Advocacy Behind the Scenes

Photo credit brixton under Creative Commons

A big part of successful advocacy is simply paying attention. The bureaucratic processes that bring about change are often slow, and can start quietly. Our team of advocacy staff and network of volunteers are always on the lookout for opportunities to have an impact, even if it takes a while. We work to make sure that better biking is part of the conversation from the beginning, not an afterthought.

If you subscribe to our advocacy action alerts, you know that we sometimes ask you to share your thoughts with a decisionmaker about the value of bike friendly infrastructure, laws and policy. Those action alerts are only one of many tools in an advocacy toolbox, and usually not the first one we reach for.

Often, a simple letter can start a project on the right path. Here are some of WABA’s comments and testimony from the past few months.

Georgetown Boathouse Zone EA

National Park Service (NPS) is examining sites along the Georgetown waterfront near the southern terminus of the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) for development a series of boathouses that would cater to non-motorized boating (including rowing, paddling and stand-up paddle boarding). The project affects bicycle traffic in and around the area. NPS acknowledges that “the current configuration of the CCT and its connection to Georgetown do not provide safe and compatible access for pedestrians and cyclists with motorized vehicles to and through the Zone.”

The timing of the EA aligns with work that DDOT and Georgetown BID are doing to improve the K/Water Street corridor, which includes a protected bike lane to connect the CCT with the Rock Creek Park Trail.

Read our full comments here.

Oxon Cove Hiker-Biker Trail EA

NPS, in cooperation with DDOT, proposes to construct a multi-use hiker-biker trail in Oxon Cove Park. In our comments we recommend a seamless connection between the future South Capitol Street Trail and the proposed new trail. We also note that the Oxon Hill Farm Trail (which begins just off of South Capitol St and continues south into Oxon Cove Park) is in poor shape. This vital connection is functionally unusable to many because it lacks bridges and the trail is poorly maintained.

Read our full comments here.

Public Scoping for North George Washington Memorial Parkway EA

The National Park service is in the early stages of an Environmental Assessment for reconstruction of a significant portion of the northern George Washington Parkway. This is an important opportunity to consider how the parkway and the land around it could better accommodate and ensure the safety of people biking and walking.

Read our full comments here.

Long Bridge Phase II

DDOT is exploring options to replace the century-old Long Bridge, which carries freight and passenger rail from Northern Virginia into downtown DC. Though the study’s scope is currently focussed only on expanding the number of railroad tracks across the Potomac river, we make the case for including a high quality bike and pedestrian trail on the new bridge.

Read our full comments here.

Bethesda Downtown Master Plan

In October, Montgomery County Council held a final round of hearings on the updated Bethesda Downtown Master Plan. The plan is a long term guide to future density, land use, parks and transportation, and includes an impressive Bethesda bicycle network of protected bike lanes, trail access improvements, and standard bike lanes. Joe Allen, Co-Chair of our Montgomery County Action Committee, delivered WABA’s testimony at the hearing.

Read our full testimony here.

Roundtable on the Provision of 911 Services in DC

The DC Council’s Judiciary Committee held a roundtable to discuss 911 services. WABA submitted testimony raising ongoing concerns about the limitations of DC’s 911 dispatch system which delay or prevent emergency response to emergencies on off-street trails.

Read our full testimony here.

 Photo: brixton on Flickr

Let’s make sure improvements to Jones Point Park work for people on bikes

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 12.27.08 PM

The George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), which is part of National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of reviewing Jones Point Park in Alexandria, VA. Specifically, GWMP is looking to redesign the paved space under the Woodrow Wilson bridge to accommodate and encourage more recreational uses. The space under the bridge was originally intended for parked cars, but security changes following September 11th, 2001 made that no longer a possibility.  Since then, the space has been underutilized while the rest of the park actively encourages recreation.

In our formal comments to NPS, WABA has requested that a portion of the paved space under the bridge be turned into a “traffic garden” for bicycle education classes. WABA also recommended that the flexible space designated for a bike safety course in the plan be expanded.

