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Breakfast links: Better biking and those who fume at it


Image from Who's Blocking the L Street Bike Lane Today? on Tumblr.
L Street lane could get a curb: DDOT might put in a curb to keep cars out of the L Street bike lane. M Street may have a curb too, and will be narrower. (Examiner)

Benches, CaBi at Commerce Department: Plans for a perimeter security upgrade to the Herbert Hoover (Commerce Department) building will add reflecting pools on 14th Street, benches, and 2 Capital Bikeshare stations. (WBJ)

AAA vs. safe driving: AAA's John Townsend is now complaining about parking tickets, and rather than condemning dangerous U-turns across Pennsylvania Avenue, Lon Anderson complaints about cyclists. (WJLA, Examiner)

DC #1 at not being like Texas: The Texas Transportation Institute released its annual rankings once again showing DC congestion worst in the nation. As usual, reporters blindly parrot it without examining the flaws in TTI's methods. (Post)

Cuccinelli's gas tax plan: Ken Cuccinelli has an alternate transportation plan, to replace the gas tax with a sales tax on gas that would rise with inflation. It would raise less than McDonnell's proposal but not hike sales taxes on non-driving activities. (Examiner)

Miller intros transportation plan: Mike Miller introduced his transportation bill to put a 3% sales tax on gas, let counties add their own gas taxes, authorize property tax districts to pay for projects like the Purple Line, and maybe lease the ICC. (Baltimore Sun)

FBI would hurt Loudoun?: Loudoun County could lose $6 million a year in opportunity costs if the FBI moves there. A move would take prime land off the tax rolls and forego potential revenue, economic development officials concluded. (WBJ)

And...: Virginia could set a moratorium on drones. (RTD) ... Tommy Wells launches his exploratory commitee to run for mayor. (DCist) ... Arlington gets a tourism tax back, but only for 3 years. (Sun Gazette) ... The League envisions a bike-friendly White House. ... Maryland will raise the ICC speed limit to 60 mph, because it's empty enough. (Post)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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L Street lane could get a curb From the Examiner-link:
truckers and commuters park in the lanes because they don't know they're not supposed to, or they don't care.
I love the silent windshield perspective there. How can you not know you're not supposed to park in a separated lane with big bike symbols in it?

by Jasper on Feb 5, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

Re: AAA

With 1.2 million drivers coming to D.C. daily for work and only 17,000 metered spaces to go around

I thought that it was 1.2 million total working in the city during business hours? And of course only counting metered spaces and not garage spaces (subsidized by the tax code) makes the issue look way worse. That's playing fast and loose with the "Facts" to make a problem look way worse than it is.

by jj on Feb 5, 2013 9:18 am • linkreport

For some more fun bike fuming, see this weeks Alexandria Times letters to the editor, available online. Topics: bicycle tax and registration, banishing bikes off Union Street and routing them to Washington St., the suitability of bikes at all in Old Town, where "competition" for space places an undue burden on the fragile nerves and ways of the Old Townies, and the tyranny of various "spandex clad worldviews". Also the idea that bikes should be banished from Old Town, and instead bike infrastructure should be implemented in suburban areas where there is more potential for environmental impact, and avoids "unnecessary backlash."

by spookiness on Feb 5, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

Hmm, lets see what the evil TTI wants:

"The Institute provided a plan for addressing congestion that applies to the Washington region and the rest of the nation. It was a collection of ideas, many of which are already in use.

It included addressing immediate traffic problems — such as having tow trucks poised to sweep away wrecks and stalled vehicles, and using metered freeway on ramps to modulate traffic flow — and obvious goals of increasing capacity, encouraging transit use and embracing flexible work schedules."

Yep, evil.

The problem with the L st bike lane is they made it too wide. Either it should have been a two way or a bit narrower. As it is, it does look a traffic lane. The various cut throughts for delivery dont' help matters, and the left turns are confusing.

