Summertime in the District: Lime at Open Streets

A message from our friends at Lime.

At Lime our mission is to help cities build a future of transportation that is shared, affordable, and carbon-free, and we are lucky to get a glimpse of that future at Open Streets events in DC. One of the best parts of our partnership with the cities we serve is exploring ways to make cities more livable, more fun, and more sustainable, and Open Streets does all the above. Lime is proud to have sponsored DC’s amazing Open Streets program for years now, letting residents and visitors discover the beauty of giving space usually reserved for cars back to people to be enjoyed on foot or on two wheels. 

In DC, we at Lime have built our shared electric vehicle program around three main pillars: safety, affordability, and sustainability. Open Streets events help us demonstrate these core parts of our service to thousands and thousands of DC residents and visitors. 

Safety

At every Open Streets event we sponsor, we put safety front and center. We have given away hundreds of helmets over the years, encouraging people to ride safely not just on our vehicles but all the time. We also take the opportunity to teach people how to ride our e-bikes and e-scooters, understanding that the more time riders get to learn how to ride with our help the safer they’ll be when they hop on a Lime to get to school or work or to dinner with friends. Lime is also committed to safe streets for all and Open Streets help promote safe streets infrastructure, helping us all to think beyond the current built environment and towards a more people-centered view of our public space.

Affordability

At Lime we believe that communities thrive when they are connected, and we put breaking down barriers in access to transportation at the core of our mission. We believe shared electric vehicles must be affordable to all, especially those who may have fewer traditional transportation options available. That’s why we spread the word about our Lime Access program at Open Streets events, letting people know that they are eligible for up to five free rides a day on Lime vehicles if they receive city or federal subsidies. We place extra emphasis on ensuring our neighbors who live east of the Anacostia River are aware of Lime Access and take advantage of the program. 

Sustainability

Our goal is to help cities build a more sustainable transportation network and we believe that every Open Streets event pushes cities closer to that future. By giving people more public space to walk, bike, or ride an e-scooter, we’re highlighting what a future less focused on cars could look like. We look forward to continuing to work with our friends at DDOT and all our community partners to imagine a safer, more sustainable District for all. 

Advocacy Roundup Summer 2022

This summer, we hope you had the opportunity to ride and enjoy recently completed protected bike lane and trail projects throughout the region! 

We organize, fight and build power so everyone will have the opportunity to bike ride, roll or walk with low-stress and safety from cars this summer and every summer! 

And this summer has been really busy! These last few months, our team at WABA has been busy building power and momentum to deliver on our goal of implementing even more miles of trails and protected bike lanes until we have the whole network complete. 

We hope you will stop for a moment and read about those victories as well upcoming events and actions throughout the region! 

Washington, D.C.

Low Stress Bike Network

The eastern downtown protected bike lane is starting the installation process and is set to be complete by next Spring. This project and many other projects are set to be installed because advocates organized and thousands of people took action. 

If you want us to continue the progress we have made then join us!

Our campaign to complete a low-stress bike network in Washington, DC has been ongoing, and our volunteers have been busy working on major projects! If you’re interested in joining an advocate-driven campaign to build an entire network, head to waba.org/network, click on Join the Campaign and fill out the form! 

While DDOT has been busy implementing projects our volunteers campaigned for, our collective work continues until we have the whole network.

Testifying Before Congress

Ludwig Gaines and Jeremiah Lowery at a House subcomitee hearing

On June 8, WABA, and Executive Director Ludwig Gaines, headed to Capitol Hill to testify before the U.S House Highways and Transit subcommittee! This was a historic moment for WABA! 

The hearing primarily focused on Federal Highway Administration’s safety programs and how new funding and policy changes made by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could help to stem the startling rise in traffic deaths over the last few years. 

The committee was particularly concerned by the disparate equity impacts of dangerous road design on vulnerable road users.

Click here to view a recording of WABA’s testimony and click here to read our testimony! 

Maryland

Prince George’s County

Bike and Roll Safety Day

On July 10th, The Creative Arts Center at Capital Market in Suitland, MD partnered with WABA, the Department of Public Works and Transportation, District Youth Cycling, Streets Calling Bike Club DC to host a community Bike and Roll Safety day. 

