation of a Vision Zero policy. I want you do to the same.
Tonight, there is a mayoral debate featuring all the major candidates and the public can submit questions. Let’s hold the candidates accountable to prioritizing safe streets and ask them how they plan to do so. Click here to submit your question to be asked at the debate.
Don’t forget that residents are always welcome at council oversight hearings to discuss the work of District agencies.
- The MPD hearing is this Friday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., and you can sign up to testify by calling 202.724.7808.
- The DDOT hearing is Mon., March 1 at 11 a.m., and you can sign up to testify by calling 202.724.8062.
The District Department of Transportation has released its proposal of bike lanes to install in 2014. You can view the proposed facilities on a full map of the city or on a one-page spreadsheet, both on DDOT’s website.
At the top of the list are several 2013 projects, such as the M Street cycletrack and contraflow bike lanes on G and I streets NE. The 1st Street cycletrack between M and K Street will ostensibly be finished this spring; this will be a critical on-street connection between the Met Branch Trail and Union Station.
Other facilities to get excited about include bike lanes on 14th Street NW from Florida Avenue to Columbia Road, a connection of the 4th Street SW bike lanes across the National Mall to Pennsylvania Avenue, and climbing lanes on Malcolm X Avenue SE and Rock Creek Church Road NW.
If you don’t see a project you desire on the 2014 list, check out the proposed Move DC bike facilities plan. Move DC is DDOT’s 20-year multi-modal plan for all the District’s transportation modes. A draft plan for public review and comment is expected this spring, with a final version to be released over the summer. Once the Move DC plan is adopted, DDOT will begin planning and implementing projects from it. D.C.’s bike network is planned to grow to over 74 miles of cycletracks, 122 miles of bike lanes, and 133 miles of multi-use plans.
While what DDOT has released is merely a list of proposed bike lanes for 2014, we hope that the agency will meet its required goal of installing 10 miles of lanes per year. Go get ‘em, DDOT!
The District Department of Transportation is proposing a new Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge that will not connect to the Suitland Parkway Trail through Anacostia. The Suitland Parkway Trail’s trailhead is only one mile from the proposed bridge.
DDOT will invest $600 million in a new South Capitol Street / Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge across the Anacostia River. This is the largest capital investment project in the DDOT’s history and represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the design right for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Bridge engineers have been listening to the concerns of bicycling community over the last two years, and DDOT has made improvements to the bridge design for bicyclists and pedestrians. The new span will have two 18-foot-wide multi-use trails, one of each side of the roadway. The sidepath space will be divided into an 8-foot sidewalk and a 10-foot-wide bicycle path. There will be direct connections from the bridge, around the traffic circles, to the street grid and existing or planned trail networks.
But there is a glaring exception: There is no direct connection to the Suitland Parkway Trail from the bridge. The Suitland Parkway Trail is a multi-use path that extends two miles east from Anacostia to the District’s border with Maryland. Prince George’s County is beginning plans to extend the trail another 3.5 miles east to the Branch Ave Metro Station. It is a preferred route for bicyclists because the trail is steady uphill grade ; many nearby residential streets have very quick and steep climbs.
Bicyclists wishing to travel from the bridge to the trail will follow one of two routes. The first is on the south side of the trail, follows the traffic circle around counterclockwise, underneath I-295, and ends at the intersection of Firth Sterling and the Suitland Parkway. This route crosses roads eight times including two high speed interstate ramps. The second route begins on the north side of the bridge, follows the traffic circle around clockwise and ends on Howard Road. Engineers would then paint bike lanes on Howard Road. Neither route ends anywhere near the Suitland Parkway Trail.
Residents who live just up the Anacostia River experience a similar roadway design every day. The unpleasant walk or bike ride from the Pennsylvania Ave Bridge underneath the freeway to Minnesota Avenue SE is nearly the same layout. Pedestrians and bicyclists must navigate a sea of crosswalks, high speed interstate highway ramps and numerous traffic lights. It’s unsafe, unpleasant and intimidating. DDOT should not repeat the same mistake.
DDOT engineers need to propose a direct connection from the new bridge to the trail. This connection should aim to keep pedestrians and bicyclists separated from car traffic, minimize crosswalks and prioritize grade separated trail crossings. Trail user should not have to cross high speed freeway ramps. The design should prioritize the experience of bicyclists and pedestrians. Most importantly, the trail connection should keep kids, adults, and seniors safe and be a direct, safe, and convenient connection of communities.
