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.

Volunteer or sign up for the Arlington 8th Annual Fun Ride

8th Annual Arlington Fun Ride

Join us on October 5th in support of the 8th Annual Arlington Fun Ride! 

This is a family-friendly ride on the scenic Arlington Loop with 16-, 12-, 8- and 4-mile route options. Riders will explore the natural beauty of Arlington, discover how an amazing trail network connects key neighborhoods to one another, and learn local environmental and historical fun facts along the way. Riders will earn raffle tickets for passing through rest stops and completing challenges throughout the course--for entry to win prizes at the finish line festival. We can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful fall Saturday! This ride is presented by Phoenix Bikes and EcoAction Arlington.     

We cannot put on this event without your support! Please view the needed volunteer shifts below. All volunteers will receive 1 raffle prize entry. Snacks will also be provided. Thanks in advance for your support!

**EVENT IS RAIN OR SHINE**

 

Date: 10/05/2019 (Sat.)

Fairfax County drops Huntley Meadows Trails

image from i2.wp.com

Not really news, but back in January, the Fairfax County planning commission and Board of Supervisors decided to drop two trails in Huntley Meadows Park from the Countywide Trails Plan and  Bicycle Master Plan. FABB writes:

Although there are no trail designs or funding for these trails, they were proposed to be located mostly along utility right-of-way on the northern and southern perimeters of the park.

The County used an out of turn Plan Amendment process to remove the trails, a follow on from the Embark Richmond Highway Comprehensive Plan Amendment that was recently adopted. The request to remove the trails came from the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Friends of Huntley Meadows citizens group who oppose any new access to the park.

The Board ultimately agreed that the damage to the environment and historical resources would be too large. 

The damage done to Huntley Meadows Park, a regional gem, would outweigh any benefits. The original master park plan that placed the trails on the map was done prior to any true knowledge of what existed in the park. We have since discovered rare flora and fauna that needs protection and the wetlands have been more fully mapped.

In some ways this is similar to the CCT/Little Falls Parkway case, except that the planning staff recommendation was against what trail and bike advocates wanted and the planning board approved what was recommended. 

The Staff report argues that the land has changed significantly since these trails were first identified more than 30 years ago. And that as part of a former of a military installation, acquired through the Federal Lands to Parks Program

its wetlands are therefore regulated by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The path project would be subject to Federal review and permitting, which would increase project cost and complexity.

The report also states that the "planned minor paved trail would have significant impacts on archaeological resources in the park. Multiple sensitive archaeological resources exist within the planned trail’s path including the nationally significant northern boundary markers of George Washington's estate." And there might be munitions there that will also increase costs. 

The planned shared use path within the northern portion of Huntley Meadows Park would offer transportation benefits as a potential direct east-west, pedestrian and bicycle connection from Telegraph Road to Lockheed Boulevard and the Richmond Highway Corridor area; however, this connection may be closely replicated at least in terms of distance by an alternative connection through nearby neighborhood roadways. The planned minor paved trail along Hayfield Road and the southern and eastern perimeter of the park also presents mobility and access benefits for the neighborhoods to the south to the park and improved east-west connectivity, which are difficult to replicate in terms of distance with the
current alternative connections.

Staff supports future consideration of alternative routes or facilities to provide improved east-west connectivity in this area that do not significantly impact natural or cultural resources.

It's hard, in the face of concern from your planning staff, to preserve facilities you don't think you have money for anyway. Hopefully some other alternatives can be identified that will create the kind of connectivity that these were to provide. 

Klingle Valley Trail repair: We're gonna need a bigger pipe

Earlier this month, the Klingle Valley Trail closed to allow workers to replace a storm pipe that wasn't large enough to handle storm water needs.  The project will also include an upgrade to the eastern trailhead (I think).

The trail opened in the summer of 2017 and almost immediately it became clear that there were problems with storm water during a wet period in July and August of that year. Water overflowed from the storm sewer on the west end, it pushed up two manhole covers on the trail and the stormwater coming out of those caused some erosion. By Spring of 2018, DDOT had a plan to repair the trail and also add bollards and signage to prevent motor vehicle access on the east end. At the time, the planned to start work in August 2018, but it kept slipping due to coordination issues with NPS to fall, spring and then finally September of this year. 

The good news is that DDOT won't have to pay the full cost for the trail, because it's still under partial warranty. 

The repair plan is to replace some 36" and 42" diameter pipe with some 54" pipe. They'll also replace and repair some damaged landscaping and erosion control. 

In addition they're going to replace the eastern trailhead, which currently has some ugly jersey barrier, with a design meant to discourage motor vehicle traffic, but still allow for ambulances to access the trail. 

Trailhead

The project has resulted in a lengthy detour using Macomb, Connecticut and Porter and a shorter pedestrian one through the Tregaron Conservancy.  The closures will last up to 3 months and work can be followed at the Klingle Valley website

DC Bus/Bike lanes on H and Eye streets become permanent

image from i1.wp.com

The Bowser Administration announced that the bus/bike lane pilot on H and I Streets NW will become permanent effective November 12, 2019. Bus speeds and reliability were improved during the pilot program.

