More Detail on Silver Spring’s Second & Wayne Avenue Bike Lanes

Guest post by David Cranor

Sometime in 2018, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) hopes to build a protected bike lane on Second and Wayne Avenues in downtown Silver Spring. This road diet would create the county’s 5th protected bike lane.

This project will follow the Spring Street/Cedar Street Separated Bike Lanes project (the county’s 4th protected bike lane), which is being constructed in Spring 2017. It will connect to, and extend, those lanes west – where they will connect to the future Capital Crescent Trail.  On the east side, it will connect to the Silver Spring Green Trail.

Because the road has different widths in different locations, the design differs from section to section. From Spring to Fenwick, there will be conventional 5′ wide bike lanes. From Fenwick to Colesville Road there will be one-way, 6′ wide separated bike lanes on each side, with a 6′ wide buffer.

From Colesville Road to Georgia Avenue it will have a 2-way, 8′ wide separated bikeway on the north side of the street. This will be accomplished by moving the curb in and taking advantage of an old bus bay.

The most unusual, and likely most controversial, part is the so-called “Colesville Transition,” where eastbound cyclists will turn across the avenue to the north side to join the two-way bikeway.

Other intersections will be redesigned too. Designs use two-stage queue box pavement markings, colored paint, and floating bus stops.

And at Spring and Second there will be a protected intersection.

The final design should be done this upcoming summer, with the 3-4 month project starting in late 2017 or early 2018. A .pdf with the full current design can be found here.

David Cranor is the Chair of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council and writes about bicycling in the area at The Washcycle

Submit comments to improve the design

  • Door Zone Bike Lanes: plans include a block where people on bikes will have to ride in a narrow painted lane between moving traffic and high turnover parking spaces. While some bicyclists may be accustomed to standard bike lanes, they are far more stressful for inexperienced or young riders and more dangerous due to illegal parking and the high potential for getting “doored.” A network is only as good as it’s weakest link.
  • Narrow Lanes: the protected lanes will also be quite narrow in some places, making it difficult to pass a slower bicyclist or just fit through with a wider format bicycle. Driving lanes should be squeezed to their minimums (10 or 11 feet) to expand the bike lanes in these areas.

This project is sorely needed in downtown Silver Spring, yet even one block of dangerous design makes the whole network less useful. There is still plenty of time to improve these shortcomings, but we need your help to show that there is demand for these changes. Public comments will be accepted until December 21st.

Click here to submit comments to improve the design

Register for the Nov 19 Virginia Advocacy 101 Training

advocacy on a map

Want to learn how to be an effective bike advocate? Register for our Virginia Advocacy 101 training on Saturday, November 19th.

What: The training, led by WABA’s advocacy team, is for Virginia folks interested in making their community more bike-friendly. We’ll explore how decisions are made in Virginia, and dive into some of the fundamental tools and approaches to influencing those decisions to make our communities more bike-friendly.

When: 10:30 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Westover Branch Library 1644 N McKinley Rd Arlington, VA

Why: You have an idea that will make it easier and safer to bike in your community and want to learn how to make it happen.

Whether it’s restriping a bike lane or trimming a bush to improve sight lines; getting a new protected bike lane, lighting a dark stretch of trail, improving an intersection or changing a city policy, coming up with great ideas to improve biking in your community is usually not the challenge; Getting a solution implemented is.  And that’s what effective advocacy is all about.

While parts of the region have made great strides recently, we have  a long way to go. That’s what we work towards every day. And while pushing for a great solution can be challenging, anyone can be an effective bicycle advocate— and a little training can help a lot.

Register Here

Breakfast and light snacks will be provided. Registration is free and open to all. No advocacy background or experience required.

Questions? Contact Garrett Hennigan at garrett.hennigan@waba.org or 202-518-0524

An Update on Bike Friendly Ballston

Bike Friendly Ballston Graphic 2 wide

Protected bike lanes on Quincy St are taking small steps forward,  but it’s complicated, says Arlington’s transportation department.

