Long Bridge Bike-Ped Crossing Moves Forward

The Long Bridge Project, which will replace an aging rail connection between DC and Crystal City, includes a brand new bike-pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River. As they finalize plans and funding sources, DC government officials need to hear from you: the bike-pedestrian crossing must remain in the plan.

I support the bike-ped crossing!

The Long Bridge has the potential to be the best crossing of the Potomac River for people who ride, and will support the transportation and environmental goals of DC, Arlington and Alexandria. The entire project will only be a success if the bike-pedestrian crossing is included.

The Long Bridge (as seen in the background)

Northern Virginia, particularly Crystal City, is expecting significant growth in the near future. Wise transportation investments like the bicycle and pedestrian bridge associated with Long Bridge, will ensure that personal mobility can be prioritized without the negative impacts of increased traffic congestion or air pollution.

The Long Bridge Project is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our regional transportation network by adding freight and passenger rail capacity, connecting major regional bicycle and pedestrian trails and providing new, direct links to two of the fastest growing areas of our region. You can read more about the details of the Long Bridge Project here

In September 2019, District Department of Transportation published the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS), and included the bike-pedestrian crossing as a mitigation measure for the rail components of the project. This is great news! It also shows that the 1600+ people who spoke up in support of the connection (thank you for taking action!) made a difference in the project.

The project managers are accepting public comment until October 28. Will you speak up in support of the bike-pedestrian crossing?

Great infrastructure doesn’t just happen. It takes all of us standing up and asking for better bike connections, better trails, and better river crossings. Help this great project by submitting your comments right now

Another opportunity to comment is at the public hearing on Tuesday, October 22. 

What: Long Bridge Project DEIS Public Hearing 

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Time: Open House between 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Presentations (same presentation at both times) will be at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm. Public comment will follow the presentations.

Where: DCRA Building, 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 Room E200 (Bring your ID and leave time to go through security!)

Whether you show up in person and testify in support of better biking connections, or write in to show your support, please stand with us to show that there is tremendous demand for this bike-pedestrian bridge.

Bike to School Day events at Garfield Elementary win DDOT Trailblazer Award

On May 8 and May 29, WABA supported Safe Kids DC’s Bike to School Day Events at Garfield Preparatory Academy with Safe Routes to School National Partnership, MPD, DDOT, and Safe Kids World Wide.

301 youth riders from PreK to 5th grade rotated through three stations: a helmet fitting station, a bike obstacle safety course, and a bicycle license plate art project.

MPD-7th District Officers also ran a ‘Play it Safe’ station on one of the days where students played a life-size arcade game and basketball with the officers. After-school care students also had the opportunity to make traffic safety themed flags, and a banner to remind drivers to slow down for bikers and pedestrians around the school. The Bike to School Day events also won the 2019 DDOT Trailblazer Award!

Check out some photos from the Bike to School Day events!

Rock Creek Far West: First Public Meeting

This is a guest post from Ward 3 Bike Advocates member Josh Rising. To learn more about W3BA, find them on on Twitter (@ward3bikes) or check out their website (ward3bikes.org), and/or join their listserv by sending a blank email to w3ba-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Cyclists in Washington DC’s Ward 3—which stretches from Chevy Chase Circle in the north to the Palisades in the south—have long waited for the bicycle lanes that we’ve seen appear in other parts of the city. We’ve looked enviously at the protected bicycle lanes on 15th Street, Water Street, and L/M Street and wondered why there can’t be safer and more efficient ways for cyclists to move about in Ward 3.

We just don’t have enough bike infrastructure in the Ward. And that’s not ok.

Fortunately, DC’s Department of Transportation is launching a process, called the Rock Creek Far West (RCFW) Livability Study, that could result in bike lanes of our very own. The study will focus on the area south and west of Massachusetts Ave., including the neighborhoods of the Palisades, Foxhall, Glover Park, Wesley Heights, and Spring Valley.

Map of Ward 3 for Rock Creek Far West Livability Study.

Here at W3BA, we think this is an amazing opportunity to build the infrastructure necessary to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe (many of which were laid out in the MoveDC master plan). Here is what we are looking forward to:

  • An off-street bike trail on Massachusetts Ave., stretching from Western Ave. down to Sheridan Circle;
  • A protected cycletrack on Arizona Ave.;
  • A bicycle lane on Loughboro Rd.;
  • Better connections to the Capital Crescent Trail.

All these are possible outcomes of the RCFW study, but only if bicyclists show up to demonstrate the support (you do not need to live in Ward 3 to participate). So, we are asking you to mark your calendars and join us there. If you can, go to https://rockcreekfarwest.com and comment on what improvements you’d like to see.