The purpose of the day was to provide residents with more information about the County’s vision zero campaign and provide resources to help county residents champion safe streets for all, while also feeling safe navigating the community. 

The event featured a pop-up bike trail, free helmet giveaways, bike tune-ups, safety information and the farmers market!

It was a great event and we look forward to hosting more advocacy events with RISE Prince George’s, The Capital Market, and the Creative Suitland in the near future. 

Looking to get involved in Prince George’s County advocacy now? On September 12th, Prince George’s County’s Active Transportation Advisory Group is hosting its quarterly meeting to discuss general issues impacting bicycle, pedestrian and shared use paths in Prince George’s County.

Montgomery County 

WABA’s Equitable Investment Proposal

In January 2022, as the Montgomery County Council began its deliberations on the Capital Budget for the next six years, WABA submitted its Equitable Investment in Montgomery’s Bike Network Proposal. The proposal aimed to shift spending on active transportation towards areas of the County that were more in need, from an equity perspective, of such investments. In particular, the proposal calls for constructing Tier One Bike Master Plan segments in four Equity Focus Areas of the County.

On May 26, the Montgomery County Council voted 9-0 to add $10.7 million to the Capital Budget to fund construction of:

  • A 1.3 mile protected bike lane on Cherry Hill Road 
  • Two new Neighborhood Greenways in Wheaton;
  • One new Neighborhood Greenway in Silver Spring;
  • Three new Neighborhood Greenways in Langley Park; &
  • An additional $2m in planning for other tier one Bicycle Master Plan projects

All of these projects are new to the Capital Budget of the County and would not have been funded without our collective advocacy!

Please send emails to County Councilmembers and the Executive  to thank them for adding money for active transportation and for making more equitable investments in biking and walking in the County! 

And stay tuned for the next phase in our campaign to complete the protected bike network in Montgomery County.

Virginia

Arlington 

Crystal City Bike Network

Arlington County released its final plans detailing the Crystal City Bike Network alignment, and their implementation timeline for delivering these improvements have been published on the project website. 

The People Before Cars Coalition (PBC), of which WABA is a steering committee member, gave significant input and was actively involved in the development of this plan!

Here is a letter from the project team providing the PBC with additional information on the final plans and the next steps for this important effort in Crystal City! To view the full plan click here!

Alexandria 

Let’s get the Long Bridge right

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) shared plans for the Long Bridge Project during a public meeting on June 22nd. Those plans included a design flaw that will impact people who wish to walk or roll across the bridge.

New bridges are rare; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly improve transportation across the Potomac River, doubling rail capacity and creating new connections for people walking and biking from Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA to East Potomac Park in DC.

WABA has been invested in the effort to build a better Long Bridge for over a decade, standing alongside the more than 1,400 community members who submitted comments on the project (read more here).

To view more information about this project or contact the project managers visit the project page here

Fairfax

ActiveFairfax Plan

Fairfax County is updating and combining the Bicycle Master Plan and the Countywide Trails Plan into the ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan. Active transportation means self-propelled, mostly human-powered travel including walking, biking, rolling (scooter, wheelchair, stroller), hiking, running, and riding for transportation and recreational purposes.

The plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets and trails in Fairfax County. 

On May 10, 2022, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed the Safe Streets for All Program, a comprehensive initiative to address systemic transportation safety issues for people walking, biking and using other forms of active transportation.

Currently, WABA is a member of the ActiveFairfax Engagement Technical Advisory Group and is engaged in efforts to move the plan along. Click here to visit the plan’s website and/or to contact the project team. 

Capital Trails Coalition Updates

Planning Session

On June 29th, the Capital Trails Coalition (CTC) held an engaging and productive in-person membership meeting. 

In addition to having a chance to reconnect with trail colleagues and friends, participants dug into the goals and strategies that will form the backbone of our new strategic roadmap. 

CTC staff are in the process of analyzing feedback and ideas for how we actualize the strategic goals. They will then begin working with the CTC Steering Committee and others on an implementation plan, with opportunities for all members to lead and participate. Their key goal: a comprehensive and complete roadmap and action plan to present to the full membership at their next membership meeting in September!