On Monday, September 19, WABA’s Arlington Action Committee hosted an update from Arlington County staff on their progress designing a protected bike lane on N. Quincy St. in Ballston. Staff presented work done so far, a summary of the constraints and trade-offs for upgrading Quincy’s existing bike lanes, and a preliminary design concept for a few key blocks.

Since November 2015, the Action Committee has worked with local residents, business owners, and civic associations to build support for a north-south, protected bike lane to link the Custis Trail to points into Ballston. Six months ago, after an outpouring of support, the County Board directed Arlington’s County Manager to develop concepts for protected bike lanes on Quincy St. Now, Department of Transportation staff have taken a close look at the corridor and identified an important opportunity and key challenges to weigh as the design moves forward. We were delighted to spend the evening discussing the study with Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach, Design Engineer Team Supervisor Dan Nabors and other staff. Here is what we learned on Monday:

A Repaving Opportunity

A large section of Quincy Street, from Glebe Road to Fairfax Drive, is in rough shape and is already slated for repaving next year. Since repaving is often the largest cost for a bike lane project, this is an ideal time to consider how the road can be restriped  once new pavement is installed.

To take advantage of this cost-saving opportunity, staff have focussed on designing this 0.4 mile section through Ballston’s densest blocks. Beginning with a survey of existing conditions, striping configurations, curb to curb distances, and road geometry, they identified some constraints that require careful design moving forward.

Space Constraints and Other Challenges

In a dense urban area like Ballston, space for moving people around is limited. Roads and sidewalks are flanked by rows of buildings atop a tangle of public and private land. Upgrading bike lanes requires additional space on the road to safely separate bicyclists from car traffic. And while it may seem simple to upgrade a lane on one block, the same amount of road space is needed on every block.

Dimensions for on block of Quincy St. from Wilson to 9th N

Dimensions for on block of Quincy St. from Wilson to 9th N. Click to download full doc

Quincy St. is not a uniform width from one block to the next. The distance between curbs ranges from 41 feet to over 70 feet at some intersections, allowing for traffic lanes, turn lanes, curbside parking, the existing unprotected bike lanes, and sidewalk extensions. This variability makes it difficult to create a single street design that fits on every block. And where the street narrows, an engineer can only squeeze bike, traffic, and parking lanes so much.

In narrow blocks, we face a question of priorities. Should the County use limited public space to encourage more people to travel by bike or should it dedicate public space to car parking? To create a fully protected bike lane, some parking must be removed. Yet to retain every parking space, only minor bike lane improvements are possible on most blocks.

Another complication that limits available road space are the frequent curb extensions or “nubs” along Quincy St. This common traffic calming treatment extends a sidewalk into the road at mid-block crossings and intersections to improve pedestrian visibility and shorten crossing distances. Despite their benefits, curb extensions create more fluctuations in road width and complicate bike lane design on narrow roads. Fortunately, protected bike lanes can offer similar benefits to pedestrians, but installing them may require tearing up concrete, which increases construction costs.

Preliminary Design Concept

To illustrate some of the trade-offs, County staff presented one of many possible concepts for protected bike lanes on Quincy St. from Glebe Road to Fairfax Drive. The image below shows a protected bike lane running against each curb and separated from moving traffic by flex posts, parked cars, and a painted buffer area. This design offers a low-stress, separated place to ride that can reduce speeding, reduce bicyclists riding on sidewalks, discourage parking in bike lanes, and attract more tentative riders with a low-stress, trail-like experience. Click here to download the full design (pdf).

Potential protected bike lane concept and parking impacts (pdf)

Potential protected bike lane concept and parking impacts. Click to download full document pdf

On some blocks, these upgrades would require changes to on-street parking. Orange areas indicate existing parking that would remain. Green shows additional space for parking. Red shows areas where existing parking would need to be removed. Under this draft concept, some blocks would retain all current street parking, while others might see reductions in street parking. It is worth noting that parking studies of each block show relatively low parking utilization and that a surplus would still remain if some spaces were eliminated. Furthermore, Quincy St. boasts numerous off-street garages and parking lots along the corridor.

