Design Template by Bikingtoronto

NPS to hold meeting on Georgetown Boathouse Plan/Capital Crescent Trail improvement

The National Park Service (NPS) is developing an implementation plan for nonmotorized boating facilities and related park improvements in the area of the Capital Crescent Trail Georgetown trail head. From the announcement (emphasis mine)

The proposed project area extends from 34th Street, NW within Georgetown Waterfront Park to approximately a quarter-mile upriver from Key Bridge. The project area encompasses both public and private land including portions of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Rock Creek Park, and several privately-owned parcels (the Potomac Boat Club, several private residences, and a small parcel accessible from the shoreline only).

The purpose of this project is establish a Potomac River recreation zone that more fully supports non-motorized recreation, increases the public’s access to the river, improves functionality of the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) as it connects to the Georgetown Waterfront Park, and respects the historic character, natural resources, and existing recreational use of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and Rock Creek Park.  Non-motorized boating facilities are needed in Georgetown due to limited public access points for non-motorized boating and paddle sports along the Georgetown waterfront.  Increased popularity for non-motorized water sports (canoeing, kayaking, rowing, paddle boarding, etc.), and insufficient capacity at current boathouse facilities that provide access to the river and related amenities (boat storage, concessions, access facilities, boat rentals, beach, and docks.  The current configuration of the CCT and its connection to Georgetown does not provide safe and compatible access for pedestrians and bicyclists with motorized vehicles to and through the “zone.”

At this time, the NPS is announcing a public scoping meeting and a 30-day public scoping period to solicit public comments on preliminary alternatives for this proposal (see attached newsletter). The meeting will consist of an open house with a short presentation. NPS staff will be on hand to visit with you and answer questions.

The public scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 from 6:00pm to 8:00 pm at the Palisades Public Library at 4901 V Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20007.

The public is invited to identify any issues or concerns they might have with the proposed project so that the NPS can appropriately consider them in the preparation of the Environmental Assessment.  Comments may be provided either in person at the meeting or electronically at the National Park Service's Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/nmbzea) or submit written comments to:

Tammy Stidham
Chief, Planning, Compliance & GIS
National Capital Region
National Park Service
ATTN: Georgetown Nonmotorized Boathouse Zone Development Plan
1100 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, DC 20242

The preliminary alternatives newsletter identifies three alternatives of high, medium and low density. From the standpoint of a trail user they are all identical, but for the amount of development between the trail and the river. I've shown the high density alternative (#1) below.

CCTgeorgetown

I only see a couple of differences. One is that cars will not be able to go under the Aqueduct, where the bike path will pass under on the north side. The other is that that, after going past the Potomac Boat Club, the trail will be separated (protected bike lane?) from the cars and located on the south side of Water Street. It appears that this separation will continue past the study area.

Creating a protected bike lane on Water Street is kind of a no-brainer and is something that's been needed for a while, if just to reduce grief. 

PG County zoning rewrite recommendations include better bike parking, complete streets and better connectivity

If you haven't had your fill of zoning rewrites with DC's, you can now get involved in Prince George's County's rewrite. Via RPUS, they're holding listening sessions on it this week starting tonight in Riverdale.

This is mostly relevant to the issue of bike parking design and how much is required.  The Evaluation and Recommendation Report notes that

The only places in the current Zoning Ordinance that include bicycle parking standards are the UC zones established in Subtitle 27A. They include bicycle parking standards that are comparable to standards found in modern codes used in other urban and town-center contexts.

The standards are based on the number of vehicle parking spaces required on the site,84 and specify where the bicycle parking should be located, and limit wheel-based racks (where bicycles are affixed to a rack only by their wheel and not their frame) from counting toward the minimum number.

In addition, the current Subdivision Regulations include a requirement for adequate public pedestrian and bikeway facilities (Sec. 214-124.01, Subdivision Regulations) that includes provision of bicycle parking “at transit stops, commercial areas, employment centers, and other places where vehicle parking, visitors, and/or patrons are normally anticipated.”

And it recommends (I removed non-bike elements from the list) that

To modernize the parking and loading and bicycle parking standards to implement Plan 2035, we suggest the following changes be made to the current regulations.

