Greater Greater Washington

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ANC 3B throws in the towel on Wisconsin Avenue median

After a survey that says residents don't want traffic calming on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B will support returning the street to six lanes.


New left turn lane in Glover Park Photo from DDOT

The District is working on a new streetscape that includes measures to discourage speeding and increase pedestrian safety. But ANC 3B commissioner Brian Cohen, a longtime supporter of the project, said at a meeting last night that it will oppose the median at a December 4 public hearing. Most of the 300 responses to a constituent survey favored returning to the six-lane configuration, he said.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh first called a hearing in May as a response to concerns from Massachusetts Heights residents about a painted median that replaced one of the through lanes on Wisconsin between Calvert and Garfield streets. Councilmember Jack Evans was vocally opposed to the median, saying it created more traffic congestion as he drove his children to and from school.

The District Department of Transportation created the median to draw attention to the commercial strip, give pedestrians a safer way to cross the street and planned to keep it for a one-year trial. Though this section of Wisconsin Avenue was the site of multiple pedestrian strikes, DDOT removed the median after about six months. DDOT has yet to release any empirical data supporting their decision.

In addition to the lane configuration, the survey also solicited opinions on installing alternative traffic calming measures such as a HAWK light or speed cameras. ANC3B did not disclose the specific survey results on this question, but indicated that the results on these survey items were less definitive and suggested the community is more divided on such measures.

Commissioners explained that the wider sidewalks, streetlights, and aesthetic improvements will remain in place. There is still enough room to keep the wider sidewalks along with a six-lane street. The few residents in attendance at last night's meeting voiced their agreement with the ANC, and repeated their frustration with the slow traffic between 35th Street and Calvert Street.

The commissioners also noted that they have repeatedly complained about delivery trucks impeding the flow of traffic. and will work on pressing new rules for nighttime deliveries. Despite all the ideas residents floated from removing parked cars and ticketing delivery trucks, there was a perception that it was not working.

"I wanted it to work, but no matter what fixes we tried, it didn't," said Commissioner Jackie Blumenthal. "What did work are the sidewalks, the streetlights, and especially the new intersection at 37th and Tunlaw."

It's likely that the lanes will return to their previous form. However, there remains strong support to some kind of traffic calming measures to protect people crossing the street.

The Wisconsin Avenue streetscape has exposed DDOT as being particularly vulnerable to political pressure. It sets a precedent for opponents of other progressive transportation initiatives, particularly in Ward 3. Opponents of the brand-new bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue can only come away emboldened by DDOT's eagerness to placate many of the same people on Wisconsin.

It's clear that DDOT is willing to make significant decisions on highly politicized issues while offering no empirical support. It's a sobering reminder of the need to be vocal in support of progressive transportation projects, even after they're built.

Abigail Zenner is an Associate in Government Affairs at the American Planning Association. She is a member of the Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee and often described as a professional parking nerd. When she's not nerding out about smart growth, you may find her teaching a fitness class. Her blog posts represent her personal views only. 

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"The Wisconsin Avenue streetscape has exposed DDOT as being particularly vulnerable to political pressure"

I know its easier to pretend like its all Evans and Cheh's fault, and that Evans got it undone because it lenghened his commute or some other nonesense, and you can choose to believe that if you like, but there was resounding and loud agreement by a overwhelming majority of local residents that it was an awful idea and needed to be undone.

The ANC and two Council Members were simply responding to their constiuents.

by GloverPark on Nov 15, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

Those who oppose the streetscape lane reductions on Wisconsin aren't anti-pedestrian or "anti-progressive." To the contrary: we walk, bike, and live on the residential streets of Glover Park, which have now become freeways thanks to the streetscape project. The vast majority of us have to cross either Tunlaw or 37th street to even get to Wisconsin, but now we can't do so safely on foot or on bikes because the Wisconsin lane reductions have funneled most vehicular traffic onto connector/residential roads. This was a shortsighted plan with predictable outcomes, as was pointed out repeatedly to DDOT by many GP residents.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

However, there remains strong support to some kind of traffic calming measures to protect people crossing the street.

Like say, making it so there aren't as many lanes to cross?

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

Unfortunately the people complaining about traffic never realize that they ARE traffic. Bidirectional transit only lanes would make life a lot easier for many residents but of course entrenched interests make sure they benefit at the expense of everyone else.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

"The Wisconsin Avenue streetscape has exposed DDOT as being particularly vulnerable to political pressure. It sets a precedent for opponents of other progressive transportation initiatives, particularly in Ward 3. Opponents of the brand-new bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue can only come away emboldened by DDOT's eagerness to placate many of the same people on Wisconsin."

