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Breakfast links: Bicycle's race

Photo by geoffbarrattgeoff on Flickr.
Baca on biking: How did biking, the most affordable and thus most egalitarian form of transportation, become stereotyped as the mode of privileged, white newcomers? GGW editor Alex Baca found several explanations. (City Paper) ... WashCycle thinks hand-wringing about public input is overblown.

Contributors in the news: NBC interviewed Dan Reed about the proposed Montgomery County teen curfew, and Ken Archer and Topher Mathews spoke to Patch about bike safety (with a nice quote from Jack Evans).

Size doesn't matter for gambling: DC's online gambling program may be on hold, but the DC Lottery now has a mobile lottery truck. Since the truck doesn't sell food, it's exempt from the 18.5-foot length limit. (Examiner)

Metro stations get better for bikes and peds: Metro has replaced old bike racks, added sidewalks, and more to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to stations. They're also working on a master plan for bike and ped needs. (PlanItMetro)

Zipcar wouldn't mind if you emailed Bellamy: Zipcar is reassuring members after losing most of its on-street spaces, but it is also subtly encouraging members to email DDOT director Terry Bellamy. (TBD) ... Mike DeBonis says some competition is good, but wonders if pushing prices up is best for encouraging car independence. (Post)

Sprawl nearly slips by in southern Maryland: The state's planning department is skeptical of Calvert County's plan to enable more sprawl. The county's measure is disquised as environmental remediation, though it does nothing to clean the Port Tobacco River. (SoMdNews)

Georgetown's got more competition: A Georgetown bakery closes after 17 years; the neighborhood seems to be less important to younger residents. (Post) ... Does its lack of Metro put it at a competitive disadvantage versus to other neighborhoods? (RPUS)

10 minutes to Gainesville: VDOT will use digital signs on I-66 to display travel time predictions eastbound to the Beltway and westbound to Gainesville. (Post)

And...: Metro is performing major track work this weekend on 3 lines. (Post) ... DC's latino population is shifting eastward. (Examiner) ... When school starts Monday, Prince George's will activate new speed cameras outside schools. (Examiner) ... Trains are particularly appealing to kids with autism spectrum disorders. (NYT)

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Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 


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Furin's is a real loss. But they never managed to adapt. Must be galling to see the lines at Georgetown Cupcake.

I'm sure Georgetown's ANC is proud they drove another local business out. Great work guys! Let's get another chain restaurant or cupcake in its place.

by charlie on Aug 19, 2011 8:38 am • linkreport

1. Furins - No one drove them out of business. Obviously there is a huge market for expensive pastries in Georgetown, and DC at large. The Furins may have made quality pastries but they weren't very business savvy. That isn't the ANC's fault, its theirs.

2. Zipcar - Their childlike whining has really reached a fever pitch. They really need to just Waaaa...its not fair that we actually have to act like a real for-profit business and compete, rather than be the defacto monopoly who also enjoys a large juicy freebie from the taxpayers.

It also illustrates how completely full of s&^t they are. After going full assault with the scare tactics (oh, this is going to drive up our customers costs waaa), they now come out and say it won't affect their cost structure because it was only ~86 spots (which they knew all along). TBD was also pretty damning with the insinuation that Zipcar enjoyed such a easy life here in DC with free parking for years, then nearly free parking specifically because of Klein, which all the Zipcar supports have claimed was simply impossible. The conflict of interest was always pretty obvious. Klein retained 5% ownership in zipcar when he took his office which right after the IPO was worth ~60 million . But conflict of interest there.

by freely on Aug 19, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

Forget the lottery truck. Why not take it a step further and hire someone to pickpocket poor people instead?

by aaa on Aug 19, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

I've lived in DC for 14 years, in Georgetown for 10 of them -- and never made it into Furins (only thinking about it a handful of times). I'm sure it was great, but in the post-mortem, Mr. Furin himself said that he refused to raise prices, and eventually didn't have enough money, even once he bought the building, to keep going. If the ANC could have done something to save Furins, they probably would have, it was that much of a favorite among locals.

But mostly I see this as a self-fulfilling cycle. In the 90's there was a big push to get rid of some of the grittier elements of Georgetown's retail, and when shops like Orpheus Records, Sunnys Surplus and the like were being priced out, few residents had a problem, and they saw property values go up as those were replaced by more upscale retail. Once that cycle kept going and the businesses that were being displaced were local favorites like Nathan's, Griffin Market and Furins, there was a big push to say "wait, how can we save them..." but the tide was already in.

