Trail-Adjacent Development in DC*

This past summer, Bisnow had an article about 8 building going up along DC* Trails. The more notable thing about the article is that it is even something to write about. There are so many trails now, and they're so much a part of our city, that it's something people think about and it's something developers, planners and architects think about. 

There are 3 buildings along the Metropolitan Branch Trail, including ones with a bike lobby, and the Eckington Park Building that has closed the Z-curve along the trail for good. For a few months now there's been a detour, and the trail was to reopen at the end of October, but then that was delayed due to rain. From the BAC meeting it sounds like that should happen next week. 

Remember: Once the MBT is reopened, there will be construction fencing on both sides at the north end of Tanner Park, and on the west side of the trail through the park. The temporary Q Street connection will go away so that the permanent connection can be constructed. And finally, the temporary MBT detour on Harry Thomas Way NE, 3rd Street NE, and Randolph Street NE will be removed, but the temporary pedestrian walkway on Harry Thomas Way next to the park will remain until the sidewalk there is rebuilt.

In addition, the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping center will rebuild the trail near the railroad overpass.

The article also highlights 3 buildings along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in SW, each of which will build small sections of the trail, and 2 along the CCT (*not the DC part despite the headline). One of those is the Apex site which will build the a section of trail tunnel beneath it and the other is in Silver Spring. 

The [Silver Spring] project will also include the construction of a 500-foot portion of the Capital Crescent Trail along the western portion of the property, between the buildings and the Metro tracks. The developers will create connections to the trail at Fenwick Lane and Apple Avenue and make landscaping improvements

image from cdn.bisnow.net

DC to build P Street cycletrack

PsTREET

DDOT issued a response to ANC 6D on the proposed P Street cycletrack and they intend to go forward despite the ANC's concerns. The project, as noted by GGW, is a part of the long-planned Anacostia Riverwalk Trail - connecting the Buzzard Point section to the Washington Channel/Wharf Section. The ANC submitted a list of concerns including the route, the removal of 26 parking spaces, damage to the tree canopy, safety and the process. 

DDOT replied that the route was made necessary by Fort McNair, but that if the Army should become open to a Waterfront trail then DDOT will revisit it. Despite the concern for the mature pin oaks along P, one of the reason the current path was chosen was to avoid damaging them, and their urban foresters confirmed this. 

Most of the negative comments were about parking and DDOT said that it has a role in managing space for the safety of all travelers, not just for storing vehicles, and that the PBL design is the best one for making the road safer. Furthermore, DDOT policy is to only provide residential parking on the side of the street where there are residents, meaning the parking along the Fort side violated this policy. 

DDOT hopes to install the lane by the end of November. No one likes an outcome with disgruntled neighbors, but this is the right call. 

PsTREET2

Long Bridge Project continues to chug along. Still needs your support.

The Long Bridge Project, a project which will replace or expand the existing rail bridge across the Potomac River and potentially add a new bike/ped crossing, recently took a step forward when it released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). There was a meeting on it on October 22nd and a comment period that, unfortunately, closed on the 28th, but since the bike/ped bridge is only attached to it, the real push will be with local legislators who will need to pay for it. WABA is organizing people to contact them

FRA and DDOT assessed the feasibility of the bike-pedestrian crossing and considered whether a path could be designed consistent with railroad operator plans and railroad safety practices. The National Park Service (NPS), which administers the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) and East Potomac Park, agreed that the bike-pedestrian crossing could potentially serve as mitigation for impacts to the parks. The crossing could provide an important connection between the parks and the regional trail system and therefore has a regional recreational benefit.

After sorting through several options, planners have selected to build a new two-track bridge north of the existing bridge and to rehabilitated the existing bridge. This has little to do with the bike/ped bridge as that is just as viable as any other. But it will lightly impact the MVT since the tracks will go over it and will stage construction next to the trail as well as result in a 2 year reroute of the trail.

