Ward 6 20×20 Meeting

Want better biking in Ward 6? Join us for a Ward 6 Action Group meeting! We want to hear about your experiences biking in this part of town.

We’ll talk through strategies to complete the protected bike lane network in Ward 6, and together we’ll map out some opportunities and actions to get more bike lanes built.

The meeting is will be held via Zoom, Tuesday, May 26th, from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.

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If you are a community member, DDOT, ANC Commissioner you are invited to this meeting! Come to tell us about your experiences on Ward 6 roads, and learn about opportunities and actions to complete our protected lane network in Ward 6!

Advocacy Training: Effective Tactics

Dive into the nuts and bolts of making change happen with veteran WABA organizer Garrett Hennigan in a new weekly webinar series.

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We’ll talk about how to build support for a project, and then demonstrate that support to the right decision-makers. We will explore a variety of tactics from canvassing to online petitions to public testimony, and discuss some of the tools WABA has that can support these tactics.

We’ll have plenty of time for questions.

Sign up here, check out the rest of the series here.

Advocacy Training: Working with Advisory Neighborhood Commissions

Dive into the nuts and bolts of making change happen with veteran WABA organizer Garrett Hennigan in a new weekly webinar series.

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In this session, we’ll look at the ups, downs and idiosyncrasies of the District’s hyperlocal elected bodies. ANCs are critical to advancing safe streets projects in DC.

Note: This session will focus on DC.

We’ll have plenty of time for questions.

Sign up here, check out the rest of the series here.

Advocacy Training: Who Decides?

Dive into the nuts and bolts of making change happen with veteran WABA organizer Garrett Hennigan in a new weekly webinar series.

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In this session, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that affect whether or not a street safety improvement gets built — master plans, engineering considerations, politics, public input, and others (sigh, parking). We’ll discuss strategies for building buy-in and minimizing unforeseen roadblocks.

Note: This session will focus on DC.

We’ll have plenty of time for questions.

Sign up here, check out the rest of the series here.

Advocacy Training: Planning to Win

Dive into the nuts and bolts of making change happen with veteran WABA organizer Garrett Hennigan in a new weekly webinar series.

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Changing the status quo is hard, and having the right answer is only half of the struggle. In this session we’ll talk about strategies for winning campaigns—power-mapping; understanding the processes and biases of people (and agencies); setting goals and measuring progress; and connecting the right tactics with the right people at the right time.

We’ll have plenty of time for questions.

Sign up here, check out the rest of the series here.

WIN: Capital Crescent Trail Tunnel Funded.

Update: The County Council heard you and voted unanimously to fund the tunnel! Construction is expected to be complete in 2026, which is a couple of years later than we hoped, but still a success.

We’ll have more analysis soon. In the meantime, read more at Bethesda Magazine.

February Action Alert:

In 2017, the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel under Wisconsin Ave in Bethesda permanently closed to make way for the Purple Line’s station and tracks. At the time, Montgomery County leaders assured the public that a new tunnel for the trail would be designed and built to take the county’s busiest trail under Wisconsin Avenue. Now, the design is nearly done but County Executive Marc Elrich proposes no funding to build it.

When trains begin carrying passengers on the Purple Line, a new extension of the Capital Crescent Trail will open too, connecting Bethesda to Silver Spring. It will fly over Connecticut Ave, Colesville Rd and Rock Creek Park on new bridges. But when it enters Bethesda you will not see the old trail tunnel. Instead, it will hit a stop light and Wisconsin Avenue’s 40,000 daily cars and trucks.

The County must finish the tunnel by the time the Purple Line is complete. Contact your Montgomery County Council members using the form below to urge them to provide full funding for the construction of the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2023.

While the CCT tunnel is WABA’s #1 priority in this budget, we need your help to restore funding for other important projects too. When you’re done, you will be automatically redirected to weigh in on those too.

Park Space for People

With COVID-19 cases still rising and experts telling us that the end of the crisis is still months away, most of us are looking at a lot more time at home.  But we also know that “stay indoors until July” is not a viable plan. Public health experts agree that people need access to outdoor space, fresh air, and exercise to maintain mental and physical health. It’s clear that our region’s narrow trails and sidewalks are just not wide enough to give everyone that access.

That’s why we are thrilled that the National Park Service and Montgomery Parks are leading with park roads. NPS is extending weekend closures on Beach Drive to weekdays, closing off roads in Anacostia Park and Fort Dupont Park, and widening sidewalks around West Potomac Park, so that more people across DC have space for essential exercise. Montgomery Parks is closing portions of Sligo Creek Pkwy, Little Falls Pkwy, and Beach Drive Fridays through Sundays to ease crowding on busy trails. This is a huge first step!