First, establish different parking standards for the urban and other contexts in the County (versus the “one size fits all” set of standards in the current parking standards table). We suggest three different set of parking standards for the following areas:

  • Centers (The Regional Transit Districts (including the Downtowns), the Local Transit Centers, Neighborhood Centers, Town Centers, and Campus Centers);
  • Areas in the County “inside the beltway;” and
  • All other areas in the County.

Second, review and modify the current parking standards in these three areas to bring them into conformance with current best practices.

  • In the Regional Transit Districts (including the Downtowns) this will include:
    • Making more proactive use of Transportation Demand Management strategies during the development review process to further reduce parking requirements;

Seventh, add the following type of bicycle parking requirements:

  • In the Regional Transit Districts (including the Downtowns), establish requirements both for bicycle parking on-site (especially in parking structures or adjacent to building entrances, and to include covered and secured facilities for long-term bicycle parking intended for transit commuters or all-day employees of uses in the center) as well as in public right-of-way as part of a streetscape, with the latter to be located in places convenient to principal building entrances.
  • In the Local Transit Centers, Neighborhood Centers, Town Centers, and Campus Centers establish requirements for bicycle parking on-site as well as in public right-of-way as part of a streetscape.

Eighth, encourage and incentivize the use of bicycle parking in other locations by establishing basic requirements for retail establishments of a certain size, office zones that permit a certain amount of intensity, and for any office, retail, multi-family residential, community facility or hotel use located on streets designated as bicycle corridors in an official bicycle facility master plan adopted by Prince George’s County; these requirements should also specify acceptable types of bicycle storage.

Refine, expand, and consolidate the range of flexibility provisions that can be used to address parking standards, through administrative approval by the Planning Director. This should include:

  • Reductions in parking for Transportation Demand Management programs in zones where more development intensity will occur over time, with more specific guidance on estimated levels of reduction that an applicant may expect from implementing and agreeing to provide a particular TDM measure as part of a development; and 

In addition to bike parking, there's a whole section on Transportation, Pedestrian, Bikeway, Circulation Standards. For that section the report recommends

A new set of basic street design standards to apply in zones associated with Regional Transit Districts and Local Transit Centers. To complement the mixed-use, urban, and transit-supportive character of development in these areas, the standards emphasize local vehicular circulation, pedestrian activity, on-street parking, street and bicycle network and connectivity, and access management. The concept of complete streets will also be explored in these areas. The regulations will also provide developers significant flexibility to propose alternative mobility and connectivity plans that demonstrate equivalent compliance.

As well as other ideas that would make cycling better, like encouraging roundabout intersections and a grid network; limiting culs-de-sac and requiring pedestrian access to other local streets or pedestrian systems access when they're allowed; traffic calming; creating incentives for the provision of bicycle facilities.

If you want to see better biking in PG County, better zoning regulations are a key step towards that end. Meetings are being held the next three nights. 

January Countywide Listening Sessions

North County
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 [Update: rescheduled for Feb 10th]
Parks & Recreation  Administration Building
6600 Kenilworth Avenue, Riverdale, MD 20737
6:00 - 8.00p.m.
 
South County
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Southern Technology & Recreation Complex
7007 Bock Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744
6:00 - 8.00p.m

Central County
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Complex
8001 Sheriff Road, Landover, MD 20785
6:00 - 8.00p.m.

Department of Commerce now offering bicycle commuter benefit

Someone forwarded me this announcement. 

Effective January 2015, DOC now reimburses government employees who bicycle to and from work, up to $20 per month for bicycle commuting expenses (not to exceed $240 per calendar year).  Commuting expenses under this program may include the purchase of a bicycle or lock, parking/storage, parts, rentals, repairs, and general maintenance.  Participants may not concurrently use the bicycle benefit with other DOC commuter benefits (e.g., mass transit, vanpool, or parking) during the same month, but may cancel one benefit and initiate another one on a monthly basis.  The DOC bicycle commuter benefit policy, frequently asked questions, application and reimbursement forms may be viewed at http://www.osec.doc.gov/ofeq/Documents/OSBM/Bicycle_Policy_1_5_14.pdf

I'm surprised that the whole federal government doesn't offer this already, but this is a good change. If Obama's looking to improve health and fight climate change using executive power, making sure every federal employee has access to this benefit is one (if perhaps tiny) way he can do that. 

