Klingle Valley Trail needed a shopping list of repairs

Klingle Erosion

The Klingle Valley Trail opened after a long and contentious battle last summer, but in September they noticed it was already showing some erosion issues and the trail had to be closed for the bulk of a day while they did repairs. Mark Seagraves reported on it repeatedly. The problem appears to be related primarily to drainage issues.

Erosion has already begun. According to the D.C. Department of Transportation, the new drainage system is faulty. “We have a shopping list of repairs that we want to make,” the Transportation Department’s Paul Hoffman told The Current about the Klingle Valley Trail.

The current newspapers went a little over the top on it, but they're right that we should build things to last. 

The trail has lasted barely three months, and it now threatens to symbolize yet another type of D.C. embarrassment. The city now has ample revenue to invest in upgrades to facilities and infrastructure, and spends generously. But then, all too often, the work turns out to have serious and costly defects.

On NBC4, DDOT said that the trail was under warranty, but the Current reports that the District paid for repairs. 

I don't know yet if the repairs have been done or are complete, but there was a closure on at least one day to do some repairs. 

Klingle emergency

 

Join Ward 3 Bicycle Advocates (W3BA) to Improve Cycling in Our Ward

Interested in how to improve conditions for bicyclists in our neighborhoods of upper NW DC? If so, we'd like to invite you to join the Ward 3 Bicycle Advocates (W3BA). We intend to be a grassroots group whose membership will collaborate with other groups and advocate on bicycle related matters that affect quality of life issues for all residents of Ward 3. Our mission is simple: create critical mass of those in support of better cycling so that DDOT and local politicians hear our voices so that improvements can and will happen. 

We're focused on both short-term and long-term goals within Ward 3. Examples of short-term goals include (there are likely others that you can suggest!): 

  • Broad Branch reconstruction to include bike lane 
  • Trolley Trail in Palisades connecting to Georgetown University. Potential 5 mile trail 
  • Missing link bike route from Ward 3 to Calvert Street Bridge and downtown 

We envision the long-term goals as being aligned with much of what was include in the Move DC Master Plan http://www.wemovedc.org/, that would include: 
A protected cycletrack on Connecticut Avenue Completion of the Palisades Trolley trail to Georgetown Nebraska Avenue protected cycletrack 

In the near future, we intend to have a group meeting to better define short, medium and long-term goals for the group, divide up work, and determine advocacy strategies. We are very excited to get W3BA off the ground and hope you will become an active member. Ask questions, provide ideas, identify opportunities, participate. We can be a strong presence here in Ward 3, but only if you lend your voice. 

To get started, please join the Yahoo Group: w3ba-subscribe@yahoogroups.commailto:w3ba-subscribe@yahoogroups.com [w3ba-subscribe @ yahoogroups dot com]. Looking forward to the work ahead.

Andrew Aurbach, Chevy Chase DC 
Josh Rising, Chevy Chase DC 
Steve Seelig, Chevy Chase DC 
Brett Young, Palisades DC

River Road Park is really going to happen this time. We mean it. We even put a sign up!

Gateway1

It looks like  Montgomery ParksThe Montgomery Parks Foundation and the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (CCCT) are making one last fundraising pitch before starting work on the River Road Park (previously known as the Capital Crescent Trail Plaza). A recent press release noted that the three groups were joining together to get the long-awaited project done and that they were still looking for donations. 

The new park will feature a seating area, a pergola, plantings, and maps. The River Road Park will become a welcoming gateway to the trail by providing a green, restful place for travelers and neighbors alike.

The park will be located in the open space adjacent to the bridge over River Road, where a new sign has been placed. While funding has been secured for the base project, The Montgomery Parks Foundation is seeking tax-deductible contributions to support additional features at the new park.

Tax-deductible donations may be made here. Interested donors are requested to designate their funds for the “River Road Park.”

And....

The Coalition already has raised and spent about $150,000 to design the park, he said. However, officials aren’t planning on tackling all of the improvements at once.

