Core of Rosslyn study proposes sidewalk level bike lanes on N. Lynn, 19th and Fort Myer Drive

Rosslyn could get a network of sidewalk-level protected bike lanes by 2030 if the plans imagined by the County come to fruition. Earlier this month, the County presented Concept 2 of the Core of Rossyln Transportation Study and the it includes 1.4 miles of cycletrack or protected bike lane, improved connections to the Custs/Mt. Vernon Trails and the potential for several bike boxes. 

Concept 1 came out last October and it generated some negative feedback because it would decrease travel speed and increase wait time for drivers. It had slightly less bicycle lane miles.

transportation planners worry that these alterations will produce “significant increases in gridlock” over the next decade or so...In all, they’re projecting that the proposals will increase wait times at intersections in the neighborhood by a total of 19 minutes during the morning rush hour (with especially acute problems at the already jammed intersection of the Key Bridge, G.W. Parkway and Lee Highway) and a total of six minutes during the evening rush. 

The designs included 14 new or improved crosswalks for pedestrians, and more than 1.3 miles of new protected bike lanes included in the design. The lanes, largely set to run along Fort Myer Drive, N. Moore Street and N. Nash Street, are designed to ease bike connections to the Key Bridge and Mt. Vernon and Custis Trails.

Concept 1 (C1) had protected bike lanes on Lynn, Fort Myer and Wilson, but at the street level. It also includes bike lanes on Nash. Rosslyn2030

Concept 2 (C2) has an additional 600 feet of protected bike lanes, placed at the sidewalk level and separated by a green buffer.  They're calling them "one-way cycletracks" not "protected bike lanes."  C2 also increases the low-stress bicycle routes by 34%, up from 26% in C1. 

C2 still has an improved connection to the trails, but with a trail instead of a bike facility as in C1 and it only commits to bike facilities on Wilson not a protected bike lane.

Like C1, C2 removes the tunnel beneath Wilson at Fort Myer Drive, converts Fort Myer to two-way traffic, removes 17th Street access to N. Lynn and adjusts the intersection of Fairfax, Fort Myer and N. Lynn; but it manages to speed up traffic a little by retaining one-way streets on N. Lynn, keeping the bus tunnel, leaving the parkway access to Fort Myer alone and adjusting the intersections of Meade and the US 50 on-ramps. 

The sidewalk level bike lanes on Fort Myer look awesome.

Fortmyer2

In the below image you can also see the protected bike lanes on 19th
Fortmyer2
Fortmyer2
Fortmyer2
Fortmyer2
Fortmyer2

Arlington wants your input on Concept 2. You can give that input by commenting online until April 3rd.

Also for more ambitious, but not official, ideas about how to change Rosslyn, see this

DC's Capital Improvements Plan

Here's a list of every project in DC's FY20-25 Capital Improvements Plan that I could find that's relevant to cycling:

  • 11th Street Bridge Park - The 11th Street Bridge Park project will transform the aged, unused span of the 11th Street Bridge into a signature, elevated park for the District— comparable to the High Line in New York City. Spanning the Anacostia River, the park would link Historic Anacostia with the Navy Yard. Preliminary plans include bike and pedestrian trails, outdoor performance spaces, play areas, gardens, posted information about the river and its ecosystem, and a dock to launch boats and kayaks to explore the river. [WC: nit - The span is gone, they're going to utilize the piers] - $9M
  • Capital Bikeshare Expansion (and Replenishment) - allow DDOT to expand the Capital Bikeshare system in all eight wards of the District; funding over 100 new stations and 1,000 bikes. This project will also allow the Program to replenish old equipment in need of replacement. Capital Bikeshare is the most cost effective form of transportation in the District for both the government and the user. CaBi boasts the highest farebox recovery rate of any transit system in the region, covering roughly 85% of its cost from system revenues.
    While Capital Bikeshare is continuing to expand within the District, its oldest bicycles (launched in September 2010) are at the end of their manufacturer specified useful life, and stations are also approaching the end of their useful life. - $14M
  • Safety & Mobility (aka Vision Zero) - This project envelopes any projects that have a primary focus of improving safety and efficiency of the District’s transportation system. By the year 2024, Washington, DC will reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system. The project includes bicycle & pedestrian safety, street sign improvements, vision zero improvements, the Crosstown Bicycle Lanes, Alabama Avenue SE Safety improvements and utility markings.  - $63M. Projects under this Master Project will support the objectives outlined within Vision Zero Plan which include, but are not limited to, the following activities: 
    • Improving and expanding bicycle lanes and infrastructure (like the 
    • Improving and expanding trails
    • Improving the production, distribution, and placement of signage throughout the District
    • Advancing plans to preliminary design
    • Delivery of Arboretum bridge and trail
    • Planning, design, and construction of safety improvements on high crash corridors, such as Alabama Avenue SE 
  • Streetscapes and Beautification - Any project with the primary focus on the streetscape improvements which include vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle safety improvements and beautification efforts such as green space, lighting, and signage that support the mission of the District Department of Transportation. - $178M This includes:
    • New York Avenue Streetscape and Trail Project
    • Florida Ave. NW, 9th to Sherman
    • Rhode Island Ave NE
    • Connecticut Ave NW from Dupont Circle to California Street
    • likely more, but I don't have the details to determine them
  • Urban Forestry - Includes trail maintenance funding - $70M
  • Douglass Bridge - replacement of the Frederick Douglass Bridge and improvements to the intersections of South Capitol Street with Suitland Parkway and the Anacostia Freeway (I-295). Includes sections of the Anacostia Riverwalk trail and connections. - $504M
  • Streetcar Benning Road to Union Station - Includes Streetscape improvements for multimodal transportation, including bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, along the four-mile, east-west corridor - $188M
  • H Street Bridge replacement - The reconstruction of H Street (Hopscotch) Bridge will expand the transit network and foster further economic development, as it will incorporate the H/Benning streetcar line and expand multi modal offerings, and enable Amtrak to increase its capabilities and provide for future development at Union Station - $220M

The plan also notes that the District has $6M in budget authority for trails from the Recreational Trails Program and that there is other money available for routine maintenance, major rehabilitations, reconstruction and replacement of facilities including bicycle facilities.

Projects that still have federal Highway Fund budget allotments remaining include:

  • Malcolm X Interchange Improvement - $30M
  • Rock Creek Park Trail - $16M
  • Maryland Ave NE Road Diet - $4M
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Enhancements - $4M
  • Met Branch Trail - $4M
  • Klingle Valley Trail - $2M
  • Florida Avenue Multi-modal trail - $2M
  • Anacostia Trails - Kenilworth - $863K
  • Bike sharing - $860K
  • Connecticut Ave NW Multi-modal study - $643K
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Education - $558K
  • Capital Bikeshare - ~$360K
  • Rehab Rock Creek Trail - $276K
  • South Capitol Street Trail - $252K
  • Rock Creek Trail design - $140k
  • Trail maintenance - $123K
  • Pennsylvania Ave 17th to Washington Circle - $98K
  • Rock Creek Trail improvement - $71K
  • Safe Routes to Schools - $40K
  • Arizona Avenue Trails - $34K
  • NY Ave trail design - $5K
  • Lincoln Connector Trail - $4k
  • Shepherd Branch Trail - $2k

Maryland Bikeways funding bill passes house, heads to the Senate

This year, Sen. James Rosapepe (Dist. 21) and Del. Brooke Lierman (Dist. 46) introduced a bill (SB 787/HB 1281) that will increase funding for the Maryland Bikeways Program by $4 million, helping to transform and connect Maryland by funding local bike projects.

As is, the program can’t even fund 8 percent of currently proposed projects.