Want to receive newsletter updates on their progress or is your organization interested in joining the CTC? Sign up here

Families for Safe Streets Coalition Updates

D.C. Families for Safe Streets

DC Families for Safe Streets (DC-FSS) has been busy advocating for life-saving changes and providing support to those affected by deadly crashes in our communities.

This summer has been filled with events such as the Families for Safe Streets Therapeutic Writing Workshop for individuals who have lost a loved one or been injured (or care for someone who was) in a traffic crash to D.C Council public hearings on safe streets legislation. 

To get involved in D.C Families for Safe Streets, visit their website here!

Montgomery County Families For Safe Streets 

Montgomery County Families for Safe Streets (MCFFSS) is currently deep into many advocacy campaigns to make streets safer in Montgomery County. 

Since the recent death of Enzo Alvarenga, who was killed by a driver while biking on Old Georgetown Road, MCFFSS has been actively meeting with elected officials and advocating for infrastructure changes on the road. 

In addition, MCFFS is also preparing for World Day of Remembrance 2022. To get involved in MCFFS please email advocacy@waba.org

Northern Virginia chapters of Families for Safe Streets

In June, Alexandria Families for Safe Streets held their first in-person meeting in two years!  

It was a combination social event as well as some discussion on plans for street safety advocacy activities beginning in September.

With traffic deaths up double digits in just 24 months, now is an important time to get involved in the Alexandria, Fairfax or Arlington Families for Safe Streets Chapters. 

To get involved in one of the chapters visit the Northern Virginia Families for Safe Street webpage here

Prince George’s County Families for Safe Streets

Do you live in Prince George’s County and you want to confront traffic violence and its epidemic of tragic injuries and deaths? We are looking to support advocates in starting a Prince George’s County Families for Safe Streets chapter! If you have any interest please email us at advocacy@waba.org.

Washington Region Vision Zero Summit

Save the date for this year’s Vision Zero Summit on September 13th, 2022! 

This conference brings together elected officials, decision-makers, advocates, thought leaders, and the private sector to share best practices, insights and innovations to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our region’s streets and highways. 
Interested in submitting a workshop proposal idea for this year’s summit? Click Here!

(organizations that signed on to support our Transportation Equity Pledge)

What’s Next

WABA held 2022 Candidate Forums for Montgomery County Executive and Council, DC Mayor, DC Council Chair, and DC Ward 5 Council. 

We also sent questionnaires to candidates for executive and council races throughout the region for all candidates. 

In addition, we also gave candidates the option of signing our transportation equity pledge, a pledge asking them to commit to prioritizing budgetary and legislative measures that will help in the development of an equitable transportation system.

We closed the 2022 primary season out by hosting a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) bike ride in Washington, DC and Montgomery County! At our GOTV bike ride, we gave candidates running for Council the opportunity to speak to our bike riders about their transportation priorities!  We look forward to hosting the ride on a yearly basis going forward! Check out photos from the ride here

So what’s next? 

This general election, we will be encouraging our supporters to run for ANC (Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners)  in Washington, D.C., as well as directing them to the community resources and information on how-to-run for ANC positions, stay tuned for more details!

In Arlington, after the general election, we will be hosting a roundtable discussion with the incoming County Board member elected in November. More information to come! 

WABA is a 501(c3) and therefore we don’t endorse candidates for any elected position, but we will work hard to educate our membership to help them make informed decisions! 

Official Testimonies and Comments Submitted by WABA

WABA Advocacy in the News

New Montgomery County Data for Progress Poll shows that our ideas are popular!

Upcoming Events and Actions 

  • Save the Date: 2022 Vision Zero Summit will take place on September 13th, 2022
  • The public is asked to comment on plans for historic Harmony Hall in Prince George’s County. The current plan expands the park’s trail system and creates a water access point. Attend the public meeting: The NPS will present the plan at a live, virtual public meeting on July 21 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Click here to join the public meeting.
  • Keep Beach Drive Closed to Cars Public Comment Opportunity – Public meeting on July 18, 2022 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Join the S. George Mason Drive Multimodal Transportation Study team for the kick-off of the 2nd round of public engagement!

