Driving advocates mount petition campaign opposing safer streets in Alexandria.

Safe enough! (according to driving advocates.)
photo: google

The city of Alexandria is repaving Seminary Road. As part of its new Complete Streets policy, the City proposed engineering changes to make it safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and ultimately all road users.

These changes, including turn lanes, better crosswalks, and buffered bike lanes, are predicted to add ten whole secondsto driving times during rush hour.

The driving advocacy community is outraged, and has been petitioning the city to abandon the changes.

Right now, the City of Alexandria is facing a critical decision: build a safer street that’s required by its own laws, or don’t, because driving advocates are complaining about it. Help the city make the right decision by signing the petition below:

You can read a detailed explanation of the proposed changes in this Greater Greater Washington post.

Announcing the 2019 Trail Ranger Team!

Meet beth, Rebecca, Gabriel, Blake and Matthew! The Trail Rangers are all about providing a consistent and helpful presence on DC’s mixed-use paved trails. We help trail users, engage with trailside neighborhoods, improve trail conditions, and work with city agencies to keep the trails clean, bright, and clear of obstacles.

Keep an eye out for them on the Marvin Gaye, Anacostia River, Suitland Parkway and Metropolitan Branch Trails (Click here to see where these awesome trails are!).

beth
Rebecca
Gabriel
Blake
Matthew

Favorite snack?

“This is a tough question…I love hummus, vegan cheese, and avocados with crackers. I also love a handful of trail mix – without chocolate – don’t’ get me wrong I love chocolate – just not in trail mix. :)” – beth

“Marzipan Chocolate!” – Blake

“Any snacks with dark chocolate!” – Gabriel

Cheese and crackers – Matthew

“Key lime pie” – Rebecca

What is your bike story – how did you start and what has the journey been?

“I started biking in San Diego when a friend of mine encouraged me to ride. I was reluctant (it had been years!) and a little wobbly at first but then I felt like a kid again. I bought a bike and started riding to work and the beach. When I loved out of San Diego and back to my hometown, I left my car in the driveway and rode my bike everywhere. When I got married we decided to honeymoon by biking across the country. We arrived in DC in November 2015 and have been biking in DC since.”  – beth

“I started biking at a young age riding BMX bikes with my brother and friends around town. My first job was a bike mechanic at 16 year old. As i got older, I eventually progressed to mountain and road bikes. It’s been a non-stop addiction!” – Blake

“After tricycle, I got a long and shiny banana seat and role like “Bajito y Suavecito.” – Gabriel

“I learned to bike a long time ago but I never regularly biked anywhere in the city until I bought my first $40 Flying Pigeon bike while living in Beijing. I loved biking in the city – there were protected bike lanes even before America had them! When I moved back to DC after China, I was determined to continue biking. I’ve since lived without a car, relying on my two legs or my bike to get around DC, and I love it so much! I’ll never go back to driving!” – Matthew

“Have been biking since a kid. Always enjoyed roller blading, skateboarding and scottergin etc. But biking on trails and long distance was always my favorite.” – Rebecca

Favorite thing about biking?

“My favorite thing about biking…I get there faster. When I need to get across the city it is likely to be faster by bike then public transportation, personal vehicle, or ride share.”  – beth

“The freedom cycling provides. Cycling allows you to explore cities and parks at a relaxed pace with a 1st class view. Traffic and parking is never a problem! It also allows you to see places that you otherwise never would in a car.” – Blake

“Get going without having my feet on the ground.” – Gabriel

“I feel so free! There’s just something about knowing that I can hop onto this machine and go anywhere with my own body. And when I’m on a trail in the middle of a forest, it feels so great to exercise and connect to nature!” – Matthew

“Outdoors” – Rebecca

What are you excited to do as a Trail Ranger this summer?

“I’m excited to be outside on a bike. I’m excited to get a little dirty while clearing vegetation. I’m excited to see the trail that I’m less familiar with.”  – beth

“I’m excited about being outdoors a lot and helping improve cycling conditions in the greater Washington DC area!” – Blake

“Team up with Trail Rangers of diverse backgrounds and interact with the communities of all DC!!!” – Gabriel

“I’m excited to meet new people and show them how awesome our trails are. I can’t wait to get out there and make sure our trails are safe and enjoyable for everyone. Bring on the summer heat!” – Matthew

“Expand my knowledge about the trails.” – Rebecca

Working hard on the MBT!
Stop by for Trail Ranger Coffee Hour on Friday mornings!