Peak car happened to DC back in 1996.

The headline stat comes from a recent Wonkblog post

Washington state experienced "peak car travel" all the way back in 1992, and Nevada, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, Rhode Island and Virginia all did before the new millennium. By this measure, peak car happened in D.C. in 1996.

Jonathan Krall builds on the same idea - that the transportation future is chaging - is a recent arrticle on the future of driving in Alexandria. 

Census data for Alexandria shows this trend for daily commuting. The percentage of workers who “drive alone” fell from 65 to 58 from 2005-2013, the time period for which this yearly data is easily available, while “public transit” held steady at about 21%. Everything else, walking, bicycling, car pools, telework, etc., is increasing. Nationally, “peak car” occurred in 2005. 

The auto-oriented population is aging and shrinking. The peak demographic for new car sales, 35-44 in 2009, jumped to 55-64 in 2013. Services such as Uber and Capital Bikeshare support a culture that places less value on the freedom of driving.

Arlington Neighborhood Street Improvements Online Survey

A new “Neighborhood Complete Streets” program is being developed to provide improvements on neighborhood streets in Arlington County.

Take the online survey to help County staff and commission members finalize:

 Program goals

 Determine whether we are considering the right criteria

 Identify the elements that should be considered a “problem” on a street

For more information, visit www.arlingtonva.us and search “Neighborhood Complete Streets.”

Deadline is Feb 28.

Mendelson bill would increase penalties for distracted driving

The Distracted Driving Safety Act of 2004 brought DC into line with best practices of other states in banning the use of handheld devices by drivers. But the penalty for that doesn't single out repeat offenders, and is easy to avoid for first time offenders. Under that law, the penalty is $100, but first-time violators can have the fine suspended by providing proof of having acquired a hands-free accessory prior to the imposition of the fine, and there are no points imposed on violators.

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson introduced a bill this session, the Enhanced Penalties for Distracted Driving Amendment Act of 2015, to strengthen those penalties. It would increase the fines for those who are found to have repeatedly engaged in distracted driving, culminating in a driver’s license suspension for those who have three violations within eighteen months. The bill was co-introduced by Bonds, Allen, and Nadeau and referred to the Committee of Transportation and the Environment chaired by Mary Cheh.

Under the proposed law, the first violation will still be $100 but buying a hands-free accessory with not suspend the fine. Furthermore, under the new law fines will escalate over an 18 month period. The 2nd violation in that time period would result in a $200 fine, and subsequent violations will result in a $400 fine plus the suspension of the driver's license and the cars registration for 60 to 180 days.  In addition, starting with the 2nd violation, points may be assessed even for violations that do not result in a crash. 

It's a good change to the law. Allowing people to buy hands-free accessories may have made sense in 2004 when such laws were new, but they're now commonplace and people should know better. Targeting repeat offenders, and suspending the licenses of the worst among them, should help to make our roads safer.

I'd like to see DC go further and become the first jurisdiction* to explicitly make driving while talking on the phone - hands-free or otherwise - illegal. The law already states that "Distracted driving shall be prohibited" and defines Distracted Driving as "inattentive driving while operating a motor vehicle that results in the unsafe operation of the vehicle where such inattention is caused by reading, writing, performing personal grooming, interacting with pets or unsecured cargo, using personal communications technologies, or engaging in any other activity which causes distractions." But it would be wise, based on our current understanding of how talking on the phone detracts from ones ability to drive safely, to explicitly ban phone use by drivers as we do with school bus drivers and those with learner's permits.

Alternatively, we could nibble around the edges by extending the restriction on phone use to those under 21 years old (as New Jersey does), or in school zones, construction sites and within 500 feet of a crash site as Illinois does. Or break new ground by baring drivers of large trucks from using their phones. 