They could have also kept parking on the section form NH to about 17th, outside of rush hour traffic is very light there.

by charlie on Feb 5, 2013 9:22 am • linkreport

Pigs must be flying. Cooch proposed a change to a bill that actually improves it. While it raises less revenue, his sales-tax-on-gas plan keeps the alignment between how much you drive and how much tax you pay. I'd like to see the rate as higher than 5.5% but maybe the Dems can have some influence in that. A nice compromise would be raising as much money as McDonnell's plan but using Cooch's sales tax on gas approach.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

Hmm, lets see what the evil TTI wants

I don't think anyone is calling the TTI evil. Simply saying their methodology is flawed. They should be measuring average commute time, not amount of congestion. Most people care how long it takes them to get somewhere more than how much congestion they experience. You can get somewhere quickly even if you experience a lot of congestion if your destination is close by, as is the case in a dense place.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

@Jasper-I actually got the feeling that the author uses the lanes and thus the story. I mean, she did go to mostly pro-bike people for quotes and not Lon Anderson.
How can you not know you're not supposed to park in a separated lane with big bike symbols in it?
I think she covered that (and thus no windshield perspective) by saying "or they don't care." I think that's probably true in the majority of cases.

by thump on Feb 5, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

"Maryland will raise the ICC speed limit to 60 mph, because it's empty enough"

The last few times I've traveled on the ICC it's been far from empty, and according to the MdTA it's meeting usage projections. During rush hour it actually gets very busy (despite the high tolls).

It's disappointing that GGW's stance on expressways is that everyone new one is evil. I will agree that most of the proposed highway projects currently envisioned for the area are unnecessary or even wasteful (especially a new Potomac crossing), and that more money should be devoted to transit projects. However, I won't go as far to say that we shouldn't build/expand any more expressways at all (although MD definitely doesn't need anymore right now), or that the ICC/MD 200 was a total waste of money.

The ICC does provide an important road link between the two most populous counties in Maryland, and makes access to BWI and Baltimore easier for residents of Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Germantown (including yours truly). Also, 5 new MTA Commuter Bus routes began service when the ICC opened (including the state's only nearly-24/7 Commuter Bus/MARC service).

Hopefully with the speed limit raise to 60mph, the jokers in the legislature will abandon their idiotic plan to raise the state speed limit to 70mph.

by King Terrapin on Feb 5, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

A separation curb for the L Street cycle lane would be great. I've noticed that they've removed the pylons at the entries to each lane, which is both good and bad. Good -- because it makes it easier and safer to bike in the lanes. Bad -- because the absence of a physical barrier means more cars are now using the lanes for loading and unloading, especially in front of Barcode.

by aaa on Feb 5, 2013 9:47 am • linkreport

I've noticed that they've removed the pylons at the entries to each lane...

Likely for snow plowing.

by Alex B. on Feb 5, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

Amazing that when we have one of the more extensive metro systems in the nation (especially when it comes to coming in from the suburbs) that its offensive to suggest one use it to avoid parking headaches.

And when it was literally part of my job to drive to different places around DC I did it without ever getting a ticket.

by drumz on Feb 5, 2013 9:52 am • linkreport

@Falls Church "Most people care how long it takes them to get somewhere more than how much congestion they experience."

Really? Anecdotal evidence tells me that people complain more about congestion than total time. People talk about taking "backroads" on their commute just to avoid congestion, even though the longer route doesn't save them time (according to them).

I'm not sure why TTI "should" be measuring commute time instead of congestion. It seems appropriate to measure both, report both, and be clear about the differences between the two.

by jh on Feb 5, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

@jh

my anecdotal evidence is that plenty of people complain about how long and bad their total commute is. OTOH the congestion is more of a water cooler topic, since it varies day to day, and also because our relationship to total commute length varies with where we actually live. Its when people are looking to rent or buy a residence closer to where they work, and find out how bad the tradeoffs are, that they complain.

