Tell the National Zoo to extend the Loop Trail hours of operation!

On Friday, October 7th, the National Park Service opened the new Zoo Loop Bridge and reopened the rehabilitated Zoo Loop Trail to the public. This key segment of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail allows users to bypass the dangerously narrow sidewalk through the Beach Drive/Zoo Tunnel and marks the end of NPS’ years-long effort to widen, repave, and generally improve this ever-popular and heavily-used trail. Hooray!

One major catch: the Zoo Loop Trail will be operated by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and only be open during the Zoo’s hours from 7AM to 5PM. This important trail connection will therefore be largely inaccessible for afternoon commutes and evening use. The trail must be kept open later—if not at all times.

Tell the National Zoo to expand the hours of operation!

On Friday, October 7th, the National Park Service opened the new Zoo Loop Bridge and reopened the rehabilitated Zoo Loop Trail to the public. This key segment of the Rock Creek Park Multi-Use Trail allows users to bypass the dangerously narrow sidewalk through the Beach Drive/Zoo Tunnel and marks the end of NPS’ years-long effort to widen, repave, and generally improve this ever-popular and heavily-used trail. 

We are so excited to see this segment reopened for the first time since 2018, and especially heartened by the improved safety the new bike and pedestrian bridge will provide to users by offering an alternative to the current tunnel route. Rock Creek Park and its miles of trails are a critical resource for transportation and recreation, a fact made clear by the huge increase in use during the darkest days of the Covid-19 lockdown. We commend NPS and DDOT for their work making this vital space more accessible and inviting. 

Unfortunately, this new segment will have some major restrictions, as it did prior to reconstruction. Being situated on property owned by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo means the trail abides by the Zoo’s hours of operations – 7AM to 5PM. This will severely curtail the trail’s utility for commuters in the early morning and late afternoon, as well as for folks running, walking, and rolling for recreation. 

Worse, the closure will route vulnerable road users away from the purpose-built bike/pedestrian bridge and back onto the dangerously narrow side path through the Beach Drive/Zoo Tunnel. And it will do so at exactly the times – dusk/dawn and at night – that people on foot and on bike can be most difficult to see and most at risk of being struck by a person in a vehicle.

A beautiful but barred trail has little benefit for residents or for the District’s goals around active transportation and recreation. We therefore encourage folks to speak out and urge Delegate Holmes Norton and Zoo officials to strike up a fresh negotiation towards a resolution that puts trail users’ needs first. Tell the National Zoo to expand access after hours to ensure trails through largely public spaces remain accessible to all.

DC Protected Bike Lanes & Trails Update: June 2022

Late last year, after more than two years of organizing and work from advocates, Mayor Bowser committed DC to redesigning 3+ miles of Connecticut Ave with continuous, protected bike lanes and advancing the project to the next steps. Next week, we need your help and your voice to get it done right.  Read on for details.

Connecticut Avenue is just one of the many campaigns WABA supporters are pushing forward. Join our monthly Low Stress Network Advocate Meetup on Monday, June 27 at 7pm to meet advocates from across the city, share updates on citywide opportunities, and join a work session on a campaign to build a piece of the low stress network near you.

Did You See This?

  1. A Tenuous Opportunity On Connecticut Ave  – next week, DDOT is finally sharing detailed plans for safety improvements and what will be the longest protected bike lane in DC on Connecticut Ave. But two critical questions remain: Will the lanes stop short of Chevy Chase, DC, leaving this neighborhood and retail corridor cut off from the network? And will the block-by-block design stick to the ambitious vision or cave to demands for preserving parking. Come to UDC to have your say on Wednesday, June 29 at 6pm.
  2. Rock Creek Park Trail opening soon – major sections of the Rock Creek Park Trail are opening south of Calvert Street, around the Zoo tunnel, and across Rock Creek on a new bridge (watch the full presentation). Plus, a new tunnel takes the trail under the Roosevelt Bridge near the Kennedy Center (check it out).
  3. 7th Street Open Streets – last month, DC closed a few miles of 7th St. to cars and opened it up to people! And boy did they show up! Check it out!

Things To Do

Good things happen when advocates like you are speaking up for DC’s Low Stress Bike Network. Here are some quick actions to support building parts of the network. Find the most recent actions at waba.org/action.

Safety First on Q And R Streets NW / NE

DC has many north-south protected bike lanes in Ward 2, but the lack of high-quality, east-west routes put people who bike in constant danger. It’s time to put Safety First on Q & R St with continuous, protected bike lanes from Dupont to the Met Branch Trail.

Sign the Petition

Sign the Petition to put People First on I (Eye) St. SE/SW

Sign the petition to support DDOT’s plan for protected bike lanes, traffic calming, and safer intersections on I St. in SW Waterfront and Navy Yard ahead of the June ANC discussion.

