Do you want more protected bike lanes on your route or calmer streets in your neighborhood? Do you want to see faster progress on safer streets around DC? Of course you do!
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves?
We are excited to announce a new advocate training series to help you get to work making bicycling better in your neighborhood and in the city, whether you have 5 minutes or three hours to spend.
Each training will introduce the meaningful opportunities to help the movement as an individual or as part of a group and highlight some of the proven strategies for making streets safer. You will meet neighbors and community advocates for future collaboration and take a dive into WABA’s 20×20 campaign to support 20 new miles of connected, protected, and equitable bike lanes in DC by the end of 2020. No experience is necessary!
Winning Better Streets in Ward 2 Tuesday, August 6 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM West End Neighborhood Library 2301 L St NW Sign Up
Winning Better Streets in Ward 8 Thursday, August 22 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM Anacostia Neighborhood Library 1800 Good Hope Rd SE Sign Up
Each training will be tailored to the Ward’s unique opportunities and challenges, though the content will be applicable to other places. We encourage you to sign up for the training in your home ward or the ward of greatest interest. Find your ward here. Additional trainings in Ward 5 & 7 (September) and Ward 4 & 6 (October) will be announced as soon as they are scheduled.
No matter your background or your schedule, there are lots of ways you can have an impact! We hope you can come to a training.
Last week, Arlington’s County Board passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero in Arlington County. Their vote officially sets the county on a path to completely eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Arlington’s roads through the coordinated effort of many county agencies. Arlington joins Alexandria, DC, and Montgomery County as the fourth jurisdiction to embrace Vision Zero in the Washington area.
Fundamental to this commitment, the Board recognized that far too many people are killed and injured while traveling from one place to another. In recent years, Arlington has experienced as few as one and as many as six traffic fatalities, already making it one of the safest jurisdictions in the region.
But even one death is an unacceptable loss to the community. And rather than accept that loss as an inevitable cost of getting around, Vision Zero puts harm reduction front and center. Every fatality is preventable, and we should not accept even one.
This commitment is a bold and momentous first step for a safe and more livable Arlington. But now starts the hard work. It is up to county staff to create a plan to actually achieve the goal and by when. Over the next few months, county staff will get to work collecting data, analysing problems, learning from other Vision Zero communities, and asking for input as they seek to understand Arlington’s unique traffic safety challenges and develop a five-year action plan.
The plan will identify a range of actions including changes to the way streets are designed. Community engagement will be a critical element of shaping the plan as will addressing the inequitable spread of traffic violence and safe transportation options in Arlington’s communities.
We want to thank the Board for their leadership, county staff for the hard work and following through on promises made during the bike plan update, and all the community advocates who have tirelessly insisted over the last four years that Arlington must be a leader in transportation safety.
Read the full resolution yourself here. Review the presentation slides here. And watch the full presentation and County Board discussion here starting at 1:05.
Last month, the Montgomery County Planning Board made a hasty and very bad decision on the permanent design for the Capital Crescent Trail’s crossing of Little Falls Parkway in Bethesda. While perhaps made with good intentions, this decision will create unacceptable daily safety risks for the thousands of people who use the trail. The board has started a new term and has a new member.
In the letter below, we call on the board to reconsider its decision and to put its park users and people first. Use the form below to sign the letter.
Members of the Montgomery County Planning Board,
On June 13, the Planning Board voted 4-1 to reject the analysis and recommendation of Montgomery Parks staff to implement Alternative A including retention of the road diet already in place, and placement of a speed table forcing cars to slow at the crossing. We are deeply concerned by the Planning Board’s recent decision to not only reject Alternative A as recommended by Parks but to also disregard all other carefully proposed alternatives. The decision to eliminate the road diet put in place after a cyclist died in 2016 runs directly counter to Montgomery County’s core Vision Zero principles, ignores all objective data regarding this intersection, and will endanger vulnerable trail users on the most popular trail in the region. The Planning Board should reconsider this decision, retain the road diet and endorse the Alternative A approach that has the Trail cross at-grade with Little Falls Parkway.
Montgomery County’s Vision Zero commitment is grounded in just a few core principles.
Traffic fatalities are preventable.
Human life takes priority over moving traffic quickly and all other goals of a road system.
Human error is inevitable, so the transportation system should be designed to anticipate mistakes and reduce their consequences.
