Read WABA’s full comments here. In February, the H St Benning Streetcar line finally rolled into service, and now moves thousands of passengers along the 2.2 mile corridor each day. Work continues on plans to extend the streetcar across the Anacostia River to the Benning Road Metro and towards Georgetown. This week, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is hosting two public meetings to take comments on Environmental Assessments for both plans. If implemented well, these projects present important opportunities to expand bicycle access in the Benning Rd and K St. corridors. Without attention to key details, though, they pose serious threats to safety and access. We encourage bicyclists to attend and speak up to push them in the right direction. Benning Extension EA Hearing Thursday, May 19 6 – 8 pm Department of Employment Services, 4058 Minnesota Ave NE Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar Public Meeting Tuesday, May 17 6 – 8 pm Carnegie Library, 801 K Street NWUpdate:
On Benning Road, DDOT should learn from past mistakes and make the most of this opportunityThe addition of streetcars to H St. and Benning Rd created some serious safety issues for bicyclists. Running streetcars along the right side of the street places tracks exactly where bicyclists ride, increasing the risk of bicyclists catching a tire in the tracks and crashing. It does not take a statistician to understand this risk. Just take a walk down H St. The installation of parallel bike lanes on G St and I St provided a workaround, but these don’t solve the problem because they don’t serve the whole corridor, or deliver a bicyclist directly to her H St. destination. The Benning extension is an opportunity to learn from these shortcomings and improve the long overlooked Benning Rd corridor to be safe and accessible to bikes. The Benning Road Streetcar extension spans nearly 2 miles of Benning Road, from Oklahoma Ave to East Capitol Street at the Benning Metro. The study covers three bridges, a crash-prone intersection at Benning Rd and Minnesota Ave, two metro stations, connections to and from 295, and the regional Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. The corridor connects commercial areas, parks and recreation centers, schools, industrial areas and rapidly growing resident populations With between 4 and 8 traffic lanes, Benning Rd is dominated by the automobile. The road carries an average of 26,000 daily car trips with highest volumes west of the DC-295 viaduct near MInnesota Ave. Pedestrians and bicycle accommodations are laughable, with crumbling sidewalks as narrow as 2 feet, crossing distances up to 90 feet, and a single 5 foot shared path on the viaduct that crosses over DC-295. So, while the purpose of the project is to extend the streetcar, it is also about fixing bridges, improving unsafe intersections, and creating safe and convenient places to bike and walk. The two build alternatives represent a small step towards better bicycle access, but due to numerous compromises, are not nearly good enough. If built according to these plans, the Benning Road corridor will remain an unsafe place where very few people can to walk or bike.
The Build AlternativesNarrowed from a wide variety of designs, DDOT is proposing two build alternatives for public comment. Both are very similar except that Alternative 1 runs the streetcar in the right curb lane, while Alternative 2 runs streetcars in the center lanes. Both alternatives would extend the streetcar to the Benning Metro Station in mixed traffic lanes. Both alternatives include sidewalk improvements, a 6-10 foot multi-use trail from the Anacostia River to 38th St NE, slight changes to bridge access, complete reconstruction of the DC-295 viaduct, and slight modifications to the Minnesota & Benning intersection. Neither alternative includes a new bike facility on Benning Road east of Minnesota Ave, neither proposes a road diet where one makes sense, and consequently, neither creates ideal bicycle facilities that comply with appropriate standards. For full details on the Build Alternatives, see Chapter 2 of the draft EA
Improvements are Needed
Without a more convenient alternative, streetcar tracks make biking less safeThe placement of streetcar tracks in the road has serious implications for bicyclist safety throughout the corridor. Running streetcars curbside east of Minnesota Ave without upgrading the street with a trail or protected bike lane will all but guarantee an increase in track-related bicycle crashes. This would be a repeat of H Street’s mistakes. Since there is no useful parallel route proposed, Alternative 1 will decrease both safety and access for bicyclists. The Environmental Assessment fails to recognize this significant impact. Running the streetcar in the center lane, as in Alternative 2, lessens, but does not eliminate, the track-related crash risk.