On Mon., Dec. 16, the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public roundtable on the city’s existing Bicycle Infrastructure Master Plan. The council invites members of the community to testify and provide public input about bicycling in the District of Columbia.
The Bicycle Master Plan, published in 2005, is the D.C. government’s plan for building a network of bike lanes, trails, and routes, thereby increasing the number of bicycle commuters and reducing the rate of crashes between bicyclists and drivers. Outlined in the master plan is a timeline to stripe miles of lanes, trail projects to be designed and built, education programs to create and expand, launching a bikesharing program and many other items. Significant projects in the plan are to be completed by 2015.
D.C. has striped over 60 miles of bike lanes, built the United States’ first major bikesharing system (which has been a resounding success), constructed a state-of-the-art bike parking station at Union Station, built protected lanes on L Street NW, 15th Street NW, Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and has begun construction on the M Street NW bike lane.
There is only one year left for DDOT to meet the goals of the master plan. Will it? This is the question the Committee on Transportation and the Environment is asking the public and DDOT. Despite the major gains described above, not all work is done. The deadline to finish the Metropolitan Branch Trail was 2007, but the trail is only half-built. Progress on the South Capitol Street Trail has languished. The Suitland Parkway Trail is desperately in need of attention, and the Oxon Cove Trail is stalled. The Rock Creek Park Trail is years behind schedule, and is crumbling and eroding into the creek as a result. Improvements for bicyclists to access the city’s bridges have seen little progress. D.C. is considerably behind on providing ample, safe, and convenient bike parking.
Please sign up to testify at the hearing if you have comments about D.C.’s progress on its Bicycle Master Plan. See below for tips on how to testify and details on WABA’s testimony-writing workshop on Dec. 11, during which we can help you craft your statement. WABA thanks Councilmember Mary Cheh and the members of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for their leadership in making D.C. a world-class city for biking.
Date: Mon., Dec. 16, 2013
Time: 1 p.m.
Where: Room 500, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Click here for more information
- Sign up to testify.
- Be there at least 20 minutes before the hearing starts.
- You will be required to pass through security at the Wilson Building. Bring a state-issued ID.
- Bring at least 8 copies of your written testimony to submit for the record.
- You will be given three (and only three) minutes to testify. You don’t have to use all of the time! Make your point and be brief.
- Your written testimony and supporting documents can be longer than your testimony, so feel free to get into details in writing.
- The committee chair will bring up a panel of 3 to 4 people to testify in a row. You will all give your testimony and then stay at the table for questions.
- Be sure to thank the committee chair and any present councilmembers.
TESTIMONY WRITING WORKSHOP
When: Wed., Dec. 11, 2013, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: WABA Office
What: WABA will provide a testimony preparation workshop on Wed., Dec. 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 pm. No appointment is needed! Drop by and WABA staff will assist you in preparing testimony for the hearing. Our staff can help with your written testimony, explain the process of testifying and speaking in public, or just answer your questions. We want you to feel comfortable and prepared to testify, especially if you are new to it. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com
CAN’T ATTEND THE DEC. 16 HEARING?
If you are unable to testify in person, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted to Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 108, Washington, D.C. 20004. They may also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (202) 724-8118. The record will close at the end of the business day on Dec. 30, 2013.
It’s been a few weeks since DDOT got started on the installation of the New Mexico Avenue NW bike lanes, but we’re happy to report that paint is on the ground and is being used effectively.
WABA and riders of New Mexico Avenue have been fighting for safety improvements along this stretch of road since early this spring. WABA members and supporters attended meeting after meeting to vocalize their desire for improvements to new Mexico Avenue. We’re proud of all the effort that went into making bicycling safer in Ward 3—even despite an eleventh-hour attempt to stop this particular project.
We’ve heard a number of positive stories about the lanes so far. Read this one, sent to us by ANC 3C resident and WABA member Leigh Ann:
“I came home on Monday and saw the New Mexico Avenue bike lanes start at 39th & Tunlaw. Exciting developments so I had to ride on to check out the progress up the hill. As I rode, I noticed an older woman riding on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. She was really fast and I realized she was on a power-assisted bike (!). We kept pace with each other for a block or so, and I called out to her “Look at our lovely new bike lanes! Aren’t they fantastic?” She doubled back, crossed the street, and joined me in the bike lane. As we rode together, I admired her set-up and she told me how much she loves her bike! She said that she’s glad for bike lanes like these because make it much safer to ride all over in the city. Of course, I agreed!”