I think the problem is that the typical headline on these stories is about total congestion, and as FC implies, that can bias our approach to solutions.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 5, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

We could just slam on the reporting of the TTI report, or we could also admit that it contains a lot of useful data that nobody else is collecting. CEOs for Cities would have absolutely nothing to create their report without the TTI doing the actual work in the first place.

If I look deeper into the numbers, the TTI report has a lot of good stuff that actually shows transit's value to people who don't use it. For example:

Transit in the DC region reduced driver delay by 15% - 6th best in the nation.

Transit in the DC region reduced overall driver commute time by 5.8% - 4th best in the nation.

The data is out there and free to use. It's great that they used it to come up with a different measurement but the measurement of overall travel times proves little other than a bunch of small cities have crappy land use. The only solution to that is a massive increase in the cost of driving via higher gas taxes.

I'm not sure why TTI "should" be measuring commute time instead of congestion. It seems appropriate to measure both, report both, and be clear about the differences between the two.
This.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

It's so tiring to hear about how we have a lot of congestion and there's no parking from drivers since they are the biggest part of the problem. If you have "1.2 million drivers coming to D.C. daily for work" (according to AAA in the WJLA article) you are going to get congestion and parking problems. It's just simple math - there aren't enough roads, lanes, and parking spots. So why blame bikers? If we took away buses, bikers, pedestrians, trains, and every other transportation option under the sun from DC, guess what? We'd still have congestion and problems with parking. Maybe the guy with the SUV crawling his way down 16th street needs to look into his rear view mirror and say "I am the problem".

by dc denizen on Feb 5, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

While it is true that drivers are a big part of the parking/congestion problem, Metro's track record does not exactly entice one to abandon one's auto to take his chances on Metro. If you want people out of their autos, you have to offer them a solution that is perceived as being at least no worse than their current condition.

by ksu499 on Feb 5, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

But it's not everyone else's responsibility to make a driver's commute comfortable, nor to "entice" them to take other forms of transportation. If people choose to drive, then they can drive. But they have to stop complaining about congestion and lack of parking, because it comes with the territory.

by dc denizen on Feb 5, 2013 11:17 am • linkreport

People talk about taking "backroads" on their commute just to avoid congestion, even though the longer route doesn't save them time (according to them).

Does the backroads route cost them time? If not, it would make sense to take a route that takes the same amount of time but with less congestion. I agree that people don't like congestion but it's much less important to them than time.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

I've noticed that they've removed the pylons at the entries to each lane

..and yet, DDOT apparently didn't know that DDOT removed them. https://twitter.com/DDOTDC/status/296750659989032960

They need to put them back ASAP and/or get a couple extra of the vehicles used to clear lanes so that full-sized plows don't need the posts removed.

by thump on Feb 5, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

@ dc denizen

As long as you are consistent and also agree that bicyclist have to stop complaining about a lack of bike lanes and bike racks and Metro riders have to stop complaining about broken escalators, overcrowded platforms, and single tracking on the weekends.

Look, people complain. It's what we do. I agree it would be great if people complained less, but we never will. Pointing fingers and calling people out has NEVER reduced complaining. It just gives them something else to complain about.

There are myriad of reasons why transportation solutions take so long and are so difficult, but the blame game and trying to get the other side to be just like me is probably high up on the list. We are a society of drivers, walkers, bikers, bus riders, and metro riders. That's not changing any time soon. Solutions have to consider all types of people and preferences.

by jh on Feb 5, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

If you have "1.2 million drivers coming to D.C. daily for work" (according to AAA in the WJLA article)

AAA is wrong.

DC's population is 632k. Of that, about 330k are in the labor force. Meaning that 300k are not.

DC has about 750k jobs. Obviously, 750k jobs does not equate to "1.2 million drivers coming to DC daily for work."

Perhaps the 1.2 million is a reference to DC's approximate daytime population.