Don’t miss out on THE celebration of National Bike Month

National Bike Month is here, and we are only two weeks away from its biggest celebration, on May 18!

DC Bike Ride offers you the chance of celebrating life on two wheels on DC’s only car-free course! This is your chance to OWN THE ROAD worry-free – NO cars, just FUN! Our 20-mile course is full of entertainment, offering you some of DC’s best flavors, music, and sights.

The ride is all about showing our love for bicycling! DC Bike Ride welcomes riders of all ages and riding abilities, offers special prices for kids and youth riders, and great deals on rentals. Yes, we get you covered!We are also proud to support WABA, have raised over $100,000, since 2016, for street safety programs. So, sign up today, join the 7,000 riders on this celebration, and don’t miss out on the chance to give back to the bike community!

Register today!

Tales and Trails: Trail History of Anacostia Park

Why was Anacostia Park home to thousands of people when the Bonus Army was in town? Who participated in the Pearl escape attempt in 1848? Learn more about Anacostia Park with National Park Service and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association on three FREE guided history rides this summer:

May 26th – The Parks of Capitol Hill

10 AM – 1 PM
Lincoln Park at the Emancipation Statue
ASL interpreted

More details and required registration here.

June 30 – The Bonus Army

10 AM – 1 PM
Anacostia Dr and Good Hope Rd SE
ASL interpreted

More details and required registration here.

August 31st – The History of Anacostia Park

10 AM – 1 pm
Anacostia Dr and Good Hope Rd SE

More details and required registration here.

National Bike Month starts today! Ready to ride?

WABA is here to get you on two wheels! Whether you want to learn how to ride or if you are looking for a bit more confidence on your bike, WABA is offering classes and rides nearly every weekend this Spring all around our region. Check our schedule, bring your family, bring your friends, bring a date – it’s going to be a lot of fun!

View the spring schedule

We offer Learn to Ride classes, Skills Clinics, Confident City Cycling Classes, and more!

Learn how to ride confidently in the city

Our Confident City Cycling classes are a great way to learn new bike handling tips and tricks to boost your joy, confidence, and comfort. These classes are fun, encouraging, and a safe place to learn and to get answers for all of your bicycling questions. The three-hour class culminates in a short ride to learn how to ride in different road, bike lane, and trail situations.

Explore and build community

If you are new to the neighborhood or looking for a new adventure around town, our Community Rides are a great opportunity to explore new parts or the region on bike. This spring, we’ll explore tasty desserts, art, farmers markets, and highlight new bicycle infrastructure. Our rides are led by our league certified instructors and are always a good time and a safe and inclusive space to explore and ask questions.

NEW: Commuting Education Rides

New this spring, our ride series will help you learn how to commute by bike during the upcoming metro shutdown in Alexandria, Virginia. Check the schedule for commuting options that will help you connect to trails to get to the Metro or into Downtown DC.

Learn to ride!

Feel like you’re missing out on all the fun on two wheels? WABA’s Learn to Ride classes are just the place for you! You’ll be on a bike by the end of our three-hour class with the help of our excellent and encouraging certified instructors. The registration fee is $85 and includes a bike and helmet rental. Our local government partners also offer $10 classes for their residents. The demand for these classes is very high, so sign up soon!

Also new this spring, we are introducing our Basic Skills Clinic for folks who already took a Learn to Ride Class in previous seasons or know how to balance on a bike but haven’t had the opportunity to keep practicing their fundamental skills. Skills Clinics will be run in conjunction with other classes, allowing students to move up as they progress. A limited number of bikes and helmet rentals are available, so we encourage you to bring your own bike and helmet and sign up soon!

New rides and classes will be added throughout the season, so keep checking our schedule. If you have any questions please email education@waba.org. We hope to see you this spring at a class and on our region’s roads and trails!

What’s next?

Thank you to everyone who joined us in person or in spirit last Friday as we rallied for safer streets. You can read a write up of the rally at Greater Greater Washington.

Here are several things you can today to keep the momentum going:

Immediate fixes to Florida Avenue NE

Ask your Councilmembers to support emergency legislation that will require DDOT to take immediate action to make this deadly road safer.