WABA worked very closely with ANC commissioners from Ward 3, community members and DDOT staff to help bring this project to life. Many hours of staff and volunteer time was invested in this campaign and it’s our members and supporters who enable us to do this work. Join or donate today to ensure that we can continue to represent your interest as a bicyclist!
If you are interested in staying involved in WABA’s advocacy efforts, sign on as a supporter of better bicycling to receive email updates. Also, consider joining the Ward 3 bicycling Facebook group if you’re in the area.
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.
After we announced that WABA filed a FOIA request to learn more about the status of the M Street cycletrack—and after some press attention on the matter—the District Department of Transportation posted this update on its Facebook page:
In order for us to proceed with implementing the M Street cycletrack we need to complete the environmental review process. We are moving towards completion of this process, which will enable us to move quickly into construction. While our construction season is starting to wind down, we are hopeful that we can still complete the project this year. Actual construction will take an estimated three to five weeks to complete.
We realize that this project has been in the works for quite some time and that it was scheduled to be implemented this year. This project remains a priority for us and therefore we will continue to work hard to ensure it can be implemented as soon as possible.
Where’s the M Street cycletrack, the long-promised eastbound parallel to the L Street cycletrack?
We don’t know.
Weeks ago, DDOT decided to amend the design to remove the physical separation on a block of the cycletrack, leaving a standard bike lane. A spate of news coverage focused on the AME Metropolitan church’s displeasure with the cycletrack, which seemed to result in the modification by DDOT. Since then, we’ve received no update on the project. Initially, DDOT said the cycletrack would be installed in August. Then, it pushed it to October. It’s now the end of October, and we’ve seen no cycletrack, nor received an update.
Hundreds of people have inquired about this project, and yet no city agency or official has provided any answers. As a result, WABA filed a Freedom of Information Act request last week in an attempt to get some information.
We don’t know why the cycletrack has been delayed, so on the assumption that it was either 1) a planning decision to delay the project, 2) an issue with environmental compliance issues,* or 3) general internal project management delays, we copied the heads of planning and environmental compliance as well as DDOT Director Terry Bellamy on the request.
If you were one of the hundreds who wrote asking for an open conversation and better information about the M Street cycletrack, thank you. We hope this FOIA request will result in an answer and fix whatever has kept the project from moving forward. We’ll keep you posted.
*There is an ongoing issue in regional transportation modeling that makes it difficult for projects that might narrow or remove traffic lanes to pass air quality review. Viewed in isolation, the data sometimes shows that the slowing of traffic results in more congestion and thereby additional air pollution. Viewed more broadly and taking into account actual behavioral choices, these sorts of projects that enable more biking and walking are good for air quality. But crunching the numbers to show that fewer lanes are bad for air quality is simple and built into the traditional transportation models. Performing the broader analysis takes longer, more sophisticated efforts and sometimes delays projects. To its credit, DDOT has generally been willing and able to make those more difficult arguments to install projects, but having to do so has led to delays.
Read the FOIA request below the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wed., Oct. 2, ANC 3D commissioners voted 6-4 to stall the installation of a planned northbound climbing lane and southbound bike lane on New Mexico Avenue NW.
We mobilized supporters of the lanes to attend a regularly scheduled ANC 3D meeting in July, where support for the lane was up for vote. This was the fourth public hearing addressing the configuration for New Mexico Avenue, two of which were held specifically to discuss the lanes. DDOT had worked extensively with ANC 3D to draw up a suitable plan, and developed something that would not affect parking or travel lanes.
This past Wednesday, we heard the day of the meeting that it was likely that the ANC would attempt to force a vote to stall the lanes, though no such item was on the agenda.
Councilmember Mary Cheh has indicated her support of the lanes to us in an email, writing, “I fully support the proposed bike lane and have written to the DDOT Director that I will vigorously oppose any rear guard action that upsets something approved by both DDOT and the ANC.”
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.
Thurs., Oct. 24, 2013
Noon to 1 p.m.
Sign up via www.wemoveDC.org starting Oct. 10
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
RVSP for this meeting
PARTICIPATE ONLINE, ANYTIME
Oct. 1, 2013 through Oct. 30, 2013
Online: Launch MetroQuest