5 Things to Do for Bicycling in DC this Month

Every year, the DC Council holds public hearings to consider the performance of each of the city’s agencies. For bicycle advocates with a little spare time on weekdays, it is a prime opportunity to talk directly to councilmembers and agency heads to highlight strengths and areas of improvement for an agency.

Here’s a list of those public hearings and forums:

Wednesday, February 13 at 10:00 am: Department of For Hire Vehicles

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Chanell Autrey (cautrey@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8053.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Education, training and testing of for-hire drivers
    • Collecting reports of driver behavior
    • Uber & Lyft parking in bike lanes & dooring
    • Ticketing and retraining as behavior modification tools

Friday, February 15 at 11:00 am: Department of Public Works 

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Aukima Benjamin (abenjamin@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8062.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Leaf collection in protected bike lanes
    • Parking enforcement
    • Proactive enforcement in high-infraction areas
    • Reprioritizing from resident parking violations to traffic safety (bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalk, illegal loading etc.)
    • Responsiveness to reports of illegal parking/safety issue
    • Alternative enforcement options (eg. citizen reports)

Monday, Febraury 25 at 11:00 am: District Department of Transportation

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Aukima Benjamin (abenjamin@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8062.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Design & construction of multi-use trails like the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Anacostia River Trail, South Capitol St. Trail, etc.
    • Design & construction of on-street bicycle infrastructure like bike lanes and protected bike lanes
    • Are sufficient resources being devoted to improving options for safe biking and walking?
    • Dockless bikeshare & scooters
    • The pace of expansion of the bicycle network & reaching goals

Mayor Bowser’s Budget Engagement Forum

  • Thursday, February 21 at 6:30 pm: Budget Engagement Forum at the Arthur Capper Community Center (1001 5th Street, SE)
  • Saturday, February 23 at 10:00 am: Budget Engagement Forum at the Deanwood Recreation Center (1350 49th Street, NE)
  • Monday, February 25 at 6:30 pm: Budget Engagement Forum at Roosevelt High School (4301 13th Street, NW)

RSVP here

Three bike projects coming to Downtown Silver Spring

Photo from CDOT

On Monday, February 4, please come learn about three bike projects coming to downtown Silver Spring. Montgomery County Department of Transportation staff will share plans and get your feedback on two small but important additions to the Silver Spring bike network and the first secure bike parking facility in the county!

  • Cameron to Planning Place Bikeway – a new north-south bike connection between the end of Fenton St at Cameron and the “Purple Pathway” leading to Spring St. and Woodland Dr.
  • Dixon Ave protected bike lanes – new north-south curb-protected bike lanes between Wayne Ave and Ripley St.
  • Silver Spring Secure Bike Parking – a secure bike parking room at Dixon & Bonifant will give Metro, MARC, bus and Purple Line riders, and area visitors a secure place to store their bike.

Silver Spring Bike Project Public Meeting

Monday, February 4, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Silver Spring International Middle School
313 Wayne Avenue, Silver Spring, MD

To learn more about these and other county bike projects before the meeting, visit bikemontgomery.com. If you cannot attend but want to share feedback, contact Matt Johnson, AICP, Project Manager at 240-777-7237 or Matt.Johnson@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov by February 20.


Where are the 2nd Ave and Wayne Ave protected bike lanes?

Late last fall, MCDOT broke ground on protected bike lanes on 2nd Ave. and Wayne Ave. between Spring St. and Georgia Ave. which form the second major piece of the Silver Spring Circle. Unfortunately, construction hit a few major utility and weather snags which delayed much of the early work. It should be back on track in early spring. Stay tuned for a celebration.


Prince George’s County Has A New Countywide Trail Plan

Last month, Prince George’s County’s Planning Board adopted a new plan to improve, greatly expand and better care for the county’s network of paved off-street trails. The plan is an important step towards better trails and more options for getting around by bike in the region.

Prince George’s County has some of the most popular and well-connected trails in the region. The Anacostia Tributary Trails, the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, and the Henson Creek Trail are fantastic. But those trails only reach a subset of the county and need substantial attention to meet increasing demand. Residents in Largo, Oxon Hill, and Glenarden rightfully want a trail near them that links into a broader network. They want safe, reliable options for getting around without a car, and they see new trails as the obvious choice. These are some of the many issues the new plan tackles.