Potential parking impacts for a block on the corridor

Potential parking impacts for a block on the corridor

Experience a Quincy Street Protected Bike Lane at Saturday’s Arlington Fun Ride

On October 1st, we are teaming up with Phoenix Bikes to create a pop up protected bike lane on Quincy Street to show what a low-stress bike lane could do for Ballston. Last year’s ride was a huge success, and this year participants of all ages can feel the joy of a protected lane on their way from the Custis Trail to the Ballston pit stop at the Central Library. The ride is fun for the whole family, offers a distance for every rider, and supports a great cause! Learn more and Register Here!

Bicyclists on the Custis Trail along I-66 in Arlington (Photo by JSanchez)

Photo from last year’s Arlington Fun Ride (Photo by JSanchez)

Next Steps

While these drawings may look polished, they represent only one of many possible configurations for a Quincy St. protected bike lane. Lanes with different geometry and dimensions, or even a two-way protected bike lane, could suit the space better, and more design work needs to be done to explore those possibilities. As spring, and the start of next year’s repaving season approaches, we hope to see more solidified options and a clearer understanding of the trade-offs and benefits. We are confident that with an open dialog and opportunities for input that we can find a solution that works for Quincy St. residents, visitors, commuters, and businesses.

For more on the Bike Friendly Ballston campaign, click here.

 

Registration now open for Aug 27 Advocacy 101 Training for Prince George’s Advocates

advocacy on a map

Want to learn how to be an effective bike advocate in Prince George’s County? Register for training on Saturday, August 27th.

What: The training, hosted by WABA’s advocacy team, is for Prince George’s folks interested in making their community more bike-friendly. We’ll explore how decisions are made in the County, dive into some of the fundamental tools and approaches to influencing those decisions, and see how we, as individuals or groups, can push Prince George’s County to be more bike-friendly.

Why: Every week, our advocacy team gets emails from local citizens, asking what seems to be a simple question: “I have a great idea that will make it easier and safer to bike in my community. How do I make it happen?”

We love these questions because behind every one is someone riding a bike on the way to work, to the grocery store, or with their kids, thinking “biking is great, but it could be better, and I know how.” Sometimes that idea is as simple as restriping a lane or trimming a bush to improve sight lines. Sometimes it is bigger: a new protected bike lane, lighting a dark stretch of trail, improving an intersection or changing a city policy. We hope that the ideas never stop coming because while parts of the region have made great strides recently, we have  a long way to go.

But the idea is usually not the challenge. Getting a solution implemented is. And that’s what advocacy is all about. That’s what we work towards every day. And while advocating for a great solution can be challenging, it doesn’t take a degree or years of training. Anyone can be an effective bicycle advocate. A little training helps, though.

When/Where:

9:30 am – 1:00 pm
Hyattsville Municipal Building— 4310 Gallatin St. Hyattsville, MD

 

Breakfast and light snacks will be provided. Registration is free and open to all. No advocacy background or experience required.

Register Here

 

All of These People Want a Gap-Free Trolley Trail in Hyattsville

On July 13, over 50 people gathered at a city park at the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and Charles Armentrout Drive in Hyattsville, MD to learn about WABA’s campaign to Finish the Trolley Trail.  Joined by numerous elected officials, community leaders, and members of WABA’s Prince George’s Action Committee, attendees walked north along the proposed trail alignment to see why this a half mile trail extension is so important to the regional trail network and to talk through the remaining hurdles to building the trail.

This busy road intersection is also an important crossroads for the Anacostia Tributary Trails, which extend for miles in each direction, connecting to Silver Spring, College Park, Beltsville, Bladensburg and, this fall, DC’s Anacostia Waterfront. While these connections are seamless, traveling directly north into downtown Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and University park by bike requires mixing with the fast and busy auto traffic of Rhode Island Avenue.

As we walked, we discussed the many new connections the trail will enable, the challenges of building a trail between a state highway and an active railroad, the work already done, and the many, many steps and complications ahead. We heard from leaders, officials and staff who have put so much work into this extension, including State Senator Paul Pinsky, State Delegate Alonzo Washington, Aaron Marcavitch of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, and Fred Shaffer of the Prince George’s County Planning Department. Just as important were the local leaders, mayors, councilmembers and business owners, also in attendance from University Park, Hyattsville, Edmonston, Riverdale and Brentwood. It will take many partners to see this trail to construction, and we are grateful that this campaign has so much interest and support.

