Greater Greater Washington

Posts by Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Planning Department. His views are his own and do not represent the opinion of his employer. 

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Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 23

On Monday, we posted our twenty-third photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 25 guesses this week. Twelvealmost halfof you got all five correct. Great work, Aaron, Mike B, Peter K, iaom, Andy L, MZEBE, Alex B, Eyendis, King Terrapin, Sand Box John, Rob K, and Matt and Sarah!


Image 1: Fort Totten

The first image shows the north end of the Red Line platform at Fort Totten. The primary clue here are the radio towers visible in the distance. The other clue is the single freight rail track on the left side of the fence, narrowing it down to the Red Line shared corridor between Brookland and Silver Spring. Fifteen of you got this one right.


Image 2: NoMa

The second image was taken from the platform at NoMa station. The primary clues here are the canopy ("Gull II"), which is present at only three stations, and the electrified Amtrak corridor just north of Union Station. This could only be NoMa, and 24 of you (all but one) got it right. Great job!


Image 3: Largo

The third image also has the "Gull II" canopy like at NoMa. But this is Largo Town Center. The main clue here is the parking garage at left. NoMa doesn't have any parking and Morgan Boulevard (which also has this canopy type) is below grade, so it has concrete walls on either side. Eighteen of you knew this one.


Image 4: Silver Spring

The fourth image shows Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring through the windows of an arriving train. From the image, you can tell that this is an elevated station over a major arterial, and you may have been able to recognize some of the high-rises visible above the train. As with image two, 24 of you (all but one) also got this one correct. Excellent work!


Image 5: West Falls Church

The final image shows the westbound track at West Falls Church. Only West Falls Church has this diagonal glass canopy over the trackway like this. An additional clue is visible at center left: the distinctive canopy at the north bus loop. Twenty of you got this one right.

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

Language


Have you been "walkblocked"? Are you "zonely"? New terms sprout in the urbanist lexicon

The other morning, a taxi making an illegal right turn on red prevented me from entering a crosswalk. There's no term for that phenomenon, so I decided to coin one: I was "walkblocked."


Dictionary image from Shutterstock.

Living or working in cities, we often encounter events over and over that don't have names. Here are a few that some of our contributors have named themselves, plus a few others that have grown common around our region.

Walkblock: v. The action of a motorist that blocks access to a crosswalk or causes a pedestrian to miss the walk sign. Example: "I got walkblocked by a bus blocking the intersection this afternoon."

I also devised a name for what frequently happens when a cyclists bikes down the street with a bus.

Bikefrog: n. The travel pattern that occurs when a bus has a higher top speed but a cyclist has a higher average speed, resulting in the two passing each other in an alternating pattern for several blocks.

If you've ever cycled along a bus route, this has probably happened to you. I can generally cruise on my bike at around 16 miles per hour, which can't compete with a bus running on the freeway. But on a local route, the bus stops every block or two.

Because the bus has a higher top speed than a cyclist, but a lower average speed (because of the stops), the bus passes the biker and then pulls into a stop, whereupon the cyclist passes the bus. This pattern then repeats, sometimes for quite a while, generally until the bus either encounters a long stretch with no boarding or alighting passengers or a stop with a bunch of people waiting.

BRT Creep: n. The tendency of planned Bus Rapid Transit projects to be sold as a gold-standard project, but then be built with fewer rapid transit aspects or even as just a specially-branded bus.

This term, which our own contributor Dan Malouff coined some time ago, has started spreading much more widely.

Zonely: adj. The state of an area of on-street parking reserved only for residents of the ward, thus excluding anyone else from parking there ever. Example: "Oh, there's a spot! No, keep going, it's zonely.

"Zonely" comes from Abagail Zenner's husband Todd.

Dockblocked: v. When a bikeshare user can't dock a bike at a chosen station because the station is full.

We didn't coin this one, and we're not sure who did, but it certainly happens to many of our contributors and, I'm sure, our readers, too.

A few years ago, Metro ran a set of ads on trains that fit into this category. I don't remember all of them (perhaps some of you do, though).

Escaleftor: n. A person who stands on the left side of an escalator and prevents people from walking past.

Some other terms have caught on in recent years, after initially spreading elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Shoaling: v. When one cyclist skips ahead of another cyclist when the first is stopped at an intersection.

Salmoning: v. Riding a bicycle the wrong direction along a one-way bike lane.

Sneckdown: n Following a snowfall, the area of a street that remains covered in snow after passing cars have swept the travel lanes clear, and thus functions as a curb extension. Short for "snowy neckdown."

Have you coined a term to describe something you experience in urban life? Let us know in the comments.

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Do you know the station? It's whichWMATA week 23

It's time for the twenty-third installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of five stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday.