People are inherently vulnerable and speed is a fundamental predictor of crash survival.
While straightforward in theory, designing intersections and roads that follow these principles often requires different tools and different priorities than have been traditionally used. Relying on old auto-oriented values will not help the county eliminate all traffic fatalities.
The board’s chosen intersection design contradicts every one of these (Vision Zero) principles. Restoring Little Falls Parkway to four lanes prioritizes moving cars quickly over the safety of people on the trail. More travel lanes encourage speeding, especially at off-peak times when the road is empty. And doubling the crossing distance increases a person’s exposure to traffic. If everyone follows the rules precisely, the intersection may work. But everyone makes mistakes.
Unfortunately, diverting the trail to the traffic signal and widening the road makes everyone wait much longer. More waiting will bring more cut-through traffic on Hillandale and encourage an increase in frustration, bad choices, and dangerous behavior. Frustrated drivers may run the light or turn right on red. Trail users may cross the Parkway against the light. When someone makes a mistake or a bad choice, it will be more likely to end in a crash and a severe injury or death under the Board’s chosen design.
Montgomery County and Montgomery Planning have committed to Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in just over 10 years. If we are to achieve this goal, we must be consistent throughout the County. The plan Parks recommended for this intersection is consistent with Vision Zero and putting a road diet here has been proven safe and effective with minimal impact on cars. The decision you made on June 13 is just the opposite, makes human life and safety the lowest of priorities, and will set us back in achieving our goals of protecting Montgomery County residents.
We implore you to reconsider this decision and choose a path forward that puts your park users and their safety, first.
DDOT’s second project meeting for the Connecticut Avenue NW Streetscape and Deckover Project turned out to be much more contentious than most expected. Though DDOT presented concepts for protected bike lanes on Connecticut Ave at the previous project meeting, staff revealed that the proposed street design would not include bicycle improvements. Protected bike lanes, they said, could be added at a later time.
This revelation came as a shock because there was enthusiasm at the last public meeting for the protected bike lane concepts. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 2B and 1C passed resolutions in support of protected bike lanes in this corridor and this project. And most critically, DDOT’s 20th Street protected bike lane project, which will be under construction next year, relies on a Connecticut Ave protected bike lane to safely connect to the bicycle corridors on Q St, R St, and Columbia Rd. In the brief Q&A, the majority of comments were from community members frustrated and baffled by the missing bicycle infrastructure.
DDOT project manager Ali Agahi agreed that the team would take a second look at the protected bike lanes. And the following day, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian announced by tweet that bike lanes would added into this project.
Fenton Street in downtown Silver Spring has almost everything it needs to be the Silver Spring’s main street. It is lined by cafes, shops, entertainment and community spaces kept bustling by the tens of thousands of people who live and work nearby. But step off the curb into the street and the bustle turns to chaos. Aggressive driving, unsafe crossings and a car-first road design make biking too stressful for most and walking, especially with kids, harder than it should be.
It’s time to make Fenton Street work for everyone. Protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and traffic calming can help make Fenton the community main street it should be. Sign our petition to ask our county’s leaders to get started planning protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on Fenton Street!
In 2016, WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County kicked off a campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle. We envisioned a network of protected bike lanes around and through Silver Spring’s downtown core to connect people with the places they want to go. Three years later. that network is taking shape. Large pieces are complete and even more are under construction and in design. Together, they form a low-stress bicycle loop around Silver Spring’s busiest attractions. But the last piece of that network — a protected bike lane on Fenton St from Cameron to King which would get people to those busy places — is still just a concept.
Biking is a great way to get around downtown Silver Spring, but most people will not consider it unless it feels safe and convenient. With protected bike lanes and traffic calming on Fenton Street, people of all ages could comfortably bike to Veterans Plaza, the Library, and Montgomery College. Nearby residents would gain a new option for visiting local businesses and restaurants. Walkable, bikeable streets, where everyone feels comfortable, will help attract new residents to our community, patrons to our businesses, and locals to our events. A protected bike lane on Fenton Street would bridge a substantial gap in the Silver Spring bicycle network, linking Spring Street to Cameron to Wayne to the Metropolitan Branch and Capital Crescent Trails.
Join us urging Montgomery County to move ahead on continuous, direct, protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and traffic calming on Fenton Street. Sign our petition today!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why protected bike lanes?