 

The Strategic Trails Plan lays out a new vision for what the county’s trail system could and should be. It proposes an interconnected, countywide network of high-quality trails that link parks, major destinations, and neighborhoods. The plan calls for 250 new miles of primary trails and a feeder network of secondary trails to bring convenient trail and park access for 300,000 more county residents. The future network will encourage walking and biking by creating safe, convenient, and connected routes.

Kids riding along a trail on the Anacostia Tributary Trails System in Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County doesn’t currently reward folks who travel by bike with safe, protected, dedicated infrastructure. In fact, in many places, the roads discourage and punish people who get around without a car.

But this plan changes that. The vision is a connected county that is easy to navigate by foot and by bike. To achieve that vision, the Department of Parks & Recreation needs to make significant changes to its approach to planning and managing trails. The plan identifies a comprehensive roadmap of strategic investments, policy changes and new programs to support existing trails and develop new ones.

The county will need more dedicated funding, additional staff, new partnerships with state and local land stakeholders, and a new, proactive approach to fix trail problems before issues become irreversible. But the payoff—a connected county that encourages active transportation—is more than worth it.

There is a lot of work to do, but for the first time, Prince George’s County has a countywide vision and a roadmap to implement it. And WABA, the Capital Trails Coalition, and the broader community of trail advocates are ready to help make it happen!

Click here to see the approved network map and read the full plan.

Protected bike lanes or parking on 21st Street NW?

Top, protected bike lane; bottom, contraflow lane.

Update: ANC 2B will debate and vote on a resolution on this project at its January 9th meeting. If you live, work, or bike between Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, please come support the project at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Room 500. See the agenda here.

Riding a bike between Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and the Mall has always felt precarious. Without any north-south bike lanes between 15th St. NW and the Rock Creek Park Trail, people on bikes compete with impatient rush-hour drivers, double-parked delivery trucks, and more for a safe space on the road.

Last month, District Department of Transportation planners presented three possible solutions to this problem: two-way protected bike lanes on 20th, 21st, or 22nd St NW. You have until Sunday, January 6 to speak up in support.

Weigh in Now!

Each option would be an improvement, but we think 21st St is best. It is the longest, and best-connected route, linking Florida Ave to Constitution Ave and to east-west bike routes on Q, R and New Hampshire. Adding bike lanes would calm traffic, make the street more pleasant to walk, and encourage more trips by bike!

21st St NW (second line highlighted).

Adding protected bike lanes on any of these streets necessarily comes with trade-offs, and DDOT is already under pressure to keep as much street parking as possible. Planners already proposed an option to cut protected bike lanes from the northernmost half-mile of 21st St, instead striping sharrows and a narrow unprotected “contra-flow” northbound lane.

This compromise would keep quite a lot of residential parking, but it gives away the low-stress bike route that this project is all about. In a neighborhood where nearly every square foot of street space is devoted to moving or parking cars, DDOT should create a bike lane that people of all ages and skill levels can safely enjoy.

To speak up for continuous protected lanes on 21st St. head to the project website, check out the plans, and use the form to weigh in! Comments close January 6.

Speak Up Now!

Read WABA’s comment letter here.

Montgomery County has a new Bike Plan and it’s a big deal!

Last week, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to adopt a new Bicycle Master Plan for the County. This vote is the culmination of more than three years of intensive analysis, public engagement, and advocacy. By adopting this plan, the Council endorsed a dramatic shift in the County’s goals and approach to growing bicycling, committing MoCo to a convenient, inclusive, and low-stress bicycling future!

While its broad strokes are similar to bicycle plans from neighboring cities and counties, the new Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan is in a league of its own due to its analytical rigor, its commitment to promoting bicycling for people of all ages and skill levels, and its ambitious countywide vision. The plan aims to make bicycling a convenient, safe and popular option in every community, a strong complement to transit, and a joyful part of everyday life.

