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N Street NW has new bike lanes

If you've biked down N Street just north of Thomas Circle recently, your ride may have been more convenient than it used to be thanks to new contraflow lanes. Even though the lanes only stretch two blocks on either side of 14th street, they provide valuable new options for travelling east-west in this part of downtown.

Image from Google Maps.

Previously, these two blocks only allowed for one way traffic heading towards 14th street. The new lanes make two connections possible:

1.Cyclists can go east on the 1300 block of N, making for a straight shot connection from 14th Street to the NoMa metro. Even though most of N doesn't have painted lanes, the low amount of vehicle traffic allows for a relatively low-stress connection between two important parts of the city core.

The new contraflow lanes, looking east along N Street NW. Photo by Matt Friedman.

2.Being able to go west on the 1400 block of N allows for an easier connection to the M Street protected bikeway, which currently ends on the western side of where Massachusetts Avenue meets Thomas Circle. Before, biking from 14th and N to the M Street bikeway required navigating Thomas Circle.

Looking west along N Street. Photo by Matt Friedman.

N Street joins a handful of other contraflow lanes that have been popping up around the city, like those on G and I Streets NE.

This relatively quick and easy project shows that DC hasn't yet run out of "low-hanging fruit" for places to install bicycle infrastructure. These contraflow lanes are fairly non-disruptive to both parking and car traffic.

What other streets might be ripe for this treatment?


Events roundup: Design a protected bike lane

Stay active and engaged this summer by learning how planners design protected bike lanes, checking out the latest Metro-related apps and data, or attending a regular Advisory Neighborhood Commission or Washington Area Bicyclist Association meeting. Also, don't forget to submit your ideas to our MetroGreater contest!

Photo by BeyondDC

Protected bike lane workshop: Want to learn how to design protected bike lanes? Discuss and learn the latest design guides at a free workshop with Toole Design and the Federal Highway Administration this Wednesday, June 29, from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. It's at 777 North Capitol Street, and you can RSVP to attend.

After the jump: Metro hacks, MetroGreater, ANC and WABA meetings.

Metro hack: People around the region are coming up with clever ways to combine tech and transit. Check out the fifth edition of Metro Hack to hear the latest on Metro related apps and data visualizations. It's this Tuesday, June 28, at 6 pm at 2221 South Clark Street in Arlington.

MetroGreater: Greater Greater Washington and the Coalition for Smarter Growth joined with WMATA to launch MetroGreater, a crowdsourced website for small, meaningful ideas to improve Metro. Submit your ideas before the July 15th deadline!

Ongoing events: Make sure you don't forget about the ongoing chances to get involved, like your local ANC meeting or your local WABA Action Committee. Find yours today!

Calendar: Beyond what we've highlighted here, there are many other worthwhile events across the region. Check out more great events in our events calendar:

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers that should go on our events calendar? Send it to us at


Let's stand by the Silver Line

Sharon Bulova chairs the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

In light of the safety and maintenance issues that Metro is now addressing with SafeTrack, some members of the media have said that instead of building the Silver Line, WMATA should have fixed the rest of the system. As one of the leaders that helped make the Silver Line happen, I'd like to respond.

Photo by Dan Malouff.

Expansion and maintenance are not mutually exclusive when you do them both responsibly, and it is important to note that WMATA did not build or pay for the Silver Line extension. The Silver Line was financed outside of the WMATA budget, and funding to build the extension could not have been used instead for Metro maintenance.

Financing for construction of the Silver Line comes from multiple sources, including special tax districts in Fairfax County paid by commercial and industrial landowners along the Dulles corridor, motorists using the Dulles Toll Road, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the federal government, Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Silver Line took decades of planning and spanned numerous elected officials and leaders. The project almost died a few times, and the 2014 grand opening was a tremendous feat.
This extension of Metro has served as a major underpinning of economic growth and redevelopment in Tysons, spurring over 100 million square feet of new approved development within a half-mile of the new stations. In terms of growth in the commercial tax base, Tysons increased by a rate of 3.1% in FY 2016 and 10.8% in FY 2017.

