Newsletter: The legacy of Stan the Sinkhole

Happy Friday, I hope everyone gest to spend some time on your bike this chilly weekend. 

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A trail in a state of disrepair next to a busy highway. A bicycle is shown with a wheel in a sinkhole, demonstrating the hole's size.

Stan

If you rode the Suitland Parkway Trail between 2011 and 2020, you probably encountered Stan the Sinkhole. A persistent, yawning chasm that defied many attempts to fill it. In 2020, DC Water finally repaired the water main break that brought Stan to life, but Stan’s legacy lives on: The Suitland Parkway Trail remains a bumpy and unwelcoming place to ride, squeezing anyone biking or walking between lesser potholes, encroaching vegetation, and 50mph traffic. The good news is that after years of pressure from community members and the Capital Trails Coalition, DDOT is launching a project to rehab the trail. The (virtual) kickoff meeting is on February 15th.

In other trail improvement news, The Trail Rangers are hosting a whole bunch of cleanups this month. Come on out! We’ll bring snacks and cleanup gear.

  • Hayes Street Cleanups: (the protected bike lane section of the Anacostia River Trail): February 5th, 12th and 19th.
  • Monthly Trail Cleanups: 
    • Anacostia River Trail Cleanup: February 8th (and the second Wednesday of every month) 
    • Marvin Gaye Trail Cleanup: February 9th (and the second Thursday of every month)
    • Oxon Run Trail Cleanup: February 10th (and the second Friday of every month)
Two broken ATMs submerged in Watts Branch

The Trail Rangers haul a lot of trash, but some things you just can’t haul out by bike. The team counted eight (8!) ATMs in Watts Branch along the Marvin Gaye Trail last week. 

Things to do:

Join the Citizens’ Climate Lobby for Transit Equity Day at the Anacostia Community Museum. 

Speak up for protected bike lanes on 11th St NW

WMATA wants your feedback on the future of Metrorail and Metrobus. Comments due 2/14. 

Speak up for park space for people on Little Falls Parkway on 2/15.

What do you want from the new (and newly funded) Long Bridge project? Tell the design team on 2/13.

Come to our annual Member Meeting on 2/15.

Have you heard of Streets Calling DC? They’re a Black-owned bike club with a majority-Black membership focused on social activism, entrepreneurship, and social engagement. They are launching a cool after-school program designed to teach high school students about the importance of cycling, health and wellness, and other important life skills. Learn how you can join their club or support their programming.

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A fun route idea for the weekend: 

Take the Red Line to Glenmont, head north on Layhill Road and pick up the Matthew Henson Trail west to Rock Creek. From there you can ride south back into the city on the Rock Creek Trail and Beach Drive, or north on the trail to Lake Needwood and the Shady Grove Metro Station. Just be sure to bundle up and find a spot for a hot cup of cocoa or tea along the way. 

Thanks for reading!

Park Space For People on Little Falls Parkway

Montgomery Parks Department is holding a virtual meeting on Wednesday February 15, 2023 at 7pm to share results of a traffic study of the driving lane changes for the Little Falls Parkway “linear park” pilot in Bethesda. If you have noticed the changes near the Capital Crescent Trail and want to see more usable park space here, show up, learn about the plan, and speak up!

In 2016, after a bicyclist, Ned Gaylin, was hit and killed in a crash as he crossed Little Falls Parkway on the Capital Crescent Trail, the Parks Department took immediate action. The department reduced driving lanes from two to one in each direction to calm traffic, simplify the intersection and prevent further injuries at the trail crossing. It is now much safer for everyone.

The long-term plan will remove pavement on the west side of the parkway and repurpose that space into a linear park and trail. In the short term, the Parks Department began a pilot project to create that linear park on the existing road.

Last fall, Parks shifted both car lanes to the east side of the parkway median and opened the west side for all-day walking, biking, and play. This spring, Parks will set up seating and games west of the median and activate the space with entertainment, food trucks, games, programs, and events.

Since 2016, some immediate neighbors have fought every plan for reducing driving lanes on Little Falls Parkway, insisting that avoiding potential delays for people in cars is more important than a safe trail crossing  for people walking and biking. Today, some are calling for Parks to give up on the pilot project entirely before it is even in place.

Please come to this virtual meeting to show support for the Parks department’s plans for permanent safe crossing and for the potential for enhanced outdoor recreation space along the Parkway.

For more information on the pilot project and long-term vision for the Little Falls linear park, see the project page. We hope to show the Parks Department and the public that there is support for a safe crossing.

Support Safer Intersections in Virginia

On Wednesday, the full Virginia Senate will vote on Senate Bill 1293. The bill would authorize jurisdictions to allow the Safety Stop, which allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and  treat red lights as stop signs. The Safety Stop is a proven safety measure, recommended by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and adopted in ten other states, including the District of Columbia just last year.

The Safety Stop will make for better, safer bicycling in the Commonwealth but the bill faces an uncertain outcome on the Senate floor on Wednesday, February 1st. We encourage you to reach out to your State Senator before Wednesday and encourage their support for the bill. 

The Safety (or Idaho Stop) is on a roll. Last year, the District of Columbia became the tenth jurisdiction to authorize the safety measure, going into effect this past January 1st. We wrote then about the safety implications here and vocally advocated for the policy change in the District. Now Virginia has the opportunity to join the fast-growing ranks of states recognizing the unique needs of bicyclists and prioritizing safety. 

SB 1293 is enabling legislation that would authorize jurisdictions to allow bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and/or treat red lights as stop signs. A 5-year study of the Safety Stop in Delaware was shown to contribute to a 23% reduction in bike crashes at stop-sign controlled intersections. Data like this is the reason Senator R. Creigh Deeds, who helped nix a previous Safety Stop bill for further study in 2021, is not only supporting this bill now but serving as its lead sponsor

The Safety Stop works – encourage your Senator to vote yes TODAY. [button]]

But this isn’t the only safety-focused policy change in the works. Senate Bill 847 would allow bicyclists to proceed with the pedestrian walk signal at crosswalks. This is common sense, bipartisan legislation. Like the Safety Stop, allowing bicyclists to cross with pedestrians helps maximize their  visibility to drivers and minimize exposure to vehicles in the intersection.

The Virginia Senate is expected to vote separately on SB 847 this Friday, February 3rd. Tell your State Senator that bicyclist safety at intersections is a priority for you and to vote YES on both bills this week.