Yes, the horror. DDOT listening to residents!

by charlie on Nov 15, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

Agreed, this piece is a little one-sided. DDOT is correct to give at least some weight to residents of the area.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

Charlie, there is a difference between listening and kowtowing. Residents should be heard, but DDOT represents the experts. Do you think DOT's should have no independence?

by David C on Nov 15, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

"Unfortunately the people complaining about traffic never realize that they ARE traffic."--BTA

Actually, many of us in GP are pedestrians and bikers far more frequently than we are drivers. Slowing traffic to a standstill on our only major thoroughfare was guaranteed to push traffic to our residential streets. We said it would; DDOT (and the ANC) disagreed; we were right.

I've been walking my kids back and forth to school and biking to work on 37th Street and Tunlaw Road for 9 years, and the traffic on those streets has exploded since the Wisconsin Ave lane reductions. We deserve to have residential streets that are safe for pedestrians, dog walkers, bikers, and children.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

As a resident of this area along with the author of this post, there are lots of local GP residents who think the lanes should NOT be reverted. I am disappointed that repeal of the work that went into the Wisconsin Ave improvements was pushed as opposed to working to address issues such as the delivery trucks that I CONSTANTLY see blocking lanes as well as approaches to avoiding the merging that happens between Whitehaven and 35th St that slows traffic. Removing this improvement is not the solution, but finding the real cause of the areas where the current configuration is deficient should be the path forward.

by GP Steve on Nov 15, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

Residents should be heard, but DDOT represents the experts.

But, this doesn't sound like an issue of expertise. It sounds like an issue of personal preference regarding tradeoffs. While the majority of folks didn't like the piloted solution, it doesn't mean they're opposed to all change and potential solutions. It's up to the experts to find a better solution.

Bidirectional transit only lanes would make life a lot easier for many residents

Has DDOT explored this alternative?

by Falls Church on Nov 15, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

Plus how can we have honest debate if DDOT won't release the data that says there was any impact to traffic or not? Previous times that lanes have been taken away in other cities has shown that traffic didn't get worse and in some cases sped up. Times Square and one more in Portland I'm trying to find. We (supporters of road diets in general) don't even get the opportunity to be proven wrong.

Lawyers Road Diet link in Reston,

http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/cs/resources/vdot-lawyersroad-survey.pdf

Times Square,

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/broadway.shtml

These aren't perfect analogies but it does show that reducing lanes doesn't automatically equal more congestion.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

I would agree that instead of fighting to preserve the median, it might make more sense politically to accept this loss, but push for transit lanes - I would imagine there might be more community support for that.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

Yea, seeing the data would be very useful.

My personal experience has been that traffic/congestion has indeed gotten worse since the changes, though driven behavior has become safer/more predictable with the addition of the turn lane and the regularization of the lanes.

The side streets issue is the real driving force - Glover Park residents don't mind traffic when they're not in it. But once outsiders start using their streets, hooboy, look out.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

But yes, GP Steve is right - delivery trucks, taxis, and people parking on Wisconsin account for more of the reduced throughput than the new lane configuration.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

"Previous times that lanes have been taken away in other cities has shown that traffic didn't get worse and in some cases sped up. Times Square and one more in Portland I'm trying to find. We (supporters of road diets in general) don't even get the opportunity to be proven wrong."--Drumz

Traffic does not disappear overnight when there is a "road diet" (lane reductions on a major thoroughfare). Traffic just moves to parallel or nearby residential streets. You can't claim a victory for pedestrians when all you've done is make it harder for pedestrians to walk on the streets on which they actually live.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

What they need is an island and parking lane like Connecticut @ Cleveland Park :-) Will help retailers, slow traffic. Of course a few years down the road some will say it should all be turned into sidewalk.

by polo on Nov 15, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

"But yes, GP Steve is right - delivery trucks, taxis, and people parking on Wisconsin account for more of the reduced throughput than the new lane configuration." --Dizzy

Yes, that's because now the delivery drivers, double-parked cars, and buses that won't fully pull over are sharing ONE LANE with through-traffic. Thus through-traffic can not get through, and takes the first detour onto our residential streets.

And yes, Glover Parkers do not necessarily want to share our residential streets with thousands of commuters every day. The bulk of traffic within the city is supposed to stay on the main roads: Connecticut, Mass, Wisconsin. That's why they are main roads, even if they're not perfect. Our tight residential streets, populated by hundreds of children, were not designed--nor can they safely carry--all of this spillover traffic.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 11:30 am • linkreport

Mia,

That's the thing though. When they've studied it before they've found that traffic doesn't simply divert. It just goes away. There aren't many paralell alternatives to Lawyer's road and the fact that speeds overall in NYC suggest that the volume isn't just shifting to new corridors. Is there evidence that shows higher traffic counts in Glover Park. Maybe I missed it earlier.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

@Mia

Traffic does not disappear overnight when there is a "road diet" (lane reductions on a major thoroughfare). Traffic just moves to parallel or nearby residential streets. You can't claim a victory for pedestrians when all you've done is make it harder for pedestrians to walk on the streets on which they actually live.