HB 1281 just passed in the House by a 101-33 vote and is now heading to the Senate. The bill as proposed would have funded the program at $3.8M in 2020 and then escalated to $7.7M by 2025; but unfortunately the bill as amended will keep it at $3.8M per year every year. That's still an improvement over 2019 when the program gave out ~$2M. And the law will also codify the program, which I think has been something the governor was doing on his own up until now and which a governor could choose to stop doing, but now can't (If I'm understanding it correctly).

In 2019, about $500,000 came to the DC area in the form of 3 grants.

  • $80,000 to Anne Arundel County for design of the BWI to Odenton Connector. Money will pay for a Feasibility Study for improving a bicycle and pedestrian connection between the WB&A Trail/Odenton Town Center and the BWI Trail.
  • $300,000 to Montgomery Count for design of the Emory Lane and Muncaster Mill Road Shared Use Path. Money will pay for Final Design of a half mile long, 10-foot wide shared use path along Emory Lane between Holly Ridge Road and Muncaster Mill Road (MD 115), and along Muncaster Mill Road between Emory Lane and Rock Creek Park. 
  • $112,000 to Prince George's Count for design of the Rhode Island Avenue Protected Bike Lane. Money will pay for Final Design of protected bicycle lanes along Rhode Island Ave between Muskogee Street and Greenbelt Road (MD 193). (not $120,000)

Money will also go to Phase 7 of the Three Notch Trail in St. Mary's County and to the Upper Chesapeake Rail Trail in Caroline and Queen Anne's Counties. 

image from flourateeter.com

Vision Zero and Trucks

Sffd-truck-__-720x489-a

Since Vision Zero was first implemented in the area there has only been one cyclist fatality involving a truck, but there have certainly been more collision, injuries and other road user deaths. NYC is taking steps to reduce the risks that large trucks bring with them, and they're having success and saving money, because crashing into people is deadly and into things is expensive.

Since New York City announced its Vision Zero initiative in 2014, collisions per mile have dropped across the city’s fleet, the fleet has seen a reduction in red light and speeding violations and traffic fatalities have declined by 26 percent, while they have increased by 13 percent nationally.

“One of the things we know from our crash tracking is that 50 percent of the collisions that we are involved with that lead to litigations and claims are rear-end events due to tailgating and speeding. It’s a $50 million program for the city, and it’s a very simple thing to avoid. We do focus on training, and we think that’s where everyone should start.”

In addition to training, they're only buying high visibility vehicles when they're available. These trucks minimize blind spots by lowering the height of the truck cab, using additional windows and reducing the size and height of the truck’s hood.

This includes vehicles like tow trucks, garbage trucks and dump trucks, among other types. Overall, New York City operates at least 2,500 conventionally designed work trucks that could be transitioned to high vision trucks through this initiative.

As part of the initiative, the city adopted a Vision Zero Safe Fleet Transition Plan (SFTP), which was first published in May 2017 and outlines a series of safety investments that DCAS will require of fleet vehicles. In less than two years, the SFTP has resulted in the implementation of nearly 20,000 safety upgrades, including expanded use of automatic braking, backup cameras, driver alert systems, blind spot alerts, heated mirrors, truck side guards and vehicle telematics

The SFTP notes that 

In 2015, the expansion of Automatic emergency braking (AEB) to avoid or mitigate collisions involving pedestrians/bicyclists topped the list of measures considered likely to be cost-beneficial for possible future legislation by the EU in a Transport Research Laboratory report

The Volvo Trucks Safety Report 2017 finds that pedestrian-capable AEB or Forward Collision Warning (FCW) could be relevant for preventing or mitigating about 40 percent of crashes between large trucks and bicyclists or pedestrians in Europe.

In addition, NACTO recommends buying smaller vehicles where possible. 

“In our research, we found that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds: smaller, more maneuverable trucks, with the same capabilities as larger, less nimble models,” said Jonah Chiarenza of the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center in a release. “As cities look at new models in the life cycle of replacing their fleets, this win-win dynamic can help make for safer streets.”

Like smaller Vision Zero fire trucks.