The first step will involve landscaping the area and adding a curb that will discourage unwanted parking on the site

[Mike Nardolilli, the Montgomery Parks Foundation’s executive director] said the project partners will continue fundraising to add future amenities, such as bicycle racks. Already, since signs have gone up announcing the park project, a donor has stepped forward to pay for a bike repair station, he said.

As noted in my last post on this, the parking lot was removed in 2006, so this has been a long time coming. Can't wait to see it final start to take shape. 

image from d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net

Police need to rethink their role in bicycle crash reporting

image from d1evmz5f84ybeh.cloudfront.net

In the later part of the year, I've seen or received two reports about bicycle crashes and the police reporting/response to them that are similarly troubling. The first was sent to me about a crash on the MVT in which Park Police responded. (Emphasis is mine)

I’ve ridden this trail daily for over 18 years except in the most inclement weather.

On August 5 (2017), I was riding on the trail near Vernon View when a teen hopped off the chin-up bar (an exercise station located approximately 10 feet off the trail) and back-up, arms raised in victory showing off to a watching couple that I assume were his parents.  He backed up – right into me.  Result:  he backed into me, throwing me off the cycle.  Injuries:  broken and separated shoulder, 4 broken ribs, 2 broken vertebrae, and two dislocated fingers.

Ambulance came and carted me off.  First stop – Mount Vernon Hospital ER;  once they diagnosed the extent of injuries, they sent me off to the second stop:  Fairfax Hospital Trauma Center.

It took me from August 5 till Nov 20 to get the National Park Police incident report.  The attending officer wrote no info on the report.  His report claims that he was at the scene from 1518 hours till 1605 hours.  During this time, he never interviewed me.

Well….when I finally got the report and I finally-finally got [the officer] on the phone, I asked him if he had any additional information on:  who hit me, and where my bike was (Specialized Crave Comp 29).

[The officer] told me that the Park Police does not take bikes, and that I should ask the ambulance service (I was in the ambulance with two attendants in the back….there is no room for a bike!) or the Fairfax County Fire Department (called them, and they said they do not take bikes).

How can the Park Police just let a ($1500) bike lay on the ground when the bicyclist is carted off via ambulance?

So, the police report didn't include the names of all the people involved in the crash, and when he was there he didn't take the time to make sure the cyclists bike was taken care of. I recently had a crash that required a hospital trip and the MPD were cool enough to wait with my bike for my wife to pick it up, but I was had the time and faculties to ask them to. What if I had been unconscious? Would they have just left my bike there? Do they normally leave the personal items (a purse for example) of traffic crash victims?

The other incident involves MPD. This is from a listserv

Hello neighbors- on Sunday Oct 1 around 12:30pm - I was riding my bike and struck by a car at 8th/Independence SE. If you witnessed this accident could you please shoot me an email at _______. The police report does not list the people they spoke to. Many thanks.
Again...how can they not write the names down? I did ask the BAC's MPD officer about this, and while he didn't know the specifics, he said that some witnesses don't want their name included. I suppose that's possible, but in those cases, I'd expect the report to note that such as "Witness 1 [Name refused]" or something. I don't think that is what happened here. 
 
Perhaps these are two isolated cases that just happened to occur within a few months of one another, but I'd be surprised if there weren't other similar stories out there. 
 
The police need to get the name of witnesses and other parties to a crash. They need to have a system for securing bikes that have to be left behind. Not doing so is adding insult to injury. It's denying people a chance to recover in court. It's making it harder for them to recover with their insurance companies. It strikes me - as a layman I'll admit - as sloppy work. 

New renderings of the 11th Street Bridge Park show how it connects to trails

image from assets.urbanturf.com

In September, the nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR), presented new renderings of the 11th Street Bridge Park, which show some changes to the project, This new design was presented to the National Capital Planning Commission for approval in November.

It will be possible, perhaps, for one to bike across the park, but it will probably be frustrating because of the design and pedestrians. I suspect cyclists will be happier on the existing bridge and NCPC says the same.

