Posts Tagged ‘east of the river’
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.
Held at the Anacostia Arts Center, the Expo brought entertainment, activities, and conversations about what it’s like to bike east of the river to the grant zone, which includes Anacostia, Congress Heights, and St. Elizabeths. The Expo was intended to foster dialogue about riding in wards 7 and 8 and help residents of nearby neighborhoods have a better understanding of how bike advocacy and outreach works.
Workshops addressed topics such as biking with children—during which Kidical Mass D.C.’s Megan Odett talked parents through some of the obstacles and barriers to biking with their kids—and provided an introduction to advocacy—which saw WABA Advocacy Coordinator Greg Billing and the League of American Bicyclists Policy Director Darren Flusche describe local and national transportation initiatives that will affect biking in and around wards 7 and 8.
Additionally, the Cap City Bike Expo convened a group of local bike shop owners to discuss how to improve access to bike facilities east of the river. Capitol Hill Bikes, Phoenix Bikes, Velocity Co-Op, the Bike House, Maryland Park Bikes, City Bikes, and the Daily Rider met with WABA staff to get the ball rolling for the Black Thumbs Collective, a group that will work to provide resources, outreach, and education on how to fix bikes in what’s currently an amenities desert.
The highlight of the Expo was the revealing of a Dero Fixit station, graciously funded by employees of CH2M Hill. The Fixit station is the first to be installed outside of a building that’s not a bike shop. It lives outside the Anacostia Arts Center and is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for passerby to use to repair their bikes.
WABA staffers, volunteers, and those involved with making the Expo happen had ample time to chat with people who dropped into the Anacostia Arts Center. We heard from a number of residents that they bike or are interested in biking, because it’s a low-cost, easy way to get around. And attendees of the panels and workshops came away from the Expo with a larger knowledge base of what it takes to make biking better, especially east of the river.
The Cap City Bike Expo was the final activity funded under this year’s East of the River grant. Many thanks to the employees of CH2M Hill for donating the Fixit station and to BicycleSpace, Capitol Hill Bikes, and Velocity Co-Op for donating bikes as raffle prizes. Maryland Park Bikes, the Bike House, City Bikes, Capitol Hill Bikes, Velocity Co-Op, Bicycle Space, Phoenix Bikes, the Daily Rider, Honfleur Gallery, ARCH, Congress Heights on the Rise, and the Anacostia Arts Center contributed their staff’s time and expertise to the Expo (including by fixing bikes!). Our awesome volunteers helped make the event run perfectly.
See more photos of the Expo below the jump, and continue to read our blog for updates on the East of the River program. Read the rest of this entry »
WABA’s East of the River grant will wrap up its season with the first-ever Cap City Bike Expo on Sat., Nov. 16 at the Anacostia Arts Center (1231 Good Hope Road SE). The expo will include a bike-vendor marketplace, musical acts DJ Underdog and DJ Native Sun, games, a photobooth, a raffle, crafts, bike art, and panels discussing bike mobility in and around wards 7 and 8. It will also mark the official launch of the Black Thumbs Collective, a grassroots effort to empower east of the river residents with basic bike repair skills.
Local bike shops will be at the Expo showing off their products and providing mechanical expertise to attendees. Come ready to talk about the role of bikes and bike shops in your community! Childcare will be provided. The Cap City Bike Expo is free! RSVP here.
On Sept. 28, WABA led the second annual Lion Ride, a slow, beginner-friendly ride that meandered from Anacostia Park to the Frederick Douglass historic site in Anacostia.
Ride participants enjoyed Anacostia’s low-traffic, residential roads and learned how to access bike-friendly connections between the neighborhood and the park. See more photos below the jump.
The bike trail following the Suitland Parkway Trail itself has a number of problems, most of them outlined by Geoff Hatchard earlier this year. Thanks to the outstanding volunteers at the Trail Ranger cleanup two weeks ago, the trail corridor is in better shape. However, its potential is not simply limited by the physical condition of the trail but also by how difficult it is to get to the trail. In ten years time when the Frederick Douglass Bridge (South Capitol St.) has been redone, connections to the Suitland Parkway Trail will be redone with clear, direct navigation. But seeing as a decade is a rather long time, without further ado, here is how to get to the Suitland Parkway Trail now.