Meanwhile, UPS is experimenting with using electric-assist tricycles in Seattle

In the new system, cyclists will pull a trailer from UPS’ distribution center to a vehicle parking spot downtown. They’ll drop off the trailer, then ride on sidewalks and in designated bike lanes to make deliveries in narrow and congested areas, like Pike Place Market.

UPS partnered with the Seattle Department of Transportation to develop the pilot project. Riders will be trained to follow city ordinances.

These are things we should be trying in DC. There are ways to incentivize UPS to not drive in the CBD during rush hour, for example.

UPS

UPS started out as a bicycle delivery company in Seattle. It'd be great if they found their way back to that - at least in part. 

Alexandria's New Complete Streets Repaving Feedback Form

As part of the Complete Streets Policy adopted by the Alexandria City Council in 2011, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services was tasked with identifying and implementing projects that improve safety and convenience for all users as a part of routine street repaving and maintenance whenever possible.
 
When streets are resurfaced, this provides an opportunity to upgrade elements of the street to better accommodate people of all ages and abilities and improve safety, accessibility, and mobility. 
 
To better plan for these projects, the City is seeking input on changes that can be implemented as a part of repaving projects, such as upgrading curb ramps, adding missing crosswalks, upgrading high priority crossings, and repairing sidewalks. In conjunction with many of the repaving projects, the City aims to implement recommendations from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master PlanSafe Routes to School Program, and the Vision Zero Action Plan. City staff will review all suggestions but will prioritize implementation based on feasibility, safety, repaving timelines, and available funding.
 
The City is currently collecting community input on the following streets. The feedback form will close on April 5, 2019.
  • Taney Avenue (North Early Street to North Gordon Street)
  • Polk Avenue (North Naylor Street to North Pegram Street)
  • Commonwealth Avenue (East Braddock Road to King Street)
  • Union Street (Pendleton Street to Franklin Street)
  • Dartmouth Road (Crown View Drive to dead end)
  • Powhatan Street (North Washington Street to Slaters Lane)
  • North Pegram Street (Holmes Run Parkway to Pickett Street)
 
Feedback summaries for each street will be posted online in Spring.
 
Visit the Complete Streets and Repaving page to learn which streets are currently scheduled for repaving and offer your comments. Visit alexandriava.gov/CompleteStreets to learn more about the City’s Complete Streets program.

Design for Eastern Avenue section of Met Branch Trail complete, other trail segment work underway

Last August, DC finished design work on the section of trail from the DC line to Piney Branch Road. It's only about 400 feet, but for trail users it will be nice to not have the trail end midblock. The 10' wide trail will replace the existing sidewalk and curbside lane of unregulated street parking.

This will also require moving or replace some lighting, catch-basins, wires and signals as well as cutting down a handful of trees.  In addition to the trail, the block will get ADA compliant curb ramps and signal buttons, a planting strip between the trail and road that will include a bio-retention facility, new traffic calming curb extensions on the north side sidewalk and the replacement of the concrete street pavement with composite. The trail will be made of permeable material for better draining. 

NorthMBT

Pepco is currently working on the Takoma to Sligo Underground project here and this work will be coordinated with that, which should wrap up this spring.

Meanwhile, work on Phase A (John McCormack to Bates Road) of the Fort Totten Section is scheduled to resume in April. Work started last June, but was paused for weather (?) on January 15th. Work on Phases B-D are still scheduled to start this month with all work done by Spring 2020. The final design contract to connect the Fort Totten and Eastern Avenue sections is anticipated for award this spring. 

