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

Public Meeting for the WB&A Trail Bridge!

Do you know about the bridge across the Patuxent River that will connect the two pieces of the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A) Trail?

Well, it’s going to be amazing. AND it’s one step closer to reality!

Anne Arundel County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Department of Recreation & Parks will host a public meeting to discuss the WB&A Trail Bridge at Patuxent River Capital Project.

What: WB&A Trail Bridge Public Meeting (more info)

When: Wednesday, February 13, 6 pm

Where: Two Rivers Community Center/Clubhouse, 1425 Two Rivers Blvd, Odenton, MD 21113

Submit written comments: Email Dawn Thomas (rpthom00@aacounty.org)

The WB&A Trail has a gorgeous segment in Anne Arundel County, and an equally fantastic portion in Prince George’s County. But the trail is cut apart by a significant barrier—the Patuxent River.

At Patuxent River Park looking over the gap into Anne Arundel County, MD.

Last year, the project was awarded $4.7M, proving that the bridge was a priority for Maryland. The WB&A Trail has been a WABA priority for decades, and this funding commitment was an important win.

The trail bridge will be located south of Conway Road in Odenton and will connect the two trail segments. And it’s not just about local connectivity—this link will be a component of national trails, like the East Coast Greenway and American Discovery Trail!

World Day of Remembrance 2018: “Gone, but Never Forgotten”

On Sunday, November 18th, WABA hosted the World Day of Remembrance in DC.

As the waning sun dropped below the horizon, and the falling autumn leaves signaled that a cool breeze and cooler temps were ahead, nearly a dozen riders arrived at Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church to join other community members in solidarity for World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Traffic Violence.

For the first time, WABA had the pleasure of partnering with six local congregations around DC to make World Day of Remembrance happen in a substantive and meaningful way. Earlier in the day, congregations offered sermons, prayers and reflections around the idea of safe streets. The evening gathering was a heartfelt display of community, care and compassion for those lives lost to traffic crashes.

Standing outside of Douglas Memorial Church, participants huddled together as the World Day of Remembrance projection shown on the wall for all to see. WABA’s Executive Director, Greg Billing, read the names of the 31 friends, family and community members lost this year because of traffic related crashes. Many of the victims were the drivers of motor vehicles, while others were people we had known, had ridden with and worked alongside here at WABA.

As the names were read, several passer-bys stopped to pay their respects. There were words of comfort offered by the pastors of Douglass Memorial and Mount Vernon United Methodist Churches. A song soothed our sorrows and a spoken word was delivered that moved many to tears. All in all, it was what we all needed from that space in that time. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Now we must continue in the work of doing all possible to ensure that ZERO lives are lost due to traffic crashes in 2019.

Take the Vision Zero Pledge

To all the participants throughout Washington DC and the region: thank you for supporting WABA and World Day of Remembrance. Without you, it would be impossible for WABA to continue doing the work of making bicycling better for everyone in the region. Your support helps us advocate for better laws and more bicycle friendly traffic lanes.

See the gallery for photos from this year’s World Day of Remembrance gathering in D.C.

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.

The Best Way Across the Potomac Isn’t Built Yet (But It Could Be)

Recent construction on bridges over the Potomac has been a bit of a disaster for bicyclists. In a sense, the existing inadequacies of Potomac River crossings (trails dead ending, narrow sidewalks, dangerous fencing, and more) have been exacerbated by the construction highlighting a need for more, high-quality Potomac River crossings to be connected to both the Virginia and District’s bike networks.

But that might change.

We have an opportunity to build the finest Potomac River trail crossing in an unlikely place—the Long Bridge.

Wait…what is the Long Bridge?

The Long Bridge is the the rusting hulk of a rail bridge that you can see heading over the Potomac River on Metro or from the Mount Vernon Trail. Currently, it is a two-track railway bridge that serves freight, commuter trains and Amtrak.

However, this bridge needs some improvements. Built in 1904, the bridge has outlived its usefulness and needs some serious improvements to meet the needs of our growing region.

DDOT, VDOT, CSX, the Federal Railroad Administration (and more) are working on a series of potential redesign options. Though the scope of the project is focused on increasing rail capacity, included in those redesigns are two bicycle/pedestrian options—one option is for a bike/ped bridge that is connected to the rail bridge and the other option is a free-standing bridge that runs parallel to the bridge. However, DDOT is only considering these options. These options are not guaranteed and we have already heard some grumbling about cost and security for a bicycle/pedestrian crossing.

“Build the Long Bridge for people.” Has a nice ring to it, no?

Though we don’t have much more clarity on those options, what we do know is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build what could be the safest, highest quality Potomac River bicycle and pedestrian crossing on the day it opens.

So WABA—along with fourteen (14) partner organizations—called for the project team to include a bicycle and pedestrian trail to be constructed concurrently with the rail component. You can find our letter here.

The letter itself lays out five principles for designing the project:

  1. Include a bicycle and pedestrian trail across the Potomac River.
  2. This bicycle and pedestrian trail should be funded and constructed concurrently with the rail component of the Long Bridge project.
  3. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be incorporated into the design of the broader project in a way that optimizes the achievability of the project with regard to cost and complexity.
  4. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed to enhance the connectivity of the regional trail network. Specifically, the trail should connect to the esplanade in Long Bridge Park in Arlington. In the District, the trail should extend as far towards L’Enfant Plaza as physically possible to maximize connectivity to existing trails.
  5. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed and constructed to the highest design standards, with a minimum width of 12 feet wide, and seamless connections to existing trail networks.