Thanks to everyone who came out to walk with us. Want help make this trail a reality?

  1. Sign our petition to voice your support
  2. Join the Prince George’s Action Committee and attend our next meeting
  3. Register for our Advocacy 101 Training for Prince George’s Advocates on August 27

Big Turnout for the Spring Street Project Walk

WABA’s Action Committees are working around the region pushing campaigns for better places to bike. Here is an update on the Silver Spring Circle campaign from Kate Meyer Olson, a Montgomery County advocate.

Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

Discussing details of intersection design at Spring St. and Covesville Rd

On a rare sunny Saturday, May 14th, WABA’s Montgomery County Action Committee hosted a walk-along tour of the planned Spring Street and Cedar Street protected bike lanes in downtown Silver Spring.  This .8 mile segment along the north side of downtown will be the first piece of the Silver Spring Circle, a network of protected bike lanes envisioned by advocates, planners and county leaders.  Matt Johnson, Project Manager with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT), joined us to speak about the project planning process and detailed considerations needed to bring this vision to fruition.

The group grew to over 40 interested residents before we started walking. We saw a good cross section of Silver Spring, including many generations of residents and a spread of interests in the project.  With plans in hand, the group walked the route discussing the details of each intersection as we went.

Looking at plans

We talked through the details of each intersection, comparing detailed plans to what is on the ground now.

The Spring and Cedar Street protected bike lanes will run adjacent to the curb on both sides of the street, with a 1 foot buffer and plastic flexi-posts between the bike lane and car parking where the road is widest, or moving traffic where there is no parking.  Each intersection will see some changes, with those at State Routes 97 (Georgia Avenue) and 29 (Colesville Road) the trickiest to design. The bike lanes will be marked at critical mixing points with green paint on the roadway to indicate where car traffic and bike traffic will encounter each other-—primarily at mixing zones where a right turn lane merges across the bike lane, as well as at several driveways where cars will cross the lanes.  At some intersections bicyclists will have a “bike box” in front of the car stop line to allow people on bikes a more visible position at intersections.  At some intersections, a painted “2-stage turn box” will suggest a safe place for bicyclists to queue for an easier left turn using the perpendicular street’s traffic light.

Floating bus stops on proposed Spring St protected bike lanes

Floating bus stops, bike boxes, and 2 stage turn boxes planned for Spring St protected bike lanes

A feature being introduced to the County for the first time is the floating bus stop which, “floats” the bus pick up point away from the curb, allowing the cyclists an unimpeded route while the bus passengers will alight and board the bus from an island in the roadway. 

In addition to the protected bike lanes, the route will feature additional bike parking and improved crosswalks, and incorporate new timing for many of the stop lights. There will be a slight loss of parking in the last block of the route on Cedar Street before it intersects Wayne Avenue. Due to some changes to placement of curbs, 3 small trees will be removed. MCDOT plans to begin construction very soon and to complete the resurfacing of the roadway this summer, minus one block where PEPCO has impending digging.  

Councilmember Hans Riemer talks about the importance of low stress places to bike.

Councilmember Hans Riemer talks about the importance of low stress places to bike.

At the end of the walk Councilmember Hans Riemer joined us, commenting on the growing importance of safe and accessible bike networks in the county and his support for the plan in Silver Spring. The participants were favorably impressed with the vision and are looking forward to the construction beginning. As we move towards construction and a finishing date this summer, expect details about a ribbon cutting and Lane Opening Ride Along. For more information about the project, visit the MCDOT website. Learn more about the Silver Spring Circle at the campaign page. Special thanks to Matt Johnson for leading the walk and to Councilmember Riemer and his staff for their vocal support for expanding the role of bicycling in Montgomery County.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the improvements to the cycling infrastructure in downtown Silver Spring, please join us on the 4th Monday of the month when we meet at the Civic Center  at 7 pm to discuss additional advocacy goals and strategize for a more bikeable, walkable Silver Spring! More info here.