Busy streets work best when people driving, walking, and biking have their own space. Protected bike lanes give people on bikes a space free of the stresses of traffic. Pedestrians can walk freely without competing for sidewalk space. And drivers have fewer interactions with people on bikes sharing the lane. Studies show that protected bike lanes reduce both the frequency and severity of crashes.
Why Fenton Street?
A protected lane on Fenton St is the only solution that provides bicyclists of all abilities with a safe and convenient way to go from Cameron Street on the north end of the Central Business District to the Metropolitan Branch Trail near Montgomery College on the south end of the CBD. Fenton St. is well-used by confident bicyclists today specifically because it connects dozens of businesses, housing, and civic destinations. Yet, without a protected bike lane, it remains too stressful for most people to bike. Aside from the planned Metropolitan Branch Trail, which deliberately avoids commercial areas, there is no continuous route the length of the CBD, particularly on the Eastern side of the Georgia Ave.
How does this help pedestrians?
By narrowing the crossing distance, protected bike lanes can make it easier to cross a street on foot. They also slow down the speed of traffic and provide a buffer between moving vehicles and the sidewalk, making more pleasant places to walk.
Why not use the existing Grove St. bike route?
The existing bike route along Woodbury Dr and Grove St is a wonderful, low-stress neighborhood bike route which is slated for some minor improvements soon. However, it is not a reasonable substitute for a protected bike lane on Fenton St. The route requires multiple turns, frequent stops, a short hill, and serves neighborhood, rather than commercial destinations. It is important to have options in a bicycle network and at least one of them should be direct.
This summer, Arlington’s transportation department is repaving half a mile of North Quincy Street which means an opportunity to finally link the Custis Trail to Ballston with continuous, low-stress, protected bike lanes! Do you have five minutes to help make it happen?
North Quincy Street is an important bike route from the Custis Trail to the Central Library, Washington Liberty High School, parks, shops, and thousands of homes and offices in Ballston. Last year, protected bike lanes were installed from Glebe Rd to Fairfax Drive.
But the painted bike lanes between the trail and Fairfax Dr remain. And they are just not enough to make most people who bike feel comfortable. Riding here puts you right next to car traffic and even dumps you into traffic at Washington Blvd. It’s stressful, It’s dangerous, and it shouldn’t be.
On June 13th, the Montgomery County Planning board met to review and approve a permanent safety improvement plan for the intersection of the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway where a bicyclist was hit and killed in 2017. In a shocking turn, the Planning Board voted 4 to 1 to reject the staff’s recommendation. Instead, the Board chose to restore Little Falls Parkway and remove a successful road diet, detour the trail to the traffic signal at Arlington Road, and study an expensive bridge crossing over the widened Parkway.
This decision should have been a simple one. After a bicyclist was hit and killed here in 2017, the Parks Department sprung into action with a temporary plan to make this intersection safe by removing a travel lane in each direction and lowering the speed limit. In the 2.5 years since then, the interim road diet has proved to be an impressive safety improvement, with fewer crashes and safer driver speeds. Traffic studies showed that drivers experienced just 7 seconds of additional delay due to the road diet.
After a 1.5 year comprehensive study of 12 possible permanent configurations for this intersection — including a bridge, tunnel, removing the road diet, and completely closing Little Falls Parkway — Parks staff concluded that the safest and best-for-all option was a slightly modified version of what is there today. They recommended, and WABA supported, permanently reducing Little Falls to a two-lane road, lowering the speed limit, adding a raised crosswalk at the current trail crossing, and numerous other changes to add green space, improve connections and calm traffic. Coincidentally, this was also the least expensive and least environmentally impactful option.
But at the hearing, the Board rejected that plan and instead made up a new plan on the spot, directing staff to restore Little Falls Parkway to four lanes and divert the trail to the traffic signal at Arlington Rd.
This decision undermines 1.5 years of careful staff work. It disregards objective data collected here and case studies from across the US that demonstrate that road diets cut crashes by up to 50%, decrease speeding, and create easier crossings, all without major traffic impacts. The decision contradicts the County’s Vision Zero commitment and other policy goals by prioritizing moving cars quickly at the expense of people’s safety.
In April, the Arlington County Board adopted a new bicycle element for the Master Transportation Plan to support the growth of biking in the county. After two years of hard work, outreach, stakeholder input, and revision, the new plan sets out a much more ambitious, inclusive and low-stress bicycling vision for Arlington.
