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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. 

"Y'know that's not a parking space"

A while ago I stopped covering the "car parked in bike lane" story becaue it's just so prevalent that it would quickly dominate the blog (also on the "Dead to me" board: "Bank robber escapes on bike") But this one does stand out a little. A cyclist approaches the driver of a Lehigh Valley Dairy truck who's using the bike lane as an unloading zone, and when told he can't park there, the driver tells the truth "I don't care." 

Van Ness Vision Framework Community Workshop

The DC office of planning is kicking it off the Van Ness Vision Framework this month and will be completing it in Spring/Summer.  

A community workshop is being held on January 31st from 9am-12pm at 4340 Connecticut Avenue NW in Room 214 (UDC Law School).  

Prior to the community workshop, "Office Hours" are being held around Van Ness.  "Office Hours" are an opportunity for the public to meet one-on-one with the Project Manager and Ward 3 Neighborhood Planner, Ryan Hand.  His email is:  ryan.hand@dc.gov.  

Upcoming "Office Hours" are as follows:  

January 22nd from 4pm-7pm at UDC (location on campus TBD).  

Kidical Mass Arlington Braves the Ice (Skating): This Sunday 1/18/15 4pm Pentagon Row

That's right, we're doing a January ride in honor of ice, delayed openings and snow days! The forecast for Sunday looks acceptable (high of 50!), so we're going to ride -- meeting at 4pm at the Pentagon Row Starbucks. After a little time to grab a toasty beverage and chat, we'll roll out (4:15pm) and around the awesomely flat neighborhood of Aurora Highlands, coming back to Pentagon Row in time for a little ice skating and/or an early dinner.

Events at Pentagon Row 
When:  Sunday, January 18, 2015 4pm (roll out 4:15pm)

Meet: Starbucks at Pentagon Row (probably inside)

Parking: Street parking (should be free on Sunday); surface lot at Pentagon Row (free for the first hour); garage under Pentagon Row (not free, but I believe Harris Teeter validates for an hour, if you need groceries)

End: Pentagon Row Ice Skating Rink (basically the same place as the start)

Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6794277

We'll roll out and (almost) immediately enjoy Arlington's new protected bike lanes (on Hayes and Eads). Then we'll turn into the neighborhood and enjoy the mostly flat neighborhood streets of Aurora Highlands, brushing by the very cool playgrounds and sprayground of Virginia Highlands Park (where we can dream of summer)... 

After the ride, families are encouraged to enjoy ice skating at the rink, or to join together for dinner - there are plenty of options in Pentagon Row.

The ride itself will take place before sunset, but if you're planning on riding home after, you'll probably need lights. Given weather reports, we expect the road to be ice and snow free, but please keep an eye out and be sure to dress appropriately (we might need rain gear). This page will be updated in the case of inclement weather.

Happy Winter!

Cyclist a victim of random stabbing

A cyclist was stabbed in the chest by a teenager on the 13th

while riding his bike home, Kyra’s husband Brian was attacked with a knife by a teenager. He was riding near 7th and L Streets SE when he ran into the teens. One of them stepped out onto the street and stabbed him on the chest. Although Brian is fine –he only required a staple and antibiotics– his story is a painful reminder that there are those out there who can and do hurt others.

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