Greater Greater Washington

Walking to school in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Photo by Clif Burns.


Photo by Jarrett Hendrix.


Dupont Circle. Photo by Joe Flood.


Rock Creek Park. Photo by Joe Flood.


Photo by ep_jhu.


Photo by nevermindtheend.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

A Metro employee erroneously deleted a warning about track problems before the recent derailment

Equipment designed to detect track problems alerted Metro employees to the dangerous condition that led to a train derailing last month, but an employee deleted the information by mistake, according to a report from WMATA on the incident.


Photos by Kelli Raboy.

According to the report, the Track Geometry Vehicle spits out warnings as it rolls over the tracks if it detects any problems. The worst kind, like this one, are "Level Black."

However, the machine also reports "Level Black" sometimes when there's no problem at all. For example, when it goes over a switch, the track geometry there isn't the same as on straight track, and there will be innocuous warnings. Or a curve is supposed to have a little extra room. A human operator is supposed to interpret the raw data and decide where there need to be repairs.

In this case, the operator made a mistake, and deleted this "Level Black" from his report while keeping in several others which got fixed. The system still stored all of the raw data, but there was no process where anyone else would compare the operator's list of repairs against the original raw data. Therefore, his mistake meant that nobody else saw the problem, either.

The operator in question and his supervisor both resigned, according to WAMU's Martin di Caro, and other employees may face discipline.

This problem is different from, but sounds somewhat similar to, one of the problems before the 2009 Red Line crash. There, the signal system would regularly report errors, but so many that workers started ignoring them. After all, nothing had been wrong the last few thousand times that error popped up. Until, that is, something was very wrong.

There, they were ignoring real errors thinking they were normal. Here, the official protocol was to ignore some errors of this type. But it seems like a dangerous situation in any case when staff get used to ignoring errors.


Operators have a list of places where there are exceptions in the system.

Both humans and computers will look at the track data more closely

To deal with this, Metro is adding processes where a supervisor will review the report with the operator after the run and compare it to the raw data. That way, it's less likely (though still possible) for a real problem to get ignored.

Just doing that sounds risky, since if the Track Geometry Vehicle regularly spits out "Level Black" errors that both the operator and supervisor are supposed to ignore, it's very easy for them to just get used to ignoring them and gloss over a real one once in a while by mistake.

That's why it's nice to see in the report that Metro is also working to write computer code that can know about the usual spots where not-really-errors crop up. If a specific switch or joint always gives the same error, and that error is actually not a problem at all, then rather than reporting one every time which the operator is trained to delete, maybe the system should report it differently, so that the real Level Black errors stick out more.

Metro will also remind staff that the automated machines are supposed to only supplement, not replace, the visual inspections that also happen. It's easy to stop paying such close attention if you've got a machine that can do it, but the machine can fail.


Metro's track geometry vehicle.

This report is welcome

We've been complaining for some time that WMATA top officials just say "we've got this" and don't share much information publicly. This report is much more forthcoming about the details of what's going on, and while that's no substitute for having avoided the problem in the first place, at least being open about the findings now is a positive step.

To continue to build trust, riders deserve to also hear more in the future about how well some of these efforts are going. Many of these findings relate to building the "safety culture" that former General Manager Rich Sarles was supposedly instituting.

The public needs some more assurances about how a safety culture is being built, as it happens. We all can hope Metro actually does build up that safety culture and make these processes succeed; given WMATA's low level of public confidence, continuing to provide more information can help people actually believe it.

Learn important concepts in designing buildings from an HBO series

HBO's miniseries Show Me a Hero depicts a fight over affordable housing in Yonkers, New York in the 1980s. It raises many important issues about race relations and the reality of politics. It also teaches us something about architecture and how the design of buildings affects crime.


Public housing in New Orleans. Photo by Culture:Subculture Photography on Flickr.

Episodes 3 and 4 aired Sunday night. In one scene, Oscar Newman, the architect of the new housing, argues vehemently that it's important to build townhouses, each with its own entrance to the street, instead of two-unit buildings with common stairs. This is because, he says, people will defend and keep up their own private space, while a common space will more easily fall into disrepair and provide a haven for drug dealing.

