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Open House for Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes Study

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is examining potential alternative designs for a protected bike lane that would provide a low-stress, two-way bicycling connection between central DC neighborhoods such as Shaw and Bloomingdale and downtown.

The Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lane Study will provide a safe, continuous, separated bicycle transportation infrastructure between some of the most dense and fastest-growing areas of the District of Columbia, connecting residential, retail, and institutional land uses with the downtown core.

During the open house, members of the public will have the opportunity to learn about design options, speak with project team members, review data that has been gathered so far, and offer feedback.

The event information is as follows:

What:                   Eastern Downtown Protected Bike Lanes Study Open House

When:                  Thursday, October 22

                               6 pm to 8 pm

Where:                 Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

                               1630 7th Street, NW, in the Large Meeting Room

Key Bridge rehab: So long bollards, hello bicycle detection cameras

DDOT is looking for a contractor to manage a 2-year rehab of the Key Bridge starting in the spring. For cyclists it means the installation of bicycle/pedestrian detection cameras and warning flashers at the ramp to the Whitehurst Freeway. It will also mean the removal of the two concrete bollards on each side of the ramp.

DDOT will add 99 CaBi stations and expand 21 others over 3 years.

If DDOT's expansion plan for Capital Bikeshare is carried out, it will mean 99 new CaBi stations in the District and 21 expanded stations. 

(See David Alpert's write up here)

In a sprawling, data-rich, draft development plan for bikeshare in DC, DDOT set goals for the system, preformed a market study, and considered various expansion scenarios before developing the plan it's now presenting. They set 12 goals for the program, each with a metric they plan to report on. These goals include improving public health and safety, serving tourists, reducing the environmental impact of transportation in the District and making bikeshare an integral part of the city's transportation system. The market study concluded that CaBi could increase system utility by adding capacity in places where high usage has led to empty and full stations, expanding stations to new areas and making a greater effort to inform and serve tourists. All of this fed into a program expansion planning process wherein DDOT first considered two 5-year expansion scenarios, before settling on a 5-year plan with all of the expansion front-loaded into the first 3 years.

The plan is for Capital Bikeshare to add 99 stations in areas that demonstrated a high bikeshare need when considering how a station would meet current demand, garner revenue, improve health and public welfare and increase accessibility to varied destinations. The first 20 stations on that list are stations that have already been promised, but not delivered due to supplier issues. These include stations at St. Elizabeths, the American University Law School and the Capital South Metro, to name a few. DDOT currently expects to add 47 stations in FY2016, 27 in FY2017 and 25 in FY2018. Station additions into new neighborhoods will occur in clusters so as to keep stations within easy biking distance of other stations. 28 stations will be added to the core with 71 in the outer neighborhoods.

image from

In addition, 21 stations will be expanded. In some cases that is because an expansion would be more effective than placing another station nearby. These locations were determined based on a "lost trip" calculation focused on high use stations that also demonstrated high system downtime, because the station was either completely full or empty. Any station with the equivalent of 600 lost trips or less a month received a four dock expansion, while stations with a lost trip rate greater than 600, expanded by eight docks. All expansions are scheduled for FY 2016 or 2017. 9 of the station expansions will within the system core with 12 outside of it. This should improve utility in hubs such as the U Street Metro, Logan Circle at P Street, and Dupont Circle.

  image from

The capital costs of this expansion are estimated at $6.514 million, with operating costs rising from $5.8 million in 2014 to $10.8 million in FY2021. But revenues are also expected to increase such that the operating deficit is actually expected to be lower in 2021 than it is in 2014. 

DDOT's study is only the first step in the process, and this is just a draft version of the study - which is accepting comments through November. 

Before any new stations are installed, the agency will conduct public outreach, coordinate with key stakeholders, and procure additional funding for stations. Public involvement will be key for DDOT to finalizing station siting. While this plan highlights recommended areas for stations, public feedback will help determine which specific locations are best suited for bikeshare stations.

[I really wanted to call this post "I got 99 stations and Woodridge ain't one", but I thought better of it]

DDOT's Bikeshare Plan: 99 new stations over the next 3 years.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today released a draft of its first ever Bikeshare Development Plan for public feedback. The draft plan establishes a set of goals, measures, expansion plans, and financial projections for the next six years for the District of Columbia’s portion of the Capital Bikeshare program

Under the proposed plan, Capital Bikeshare in the District would expand by 99 stations over the next three years, doubling the number of stations east of the Anacostia River. By 2018, approximately 65 percent of residents, 90 percent of jobs, and 97 percent of all transit entry and exit points in the District would be within a quarter mile walk of a bikeshare station.