To facilitate construction of the new structure over the MVT, the Project would temporarily relocate the trail from its current path south along the GWMP. Temporary barriers and the existing bridge abutments would protect the trail to ensure a safe travel way for trail users

Detour

As for the bike/ped bridge, they have eliminated all the options but one

The Preferred Option would provide a bike-pedestrian connection between Long Bridge Park in Arlington, Virginia, and East Potomac Park in the District, crossing the Potomac River on an independent bridge on the upstream side of the new upstream railroad bridge (Figure 22-5). The southern end of the Preferred Option would connect to a path at the northern end of the Long Bridge Aquatic and Fitness Center and Park Expansion in Long Bridge Park, which is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2021 The bike-pedestrian path would cross over the GWMP, MVT, and the Potomac River on a 2,300-foot-long bridge consisting of prefabricated truss spans. The northern end of the Preferred Option would connect to Ohio Drive SW in East Potomac Park. The area between Ohio Drive SW and the Southwest neighborhood following the trajectory of the Long Bridge Corridor is constrained and directly extending the connection would be infeasible. Bicycle and pedestrian connections from Ohio Drive SW into the District would be considered as part of separate projects.

LongBridgePreferred

The bike/ped bridge is really like two bridges, one from Long Bridge Park across the GW Parkway to the MVT and one from the MVT across the Potomac to East Potomac Park. It could be a real game changer. 

The good news is that the EIS found only negligible environmental impacts from the bike/ped bridge. That doesn't mean it's getting built, but things still seem to be moving in that direction. 

E-bikes now allowed on NPS Trails

This may be a change that is actually no change but a new NPS policy will allow you to use e-bikes on NPS trails like the Mt. Vernon or Rock Creek Park trails. From what I've seen, people were already doing that and no one was getting ticketed or stopped. But if you're a vigilant rule-follower, you can now join your more rule-resistant counterparts on the trails with your e-bike. 

Previously, electric bicycles where often forbidden from cycling trails in national parks, though Class 1 e-bikes were allowed in some areas.

The new law allows all three classes of e-bikes to ride on cycling trails in national parks, though Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed to use the throttle control. Those e-bikes must be pedaled like standard Class 1 e-bikes while on national park trails. Thus far it appears this will be handled on the honor system.

As Arlnow points out, this should make Captain Kirk happy. 

Factors influencing bike share membership

Conclusions from this Australian study:

Convenience emerged as an important predictor of membership. Policymakers interested in expanding the membership base of bike share programs may benefit from designing bike share to be easily accessible. The distance to the closest docking station was found to be a predictor of membership and this is consistent with previous research. This underscores the importance of planning a bike share system capable of providing the network benefits that provide a compelling proposition to citizens. Targeted expansion of docking stations, particularly around employment precincts and especially for those with large number of employees aged under 35 may provide a significant increase in membership.

The differences in safety perceptions between bike share members and non-members when presented with different levels of infrastructure provision provide insights for bicycle infrastructure planners and those seeking to encourage bikeshare use. Specifically, non-members show lower levels of perceived safety in all bike-riding environments tested in this study. This suggests an expansion of the bicycle infrastructure network, particularly separated bicycle lanes, may be useful in growing bike share membership.

Bike share members recorded significantly higher incomes than other groups. This is influenced, at least in part, by the current position of docking stations, in central Melbourne and Brisbane. Research using Census data shows that inner city residents have higher average incomes that those who reside in outer suburbs in Melbourne and Brisbane. As bike share is often provided under public subsidy, greater focus on how to include a broader participation across the income spectrum is needed.

Finally, the results of this study related to helmet issues are complicated and it is difficult to make clear conclusions. Further research on the impact of mandatory helmet legislation on bike share usage may help inform policy development.

The Region's new Transportation plan could also be part of a Vision Zero plan

The Greater Washington Partnership recently released a Blueprint for Regional Mobility, a transportation plan for the super-region. It is a transportation plan, one that would likely lead to more and better biking, but it's also a plan for moving towards Vision Zero and Sustainability.

Most notable for cyclists is that one of the dozen or so actions is to complete the Baltimore Greenway Trails and Capital Trails networks and to establish a Richmond Trail Network strategy

Connected trail systems can lessen demand on the roadway network, improve connections to jobs and activity centers, increase regional economic activity, contribute to healthy communities, and enhance access to the outdoors and our iconic parks and landscapes in both rural and urban areas. Maryland, the District, and Virginia have more than 1,000 multi-use trail miles, with major nationally-recognized trails such as the East Coast Greenway, the C&O Canal Towpath, the Anacostia Tributary Trails, the Capital Crescent Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, the W&OD Trail, and the Virginia Capital Trail.

