8th St. NE/Met Branch Trail Community Forum

Join ANC 5E Commissioners and DDOT planning staff for a community update on the 8th St. Protected Bike Lane and Safe Routes to School project on Zoom.

Since at least 2013, the District Department of Transportation has planned completing the 0.5 mile Edgewood gap in the Met Branch Trail with a protected bike lane on 8th St. NE. Unlike the off-street multi-use trail that feeds it, 8th St. NE is often choked with chaotic school drop-off and truck traffic, making it unsuitable and unsafe for the hundreds of hourly trail users who have no choice but to use it.

In 2021, DDOT released a final plan that included the protected bike lanes and welcome changes for safer school pickup and drop off. Installation was planned for late 2021. But in the fall, DDOT quietly shelved the plan after some 8th St. businesses raised objections. DDOT later announced that they needed more time for a more nuanced block by block design. For more detail on what happened, read this post by former ANC Commissioner Nick Cheolas.

In response, advocates jumped into action, drafting and circulating a sign-on letter reinforcing the importance of this trail and street safety project. More than 1,000 signed the letter. On Tuesday, DDOT staff will share a new design and timeline, hopefully, finally delivering the long needed and promised trail improvements.

Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8822614841
Meeting ID: 882 2614 8413
Passcode: 643632
Call-In: 301-715-8592

Walk the Takoma DC Met Branch Trail with DDOT and ANC 4B

Please join ANC 4B Commissioners, DDOT Trail planning staff, and members of the Takoma DC community for a walkthrough of the proposed Northern segment of the Metropolitan Branch Trail to learn more about options for constructing the segment from Blair Rd to Piney Branch Rd and give feedback.

Meet on Friday, February 11 at 3:30 pm at the intersection of Van Buren and Blair Rd NW. Sponsored by Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Evan Yeats (4B01), Erin Palmer (4B02) and Geoff Bromaghim (4B07).

The hosts ask that all who attend be fully vaccinated (boosted if applicable) and wear a mask.

Highlights of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Anacostia River Trail Ride

Curious about the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail? Have you never heard of it or are you looking for some new trails to ride? Join the Bike Ambassadors  for an evening webinar of the DC trail basics! We’ll cover where the trail is (and the nearby Metro stations!), cool things to see on the trail and answer questions.

Register!

This virtual event is on topics about Nacotchtank land. Have questions about the webinar, event access or the trail? Send us an email at outreach@waba.org

We encourage you to get outside and explore the region by bike by trying out a new trail or taking a new bike route. We want you to remain healthy and keep your bike in good condition, so join us as we share information about the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

Metropolitan Branch Trail: Blair Road to Piney Branch Road Design Survey

While construction nears completion on the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Fort Totten, and final design nears completion to Takoma, DDOT has begun detailed planning for the half-mile between Blair Rd and Piney Branch Rd on the west side of the rail tracks in Takoma DC. DDOT held a public meeting in December 2021 and wants your feedback on the design concepts presented. The online survey closes on Friday, January 7, 2022. 

green = off-street trail
orange = protected bike lane
red = on-street & traffic-calmed

Two Critical Points for Advocates

  1. On Segment 6: none of the proposed on-street facility types for Whitter or 4th St are sufficient to create a continuous and safe trail experience that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Instead, we propose a new multi-use trail on the south side of Whittier St (using park land and DDOT right of way) and a continuous 2-way protected bike lane along the east curb of 4th St. from Whittier to Cedar St (converting 4th one-way southbound and repurposing existing parking)
  2. On Segment 5: only alternative 3 delivers a manageable slope and a wider trail. The others are quite steep.

Take the Survey Here

View DDOT’s presentation and other meeting materials on the project website, here.

See our detailed comments below. Segments are listed in reverse numerical order (south to north) to highlight the importance of the longest segment in need of most attention.

Segment 6 (Bair Rd to Cedar St)

WABA supports branching the through-running trail from Blair Rd starting at Whittier St, then turning north on 4th St. NW. However, none of the proposed on-street facility types for Whitter or 4th St are sufficient to create a continuous and safe walking and biking trail experience that is suitable for all ages and abilities. Instead, we propose: 

  1. A new multi-use trail on the south side of Whittier St (using park land and DDOT right of way),
  2. A continuous 2-way protected bike lane (PBL) along the east curb of 4th St. NW from Whittier to Cedar St (as proposed from Aspen to Cedar and by converting 4th one-way southbound plus repurposing east side vehicle parking between Aspen to Whittier), and
  3. A new traffic signal at Whittier St and Blair Rd to facilitate a safe trail crossing.

Why is a PBL is critical for 4th street? 

  1. If the PBL is not continuous, southbound bicyclists must transition from the east side of the street to the general travel lane at a stop-controlled intersection (either Aspen or Butternut). This is not intuitive and drivers will not expect it. Furthermore, less confident riders will not feel safe navigating this transition. 
  2. This would eliminate no more than 8-11 legal/safe parking spaces. All west side parking spaces would remain.
  3. This block has 5 homes on the east side and 2 have driveways for off-street parking.
  4. The safety and all-ages usability of a regional trail should be a priority versus residential car parking 1,000 feet from a Metro Station.