Kate Meyer Olson is the Silver Spring Circle Campaign Lead, longtime Action Committee advocate and WABA member. She lives in Silver Spring.

Create the Silver Spring Circle: A New Campaign for Montgomery County

Photo from CDOT

Improvements are Needed in Downtown Silver Spring

Downtown Silver Spring is growing. Young adults, families and older residents are attracted to the convenience of living near the places where they work and play. And with the dense mix of transit, offices, entertainment, shops and homes, it should be a paradise for walking and biking. But, it’s not. With high speed traffic and a lack of dedicated space for bikes on the busy streets in downtown Silver Spring, most residents don’t feel safe biking in the road.  Some ride on sidewalks, mixing with people on foot. But they too must contend with wide and intimidating intersections. There is a desperate need for safe and comfortable bike routes and intersections.

Today, WABA’s Action Committee for Montgomery County is pleased to announce a campaign to Create the Silver Spring Circle. Our goal is to make downtown Silver Spring a more bikeable, walkable place.

The Silver Spring Circle would convert excess road space in and around downtown Silver Spring into protected bike lanes, and place parked cars or vertical barriers between bicyclists and car traffic. Lanes on Second Ave, Wayne Ave, Spring St, Cedar St, Fenton St, Cameron St and Ellsworth Dr, along with new wayfinding and bike parking would make most destinations safe, comfortable and accessible by bike. It would also represent a first step in connecting downtown Silver Spring to the many existing bike trails already in our region. Read all about the campaign and sign our petition here.

Come to our Campaign Kickoff!

On Saturday, May 14, join the Action Committee in Silver Spring for a walk around the first arc of the Silver Spring Circle to see for yourself how protected bike lanes will make Silver Spring a more bikeable, walkable, and livable downtown. Starting at Spring and 2nd Ave, we will make our way along Spring St, stopping to discuss tricky intersections, design challenges, and innovative solutions. We cannot wait to share and discuss our vision for a connected, low-stress bike network in Silver Spring.

When: May 14 9:30 am
Where: 2nd Ave & Spring St

Click here to RSVP

Can’t attend? Sign our petition and stay in the loop.

Map of the proposed Silver Spring Circle. Click for an interactive map

Map of the proposed Silver Spring Circle. Click for an interactive map

Parts of Spring St will look something like this. Image from Streetmix

Parts of Spring St will look something like this. Image from Streetmix

Encouraging Developments

In February, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation (MCDOT) unveiled plans to install protected bike lanes on Spring St and Cedar St in downtown Silver Spring, stretching almost one mile from Second Avenue to Wayne Avenue. In March, the Montgomery County Council’s Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) voted unanimously to support design and construction of a complete network of protected bike lanes in Silver Spring. These are two crucial steps, but we’ll need more than encouragement to see it through.

Want help make this happen? Come to our next Action Committee Meeting (the 4th Monday of the month at 7pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center more info)

March Advocacy Roundup


We’re fine tuning the way this monthly(ish) update works, so if you have thoughts on how to make this information more useful, send a note to communications@waba.org.

Read straight through or skip ahead to updates from Maryland, Virginia, or DC.

Are you on your neighborhood WABA Action Committee?

All across the region great people are working to fix our streets to make biking safe and popular. They meet each month to share ideas and work together for better places to bike. Whether you’re looking for a fun group, a new cause, or a wonky policy discussion, our Action Committees have it covered.

See what we’re doing in your community and join us for the next meeting.

MARYLAND

State Legislation

Brief explanation: The Maryland General Assembly considered three bike-related bills this session: to make the three foot passing law apply on all roads, repeal the mandatory use of on-street bicycle infrastructure, and reinstate punitive damages for victims and surviving family members of drunk drivers.

Current status: An amended version of the three foot passing law made it out of the Environment and Transportation Committee this week. The amendment mandates that when a driver is passing another road user in accordance with one of the exceptions to the three feet law, s/he must slow and pass without endangering any other road users. Ending the narrow lane exception would be better, but this is an improvement to the current law. The amendment is being voted on by the House of Delegates this week.