The first meeting will be held at the Palisades library (4901 V Street NW) from 6:30-8:30 on Tuesday the 26th. Come speak up about what you want to see in this part of town!

Click here to RSVP. We’ll see you there!

Josh Rising

W3BA Steering Committee

5 Things to Do for Bicycling in DC this Month

Every year, the DC Council holds public hearings to consider the performance of each of the city’s agencies. For bicycle advocates with a little spare time on weekdays, it is a prime opportunity to talk directly to councilmembers and agency heads to highlight strengths and areas of improvement for an agency.

Here’s a list of those public hearings and forums:

Wednesday, February 13 at 10:00 am: Department of For Hire Vehicles

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Chanell Autrey (cautrey@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8053.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Education, training and testing of for-hire drivers
    • Collecting reports of driver behavior
    • Uber & Lyft parking in bike lanes & dooring
    • Ticketing and retraining as behavior modification tools

Friday, February 15 at 11:00 am: Department of Public Works 

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Aukima Benjamin (abenjamin@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8062.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Leaf collection in protected bike lanes
    • Parking enforcement
    • Proactive enforcement in high-infraction areas
    • Reprioritizing from resident parking violations to traffic safety (bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalk, illegal loading etc.)
    • Responsiveness to reports of illegal parking/safety issue
    • Alternative enforcement options (eg. citizen reports)

Monday, Febraury 25 at 11:00 am: District Department of Transportation

  • Persons wishing to testify about the performance of any of the foregoing agencies may contact: Aukima Benjamin (abenjamin@dccouncil.us) or by calling 202-724-8062.
  • Issues of concern:
    • Design & construction of multi-use trails like the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Anacostia River Trail, South Capitol St. Trail, etc.
    • Design & construction of on-street bicycle infrastructure like bike lanes and protected bike lanes
    • Are sufficient resources being devoted to improving options for safe biking and walking?
    • Dockless bikeshare & scooters
    • The pace of expansion of the bicycle network & reaching goals

Mayor Bowser’s Budget Engagement Forum

  • Thursday, February 21 at 6:30 pm: Budget Engagement Forum at the Arthur Capper Community Center (1001 5th Street, SE)
  • Saturday, February 23 at 10:00 am: Budget Engagement Forum at the Deanwood Recreation Center (1350 49th Street, NE)
  • Monday, February 25 at 6:30 pm: Budget Engagement Forum at Roosevelt High School (4301 13th Street, NW)

RSVP here

Protected bike lanes or parking on 21st Street NW?

Top, protected bike lane; bottom, contraflow lane.

Update: ANC 2B will debate and vote on a resolution on this project at its January 9th meeting. If you live, work, or bike between Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom, please come support the project at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Room 500. See the agenda here.

Riding a bike between Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and the Mall has always felt precarious. Without any north-south bike lanes between 15th St. NW and the Rock Creek Park Trail, people on bikes compete with impatient rush-hour drivers, double-parked delivery trucks, and more for a safe space on the road.

Last month, District Department of Transportation planners presented three possible solutions to this problem: two-way protected bike lanes on 20th, 21st, or 22nd St NW. You have until Sunday, January 6 to speak up in support.

Weigh in Now!

Each option would be an improvement, but we think 21st St is best. It is the longest, and best-connected route, linking Florida Ave to Constitution Ave and to east-west bike routes on Q, R and New Hampshire. Adding bike lanes would calm traffic, make the street more pleasant to walk, and encourage more trips by bike!

21st St NW (second line highlighted).

Adding protected bike lanes on any of these streets necessarily comes with trade-offs, and DDOT is already under pressure to keep as much street parking as possible. Planners already proposed an option to cut protected bike lanes from the northernmost half-mile of 21st St, instead striping sharrows and a narrow unprotected “contra-flow” northbound lane.

This compromise would keep quite a lot of residential parking, but it gives away the low-stress bike route that this project is all about. In a neighborhood where nearly every square foot of street space is devoted to moving or parking cars, DDOT should create a bike lane that people of all ages and skill levels can safely enjoy.

To speak up for continuous protected lanes on 21st St. head to the project website, check out the plans, and use the form to weigh in! Comments close January 6.

Speak Up Now!

Read WABA’s comment letter here.

Connecting Virginia and DC via the Long Bridge

2018 has been quite the year for mobility in the region. We’ve seen some highs and some lows — the rise of scooters and e-bikes (CaBi plus is fire…) has been pretty great for the region. For lows, well…Vision Zero hasn’t exactly gone super well and, of course, the all too frequent Metro shutdowns have really not been good.

And yeah, there are too many cars doing terrible things. Like killing and maiming people.