Sign the Petition

Share Your Big Ideas with the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force

What are your transformative ideas for a bigger, better, more equitable transportation system in DC? Up to $3 billion in federal funding may be coming DC’s way and DC’s Infrastructure Task Force wants to hear your ideas.

Take Action

Weigh in on Columbia Road NW Bus Priority & Bike Project

DDOT wants your ideas for making Columbia Rd in Adams Morgan work better for buses and bikes. Take the survey.

Take Action

Support DDOT’s Plan to Finish the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE

DDOT has a new, thoughtful, & all-around better plan to complete the Met Branch Trail on 8th St. NE with wide protected bike lanes, orderly school pickup/dropoff, and traffic calming. Sign your support!
Take Action

Safe Biking & Walking on Lincoln Road NE Now!

Join us in urging DDOT to take this next step in connecting the bike lanes of Northeast DC, and taking the next step towards a safe commuting future for the District.

Take Action

Events & Places to Go

Low Stress Bike Network Citywide Meeting

Get updates on campaigns across DC and get involved in one near you.
Monday, June 27 at 7pm
Register on Zoom

 

Connecticut Avenue NW Protected Bike Lanes Design Update

Get the latest on this transformational safety project. Weigh in on the block-by-block design, and help us make the case for continuing the protected bike lanes though Chevy Chase to the Maryland line. Two ways to attend:

Virtual Meeting 

Tuesday, June 28 at 9 am

Join on Webex: rebrand.ly/ConnAveRevStudy

In-Person Meeting

Wednesday, June 29 at 6 pm

Van Ness UDC 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Student Center Building, 3rd Floor Ballroom

What We’re Reading

  1. The JFK closure has brought some zen to Golden Gate Park (SFGate) – after a years-long fight, one of San Francisco’s signature park roads is a completely different place, transforming the park and the neighborhoods around it.
  2. When will we say not another? (GGWash) – a troubling look at the horrible impact cars and guns have on children’s lives in DC and why it’s time to stop talking and instead take action.

Step Up Your Advocacy

  • WABA’s Low Stress Network campaign is powered and lead by community advocates like you. So we have tons of resources to share. Visit waba.org/network for videos of past trainings, helpful how-tos, and more. 
  • Grab a slot at my Advocate Office Hours to dig into an issue, find opportunities to get involved in a campaign, or plot the first steps of your own. Sign up for office hours here.

October Beach Drive Update

by Peter Harnik of the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek Park

More than 6,500 park lovers who have signed our petition asking the National Park Service to continue keeping upper Beach Drive car-free after the end of the pandemic. Thank you – you have made a huge impact!

More than 2,400 people who filed an official comment with the Park Service over the summer about the best way to manage the roadway for recreation, conservation and health. If so, thank you!

I want to bring you up to date on the status of the campaign for “Rock Creek Park Seven Days a Week.”

The comment period regarding “Concept 1” (restoring weekday commuter car traffic) or “Concept 2” (continuing the current no-through-traffic protocol) has ended. The Park Service is now evaluating the huge number of comments. We know that there was a huge outpouring of interest, but we don’t know the “score” between the options. The Park Service could also choose to come up with a compromise based on time-of-day, day-of-week, season or something else.

NPS stated that it will release its recommended action “this fall,” and we’ve heard that might mean late October. After the announcement, the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek (PARC) – along with everyone else – will have 30 days to comment on the proposal. Then NPS will finalize its decision.

The Park Service says it will maintain the current traffic program (no commuting cars) on upper Beach Drive until any decision is made.

PARC is awaiting the outcome of the formal process, but in the meantime, we do not want this issue to disappear from public awareness. To that end, we are maintaining a three-pronged program:

Getting more petition signatures to show the Park Service how much we care. Our goal is “7,000 Petitions for Seven Days a Week.” Please help! Direct friends and family to our website: waba.org/PARC.

Getting more photographs of happy non-motorized users along upper Beach Drive – in every season, every time of day, using every form of mobility, accompanied by every kind of pet, and enjoying themselves in every possible way. We’ll use some pictures for our website and for our pressure on the Park Service. Send your photographs and your selfies to peterharnik1@gmail.com

Getting the word out about Beach Drive on weekdays – before and after work, during lunchtime and other breaks, and on days off. Schedule some personal events and invite your friends to come along – it’ll be double the fun!

Once NPS publishes its recommended action, all of us will need to be ready to spring into action with either praise or an outpouring of criticism. Once again, you will be an important part of this effort, so please stay vigilant. If we don’t succeed this time, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get another chance for a 7-day-a-week park.