The two way protected bike lane is a good idea, but needs improvementBoth build alternatives provide an option for a two way protected bike lane (cycletrack) between Kingman Island and 36th St NE to separate bicyclists from pedestrians traveling between the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and the DC-295 viaduct. It is a good idea, and would remove a single eastbound lane, allowing for a slightly shorter pedestrian crossing. However, at only 9.5 feet wide, it is too narrow to accommodate two directions of bike travel. And, with only a 6 inch buffer and rubber curbs separating bicyclists from cars speeding by at and above the 35 mph speed limit, this design is unsafe, substandard, and unacceptable. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) bikeway standards, which DDOT endorses and helped develop, call for 12 feet (8 feet only in constrained sections) and a 3 foot buffer for a two way cycletrack. This proposal is 6 feet too narrow.
Explore a road dietBenning road is a busy auto corridor, carrying tens of thousands of auto trips each day from DC-295 into downtown. At 8 traffic lanes and a 35 mph speed limit, it is a formidable barrier to cross and an unpleasant, unsafe place to bike or walk. Adding the streetcar to this corridor without shorter street crossings, traffic calming, and lane reductions, misses an important opportunity to change travel behavior. DDOT should seriously study the impacts of removing both an eastbound and westbound lane along the entire corridor. This would allow for uncompromised bike and pedestrian facilities, additional space for greenery and stormwater management and fewer barriers to using the new streetcar as more people move to the area.
Implement MoveDC following design standardsMoveDC, the District’s long range transportation plan, calls for a bicycle and pedestrian trail on Benning Road from Oklahoma Ave to East Capitol St NE as a Tier 1 priority. At a minimum, this trail must be 10 feet wide and be designed to accommodate both bicyclists and pedestrians. Narrowing the trail at intersections and transit stops, or forcing sharp turns at intersections are not acceptable solutions when the corridor is over one hundred feet wide. Furthermore, the actuated (“beg button”) signal crossing at 36th street works against the goal of making the corridor accessible and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians, since the inconvenience of these signals encourage crossing against the light. Both build alternatives would only build half of the planned trail. If not now, when will the trail be built all the way to East Capital St?
Attend and Submit CommentsOn Thursday, May 19, DDOT is hosting a public hearing to collect comments on the draft Environmental Assessment. Please consider attending and providing testimony. DDOT will also accept written comments until June 2. More info here.
draft plan from June. With the city projected to add 100,000 new residents in the coming years, DDOT acknowleges that the District can’t accomodate that many new cars, and sets a 25% mode share for walking and bicycling. To accomplish this growth, DDOT proposes to expand the bicycling network by more than 200 miles over the next 25 years. The complete network would be over 343 miles of dedicate bicycle infrastructure. Beyond trails and bike lanes, Move DC calls for a range of other initiatives including:DDOT released the final Move DC transportation plan last week. The District plans to make a significant investment in bicycling to support growth over the next 25 years. Along with the final plan, DDOT produced a two-year action agenda to get a jump start in implementation. The Move DC plan is giant step forward for bicycling in DC, but the document’s Action Agenda is a timid start. The final plan is over 173 pages so we haven’t dug too much into the details yet. The final plan looks a lot like the
- expanding bikesharing,
- more public education,
- increased coordination on enforcement,
- and lots more policy recommendations beyond physical infrastructure.
- Complete Klingle and Kenilworth Anacostia Riverwalk Trail projects and advance Rock Creek and Metropolitan Branch Trail projects (Item 1.5)
- Install or upgrade 15 miles of on-street bicycle facilities (Item 1.6)
- Study east side of downtown bicycle facility improvements (Item 2.2)
- Determine East-West Crosstown Multimodal Study needs and identify solutions (Item 2.4)
- Complete review of existing bicycle laws and identify opportunities for changes (Item 3.1)
- Complete revisions to the Design and Engineering Manual (Item 3.40
- Create TravelSmart program to develop tailored transportation choices for District residents (Item 4.5)
- Fully train DDOT staff on multimodal design (item 6.4)
AlsoThe Bicycle Segment of this plan is good because bicyclists showed up and shared their thoughts at every step of the process. A huge WABA thank you to all of our members and supporters who submitted comments, testified at hearings, showed up at public meetings, and participated in the process!