We know that commuters take many jobs in DC, and likewise, many DC residents have jobs outside of DC.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/study-commuters-took-62-percent-of-new-d.c.-jobs/article/2515407

Let's estimate that DC residents hold 1/3 of the jobs in DC. 1/3 of ~750k is about 250k, compared against 330k DC residents in the workforce - meaning that ~80k leave DC daily for their jobs.

Therefore, a rough guess at DC's daytime population would be (630k pop - 80k commute out) + 2/3(750k total DC jobs) = 1.05 million.

So, given my very dirty, back of the envelope math here, 1.2 million isn't implausible for a daytime population. But they certainly are not all driving, nor are they all coming into DC - half of them are already here!

by Alex B. on Feb 5, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

@Original Post: AAA's John Townsend is now complaining about parking tickets

The article quotes him saying: "We're not only writing more tickets than the average city our size across the country, but we're writing more tickets every year, every day, every month, every hour, every minute. The efficiency is increasing.” I think that Mr. Townsend understands quite well that the biggest beneficiaries of parking enforcement are drivers who park legally.

But we'll need to reach out to Mr. Anderson and ask him to tone it down.

by JimT on Feb 5, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

..and yet, DDOT apparently didn't know that DDOT removed them.

Perhaps the person manning the DDOT twitter account at the time didn't know that they had been removed. That's different from implying that nobody at DDOT knew that they were removed.

Hey look, they clarified later!
https://twitter.com/DDOTDC/status/297452728941174784

Agreed that they should clear them with whatever they use on the 15th st lanes.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

@Falls Church

I don't know. I think people talk about time, but they do little to change it. In fact, for decades, people were moving to less congested areas despite knowing it would increase their total commute time. That may be changing and people may be moving back in closer. But, for the most part, I think people's actions say they care more about congestion than total time.

All of this is anecdotal, though. I could easily be way off.

by jh on Feb 5, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

1.2 million drivers coming to D.C. daily for work

Uh, everyone picking on AAA for this ludicrous number should notice that it's not in quotes in the text of the article. Unclear where this number came from, but most likely, it's a mistake by the reporter.

The erroneous 1.2 million number for total commuters into DC (not just drivers) has been around a long time, based on some Googling. For example, in a 2011 HuffPo article following the earthquake, a city official (D.C. Homeland Security Director Millicent Weiss" is quoted as saying:

Our population goes up 1.2 million every day, so technically, we evacuate every day

Like TTI, looks like AAA is getting an undeserved bad rap -- this time.

by Bitter Brew on Feb 5, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

@jh

I would agree with you except for it seems that the least cooperative of all the mode travelers is the car driver. Yes, bicyclists complain about their lanes being blocked and metro riders complain about the escalators. But in the case of metro riders, they're not complaining about other modes, just their own. In the case of bicyclists, yes they complain, but they take up such little room, both when traveling and when parking. And they the city is just now trying to accommodate them. They haven't had a long time to adjust. Just the very fact that they are on a bike they are, in fact, making the congestion problem better. But with cars, one car takes up such an incredible amount of space compared to walking or biking and the math is so obvious I don't want to get into it anymore. Yet they complain incessantly as if the 1990s are going to come back: Some magical moment in time where there was no congestion and ample parking?

But I take your larger point of view and will stop complaining about the complaining...

by dc denizen on Feb 5, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

Some motorists are cyclists and/or transit users.

by selxic on Feb 5, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

I said this yesterday, but since the L Street issue is back again:

A curb wouldn't be the worst idea for the L Street bike lane. That's what they do on a downtown street in Montreal (where I first rode Bixi, later to become CaBi) and it works pretty well.