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Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 22

On Monday, we posted our twenty-second photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. Reader Peter K took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 31 guesses this week. 10 of you got all five correct. Great work, Alex B, Merarch, Patrick, Mr. Johnson, TheOtherGlenmont, Kwasi, Sand Box John, Aaron, JS2008, and Rob K!


Image 1: Dupont Circle

Since Peter K took all the photos this week, the answer paragraphs below are all in his words.

Across all 91 stations, WMATA operates 613 escalators to keep passengers moving efficiently through the system. That's really quite an impressive number considering there are only 35,000 escalators in the US, meaning that slightly more than 1 out of every 60 escalators in this country is on Metro. Since escalators are a key part of nearly all Metrorail commutes, I thought it'd be appropriate to take a moment and look at a few unique escalator installations.

First up is an overhead view of the surface-mezzanine escalators at the Q Street (north) entrance to Dupont Circle. This configuration, with three escalators separated by wide balustrades, is somewhat unusual in the system and is most commonly seen at deeper and/or high-volume stations since it allows each escalator to be taken offline for maintenance without impacting the others. The lighting and point of view narrow the location down further: here, we're above the escalator and have natural light, which eliminates places like Bethesda and Tenleytown.

But the real key here are the building materials. The darker metal along the balustrades rules out renovated escalators like the ones at Medical Center and Potomac Avenue, and the brickwork along the sides definitively puts us in the open, circular pit of Dupont's north entrance. 28 of you got Dupont Circle right.


Image 2: National Airport

The second image is at National Airport, specifically the escalators at the southern end of the District-bound platform. The main hint here is the Gull Wing I roof, which is only used at 13 island platform stations. Of those, National Airport's platforms are distinctly narrower than the others, being barely wide enough to accommodate 2 escalators side-by-side, due to its 3-tracked configuration.

Other unique features include the "THANKS FOR RIDING METRO" inscription on the way to the mezzanine and the placement of the escalator at the very end of the platform. Another tip could have been the airport shuttles and distinctive yellow pedestrian bridge barely visible on the left side of the picture. 18 of you got this one correct.


Image 3: L'Enfant Plaza

The third image shows a few of the platform-mezzanine escalators at L'Enfant Plaza on the upper level, heading up to the 7th/Maryland entrance. The upper level of L'Enfant is unique within the system for how wide its upper level is, providing a cavernous amount of space on the platforms and allowing the floating mezzanine to be pulled away from the walls to create a second walkway on the outside of the escalators.

Metro Center can be ruled out, since it now has signs installed in the space between the parapet and the escalator. This particular entrance also has 3 escalators serving each platform, which among side platform stations is a trait shared only with Ballston (to my knowledge). 21 of you correctly guessed L'Enfant Plaza.


Image 4: Farragut North

The fourth image shows the escalators up to the L Street (northernmost) mezzanine at Farragut North. Like a handful of other stations, the L Street mezzanine at Farragut North is located in a separate room beyond the end of the platform. The distinctive feature here, aside from the bank of 3 escalators and the arriving Red Line train, is the especially low (and newly renovated!) tiled ceiling, eliminating other similar stations.

Stadium-Armory also has a bank of 3 escalators right at the end of the platform, but the ceiling is full-height there. Union Station, which has a flat ceiling at its north end, only has 2 escalators, separated by the elevator. 23 of you knew this was Farragut North.


Image 5: Rosslyn

The fifth image shows the west (older) mezzanine at Rosslyn. The unique feature here is simply the size of the escalator bank. Rosslyn is one of only 3 stations to have 4 escalators in one bank serving a single mezzanine, the others being Mount Vernon Square at the Washington Convention Center and the Verizon Center entrance of Gallery Place. However, both of those installations are much, much shorter than Rosslyn and feature a staircase in between two sets of two escalators.

In this picture, the extra-wide, stair-free gap in the middle is there because of a now-disused elevator shaft bisecting the escalators (week 15) that's been closed due to development above the station and replaced by the new, elevator-only east mezzanine (week 12). 20 of you correctly guessed Rosslyn.

Next Monday we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing! And a special thanks to Peter K for supplying the photos this week.

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Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 22

It's time for the twenty-second installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?

This week, we have a guest photographer. These 5 photos were all taken by Peter K.


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Thursday. Good luck! Thanks again to Peter K for his submissions.

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Here are the answers to week 21 of whichWMATA

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

We got 14 guesses this week. Only 2 of you got all 5 correct. Great work, Alex B and Peter K!


Image 1: Prince George's Plaza

The first image shows the mezzanine and the bottom of the parking structure at Prince George's Plaza. This station has a unique design, and the roof is actually the base of the parking garage, giving it an appearance similar to a squared-off vault. All but one of you got this one right. Great work!


Image 2: New Carrollton

The second image depicts the pedestrian bridge across Ellin Road at New Carrollton station. This bridge is built as an arc, making it quite distinctive. The visible office building is also a clue. 10 of you knew this one.