To be clear, this project is a long way from being built. And we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that the bridge includes a bike/ped trail. That’s why we want you to show up to the next public meeting on November 29th to speak up for Long Bridge.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Building
1100 4th St SW (Room E200)
Washington, DC 20024
4pm – 7pm (presentations will be at 4:30pm and 6pm)

Let us know if you’re coming

You can find out more about the project at the project webpage here or on the WABA blog. At the meeting, DDOT will show us their proposed alternative.

The benefits to having a pedestrian and bicycle trail across the Potomac along with the rail component are clear for the region. In addition to connecting the Mount Vernon Trail to East Potomac Park (and providing bicyclists and pedestrians a safe crossing along the Potomac), there are very real economic and transportation benefits to this project. That’s why we’ve got to show up and work to make this happen.

(Re)Introducing Crash Tracker

What do you do after a crash?

The adrenaline is racing. Maybe you’re injured? Maybe the driver of the car just wants to leave without showing you their insurance? Nobody is happy.

It’s not fun.

Unfortunately, this happens. A lot. We know because we’ve been collecting data on crashes throughout the region for years.

This link will tell you exactly what to do directly after a crash (hint: you’re probably going to want to call the police). Read it now, so you can have every tool in your toolbox and be prepared to help out a fellow bicyclist.

What then?

That’s why we’ve created Crash Tracker.

We originally created this unique tool because data on crashes in the region was scant. Public data has improved, but there are still inconsistencies and we want to make sure our advocacy and outreach efforts are in the right places and have as much data informing them as possible.

Crash Tracker seeks to not only gather information regarding bicycle crashes, but also make sure that bicyclists are treated fairly by local law enforcement officials when they are involved in a crash.

We’re here.

Experiencing a crash can be traumatic, and sometimes it’s helpful to talk it through with someone. We can’t provide legal advice, but we can help you feel a little less alone.

If you do want a lawyer, using Crash Tracker can connect you—if you so choose—to one of our supporting local attorneys who have expertise representing crash victims:

Consultations are always free, and WABA is here to help you however we can.

The information you submit on the Crash Tracker is NOT passed on to any police department, government or corporation and any names and email addresses will be kept strictly confidential.

Note: WABA does not endorse companies, products or services. Contributions from Supporting Attorneys supports our not-for-profit mission.

Take your bike on Metro during rush hour?

Ever get off work and it’s raining? You rode your bike in, but you’re tired and you want to go home on the Metro. There’s the problem: you have your bike, so Metrorail at peak commuting hours isn’t an option.

Your choices? Brave the elements (and the dangerous streets…), wait for the bus or just leave your bike at the office (or you just don’t bike in the first place…).

Honestly, that kind of sucks.

Earlier this month, we learned that Metro is floating a new policy that would allow bicyclists to bring their bikes on Metro “during all hours.” This idea and language comes from a survey Metro sent out recently.

You would still have to “use your good judgment and only board cars that can comfortably accommodate you and your bicycle.” And of course, “yield priority seating to seniors and people with disabilities, yield to other passengers, and not block aisles or doors.” So, basically, be respectful.

This is great news!

But changes like this aren’t made lightly. WMATA needs to hear from you.

Support bikes on Metro at all times!

WMATA still has to figure out how bikes can go on their trains without blocking aisles and/or the doors. So, eventually they will have to redesign their trains. But until then, this is a great first step.

To show your support for this possible change in policy, sign on to our letter to Lynn Bowersox, Assistant General Manager, Customer Service, Communications, and Marketing at WMATA.

Sign the letter!

To complete the survey, you’d need to sign up with WMATA, find the survey, and then complete it. (You can do so here).

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.

Visualize 2045 should envision a more bike-friendly future.

On a map, our bike network is pretty wide, but not totally connected. We want to challenge the Transportation Planning Board to think bigger for Visualize 2045.

Imagine our region in the year 2045. What will transportation look like in this region for people who bike and walk? What types of infrastructure will we have?

WABA has spent a lot of time thinking about this. Our vision is one including hundreds of paved trails, interconnected networks of protected bike lanes, and safe and accessible places to bike for transportation, recreation and fitness.

Regional transportation planners are also asking this same question for all modes of transportation. Through the Transportation Planning Board (TPB, the Washington DC’s federally designated metropolitan planning organization), regional planners have created Visualize 2045, a long-range transportation plan.

The intent of this long-range plan is to chart the course for the next 25+ years, and include aspirational elements that will help push our region in the right direction.

While there are some positive elements within Visualize 2045, the plan doesn’t go nearly far enough for people who bike and walk.

Of the seven aspirational elements, only two directly address biking and walking. In addition, the trail initiative, known as the National Capital Trail, is just a small sliver of a much broader, visionary future trail network called the Capital Trails Network.

Submit feedback to Visualize 2045

The network has been researched, defined, and mapped by a coalition of public agencies representing TPB member jurisdictions, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders focused on completing the Washington DC regional trail network.

The TPB needs to fully adopt the Capital Trails Network as a key part of the long-range transportation plan, and invest in trails and bicycling and walking projects.

If our Transportation Planning Board refuses to be bold, to think big, and to develop new transportation solutions, then we will be stuck with the same transportation problems (congestion and traffic fatalities to name a few).

Submit feedback to Visualize 2045

Tell the Transportation Planning Board that you want a brighter future for biking in the region! Let them know that the entire Capital Trails Network should be adopted in the long-range plan, and that more extensive planning should be done for our future regional bike networks.

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!