By 2050, Fairfax County plans to attract 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs to Tysons. Riders using the Silver Line from Phase I (Tysons/Reston) and Phase II (Dulles Airport and beyond) will have access to a one-seat ride to downtown DC and a safe and convenient connection to the rest of the region. This increase in connectivity and access to Metro is why ensuring the safety and reliability of the systen is critical to our region's success.

Photo by Dan Malouff.

Past WMATA leaders failed to make safety the top priority and neglected to do major maintenance as well. That led to tragedy and, eventually, the SafeTrack maintenance plan we see today. SafeTrack is impacting all Metro riders this year, but the heavy dose of maintenance medicine will shore up the entire system.

Paul Wiedefeld is focused on getting Metro back on its feet and transforming WMATA's culture into one that is safety-first. I believe this generation will be known for repairing, revitalizing, reinvesting, and reinvigorating the infrastructure that past generations built. While SafeTrack is placing a temporary burden on commuters, it's necessary and in many cases is being completed ahead of schedule. I believe this bodes well for WMATA's future.

I will be working with my regional counterparts through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Greater Washington Board of Trade to identify dedicated funding for WMATA. We must prepare for the future and we must do so safely, responsibly, and consistently. Our regional economy depends on Metro's success.


Near National airport, the Mount Vernon Trail is new again

A number of changes to the Mount Vernon Trail near Reagan National airport just wrapped up. The National Park Service installed a new railing where the trail comes close to the parkway as well as a much-needed water fountain, and removed a sharp turn from the trail.

The new water fountain on the Mount Vernon Trail. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

The water fountain, which is already working, is the only water stop on the trail itself in the eight mile stretch between Jones Point Park in Alexandria and the trail head in Rosslyn.

Running water from the Mount Vernon Trail's new water fountain.

The park service installed a new railing between the trail and the adjacent George Washington Memorial parkway where the two are just feet apart under a bridge at the southern end of National airport.

The new railing between the trail and parkway.

The new railing is located under a bridge that carries cars from National airport to the parkway.

The park service also shifted the trail away from the parkway under the bridge that connects Crystal City and National airport.

The trail under the Crystal City-National airport bridge today (left) and at the beginning of work in October (right).

Finally, the sharp turn in the trail around a tree south of both bridges is now gone.

The newly realigned trail is on the left and the old route around the tree on the right.

Weather postponed the completion of the improvements to the Mount Vernon Trail to June from the spring, says Aaron LaRocca, chief of staff of the park service's division responsible for the parkway and trail.

The trail work has been a long time in coming. The number of users continues to increase, especially since the beginning of the SafeTrack work on the Metrorail system. The Yellow and Blue lines are scheduled for a full closure between Braddock Road and Pentagon City - the section of track that parallels this part of the trail - for much of July.

Many users continue to seek more improvements to the Mount Vernon Trail. Among the various ideas are a bike bypass at Gravelly Point and snow removal in the winter.


Breakfast links: Metro memories

Photo by Mr.TinDC on Flickr.
Goodbye, paper fare cards: If you still have a paper fare card lying around, be sure to transfer any credit to a SmarTrip card before it officially becomes obsolete on July 1. (WAMU)

Comstock on Metro: To improve Metro's work and safety culture, and to defray costs, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock said WMATA should reform its pension system and contract out some services, like paratransit. (WTOP)

Plain old buses for the Pike: Transit plans for Columbia Pike include more frequent buses and enhanced bus stops, but longer, articulated buses will have to wait until Metro expands its fleet and Arlington County finds a place for storage. (ArlNow)

No housing in MoCo office space: An idea to convert empty Bethesda office space into housing or schools isn't financially feasible, according to a Montgomery County report. Vacancy in some office parks is approaching 30%. (Bethesda Beat)

Cranes with creativity: A DC developer is livening up its construction sites by commissioning local artists to bring murals and other art to cranes, parking garages, and building walls. (WTOP)

Metro riders switch it up: Metro riders are finding alternatives during SafeTrack, like switching to other Metro lines or giving bike commuting a shot. Overall system ridership has decreased 12% during this second surge of SafeTrack. (WAMU)