Image 3: Anacostia

The third image shows the unique vaults at Anacostia station. Because of the water table, this station is very shallow, and there wasn't room for a high vault. As a result, the ceiling is lower, and has smaller perpendicular vaults running across the space. 12 of you guessed correctly.


Image 4: Wiehle Avenue

The fourth image shows the entrance to the northern bus loop at Wiehle Avenue station. This glass entrance is unique in the system, but the angles are reminiscent of the angles present in the other Silver Line stations. 6 of you knew this one.


Image 5: Gallery Place

The final image shows the street elevator entrance at Gallery Place. The narrow bridge and the sign make it clear that this is an elevator entrance, and not the main entrance into a station. But the clue to narrow this to Gallery Place is the depth of the vault coffers. Because the vault here is higher (to accommodate 2 levels of trains), the coffers get much narrower shallower toward the bottom than they would at shorter stations. 5 of you correctly guessed Gallery Place.

Next Monday we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

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Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 21

It's time for the twenty-first installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Thursday. Good luck!

Bicycling


No bike racks? Just park it in the car lane

It's a frequent sight around the city. Drivers who are ignorant or who just don't care park in the bike lane when they can't find a parking space. It's rude and inconsiderate, of course, but it's also dangerous for the cyclists who have to dart into traffic to pass. How would drivers react if cyclists started parking in their lane?

The poster above was produced by Canadian design and cities-focused magazine Spacing. The image is designed to be a little provocative and to make drivers think about how they'd like it. I suspect most of them wouldn't like it one bit.

I've always wondered why people think it's acceptable to park in the bike lane. Recently I was riding on the M Street cycletrack and as I approached one of the mixing zones, a UPS driver was backing his truck into the buffered part of the bike lane. At this point, it was already after the evening rush hour, and there were 4 lanes for cars, but only one for bikes. If the UPS delivery guy had parked in one of the car lanes, he'd be blocking 1 of 4 lanes. But by blocking the bike lane, he was blocking the only bike lane.

Why is it that drivers who would never for a moment consider blocking a car lane "just for a minute," while they run inside will, without even the briefest of thoughts, park in the bike lane?

Well maybe this image can be successful in making drivers give it a little thought.

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Here are the answers to whichWMATA week 20

On Monday, we posted our twentieth photo challenge to see how well you know Metro. I took photos of five Metro stations. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 19 guesses this week. 6 of you got all 5 correct. Great job, Alex B, MZEBE, Peter K, coneyraven, Roger F, and Phil.


Image 1: West Falls Church

The first image is from the mezzanine of West Falls Church. The crucial clue here was the "Dulles Airport Shuttle" sign. It refers to the now-truncated DC Flyer service. I don't know whether this sign is still in place. I took the photo last month. But despite that, the line of natural light coming in from the ceiling and the down escalator at the far left discounts underground Rosslyn and L'Enfant Plaza. Wiehle Avenue doesn't have this kind of brutalist architecture, so it's out too. 13 of you correctly guessed West Falls Church.


Image 2: Judiciary Square

The second image shows the western escalator entrance to Judiciary Square, in front of the National Building Museum. The District of Columbia City Hall is visible at center, which is a clear giveaway. Another clue is the pair of elevators, which drop directly to the platforms, bypassing the mezzanine. 16 of you knew this one.


Image 3: White Flint

The third image was a bit harder. It depicts the canopy at White Flint. This peaked-roof canopy is very similar to the canopies at most of the above-ground stations that opened in the 1980s and 1990s. But there's a unique feature here: This canopy has tapered support beams. These tapers are not present anywhere else in the system on the beams running parallel to the tracks, though the taper is standard on the cross-beams. The office building visible through the glass may have tipped some of you off as well. 9 of you got this one right.


Image 4: Tysons Corner

The fourth image shows the set of 4 escalators at the western end of Tysons Corner station. Tysons Corner has two entrances. One is on the south side of Route 123, via a bridge over the roadway. It lands near Tysons Corner Center. But the other entrance is below the tracks, 2 levels below the mezzanine. These escalators lead from the mezzanine to a landing (where the photo was taken) and down to the north side of Route 123. Nine of you guessed this one correctly.


Image 5: East Falls Church

The final image shows the view out of the entrance to East Falls Church station. The road that's visible is Sycamore Street, which runs under the tracks and platform (which are above the concrete lattice in the photo). The other clue is the bridge that carries the westbound lanes of I-66, just visible in the upper right corner. East Falls Church is the only median station in the system with an entrance below the tracks. 14 of you got this one right.

Next Monday we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

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Do you know the station? It's whichWMATA week 20

It's time for the twentieth installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Below are photos of 5 stations in the Washington Metro system. Can you identify each from its picture?


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

The answers will appear on Wednesday. Good luck!

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