The revised design concept further promotes pedestrian and bicycle access, as both will be essential in ensuring a successful park. From the north side, pedestrians will access the bridge where it lands adjacent to the Navy Yard and existing 11th Street Bridge. On the south side, the bridge connects to the adjacent grade, and paths and ramps allow access down to Anacostia Drive, Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Thru-bicycle access will primarily be along the existing 11th Street Bridge, although a shared bicycle/pedestrian path will allow direct access to the bridge programming. Connections will allow both bicycles and pedestrians to cross over from the existing bridge to the park bridge.

Because the park will be on the same side of the bridge as the bike/ped path, it will change the view off the bridge. Instead of the river, users will get a view of the park. And the crows nest overlooks will be gone too. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail will pass beneath it on both sides, and connect to it. The image above shows how the east bank trail passes beneath it as does the connection to the bridge. It also shows a hot air balloon, but whatever.  

Screenshot 2017-11-30 at 11.27.38 AM

This image on the east side shows people walking in the street, probably because the hot air balloon landing pad blocks the trail.

image from assets.urbanturf.com

And here's a new view from the west side.

image from assets.urbanturf.com

One of the NCPC requests to the BBAR is that they "further coordinate with the National Park Service on any proposed features within Anacostia Park and specifically the pedestrian and bicycle connections from the bridge to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail."

NY Times helmet article misses the mark

Last month. the New York Times ran an article encouraging helmet use by cyclists that was unfortunate in both its tone and the facts it relied upon. 

On tone, the conclusion, which health writer Jane E. Brody decides to start with is overly harsh. 

Riding a bicycle without wearing a properly fitted helmet is simply stupid.

We don't use the s-word in our house, and if we did, we'd have more to back it up then the "High Priestess of Health" does.  The next line "Anyone who does so is tempting fate, risking a potentially life-changing disaster" could just as easily describe a lot of other activities like driving, walking to the store or taking a shower. Yes, there is risk in riding a bike - perhaps more when riding a helmet - but it may be that, due to the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle not riding a bike for want of a helmet is more risky. 

Let's look at some of her facts. 

Even a careful cyclist is likely to crash about once every 4,500 miles

For this she seems to be relying on the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI) (funded by WABA!). But as Robert Hurst points out in the "Art of Cycling" when Ed Burke repeats the claim, they never define "careful" or "crash" or cite the source for this number. Hurst points out that a 1976 survey of cyclists indicated that they suffered some kind of bicycle crash related injury every 9000 miles, and in a 1996 update to that, LAB determined that experienced cyclists - those with an average of 14 years of experience - wiped out every 30,000 miles. So, I'd take issue with the conclusion about how often a careful cyclist is likely to crash. There's no doubt that cyclists crash, but Brody's willingness to rely on a claim of dubious origin, one she repeats without citation, sets the article off on a disturbing path. But now that it's been in the Times, I expect to see it repeated and repeated, until everyone takes it as "common sense." In fact, even before this article the number had already reached that level of repetition.

But then we get to the main source of her claim about the importance of helmet wearing.

one shattering statistic reported by New York City for cyclists in general stands out: 97 percent of cycling deaths and 87 percent of serious injuries occurred to people who were not wearing helmets. 

In this case she's relying on a 2006 New York City Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and the New York City Police Department study. It is a pretty shattering statistic. It also doesn't mean what she thinks it does. 

For one thing, according to that same study only 74% of all fatal crashes involved a head injury. So somehow not wearing a helmet is also causing deaths that don't involve a head injury.  Even if we assume that every head injury death involved an unhelmeted cyclist (which is a ludicrous assumption), it would mean that 88% of non-head injury deaths also involve an unhelmeted cyclists. And since helmet wearing rates are, by most estimates, higher than 12%, it would somehow imply that cyclists who don't wear helmets are more likely to die from crashes involving head injuries AND those that don't. 