In the absence of dedicated transit, you have two options. You can either:

1. Have a usable street grid that diffuses traffic at manageable levels across multiple streets.

2. Funnel the vast majority of traffic onto a main artery, which will therefore inevitably become congested at peak times.

You cannot keep side streets free of non-resident traffic AND have Wisconsin not be congested. Clearly, many Glover Parkers prefer 2 to 1. That's fine as far as it goes. But let's not pretend it's a victory for pedestrians to keep Wisconsin as a traffic sewer.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

1. Road diets don't necessarily help by causing traffic to disappear - but by slowing the speed drivers attempt to drive, it can mean fewer collisions, which in turn reduces incident related congestion, and thus actually increases average speed while reducing the maximum speed - thats why its called "traffic calming" and not "traffic slowing". IIUC thats what happened on the road in FFX drumz cited. Im not sure the conditions are similar on Wisconsin.

2. I think we may have a fundamental difference in vision about how and where people walk. Some people walk mostly within their residential areas - for recreation, to walk their dogs, etc. They may not care very much about walking on or across the arterials, which is more important to people walking to do errands, access transit, etc. This can lead to misunderstandings.

There are similar misunderstandings between casual recreational cyclists, and transportation cyclists.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 11:33 am • linkreport

What's the speed limit on 37th? 25? Maybe lower it to 20 and push for increased enforcement?

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/humanfac/04082/

Under most average daily traffic (ADT) conditions tested, road diets have minimal effects on vehicle capacity, because left-turning vehicles are moved into a common two-way left-turn lane.(1,2) However, for road diets with ADTs above approximately 20,000 vehicles, there is a greater likelihood that traffic congestion will increase to the point of diverting traffic to alternate routes.

So if Wisconsin is above that threshold then maybe. Regardless, DDOT should have said what their data said before doing anything.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

@Mia

The bulk of traffic within the city is supposed to stay on the main roads: Connecticut, Mass, Wisconsin. That's why they are main roads, even if they're not perfect. Our tight residential streets, populated by hundreds of children, were not designed--nor can they safely carry--all of this spillover traffic.

That's kind of tautological, no? They're main roads because they carry the bulk of traffic, and they carry the bulk of traffic because they're main roads.

As I'm sure you well know, your tight residential streets are already carrying thousands of cars daily. However, because these streets enjoy various traffic calming measures, and because there are multiple streets across which to distribute the traffic, you both sustain overall throughput and have much safer conditions than you do on Wisconsin. Where are you more likely to get hit by a car - 37th and 38th or Wisconsin?

"I live on a side street so I get to use this street, but other people shouldn't because it's a side street" is pretty much the apotheosis of NIMBYism.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

"It sets a precedent for opponents of other progressive transportation initiatives, particularly in Ward 3." - SERIOUSLY? What a loaded comment and faulty line of logic. What the Glover Park predicament really illustrates is that worthy goals and good intentions may not always result in effective solutions. A vast majority of constituents and users impacted by the road’s changes are unhappy and want the changes reversed or altered in some way. Should this not be their say? Recognizing when a policy change isn’t working as intended and implementing a pragmatic fix is the foundation of “progressive initiatives” but in this case that fundamental doesn’t comport with the author’s ideals. Just who does the ANC think it is listening to the will of the people it represents when the progressive transportation initiative experts know what’s really right for everyone.

by Harry on Nov 15, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Mia, Harry

would the community support transit lanes on Wisc? that would also mean less general travel lanes, but might incent the folks from outside to use transit (initially buses, maybe eventually street cars) more.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

now the delivery drivers, double-parked cars, and buses that won't fully pull over are sharing ONE LANE with through-traffic. Thus through-traffic can not get through, and takes the first detour onto our residential streets.

Seems to me the issue is not so much the road design, but the fact that the drivers of delivery trucks and double parked cars feel the rules don't apply to them and don't give a damn about how they are affecting other people. As to the buses, a lot of times buses cannot fully pull over because someone has decided to park in a no parking zone, preventing the bus from accessing the bus loading zone. So, again, we're back to the people who "feel the rules don't apply to them and don't give a damn about how they are affecting other people."

I vote ruthless enforcement, and 10 lashes in a public space for repeat offenders. Bet that would solve the problem real quick.

by Birdie on Nov 15, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

@Birdie

As to the buses, a lot of times buses cannot fully pull over because someone has decided to park in a no parking zone, preventing the bus from accessing the bus loading zone.

Sometimes. Most of the time, they either lack the skill/desire to pull over fully, or prefer not to because then they have to wait longer to pull back into the travel lane. This is noticeably less of an issue during peak times when parking restrictions are in place along the curb lane. Except when those restrictions are ignored.