Thank NPS for stepping up

Right now, all across the region, people are awkwardly navigating narrow trails and sidewalks, trying to maintain a safe distance. As the weather improves and the weeks stuck at home wear on, this is not tenable. The solution is simple: trails are narrow, roads are wide. We need emergency action to make space for people on roads.

Park roads are an easy first step here—they are already in places where people seek out recreation, and especially now, can be closed to cars with minimal disruption for people driving to essential tasks.

We thank the the National Park Service, US Park Police, and Montgomery Parks for their leadership in this public health crisis. Opening park roads to people to create safe spaces for essential exercise is critical for long term mental and physical health.

But people need access to outdoor spaces across the region, so these steps must be just the beginning of a larger effort. We call on each National Park Service unit and parks department in the Washington area to close park roads to cars and open them for safe, distant, essential exercise. Closures can be accomplished using existing gates, mobile barriers, limited signage and minimal staff effort. At a time when traffic volume is so low, road space, especially in parks, is needed more for people.

We call on the National Park Service and US Park Police to take the following actions:

  • Rock Creek Park
    • Explore using temporary barriers to close Beach Drive to Shoreham Drive to relieve crowding on the Rock Creek Park Trail
    • Explore lane closures or complete closure of the Rock Creek Parkway to relieve crowding on the Rock Creek Park Trail
  • National Mall & Memorial Parks
    • Use existing barriers to close Ohio Drive around East Potomac Park
    • Use temporary barriers to close Jefferson & Madison Drives
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway
    • Explore lane closures on the George Washington Memorial Parkway to  relieve crowding on the Mount Vernon Trail in Arlington, Alexandria, Belle View and Fort Hunt
    • Use temporary barriers to close the Fort Hunt Park Loop for further crowding relief on the Mount Vernon Trail

Other regional park and trail adjacent roads are too numerous to list, and we encourage people to contact state and local transportation and park agencies directly with specific suggestions, but here are some examples:

  • Watkins Regional Park (in Prince George’s County) features a wide, redundant road next to a fairly narrow trail. 
  • Eisenhower Ave (Alexandria) has excess lane capacity that could be repurposed to add space to the Holmes Run Trail.
  • Suitland Parkway parallels the Suitland Parkway Trail and with a full or partial closure could be an excellent space for excercise
  • Plans already exist for expansion of the Trolley Trail along Route 1 in Hyattsville.
  • Lanes on Crystal Drive and Eads Street in Crystal City can be repurposed as temporary trails to relieve congestion on the Mount Vernon Trail.

March 2020 Advocacy Update

If you rely on your bicycle for essential transportation, you’ve probably encountered some additional challenges in the last couple of weeks.  Governors Hogan and Northam, and Mayor Bowser officially directed residents in DC, MD, and VA to stay at home. In all three states, bicycling is an approved form of recreation, and bike shops are considered essential businesses. Despite these modest victories and the returning spring weather, we urge you to do your part—do not make unnecessary trips, and always maintain 6 feet from others while out

If you are out for an essential trip or safe recreation, you’ve probably met with some of the same issues we have: closed roads, trails that are uncomfortably busy in this time of social distancing, and drivers who see the lack of traffic as an invitation to speed.

Before we dig into some of the specific problems we’re working to fix, it’s worth addressing the underlying structural failures that have put our region in this situation. Riding a bicycle during this pandemic feels frustrating and dangerous for the same reasons it does when we’re not in the midst of a global health crisis: for half a century, our region’s decision makers have focused resources on moving cars, not people. People who bike and walk have been squeezed into the margins of public space to make room for more driving. We know this squeeze has long term repercussions for the climate (or not so long, at this point). But in this moment we’re also seeing the scary and immediate public health consequences of decades of car-centric planning.

Here’s what we’re working on right now:

Reopening Potomac River Crossings.

After crowds squeezed onto the narrow paths and sidewalks around the Tidal Basin earlier this month, the US Park Police and Metropolitan Police Department closed a number of streets and sidewalks through East and West Potomac Park. This closure includes the Memorial Bridge and access to and from the 14th St. Bridge trail. If you need to cross the Potomac River by bike or foot, your options are Key Bridge at Georgetown, the very narrow Theodore Roosevelt Bridge at the Kennedy Center or the Wilson Bridge in Alexandria which has no low-stress connection into DC. All three of these bridges are miles out of the way. 

We are in conversations with DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the National Park Service to reopen the 14th Street Bridge and Memorial Bridge to bicycling commuter traffic. If you are a bike commuter who needs to cross the Potomac River to get to essential work, please get in touch: advocacy@waba.org

Looking beyond the current crisis, we’re continuing to advocate for more and better river crossings like the Long Bridge, an improved Roosevelt Bridge sidepath, trail connections to the Wilson Bridge, and others

Mitigating Trail Crowding

We’ve checked in with the data folks from around the region and the numbers back up what you’ve probably already seen: on-street bike traffic is down, but trails are much busier than usual, even for springtime. 