The reason why the percentage is so high, is vast misreporting. As helmet researcher Dr. Richard Keatinge points out:

The figures for dead cyclists are based on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The forms used by FARS do not in general have a convenient box for recording helmet use, which if done at all is done in free text. Thus data entry does not record helmet use accurately after fatalities, and many deaths where helmets were in fact worn will be recorded as "helmet not used"

And cyclehelmets.org expands on this

California data from the StateWide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) indicates that at least 13.2% of fatally injured bicyclists were using a helmet during the period 1994-98 (since SWITRS combines 'unknowns' and 'not used' into a single category, the helmet use rate is actually a minimum estimate and could be much higher, depending upon the relative number of true 'unknowns' and how biased the distribution might be) (Cal Highway Patrol), but only 3.4% supposedly were doing so according to FARS

Continuing to rely on BHSI, Brody also states that

Head injuries account for three-fourths of the roughly 700 bicycle deaths that occur each year nationwide, and helmets can prevent or reduce the severity of these injuries in two-thirds of cases. This protection holds even in crashes with motor vehicles, researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle reported as long ago as 2000, a statistic verified many times since.

This stat comes from a 1999 review, updated in 2006. But in contradiction to her claim about how often it has been verified, that review has itstead been criticized because the reviewers mostly included studies that were the work of the reviewers themselves, and because they omitted studies that contradicted their own. 

As part of his re-analysis of Attewell, Glase and McFadden, 2001Elvik, 2011 considered the same studies used in the Cochrane Review and also more recently published studies. Later studies show no net benefit from helmets with regard to injuries to the head, face and neck.

She then notes that she has, in the past, often ridden without a helmet, but no more because she was in a crash where she was wearing a helmet and hit her head, and those suffering a concussion with memory loss, her "helmet prevented a serious brain or facial injury." Which is a claim she can't possibly back up. We simply don't know what would've happened without a helmet. And if she had a standard bicycle helmet, it's hard to imagine how that would have prevented facial injury. I was in a crash in January, and I suffered a serious facial injury despite the fact that I was wearing a helmet. 

She then promises to "never again mount a bicycle without the helmet on my head where it belongs". That's likely a good idea. But it's a long way from declaring that anyone who chooses not to is "simply stupid." And it's certainly not a reason to advocate for adult bicycle helmet laws, as she seems to do. The rest of the article, about how to buy and fit a helmet is fine, and she would've been better off focusing on that. 

Montgomery Council considering purchase to build Capital Crescent Civic Green

The planning board recently approved the $8.5 million purchase of a 0.4 acre lot along the future Capital Crescent Trail for the creation of a the "Capital Crescent Civic Green" - a new park at the Bethesda trailhead. This occurred after the The Park and Planning Commission negotiated a Land Purchase Agreement to acquire the two parcels using the Advance Land Acquisition Revolving Fund (ALARF).

The Capital Crescent Trail will run along the east side of the civic green, connecting the new trail tunnel on the north side to a protected bike lane on Bethesda Avenue on the south side. The bike lane will cross Woodmont and connect to the existing Capital Crescent Trail south of Bethesda Avenue. 

CCTCG

Sketch of the civic green with the CCT highlighted in yellow

A park on this site is consistent with both the Bethesda Purple Line Station Plan Minor Master Plan Amendment, though that plan had the trail continuing east to Woodmont Avenue. 

OldCCTplaza

It's more fleshed out in the Bethesda Downtown Plan

The Capital Crescent Civic Green is envisioned as the civic green for the Bethesda Row District and the western gateway of the Capital Crescent Trail. It will build on the success of the existing small plaza at the corner of Woodmont Avenue and Bethesda Avenue, and act as an outdoor civic center for the Bethesda Row District.

While some park advocates are concerned it's too small, the County plans to combine it with other land on the other side of Reed possibly increasing the size of the park to 0.6 or 0.7 acres.

There's also a lot of concern that $8.5 million is too much for such a small plot. But while the plot is small, construction of a retail building would’ve been possible on the property, and that property could've been 145 feet high with a FAR of 5.0. What's more

The county expects to recoup a significant percentage of the purchase price from the state in exchange for letting MTA use the site. The county is still working out the arrangement with the state, so the exact amount hasn’t been finalized, Anderson said.

So, that has to be priced in.

Because MTA will likely need to use the site during Purple Line construction, officials hope to build the park following Purple Line completion in 2022. 

The Council is scheduled to take action on this on December 5th.