Short of my $15 billion fantasy East-West Gold Line w/ Glover Park station materializing anytime soon, dedicated transit lanes are indeed the only thing that will reduce overall traffic volume. I very much doubt that Glover Park residents will support such a thing either, though.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

Dizzy, why do I suspect that those people that insist no one should ever use side streets freely use side streets in other parts of the, city?

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 11:51 am • linkreport

I second a campaign of ruthless enforcement. One single parked car blocking a travel lane can easily double trip times in this city.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

Dizzy, they are main roads because they host extensive commercial activity and traverse the length of the city. Thus they have multiple lanes (or should) and traffic lights. It's quite easy to see the difference between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street. Or it used to be.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

"they are main roads because they host extensive commercial activity"

Which I guess is also the reason it would be useful to make them more conducive to walking. Am I right, that there is a difference here about the envisioned reasons for walking?

How would you attempt to make Wisconsin more walkable?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

It's quite easy to see the difference between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street.

Absolutely: several orders of magnitude more people walk along Wisconsin than 37th. People who actually live along 37th (or 38th or 39th or 40th etc. etc.) mostly just get into their cars and drive to/from their house :/

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

The problem is that the local residents imagine problems that are unlikely to materialize. The solution is to install a temporary median on a trial basis. This would just be some paint, cones and a sign explaining what was going on. Measure the effects on traffic speed, congestion, pedestrian experience and use of local sidestreets. THEN, with the data in hand, ask the ANC if they want to continue the trial, upgrade to a permanent solution, or go back to status quo.

by renegade09 on Nov 15, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

Dizzy: Hmm. I can't remember ever driving to our commercial strip, nor does anyone else on our street (west of 37th), 100% of whom agree that the streetscape changes have been bad for our neighborhood. (For our part, I often forget where our car is parked because it's used so infrequently.)

The streetscape project did widen sidewalks and improve lighting on Wisconsin, which is good for pedestrians. Earlier requests we made also gave pedestrians a headstart at stoplights on Wisconsin. Many of us support traffic cameras on Wisconsin to reduce speeding. So those who support the Wisconsin lane reductions aren't the only ones thinking about pedestrian safety; you just seem concerned with pedestrian safety only on Wisconsin Ave. Streetscape opponents, on the other hand, are considering the whole neighborhood.

Regardless, looks like the neighborhood vote was 2.5 to 1 in our favor. Thus we will hope, once the lanes are returned to Wisconsin, for a quick reduction in traffic on our residential streets.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

It seems to positive to me that there is consensus on the sidewalk widening and ped headstart. Good luck on the traffic cams.

I am still curious what the community views are about transit only lanes? That might lead to some traffic cutting through, but would also be the most likely way to reduce overall through auto traffic.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Thus we will hope, once the lanes are returned to Wisconsin, for a quick reduction in traffic on our residential streets.

What are the actual numbers though? DDOT isn't saying, is there some other source that shows traffic increasing or decreasing on certain streets?

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

"Glover Park residents don't mind traffic when they're not in it. But once outsiders start using their streets, hooboy, look out."

Come on. It's cheap to throw around loaded terms like "outsiders" but you miss the point. When secondary streets suddently start carrying a lot of traffic that used to go on Wisconsin, it has an impact on congestion, safety (for walking school kids, other peds and bicyclists), noise, fumes, etc. Understandably people on live on those previously secondary streets don't like it. It has nothing to do with outsiders, or NIMBYs or any other label.

by Sarah on Nov 15, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

When secondary streets suddently start carrying a lot of traffic that used to go on Wisconsin, it has an impact on congestion, safety (for walking school kids, other peds and bicyclists), noise, fumes, etc.

Did that happen though? We can't know unless DDOT reveals its data. But its reasonable to suggest that it may not have (or may have dissappated once construction was done) since we've seen similar results in other cities.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

Face it. DDOT is broken right now. It is hard to know who is calling the shots, but we have seen these progressive transportation measures get scrapped before real testing can occur time and time again. You wouldn't see this in Portland, Chicago or New York, yet somehow in DC, we get this watered down version of progressive transportation policy and implementation.

This was a good idea that benefited the local residents and streetscape. In the several times I traversed Wisconsin Avenue since the changes were made, I found that it took about the same amount of time, both northbound and southbound as before.

by William on Nov 15, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity: on transit lanes, I don't know what the community view would be, sorry. Many of us are open to ideas--and the recent improvements at 37th and Tunlaw are proof that we can work together towards a common goal. But the community will be gun-shy after the streetscape experience.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

Drumz, you're right that DDOT should release the numbers. Unfortunately--and this was a huge issue for those of us who strongly opposed the lane reductions--DDOT never collected real "before" numbers. In fact, DDOT seemed not to understand what many residents knew: that lane closures on Wisconsin would just funnel traffic onto our residential streets. About halfway through the project, if I remember correctly, DDOT's lead on the project admitted publicly that the project would, in fact, do so.