Yet, despite considerable investments, the region’s trails do not form coherent and connected regional networks in the Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond metro areas. In many instances, the trails also do not provide seamless connections to non-trail bicycle and pedestrian networks. Federal, state, and local governments should collaborate with trails groups and private entities to speed up the delivery of the Baltimore Greenway and the Capital Trails Network, and establish a trail connecting activity centers from Ashland to Richmond to Petersburg with the 52-mile Virginia Capital Trail.

Many commute trips are less than five miles, a distance most can bike. In addition, many non-commuting trips can be completed efficiently by biking or walking if safe options exist. Trail connections to essential destinations such as jobs and transit stops can lower demand on the region’s roadway network, which reduces congestion.

However, the lack of trail connectivity diminishes the region’s ability to conveniently overcome man-made barriers, such as roads, to access jobs, schools, and outdoor opportunities. This lack of trail connectivity encourages consumers to drive rather than complete trips by bike or foot, limits greenspace for recreation, and isolates communities.

The Capital Region already benefits from clusters of locally and regionally connected trails in some areas. A few critical investments would create a network of trails—creating a sum far greater than its parts.

Screenshot 2019-10-16 at 7.20.07 PM

Screenshot 2019-10-16 at 7.25.12 PMYou can't argue with any of that. Richmond in particular has some great untapped trail opportunities, as it has been an historic rail hub. Many of those rail line have been shut down, but could be re-purposed for trails.  A partial map of abandoned railroads around Richmond can be seen to the right (existing trails are in blue). 

But beyond just supporting the trails, the plan supports better transit, increased density, a downtown DC congestion charge and ending free parking - all things that would make biking better. 

It notes that a Metro study that included a DC congestion zone, better priced parking and better bike connectivity to Metro stations would result in a 25% increase in transit mode share. It's hard to imagine it wouldn't also lead to an increase in bicycle mode share and a reduction in road fatalities too. 

So, when some people write that

Some WABA members also would like to see the District charge motorists a toll just for entering the city.

They should know it's not just WABA members. It's WMATA. And the Greater Washington Partnership, and the groups that signed on to their plan including the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Prince George’s and Montgomery County Chambers of Commerce, [They should also know that on one is proposing tolls just for entering the District]

The 2019 Cider Ride is on November 2nd

This ride will take you through the woods on Maryland’s beautiful trails —a whole new world, accessible by bike, and right in your backyard! Three route choices mean you can ride for 10, 30, or 55 miles, enjoying fall-themed treats at pit stops along the way.

Check-in for Cider Ride is at Dance Place (3225 8th St NE, Washington, DC 20017). Check-in opens at 8:30 am, but the specific time will vary by route.

All routes end at Dew Drop Inn in Brookland (2801 8th St NE, Washington, DC 20017). Join us there for a post-ride celebration!

You must be a WABA member to participate. 

image from waba.org

Pedal Assist bikes returning to Capital Bikeshare...at some point

image from d21xlh2maitm24.cloudfront.net

In early August, WTOP reported that Lyft was committed to bringing pedal assist bikes back to DC this fall. 

The initial electric bikes were pulled from the fleet this spring due to a few reports of brakes locking up, posing a risk to riders.

A new model meant to address the issues has been planned to roll out to the bikeshare systems Lyft operates across the country, including San Francisco, over the next few months.

More than two months later, and a few weeks into fall, there is still no sign of them. It's worth noting that the brake issues were in NYC, not DC.

In September, DDOT reported that they're eager to see pedal-assist bikes return. The e-bikes were used twice as often per day as the acoustic bikes were. Lyft is now attempting to bring a different e-bike to market, but has not committed to a timeline or shown DDOT a prototype. If/when they do return, e-bikes will have a $1 surcharge, the purpose of which is to cover the added expense of recharging the batteries and to encourage customers to choose them only for the long/uphill trips where they're most useful. They don't want people running down the battery to make the Lincoln Park to Eastern Market run. 

Meanwhile in SF, they're being less patient with Lyft. 

Maguire demanded that by September 30 Lyft and Motivate provide SFMTA with assurances it will re-introduce e-bikes to San Francisco streets no later than October 15, at a minimum 50 percent of its initial fleet size, and guarantee a plan to “ramp up” e-bike availability.