DC Community supports the Transportation Benefit Equity Act

image from 1105am3mju9f3st1xn20q6ek-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com

Back in September, the DC Council's Transportation & the Environment Committee held a hearing on the Transportation Benefit Equity Amendment Act of 2017.

this bill requires certain employers to provide alternate transit benefits (such as access to a commuter highway vehicle, transit, or bicycling benefits) in an amount equal to that of the market value of employer's currently offered parking benefit. Covered employers may opt out of compliance by paying a monthly fee for each employee who is offered parking benefits. The bill also establishes a Fund, the Transpiration Demand Management Fund.

This is basically a parking cash out bill. It would encourage more people to bike, walk and take transit by putting money in the pocket of those who do so. (It would also likely add to DC's tax revenue as any money paid to pedestrians, and most of what went to cyclists, would be taxable). This has been tried in California, on a much more limited scale, and it was found to decrease single occupancy vehicle commutes by 10-12%. There's reason to believe that because DC is so much more transit, bike and walk conducive that it would cause an even larger shift. 

A few years ago, when I was first chair of the legislative committee of the BAC, we made a list of all the legislation that we would change if we could. Then we ranked it all on two axes. One was importance and the other was viability. This ranked high on the importance - in that it would have a large impact - but low on the viability side because we didn't think it could garner Council support (same as we felt about the Contributory negligence fix). So I'm pleasantly surprised to see the bill proposed and supported. And even more pleased to see that t's not just supported by some council members, but at the hearing it was supported by most of the people who testified. 

The support came from transportation and environmental advocacy organizations as well as at least one ANC and several citizens. WABA, the DC BAC and PAC, the Coalition for Smarter Growth,  ANC4C and the US Green Building Council all strongly supported it because of the way it would encourage more walking, biking and transit use. During WABA's testimony, Greg Billing testified that the bill wouldn't cost any business any money - which was a theme and source of discussion throughout the hearing. CM Mary Cheh pushed back, asserting that that wasn't true; but Billing responded that the pay out was optional, in that a business was not required to offer anyone any benefit. This point was echoed by CM Charles Allen, who sponsored the bill and noted that the bill doesn't mandate a benefit. It mandates that when one is offered, that it be equitable. 

Giving commuters more choice in how to get to work has shown to decrease the number of drive-alone commutes by 10-12%, reduce traffic, improve air quality, and promote health and well-being.

Opposition came from two sources. Business organizations opposed it because it would increase the cost of doing business; and social justice organizations thought that most of the benefits would go to rich people who can afford to live close to work. Two positions that seem to be a little bit in contrast to one another. 

Will Handsfiled testified on behalf of the Georgetown BID and argued that it would create new regulatory and compliance burdens adding additional expense to businesses. He stated that the BID supported the goals, but that DC had not exhausted all of its other options for increasing transit and active transportation use. He also said that a better policy would be to get the federal government to end the policy of making parking benefits tax free. DC should do more and the federal government should reconsider the tax-free status of parking benefits by either lowering the maximum or getting rid of it altogether. But, neither of those things is really an argument against the cash out. There probably is an added regulatory burden, but from DC's perspective, it is probably worth it. 

The DC Chamber of Commerce made a similar argument to the BID's but then added some new ones.

They were concerned that some businesses would be burdened with fines, which I'm not too sympathetic with. I prefer it when auditors and enforcers work with out-of-compliance businesses to come into compliance before resorting to fines, but opposing a rule because some of your members will break it is not going to win a lot of supporters.

They tried to argue that it is redundant since the Sustainable DC Act of 2014, and the current state of transit parity in federal parking and transit benefits, already achieve these goals. But neither of those deals with bringing similar benefits to biking and walking.

They argued that it micromanages relationship between employers and employees and takes away employer choice. This is basically saying that this regulation is a regulation.  I mean that's what regulations do.

They argued that it harms those who have already signed leases, but CM Allen said that the law specifically has a carve out for existing leases.

Somehow they argue that it will have a disproportional impact on diverse businesses, small businesses and non-profits, but how they got to that conclusion is unclear. They also brought up customer parking, but Allen pointed out that this bill has nothing to do with customer parking. 