Mayor Gray cut the ribbon on DC’s newest protected bike lane on First St. NE. The brightly painted lane is physically separated from car traffic by a concrete or rubber curbs. Do you want a protected bike lane in your neighborhood? Now is your chance. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is now accepting public comments on a draft 20 year master transportation plan called MoveDC (review the draft plan). The bicycling element proposes an expansion of the bicycling network with over 200 new miles of bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) and trails. The finished network would be a whopping 343 miles of dedicated bicycle infrastructure! Read our blog post summary about the draft plan. MoveDC is not done deal. DDOT accepting public comments on the draft plan until July 6th, 2014. There will be a DC Council public hearing on Friday, June 27th at 11am. Sign up to testify at the hearing online here. DDOT will compile comments and make edits to the draft plan. A final plan would need to adopted by DC Council. MoveDC needs your support. Please, take five minutes to give your support and provide comments online now. Thanks to the many WABA members and supporters who attended more than a dozen public meetings and spoke in support of bicycling over the past year during the MoveDC process. You all rock. When the proposed bicycle network is fully built out, the majority of DC residents would be within a two minute ride of a protected bike lane or trail. Please help make this a reality!Just a few weeks ago,
At Friday’s ribbon cutting for the First St. NE event, Mayor Gray announced the release the much anticipated Move DC draft Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan. The draft plan is a giant step forward for biking in the District of Columbia. It’s worth repeating, the expansion of bicycling as a mode of transportation for the next twenty years in Move DC are some of the most ambitious in the entire United States. To get to the juicy details first, the Move DC draft plan proposed an expansion of the bicycling network with over 200 new miles of bike lanes, protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) and trails. The total envisioned bicycle network would be 136 miles of bike lanes, 72 miles of protected bike lanes (cycle tracks), and 135 miles of trails – the finished network would be a whopping 343 miles of dedicated bicycle infrastructure!!! The entire draft plan with appendices is over 500 pages so there is still plenty of information, data, policies recommendations and plans to dig through. The bicycling element examines existing conditions, current policies and highlights the recent growth. Bicycling in DC is the fastest growing mode of transportation and it is in this context DDOT outlines a substantial growth in the bicycle network. DDOT planners hope to have a majority of city residents within a 2 minute bike ride of a protected bike lane or trail. This plan represents a huge step forward for bicycling in DC. However, DDOT has set a less than ambitious goal for total bicycling increase in their Bicycle Element Performance measures. The goal over the 25 year period is an increase in bicycling to 12% of all trips that start and end in the District. According to the US Census most recent American Communities Survey (2012), DC’s bicycling commuting rate is 4.1% for work trips. Since 2005, the commuting rate has increase about 30% each year. Projecting the growth out 25 years to 2040 at a 30% growth rate would be an overall 12% bike commuting mode share but only for work trips. The ACS data is notorious for under counting bike commuting and only considers work trips, not all trips. Estimates put work trips as only 1/6th of total trips made by a person. Non-work travel includes grocery shopping, going out to dinner, picking kids up at school, etc., which are generally shorter and closer to home. Biking makes up a larger portion of non-work trips for the very reason they are shorter. DDOT’s 12% goal for all trips in the city to be made by bike should be more ambitious. Included in the draft plan is a thorough update and progress report on the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan (pdf). DDOT gives updates on the 14 core recommendations outlines in the master plan. Many major initiatives have been finished or are nearing completion. Other projects such as the Met Branch Trail and Rock Creek Park Trail are years behind schedule. It’s worth reading the full progress update and see how much has been done, and how much is still left to do. The public input process began last year in February with a major kick-off event and three rounds of public meetings. There were also online surveys, webinars, and a bimonthly advisory group meetings. WABA members and supporters tirelessly participated in the public input process. The Move DC plan is a big step forward for biking in the District, but we’re not done deal yet. A plan of this scale has not be undertaken in recent DC history. From the beginning, WABA and other transportation advocates have asked does this plan process become the plan for the entire agency. The draft Multimodal Long-Range Transportation Plan is a detailed framework in which all future policies, funding, project planning, engineering and construction are decided within. The process of adoption is now becoming clear but more complicated by other current policy and political discussions. DC Council is a considering a reorganization of DDOT, and other transportation related agencies such as the DMV and Taxi Commission (full Council bill). DDOT would the primary agency responsible for implementing a future Move DC plan. The Council has also voted to reduce future streetcar funding, a primary transit mode in the Move DC plan. The additional developments complicated the overall discussion of Move DC but also highlight the issue of transportation a prime concern to be addressed in a growing DC. There is now an open public comment period to provide feedback on draft plan. Comments are being now accepted online. On June 27th, the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public hearing on the draft plan. After the comment period ends on July 6th, 2014, DDOT will compile comments and make edits to the draft plan. A final plan would go back to DC Council for a vote. Please comment on the plan, especially the Bicycle section, and express your support for the plan. The next 25 years for bicycling in DC will be very excited if the Move DC plan becomes the vision we build.