Visit WABA’s Action Center webpage to check out the latest actions you can take for safer streets throughout the region!

New Advocacy Team Staff!

Meet Kalli, our new Capital Trails Coalition Manager!

Meet Stephanie, our new Vision Zero Coalition Manager!

Kevin O'Brien portrait

Meet Kevin, our new Capital Trails Coalition Coordinator! 

Support 1.5 miles of new protected bike lanes across DC

Update: this comment period closed on August 8. Thanks to everyone who wrote in!

DDOT has reached the final milestone before breaking ground on 3 projects totaling 1.5 miles of new protected bike lanes, safer walking, and traffic calming in NE, SE and SW DC.  DDOT is taking written comments on each plan, so this is the last opportunity to speak up in support or to suggest improvements. Use the form below to send a comment showing that you support these additions to DC’s Low Stress Bike Network.

Each of these projects have been in the works for more than a year (some much longer) with opportunities for community input and discussion. Each comes with some tradeoffs like repurposing driving lanes or reducing parking spaces to create more space for comfortable biking, safer intersections for pedestrians, and fewer opportunities for dangerous driving. WABA believes that these tradeoffs are worth it for a safer, more livable, and more accessible DC. Scroll down for more details on the projects.

About the Projects

I (Eye) St. SE/SW Safe Street & Protected Bike Lane Project

This project, two+ years in the making, will upgrade the Eye St. bike lanes to protected bike lanes from 7th SW to 4th St  SE. This new low-stress bike connection will link protected bike lanes on Maine Ave, 4th St. SW, First St. SE, New Jersey Ave, and Virginia Ave, stitching together the north-south routes into a more complete neighborhood network.

For pedestrians, the project will redesign intersectins for fewer conflicts and slower vehicle turns, add a new mid-block crossing at Wesley Pl, and offer a more comfortable walking environment thanks to narrower driving lanes and fewer opportunities for speeding and aggressive driving.

To make these changes, this project will reduce I street to one driving lane in each direction and repurpose some on-street parking spaces. Car parking will remain on at least one side of each block throughout the corridor.

While the design is generally quite strong, we have concerns with two areas, which we encourage you to raise as well:

  1. Protected intersectin needed at South Capitol St. – this is an extremely high vehicle volume intersection with a very high volume of turns where many people on bikes have already been injured in crashes. DDOT should reconfigure this intersection to protect bicyclists behind curbs to limit conflicts approaching and within the intersection.
  2. Unprotected bike lane is not the right solution at Amidon Bowen Elementary School – west of 4th St SW, DDOT has proposed using a painted, unprotected bike lane outside of curbside parking to enable curbside pickup-dropoff at the elementary school. Though children arriving by car need a safe space to exit the car curbside, children arriving by bike and the daily traveling public I St. by bike deserve the same. DDOT should instead use a design that ramps the bike lane up to sidewalk level (similar to a shared bus platform).

For more detail and to see the plans, click here. The comment period closed on August 8th.. Where is this?

19th St NE Protected Bike Lanes

This project will install a two-way protected bike lane on the west side of 19th Street NE from East Capitol Street to C Street NE and move parking to the east side of the street. This short protected bike lane will be the first piece of a more comprehensive network of protected bike lanes on 19th NE/SE, 17th NE/SE and Potomac Ave SE which are still in planning and C St. NE which is under construction. 

This short segment is being expedited by the request of ANC 6A to be ready before the 2022/23 school year to allow students safer trips to Eliot Hine Middle School and Eastern High School by bike.

For more detail and to see the plans, click here.  The comment period closed on August 8th. Where is this?

Monroe St. NE Protected Bike Lanes

This project will convert the existing Monroe St. NE painted bike lanes to a 2-way protected bike lane from 8th St. NE to Michigan Ave NE on the north side of the street. This new bikeway will connect to existing and planned protected lanes at 8th St. and to a planned sidepath on Michigan Ave to the Irving St. protected bike lanes The project includes a new dedicated turn lane at 7th St, designated pickup-dropoff zones and parking on each side of the street,. and a new raised bus platform to maintain access to the bus stop at 7th St. 

For more detail and to see the plans, click here. The comment period closed on August 2nd. Where is this?