They said the law would run afoul of Cheh's moratorium on employer focused legislation, but Cheh countered that the bill doesn't mandate that employers give anything, only that if they give a benefit, they give it equitably. Allen said that this is about choice and flexibility for the employees, but that a handful of people are telling businesses that this is a mandate, which it is not. 

Finally, the Chamber argued that some people don't live close enough to walk or bike to work, but Allen said that this is why the bill also funds transit. Mic drop.

Another opponent, oddly enough, was the DC Policy Center. They believe that "The bill has good intentions (less congestion, better health, cleaner air), but social injustices will increase as a consequence." Their logic works like this: People who walk and bike are richer than people who drive and take transit. So a policy that gives more money to people who walk and bike will only be giving money to the wealthy, possibly at the expense of the poor. And it will lead to gentrification. Like the Georgetown BID they argue against this policy because it isn't the BEST policy choice (not because it is a bad policy). 

If we truly want to make D.C. a more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly city, we should start with our broader housing and transportation policies. We should expand D.C.’s stock of affordable housing and promote dense, mixed-income developments along transit-accessible corridors; improve both Metro and bus networks so that they are an accessible and reliable option for all residents. And—in conjunction with these measures—we should continue to improve streets for pedestrians and cyclists, so that residents of all neighborhoods can safely access these healthier modes of transportation.

Those are all good policies, but creating more incentives for people to walk, bike and use transit is good policy too. 

They come dangerously close to adopting the line of attack of anti-bike lane forces - that bike lanes bring gentrification

While correlation is not causation, data show us that where you find walkable, bikeable communities, you also find gentrification.

 

Pardon me, but this position is bananas. I generally support the same goals as DC policy center (and Charles Allen noted that he and they were often allied too) but if they're going to become anti-active transportation because it causes gentrification, I suspect that will be less often true. 

Some of their arguments imply that they don't think this will benefit people who ride the bus. 

People who biked to work were also younger (median age 34), but earned more than the median salary ($60,000). Those who took the
bus, on the other hand, were at about the median age (35), but earned less ($32,000). Those who drive earned slightly more than the median
wage ($55,000), but were older (median age, 41). If we were to adjust for age differences, we would find that those who walk and bike to work are richer than those who drive or take the bus. That is why they can afford to live close to where they work.

But since this bill will require more employers to offer transit benefits, it will also help people currently riding the bus who are not getting a transit benefit but who have co-workers who are getting subsidized parking. 

Another line of reasoning they take is that most of the people who drive live in MD or VA and changing their mode of transportation simply isn't an option, and the same is true of reverse commuters or shift workers.

The bill would have little relevance to [drivers who commute from outside of the city]—unless their employers decide to eliminate the benefit—and will do little to change their behavior.

The bill is also irrelevant to the world of reverse commuters.

That's probably true, but to the extent that it reduces the number of solo drivers it will reduce congestion. And to the extent that it moves people to cleaner modes of transportation, it will improve their living conditions. People don't need to change their behavior to benefit. And I'm not sure that arguing that this will benefit DC residents to the detriment of out-of-District workers is a compelling case to make to the DC council. 

But here's where we really disagree.

But beyond investing in infrastructure and improving safety, D.C. Government does not need to favor those who walk or bike to work.

This is not the way DC (or most other governments) have seen it for at least a decade. There are good reasons to favor walking and biking (and transit, they keep forgetting that this is a pro-transit bill) over driving. They even mention the reasons in the beginning (less congestion, better health, cleaner air). It's like they forget all the thing they say up front when coming to their conclusions later on. 

Mary Cheh pushed back against them. She repeated their line that the DC Government "should not favor those who drive" by pointing out that the current system does exactly that by subsidizing parking. Charles Allen also disagreed with their analysis. He said that he'd been trying to meet with them and talk about it, because he disagrees and doesn't think it will lead to less economic justice. 

NspireGreen, a sustainability consulting firm, was mostly supportive, but also worried that the bill will reward rich people who can afford to live close to work. For that reason they specifically opposed the section which will give any benefit, beyond the Bicycle Commuter Benefit limit, to people who walk or bike. Which seems like an odd position for an organization dedicated to sustainability to take. 

DDOT testified last and they support it, but they want to discuss rulemaking, staffing and other important consequences of the bill. 