On the PG County connector side, some very small progress is being made. Last year NPS completed a report on formalizing the desire path between Galloway Street & Gallatin Street, NE in the Fort Totten area. The plan is to build a 10 feet wide, 320 feet long paved path between the two with lighting

Galloway

Demolition work is underway south of that on Bryant Street project at the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center site. That project will rebuild and realign the Met Branch Trail next to it and create a pedestrian plaza entrance to the trail. 

image from assets.urbanturf.com
image from assets.urbanturf.com

Farther south, we got updated plans for Phase II of the Washington Gateway project between Florida and New York Avenues last summer and those were approved in January, but that approval was then appealed by activist "neighbors" in February. This is the same group "United Market Neighbors" who protested the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center project and got the size reduced by 200 units.  This new building will be adjacent to the Met Branch Trail and will include a bicycle lobby (of probably normal power) to connect the trail to the Gateway and Florida Avenue. 

image from assets.urbanturf.com
image from assets.urbanturf.com
image from assets.urbanturf.com

Lastly, there was another robbery and beating on the trail this week.

A man was robbed and beaten at gunpoint late Saturday night as he walked home on the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Northeast Washington, the D.C. police said.

The attack occurred as rain was beginning about 11:30 p.m. near the 300 block of R Street NE,a police report said. An early account indicated that as many as 10 youths may have been involved.

DC to Pittsburgh trails Documentary

A Pittsburgh television station is airing a documentary called, “The Great Ride,” exploring the 335 miles of bike trails connecting Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

The Pittsburgh PBS station’s camera crew followed six bicyclist tour guides on both the C&O Canal Towpath, between the nation’s capital and Cumberland, Md., and the Great Allegheny Passage from Cumberland to Pittsburgh’s Point State Park.

As the bicyclists pedal past breathtaking scenery, viewers will meet a pair of military veterans, a Civil War buff, a naturalist-photographer, a volunteer who helped build the trail and a local trail ambassador.

“The Great Ride” debuts at 8 p.m. and lasts one hour. A companion website at wqed.org/ride includes a history of the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage, which runs along the Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers in Pennsylvania, through the Laurel Highlands and Ohiopyle State Park, past the Hays Eagles Nest, to the Hot Metal Bridge on Pittsburgh’s South Side.

Also, I got an email about a bike hostel at the far end of the route called South Side Traveler's Rest. I can not vouch for it, but I think it's a good sign of success when businesses start to cater to trail users. 

Planning Board considering redevelopment plans along the Willett Branch Greenway

image from washcycle.typepad.com

The Montgomery County Planning Board is considering the redevelopment of the Westwood Shopping Center strip mall, its parking lots, and the area across the street.  The shopping center is more immediate with the sites across the streets submitting only preliminary plans. Staff has recommended they approve the plans, which are being presented today.

The project, located just west of the Capital Crescent Trail, will include separated bike lanes along Westbard Avenue and conveyance of land along Willett Branch for the future Willett Branch Greenway. The project will also realign Westbard and Ridgefiled Roads near River Road, contribute land towards the Springfield Neighborhood Green Urban Park at the Westwood Shopping Center, include easements to allow for access to the Greenway from Westbard Avenue and contribute $500,000 towards construction of the Greenway. 

Realignment

For the Greenway

The areas to be conveyed now are undeveloped, while those under covenant are currently improved with buildings and parking and will be conveyed at a future date. The Sector Plan envisions the Willett Branch Greenway as an accessible, walkable, ecologically improved and naturalized stream corridor. The creation of this Greenway will naturalize areas of the concrete lined channel, improve the ecological functioning of Willett Branch, and thus Little Falls and the Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, and provide greatly needed pedestrian and bicycle linkages across the plan area and between the two existing linear parks. Once a critical mass of land is acquired for the Greenway, the Parks Department can begin detailed design and implementation, including planning for the historical and cultural resources stewardship of all parcels conveyed.

The Greenway will eventually connect to the Capital Crescent Trail. 

The project is also required to provide over 100 bicycle parking spaces, some in a bicycle room and others outside, and shared use facilities on the new internal streets. 

Separated bike lanes are in blue in the image below.

Westbard bike lanes

And the profile where the road has two PBLs is below.

Westbard bike lanes

And then where it only has the one.

Westbard profile east

Is Capital Bikeshare less reliable? And the rule about questions in headlines.

A real journalist once told me that the rule about questions in headlines is that the answer is always "no" or else it wouldn't be a question. Like "Is the Prime Minister dead?" would be "Prime Minister Dead" if true. 