here. Mayor Gray used the opportunity to announce the release of the draft MoveDC plan. (This afternoon the moveDC website was running pretty slowly. You can view the Bicycle section on scribd here.) There’s a lot to like and some room for improvement in this plan. Keep an eye out for a full analysis from our team soon. In the meantime, take a moment to celebrate this:Several of us rode over to NoMa this morning to take part in the ribbon cutting on the new First St NE, which includes what is almost certainly the best designed cycle track in DC. Check out our photos from the event
moveDC recommends 213 additional miles of bicycle infrastructure. The objective of the ultimate system is to provide a significant network so that bicycling is not a secondary mode, but a principal and preferred mode for travel.This a big deal. It represents a major commitment from DDOT to make the district a better, safer place to bike. Thanks to all of you who participated in the MoveDC process by taking the surveys and showing up at meetings. The public comment period on this draft is open through July 6. Read the full report here. Here’s Shane, talking about the cycle track And here’s our photo op with Mayor Gray More photos on flickr.
The U.S. Census just released data from its 2012 American Community Survey. One of the notable results? D.C. is biking a lot more. The bicycle commuter rate jumped from 3.2 percent in 2011 to 4.1 percent in 2012. That’s a 28 percent increase in just one year. How did D.C. increase bike commuting by a full percentage point in such a short period of time? The city government made bicycling a transportation priority and followed through with it: There has been investment in 60-plus miles of bike lanes, a few miles cycle tracks, new trails, hundreds of bike racks, a full youth and adult education program, the launch of Capital Bikeshare, and much more. The 2005 Bicycle Master Plan set aggressive goals for the city, including an increase the rate of bicycle commuting from 1 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2015, as well as reducing crashes involving cars and bicycles. Now we need to think bigger. The District Department of Transportation is currently planning the next 20 years of transportation investments through a process called MoveDC. MoveDC, which we’ve blogged about before, is a technical multi-modal study and public engagement process to set the course for D.C.’s transportation future. The process began with a kickoff event in February, followed by one round of public meetings in April and another in June. The final round of public meetings will be in October. DDOT will present three general approaches to a future transportation system. The first approach is called “Stay the Course,” which focuses on incremental changes and prioritizes keeping the system in a state of good repair. There is no new funding associated with this plan, and it assumes that current funding levels will stay constant. In this plan, 70 miles of sidepaths and trails, 60 miles of bike lanes, and three miles of cycletracks would be constructed by 2040. The second approach is dubbed “Get to the Center” and focuses on addressing downtown congestion for all modes: walking, biking, driving, and transit. “Get to the Center” assumes that if the issue of getting into and out of downtown is prioritized, congestion elsewhere in the city will ease. Under the “Get to the Center” plan, DDOT would build 46 miles of sidepaths and trails, 56 miles of cycletracks, and 57 miles of bike lanes by 2040. The third approach DDOT is proposing is called “Connect the Neighborhoods.” In this plan, DDOT would focus on short-distance travel between neighborhoods with livability being primary driver of investment. The approach would work to increase connectivity, access, and efficiency of travel between neighborhoods and key destinations. For bicycling, DDOT proposes building 39 miles of sidepaths and trails, 74 miles of cycletracks, and 66 miles of bike lanes by 2040. Which is the best for bicyclists? Clearly, “Stay the Course” will get us more of the same: incremental change such as new bike lanes when a repaving project happens, cycletracks that stop and start, trails that take years to finish. A new approach is needed. DDOT’s planning staff has presented two compelling ideas of how to tackle the transportation issues the city is facing. However, choosing between a focus on commuter traffic in and out of downtown or travel between neighborhoods is a false choice. D.C. has to address both issues while meeting the SustainableDC goal of 50 percent transit mode share and 25 percent walking and biking mode share. DDOT planners should be commended for presented aggressive goals for new bicycling facility goals to encourage new bicyclists. The final plan must be a hybrid approach that combines the best of both ideas. Get involved to make that kind of plan happen! There is one final round of public meetings in October to comment on these approaches. Please attend and express your support for bicycling. The dates for the meetings are below with links to RSVP with WABA. DDOT is also collecting feedback via an online survey tool called MetroQuest. Please take 10 minutes and submit your feedback online.