The Jones Park Park Recreation plan also proposes to re-route the Mount Vernon trail around the park instead of straight through it. WABA recommended retaining the Mount Vernon Trail alignment through the park to facilitate biking to park amenities and restrooms, while encouraging through-bicyclists to utilize the new routing. We noted that if new routing or re-routing is put in place, the new trail must be 100% off-street, multi-use, and not require any mixing with motor vehicles. Finally, if bicyclists are going to be discouraged from riding through the park past the restrooms, then in-pavement solutions i.e. differentiated pavers or stencils, should be utilized rather than bollards or barriers.

Public comments on the project are being accepted through September 23rd. The proposed recreation plan and planning documents can be accessed by clicking here.  To submit comments of your own regarding the plan, please click here.

 

The Park Service Has a Plan for a Seamless Trail Network—And it’s Good

better bike trails

We’ve got some great trails in our region, but they don’t all connect to each other.

So imagine with us for a minute: seamless trail connections to monuments, to rivers, to parks, and to the places we need to get to every day. A network that doesn’t leave gaps at bridges and busy road crossings, where people on foot or on bikes can connect in an easy, low-stress way to all of the places that make our region great.

That’s the vision that National Park Service (NPS) has laid out in the National Capital Region Draft Paved Trails Study, released in April.

Sign the Petition!

The study includes a set of goals and 120 capital and programmatic recommendations, in addition to a framework for prioritizing regional funding of trail-related projects. We are thrilled that the Park Service has taken this on, and pleased with the results.

So what’s in the study, and why are we giving NPS a round of applause?

Here is just a small sample of the priority projects:

  • Extension of the existing cycle track south on 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to the 14th Street Bridge. (You know, that connection we’ve been asking for for years?)
  • A feasibility study for a cycle track or trail along the Military Road, NW right of way, from Glover Road, NW to 16th Street, NW.
  • A feasibility study for an extension of the Suitland Parkway Trail from the D.C./Maryland line to Henson Creek Trail.
  • Improved wayfinding and standardized signage so that it’s easier to navigate the trails system.
  • The development of comprehensive trail design standards and guidelines for the region that address trail width, snow removal, clearances, safety features, and more.
  • Fixing numerous bridge access problems, including the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, Tidal Basin Inlet Bridge, and 14th Street Bridge.
  • Connecting the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to the Wilson Bridge, by way of Blue Plains and Oxon Hill Farm.

Sign the Petition!

WABA is pleased that NPS is being so strategic about the quality and connectivity of paved trails in the National Capital Region. These are important corridors for commuting, running errands, recreating, exercising, and connecting to our natural surroundings. For those of us who believe that the best way to experience the National Parks is by bike or on foot, this is a welcome investment in a connected, world-class trail network.

High-volume corridors, many of which are vital commuting routes, warrant special design, maintenance and operational considerations. With this plan, NPS is acknowledging that these trails are transportation systems, and should be treated as such. This represents a major paradigm shift for NPS.

Why does this stage in the process matter?

In essence, NPS is laying out the next 20 years of work in regards to paved trails under their jurisdiction. Now is your time to show your support and encourage adoption of all of the recommendations. 

Will you stand with us and tell NPS you support the recommendations outlined in the Paved Trails Study?

Sign the Petition!

Your voice matters, especially right now. From bridge connections to wayfinding signage to snow removal, the recommendations in the Paved Trails Study will elevate the regional trail network from “almost great” to truly incredible. The comment period closes on May 19, so take action today.

The Washington region needs  a connected, easily-accessible trail network. Now is the time to let NPS know that you support their recommendations!

Sign the Petition!

Want to read the study or submit additional comments to NPS? You can find that information here.

Public Meeting Tonight on C&O Canal Park’s Proposed Fee Increases

C&O Canal towpath near Slackwater. Photo credit: Rudi Riet

The National Park Service announced yesterday that they will be hosting a public meeting to discuss their proposed fee hikes (PDF) for access to and amenities on the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The C&O Canal is a public park that stretches from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD.