Which brings us to today's Washington Post article "Is Capital Bikeshare becoming less reliable? Some users grow frustrated with glitches." Which is frustrating because I'm not sure where the article is coming from. There's not a new survey or a FOIA of CaBi's complaint system or any fact to build on. There are just some examples of people complaining and the statements of some frequent users. The only measurable facts come from CaBi

Capital Bikeshare said there have been isolated station outages but no widespread problems. The bike network did, however, have a significant software glitch last month that affected about 10 percent of its stations. Capital Bikeshare officials said operations returned to normal within two days.

On a recent day, 99 percent of the system’s 532 stations were fully operational, a program spokesman said, noting that a handful of stations could have been undergoing maintenance.

So it would seem that the answer here is also "no". They counterbalance "someone tweeted about a problem" with CaBi statistics showing nothing unusual. Is ridership down? Are there more bikes out of commission? I feel like that information is publicly available. I mean there could be a reliability program, but you won't be any closer to knowing it after reading this article. 

I've not noticed any problems. Yes, they moved my station a block away for construction. Sometimes stations are blocked or empty. And sometimes I can't get all three numbers on they keypad to work so that I can unlock a bike; but none of that has occurred with any greater frequency. 

The system IS getting older. The oldest stations are coming up on 9 years old. I'm not sure when they will start replacing them, but I'm pretty sure that average station age has been going up since day 1 and will continue to go up for some time now. So, I expect there to be more technical issues with each passing day, at least until equilibrium is met.

Other news:

If I didn't mention it, Motivate, the company that operates CaBi, was bought by Lyft and Jump was bought by Uber. Both of those stories are from last year. 

Also, CaBi is going to increase the number of e-bikes in its fleet from 100 to 600 real soon, giving them more e-bikes than Jump; and "The District is also planning to launch an adaptive Bikeshare program that would make recumbent tricycles, hand tricycles and cargo tricycles available."

Also, Jeffrey Long, who died in a fatal crash in July of last year, was reportedly riding a Capital Bikeshare bike making him the first bikeshare fatality in DC.

Latest version of the Arlington Bike Plan drops some facilities

It's not available on line just yet, but ArlNow is reporting that the soon-to-be released version of the Arlington County bicycle plan will drop a few facilities that were included in the draft

During this latest revision, the county dropped its proposal for an off-street, half-mile trail connecting 6th Street S. to S. Quincy Street in the Alcova neighborhood at S. Oakland Street. The trail became a point of controversy because it could mean 6th Street residents lose some backyard privacy, and the county would cut down some important trees.

That's the green dashed line from the map, below

Screenshot 2019-03-10 at 10.23.30 PM

Another nixed idea was to extend the Four Mile Run Trail a half mile to connect with Claremont Elementary and Wakefield High. The Audubon Society wrote a letter in January warning that the proposal could cause “potential harm” to the rare magnolia ecosystem in the area.

Which I guess is, again, the green dashed line, but seems more like a path beneath the power lines at Chesterfield Road

Screenshot 2019-03-10 at 10.26.26 PM

Another plan that became bogged down was a Glencarlyn/Hospital Trail connecting Glencarlyn and Forest Hills neighborhoods via the old site of the Northern Virginia Community Hospital. The half-mile project was envisioned by Viola’s team as a “low-stress route” between Arlington Boulevard and Columbia Pike because it could link up with other bikeways on S. Lexington Street, S. Carlin Springs Road, and 5th Road S.

The Audubon Society wrote that a trail passing through the old hospital site would “destroy valuable natural resources” in the conservation area that protects Long Branch Creek.

That sounds like the green dashed line in this part of the map

Screenshot 2019-03-10 at 11.32.25 PM

As a compromise, Viola’s team suggested instead widening the sidewalk on the east side of Carlyn Springs Road, so bikes and pedestrians can share.

None of these losses are to be celebrated, but the plan as a whole is still very good. 

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