He calls this "defensible space," a term the real Oscar Newman coined and used as the title of his most famous book.

Newman also argues that to avoid the same problems that plague the city's existing housing projects, it's also important to spread the housing out to several smaller sites rather than a few big ones. This will mean public housing near more voters' homes, but it avoids concentrating poverty in one place, which often leads to crime.

In the scene, Judge Sand and NAACP lawyer Michael Sussman are initially dismissive of Newman's concerns. They think that just getting the housing established is enough of a victory. They don't want to do anything to increase the cost, which could add new obstacles. But Newman prevails.


Peter Riegert as Oscar Newman. Image from HBO.

How "defensible space" works

A front porch that leads directly from the sidewalk to a home is "defensible" in that people know that it is "their" porch. A shared hallway or courtyard doesn't breed that same feeling of ownership and people are less likely to confront a problem in that space.

Writer David Simon illustrates defensible space is throughout the series. One of the earliest scenes in the first episode shows Carmen, a public housing resident, taking her kids to their apartment up the stairs instead of the elevator despite having an arm full of groceries because drug dealers had taken over the communal elevator.

Mary Dorman, a strident opponent of the housing integration plan, says that she works very hard to take care of her home and her street and that is why she opposes the new housing. She is then left awkwardly scrambling after a news reporter asks here why she doesn't think that any new residents won't do the same.

Meanwhile, Nick Wasicsko stands on the porch of a house he wants to buy. He revels in a view of Manhattan that is about to be "his" view that he feels he has worked hard for. The show is saying that even if the problems can seem obvious, the causes and their solutions often are not.


Co-op housing in Shaw, DC. Photo by Marie In Shaw on Flickr.

It matters if buildings face the street

Those of us who learned a lot about planning from Jane Jacobs are familiar with the concept of "eyes on the street," where people actually coming and going from the street itself make a place safer. This wasn't always a well-known concept, and Newman was instrumental here as well.

In the show, Newman argues that buildings which directly access the street, rather than facing parking lots or courtyards, will give people ownership of all of the space from the building to the street and eliminate any space for drug dealing.

This very issue affected low-income housing across the nation, including in Sursum Corda, a public housing cooperative where most units faced inward instead of out to the street. The shared space became a haven for crime and prompted efforts to redevelop the complex.

Other public housing has been built to blend in with the fabric of the neighborhood, with front doors that face the street and personal spaces for residents to care for. Capitol Crossing in Navy Yard and the mix of public housing near the Southwest Waterfront are good examples of better ways to provide inclusive housing.

Defensible Space isn't the solution to every crime, but is an important tool for many planners and architects looking to create valuable and cherished places.

The final two episodes air this Sunday on HBO.

The Silver Spring Transit Center will open soon. Here's how everything fits together.

After years of delay and construction problems, the Silver Spring Transit Center will finally open next month, bringing together local and intercity buses, MARC commuter rail, and the Red and future Purple lines. To get travelers ready, Metro put together this diagram showing how it will work.


Image from WMATA. Click for full version.

Silver Spring is one of the region's biggest transit hubs, bringing together dozens of bus and train lines and serving 60,000 passengers each day. It'll become an even bigger destination when the Purple Line opens in 2021. First envisioned nearly twenty years ago (and several years behind schedule), the transit center (named for former senator Paul Sarbanes) provides a single place where all of those services meet.

The transit center will have three stories, each with its own entrance from the street. On the ground floor, with an entrance on Colesville Road, you'll be able to find Metrobus routes serving Maryland, some of Montgomery County's Ride On routes, MetroAccess, and a shuttle to the Food and Drug Administration's campus in White Oak. This is where the Red Line entrance will be, as well as some bike racks.

On the second floor, with an entrance on Ramsey Avenue, you'll find Metrobus routes serving the District, additional Ride On routes, and the University of Maryland shuttle, as well as intercity buses like Greyhound and Peter Pan. This floor connects to the MARC train platform and has an escalator down to the Metro entrance.

The third floor, entered from Bonifant Street, will have taxis and a kiss-and-ride. The transit center also has a TRIPS commuter store where you can get transit schedules and buy tickets. All three floors connect to a portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which will eventually connect Silver Spring to Union Station.

