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Posts Tagged ‘DDOT’

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.

DDOT Unable to Provide Deadlines for Major Trail Projects

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Mary Cheh, second from left, pressed DDOT on its lack of progress.

“Will I be alive [when the trail is finished]?” asked Transportation Committee Chair Mary Cheh of DDOT, with regard to when she can expect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to be completed.

On Fri., March 20, the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a performance oversight hearing for the District Department of Transportation. After hours of public testimony, DDOT Director Terry Bellamy testified on behalf of the agency. Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson and Director of Planning Sam Zimbabwe were also on hand to answer questions from the councilmembers.

WABA provided testimony about DDOT’s performance for implementation of its bicycle program over the past year. Executive Director Shane Farthing expressed concerns with no progress on major trail projects, as well as with significant delays and design compromises with on-street facilities like the M Street Cycle Track.

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and David Grosso pressed DDOT for responses related to many of WABA concerns. “Rock Creek Trail—that has been many, many, many years in consideration,” asked Cheh. Over 2,400 people signed a recent petition effort by WABA to speed up the planning and design of a major rehabilitation of the Rock Creek Park Trail.

Raising the issue of public safety on trails, Councilmember Grosso noted, “The fact is the Met Branch Trail is something that people have been waiting on for a long time. And we know for a fact it will be safer for people to ride on that trail if it’s connect all the way to the top and we get more people using it. So that’s an urgent item.”

Committee Chair Mary Cheh pushed DDOT to provide deadlines for the completion of major trail projects. DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson replied, “We’d be placing ourselves in another place where we don’t make our dates. I would really like to get back to you with a firm schedule…by next week.”

Currently, there are no firm dates for completion of the Rock Creek Park, Metropolitan Branch, South Capitol Street, Oxon Cove trails or repaving of the Capital Crescent and Suitland Parkway trails. Under the leadership of Director Terry Bellamy, DDOT has not many any significant progress on trails in D.C.

It Is Time for “Vision Zero” in D.C.

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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.

DDOT Publishes Proposal for 2014 Bike Lanes

DDOT's proposed bike facilities for 2014

DDOT’s proposed bike facilities for 2014

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!

New Frederick Douglass Bridge Won’t Connect to Suitland Parkway Trail

New-Frederick-Douglas-Memorial-Bridge-Aerial-View-2-Updated-July-2013

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.

bridge-to-trail-overhead

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.

Sign the petition asking DDOT to design and build a safe trail connection from the South Capitol Street Bridge to the Suitland Parkway Trail

Take Advantage of Your Chance to Improve Bike Infrastructure in D.C.

December 13, 2013: Please note the time of the hearing has been changed to 1 p.m., not 11 a.m. Please plan accordingly
Kidical Kupcake-19

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.

HEARING INFORMATION
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

TESTIFYING TIPS

  • 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 advocacy@waba.org

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 abenjamin@dccouncil.us or faxed to (202) 724-8118. The record will close at the end of the business day on Dec. 30, 2013.

New Mexico Avenue Bike Lane Installation a Success

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.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

DDOT Responds to M Street Inquiries

L Street Protected Bike Lane Ribbon Cutting

Not yet!

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.

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