Big Picture Meeting

If you are interested in systemic fixes, Councilmember Charles Allen is hosting a meeting this evening (Monday, 4/29) seeking input on how best to use legislation to make DC’s streets less deadly. Details here.

Details Meeting

If you like to get into the nitty-gritty, DDOT is hosting an open house to discuss proposed changes to “Dave Thomas Circle”—the intersection of Florida Ave NE, 1st St NW, Eckington Place NE, and New York Avenue NE. Previous proposed changes to this dangerous intersection were underwhelming—the designs omitted key crosswalks and biking connections to minimize delay for drivers. Details here.

It’s time for Seminary Road to go on a diet

Guest post by Jim Durham of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee

Tell the city of Alexandria to stand up for safe streets!

Tell Alexandria Mayor Wilson and City Council to make sure that City staff bring the Seminary Road “road diet” to a public hearing. The safest option provides accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.  The project could cut crashes in half and make this section of roadway walkable and bikeable — all for no more than a 5-second additional delay during the worst 15-minutes of rush hour traffic.

By adopting a Complete Streets Policy in 2011, the City of Alexandria directed transportation planners to design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. The section of Seminary Road east of Howard Street is ideally suited for the FHWA’s proven approach, a four-to-three road diet, since this section of roadway has excess capacity: motor vehicle traffic is already constrained to one lane in each direction at entrances to the project area, enabling installation of safety features such as center left-turn lanes, pedestrian refuge islands and buffer space/bike lanes without adding to congestion.

Road safety is not a popularity contest.

Transportation planners know that a properly engineered four-to-three road diet is the right solution for roads like this section of Seminary Road, but opposition to change is fierce and with high congestion in the region, some drivers are not willing to risk the possibility of even a 5-second delay in the 15-minute peak of rush-hour traffic to achieve the City’s stated safety and multi-modal objectives. Failure to bring the best option forward for a public hearing would undermine Alexandria’s commitment to Complete Streets and Vision Zero.

The Mayor has consistently referred to this project as one that requires a balanced approach. T&ES applied that “balance” by limiting consideration of the road re-configuration to the section with excess capacity. To go forward to the next phase with anything less than a properly-engineered four-to-three road diet in this section is not balanced – it is giveaway to cars at the expense of people.

The countdown to your favorite bike ride is on.

This is a guest blog post from our friends at DC Bike Ride:

We are just a few weeks away from the 2019 DC Bike Ride: your one chance to celebrate life on two wheels in a 20-mile car-free course. Come experience DC Bike Ride as we look to feature the best sights, sounds, and flavors our nation’s capital has to offer.

DC Bike Ride has a special offer for WABA supporters: $55 for 55 hours! Sign up in the next 55 hours, use the code WABA55 and get $10 off your standard registration. (Offer ends on April 17, at 10 PM EST).

Sign up!

DC Bike Ride is a fun, recreational ride, and the best opportunity to cruise through a car-free course full of flavor stations, musical acts and the beautiful views DC is known for. After the ride, we welcome everyone to the Finish Festival for free activities, fun, giveaways, and entertainment for all ages. 

The Ride is also a great way to support WABA in its efforts to collaborate with local jurisdictions on substantial street safety changes. DC Bike Ride is proud to support WABA, and since 2016 has raised over $100,000.00 for street safety programs. So sign up today, and let the fun times roll.


Arlington County’s Bike Plans Need Teeth

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

DC’s Budget needs to reflect its values.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget came out a few weeks ago, and it is packed with details on what the administration wants to do, including plans to spend billions of dollars on transportation over the next six years. Before we jump in, we have two overarching questions:

  1. Will this budget achieve DC’s signature transportation goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024?
  2. Does it support the timely buildout of the safe, low-stress bicycle network DC needs?

While there are many great things about this budget, the answer to both of the questions above is probably not. Fortunately, there is still time to change that. The DC Council holds its DDOT budget oversight hearing on Thursday, April 11—and to get where they need to get, they need to hear from you. You can take action to tell the Council what you want to see changed in this budget.