Preliminary data comparing June 2018 and June 2019 found improvements in bus speeds and reliability on I Street NW but not on H Street NW. DDOT will implement the following changes to remedy operational challenges identified during the pilot period:

  • Extend bus/bike lane hours to operate between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to reduce confusion about when lanes are in effect.

  • Other bus stuff

The bus/bike lanes pilot operates during the morning rush hour from 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and the evening rush hour from 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. The temporary bus/bike lanes operate in the right curb lane on H Street between 18th Street and 14th Street NW and along I Street NW between 13th Street NW and 20th Street NW. DDOT marked the lanes with red paint, pavement markings, and signage.

Here's more - all bus-specific. 

NCPC updating Federal Transportation Element calls on Feds to do more for biking

The National Capital Planning Commission has released the draft federal Transportation Element for public comment through November 12, 2019. 

The Transportation Element provides policy guidance to support a regional multimodal transportation system that promotes responsible land use and development and contributes to a high quality of life for residents, workers, and visitors. NCPC uses Comprehensive Plan policies as the primary guide when reviewing federal projects and plans. The proposed updates consider new parking ratios that better reflect existing and planned regional transit accessibility. Other new additions include policies addressing parking at federal visitor destinations and more detailed discussion of emerging trends and new technologies shaping regional transportation patterns.

All are welcome at an open house to learn about the proposed updates, ask questions, and provide written comments.

The report notes that the need for the update comes in part from a change in how people get around. They do so less by SOV and transit and more often by bicycle and ride-hailing for example. 

Between 2000 and 2016, bicycle commuting increased by 200 percent; though overall, bicycling accounts for only 1 percent of total commuting...There are a number of factors contributing to these trends such as an increase in teleworking and alternate work schedules; the rapid growth of bikeshare and other bicycle infrastructure, which prompted growth in non-motorized modes of travel.

For federal employees, bike commuters make up 2%. 

And it points out that the federal government has an oversized impact on transportation through the choices they provide. 

the federal government has an interest in coordinating with regional and local agencies and other stakeholders on a range of transportation issues. From establishing an integrated bicycle and trail network to improving tour bus operations and encouraging resource coordination among commuter bus systems, the federal government influences how travelers use and experience the transportation system. There can be challenges in connecting federal and regional systems, such as bicycle trails, due to differences in agency missions. Security requirements for some federal facilities can also pose a challenge to developing an integrated network. To the extent possible, it is important to create a seamless experience for users and integrate federal and regional trails and systems, which could be achieved through physical design and/or consistency in rules and regulations.

Here are the policies relating to cycling. The federal government should...

  • Work with transit providers to ensure that stations are equipped to accommodate a range of travel options, including providing parking for car-sharing services, amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians, and curb space for shuttles, circulators, and ride-hailing services.
  • Work with relevant agencies and other stakeholders to promote bicycling and establish an integrated regional bicycle network.
  • Support the maintenance and improvement of existing transportation infrastructure, with a priority on multimodal transportation corridors that support transit, pedestrian, and bicycle use
  • Work with local jurisdictions to ensure there is adequate infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians to safely and efficiently travel to and from federal destinations, including sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and multiuse trails, as appropriate.
  • Provide secure bicycle parking spaces or bicycle lockers in close proximity to federal building entrances and in convenient locations throughout federal campuses, such as in parking facilities and at transit centers.
  • Provide publicly accessible bicycle racks, bicycle sharing stations... on federal land, where possible, or coordinate with local jurisdictions to provide them near federal facilities.
  • Encourage compact development and connected walking, bicycle, shuttle/transit infrastructure and wayfinding on federal campuses so users can easily and comfortably travel between on-site destinations.
  • Locate parking facilities so they do not obstruct pedestrian or bicycle access to buildings and minimize their visibility from surrounding public rights-of-way.
  • Support efforts of local jurisdictions to design and implement new, expanded, and innovative multimodal services that connect to the existing public transportation network and enhance first- and last-mile connectivity, including supplemental transit services and small-scale solutions like dockless bikes and scooters.
  • Coordinate with local and regional bike sharing programs to expand service at federal facilities, where feasible, to provide a flexible, comprehensive, and efficient bike sharing network.
  • Provide a system of dedicated, inter-connected trails, protected bike lanes, and sidewalks, for pedestrians and other small-scale mobility options, among federal campus entrance points and all on-site buildings.
  • Coordinate with regional and local agencies to develop an integrated system of trails that provides connections throughout the region including to and from federal destinations.
  • Coordinate with regional and local agencies to ensure that trail connections and rules in areas with multiple jurisdictional boundaries are clear to users and result in seamless transitions.
  • Allow regional and neighborhood trail access across federal land, where feasible, working with federal security staff to determine appropriate access points, pathways, and hours of operation.
  • Consider a range of transportation management techniques to enhance multimodal access to visitor destinations before expanding parking, particularly for destinations in more isolated areas of the region. Such strategies may include improved multiuse trail connections, bus facilities, and sidewalks, along with improved pedestrian wayfinding.

I'm not clear on how much influence this document has, but NCPC is not some toothless organization, so it's good to have them making a statement in favor biking as transportation, and the need for the federal government to do more. 

The open house will be on Monday, October 7th 6-7:30pm at the National Capital Planning Commission, 401 9th Street, NW, Suite 500N, Washington, DC

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