First off, find your way to the east side of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. It runs from Benning Rd. to South Capitol St. If you’re coming from West of the River, the 11th St local bridge is the most pleasant way to cross the Anacostia with its brand new, extra wide sidewalk on the west side. To get to the trail from the 11th St. Bridge, take the steep paved trail before the first road intersection on the River East side to Good Hope Road. Take a right at the road and in 40 ft. you will be at the trail.
Find your way to the US Park Police Anacostia Station, between the South Capitol and 11th St Bridges. Google Maps has it labelled as Anacostia Park.
In real life, it looks like this:
Go through the gates and head straight back, past the squad cars and the National Capital Parks – East headquarters. There is an imposing sign:
However, members of the public on foot or bicycle are allowed through the headquarters. We confirmed with Park Police that access is allowed 24/7.
Now go up the not maintained quasi driveway to the gate in the chain link fence (indicated by the arrow). Go through and take a right onto the road. Watch out, especially if you’re on a road bike, for the three inch difference at most points between the grass/gravel and the road.
You will soon reach a T intersection. Take a left onto Howard Rd. The light here is very hard to trigger by bike. Trail rangers have had decent luck getting the light to turn by rolling back and forth perpendicular to sensors evident in the pavement. You might feel a little silly but without a pedestrian button, it is that or waiting there forever.
Go straight until you are past the Anacostia Metro station. Sometime around the Metro station, you’ll want to merge into the left lane. The right lane directs you onto MLK Jr. Ave SE. If you rode 50 States last weekend you’ll know, MLK is a long hill to be avoided if possible. So in the left lane, take a slight right at the intersection of MLK and Howard onto Sheridan Rd.
Aim for the yellow arrow in the image below.
Take Sheridan Rd. for three blocks until it turns into Pomeroy Rd SE as it rounds a corner. Stop there. On the right you’ll see an invisible sign, and a curb cut leading to a paved trail between some trees. Congratulations – you’ve arrived at the Suitland Parkway Trail!
We’ve got two great bike-related events in communities east of the Anacostia River this weekend: our second annual Lion Ride, which celebrates Frederick Douglass, and our setup at FIGMENT DC, a participatory arts festival. Both are on Sat., Sept. 28.
We need assistance checking bikes in and out and getting riders situated for the Lion Ride. For more information and to sign up, go here.
And for FIGMENT, we’ll need volunteers to set up, run, and tear down our exhibit, which will involve bikes, paint, maps, and a photobooth (try to tell us that doesn’t sound like a great time!). For more information and to sign up, go here.
Our second annual Lion Ride is back on Sat., Sept. 28. The Lion Ride is a signature event of our east of the river outreach program.
The ride will start and end in Anacostia Park along Anacostia Drive and the Riverwalk Trail path (an exact start location is still to be determined, but if you sign up, we’ll email you to let you know where it is). It’s a slow, parade-paced jaunt along the trail that will wind its way through Anacostia, past the Frederick Douglass house. The ride will end in Anacostia Park. It’s about six miles and will conclude at 3:30 p.m. Youth are welcome with adult supervision!
Free bike rentals will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. One of the goals of our targeted outreach is to get more east of the river residents on bikes, so if you know someone who might want to ride but doesn’t have a bike, encourage them to join us!
The Lion Ride honors civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass—known as the “lion of Anacostia”—for his contributions to the community. In addition to helping found Howard University and serving as marshal of the District, Douglass spent the last 18 years of his life living in Anacostia.
Would you like to volunteer for the Lion Ride? We need a few friendly faces to help us make it happen. If you can volunteer to help set up and check out bicycles, please sign up here to volunteer. We’ll also need a few ride marshals to help lead the ride and make sure every stays safe. To marshal, please sign up here.
After the Lion Ride, all participants are encouraged to visit the Art of Bicycling, WABA’s project at the FIGMENT DC participatory arts festival.
We’re excited to announce that WABA’s first-ever bicycle-inspired art installation, the Art of Bicycling, will debut at FIGMENT DC, a participatory arts festival in Anacostia Park. FIGMENT is on Sat., Sept. 28 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and WABA’s installation will be one of many interactive art projects.
Riding a bike is fun, it makes you feel free, it gets your heart beating fast, and it’s an art, too: It promotes creativity and exploration.
The Art of Bicycling is inspired by the collective love for riding a bike that we’ve experienced as we advocate for more, better biking infrastructure, education, and oversight in the D.C. region. There are three parts to the project that you can do yourself: Create a painting by riding a trike through paint on a tarp, be the literal face of bicycling when we take instant photos to display, and share where you bike on our crowdsourced map.