Strangely enough, you won't be able to get MTA commuter buses at the transit center. They'll continue to stop a half-block away at Colesville Road and East-West Highway.

Breakfast links: Spin


Photo by Abraham Puthoor on Flickr.
Crisis "management": After the smoke fatality in January, WMATA had some PR firms pitch them on how to deal with "adverse search results," discussion that "continues to progress unfettered into negative spaces," and @FixMetro's criticisms. (City Paper)

Cracks slow construction: Last month construction crews found cracks in the girders that will hold the Silver Line tracks near Dulles Airport. The cracked girders may need to be replaced and could further delay the second phase of the Silver Line. (Post)

Safety drill not up to snuff: WMATA invited ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp to observe a Metro safety drill. She says the drill exposed "shocking gaps" in Metro communications and handling of disabled passengers. (PoPville)

What to do about murders?: Muriel Bowser wants to put more police on the street and increase some penalties to try to fight the jump in murders. Activists protested, saying her approach will not work and there needs to be more job training. (DCist)

More bikes, less congestion: Traffic congestion dropped 2-3% in areas around Capital Bikeshare stations. It increased slightly in areas next to those with docks, suggesting that drivers might avoid streets with a lot of cyclists. (Planetizen)

Free rides for kids: This year, Fairfax County high and middle school students can ride Fairfax Connector buses for free to get to school. This follows the announcement that DC students can now ride Metro for free. (FABB, CBS DC)

A fair housing fix: For over 60 years, fights over fair housing initiatives have helped concentrated poverty persist. To fix the problem, we need strong advocates and a new political strategy that fits today's urban landscape. (Dissent Magazine)

Transportation conundrum: Boston's Green Line extension will cost $1 billion more than estimated. It's tough to find the money to both fix old transportation infrastructure and build new connections. How can we fix infrastructure financing methods? (CityLab)

And...: Henry Kay is leaving his post at the MTA today. Kay was instrumental in planning the Purple Line. (Post) ... Making turns from the L Street protected bike lane is confusing. Gear Prudence explains the best way. (City Paper) ... For one day, Paris will prohibit all cars from driving in the city. (Forbes)

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Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 65

On Tuesday, we posted our sixty-fifth photo challenge to see how well you knew Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

This week, we got 21 guesses. Six people got all five. Great work, Peter K, Justin..., Roger Bowles, AlexC, JamesDCane, and Mr. Johnson!


Image 1: Archives

This week had a theme: knockout panels. Each of the featured stations has provisions for future entrances. For each station, the image we featured is where slightly different walls make that visible.

The first image shows the knockout panel for a future southern entrance to Archives station (it would be in the vicinity of Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW). This knockout panel is fairly distinctive because of the full outline of the mezzanine opening in the endwall of the station. The mushroom-shaped panel is easily visible from the platform. Note, the white rectangle extending outward from the wall has nothing to do with the panel. It's part of an antenna for providing cellular coverage in the station.

Thirteen got this one right.


Image 2: Federal Triangle

The second image shows the provision for a future entrance to Federal Triangle station. Unlike at Archives, this future entrance would make use of the current mezzanine, and would not require a new fare control area. This entrance was planned at a time when the federal government intended to tear down the Old Post Office to complete the long-planned Federal Triangle complex. Since the building is landmarked, this entrance is unlikley to ever be constructed.

We featured this knockout panel in week 6. Only a few stations have knockout panels. You could've narrowed this down to Federal Triangle because of the elevator here. The only similar knockout panel is at Navy Yard (pictured below), and that knockout panel is not located next to an elevator.

Nine knew this one.


Image 3: Pentagon City

The third image shows the place where a future southern mezzanine could be installed at Pentagon City. Like at Archives, this would be a completely new entrance, with its own fare control. The main clue here is the orientation of the station. There are very few side platform stations in Metro, and even fewer have the waffle-style vault. So that should have helped you narrow down the options pretty significantly.

We featured these knockout panels in week 12. Eleven guessed Pentagon City.