But, sneaking in during the last month is some surprising and absolutely necessary news — we are going to get a dedicated bike and pedestrian bridge from Long Bridge Park in Arlington east to DC.

Make no mistake, the Long Bridge Project represents a once in a generation opportunity to transform our regional transportation network by adding freight and passenger rail capacity, connecting major regional bicycle and pedestrian trails and providing new, direct links to two of the fastest growing areas of our region.

Regional density is increasing and roads are becoming more crowded. Demand for non-motorized modes of transportation that are safe, accessible and convenient to employment hubs is on the rise, too. Long Bridge could be an answer, resulting in a better connected regional trail network.

So, what does this new crossing actually look like?

Well, we don’t know yet.

A few facts:

  • The existing Long Bridge, built in 1904, requires significant upgrades in order to meet rail capacity projected in the coming years;
  • It is significantly less expensive — both in dollars and environmentally — to keep the existing span and build another rail bridge upstream;
  • To mitigate (called 4(f) mitigation) any existing impacts to National Park Service (NPS) land, the project team will have to design and build a bike/pedestrian bridge upstream of the proposed rail bridge (in between the existing rail bridge and WMATA’s yellow line);
  • Current plans call for connecting Long Bridge Park to the south to East Potomac Park to the north — and we don’t know exactly what the connection will look like in DC;
  • We still have a long way to go until this is built (current plans are shooting for 2025) and there is no project sponsor — so, we don’t know who will own this bridge.

What will the bike/ped bridge look like?

This is the million dollar question. Currently, the bridge is slotted in between the proposed upstream rail bridge (passenger rail) and Metrorail’s Yellow Line. As you can see in the image below, we don’t have more detailed renderings (or a proper design) yet. This will be particularly important for users moving between points south and the District, as the plans don’t take people all the way to Maine Avenue (and to L’Enfant), but would drop people off just north of Ohio Drive. That’s not ideal — and will require DDOT to upgrade the existing network to safely move people over East Potomac Park into the city.

Where do we go from here?

There is a lot of work that needs to be done to get this project over the finish line. Notably, nobody really knows who will own the bridge (let alone pay for the bridge). That’s important. Bottom line: without building the next upstream bridge, there will be no bike/ped bridge. The project steps below (from DDOT’s presentation) show that until pen goes to paper in Spring 2020, this project is still in flux. So, we will have a lot of work to do to make sure that this project stays on course.

Image from Long Bridge Public Meeting on Nov. 29.

So, there you go. We have lots of meetings and conversations (with Federal Railroad Administration, CSX, VDOT and DDOT) to determine exactly what is ahead. There will be lots of opportunities for public input (especially after the draft Environmental Impact Statement happens in Summer 2019).

Stay tuned. There is so much work left to do, but right now things are looking good for those of us moving between Virginia and the District.

The Best Way Across the Potomac Isn’t Built Yet (But It Could Be)

Recent construction on bridges over the Potomac has been a bit of a disaster for bicyclists. In a sense, the existing inadequacies of Potomac River crossings (trails dead ending, narrow sidewalks, dangerous fencing, and more) have been exacerbated by the construction highlighting a need for more, high-quality Potomac River crossings to be connected to both the Virginia and District’s bike networks.

But that might change.

We have an opportunity to build the finest Potomac River trail crossing in an unlikely place—the Long Bridge.

Wait…what is the Long Bridge?

The Long Bridge is the the rusting hulk of a rail bridge that you can see heading over the Potomac River on Metro or from the Mount Vernon Trail. Currently, it is a two-track railway bridge that serves freight, commuter trains and Amtrak.

However, this bridge needs some improvements. Built in 1904, the bridge has outlived its usefulness and needs some serious improvements to meet the needs of our growing region.

DDOT, VDOT, CSX, the Federal Railroad Administration (and more) are working on a series of potential redesign options. Though the scope of the project is focused on increasing rail capacity, included in those redesigns are two bicycle/pedestrian options—one option is for a bike/ped bridge that is connected to the rail bridge and the other option is a free-standing bridge that runs parallel to the bridge. However, DDOT is only considering these options. These options are not guaranteed and we have already heard some grumbling about cost and security for a bicycle/pedestrian crossing.

“Build the Long Bridge for people.” Has a nice ring to it, no?

Though we don’t have much more clarity on those options, what we do know is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build what could be the safest, highest quality Potomac River bicycle and pedestrian crossing on the day it opens.

So WABA—along with fourteen (14) partner organizations—called for the project team to include a bicycle and pedestrian trail to be constructed concurrently with the rail component. You can find our letter here.