What’s a Notice of Intent?

Under DC Law, the District Department of Transportation is required to give written notice to relevant advisory neighborhood commissions before making any changes to streets that affect traffic operations or on-street parking in their area. The Notice of Intent is a formal comment period when any individual or ANC may submit written comments about a project, typically offering support, opposition, or substantive suggestions on design. Once the comment period closes, DDOT staff summarize comments, tally support and opposition. Finally, DDOT convenes an internal review panel to consider comments, determine a path forward, and provide any required responses to ANCs. 

For safe streets advocates, the Notice of Intent comment period is the final opportunity to review the overall plan, show support, and suggest modifications. While thoughtful or substantive comments are most helpful, short, supportive comments can help tip the scales towards action on safety improvements that require more aggressive tradeoffs, like removing car parking.

Don’t let NPS end car-free Beach Drive.

Update: the NPS comment period closed on August 12. Read PARC’s full comment letter here (pdf). NPS will issue a record of decision once all comments are reviewed, likely this fall. Upper Beach Drive will be closed to through traffic and open to people biking, walking, and enjoying the park until the final decision is issued.

The National Park Service wants to bring cars back to Upper Beach Drive during weekdays for nine months of the year, offering only a summertime break from speeding cars in our great park. We firmly believe that the compromise they’re proposing is not enough.

On July 11, the National Park Service released the Environmental Assessment for Upper Beach Drive. Under the preferred alternative, NPS chose a compromise that would make Upper Beach Drive open for people from Memorial Day to Labor Day — but an automobile space for the other nine months.

NPS will accept comments on this decision until August 11th. We need you to speak out. Tell the Park Service that you do not agree with this formula – that it is unjustified and unacceptable.

NPS is accepting comments via webform on its PEPC website or by mail. Click here to submit a comment and scroll down to “Comment Now” near the bottom). We strongly encourage you to draft and save your comments, then paste them into the webform. You may review the full Environmental Assessment (EA) here.

Background

For nearly 40 years, Upper Beach Drive has been managed for people on weekends and for cars on weekdays. During that time the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC) has advocated for “Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week,” but time and again our proposals were rejected. Then, because of the Covid pandemic, in April, 2020 NPS converted the roadway into a full-time recreational “healthway,” and tens of thousands of residents came out for walking, running, cycling, dog-walking, stroller-pushing, wheelchairing, and more.

Now, with the pandemic subsiding, the Park Service is trying to decide how to move forward in the future – maintaining the Covid-period protocol, or returning to the old way, or splitting the difference.

When NPS asked the public for its views last year, more than 4,000 people responded, with 1,838 supporting full closure for recreation, and 343 asking for returning the roadway to vehicle use – that’s a ratio of 10 to 2. In other words, just on that factor, instead of being given three months, we should get 10.

But in fact we’re asking for all 12 months. (Keep in mind that this is for only four miles of Upper Beach Drive; the other 16 miles of roadway in the park will be left as they are.) We feel that the Park Service did not do an adequate job of analyzing either the detrimental damage to the park of auto traffic or the public benefits of year-round recreation. We also feel that the cited studies of minimal outside-the-park traffic impacts are not given appropriate weight in the decision.

Take Action

The People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC) and other organizations will shortly be submitting formal and detailed comments on the NPS plan. (The letter is being written right now and will be posted on the web page: waba.org/PARC.)

At the same time, it is vital that the National Park Service hear from individual park users like yourself.  Click Here to submit your comments (scroll down to “Comment Now” near the bottom).

Among other things, here are some topics that you can talk about:

  • How you personally use—and want to use—the park on weekdays
  • The impact that allowing cars onto upper Beach Drive will have for your comfort, safety, and access to Beach Drive and other parts of Rock Creek Park during spring, winter, and fall
  • Your opinion about summertime-only recreation versus spring, fall and winter use of Beach Drive
  • How you use Beach Drive with friends and family
  • Your thoughts on park noise, air pollution, water pollution and other impacts from automobiles in the park that are not explored in the Environmental Assessment
  • Your perspective on how the impact of current or future automobile traffic in adjacent neighborhoods and streets should play into the NPS decision
  • Your thoughts on speed limits, speed bumps and other traffic management on Beach Drive
  • Your thoughts on the accessibility of the group picnic sites on Beach Drive (which are not affected by the road closure).
  • Other ideas you have for improving Beach Drive and Rock Creek Park

Thank you for everything you have already done. Together, we have demonstrated to the city and to the Park Service that Rock Creek Park is a beloved space for tens of thousands of people and that we will do anything to make it even better. Make sure you submit a written comment by August 11th.