To achieve its goals, the plan is packed with network maps of new bicycle infrastructure, new bicycle-friendly policies and programs, and so much more. Here are some of the highlights. It calls for:

  • an impressive, 1,000+ mile, low-stress bicycle network of new protected bike lanes, trails, and quiet neighborhood streets, which will comfortably connect bicyclists of all ages and abilities to the places they need to go;
  • new low-stress bikeways concentrated around urban areas, transit stops, schools, libraries, and county services so that a bicycle is the first choice for short trips;
  • a network of high-capacity “Breezeways” between major destinations that allows people on bikes to cross longer distances with fewer delays, where all users – including slower moving bicyclists and pedestrians – can safely and comfortably travel together;
  • new design guidelines for high quality, safe, and accessible protected bike lanes, trails and intersections;
  • new programs and staff positions to build out the network, support people who bike and encourage more people to give it a try;
  • abundant and secure, long-term bicycle parking facilities near Metro, Purple Line, Bus Rapid Transit, and MARC stations;
  • and rigorous metrics to evaluate the county’s progress in carrying out the plan.

Data under the hood

Woven throughout the plan is a deep, research-backed understanding of what keeps people from biking. More than 50% of people are interested in biking for transportation and recreation but don’t because they are concerned about their safety. So, the plan puts a focus on creating interconnected, low-stress bicycling networks that appeal to everyone, not just the people biking today.

Top: A stress map of downtown Bethesda (low-stress in blue, higher stress in yellow, orange and red). Bottom: Recommended improvements for a low-stress downtown Bethesda (trails green, separated bikeways orange, bike lanes blue, shared streets red).

Months of painstaking analysis of bicycle level of stress showed that the majority of streets and neighborhoods in Montgomery County are already perfect for bicycling. But major roads, urban areas, and short stress points severely limit the reach of people who have no interest in the stresses of biking in car traffic. Adding protected bike lanes, trails, and other bikeways to those stressful roads unlocks new areas in the map of bikeable destinations. And with impressive analytical tools in hand, we know which changes to road design will create the biggest gains for safe, convenient, and low-stress bicycling connections.

Thanks to all who made this possible

Drafting, debating, and polishing this plan took incredible effort and dedication from county planning staff, residents and elected officials over the past three years. Hundreds of neighborhood advocates showed up to share their ideas and dreams at dozens of public meetings, workshops, rides, and hearings and submitted thousands of comments online. An advisory group of twenty volunteers stayed deeply involved at every stage through monthly meetings. The Planning Board and County Council weighed public input through months of detailed discussions.

Through it all, planning staff were persistent in defending the high standards and bold vision residents asked for.

Thank you to everyone who put their time, thoughts and effort into bringing the Montgomery County Bicycle Master Plan to a star finish!

What’s next?

Adopting the plan is a momentous milestone. Now the work begins to implement its vision. Some of the plan’s recommendations can get started immediately: creating an interagency implementation task force, updating policies, and refocusing existing work. But the majority of the big changes called for will require a significant expansion in funding for planning, engineering, and construction, new staff and resources over the next twenty years. Most improvements will be made by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation though routine road resurfacing or more substantial rebuilding projects. Others will be made in partnership with State agencies or private developers.

Just as important as the funding, transforming colored lines on a map into new, great places to bike will take persistent involvement from advocates, buy-in from county staff, and leadership from county elected officials. But with every step, more places will be just a convenient bike ride away, and bicycling will slowly become a perfectly normal way to get around and an inseparable part of daily life in Montgomery County.

Learn more

You can learn see the final draft of the Bicycle Master Plan here (will be updated soon with the final revisions), review the County Council’s final changes here, and see the complete network in this interactive map.

Let’s talk about Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years working to fill a gap in Downtown DC’s protected bike lane network on Louisiana Ave, the project is moving forward. Better yet, preliminary plans are done and ready to share!

On Wednesday, October 24, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a community meeting and panel discussion with the District Department of Transportation to introduce this project to the public and get feedback on current plans. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say “we want this project!” Will you join us?

Yes, I’ll Be There!

Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lane Community Meeting
Wednesday, October 24
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open House
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Community Meeting & Panel Discussion
Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Avenue SW (Room 2253
Click here to RSVP

Bringing this project to this point has not been easy. It has taken the combined will of neighborhood commissioners, councilmembers, members of Congress and hundreds of people like you. So join us on Wednesday to see the plan and keep the pressure up!

See you on Wednesday.