Image 4: Navy Yard

The fourth image shows one of the knockout panels (yes, there's more than one) at Navy Yard station. This entrance would lead to an escalator at the corner on the north side of M Street at Half Street SE. Originally, fare control at the western entrance of Navy Yard was at the mezzanine level (where the picture was taken), however, when this entrance was reconstructed to accommodate crowds coming from Nationals Park, fare control was moved to street level. If this entrance were built, the faregates would need to be at street level as well.

Clues for figuring this one out included the jagged area on the bottom of the panel (for structural supports) and the fact that you could see a second mezzanine at the opposite end of the station. Very few underground stations have entrances at opposite ends of the trainroom. So that should have helped a lot.

Nine figured it out.


Image 5: Bethesda

The final image shows the well-disguised knockout panels at the southern end of Bethesda station. These panels will soon be used to build a southern mezzanine with a connection to the Purple Line station just below the surface.

Other than having noticed these before, or having figured out the theme, the only thing you could do to narrow this down was to note the architectural type. This was clearly an Arch I station, a type which appears only on the Red Line's Shady Grove branch. You can tell this is Arch I (4 coffer vault) because the first crossbar is very high on the wall. At an Arch II station, like Georgia Avenue, the first crossbar would be lower, and a second would be visible above.

Fifteen guessed Bethesda.

Next Tuesday we'll have five more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

Note: You can find the leaderboard, submission guidelines, and other information at http://ggwash.org/whichwmata.

Which local news sources did good actual reporting on the bad Texas A&M traffic study?

Every two years, a research institute at Texas A&M comes out with a flawed report on traffic. Each time, other transportation analysts debunk it. But most reporters breathlessly regurgitate quotes from author Tim Lomax every time without doing any actual reporting of their own. How did our local reporters fare this year?


Interview photo from Shutterstock.

The Texas Transportation Institute's "Urban Mobility Study" takes a "searching under the streetlight" approach of looking at some data they get from INRIX and extrapolating that into shoddy conclusions. Victoria Transportation Policy Institute researcher Todd Litman, Joe Cortright of City Observatory, and locally, the Coalition for Smarter Growth have all rebutted the study's many flaws.

But Lomax knows that the press just eats up this "we're #1 in traffic" or "commuters waste 3 days per year in traffic" or whatever. When his report is about to come out, he goes on a press blitz, and hundreds of news outlets write up his non-peer-reviewed study (543, at last count via Google News).

Some of our local reporters just packaged Lomax's quotes and numbers into an unquestioning bundle of clickbait. Others took a moment to ask a few more questions or even wrote critical articles. Here's how they stacked up.

The "not fooled for a minute" crowd

  • WAMU. Martin di Caro, one of the region's best transportation reporters, focused his story around criticisms of the study, especially the Coalition for Smarter Growth's. Di Caro also actually asked study author Tim Lomax about the critiques.

    One criticism has been that the study's summary talks about delay to residents, when really it's just about car commuters. Lomax acknowledged that he doesn't have good data on transit, bicycling, or walking, but argues it's unfair to criticize the study for leaving pieces out even though Lomax spins his own data into sensational statements and suggests policy conclusions.

  • WTOP. Ari Ashe, who was around the last time this came up and apparently remembers the controversy, skipped the bandwagon (though WTOP ran the Associated Press's press-release-rewrite version) and instead wrote a good story with CSG's rebuttal and comments by Falls Church Vice Mayor Dave Snyder.

The "used some actual shoe leather" crowd

  • NBC4. While the lead-in by the anchor sensationalizes the "we're #1 in traffic!!!!!" angle, Tom Sherwood mostly uses this story as an opportunity to talk to people around the region, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, about solutions that include transit, bicycling, and more as well as roads. He also interviewed me. The CSG press release came out a little later, and the NBC4 web version of the story now includes quotes from that as well.

The "second draft is the best" crowd

  • Washingtonian 2.0. Posted just after this article initially went live, Ben Freed's take criticizes the report and also points out weak spots in what Tim Lomax told Martin di Caro. Freed's article also possibly has the best headline of the bunch: "Driving in Washington Is Bad. So Is That Study That Says How Bad It Is."

The "phoned it in" crowd

  • WUSA9: USA Today's national article was pretty terrible. And USA Today appears first on the byline for WUSA9's article. Lomax speaks, these outlets transcribe.