Metro is still the best choice: Metro has its problems, but it's still the best, or only, choice for many commuters. (Post)

Regional ride-hailing stats: More than half of the region's 18- to 34-year-old residents have used a ride-hailing app at least once, and it's becoming a more popular choice for all age groups. (Washingtonian)

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Worldwide links: London's less stinky

The engineer behind one of London's greatest architectural achievements deserves serious props, Beijing's residents aren't into the idea of driving down congestion through charging people to drive into the city, and in Italy, a work of art suggests a way to deal with rising sea levels. Check out what's happening around the world in transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by Adrian Snood on Flickr.

An engineering hero: London's Thames Embankment changed the city forever by creating a sewer system to wisk away waste after the 1858's "Great Stink." The engineer responsible, Joseph Bazelgette, should be revered for this—and our noses and health should thank him. (London Lens)

Beijing blowback: Beijing has some of the worst traffic and air quality in the world. Some have proposed congestion pricing—charging people to drive when the most people are on the road—but many drivers have pushed back hard because they see mobility-by-car as a right. (The Economist)

Lake Floating: Christo's Floating Piers installation on Lake Iseo in Italy connects small islands to the mainland. It is a beautiful piece of art, but also an opportunity to test pedestrian infrastructure in a world faced with climate change and sea level rise. (Gizmodo)

Portland streetcar expansion: Portland has completed the Tilikum Crossing, a bridge for bikes and walking but not cars, and it recently finished its streetcar loop. If the streetcar is going to grow, expansion will now need to go outwards along major commercial corridors. (Portland Oregonian)

Unconventional Blockage: Barricades are made from all types of materials. Traffic cones and caution tape can create informal, protective architecture, but they can become a form of art. While we typically see these barriers as symbols of authority, we might think of them differently if we saw them in a gallery. (Places Journal)

Quote of the Day

"Columbus's win allows a city in the Midwest—which is much more car-dependent in general than the coasts—to illustrate how auto-oriented places can develop a new blueprint for moving around a city." Mobility Lab's Paul Mackie on Columbus winning the Smart Cities Challenge, a planning contest whose first place award is $50 million. (Mobility Lab)


A big development in Woodley Park may spark DC's next housing battle

The Wardman Park Hotel in Woodley Park is set to get a major influx of new housing. Washington Post reporter Jonathan O'Connell pegs the project as the next big development battle in the District, and he's not sure the opposition will be justified.

Map of the proposed new building. Courtesy David M. Schwarz Architects/Gensler/Lemon Brooke.

Currently, the site at Woodley Park encompasses the Wardman Park hotel, the Woodley apartments and the hotel-condo Wardman Tower. But the DC Comprehensive Plan designates the entire site as high- or medium-density residential. That makes sense, given how close the site is to a Metro station.

Developer JBG has both short- and long-term plans for the site. In the next few years, it hopes to add an "eight-story, 120-unit multifamily building," according to the Washington Business Journal. The addition will include a large green space, and will sit between 2700 Woodley, an existing 212-unit apartment building, and the Wardman Tower.

The longer-term build out calls for replacing the hotel with almost 1300 new residential units, in four new buildings, with more than of 1200 parking spaces and 400 bicycle spaces.

The possible long-term buildout, including almost 1300 new residences. Map of the proposed new building. Courtesy David M. Schwarz Architects/Gensler/Lemon Brooke.

At build-out, the new buildings will have fewer units in them than the Wardman Park Hotel does today, and the big conventions and meetings will go away.

And yet, tensions over development are so high in DC that, Jonathan O'Connell, the Post's main development reporter, tweeted his expectation that this project will spur Woodley Park to become the next in a line of DC neighborhoods to oppose new housing.

Hostility to new housing has becoming increasingly common in the District. Vocal Lanier Heights residents recently won downzoning of that nearby neighborhood. In Northeast DC, Brookland is another front in the so-called "development wars."

"If everything were to go absolutely perfectly," said JBG's Robert Vaughan to the Washington Business Journal, the PUD would be approved by the second quarter of 2017, with groundbreaking to follow in the first quarter of 2018 and delivery by early 2020.