While most of the meetings on the subject are outside the Washington region, Tonight’s meeting will be held at the Washington Waldorf School, 4800 Sangamore Rd. in Bethesda from 7pm to 8:30pm.

We encourage all bicyclists to attend, ask questions, and voice any concerns about the proposal.

WABA is working with NPS to learn more about the proposal, but we oppose regressive fees that would limit access for biking, walking, and enjoying the public park. NPS Director Jarvis has tasked all parks with considering such revenue-generating activities, so we are working throughout the region to respond to these fee proposals. Presently, public comment periods are open for the Prince William Forest Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the C&O Canal.

If you bike on the C&O Canal towpath, you will likely be affected by this proposal. Please consider attending the meeting tonight.

Meeting Details
What
: National Park Service meeting on proposed fee increases for
C&O Canal National Historic Park
When: 7pm – 8:30pm, Thursday, February 5th
Where: Washington Waldorf School, 4800 Sangamore Rd., Bethesda, MD
Google Map Directions

NPS Begins Arlington Memorial Circle Planning

memorial-circle

Navigating the Arlington Memorial Circle is a major obstacle for area bicyclists. The Mount Vernon Trail, Route 110 Trail and Arlington Memorial Bridge (the direct connection to the National Mall) converge at the circle. Trail users are forced to dash across high speed traffic at grade to cross the many highways, parkways and the traffic circle. There were a number of serious crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in 2010 and 2011, leading NPS to make some short-term safety fixes to trail crossing.

Now, the George Washington Memorial Parkway is starting a Transportation Plan and Environmental Assessment to study the long-term and major fixes need to vastly improve safety and the park experience for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers. The planning process will take almost two years to complete with a final decision document not expected until the summer of 2016.

There are a number of opportunities in September to learn more about the planning process. National Park Service is also accepting comments until September 30th during this initial phase. Visit the National Park Service Park Planning website to learn more about how to get involved.

30-Day Test of Flashing Beacons on GW Parkway Begins Today

A press release from the National Park Service indicates flashing beacons will be tested on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, beginning today. The purpose is to “improve safety and increase awareness by slowing down traffic when pedestrians and bicyclists intend to cross the Parkway.” The beacons will be located at the trail crosswalk of the northbound lanes of the Parkway, just prior to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

NPS and the George Washington Memorial Parkway will be taking comments on the beacons through Jan. 17.

Read the full release for more information about the beacons and how to comment below the jump: Continue reading

National Park Service to Begin Construction on Mount Vernon Trail on April 8

The National Park Service and a number of other agencies will begin to reconstruct pedestrian bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail beginning today, Mon., April 8. The project is projected to last several months and will include a closure of the trail (a detour will direct trail users to West Boulevard Drive). Read the full press release and see a diagram of the construction below.

McLean, VA –The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Eastern Federal Lands Highways Division (EFLHD), in cooperation with the National Park Service (NPS), George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP), will begin a construction project to reconstruct pedestrian bridges #13 and #14 on the Mount Vernon Trail between Waynewood Boulevard and Collingwood Road; other bridges include bridges 20, 21, and 22 further north between Morningside Lane and Tulane Lane, all in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, Virginia.

The project will start on April 8, 2013 and will last for several months, Monday through Friday. Weekly updates to the project will be included in the weekly traffic advisory for locations of work zones.

During reconstruction of bridges #13 and #14, the Mount Vernon Trail will be closed. A detour will direct visitors to use West Boulevard drive. Visitors should follow the detour signs and exercise caution when using West Boulevard drive sharing the road with vehicles.

NPS will continue to inform the public and the media of any delays or adjustments to this work schedule. As with all construction projects, inclement weather may require adjustments to the schedules, including the possibility of postponement. Every effort will be made to accomplish the work in a timely manner. The NPS regrets any inconvenience and appreciates all visitors’ understanding and patience. The project is anticipated to be completed by fall.

mount vernon