Silver Spring Protected Bike Lane Network

Brief explanation: Montgomery County is planning a protected bike lane network in downtown Silver Spring.

Current status: Thanks in large part to WABA member’s advocacy and the leadership of Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Nancy Floreen, Tom Hucker and Hans Riemer, the project recently passed it’s biggest hurdle, funding, with a 3-0 Transportation & the Environment Committee vote in favor of increasing the budget for the program by 1.5 million dollars.

Action to take: Get involved with the Montgomery County Action Committee for timely action alerts and updates.

Montgomery County Master Plan Rewrite

Brief explanation: Montgomery County is refreshing its Bike Master Plan ten years early to reflect new trends, apply new standards, and set the county on an aggressive path towards a low stress network that more residents can use and enjoy.

Current status: Staff have released Master Plans for White Flint and Shady Grove Life Sciences.

Action to take: Contribute to the interactive map of bicycling areas of concern: mcatlas.org/cyclingconcerns/

Montgomery County Endorses Vision Zero

Brief explanation: Montgomery County Council publicly announced a commitment to the Vision Zero campaign to reduce traffic deaths in Montgomery County to zero by a date certain.

Current status: Waiting for release of a county-wide action plan, promised for fall.

Action to take: Write your County Councilmembers and thank them for their commitment; ask them to set a date certain for producing an action plan with concrete timelines. montgomerycountymd.gov/council/members/


VIRGINIA

State Legislative Actions

Brief explanation: The bill (SB117) making dooring a ticketable offense passed the Virginia House (70Y-25N). The highway maintenance bill (SB669), after being recommended for approval by Committee on an 18 to 1 vote, died on the House floor. House Appropriations Committee Chair Delegate Chris Jones made a motion to refer the measure back to the Transportation Committee, whose work has already been completed for the year. More than a thousand supporters across Virginia emailed their legislators asking them to support safer laws and infrastructure for bicycling.

Current status: The dooring bill is awaiting Governor Mcauliffe’s signature by April 11.

Arlington Action Committee—Bike Friendly Ballston

Brief explanation: On February 20th, thirty bicycling advocates stood in support as we presented to the County Board our proposal for building a protected bike lane on N Quincy St through Ballston. With almost 600 petition signatures, 11 businesses, 2 neighboring Civic Associations and the Ballston Business Improvement District in support, the Board directed staff to develop designs to accomplish the goal.

Current status: Arlington County staff are developing plans for a protected bike lane on N Quincy.

Action to take: If you have not already, sign the petition and join the Action Committee to keep this project moving.


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

2015 Bike Infrastructure Roundup

In 2014, the District Department of Transportation (“DDOT”) installed nearly ten miles of new bike lanes, including more than a mile and a half of protected bike lanes. It was a record-setting year. In contrast, in 2015, the agency installed just 4.42 miles of new bike lanes. Only 0.14 miles of those are protected bike lanes. Whether compared to the actual progress made in 2014 or DDOT’s two year Move DC Action Plan goal of 7.5 miles per year, 2015 was not an impressive year for new bike lanes. There is no doubt that bike lane projects on DC’s streets are getting harder. After building more than 70 miles of bike lanes, we have exhausted much of the low hanging fruit, but our peer cities are setting records and we know with the right level of commitment from the city, DC can too.

Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes

Brief explanation: DDOT proposed building protected bike lanes on either 6th or 9th Street NW from Florida Avenue to downtown. This is a much-needed safety infrastructure project that will fill in a substantial gap in the protected bike network in the heart of DC.

Current status: The public comment period closed March 15. WABA generated thousands of supportive comments, and turned out over a hundred people to the public meeting for the project; forty supporters testified in favor. Eleven local businesses and several local churches also submitted letters of support for the project.

Read our write up of the most recent community meeting.

Vision Zero

Brief explanation: Mayor Bowser and DDOT Director Dormsjo have both committed to Vision Zero to bring traffic deaths in the District to Zero by 2024.