This uptick in traffic is not surprising. As the various Stay-at-Home orders are careful to acknowledge, exercise is important to maintaining physical and mental health. But gyms, as well as many local and regional parks, are closed. That leaves trails as the only place where many people feel safe being active and outdoors. 

The way to keep people healthy and safe in this situation is to make more space for people. Trails are narrow, roads are wide. 

We’re talking to folks at the National Park Service about closing park roads in ways that don’t limit neighborhood access to parks. Obvious examples include Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park, Fort Dupont Drive, Fort Hunt, and Hains Point. 

Take a look at this blog post for what you can do individually to keep yourself and others safe while riding.

What about creating some Open Streets?

By now you have probably seen stories about cities that are taking advantage of reduced traffic to make space for people who need to get around on foot and bike to spread out. We are inspired by Bogota, Mexico City, Philadelphia, and New York City for installing temporary protected bike lanes and closing entire streets to driving. Many of us look around at our crowded trails, narrow sidewalks and empty streets and ask “why not here?”

In the District:

We’ve had a number of conversations with DDOT staff on this topic over the past week and encountered a frustrating tradeoff: street reconfigurations, even temporary ones, require a lot of staff resources to plan and execute. These resources are limited already, and agency staff say their priority is keeping current bike lane and trail projects on track, rather than pausing and redirecting staff time to temporary infrastructure.  It’s tempting to say “it’s easy! just put up cones!” but the reality of our streets and driving culture is that doing so is simply not safe on most streets.

For now, in most places, we think this is the right call. We are frustrated by the resource and staffing limitations that have led to this tradeoff, but given the constraints, we think building permanent places to bike is more important than building ones that will be dismantled in a few months. This public health crisis will end, and when it does we want biking and walking to be better than they are now.

Speaking of which, our 20×20 campaign is still going. Groups are meeting online and projects are moving forward. Get involved here.

In Maryland and Virginia

Local and state transportation agencies face many of the same resource challenges as the District, but we see a number of opportunities for suburban jurisdictions to take the same approach that we are asking of the Park Service: make additional space on roads in and around recreational spaces to accommodate the additional demand for places to safely bike, walk, and run. Montgomery County has already extended its Sunday Sligo Creek Parkway closures to include Friday and Saturday.

We are compiling a specific list of street closure recommendations to share with each jurisdiction. Please email us if you have specific suggestions: advocacy@waba.org

Planning for Future Emergencies

This crisis has highlighted how much our region’s emergency planning has failed to account for the safety and mobility of the hundreds of thousands of people who live here and do not own cars. 

When the next crisis happens, whether it’s disease or terrorism or something else, governments across the region need to have plans in place to keep people outside of cars safe. Emergency situation or not, being able to cross a river, move safely through your neighborhood, and take care of your family should not be contingent on your ability to afford an automobile.

We are coordinating with regional advocates to move this emergency planning forward.

Update on the Eastern Downton Protected Bike Lane

What happened:

Last Tuesday, the DC Council considered Emergency Legislation introduced by Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1) to restart the long stalled Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane project on 9th Street NW. After considerable discussion by the full Council, Councilmember Nadeau withdrew the legislation because it lacked the supermajority necessary to pass. You can watch the discussion in full here.

What we think:

We continue to be inspired and amazed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteer advocates working to move this project forward. Each councilmember made statements on the importance of growing the city’s network of protected bike lanes and creating safe, convenient ways to get around. This vocal support would not have come without the outpouring of calls, emails, and conversations each councilmember received. We’re not giving up and we know you aren’t either.

We are also frustrated. 

The discussion by Councilmembers on the dais focused on long-standing, citywide concerns about racial tension, affordability, displacement of communities of color, and gentrification. These are real, pressing challenges that need to be addressed by anyone working to make the District a better place to live. 

At the same time, crashes on 9th Street are frequent. Using a street safety project as a proxy for concerns about neighborhood change has real, physical consequences that are measured in ambulance rides and lives permanently changed. We don’t think that’s acceptable. 

We thank Councilmember Brianne Nadeau for introducing the legislation and co-introducing Councilmembers David Grosso, Charles Allen, Mary Cheh and Robert White Jr. 

What’s next:

Councilmember Elissa Silverman has offered to convene representatives from 9th St Churches, safe streets advocates, members of the Council and others to build mutual understanding and find a path forward. We are eager to engage in these crucial intersectional conversations.

We’ll make sure to keep you updated. 

What you can do right now:
Get involved in your Ward action group at waba.org/20×20.