  • Washingtonian 1.0. The writing is clever—82 hours is enough time to watch Orange Is the New Black twice. Cute, if only it were based on valid data. Update: Washingtonian has followed up with another article, above.

  • Washington City Paper. We miss you, Aaron Wiener. The lack of a regular Housing Complex reporter covering planning and transportation is evident in the City Paper's unremarkable summary of the report.

    It's most disappointing because this is our alt-weekly that often finds an irreverent take on issues, questions conventional wisdom, and looks at the world through the city dweller's lens. I don't expect better from WUSA9, but do from these great folks who do so much excellent reporting (like the fantastic exposé on Metro's PR-spin-efforts after the January smoke death incident).

    Also, the City Paper's headline for the TTI study, "D.C. Most Congested U.S. City for Drivers, Report Finds," commits the cardinal sin of conflating DC with the whole region; as Tom Sherwood noted, the traffic analysis is about the whole region, not the District itself.

The "fool me twice" crowd

  • Washington Post. Ashley Halsey III has seen this story before. In fact, he's written it three times before, in 2009, 2011, and 2013.

    Halsey has had ample time to see the criticisms that people have leveled at the study every time it comes out. He even quoted more other people for context in 2009 and 2011, but stopped in 2013, and this year's article again simply recited Lomax's claims with no critical eye at all.

The "are there even humans here?" crowd

  • Fauquier Times. This "news source" appears in Google News, but its article on the issue is just a straight-up reprint of the AAA Mid-Atlantic press release (which, not surprisingly, argues that the solution to the traffic reported in the study is spending more money on roads).

Some are questioning whether all students should be on a college prep track

A former professor who spent two years teaching in a high-poverty DC Public Schools high school advocates separating students into a college prep track and other tracks that would lead directly to jobs. But to really know who belongs in which track we need to revamp an elementary school system that has left almost all poor students woefully unprepared for a college prep curriculum.


Photo from Bigstock.

The old practice of separating students into academic and vocational tracks has fallen into disfavor. That's because traditionally, school systems often funneled white and affluent students into college prep classes while relegating poor black ones into classes intended to prepare them for jobs in fields like auto repair and cosmetology.

Education reformers have generally insisted that all students follow a college prep curriculum. But some are beginning to recognize the value of what is now called career and technical education in engaging disaffected students and providing them with practical skills.

Some school districts, including DCPS, are beefing up their formerly anemic vocational offerings with new Career Academies embedded within neighborhood high schools. Two new ones, focusing on engineering and information technology, are opening this year at H.D. Woodson High School in Ward 7.

But these academies—and much of the vocational training finding favor among reformers—are an addition to, not a substitute for, college prep classes. The DCPS website explicitly says the expectation is that "all Academy graduates continue on to college before pursuing a career."

A former teacher and others question whether "college for all" makes sense

Caleb Stewart Rossiter, a former professor at American University who spent two years teaching math at H.D. Woodson, proposes a different approach in his book Ain't Nobody Be Learnin' Nothin': The Fraud and the Fix for High-Poverty Schools..

Rossiter says only about 20% of students at schools like Woodson are "within striking distance of high school standards." And he argues that under the current system, those students will never be college-ready because they're being held back by students who are disruptive or hopelessly behind.

In some ways Rossiter's version of tracking differs from the paternalistic model that prevailed in the old days, when the school system decided which track a student should be on. Students and their parents or guardians themselves would choose either a college-prep or vocational track at 7th grade, with an option to reevaluate at 9th. Rossiter wouldn't exclude any students who are highly motivated from college prep.

But, as under the old system, Rossiter wants vocational tracks to lead students directly to jobs rather than to college. And he wants schools to require students who are years behind to undertake intensive remediation before embarking on either track, although they might need less remediation for the vocational one.

Rossiter's book details extreme dysfunction at Woodson (which he refers to as "Johnson" in his book), characterizing the "unspoken bargain of calm high-poverty classes" as "don't push me to work and I won't disrupt the class much." In addition to tracking, Rossiter wants extremely disruptive students and those far behind grade level removed from regular classes and getting counseling and non-credit remediation.