At the Cedar/Blair intersection, WABA supports alternative 1 which directs people on bikes to cross Cedar to the west of the pedestrian crosswalk. This locates potential bike and pedestrian conflicts on the widened north side sidewalk rather than the middle of the intersection, where additional conflicts are possible and the potential for injury is higher. If the north side travel lane removal is, for unforeseen traffic reasons, not possible, consider removing the south side travel/parking lane and narrowing the median island to find the needed road width. Widening the north side sidewalk should be a priority for improving the inadequate pedestrian spaces near the Metro and retail corridor.

Segment 5 (343 Cedar Trail)

WABA supports alternative 3 which provides a 12 ft trail and the most gentle slope behind 343 Cedar St. A 12’ trail is preferable here because it will be a popular pedestrian path to the Metro and shops for residents. The additional width allows for more comfort near the tall retaining wall. Most importantly, the gentler 5% grade will be much easier to climb than the 8% grade proposed for alternatives 1 and 2.

Segment 4 (Spring St)

WABA supports alternative 2 with chokers and chicanes. As the vehicle parking and alley access for many Cedar St and Blair Rd buildings, Spring St sees more frequent vehicle use and is a tempting location for illegal parking. Chokers and chicanes will keep vehicle speeds low while discouraging illegal parking that may block sightlines and endanger more vulnerable trail users (like children). This design prioritizes safety for vulnerable road users and trail users while they walk and bike in the shared street.

Segment 3 (Chestnut St)

WABA supports the proposed street design. Vehicle traffic is for the few local addresses only, so a new speed bump and in-street sharrow markings should be sufficient. Additional MBT branded wayfinding signage would also be helpful and should be planned for. 

Segment 2 (Ramp to Chestnut St)

WABA is supportive of either alternative 4 or 5. Though all five alternatives have similar slopes and are ADA compliant, the smoother turns of alt 4 and 5 will be easier to navigate by bike. Stairs create potential conflict points between walking and rolling users if they use the ramp simultaneously, but stairs also offer a more convenient path for pedestrians. WABA supports either alt 4 or 5, whichever is more popular with the public. 

We also recommend that DDOT explore options and neighborhood interest for a small pocket park with benches at the top of the hill or partner with DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation to explore a recreation use for this public space.

Segment 1 (Piney Branch Rd)

WABA supports Alternative 1 which constructs a new off-street multi-use trail on the south side of Piney Branch Road from the ramp to Eastern Ave. Alternative 2 (2-way protected bike lane) does not provide enough space for a comfortable 2-way protected bike lane and creates a complicated intersection at the bottom of the ramp that requires sharp turns without adequate space. Alternative 1, with appropriate wayfinding signage for southbound trail users, will avoid any confusion about where and how to cross PIney Branch Rd.

WABA and our supporters are transforming our region.

Our region is changing. Can you see it? I can: from my window, from my bike, from my picnic blanket. More people than ever are riding confidently in new protected bike lanes. Families are out enjoying our gorgeous local trails and car-free spaces like Beach Drive. Friends are eating, drinking, talking, and laughing in streateries. 
 Our streets are becoming more than a way to get from one place to another. They are the places where we live our lives.

In 2021, WABA, our supporters, and our partners came together to reimagine what our region can look like when we make space for more people. Here’s what we did together:

  • A wider Washington & Old Dominion Trail that invites more people to make this beautiful space part of their daily lives.  

  • Unprecedented demand for a car-free future for Beach Drive— an incredible show of support for one of our region’s beloved National Parks.

  • The first-ever protected bike lanes on a state highway in Maryland, piloting a repurpose of two traffic lanes for biking.

  • DC’s second Open Streets event, which brought tens of thousands of people to Georgia Avenue NW for an afternoon of carefree, car-free play.

  • More bike lanes all over that create critical connections to other bike lanes and trails, and make each ride better than the last.

WABA joined with organizations focused on intersectional issues like climate, housing, and transit, to advance our shared vision of a sustainable, equitable transportation system. In coalition, we:

  • Earned support from four jurisdictions—and counting!—to build the Capital Trails Network by 2030—an 881-mile network of connected, world-class trails.

  • Won dedicated, comprehensive funding for the DC Vision Zero Bill, which will increase automated traffic enforcement and pay for pedestrian and bicyclist safety projects, taking a much-needed step towards ending our region’s traffic violence epidemic.

  • Built power, strategy, and community among regional Families for Safe Streets chapters, bringing together those impacted by traffic violence through peer support and advocacy.

  • Expanded our DC Trail Rangers program. WABA Trail Rangers’ daily, friendly presence on the trails is setting a national precedent for what trail outreach and maintenance should be, and making it clear that trails are for everyone.

Tomorrow, I’ll share more about what’s ahead for WABA in 2022. I hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Support a better bike connection across the Potomac

The American Legion Bridge (the Beltway between Maryland and Virginia), is slated to expand in the next few years. Part of that project includes a trail connection across the Potomac. This is a big deal, as the options for crossing between MD and VA outside of a car are pretty limited. 

However, as currently planned, the trail will only connect to MacArthur Blvd, and pass over the C&O towpath without a connection. This is a huge missed opportunity to connect more people in Maryland and Virginia to this beloved park, and to open up new active transportation options for folks on both sides of the river. The Maryland Department of Transportation and the National Park Service need to hear that you support this connection. Use this page to send a note to both agencies. 

Comments are due before 5pm next Monday.

You can read more about the project here, and read our letter in support of the C&O connection here.

But don’t forget to submit your comments today!