The letter itself lays out five principles for designing the project:

  1. Include a bicycle and pedestrian trail across the Potomac River.
  2. This bicycle and pedestrian trail should be funded and constructed concurrently with the rail component of the Long Bridge project.
  3. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be incorporated into the design of the broader project in a way that optimizes the achievability of the project with regard to cost and complexity.
  4. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed to enhance the connectivity of the regional trail network. Specifically, the trail should connect to the esplanade in Long Bridge Park in Arlington. In the District, the trail should extend as far towards L’Enfant Plaza as physically possible to maximize connectivity to existing trails.
  5. The bicycle and pedestrian trail should be designed and constructed to the highest design standards, with a minimum width of 12 feet wide, and seamless connections to existing trail networks.

To be clear, this project is a long way from being built. And we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that the bridge includes a bike/ped trail. That’s why we want you to show up to the next public meeting on November 29th to speak up for Long Bridge.

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Building
1100 4th St SW (Room E200)
Washington, DC 20024
4pm – 7pm (presentations will be at 4:30pm and 6pm)

Let us know if you’re coming

You can find out more about the project at the project webpage here or on the WABA blog. At the meeting, DDOT will show us their proposed alternative.

The benefits to having a pedestrian and bicycle trail across the Potomac along with the rail component are clear for the region. In addition to connecting the Mount Vernon Trail to East Potomac Park (and providing bicyclists and pedestrians a safe crossing along the Potomac), there are very real economic and transportation benefits to this project. That’s why we’ve got to show up and work to make this happen.

End of Year Report: A Trail Ranger Sort of Season

The DC Trail Ranger seasonal program champions the trails and trail users of the District of Columbia. During the 2018 season, Tim, Carly, Trey, and Matthew kept District trails clear, led events and rides to introduce the trails to more people, and fixed a flat or three to keep trail users rolling.

Trail Rangers helped Red Line commuters try the Metropolitan Branch Trail during the August Metrorail shutdown around Brookland, partnered with the National Park Service for the centennial of Anacostia Park with a guided history tour, and had 250 people join Anacostia Pedal Paddle Palooza to explore the Anacostia watershed. It was a busy summer on the trails! Thank you for joining us.

By the numbers: in 2018, DC Trails Rangers:

  • Rode 1,978 miles on four urban trails
  • Promoted trails through 147 hours of outreach
  • Spent 195 hours cleaning broken class, clearing branches, and keeping the trail tidy for users
  • Spoke with 2,058 people about regional trails and WABA programming
  • Distributed 864 DC bike maps
  • Celebrated trails with 691 people at 19 events

Interested in being a trail ranger? Sign up to hear about future job openings! Yes!




Let’s talk about Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lanes

Louisiana Ave in red is a missing link in a much larger protected bike lane network in green

After more than three years working to fill a gap in Downtown DC’s protected bike lane network on Louisiana Ave, the project is moving forward. Better yet, preliminary plans are done and ready to share!

On Wednesday, October 24, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a community meeting and panel discussion with the District Department of Transportation to introduce this project to the public and get feedback on current plans. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say “we want this project!” Will you join us?

Yes, I’ll Be There!

Louisiana Ave Protected Bike Lane Community Meeting
Wednesday, October 24
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Open House
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Community Meeting & Panel Discussion
Rayburn House Office Building
45 Independence Avenue SW (Room 2253
Click here to RSVP

Bringing this project to this point has not been easy. It has taken the combined will of neighborhood commissioners, councilmembers, members of Congress and hundreds of people like you. So join us on Wednesday to see the plan and keep the pressure up!

See you on Wednesday.

Closer to Completion: New Construction on the Met Branch Trail!

A bird’s eye rendering of the Met Branch Trail around the Fort Totten Metro (Source DDOT)

This Saturday at 10am, DDOT is breaking ground on the next phase of the Metropolitan Branch Trail that will connect Brookland to Fort Totten Metro station. There hasn’t been any major construction on the MBT since 2013, so this is a huge win!

After a handful of delays, in November 2017, DDOT awarded the contract to complete design and begin construction on the next phase of the popular multi-use trail. WABA’s been working on getting this trail built since the 1990s; this new construction will link the trail to the Fort Totten Metro Station, provide direct access to three new neighborhoods, and cut out the steep (and smelly) Fort Totten hill.

And it moves the Met Branch Trail one step closer to completion.

Existing MBT in green, new segment in blue, interim on street route in red (Source Google Maps)

Once complete, the MBT will connect Silver Spring to Union Station, in a mix of on and off-road trail. The trail will also be a key connection the East Coast Greenway, the largest connected walking and biking route in the nation.

Details for the groundbreaking ceremony:

Saturday, July 28th

10:00AM to 11:00AM

Between Gallatin St and 1st Pl NE (map)

Click here to see the event flyer.