The bright side is that fed-up residents, with the support of our ANC, did manage to get DDOT to add crosswalks and stop signs on Tunlaw and 37th, and we finally got the long-promised safety fixes to the intersection of those 2 streets. Those things have helped, but the flood of diverted traffic needs to recede before our side streets will become walkable again.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

It is amazing lack of foresight DDOT puts into these things. They are supposedly the “experts” yet swore up and down that none of the traffic would divert through the neighborhood side streets. Sure, take capacity away from a commuter road with a traffic volume of 18K VPD, and the cars are supposed to magically “disappear”? Where exactly are the cars suppose to go?

And we’ve seen the data, DDOT told us the affect on traffic back in June. GGW wrote about it. It added on average 2 minutes to the average trip. I know people here turn their noses down at that, but it literally doubled the trip time which is pretty significant considering that stretch of road is less than half a mile, and that was with the neighborhood streets acting as a pressure release valve to Wisconsin.

GGW is always advocating for more and more public involvement, but it seems pretty clear that is only when the involvement aligns with their narrow view of a topic. The backlash from the local residents was pretty severe and people here, especially the ones who don’t live there, should respect the fact that the direct stakeholders did get involved and made the best decision for them and their neighborhood.

by GloverPark on Nov 15, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

@Sarah

Come on. It's cheap to throw around loaded terms like "outsiders" but you miss the point. When secondary streets suddently start carrying a lot of traffic that used to go on Wisconsin, it has an impact on congestion, safety (for walking school kids, other peds and bicyclists), noise, fumes, etc. Understandably people on live on those previously secondary streets don't like it. It has nothing to do with outsiders, or NIMBYs or any other label.

Nope, I don't think it's cheap at all. Glover Park residents are fine with residential streets as long as they're the only ones using them. It's all those other people who have "an impact on congestion, safety (for walking school kids, other peds and bicyclists), noise, fumes, etc." Your cars don't do any of those things, which is why only your cars are entitled to use the neighborhood streets, am I right?

Again, it's perfectly understandable that (some) Glover Park residents want to offload all the negative externalities of mass car use onto Wisconsin Avenue, where they don't live, and retain the side streets as their personal access routes. That doesn't mean it's good public policy.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

Not to nitpick, but how much time was the full implementation tested, with 37th and Tunlaw open, before the program was scrapped?

by William on Nov 15, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

GP

I can't speak for everyone. I think some of the pushback here is a sense that residents are concerned about cut through traffic, but not walkability on Wisconsin. For those of us who value complete streets, and walkability to places people need to go to for transportation - shops, transit, etc - that elicits the fear that such concerns are not being taken seriously. On the one hand there are people supporting SOME improvements on Wisconsin, but there are also references to the hierarchy of streets concept that is problematic.

Thats why I have asked about the reaction to transit lanes. I would like to understand better if the community is really concerned about reducing the number of vehicles traversing the neighborhood, or not.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 1:23 pm • linkreport

@Mia

So those who support the Wisconsin lane reductions aren't the only ones thinking about pedestrian safety; you just seem concerned with pedestrian safety only on Wisconsin Ave. Streetscape opponents, on the other hand, are considering the whole neighborhood.

Er, no. Pedestrian safety along side streets is quite good as it is, because of various traffic calming features (narrow roads, low speed limits, parked cars along the curb, etc.). Especially with the redesigned 37th street & Tunlaw intersection. You seem to be equating greater traffic with decreased safety. However, the side streets are designed in a lower-speed, pedestrian-friendly way, so an increase in traffic on those streets does not measurably reduce pedestrian/biking safety. Any impact in that direction is negligible compared to the increase in safety along Wisconsin - which, again, carries far more pedestrians - as a result of these measures.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy: What is your Gold Line concept? I have an inner-ring metrorail line concept that might be somewhat similar.

Former Glover Park resident here - The underlying problem is that the corridor north of GP is built to carry lots of traffic right to Calvert, while providing very little zoning for businesses along the stretch from American U. until that intersection. All that travel demand is delivered right to GP's doorstep. The presence of so many rare amenities in that one place (especially a gas station!), along with lots of garage parking access at the two anchor stores and no good transit, draws a ton of people to the location as well.

I'm fully in favor of progressive urban-design solutions, but this problem calls for a corridor-sized fix, not a local fix. Diversifying the zoning wherever possible north of Calvert would, over time, allow some of that demand to be met above the intersection. Introducing a median transitway (in the wider right-of-way from Albemarle to Whitehaven) so that BRT or express buses providing frequent high-speed service could deliver people back and forth to the area, would treat the problem, and would do a lot to fix the safety problem in GP in the process.