For more information about PARC’s position, see this recent press release.

And this additional background information:

The link to submit a comment is HERE.

In its Environmental Assessment, NPS attached a 50-page study of the effect of a road restriction on automobile traffic outside the park, but it devoted no study to its effect on people’s health and recreation inside the park. This is why they need to hear your comments loud and clear.

We demand streets that don’t kill people.

Drivers killed three people on bikes in July. Traffic violence has taken 23 lives (so far) in 2022. It took 40 in 2021. Our city’s transportation system is broken, and it’s killing people. The Mayor and the DC Council have the power to change that.  

The tools to make our streets less deadly are readily available. They are well tested. They are in use in cities across the country and around the world. 

We don’t have them here because our elected leaders cannot summon the nerve to inconvenience drivers by reclaiming space on our streets for people outside of cars, and that’s unacceptable.

There are a host of legislative and policy actions that could begin making our streets safer right away. Here’s what we’re asking our elected officials to do:

  1. Transform the District’s Transportation System. Immediately.
    1. Eliminate the Level of Service engineering standard for road and intersection design decisions.
    2. Accelerate buildout of the Transportation Master Plan—complete the MoveDC bike, walk and transit networks by 2026.
  2. Use every tool available to eliminate dangerous driver behavior
    1. Introduce legislation that penalizes companies whose drivers behave dangerously when using a company-issued vehicle
    2. Introduce legislation and policies to develop consistent, rapid enforcement mechanisms that maximize behavior change without the use of armed law enforcement, and that redistribute any revenue directly to public transit or traffic calming measures on dangerous intersections. 
  3. Hold agencies and companies accountable for failing to implement or enforce existing policies that save lives:
    1. Side underrun protection requirements for all trucks and trailers that conduct business in D.C. 
    2. Safe accommodations at construction sites
  4. Pass and fully implement the Safer Streets Amendment Act (B24-0673), including the entirety of the Walk Without Worry Act (B24-0566).
  5. Fully fund and implement the Vision Zero Enhancement Omnibus Act passed in 2020. 

Prioritize Safety and People on Connecticut Ave NW

Update: DDOT's comment period closed on July 31, but you can still send a note to Mayor Bowser and her transportation leadership to urge them to keep this project moving forward.

Planning continues for the safety overhaul of Connecticut Avenue NW in Ward 3. Last month, the District Department of Transportation shared block-by-block concept designs for Connecticut Ave NW from the Taft Bridge at Calvert St. to Legation St. in Chevy Chase with protected bike lanes, fewer, slower, driving lanes, and safer pedestrian crossings. The broad strokes are good, but the fine details will determine just how comfortable, safe, and accessible this corridor turns out to be. 

At the same time, an anonymous group is mobilizing a smear campaign to convince city officials that Connecticut Ave is perfectly safe already and bending both truth and years of planning and community input history to kill or delay this project.

DDOT is accepting comments on the designs until July 31 and welcomes both general comments and detailed feedback on specific blocks. Tell DDOT what your priorities are for getting the design right, and ensure Mayor Bowser remembers why she committed her administration to getting this multimodal safety project done. Scroll down for more detail.

To review the block by block design maps, watch the recent public meeting presentation, or find other project documentation visit the DDOT project website here.

In the designs, three major needs stand out:

1. Widen protected bike lanes

Wider bike lanes can comfortably accommodate higher hourly volumes of people on bikes, larger format bicycles, allow people moving at different speeds to pass each other, and make space for maneuvering around debris. Where parking or turn lanes are not needed, DDOT should widen the protected bike lanes to 6.5 feet for a more comfortable ride and to allow people on bikes or scooters to pass each other at least every 0.5 miles.