Now, it's becoming a line of tourist and suburbanite-inviting trendy spots like Georgetown Cupcake and Sprinkles, with Pinkberry and Good Stuff Eatery (and their attendant lines out the door) soon to follow. This in turn increases the auto traffic, but keeps the bodies coming in, further moving the cycle along.

by Jacques on Aug 19, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

They really need to just Waaaa...its not fair that we actually have to act like a real for-profit business and compete, rather than be the defacto monopoly who also enjoys a large juicy freebie from the taxpayers.

This "for-profit" business has never actually seen, you know, a profit... It's not like they're raking in money hand over fist here.

by Rob on Aug 19, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

If I'm not mistaken, Port Tobacco, St. Charles, and Bryans Road are all in Charles County.

by AA on Aug 19, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

Georgetown will be a student ghetto by 2025. Georgetown was a slum before the Kennedy's made it fashionable and it will quickly return to a backwater as the Kennedy Era moneybags kick the bucket.

DC's upper middle class, (Households >$200k) have already eschewed GT for neighborhoods with better transportation options, better parking availability and easier ingress/egress (Columbia Heights, Logan Circle, Arlington, Clarendon, Capitol Hill, Silver Spring).

Georgetown eschewed transportation infrastructure that connected it to the rest of the world (it is naturally geographically isolated and historically isolated by it's few, narrow access roads). As soon as the last of the Kennedy era "grande dames" die off, the neighborhood will go into steep decline as condo/apartment conversions become the norm and are taken over by Georgetown's student expansion.

The retailers will jump ship as the per capita wealth of the immediate neighborhood declines. With the loss of high end retail and the onerous transportation hurdles to travel there, only students will find this a desirable neighborhood.

by eb on Aug 19, 2011 10:06 am • linkreport

Alex wrote a rather interesting article on the biking issue. I don't think she really answered her own question "how did biking become stereotyped"? I'm not particular certain what "the" answer is but I am confident that at least here in DC, the Fenty administration shoulders at least 70% of the blame.

Ok, maybe 65

by HogWash on Aug 19, 2011 10:09 am • linkreport

"We’ve got people who can’t afford cars...the amount of money people spend to have a car is expensive, and Metro is expensive,” says Billing. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s pretty darn close to it. It solves a lot of issues.

Combine this with what we're seeing in the markets ... AND a CHINESE official being quoted as saying he thinks the US has great future potential ... and this is really very scary. It's within the memory of many of us when Nixon was pledging to bring trade to improverished China to help them enter the modern world ... to leave behind their rickshaws and legions of bicycles. They're doing that ... thanks to us ... and in the meantime, we're doing the reverse ... settling for a level of improvishment that we shouldn't be settling for ... and incredible as it sounds, actually caring what a Chinese government official has to say about our economy. When did we give away the shop?

by Lance on Aug 19, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

@eb -- not to rehash the problems with numbers used by some, but the number of Georgetown undergrads living off-campus in the neighborhood actually declined over the last 10 years.

And the values of houses in the neighborhood have more than doubled.

And the number of young families that have moved into the neighborhood has also grown considerably, as shown by the 2010 census.

I find your post fascinating, but I don't know where any of the assertions come from, or how (counterfactually) they would produce the results you predict.

by Jacques on Aug 19, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

The minute eb said "Georgetown was a slum before the Kennedy's made it fashionable", I realized he didn't know the subject at hand. The Kennedys moving to Georgetown was well AFTER the neighborhood had already transitioned from slum to 'the place to be'. That transition had occured some decades earlier. To put it in today's terms, the "Kennedys" of places like (maybe) Logan Circle are still some 20 years off ....

I do agree partially though with the idea that as those parts of the city that are better connected to the whole come back (i.e., those parts designed as part of the L'Enfant plan ... with their monumentally wide streets and avenues), the less accessible and not 'wide and grand' areas of the city, such as Georgetown, will be less desireable in juxtaposition to these other areas. I don't agree with eb that Georgetown will suddenly go 'down' in value, but I do believe that as the option to be closer to places like K Street AND be in the wide and monumental parts of the city (without fear of crime as in the past), then the upside to place like Georgetown is far more limited than places like Logan Circle and even Shaw.

by Lance on Aug 19, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

@Lance. Generally concur with your historical analysis. Indeed, you could make the comparison of New Dealers in the 1930's Georgetown with modern day hipsters on H Street.

eb also conflates the modern day established Kennedy "brand" with 1950s Senator Kennedy who was hardly considered as such.

But I have yet to meet anyone who chose to live based on living near "wide and grand areas". I know dozens, if not hundreds, who did so based on easy access to Metro. Like myself, for example.

by Tim Krepp on Aug 19, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

I would argue Georgetown is being smothered by the automobile. A neighborhood with a fantastic street grid is forced to deal with commuters along with people driving around endlessly looking for parking spots. Performance parking would really help Georgetown out. $15 dollars for two hours to park right in front of the restaurant you are about to enter? People with money (Georgetown's clientele) would gladly pay for the convenience; others won't bother driving at all, leaving a lot more street space for cabs and public transportation.