Take Action

What’s in the Budget

The proposed 2020 Operating Budget lays out a plan for spending on staff and programs for each agency in Fiscal Year 2020 which begins in October. Also released is the Capital Improvements Program, which is a long-term plan for major construction projects and purchases from 2020 to 2025. This budget is a proposal. The DC Council may add, remove, or change it substantially.

The District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) Capital Improvements Program includes hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation projects over the next six years. Here are some of the highlights we are excited about in the DDOT budget:

  • $63 million for safety and mobility projects including protected bike lanes, trails, bike/pedestrian planning, high crash corridors, and Vision Zero improvements;
  • $167 million for major street rebuilds including (potentially) great bike projects like C St. NE, Florida Ave NE, Connecticut Ave in Dupont, the New York Ave Trail, Dave Thomas Circle, Pennsylvania Ave west of the White House, and Broad Branch Road;
  • $10 million for 100 new Capital Bikeshare stations and 1000 bike;
  • and $110 million for new and replacement sidewalks.

While there are many laudable projects within this budget, we see too many cases where DDOT will spend tens of millions of dollars to deliver streets that are still hostile to biking and walking and dangerous by design. We are concerned that while there is a lot of money being spent to make the District’s streets safer, DDOT lacks sufficient safeguards to ensure that these expenditures are directly addressing its Vision Zero goals.

DDOT Needs a Complete Streets Policy

One of the missing safeguards is a stringent Complete Streets Policy, which would ensure that all streets are designed, operated, and maintained to accommodate safe and convenient access and mobility for all users. DDOT adopted such a policy in 2010, but it left far too many exceptions to the rule. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act, adopted in 2016, required DDOT to adopt a far more stringent Complete Streets Policy by 2017. So far, the agency has not.

Included in this budget, therefore, are dozens of high-cost projects that will maintain the unsafe status quo and do very little to make DC’s streets safer or more approachable for people on foot and bike. Far too many road projects are still fixated on moving as many cars as quickly as possible, designed for the busiest hour of car traffic instead of being designed for the safety, access, and health for DC’s people. These projects’ core values should be reevaluated through a Vision Zero and Complete Streets lens and designs changed before moving forward (eg. Rhode Island Ave NE, Pennsylvania Ave SE & Potomac Ave Circle, Southern Ave, Ward 8 Streetscapes, Massachusetts Ave, U St NW, Local street repaving).

Adequate Staffing

DDOT’s bicycle and pedestrian planning staff work wonders with the resources they have at their disposal. But given the multi-year timeline and immense quantity of work required to steer even small projects through the community input process, adding 10-15 high-quality miles to the bicycle network each year is infeasible without substantially more resources. DC’s sustainability, transportation and Vision Zero goals require that this agency is capable of building the bicycle network more quickly.

Additionally, safe accommodations staff are sorely understaffed. They need sufficient people to review permit applications (around 50k plus a year) and time and attention to keep the public safe. This includes enough inspectors to actually inspect sites (creating the expectation that an inspector will be on site). Additionally, this includes enough staff to proactively educate permit applicants concerning the rules and regulations that such applicants must operate under in the District.

You can review the full budget yourself here.

For this budget, we are pushing for the following.

  1. Fully fund DDOT’s Vision Zero and bike/ped initiatives and ensure that projects on C St. NE, Florida Ave NE, and Pennsylvania Ave NW move ahead without delay;
  2. Do not fund major road projects unless they make streets safer for everyone. They must meet the criteria for Complete Streets as defined in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Amendment Act of 2016;
  3. Demand that DDOT adopt and follow the Complete Streets policy required by this act and ensure that all projects contribute to building complete streets, including local street repaving;
  4. Add staffing and resources to DDOT’s active transportation planning team to support an impactful expansion of DC’s low-stress and protected bicycle network by at least 15 miles each year;
  5. Add staffing and resources to DDOT’s public space team for a comprehensive approach to safe accommodations around construction sites;
  6. Reconsider the allocation of Local Streets and Sidewalk funding with an eye towards transportation equity to ensure that resources and safety investments go where they are most needed, rather than equaly across all eight wards.

Take Action

What’s Next?

The DDOT Budget Oversight Hearing is Thursday, April 11 at the Wilson Building. If you are able, consider testifying. To sign up to testify, contact Aukima Benjamin (abenjamin@dccouncil.us) or call 202-724-8062.

Check back later to see our complete testimony.