[I don't believe that photo is of DC, by the way]

Maryland to fund New Hampshire Ave Bikeway, C&O towpath repairs, Broadneck Trail and more

image from www.aacounty.org

Last month, Maryland announced its 2020 Transportation Alternatives, Maryland Bikeways and Recreational Trails funding which includes $9 million in grants to support bicycling and walking. In the immediate DC area, this includes

  • Design of the New Hampshire Avenue Bikeway in Takoma Park in Montgomery County.
  • The repair and rehabilitation of 12 miles of C&O Canal towpath surface for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park was awarded more than $1 million for the work. Construction will extend from the Seneca Aqueduct (Towpath Mile 23) through Edwards Ferry (Mile 30) and from White Ferry (Mile 36) to Dickerson Conservation Park (Mile 29).
  • Takoma Park bike and pedestrian safety curriculum and funding the iCan Shine Camp for two years to teach special needs students to ride bicycles
  • Chamber Avenue Green/Complete Street in Prince George's County - construction funding to construct traffic calming measures, bring sidewalks, curbs and ped crossings to be ADA compliant. Also address direct storm water run off and a designated bike lanes, signage and street lighting along the corridor of Chamber Ave and Capitol Heights Blvd. 
  • University Park Traffic Safety Improvement Plan in Prince George's County - funding to design infrastructure work to include
    sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements in addition to pedestrian and bicycle improvements to provide safe access to the elementary school. 
  • Designing a 1.7-mile shared-use path on Falls Road (MD 189) in Montgomery County

Other projects in the state of note include

  • A $2.6 million award to the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks for construction of an additional 2.5 miles of the Broadneck Trail between Peninsula Farm and Bay Dale roads. An additional $800,000 in Maryland Bikeways funding was awarded for the construction of another mile of the trail between its eastern terminus at College Parkway and Bay Head Park. When work is completed, the entire Broadneck Trail will be 6 miles long and about 10 feet wide, connecting neighborhoods, parks and schools along College Parkway.
  • a feasibility study and conceptual design for extending the Poplar Trail from its western terminus in Annapolis to the South Shore Trail in Parole.
  • $360,000 in design funds for Baltimore City for a new 5.5-mile section of the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network between the Gwynns Falls and Herring Run Trails. The section will provide a shared-use path connecting numerous Baltimore neighborhoods with Mondawmin Mall, Druid Hill Park, Johns Hopkins University and Lake Montebello.
  • A feasibility study to extend the Indian Head Rail Trail to the Three Notch Trail in Charles County;
  • Studying and designing the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad Trail between the City of Frederick and Walkersville in Frederick County
  • Designing a shared-use path along Dobbin Road in Columbia in Howard County
  • design of the Short Line Trail crossing of Bloomsbury Avenue in Catonsville, Baltimore County
  • Purchasing maintenance equipment for the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Allegany County

A Chamber Avenue bikeway could tie in nicely with the Watts Branch Trail so that's an exciting idea, as is a trail connecting the Indian Head and Three Notch Trails.

The Broadneck trail's 6 mile segment is part of the American Discovery Trail.  When complete, Broadneck Peninsula Trail will connect Chesapeake Bay to the B&A Trail, which leads to Annapolis and eventually Bowie and ATTS.

College Park area has a new bikeshare system

As of late August, the College Park area has been replacing mBike with a new bike and scooter share system

After evaluating available options, City staff and our bike share partners chose VeoRide to recommend as the preferred vendor for the new system. VeoRide serves cities and university campuses across the country with programs that offer a mix of vehicles types, including pedal bikes, e-bikes, fat-tire bikes, cargo bikes, ADA-compliant bikes and electric scooters, depending on the community’s needs.

VeoRide would launch within the footprint of the existing mBike system and serve the City, UMD campus, and Town of University Park. Current mBike stations to be replaced by VeoRide hubs that co-locate bike and scooter parking in familiar locations. After the initial launch, more hubs can be added where the need for expanded service has already been identified. Soft launch building to an initial fleet of 70 pedal bikes, 150 e-bikes, and 70 scooters Pedal and electric bikes can be parked at any bike rack, promoting flexibility.

The system is being provided free to the area, but the rentals are not. Vehicles are available from 5am to 9pm

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said the time restriction allows for the electric scooter and bike batteries to be charged overnight and also mitigates some safety hazards.

“In terms of using the scooters late at night, you might not be paying as much attention,” Wojahn said. “We were concerned that people would be using them after going out drinking to get home so [we worked] with VeoRide to limit the use at night.”

The devices cost $1 to unlock, plus a fee: 15 cents per minute for electric bikes and scooters and five cents per minute for pedal bikes.

The company set the scooters’ speed limit at 15 miles per hour in the city, according to city council documents.

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