DDOT design proposal at Ingomar St. NW

2. Harden & Protect Intersections

At intersections, people on bikes and on foot face many conflicts with turning drivers which DDOT must mitigate. Protected intersections, as are used widely across Europe, in Montgomery County, and a few intersections in DC, alter the geometry of the intersection and extend protective curbs past the crosswalk. The result is improved visibility, slower vehicle turns, and fewer conflicts. DDOT should harden and protect intersections against dangerous vehicle-bike conflicts and limit high-speed vehicle turns through design. Though Connecticut Ave is constrained for space, DDOT must explore the full protected intersection toolbox for slow, safe, visible interactions between people walking, biking, and driving.

An example of a protected intersection.

3. Plan for Turns

When complete, the Connecticut Ave protected bike lanes will form the spine of a substantial low stress bicycle network in Ward 3. Therefore, turning onto or off of the avenue, and especially left turns, must be intuitive and safe. DDOT already shows plans for bike boxes, 2-stage “box turn” boxes, and No Turn on Red restrictions at some intersections. These should be added to every signalized intersection for easy connections to intersecting bikeways.

Example of intersection with bike boxes and 2 stage turn boxes.

What issues or needs do you see? This is the best time to dig in and share your feedback with DDOT.

NPS wants to bring the cars back to Beach Drive

On July 11, the National Park Service released its Environmental Assessment for the future management of Upper Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park. It calls for keeping Upper Beach Drive closed to cars and open to people during summer months. But starting in September, during fall, winter, and spring, NPS plans to welcome cars and commuting traffic back onto Upper Beach Drive – effectively (and by its own admission) closing Beach Drive and much of the park to people not traveling by car. Park officials call it a compromise.

For two blissful years, Upper Beach Drive has been closed to cars and open to people for safe, quiet, recreation, transportation, and access to natural spaces. It has been transformative for tens of thousands of people and families around the region. WABA and our partners appreciate that NPS has taken a big step forward in committing to permanently expand non-motorized access during the summer.

But we do not accept this outcome. Parks should be for people, for the preservation of and access to the natural environments they thrive in. And by choosing to hand the park back to cars and drivers for nine months of the year, NPS has left most people out of this decision. The People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC), of which WABA is a member, issued this press release on Monday, July 18.

On July 18, park officials hosted a public meeting to present their plan, answer questions on the process, and take feedback. More than 200 people attended the virtual meeting, piling their questions and their disbelief into the text chat box. Park officials defended the plan, pointing to new, yet unreleased, 2045 traffic analysis and recommendations by the District Department of Transportation, and clarified how opening Beach Drive to commuter traffic will protect the natural environment. NPS encouraged anyone with feedback on the proposal to submit comments by August 11. The meeting’s presentation slides, recording, and transcript are available here.

NPS will accept written comments on this decision and document until August 11th here. WABA and our partners are assembling thorough comments challenging this decision. Expect an action alert with guidance in the coming weeks. This decision will not be final until NPS has reviewed all comments, likely in the fall.

Thanks to everyone for the ongoing support for Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week. For full details on this campaign and to sign the petition in support, go to waba.org/PARC.

In the News

‘It Is Counterintuitive’: NPS Officials Say That More Cars Will Improve Rock Creek Park’s Environment (Jacob Fenston DCist) – Jul 19, 2022

Beach Drive in Northwest DC to Reopen to Traffic Despite Popularity of Closure (Jackie Bensen NBC 4) – Jul 19, 2022

The future of Beach Drive and D.C. traffic (Paige Hopkins Axios) – Jul 19, 2022

People’s Alliance For Rock Creek Press Release – Jul 18, 2022

Opinion | Leave Rock Creek Park’s upper Beach Drive closed to cars (Seth Yeazel Washington Post) – Jul 15, 2022

The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi – July 15, 2022 – Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh reiterated her support for closing upper Beach Drive to cars and opening it to people permanently and year-round.

Who Is a City Park For? (Henry Grarbar Slate) – Jul 14, 2022

NPS to hold hearing on plans to reopen upper portion of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park (Tom Roussey ABC 7)- July 11, 2022

NPS weighs making Beach Drive car-free every summer (Luz Lazo Washington Post) – Jul 11, 2022