The Capital Bikeshare program is a partnership between the District of Columbia; Montgomery County, Maryland; Arlington County, Virginia and Alexandria, Virginia.

DDOT is soliciting feedback on the draft Bikeshare Development Plan, and anyone can comment on this webpage,,until November 15, 2015.  

2015 DC Tweed Ride & Party

The 7th Annual Tweed Ride is scheduled for October 25th. The ride is free, but the Jazz Jam and brunch are not. 

Are you ready to join Dandies & Quaintrelles on Sunday, October 25, for the 7th annual DC Tweed Ride? Let's combine all the important ingredients for another retro-styled celebration of fall in the nation's capital. We'll put the D in dapper. We'll ride our coolest bikes. We'll dance into the night. We'll remember how much fun we always have this time of year. And then we'll count the days until we get to do it all over again. 

Visit our 2015 DC Tweed Ride Eventbrite page for details, sign up for the ride and snag your tickets to the Jazz-Age Jam at Roofers Union!

A City in Crisis

Alexandria's crackdown on stop-sign running cyclists

Late last month, Alexandria police were aggressively ticketing cyclists who ran stop signs in Old Town Alexandria. As one reader reported to me

This morning there was a motorcycle cop pulling over cyclists in Old Town on Royal St.  He was hiding behind the brick entrance to the tunnel near the intersection at Wilkes St. He was watching for cyclists who were running stop signs.

The Post picked up on the story, reporting that 24 cyclists were ticketed for running a stop sign and about 300 more were given warnings as a way to address concerns voiced at civic association meetings.

Alexandria Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said assorted complaints and comments at civic associations meetings have driven an increase in enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists.

It's worth asking if "complaints at civic association meetings" is a good metric for deciding where to focus enforcement, as opposed to something like fatalities or injuries or crashes, but moving on from that there are some other odd things.

According to the Post article "cyclists were stopped for everything from running stop signs to riding at excessive speeds and weaving through cars in an unsafe manner."  Other than the stop sign tickets, the others sound very subjective to me - not speeding but "excessive speeds" and riding "in an unsafe manner." Hopefully those are just warnings, because I don't trust someone who doesn't ride regularly to know what manner is safe or unsafe. How much training do Alexandria Police get in identifying unsafe cycling. I'm glad to see that we have finished enforcing all of the objective traffic violations like speeding and I look forward to drivers being ticketed for driving in "an unsafe manner." 

Furthermore, this was a lot of enforcement for what is arguably not even the most dangerous of bad cycling behavior (like riding at night without lights, BUI and wrong-way cycling, to name a few). 

Margry said he noticed two unmarked police cars and three officers patrolling in the area where he was ticketed. Around the time he was ticketed, at the end of his four-and-a-half mile commute, three others were stopped for the same infraction.

Personally, I support the Idaho Stop and so don't even think that garden-variety stop sign running - especially when no traffic is present as was the case with Margry - should be illegal. 

The fine was reportedly $91. I suspect that is the same amount as is paid by drivers (and what an odd number), but in the District the maximum fine for any bicycling violation is $25, which seems a lot more reasonable. And Margry agreed. 

The longtime cyclist said it is impractical to assess the same penalties on cyclists as those given to motor vehicle operators. 

To the Post's credit, and perhaps because of recent events in San Francisco, this led to a mention of the Idaho Stop.

Byclists in San Francisco staged a protest in July after residents called for bikers to be treated like drivers in the eyes of the law. Protesters, aiming to show the city how congested it would become if cyclists acted just as drivers do, “snarled traffic almost immediately,” according to a story in SF Weekly. Cyclists say treating stops merely as yields — as the “Idaho Stop law” proscribes — allows them to conserve energy and become immediately visible to drivers, making them safer.

Perhaps a similar protest through Old Town is in order. Maybe it will lead to a similar policy change. At the very least, the fine might be able to be lowered. 

From the Archives: The Met Branch Trail is a Millennium Legacy Trail

Back in 2000, the White House Millennium Council - which was an actual thing - tried to mark the historic passage of time by designating things as Millennium Projects or Communities or in the case of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, as Millennium Legacy Trails. Hillary Clinton played a large role in the council, which would explain why she attended the trail's groundbreaking. I had completely forgotten about this program, which some people would see as a tragedy.

"The wealthiest, most powerful nation on Earth will leave little permanent behind to mark the moment," author James Reston Jr. fumed in an Outlook article in The Washington Post in October.

To some critics, the country's investment has bought nothing truly significant, nothing to match a project like England's Millennium Dome, for example. That immense structure, built for $1.2 billion on the banks of the Thames River in Greenwich, will showcase educational exhibits.