Show up for Biking in Bethesda on Oct 9

Big improvements are in the works for low-stress and safe bicycling in downtown Bethesda. Following public outcry from bicyclists and Georgetown Branch Trail neighbors over the trail’s closure and worsening bicycling conditions in downtown Bethesda, Montgomery County committed to fund and build a core, low-stress bicycle network.

On Tuesday, October 9, residents and advocates can finally see plans and give feedback on a slate of protected bike lanes, intersection upgrades, and trail improvements.

RSVP Here

Network map.

With only a few painted bike lanes, several multi-lane road barriers, and increasingly disruptive construction, Bethesda is a challenging place to bike, and a non-starter for parents with kids. The core bike network, pictured above, will significantly improve options for bicyclists of all abilities, correct some of the flagrant deficiencies in the interim Georgetown Branch Trail, and lay the groundwork for other improvements coming later with the completion of the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail.

The following projects will be discussed at the meeting:

Woodmont Ave. Protected Bike Lanes – a north-south two-way protected bike lane from Wisconsin Ave. to Norfolk Ave.

Capital Crescent Surface Trail – a protected bike lane crossing of Wisconsin Ave. on Bethesda Ave. and Willow Ln. This project will rebuild the Bethesda Ave. & Woodmont Ave. intersection into a safe, intuitive, protected intersection.

Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway – Parks staff will present three designs for permanent fixes to this high-conflict trail intersection. See the original 12 alternatives here. WABA opposes any plan that restores Little Falls Parkway to four lanes because this would restore the perilous conditions that contributed to a fatality and multiple crashes. Read our letter for the full reasons.

Montgomery Ln/Ave Protected Bike Lanes -an east-west two-way protected bike lane from Woodmont Ave to Pearl St.

Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel – a new trail tunnel underneath Wisconsin Ave. to seamlessly connect the Purple Line, secure bike parking, and the trail to Silver Spring.

Pearl St. Norfolk Ave. and Cheltenham Dr – bike lanes, traffic calming, and intersection improvements.

We need you there

Continued pressure and support are what make these projects possible. Will you show up to give county staff the support they need to get these projects in the ground? We need your voice to insist on safe streets for people who walk and bike. We need your help to counter those who will be there to insist that moving cars quickly is the only priority. Together, we can reshape Bethesda into a great place for biking and walking.

I’ll Be There!

Don’t Forget Bikes on A New Columbia Pike

Getting from Columbia Pike to Pentagon City by bike is a roundabout and tricky ordeal. As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s Southern Expansion plan, that trip will become a little more direct, but not much better.

New alignment in white. Road to be demolished in yellow.

The Army is working with Arlington County to reroute and build anew, three quarters of a mile of east Columbia Pike to make room for more burial sites. Their preferred plan would create a new 4 lane road with a 10 foot wide sidewalk for biking and walking on the north side.

We know we can do better.

Speak Up

This brand new Columbia Pike will be the only bikeable connection across I-395, so it must be great for people on foot and bike. With the Washington Blvd Trail expected to open this fall, new protected bike lanes coming to Pentagon City, and the Cemetery planning a new southern pedestrian entrance, this corridor will be buzzing with activity. A 10 foot shared sidewalk will create continuous conflicts between people biking and walking.

Instead, the new Columbia Pike should include separate spaces for all modes: sidewalks for walking, curb-protected bike lanes for bicycling, and driving lanes for cars and buses. This is not too much to ask for a new road, built from scratch. We only get one shot at getting this right.

Ask for something better

For full details on the plan, visit the Southern Expansion project page.

Arlington Delivers a Bike Friendly(er) Ballston

Early last month, road crews set to work repaving a long stretch of N Quincy St. in Ballston. But, instead of putting it back exactly as they found it, they made it better. Quincy St. now sports almost a half mile of new, protected bike lanes between Glebe Rd and 9th St. N!

This is Awesome!

Check it out!

Tucked behind car parking and flex-posts, the new protected bike lanes create a low-stress bike connection to dozens of shops, restaurants, offices, apartments and the future Mosaic Park. Where bicyclists used to grapple with very close passing cars and parked cars blocking bike lanes, the new design gives everyone their own, orderly space on the road.

Before…

…and after!