This bill is a big deal. I'm surprised it's not getting more attention nationally (I guess it's getting lost in the flurry of bigger news). If DC passes this, it will serve as a test case for the parking cash out idea that has been kicked around for years now (CA has one, but it has a lot of limitations). I would have expected national organizations who support or oppose this to get more involved. Maybe they are, but just not in public. But this bill has the potential to be a game changer. I think it's the most important piece of bike and walk commuting legislation to be proposed in the last 20 years; and it's important for transit users as well. If you haven't yet, a letter of support to your Council member or, better yet, to the at-large Council member of your choice can only do good. 

Redesigned I-66 Trail reduces inside-the-wall trail mileage by 40%

Shortly after my last post on the subject, VDOT released an updated design for the I-66 trail. The new design reduces the part that is inside the sound barrier from ~5 miles to 3 miles and it makes some other changes as well. 

The Transform I-66 project, whatever it's downside is, will do a lot to improve cycling and walking in the corridor. The project will add 11 miles of trail with another 7 provided by others. It will improve 11 bridges with additional bicycle and pedestrian facilities and add 8 permanent count stations along the trail. 

I66cross

The main purpose of the new design was to reduce the amount of trail that is inside the sound barrier (ISB). In some cases the bike lane was moved outside the sound barrier (OSB), and in others the sound barrier was removed. In the Fair Lakes area, the long stretch of ISB trail was broken up and reduced and the section near Route 28 redesigned. (Solid Purple is ISB, Green is OSB and Purple with white is no sound barrier). 

FairlakesOld

Old
FairlakesOld

New

And the ISB sections were reduced west of Oakton as well

50123Old

Old
50123Old

New

In addition, the section near Fairfax County Parkway was realigned. The trail no longer runs along I-66 west of West Ox but instead uses Fair Lakes Parkway and Fair Lakes Circle to connect to the same crossing of Fairfax County Parkway. It may be a shorter route, but how they design this portion (using the interactive map, it looks like a sidepath) will likely determine whether it is better or not. 


ShoppingNewOld

ShoppingNew

New

This doesn't correct ALL the things that should be improved, but it is progress. Still, it means that trail users will have long sections where they're sandwiched between the highway and the barrier, sections that will be loud and dirty. 

Barrierair

Which might be OK, if there were a good reason for this. But the only reason given is that some people didn't like the trails on the residential side. 

VDOT developed the concept plan for the 66 Trail consistent with local jurisdiction trail plans. During earlier public outreach for the project, VDOT received many comments opposed to placing the trail on the residential side of noise barriers in locations where the trail passes near homes. Those comments led to a contract requirement to locate the trail on the highway side of noise barriers in areas adjacent to homes.

Hearings on the latest designs were held mid-month and comments are due on Wednesday. The first construction work on this project will start next month.

 

Final Draft Design chosen for South Park and the Four Mile Run Trail

LunaPark

Arlington County presented the Final Draft Design of South Park at Potomac Yards, a small rectangle of land on the north side of Four Mile Run between Route 1 and Potomac Avenue, formerly known as Land Bank F. The Four Mile Run Trail will pass through the park, and the park will include trail connections to both Route 1 and Potomac Avenue. It will also include bike parking, a trail map, signage and bicycle calming. 

Capture

This is basically concept C as presented in the spring and it was the one I preferred because it created a direct and shaded connection between the trail and the street grid. It was also preferred by those who took the survey. Survey participants also preferred the name Luna Park. 

In addition to the trails across the park and the connection between them, the park will include bike parking. Work on the Arlington portion of the park won't begin until 2023 (part of the park is in Alexandria and part is in Arlington because the line didn't move when Four Mile Run was straightened out) but in late 2018, they'll start work on "Phase 1" which will create a trail connection to Route 1 along with turf and plantings. Phase 1 has been modified a little since the spring. The trail connection follows a slightly different route without a transition area in the middle. 

Phase1

At least two participant at the meeting were concerned with cyclists biking too fast and running pedestrians down (don't do that). Another was worried that a lack of parking for the park would result in people parking illegally (don't do that either). 

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City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009

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