FIGMENT gives us the opportunity to for a new outreach platform and to engage with people who might not know what WABA does. We want to share our mission and gather input and suggestions on bicycling, especially east of the river.
We’re in need of volunteers to pull off our project. Please sign up here to help out.
FIGMENT DC is a free, interactive, noncommercial, participatory arts festival created for, and by, the community. It takes place on Sept. 28 and 29 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (but please note that WABA’s exhibit will only be there on Sat., Sept. 28). A big thank-you to our friends at FIGMENT for including WABA and encouraging people to arrive to the festival by bike.
Following the success of our Met Branch Trail Day earlier this month, the Trail Rangers are gearing up for another cleanup effort –this time on the Suitland Parkway Trail– and we need your help. Click here to sign up.
For those unacquainted with it, the Suitland Parkway Trail is a nearly 2-mile mixed-use trail running alongside Suitland Parkway, from Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to Southern Avenue at the D.C. border. Though the trail isn’t new to Southeast D.C., it remains relatively unknown to many locals despite its close proximity to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, connections to downtown, and essential green space. And while the trail is a little too green in places thanks to inconsistent maintenance, it remains an important piece of D.C.’s trail network. Now, with planners discussing big changes to the South Capitol Bridge and nearby arterials, the Suitland Parkway Trail stands to gain even smoother connections to the growing bicycle infrastructure east of the river. Further into the future, an extension into Prince George’s County to the Suitland Metro station would provide a much needed bicycle route for commuters and a safe, clean recreational area for the neighborhoods that surround the trail. See a map of the trail here.
For the past few months, Trail Rangers have been bagging trash and clearing branches, paving the way for more trail users. While the improvements are a stark contrast to regulars, a first-time visitor might come away underwhelmed by trail conditions. Back in May, a detailed photo tour from Greater Greater Washington brought the Suitland trail into the spotlight. Now, we’d like to make an introduction of our own, increase awareness of the trail, and create a sustained interest in maintaining the trail. For this, we need your help.
Join WABA’s Trail Rangers on Sat., Sept.14 for a personal introduction to the Suitland Parkway Trail, its potential, and the challenges it faces. Help us put boots on the ground to clean up trash, fight back vegetation, and improve the trail corridor. We’ll provide the tools, gloves, direction, and many new friends. For your hard work, you’ll enjoy a burrito lunch on us, some trail background, and a roadmap for future developments. It’ll be a challenging yet undeniably satisfying day!
Interested in getting involved? Click here to learn more and sign up, and be sure to indicate your lunch preferences.
See you on the trail on Sept. 14!
This entry is part of a weekly series following WABA’s Trail Rangers. The D.C. Trail Ranger Program is giving some needed attention to D.C.’s off-street paved trails and the people who use them with daily patrols, maintenance, and outreach. Each week, you’ll find updates on goings on and improvements on the Met Branch, Anacostia Riverwalk, Marvin Gaye and Suitland Parkway trails.
Between the delightful weather and some much-needed rain, it has been another busy week for the Trial Rangers. The cooler mornings have brought out joggers and bikers eager to put in a few miles on the Met Branch and Anacostia Riverwalk trails. In addition to the regular bike commuters, plenty of new faces joined the morning rush downtown from points north and southeast. We are glad to see so many enjoying skipping the road traffic on the MBT or enjoying the morning sun along the river on the Anacostia Riverwalk.
The rain, while welcome, brought new obstacles, and we’ve been hard at work tackling them. In addition to our time scouring the trails—we’ve covered more than 200 miles since our last update—we helped five folks overcome bike troubles to get back on the trail and helped another four figure out where they were going. We spent a combined 12 hours on clearing out vegetation, sweeping up glass, and removing trash (about 90 gallons’ worth). Now, after a concentrated effort, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is nearly unobstructed by low hanging limbs, slippery trail surfaces like gravel and debris, and encroaching plants that narrow the trail and break up pavement. Trail users can look forward to holding their heads high and simply taking in the sights.
Those who ride the trail often have already seen our handiwork. For the rest, here’s a glimpse…
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near RFK Stadium
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail under the Sousa Bridge (Pennsylvania Avenue)
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail west of East Capitol Street Bridge