As a final note, concerns of people like Mia (about cut-through traffic) are common to these debates, and should be taken seriously by advocates. I think we have to do better than just waving traffic studies at residents and saying "trust us." Just my $0.02 on that issue.

by Scott on Nov 15, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

@awalker,

What am I missing? Glover Park got wider sidewalks, more cross walks and those improvements are being kept.

@Dizzy "Nope, I don't think it's cheap at all. Glover Park residents are fine with residential streets as long as they're the only ones using them"

Oh lets get off our high horse shall we? Lived in GP for nearly 18 years and all the commuting traffic was out on the main arterial as it should be, and the off main neighborhood side streets are quiet. Then all of a sudden the sidestreets are a crush of traffic, horns etc as thousands of commuter vehicles are now funneled through what was until then safe, manageable and relatively quiet.

by GloverPark on Nov 15, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

Dizzy: Simply stating and repeating that "an increase in traffic on those streets does not measurably reduce pedestrian/biking safety," does not make it true. Anyone who actually walks or bikes on those streets--including my kids and their friends, trying to cross 37th and Tunlaw on their walk home from school--knows better.

Good luck finding a neighborhood whose residents are jubilant about their side streets being overrun with commuter traffic.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 1:40 pm • linkreport

GP

but not a reduction in the number of lanes. I agree with Scott, that neighborhood concerns be taken seriously, and that supporting the medians at this point is probably not a worthwhile battle. I do think that eventually DC (and suburban jurisdictions as well) will both traffic calm and add transit capacity on arterials by converting general travel lanes to transit only lanes. I think that is the conversation urbanists should focus on, more than medians. But the counter could well be, that a neighborhood like GP will oppose that as well - that they really do care more about preserving the hierarchy of streets than in getting complete streets on the arterials.

Since the original post is addressing strategy - "fight on this, or we will lose on everything else" the question of what else neighbors will support, is not a trivial one.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

mia

if the neighborhood vote was 2.5 to 1, that says that over one quarter of the neighborhood supported the medians. Who are they and why did they support them? Was it folks who walk on Wisconsin, but not on Tunlaw and 37th? People sometimes forget just how micro geographic interests can be - what harms one groups of neighbors, helps ones just a block, or two away.

What is the level of neighborhood unanimity that should override DDOT (or other local transport agencies)? 3 to 1? 2 to 1? A simple majority, no matter how slim?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 1:49 pm • linkreport

In fact, DDOT seemed not to understand what many residents knew: that lane closures on Wisconsin would just funnel traffic onto our residential streets.

That's still an unfounded assumption afaik.

GP,

And we’ve seen the data, DDOT told us the affect on traffic back in June<.i>

Re-reading that story the only concrete thing we have is the fact that trips added two minutes via car. Some may not want to trade that sure but that's not saying that more cars are cutting through on other streets which seems (from these comments at least) to be resident's bigger concern.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

I also used to live in Glover Park for almost 3 years. It has a pretty middling but not terrible pedestrian environment. My main complaint was that auto congestion made transit so unbearable that I had to move. I would be genuinely surprised if most people in the area used transit on a daily basis. Parking was a huge issue because everyone there had cars.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 2:03 pm • linkreport

@BTA,

What's the speed limit on 37th? 25? Maybe lower it to 20 and push for increased enforcement?

Unfortunately, that's not legal. The citywide "minimum" speed limit is 25 mph by statute. There was a proposal last year (introduced by Bowser, I believe) to reduce that so that neighborhood streets could be designated as 20 mph zones, but it was crushed pretty quickly by organized by AAA and the usual suspects. The counter-argument went something along the lines of "You can't even DRIVE 25 mph!!!!" (It may have had more exclamation marks, I can't remember).

This is also why you don't see speed cameras in the neighborhoods: With a posted speed limit of 25, the de facto speed limit in DC is 35.

by oboe on Nov 15, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

Next thing they've be telling us that Georgetown was designed for horses, not cars.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

@Scott

I agree with your diagnosis and pretty much everything you say. I would say, though, that the "cut-through traffic" issue is, as AWITC says, the subject of some very problematic framing. There's an implication that side streets 'belong' to the residents of a particular neighborhood and no one else. You see it with street parking debates as well, among other things. It is very much a suburban mindset, and one that we would do well to guard against. No one should have the expectation that they live in the middle of a city but get to have near-exclusive use of public rights of way. It's not good traffic design, it's not good urbanism, and it's not good public policy.

As for my Gold Line Fantasy...