Yeah. That's OK with me. Especially when considering what a flop the UK's Millennium Dome was. As for the MBT

"It's speeding up the process," D.C. Parks and Recreation planning officer Ted Pochter said of the Millennium Legacy honorific bestowed on the seven-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail, which ultimately will connect Union Station with Silver Spring. The White House recognition included no direct funds but has helped prod negotiations on trail sections. There is no target date for completion, but "the expectations are high to build this," Pochter said.

Yes. It really sped up the process. Supposedly the MBT got a "special Millennium Trails marker with the national logo" on it, but I have never seen this. 

There's more here

Here's where a protected bikeway could go on the east side of downtown

People who want to ride a bike north-south along the east side of DC's central business district and in Shaw could soon have a new protected bikeway to do it. A new study recommends four options, including 6th Street NW, 5th and 6th, or 9th.

The 15th Street protected bikeway. Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been studying options for a bikeway to connect areas between Florida and Constitution Avenues. This bikeway would connect central DC neighborhoods, downtown, and the existing major east-west bikeways like the one on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This area has high levels of bicycling and many popular destinations but a distinct lack of quality bike facilities. Currently, 7th Street has the most bicycle traffic, but usage is pretty evenly spread out. 5th stands out because a large number of people ride south on 5th despite the road being one-way north.

DDOT planners studied an assortment of designs, considering every street between 4th and 9th. They first eliminated 4th and 8th because they were discontinuous streets. After a round of data gathering, where they looked at parking, parking utilization, auto and bicycle traffic, transit, potential pedestrian conflicts, cost, loading zones, events, and institutions along the route, they eliminated 7th Street because of heavy transit and pedestrian usage; they didn't want the bikeway to become an auxiliary sidewalk.

Data on transit ridership (left), pedestrian volume (center), and Capital Bikeshare usage (right) in the study area. Images from DDOT.

During this whole process, they have also been involved in a public outreach effort, meeting with institutions, businesses, churches, council staff, and other stakeholders. With data screening complete, there are four alternatives which they have made public and plan to discuss at an upcoming public meeting. After that, they will narrow the alternatives to three, which will get more intensive study and planning before choosing a preferred alternative sometime this winter.

Here are the alternatives:

5th and 6th couplet: Alternative 1 would place a one-way northbound protected bikeway on the east side of 5th Street up to New York Avenue and a painted bike lane north of that. A one-way southbound bikeway would go on the west side of 6th.

This would remove a travel lane on 6th north of New York and a parking lane south of there. On 6th south of New York Avenue, the bikeway would be adjacent to a rush hour travel/off-peak parking lane converted from what is now a southbound travel lane. While DDOT considered using angled parking on 6th, that didn't make it into the final design.

One-way on on each side of 6th Alternative 2, would replace a travel lane in each direction on 6th Street with a one-way protected bikeway on each side. South of New York Avenue the bikeways would be adjacent to a rush hour travel/off-peak parking lane.


Bi-directional on 6th: Alternative 3 would remove a northbound travel lane north of New York Avenue and a parking lane south of New York and would convert a northbound travel lane to a rush hour travel/off-peak parking lane to make room for a bi-directional protected bikeway on the east side of 6th. This is similar to what exists on 15th Street (though the one on 15th is on the west side).


Bi-directional on 9th: Alternative 4 is like Alternative 3, but on 9th Street. A northbound travel lane north of Massachusetts Avenue and a parking lane south of Massachusetts Avenue would disappear, while a northbound travel lane would become an rush hour travel/off-peak parking lane. This would make room for a bi-directional protected bikeway on the east side of 9th. The southbound bike-bus lane would remain.

Bike planners are looking at numerous factors in deciding which to eliminate next. All the alternatives have similar expected travel times for cyclists, so that will not be a factor. But they will be considering turns across bike facilities, pedestrian intensity next to the bikeway, the amount of protection along the facility, and other safety factors.

As one example, the Verizon Center often shuts down a lane on the west side of 6th Street for loading for shows. That could be an obstacle for Alternative 2. There may be similar challenges in other spots for the other alternatives.

The planners will look at which designs affect buses the least, and how to deal with the unique parking needs of churches to accommodate their loading and unloading requirements, large event needs, funeral needs, etc.

Alternative 1 provides the least protection. DDOT has decided not to remove on-street parking in residential areas, which limits 5th street to painted bike lanes north of New York. Another consideration for 5th Street is that it has fewer stop lights, but more stop signs and some speed bumps.

In Alternative 4, 9th is one-way south of Massachusetts, so northbound cyclists would be going the opposite direction from car traffic, meaning it would suffer from the same light timing issues as 15th Street does. Timed lights on 15th mean people riding north hit more red lights than on a typical street.