But with a project of this magnitude, even during an affordability crisis, that hardly seems likely.


The city, outdoors, 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 Ted Eytan.

9th and F Street NW. Photo by Aimee Custis.

7000-series, but #whichwmata? Photo by nevermindtheend.

Florida Avenue. Photo by Erinn Shirley.

14th Street. Photo by Joe Flood.

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!


Capital Bikeshare members ride here, bike lanes or not

Over half of the miles that Capital Bikeshare members ride are on streets without any sort of bike lanes. This map shows you which of those streets are the most popular:

Heat map of where Cabi members ride when there aren't bike lanes. Image from Mobility Lab.

Jon Wergin, of Arlington's Mobility Lab, put together the map after checking out data from GPS trackers on a number of CaBi Bikes, which showed what specific routes riders actually took between taking and returning a bike.

Wergin then separated data from riders who were regular CaBi members and those who were casual, less frequent users. Wergin's map focuses on the regular users, as the more casual ones overwhelmingly stuck to off-road paths close to the Mall and Monuments.

Only about 10% of DC's roadways have some sort of cycling infrastructure, but those routes still got about 1/3 of the bike traffic from regular CaBi members. Even more frequently, though, regular riders took the most direct route possible, which is why the long state avenues seem to have some of heaviest usage. Thick bands dominate Massachussetts, Florida, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania Avenues. M Street in Georgetown, K street near NOMA, and 14th in Columbia Heights also see heavy usage.

Some of these streets are due for new bike infrastructure in the next few years. Louisiana Avenue is slated for protected lanes that would connect existing protected lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue and First Street NE, and new bike lanes might also go in west of the White House.

But plans for Massachussetts and Florida Avenues are more vague. This map shows that DDOT may want to think about more specific plans for these and other roads since they're proving popular with cyclists, even without bike lanes.

What do you notice about the map? Tell us in the comments.


Breakfast links: New name, same taxi game

Photo by Matthew Peoples on Flickr.
Taxicab commission changes: The DC Taxicab Commission has a new name: District Department of For-Hire Vehicles, but not much else will change. The group is now a regulatory agency, and its appointed commission will instead serve as an advisory council. (WAMU)

Fairfax ups FAR: Taller buildings can now come to areas near Metro and in aging commercial zones in Fairfax, after the Board of Supervisors changed zoning requirements to allow higher density. Many say they're worried about increased traffic congestion under the new rules. (Post)

Plans to hold back the floodwaters: After impressive flooding at the Cleveland Park Metro station this week, DDOT will design a new drainage system with better stormwater retention for the area. (Post)

Georgetown connects the bike trails: Georgetown will get a protected bikeway between the Capital Crescent Trail and the Rock Creek Park Trail, with plans for upgrades when the streetcar is extended to the area. (TheWashCycle)

Still stuck on SunTrust: Plans to redevelop the SunTrust building in Adams Morgan are up in the air again after DC's historic preservation board said the design is still too big, needs to fit better with the surrounding neighborhood, and should make the much-contested plaza more inviting. (Borderstan)

More residential for Woodley Park: Plans are in the works to replace a hotel in Woodley Park with more than 1,600 residential units. (UrbanTurf, Bess)

Bike theft doesn't discriminate: Tommy Wells, director of the DC Department of Energy, had his pricy folding bike stolen off a bike rack on H St yesterday. (Post)

Hit and run: A person riding a bike was struck and killed on Minnesota Ave yesterday. The driver fled the scene before police arrived. (DCist)

Bike commuter benefits: The bike commuter benefit has a convoluted legislative history, but long story short, you still can't use it for bikeshare or get a tax break, unlike the transit and parking benefits. (TheWashCycle)

And...: Several Metrobus service changes take effect this Sunday. ... Severe train delays in London yesterday may have kept some people from voting on the EU Referendum. (Evening Standard) ... Uber driver pay isn't all it's cracked up to be, with drivers in some cities barely making minimum wage. (BuzzFeed)

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