Current status: The Mayor released the District’s Action Plan for achieving Vision Zero and DDOT proposed regulations to implement portions of the action plan, including creating new traffic infractions and increasing fines and penalties for breaking safety laws.

Bike Bills before the DC Council

Brief explanation: Three pieces of legislation before the DC Council include a host of bicycle safety improvements, including street design policies, crash reporting, open data, bicycle / pedestrian prioritization areas, and aggressive measures to curb life-threatening behavior—like distracted, impaired, and aggressive driving.

Current status: The bills are in the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, likely being combined into one bill, to be considered by the full Council later this spring.

Contributory Negligence

Brief explanation: The doctrine of contributory negligence is a legal dinosaur that harms bicyclists who’ve been hurt in a crash by making it easy for insurance companies to deny claims to recover damages for bike repairs and hospital bills. A bill before the Judiciary Committee would change this antiquated law so that if a bicyclist was less than 50% at fault, she would not be barred from recovery.

Current status: The bill is languishing in the Judiciary Committee. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, has made it clear through 14 months of inaction that this is not a legislative priority. There has been no move to bring the bill to a vote so it can be considered by the full Council. The bill enjoys wide support in both the Judiciary Committee and the broader Council, and would almost certainly pass, given the chance.

Action to take: Email or call Councilmember McDuffie’s office and let them know you want to see this bill (B21-0004) brought to a vote. Councilmember McDuffie’s office: (202) 724-8028.

Rock Creek Park Trail

Brief explanation: The Rock Creek Park Trail is in terrible shape. In February 2014, 2500+ area residents signed a petition demanding that the National Park Service and DDOT get in gear to repave, redesign, and fix the long-crumbling Rock Creek Park Trail.

Current status: This outpouring of public comments got the project moving. The final Environmental Assessment was released in June 2014 and design work began. The project has been put out for bid and we just might see construction start this spring on some sections of the trail.

Safe Accommodations During Construction

Brief explanation: Three years ago, the DC Council unanimously passed the Bicycle Safety Amendment Act to prohibit DDOT from granting permits to developers to block sidewalks and bike lanes without providing safe accommodation to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Despite this law, DDOT recently granted a permit to Carr Properties, a developer that is demolishing the old Washington Post building at 1100 15th St. NW and constructing a new building on the property, to close the adjacent sidewalk and protected bike lane on L Street NW between 15th and 16th streets for at least 27 months.

As a result of this permit, bicyclists riding in a protected bike lane will be forced to mix suddenly into a dangerous and fast-moving car lane without any safe accommodation.

Current status: WABA is preparing a formal letter to DDOT explaining why the configuration violates the law and providing suggestions for how to comply.


 

 

Bike Friendly Ballston Hits a Major Milestone

Saturday February 20th was a huge milestone for the Bike Friendly Ballston Campaign.  During the Arlington County Board’s public comment period, WABA’s Action Committee for Arlington County made our case for a protected bike lane on North Quincy Street connecting the Custis Trail to the heart of Ballston.  Gillian, the Committee’s campaign chair, spoke to a receptive County Board, outlining why a protected bike lane would improve safety, encourage ridership, bring more business into the heart of Ballston, strengthen Arlington’s economic competitiveness and provide an important north-south connection in Arlington’s bicycle network.

More than 30 campaign supporters gave up their Saturday morning to show their support, in-person for Bike Friendly Ballston.  That is addition to the 600+ who signed the petition supporting the campaign, the 10+ letters of business support, the support from two adjacent civic association, the Ballston BID, Arlington’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Arlington’s Safe Routes to School coordinator.

Specifically, the Action Committee asked the County to bring forward several alternative designs for protected bike lanes on Quincy Street between (at a minimum) Glebe Road and the Custis Trail access north of Washington-Lee High School. The five Board members listened and commented favorably, directing staff to develop plans with a variety of possible configurations for protected bike lanes. We look forward to the results of this request and continuing the conversation about a more bike friendly corridor with the community.

For another perspective on this campaign, read the summary on the excellent TINLIZZIERIDESAGAIN blog.

To see the presentation and discussion for yourself, watch the video here (presentation 9:20, discussion 19:00). Read more about the campaign here.