And yes, same goes for cyclists. 

DDOT proposes taking traffic lanes to add bike lanes

Among the additions and changes to projects proposed to the Transportation Planning Board for inclusion in the 2015 Financially Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP), is an addition of ten dedicated bike lane projects requested by DDOT. These projects will remove one or more lanes for vehicular traffic on approximately 9 miles of streets throughout the city.

Though these are not protected bike lanes, this is still pretty big news, primarily because it demonstrates a transition point for DDOT on two issues.

First, it means they're moving from the low-hanging fruit of bike lanes that can be added without removing traffic lanes or parking to projects that will get more push back from motorists. DDOT has always known that to get to their mileage goal they'd have to do that, but the fact they're initiating this means that they think they have the political cover to move forward with it. Capitol Hill has always had an abundance of bike lanes because they could be added without losing vehicle lanes, and it's telling that none of these proposed lanes are on Capitol Hill.

Second, it means that DDOT is viewing diagonal streets as appropriate places for cyclists. Several years ago there was a discussion about diagonals at a BAC meeting in which DDOT representatives stated that they didn't think cyclists wanted to ride on those streets and that they were going to try to give them other options, and the BAC disagreed. But now they're proposing putting bike lanes on three key diagonals (Pennsylvania Ave NW, Florida Avenue NE and New Jersey Ave NW). I've ridden on all three, and bike lanes will be a welcome addition. In case you're wondering, all 9 miles only cost $480,000. You can see the map and list below.

Update from DDOT:  The CLRP is mostly a process step, and there is a lot more design that goes into any of these bike lane installations. Some of these could be protected bike lanes. Some they have started some preliminary design on, some they have not. Some are easy, some are hard. But all have to go through this step before installation.

All of these are “funded” in some form or another, but not all are necessarily funded in the current 6-year budget. And while this is a regional process step, they also still have some outreach/engagement/procedural steps to take as they advance the design on these, and those have to be done before installation. But they have the “build” year as 2015 for almost all of these so that they have the flexibility to install these sooner without going through this annual CLRP process again.

Clrp2015
Clrp2015Also, Virginia is proposing improvements to the I-66 Corridor inside the Beltway that includes completion of unspecified elements of the bicycle and pedestrian network around the corridor.

And both Northern Virginia and DC made the removal of streetcar lines official. Update: In DC's case, the small “spur” from Benning Road to Minnesota Avenue station is being removed, since that is not being pursued further as part of the ongoing EA, but there is still active environmental work on the whole of the extension from Oklahoma Avenue to the Benning Road Metro station.

Are you ready for your closeup?

BikeArlington is looking for people to star in its documentary.

BikeArlington is excited to announce that we are working with Modacity, the awesome team behind theCycle Chic film series, to create some films about folks who live, work and play in Arlington. This promotional campaign will consist of six short documentary films (2-3 minutes in length) featuring everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.

And we think YOU should answer the open casting call by heading over to their site.

We also want you to share this casting call with everyone you know—your neighbor with the awesome fenders, the friend who bikes with her dog, that guy who bikes in a suit on your commute, the couple who bikes together like the stars of their own romantic comedy, your coworker who’s a nervous and excited new rider, the family that bikes to the park, heck, your whole social network— so that we can share some awesome bike stories with you later this summer.

Support Bike Bills in the Virginia Senate

It's that time again...

The Transportation Committee of the Virginia Senate will consider eight bills this afternoon (Wed., January 21) that are important for Virginia bicyclists.  Northern Virginia is represented by the following four members of that committee:
1) Senator Charles Colgan (Manassas), <district29@senate.virginia.gov>, 804-698-7529
2) Senatior Barbara Favola (Arlington), <district31@senate.virginia.gov>,804-698-7531
3) Senator David Marsden (Burke), <district37@senate.virginia.gov>, 804-698-7537
4) Senator Jennifer Wexton (Leesburg), <district33@senate.virginia.gov>, 804-698-7533

Please feel free to call or email the Richmond office of any of these senators in support of some or all of these bills.  Detailed information is provided below.