Stations:

GMU Patriot Center
Fairfax City
Oakton
Vienna
Tysons Corner (connection to Silver Line)
McLean
Sibley
Glover Park
Woodley Park-Zoo (connection to Red Line)
Columbia Heights (connection to Green & Yellow Lines)
Washington Hospital Center
Brookland-CUA (connection to Red Line)
Woodridge
Prince George's Hospital
New Carrollton (connection to Orange Line)

Total track: about 30 miles

Ok, so it's more like $25 billion :/

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 2:13 pm • linkreport

Unfortunately, that's not legal. The citywide "minimum" speed limit is 25 mph by statute. There was a proposal last year (introduced by Bowser, I believe) to reduce that so that neighborhood streets could be designated as 20 mph zones, but it was crushed pretty quickly by organized by AAA and the usual suspects

Just ugh.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy "Nope, I don't think it's cheap at all. Glover Park residents are fine with residential streets as long as they're the only ones using them"

Oh lets get off our high horse shall we? Lived in GP for nearly 18 years and all the commuting traffic was out on the main arterial as it should be, and the off main neighborhood side streets are quiet. Then all of a sudden the sidestreets are a crush of traffic, horns etc as thousands of commuter vehicles are now funneled through what was until then safe, manageable and relatively quiet.

All that, without a hint of irony.

@Mia

Dizzy: Simply stating and repeating that "an increase in traffic on those streets does not measurably reduce pedestrian/biking safety," does not make it true. Anyone who actually walks or bikes on those streets--including my kids and their friends, trying to cross 37th and Tunlaw on their walk home from school--knows better.

I walk along those streets all the time. Haven't noticed any reduction in safety. Have you been hit or had more close calls since the change? Or is your definition of safety "not having to look at/be near cars"?

Good luck finding a neighborhood whose residents are jubilant about their side streets being overrun with commuter traffic.

This is not a very good formulation to begin with. One could just as accurately say "Good luck finding a neighborhood whose residents are jubilant about their being overrun with low-income people of color" and it would be just as true, and yet would also be problematic from a public policy perspective. Privileging what you want for your own neighborhood, and who cares about everyone and everything else, is also a staple of NIMBYism.

Anyway, aside from many of the drivers doing said 'overruning' of the side streets are in fact residents of those streets, the choice remains: Wisconsin as traffic sewer or distributed street grid. (Some) GP residents have been fine with the former being the case for years, because they don't live on Wisconsin and use the side streets to get around.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 2:23 pm • linkreport

Dizzy I like where you're going but it could be two lines: Friendship Heights(?) to GMU and Sibley to New Carrollton.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

OK, I re-read this, and it's clear there was a trial and people knew what they were voting for. Pretty hard to argue with it then- it's a win for local people. Imposing solutions on local communities? Jane Jacobs would not approve.

by renegade09 on Nov 15, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

@Scott this problem calls for a corridor-sized fix, not a local fix.

Best comment all day. Spot on.

by Birdie on Nov 15, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

@GloverPark - Did you measure that, or is this a guess, or was it in the DDOT data? If it was in the DDOT data, how did you get a hold of it, and can you share it?

by Distantantennas on Nov 15, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

I live in Glover Park, own a car, and I 100% support DDOT's changes. They have changed Wisconsin Avenue from a complete traffic sewer to a semi-tolerable environment for pedestrians.

There is almost never a need to drive on Wisconsin, and when I do have such a need (e.g. heavy grocery shopping) I travel at off-peak times - which I did before these changes, too.

I also walk on 37th Street regularly and I have not witnessed the traffic hell that people claim exists. It is perfectly safe to cross.

BTW, I strongly question the integrity of this survey data. I never noticed any listserv message or flyer publicizing this survey which makes me think the sample is skewed in some way. The ANC's efforts to solicit citizen input were completely inadequate.

I'm sure DDOT will go along with the plan though, it makes Jack Evans' drive to Sidwell shorter so it fulfills one of their key strategic goals.

by Phil on Nov 15, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

Dizzy: Take a break on the hyperbole and false equivalencies.

As for this: "Privileging what you want for your own neighborhood, and who cares about everyone and everything else, is also a staple of NIMBYism." It's not just what I want, of course. The neighborhood has spoken; the survey stands. The sentiment of the neighboring ANCs also stand, as evidenced by Mary Cheh's hearing.

And yes, my kids and I have had several close calls on 37th in the past year; one at 8 a.m. this week, in fact. But perhaps you wanted gorier details.

Signing out to finish work and retrieve children. On foot.

by Mia on Nov 15, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

I wonder if maybe a long pedestrian timed light at 37th and Tunlaw would help, that intersection just sucks period.

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 2:42 pm • linkreport

The ANC's efforts to solicit citizen input were completely inadequate.

AKA business as usual?

by BTA on Nov 15, 2013 2:44 pm • linkreport

@ Dizzy who wrote "It is very much a suburban mindset, and one that we would do well to guard against. No one should have the expectation that they live in the middle of a city but get to have near-exclusive use of public rights of way. It's not good traffic design, it's not good urbanism, and it's not good public policy."