Rossiter isn't the only one questioning the assumption that all students should go to college. When students are in 11th or 12th grade and still reading and doing math at an elementary level, subjecting them to a grade-level college prep curriculum appears to be a waste of everyone's time.

And, as Rossiter argues, the supposed college-prep curriculum isn't even doing a good job with the low-income students who manage to make it to college: 64.5% of low-income students who enroll in a two-year college need remedial classes, as do 31.9% of those who enroll in a four-year college. Only 9% of the poorest students complete a college degree—less than a third of those who enroll. Those who drop out are often left with huge debt and no degree.

True, poor and minority individuals who make it through college do far better than those who don't. But college doesn't seem to be the great equalizer that some had hoped for. A new study has found that black and Hispanic college graduates have far less wealth than their white counterparts.

So offering students the option of a track that leads to a job rather than to college makes sense. And there should be no shame in vocational education. Society needs beauticians and auto mechanics as much as it needs college professors and lawyers.

Vocational classes may solve some of the disciplinary problems afflicting high-poverty schools as well. As Rossiter saw when some of his most disruptive students eagerly embraced a challenging masonry task and excelled at it, some students are far more responsive and persevering when learning is part of a hands-on task.

Lately, some reformers—including the Obama administrationhave modified the "college for all" mantra, saying instead that "all Americans need some form of postsecondary education," if not college then at least a training or certification program after high school. But if we could embed that training or certification within a high school curriculum, and make it meaningful, we could save everyone time and money.

Before we embrace a version of tracking that allows some students to opt out of college prep, however, we should be aware of a couple of major caveats. One is that most decent jobs that don't require a college degree still require a high level of accomplishment. Some people who skip college and complete an occupational concentration in high school manage to out-earn college graduates, but only if they did well in Algebra II and advanced biology.

Inadequate elementary school education may be masking students' potential

More fundamentally, we may be overlooking a lot of undeveloped academic potential in low-income kids because of the education they get before they reach high school. Elementary education is currently so inadequate that we simply don't know how many kids would be capable of handling a college prep curriculum if they were given the right kind of foundation.

Even before standardized tests became important—but even more so afterwards—elementary schools have been focusing almost exclusively on basic skills in reading and math. In reading, that means hours every day practicing comprehension strategies like "finding the main idea" and making predictions.

Elementary schools have spent little or no time building students' knowledge of subjects like history and science. That's particularly harmful for poor kids, who are less likely to acquire that kind of knowledge at home.

When those kids get to high school, they suddenly encounter a curriculum that assumes a lot of knowledge and vocabulary they don't have. As a result, they can't understand much of what they're supposed to be learning. No wonder they become disaffected.

Of course, some teenagers will be disaffected even if we inject actual content into the elementary school curriculum—a slow and difficult process that DCPS is now beginning to undertake. And some students who are engaged in school still won't be interested in going to college. But right now, we can't know for sure which kids fall into which category.

In the short-term, the only way we might be able to tell is to offer motivated students intensive tutoring in the subjects they're supposed to be learning—not, as Rossiter proposes, tutoring in "basic skills," which will do them no more good than a skill-based curriculum did in elementary school. That would require a huge and most likely expensive effort, but it's worth trying.

For the longer term, we need to revamp the elementary school curriculum so that poor kids are acquiring the tools that will allow them to access high school level work. Only then will students and their families be able to make a genuine choice between a path that leads to college and one that leads in a different, but equally fulfilling and possibly even lucrative, direction.

Cross-posted at DC Eduphile.

A protected bikeway will soon come to C Street NE

New bike lanes and walkways headline DDOT's plans for a new C Street NE. The changes will go a long way in making it a complete street that's safe for everyone.


Image from DDOT.

The proposal is to cut one driving lane in each direction on C Street between 16th Street and Oklahoma Avenue and use that space to add protected bike lanes (which we also call protected bikeways.

West of 16th, where C Street becomes a one-way street, the westbound bike lane will continue on to 14th Place and the eastbound one will run along North Carolina Avenue from 14th Street.

The project also calls for new sidewalks and full time parking on each side of the street, bulb outs, and rain gardens.


Base image from Google Maps.