DDOT has a website with all the designs which is accepting comments. The team is planning a public meeting soon, but haven't settled on details. If a final design is chosen this winter, work could begin before the end of 2016.

Which design do do you think is best?

Westbard Sector Plan promotes protected bike lanes, better connections to the CCT and more green space along the trail

Montgomery County recently held a hearing on the Planning Department's Westbard Sector Plan update.

The new Westbard Sector Plan re-assesses and updates the goals and achievements of the 1982 Plan to provide guidance for the next 20 years. It addresses new challenges in the Westbard area, including changes in traffic, housing demand and office and retail trends.
Westbard straddles the Capital Crescent trail between River Road and Massachusetts Avenue, and so using the trail plays a large part in shaping the transportation plan.
A tremendous asset in the community is the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) on the old B&O Railroad right-ofway. This pedestrian and bicycle trail is a major regional connection that also provides limited local service in the Westbard area. Increasing local connectivity to and from the CCT will allow it to be more integrated into the community.
The plan would replace many surface parking lots with buildings, tree-lined streets, parks and new bicycle paths. At the hearing several people complained about the plans lack of support for driving.
“No matter how many bicyclists you provide for, we will still be driving,” said Patricia Johnson, a resident of the nearby Kenwood neighborhood.
“Senior citizens are counting on that full-service gas station,” said nearby resident Robert Dyer. “The message to them is ‘Drop dead.’”
But for cyclists the plan has many elements worthy of support. The plan recommends creating a more bike and pedestrian oriented area by "Adding a network of green open spaces connected by trails and bikeways that provides places for outdoor recreation, gathering and relaxation" and building a complete streets network. 
To achieve that goal they recommend many new bike facilities.
  • An 11-foot-wide, two-way separated bike lane (cycle track) on the north side of River Road with a buffer. The separated bike lanes and sidewalk will transition to a shared-use path outside of the Sector Plan boundary. The separated bike lanes and sidewalk will also connect to the proposed trail that runs between the Capital Crescent Trail and River Road.
  • 5-foot-wide, one-way separated bike lanes (cycle track) on each side of an extended Westbard Avenue (LB-1 on the map below) with a buffer from traffic. The one-way cycle tracks on Westbard Avenue would transition to an off -road shared use path on both sides of the road south of Westbard Circle to Massachusetts Avenue.
  • Bikeways on a new "Connector Road" (LB-2 on the map below) between Massachusetts Ave and River Road. The roadway is envisioned to be a low speed road that would allow for bicyclists to safely share the travel lane with vehicles. This road would also lead to a proposed new connection to the Capital Crescent Trail.
  • Space reserved for bicycle facilities, such as a bike share station and long-term bicycle parking, within any Transit hub included in the redevelopment area on Westbard Avenue. 
  • Creation of a connector from the new "Connector Road" to the Capital Crescent Trail with a bicycle ramp. A connection from the new connector road to the CCT would allow pedestrians and bicyclists to gain access to the CCT instead of using ramps on River Road or a staircase on Massachusetts Avenue.
  • All bikeway improvements be completed to the nearest intersection with appropriate transitions across major roadways.
  • Added short term and long-term bicycle parking amenities that are safe, secure and convenient. Racks would be protected from the elements and be highly visible.
  • Bike share stations expanded in and around the Westbard Plan area.
  • An enhanced at-grade crossing of River Road at the CCT to facilitate an easier and faster crossing of River Road for pedestrians and bicyclists. The enhancement could be tied into a possible signal that could be located at the Landy Lane/River Road intersection
  • A new hard surface trail from the Capital Crescent Trail to the Whole Foods site and a new entrance to the Capital Crescent Trail between Whole Foods and Washington Episcopal School and a community open space at the intersection of the proposed hard surface trail and River Road
  • When Washington Episcopal School redevelops, renovate the associated portion of Willett Branch to restore the flood plain and provide a trail connection to the Little Falls Stream Valley and Capital Crescent Trail.

In addition, the plan recommends making the CCT more of a park, with more adjacent parkland. It calls for the creation of a Countywide Urban Recreational Park adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail at Willet Branch that could include a skate park, a pump track and a dog park; the completion of plantings to complete Westbard’s Greenway network along the Capital Crescent Trail and Little Falls Parkway; the creation of an environmentally sensitive Willett Branch crossings at the Capital Crescent Trail that would consist of a wider span for a naturalized channel and a pedestrian trail along the stream; and that the county reclaim and replant encroachments on the Capital Crescent Special Park to create a more naturalized condition.

Connector Road along the CCT

River Road with Protected bikeway

Westbard Avenue with raised, protected bike lanes on each side


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