This upgrade is the result of a lot of hard work by advocates and county staff. In late 2015, we launched our Bike Friendly Ballston campaign to build support for a low-stress, protected bike lane connection between the Custis Trail and Ballston’s commercial area. By spring 2016, we had earned support from more than 600 county residents, Ballston businesses, the Ballston Business Improvement District, and the Arlington County Board. Since then, county planners have been hard at work, collecting data, designing concepts, and negotiating the many tricky complications that arose along the way.

Making use of the new, protected bike lane in Ballston.

Help us show our gratitude!

The Quincy St. protected bike lanes are a big win for safe, low-stress bicycling in Arlington. And this project could not have happened without the creative solutions, persistence and dedication from transportation staff and county leaders. Will you help us thank them for their work?

Thank the Staff & Board!

This work completes the first half of our vision for a more bike friendly Ballston. Still to come is a protected bike lane connection extending another half-mile past the Central Library and Washington Lee High School to the Custis Trail. To learn more about the project and see the plans, visit the project page.

Is the WB&A Trail along MD 704 feasible? Study says YES

A critical gap in the region’s trail network is closer to completion! Prince George’s County took a big step forward on the WB&A (Washington Baltimore & Annapolis) Trail by publishing a feasibility study of a trail extension along Martin Luther King Jr. Highway (also known as MD-704) to connect the existing WB&A Trail to DC.

Rendering courtesy of Wallace Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

A 12-mile rail-trail in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties, the WB&A Trail is already one of the region’s great recreation and transportation trails. Along the tree-lined route, the trail rises over and tunnels under major highways, connecting neighborhoods, parks, schools and jobs.

But the trail is far from complete.

The trail ends miles from DC’s northeast border and remains isolated from the rest of the DC trail network. Extending the trail to DC would fill a substantial gap in the regional trail network (in fact, the trail would go all the way across Prince George’s County!), creating safe walking and biking options for the communities along the corridor. That’s one reason why the trail has been at or near the top of the Prince George’s County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian transportation funding priorities since 2011!

The WB&A Trail was converted from an old railroad. Unfortunately, planners didn’t make the entire rail corridor into a trail—some was converted into a highway. That highway is Martin Luther King Jr. Highway (MLK Highway), a straight shot from the trail’s southern terminus to the DC line.

WB&A in Green, trail extension in Red

MLK Highway was built to move cars quickly, making the corridor a hostile place for people biking and walking. Despite close proximity to neighborhoods, schools, parks and stores, sidewalks are missing on more than half of the 6.5 mile corridor. Wide intersections make safely crossing the street challenging even where crosswalks and traffic lights are present. It’s a stressful place to bike and walk, so few people do it.

MLK Highway is a 6-8 lane speedway. Building a trail alongside it would make it accessible to people outside of cars.

That’s exactly why WABA, together with Prince George’s County, Oxon Hill Bike and Trail Club, the Capital Trails Coalition and many others are working to change MLK Highway. This major highway is the only connection between dozens of communities, and we strongly believe it should be a safe place to bike and walk.

With a new multi-use trail, MLK Highway could transform from a barrier that separates communities into a safe, inviting corridor that unifies them with new options for getting around.

And the neighbors would benefit tremendously from a safe place to bike and walk along MLK Highway! The corridor has 16 parks and recreation centers, five schools, two libraries, and over 30 places of worship all within a half mile of MLK Highway.

WABA has been with this project from day one. We’ve been leading rides on the trail and on MLK Highway, meeting with elected officials along the corridor, supporting the planning department, researching the economic effects of extending the trail, and organizing trail advocates across the county.

A WABA-led ride on the WB&A! Here we are at Mile 0.

The feasibility study identified places along the corridor that have plenty of room for a multi-use trail, and other areas that are more challenging (based on physical and engineering constraints). The study gives us solid footing, and helps all partners understand what the hurdles will be as the vision for this trail and a path towards completion takes shape.

And we’ll continue to be involved, because closing this gap in the trail network is critical to WABA’s mission. A feasibility study is a significant milestone, but we’ve got lots of work to do before we’re safely riding a completed WB&A Trail.

Want to get involved in this project?

Join neighbors and advocates to build momentum and support for a new 704 trail. Sign up below!

I want to support the WB&A!