SESSION 1 (tentative) Mon., Oct. 21, 2013 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Union Station 625 First St. NE Washington, D.C. 20002 Google Maps RVSP for this meeting SESSION 2 Tues., Oct. 22, 2013 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., presentation at 7 p.m. Benning Neighborhood Library 3935 Benning Road NE Washington, D.C. 20019 Google Maps RVSP for this meeting WEBINAR Thurs., Oct. 24, 2013 Noon to 1 p.m. Sign up via www.wemoveDC.org starting Oct. 10
SESSION 3 Sat., Oct. 26, 2013 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. DCUSA Retail Center Second floor between Target and Best Buy (near escalator and elevator) 3100 14th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20010 Google Maps RVSP for this meeting SESSION 4 Wed., Oct. 30, 2013 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Presentation at 7 p.m. Petworth Neighborhood Library 4200 Kansas Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20011 Google Maps RSVP for this meeting PARTICIPATE ONLINE, ANYTIME Oct. 1, 2013 through Oct. 30, 2013 Online: Launch MetroQuest
On April 9, DDOT’s Transportation Plan Advisory Committee held its second meeting on the District’s Multimodal Long Range Transportation Plan, called Move DC, following the first round of workshops held earlier this spring. The April 9 meeting built on opinions gathered from those workshops and thanks to WABA members’ particpation, bikes and pedestrians were well represented. “Bikes and Peds Everywhere” was at the top of the list as the most in-demand form of transportation, followed by Metrorail, more local transit, car capacity, and fast transit. In this meeting, TPAC introduced a building block exercise as a tool to encourage dialogue about planning for the city’s transportation future. It works like a sliding tile puzzle of four blocks, where one block is given for day to day management and commitments, and you fill in the three remaining squares as a “choose your own transportation planning adventure.” Options included different modes of transportation as well as allocation of funds for things like “smarter systems” or “low-cost transit.” Members of the public and TPAC split into groups to collaboratively build a vision of D.C.’s transportation future. What emerged is informative about attitudes towards transportation in the city and where bikes will fit in. There was restrained but passionate debate of cars versus bikes, agreement on the importance of low-cost public transit, and a general consensus for more local transit. No one wanted to take bikes off the chart, and the most widely supported initiative connected to cars was parking management (how to manage parking management is its own issue). Metro had few defenders; attendees were indifferent to taking it off the board when forced to make fast changes. For both the TPAC group and the public, the top three agreed-upon priorities were “bikes and pedestrians everywhere,” “more local transit,” and “parking management and expansion.” What wasn’t chosen is also illustrative—“accelerated good repair,” “sustainability and beauty,” and “fast transit.” Either most people feel these could be incorporated into other systems, or have given up on expecting them all together. More abstract concepts like “smarter systems” and connecting the grid didn’t win fans, either. The final Move DC plan must address regional transit issues, like the 420,454 vehicle commuters coming into the District each day and the 100,000 people expected to move to the area in the next five years. Necessarily, the plan has to focus on how to get commuters out of their cars and onto other forms of transportation. DDOT is still soliciting feedback during this initial phase, including the building block exercise. I encourage you to give your feedback and support bicycling if you have not already done so. The public input will help shape the alternatives that are developed going forward. DDOT will continue to accept input on this phase until Mon., April 22nd. The next round of public Move DC workshops will be in early June. Sign up on the official moveDC list to stay in the loop. Please also sign up for the WABA Advocacy Hub email list for notifications on upcoming Move DC actions and other advocacy alerts. This guest post is written by Christine Driscoll, an associate at Green Strategies and resident of Adams Morgan. She rides a blue Schwinn traveler and the T Street bike lane is her favorite.
Are you a D.C. resident? Do you have thoughts on how you’d like to get around the city over the next twenty years? It’s critical that you get involved with MoveDC, the District Department of Transportation’s long-range planning process for transportation in D.C. MoveDC kicked off with an “Idea Exchange” in early February. Attendees were asked to identify their priorities for transportation, map their routes, and share their desires for D.C.’s transportation future. The MoveDC process is continuing with a series of public meetings throughout the city. Last week, the “Ideas That Build” workshops came to wards 7 and 8. This week, they’re coming to wards 6 and 1. We encourage you to attend the meetings, especially those closest to your home, to voice your interest in dedicated facilities for bicyclists. More information can be found on our website and on MoveDC’s website. See a PDF of our suggested talking points here. Details on the workshops are listed below; if you can attend, please RSVP with us here. Session 3 (Ward 6) Tues., March 26 6-8 p.m. Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School multi-purpose room 259 G St. NE Session 4 (Ward 1) Thurs., March 28 6-8 p.m. Woodrow Wilson High School 3950 Chesapeake St. NW