They could also have signs every 10 feet that say "NO PARKING OR STANDING HERE EVER. IF YOUR CAR IS IN THIS LANE, MOVE IT IMMEDIATELY, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU."

by Gavin on Feb 5, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

Has anyone stopped to ask why, with the transportation options around here, do people still live far out and put up with the drive? Because to live anywhere near walking distance of said transportation options is out of reach financially for a lot of people. You can get a house in Woodbridge with a decent yard for the same price as what, a 700 sqft condo in DC or close in area. Good luck trying to raise a family in that. Plus you still have to pay for whatever PT you're taking. What if we said everyone has to live within XX miles of DC, since that is prob. where most people are going. As bad as those prices are now, demand would then be infinite for all intents and purposes close in, and prices would skyrocket. Or, people would find jobs out of this region all together.

by Nickyp on Feb 5, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the bollard explanation. I would really like to see DDOT move to a single bollard at the beginning of each lane when they put them back up (instead of two). But I have noticed stepped up traffic enforcement on L Street, which I am very grateful for.

by aaa on Feb 5, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

"Because to live anywhere near walking distance of said transportation options is out of reach financially for a lot of people. "

thats why we are trying to come up with ideas to make it more affordable - whether to increase the supply of housing at existing transit stations, to increase transit in places where there is high potential for TOD, etc.

Biking can of course increase the radius beyond walking - more people can live biking distance from work than walking distance, and more can live biking distance from a metro station (or in Woodbridge, a VRE station) than can live within walking distance of it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 5, 2013 1:27 pm • linkreport

@Nickyp:Has anyone stopped to ask why, with the transportation options around here, do people still live far out and put up with the drive?

Several answers possible, other than the ones you give yourself:

* They can't afford living in DC.
* They can't afford to move because their mortgage is underwater.
* They can't afford to move period.
* People are not single. They have family members that work very close to home.
* People like living in a single-family home with a yard.
* People have children and want to live in a good school district.
* People lived close to work, but changed jobs.
* People lived close to work, but the job changed location.
* People expect that their job may change location.

by Jasper on Feb 5, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

@Nickyp:

"You can get a house in Woodbridge with a decent yard for the same price as what, a 700 sqft condo in DC or close in area. Good luck trying to raise a family in that."

I've known people who did exactly that -- two parents who raised their one child in an approximately 700 sqft condo in central DC -- successfully and happily. We raised our own two-child family for the first few years in a 900 sqft rowhouse in DC which we bought from another two-child family; those chldren were then teenagers who had always lived in that house.

I don't think any of these people, parents or children, would have been happy in Woodbridge, even with "a decent yard".

by A Streeter on Feb 5, 2013 3:39 pm • linkreport

@A Streeter

I would much rather raise a child in a 700 sq foot 1 BR, or two children in a 900 sq foot 2 BR, than even contemplate living in the soul sucking place that is Woodbridge.

by Kyle-W on Feb 5, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

@NickyP: "Because to live anywhere near walking distance of said transportation options is out of reach financially for a lot of people."

This is pretty much true if your only metric is housing prices/rents. The additional costs of long-distance commuting (gas, additional car, extra car maintenance, insurance, tolls, etc) combined with the "hidden" costs (stress, loss of quality time, health problems associated with long-distance car commuting) and the overall financial burden of living close in is probably less than living further out. My wife and I could've paid significantly less for a house outside the beltway, but we'd probably need a second car, we'd have to buy more gas, we'd be less likely to be able to walk to the store or ride our bikes to work, and we'd be less likely to spend time with our friends. Instead, we paid more up front for a house in ArlCo, but we are healthier and have more money left over because we spend pretty much nothing on car/gas/gym/etc.

I suggest looking into the "commuters dilemma".

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/05/your_commute_is_killing_you.html

http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/03/30/commuting/

by MM on Feb 5, 2013 4:07 pm • linkreport

Er..."commuters paradox".

by MM on Feb 5, 2013 4:16 pm • linkreport

Because to live anywhere near walking distance of said transportation options is out of reach financially for a lot of people. 

And yet, many poor and middle class people with children use mass transit...particularly the bus.

by Falls Church on Feb 5, 2013 4:48 pm • linkreport

Transit is either cramped carriages for the poor or gold-plated titanic first-class chauffeuring for the rich depending on what argument you want to make.

by MLD on Feb 5, 2013 4:57 pm • linkreport

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