A short protected bike lane could connect Ballston to the region’s trail network

On a nice day, 2,000 people bike near Ballston while using the Custis Trail. Few of them, however, use the existing North Quincy Street bike lanes to actually visit Ballston. A group of Arlington Residents thinks a protected bike lane along Quincy would change that.

The red line is the proposed bike lane along North Quincy. The green line is the Custis Trail.

The red line is the proposed bike lane along North Quincy. The green line is the Custis Trail.

The Arlington Action Committee, with support from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, has launched a campaign called Bike Friendly Ballston to try to get Arlington County to install a protected bike lane (also called a cycletrack) to connect the Custis Trail to the heart of Ballston, where people can grab lunch, play at the park, shop at the mall, or check out a book at the library.

Biking on Quincy doesn’t feel very safe

There are already standard bike lanes for most of the stretch, but they don’t feel safe. The lanes are immediately adjacent to both fast moving traffic and parking spots, where people frequently opening their car doors threaten to pitch cyclists into that fast moving traffic. The lanes disappear temporarily at Quincy’s busy intersection with Washington Boulevard, and are frequently blocked by double-parked cars and delivery trucks.

All of these factors contribute to a feeling of danger, which accounts for at least some of the drop-off in cycling activity between Arlington’s trail network and its bike lane network. A protected bike lane along Quincy would make people feel safer on a bike, reduce injuries, encourage more commerce, and provide a better link from Ballston to the regional trail network.

Quincy with a protected bike lane. Image from Streetmix.

Quincy with a protected bike lane. Image from Streetmix.

There are lots of benefits to building this

Protected bike lanes make streets safer, even for non-cylists. In New York, the 9th Avenue protected bike lane led to a 56% reduction in injuries to all street users, including a 57% reduction in injuries to people on bikes and a 29% reduction to people walking.

Even without the statistics, the safety benefits of protected bike lanes is obvious to both those who use them and those who just live near them: 80 percent of people who live near a protected bike lane project believe it increased safety on the street. For people who use them, that number is 96 percent.

Safer streets make the “interested but concerned” more comfortable with the idea of trying cycling. The average protected bike lane sees bike counts increase by 75% in its first year alone. The jump could be even higher for Quincy given the connection to a highly-used regional trail at one end and a busy retail, office, and residential neighborhood at the other.

Protected bike lanes even have something to offer troll-ish bike article commenters: in Chicago, protected bike lanes and bike-specific traffic signals significantly improved cyclist stoplight compliance, and in New York, the 9th Avenue bike lane brought with it an 84% reduction in sidewalk riding.

Why Quincy?

Without an updated bike plan in Arlington County, it is hard to say definitively what Arlington’s next bike project should be. Ideally, an updated bike plan would detail a proposed ideal bike network to strive for, as well as a prioritization scheme to aid in project selection. That said, Quincy is a key piece of the bike network in the existing plan even though the plan pre-dates the notion of a protected bike lane (at least in the US).

The Arlington Action Committee chose Quincy for several reasons:

  • It connects a major neighborhood to the trail network
  • It has a number of important community amenities including Washington-Lee High School, the Arlington Planetarium, Quincy Park, the Central Library and Mosaic Park
  • It could become phase 1 for an eventual North-South bike connector stretching across the entire county along George Mason Drive, Quincy Street and Military Road
  • Unlike many other streets in the area, it crosses Glebe Road, Wilson Blvd, Fairfax Drive and Washington Blvd at traffic signals; and it would improve the bike network in a neighborhood that lacks much bike planning thanks to itsvery-dated sector plan (circa 1980).

The next step is to talk to the County

In the two months since the Bike Friendly Ballston Campaign launched, the Arlington Action Committee has been presenting to local neighborhood associations, approaching civic groups, and talking to local businesses to build support for the project. It’s hoping to approach the County about moving forward with the project this month or next.

You can find out more about the campaign on the campaign’s web page, or sign the petition if you want to support the project.

Chris Slatt is Chair of WABA’s Action Committee for Arlington County. Cross posted on Greater Greater Washington