The plan is chock-full of new policies, goals and implementation actions. it prioritizes building a network of low-stress routes that bicyclists of all ages and abilities can enjoy. It identifies thirteen priority bicycle corridors which already form the backbone of bicycle transportation in the county and in many cases need improvements to be more inclusive and less stressful. And it provides some guidance, though not a mandate, to prioritize protected bike lane and trail improvements where they are needed most.
We are grateful for the hundreds of advocates who weighed in on the plan over the last two years, to the members of the working group who met monthly to shape the plan’s priorities, and especially the staff and County Board for welcoming new ideas and a new vision for the County. Now, let’s get each and every piece done.
You can review the new plan here and see the proposed network map here.
Arlington County is just one step away from adopting a new bicycle master plan and a new parks and trails plan for the county. Once adopted, these plans will guide the next ten to twenty-five years of bike network expansion, trail planning, and overall county policy supporting bikes as transportation, recreation, and more. On April 23rd, we have one final opportunity to suggest changes before the County Board reviews and adopts the plans.
Overall, both plans are a positive step, but we believe some important changes should be made before adoption. Read on for a summary of what is in the plans and our proposed changes and use the form below to urge the County Board to make some important changes.
Take action now:
What’s in the Bike Element?
The Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan was last updated in 2008. Since then, bicycling has exploded in Arlington and best practices have evolved substantially. So, over the past two years, county staff and a group of stakeholders crafted a major update to the plan. For more on the development process and to read the final draft plan, visit the project website.
The plan is broken into a few major sections. The goals and policies section outlines broad approaches to make bicycling more accessible, popular and safe. It lays out dozens of actions to implement each policy and specific metrics to measure success. The implementation section maps the proposed bicycle network, defines thirteen Primary Bicycling Corridors, and explores the process to implement them. Finally, Appendix D lists all bicycle projects to be built by 2040.
For the most part, The policies are excellent, detailed and worthy of praise. They could be made even better with some tweaks, but they present an overall visionary direction for bicycling in Arlington. The implementation sections and project descriptions, however, need attention and changes.
Overall, we see three major issues:
Specificity. The plans use vague terms like “enhanced bicycle facility” rather than calling for specific infrastructures, like protected bike lanes and trails. This language leaves the door open to installing subpar facilities which will not meet the plan’s goals. Specific improvements should be called out as a starting point for future planning.
Prioritization. The plan needs to place low-stress bicycle networks at the top of the County’s priorities for public space. A network doesn’t work if it gets chopped into pieces to accommodate concerns about parking or trees.
Funding. Without funding, this ambitious plan is just lines on paper. The County needs to commit to funding the plan.
And we are urging the following changes through specific changes in language and priorities in the plan:
Build a low traffic stress bicycle network
Reference important, new FHWA Guidance for facility selection
Build a solution to the Four Mile Run Trail’s Shirlington Road Crossing
Build a solution for the W&OD at East Falls Church
Build a solution for Alcova Heights
Provide access through nature on the Glencarlyn/hospital site
Connect the W&OD to Carlin Springs
Provide a bicycling route along the entirety of Army Navy Drive
Address parking in bike lanes
Address under- and misreporting of crashes
For the full details of our proposed changes, see our detailed comments here.
The Public Space Master Plan
This plan is a similarly ambitious document that attempts to guide the planning and management of the County’s public space system, including all of the parks, trails, natural resources and recreational facilities. It contains a chapter on trails and includes many promising additions to the County’s trail management practices and planning priorities. For more on the development process and to read the final draft plan, visit the project website.
Our suggestions for improvements highlight areas where the Public Spaces Master Plan and Bicycle Element overlap, but could be harmonized and made stronger. Specifically around land acquisition, trail design, trail maintenance, space to learn to ride bicycles, and consistent trail signage across jurisdictions. For the full details of our proposed changes, see our detailed comments here.
Ask the County Board for Changes
Use the form on this page to send a message to your County Board members. Let’s make sure that Arlington’s Master Plans are setting the County up to become a truly world-class place to bike.
On April 23rd, the Board will hold a public hearing to collect input on the plans starting at 3pm. This is an important opportunity to make sure your voice is heard. Take action using the form above and we will be in touch with details on attending the hearing.