C Street is breaking new ground for DC

The District currently has one-way protected bike lanes with flexiposts along L and M Streets, a two-way protected bike lane with flexposts along 15th Street, and a two-way protected bike lane with curb separation along 1st Street.

But the type of bike lanes DDOT wants for C street would be a first for DC, and they'll likely make people using the street both on bikes and on foot more comfortable.


Image from DDOT.

The first distinction is that they'll be raised to the sidewalk level, which will provide another barrier to separate bikes from vehicles.

Also, a landscaped area will go between the road and the bike lane, providing a lot more protection than the traditional small two foot-wide curb or flexi posts. There will also be a landscaped area between the bike lanes and the sidewalk.

Finally, since the bikes lane are at the sidewalk level, which is above the road, there are two options: bring the bike lanes and sidewalk down to the road level at crossings, or vice versa. The design will bring the road up to the level of the bike lanes and sidewalk. That means C Street will essentially get speed bumps with crosswalks on top of them, which should cause cars to slow down as they cross or make turns where people on bikes and foot use the street.


An example of raised crossings from Boulder, Colorado. Base image from Google Maps.

A C Street with fewer car travel lanes and bulb outs at intersections will mean people who want to cross on bike or foot won't have to cover as much distance. In fact, the crossing distance will shrink from 90 feet to 44, and includes a pedestrian refuge in the median at most crossing locations.

Raised crosswalks, fewer car travel lanes, and smaller turning radii will slow vehicle speeds and provide better sight lines, helping C Street to do its part in achieving DC's Vision Zero goal.

This has worked elsewhere

Looking outside of DC, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail is a great example of a raised, two-way protected bike lane that has been extremely successful and seen high levels of use.

DDOT's planning phase should wrap up before the end of 2015. Neither funding nor a construction schedule are nailed down yet, but it's likely the project will move forward. All good work starts with a good plan, and this one is off to the right start.

Breakfast links: Purple proceeding


Photo by Jurgen Appelo on Flickr.
Good to go: Montgomery and Prince George's Counties are going to contribute more to build the Purple Line, which brings the line closer to being fully funded. With county and state contributions in place, the project can now work on securing federal and private funding. (Post)

E-ticket, please!: When the streetcar opens, you might be able to pay your fare from your phone. DDOT is looking for a firm to build a system that would essentially make phones work like SmarTrip cards. (WBJ)

Crime time: Murders are up in 5 of DC's 7 police districts, and MPD Chief Cathy Lanier is being transparent about efforts to curb the spike. She publicized stats and reasons behind the rise, and openly talked details with a city resident. (City Paper, PoPVille)

All accesss: 35% of the region's 19,000 bus stops aren't accessible to people with disabilities. Metro is working to give stops clear, flat loading surfaces and an accessible pathways to the nearest street corner. (PlanItMetro)

Power off: There's a new trend among some kids, and it's making you late to work: pulling emergency "kill switches" on Metrobuses. Metro worries locking the switches would make it harder for emergency crews to get to them, but the first responders union says that wouldn't be a problem. (NBC4)

Rolling in the dough: DCPS gets a lot of money from donors. In 2010, $31 million from various foundations came out to $702 per student, the highest rate in the country. Most of the money goes to the general fund, but some goes to charter schools. (Post)

Supersized: Baltimore could become DC's northern edge, says local sports owner Ted Leonsis. With a growing population and multiple airports, Leonsis predicts a "supercity" that will one day stretch 100 miles, from Loudoun to Baltimore. (WBJ)

Pay a little, get a lot: Phoenix voters passed Proposition 104, supporting a 0.4% sales tax increase that will triple the size of the light rail system, expand the bus network, and leave money for other transportation improvements. (AZ Central)

Asheville's (un)affordability: Asheville, North Carolina is pretty great. So much that a lot of retirees want to move there, making housing scarce and expensive. So expensive the people who work in coffee shops can't afford places to live. (Amanda K Hurley)

And...: The distracted driver from a hit-and-run that killed a cyclist in Hagerstown has been sentenced to five years in jail. (TheWashCycle) ... APA used DC to show planners how to build inclusive neighborhoods with a mix of housing... Reading a book will get you a free bus ride in Romania. (Next City)

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