Because of the need to have two lanes of traffic each way along with a parking lane, the sidewalks are too skinny. It’s an awful experience to walk around Georgetown, dodging tourists who, without fail, will walk four abreast, blocking the entire sidewalk.

My recommendation? Until they want to bite the bullet and build a new metro line in the city core that reaches Georgetown (it would be great if they could build a stop in that mall no one ever goes to), they need to widen sidewalks, drastically increase the price of parking, and have dedicated bus lanes on Wisconsin Ave and M Street.

by cmc on Aug 19, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

Lance, a very small percentage of the Chinese are switching to cars - something like the wealthiest 5%. Which is still tens of millions. And it's causing massive traffic congestion (remember that 7 day traffic jam). They simply cannot get to 90% car use, and we can't stay there. "in Beijing, a city of 16 million people, there are just slightly more than 3 million cars."

by David C on Aug 19, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

The Chinese government has actually instituted severe limitations on car ownership in major cities. There are steep taxes on all foreign cars, which are the ones that people actually want to own.

There are also separated bikeways on almost all major streets in Beijing and Shanghai. And new transit is being built at a furious pace.

by Phil on Aug 19, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

I think JFK did have something to do with Georgetown's turnaround into what it is today, as he lived there as early as 1947, at 1528 31st St NW. But he probably wouldn't have settled there if gentrification had not already been happening for 10-15 years before when other WH staffers began moving there. He was after all, a Kennedy.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't go to Georgetown very much partly because it is very expensive to shop there. There rarely seem to be big sales at stores like there are in Metro Center/Penn Quarter/Chinatown. It is also very difficult to navigate due to the crowds and the narrow sidewalks and the area is not very well-served by transit (it always seems to take much longer to take a Circulator to or from Georgetown than anywhere else). Eating there is also quite expensive, though fun for special occasions.

But I think the story is making a mountain of a molehill -- the streets of Georgetown are packed almost every weekend in the temperate months, and there are many popular destinations that draw locals people to the area, like the waterfront bars and outdoor activities. But locals are also turned off by so many tourists in the area.

I would like to see what might happen if M Street NW were closed to vehicle traffic on one day of the weekend and the street turned into a pedestrian promenade. I would guess that it would be more appealing for many people, esp. locals.

by Scoot on Aug 19, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

A big green truck to promote our tax on hopelessness... just what the city needs.

by thm on Aug 19, 2011 11:15 am • linkreport

"right in front of the restaurant you are about to enter?"

This cracked my up, for some reason. (In an Office Space, "Well, I wouldn't sam I'm MISSING work" kinda way.) There are three, maybe 4 restaurants in Georgetown that I *want* to enter. In other words, that are any damn good at all. The rest range from mediocre and overpriced to truly horrific. It's mind-boggling that they have stayed in business as long as they have.

by dcd on Aug 19, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport


There are plenty of people love spending money for the sake of spending money, regardless of quality.

Might as well make them pay an equitable price for parking.

by cmc on Aug 19, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

There are plenty of people love spending money for the sake of spending money, regardless of quality.

Might as well make them pay an equitable price for parking.

No argument here!

by dcd on Aug 19, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

@ cmc:I would argue Georgetown is being smothered by the automobile.

cmc is onto something. The problem with Georgetown is that it actually is quite popular. With students, tourists and rich folks. The problem is that some powerful residents do not like to share their neighborhood with others and have resisted time and time again any way to make their neighborhood better accessible. Whether it's by car, bus, streetcar, bike or foot.

This has led to a neighborhood that is bursting as much out of its seems as metro is because the transportation network has been so neglected. Remember the flying potholes?

It is symbolic for Georgetown that only now, while in other parts of the city new streetcar tracks have been built, Georgetown's old streetcar tracks are being removed.

Residents are clinging to an image of the neighborhood that simply does not exist anymore (if it ever existed) and certainly is incompatible with the surrounding city that has moved forward in time, leading to more competition.

by Jasper on Aug 19, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

Couple things about the city paper story so far. One the whole "I'm not against bike lanes but..." tactic. The first paragraph of the story has one of those. Is it to extreme of an opinion that all roads in the district could do with a bike lane? Especially a road with lane markings for cars.

2nd, it talks about how most the race/class divide. I get that if you're white in the city then you're probably a higher earner but its not as if there are a lack of wealthy/well off black residents either in the city. It's more that there isn't a poorer/white working class (anymore). I may be off base but I don't think its that stark is it?

by canaan on Aug 19, 2011 10:51 pm • linkreport

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