Dear Senators Colgan, Marsden, Favola, and Wexton,

Please support the following bicycle- and pedestrian-related bills in the Senate Transportation Committee on January 21.

1) Crossing a double-yellow Line to pass a stopped or slow-moving vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian.  SB 781 (Alexander), SB 1027 (Garrett), and SB 1228 (Reeves) would similarly make it lawful to carefully cross a double-yellow roadway centerline to pass a stopped or slow-moving road user.  Double-yellow lines are installed when it is deemed unsafe to overtake a vehicle moving near the speed limit.  A growing number of states already allow motorists to cross a double-yellow line carefully to pass a stopped or slow-moving vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian with a safe gap, something that's already a common practice by motorists driving on Virginia's many narrow two-lane roadways. Please support this practical and common-sense exception to promote safe passing of pedestrians, bicyclists, farm vehicles, postal and garbage trucks, and other slow and stopped vehicles.   

2) Opening a vehicle door into the path of moving traffic: Senator Petersen is once again patroning legislation (SB 882) that would assign responsibility to motor vehicle occupants who cause property damage or injury by carelessly opening their vehicle door into the path of moving traffic.  Forty states already have such a law, with Virginia one of the ten that do not.  Car doors opened carelessly account for a significant share of urban bicycling crashes, and many localities install bike lanes within the "door zone" of parked vehicles.  SB 882, would create a simple $100 traffic infraction--not subject to driver demerit points and not applicable to emergency responders--that would help injured bicyclists receive just compensation from the insurance policy covering the owner of the responsible vehicle.    

3) Following non-motorized road users too closely.  Virginia is practically the only state that does not clearly prohibit motorists from rear-ending a bicyclist or other non-motorized road user. SB 1220 (Reeves) deletes a single word in Virginia’s “Following Too Closely” law (§ 46.2-816) to cover bicyclists and other lawful road users not inside a motor vehicle when rear-ended by a negligent following motorist. The Senate Transportation Committee favorably reported similar bills in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and a House version of this bill (HB 1342) was just reported 20-2 by the House Transportation Committee.

4) Prohibit the use of a handheld personal communications device while driving.  SB 1279 (Wexton) would make it unlawful to operate any handheld personal communications device while driving and establish a reckless driving charge if the motorist was also violating another traffic law or caused a crash at the same time.

5)  Mandate jail time and vehicle forfeiture for DUI without a valid drivers license.  SB 958 (Lewis) would increase penalties for driving while intoxicated and without a valid drivers license. 

6) Allow new sidewalk projects to be funded by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.  SB 932 (Petersen) would allow the NVTA to fund new sidewalk projects.  If possible, this bill should be amended to make transportation bikeways clearly eligible for NVTA money as well. 

Thank you for helping to make Virginia safer for people who walk and bike.

Sincerely,

Your Name and Mailing Address

Update; Other Bills!

The first two are similar bills that preserve highway funding in the event of a road diet. (Currently cities' and towns' highway funds from VDOT are allocated based on lane miles which means that a road diet to accommodate bike lanes can decrease funding to a city or town.) These are super important changes to help make jurisdictions receptive to the idea of a road diet rather than scared of losing funding.
 
The last bill deals with funding of paved multiuse trails.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1402
 
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1501

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?151+sum+HB1502

 
Each of these bills has already been filed for this session and referred to Transportation subcommittee #4.

January 21 Greater Lyttonsville Community Meeting

Lytosnville

From Montgomery County planning

The next Greater Lyttonsville community meeting will be on January 21, 2015 at the Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center (2450 Lyttonsville Road, Silver Spring, MD) from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to discuss the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan.

This meeting will provide a chance for the public to weigh in on the concept framework recommendations before they are presented for approval to the Montgomery County Planning Board in March 2015. We are looking for your feedback on different planning scenarios of the community, including low, medium and high-density development options.

The presentation is here. It includes a lot of talk about bicycle connectivity. There's a proposal that when Summit Hill is redeveloped, a new urban greenway park be built with new paved connector trails built along and across a daylighted stream. There's also a suggestion to improve the paved trails in Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville local park. 

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