Ah, yes, the "we live in a city" mantra, so just suck up whatever social and quality of life ills that are thrown your way.

The fact is that Washington, DC is both urban and pretty suburban. If you just look at the area west of Rock Creek Park, Palisades, Spring Valley, Chevy Chase, AU Park, Cleveland Park and even Glover Park are quasi-suburban in character, where people value safe, relatively quiet streets where their kids can walk to school and ride bikes. In fact, some of these neighborhoods are more suburban than Bethesda or Clarendon. I don't think it is good public policy or "good urbanism" to advocate flushing traffic from big arterial roads through neighborhood streets, and I'm surprised that you think that way. Good urbanism is sustaining and supporting great neighborhoods as places where people want to live, raise their families and send their kids to school and stay in Washington, DC long term, instead of moving to the outer suburbs.

by Jamie on Nov 15, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

Did CM Cheh support the lower speed limits proposed by Bowser and supported by Wells? If not, are the residents of GP pushing Cheh to do so in the future?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

@Phil

Maret, not Sidwell.

by Andrew on Nov 15, 2013 2:49 pm • linkreport

I take back part of my previous comment. I went back to my Gmail and in fact, the ANC did send out one email to the neighborhood listserv about the survey.

It had a vague subject line, so I (and most likely many other residents) skipped it over - I don't have time to read every single listserv email. Conspicuously absent were key words like "ANC" or "survey" that might have actually drawn my interest.

Better yet, the email didn't even include a link to the survey itself - you had to go to the ANC website for that.

I'm willing to attribute this to a lack of understanding of effective e-mail communication, rather than any malicious intent.

I would be curious, though, to know what other methods the ANC used to disseminate the survey. I don't recall seeing any flyers in the neighborhood, for example.

by Phil on Nov 15, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

Dizzy: Take a break on the hyperbole and false equivalencies.

You first ;) From your depictions, 37th sounds like it's turned into Le Mans, rather than a relatively calm street that now experiences a marginal uptick in traffic during peak hours from what was there before (as Phil confirms).

And yes, my kids and I have had several close calls on 37th in the past year; one at 8 a.m. this week, in fact. But perhaps you wanted gorier details.

I'm very sorry to hear that. No close calls prior to the streetscape project? In other words, what leads you to believe that these particular incidents were the direct result of the streetscape project?

It's not just what I want, of course. The neighborhood has spoken; the survey stands.

That's kind of the point - neighborhood wants (to the extent that this survey is truly reflective of neighborhood opinion, which is open to debate) are important and must be taken into account, but they should not trump larger civic goals and goods. And that includes the civic good of not having Wisconsin be a traffic sewer.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

"The fact is that Washington, DC is both urban and pretty suburban. If you just look at the area west of Rock Creek Park, Palisades, Spring Valley, Chevy Chase, AU Park, Cleveland Park and even Glover Park are quasi-suburban in character, where people value safe, relatively quiet streets where their kids can walk to school and ride bikes. In fact, some of these neighborhoods are more suburban than Bethesda or Clarendon. I don't think it is good public policy or "good urbanism" to advocate flushing traffic from big arterial roads through neighborhood streets, and I'm surprised that you think that way."

actually Clarendon has several parallel connecting streets, and AFAICT it is county policy to encourage the diffusion of traffic on several routes, and to traffic calm the main ones in various fashion. I don't know Bethesda as well, but I don't think its that different.

The "suburban" mindset of pushing all auto traffic on arterials is not only a bad idea in urban areas, its problematic in suburbs as well - at least in ones where people want a walkable main street, and want walking, biking and transit as alternatives for transportation to the automobile.

My sense is that all the neighborhoods along Wisconsin and Conn have ped, bike and transit mode shares, and levels of density, suggesting that residents there do not want and should not expect a way of life in which it assumed that autos are used for most trips, and walking is mostly recreational.

Now, it may well be that the medians are not the best way to get a complete street on Wisconsin (I am still intrigued that over one quarter of respondents wanted the medians though.) But it seems that some strategy for making Wisconsin more a complete street is warranted. Perhaps the improvements that are to be kept are enough - this should be revisited.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

37th St. is defined to be *not* a "local street" it is a collector street. Don't believe me? Check out the map:

http://dc.gov/DC/DDOT/About+DDOT/Maps/Functional+Classification+Map

Collector streets are defined to be "roadways servicing traffic between major and local roadways" including through traffic.

But in the end, this is all about individual's perceptions and the caving of DDOT to the perceptions of drivers that a few extra seconds is genuinely a material change. These are the same people who honk their car when the car ahead of them doesn't immediately jump at a green light. DDOT shot itself in the foot by failing to gather the data and use it to rebut the false perceptions of self centered people.

As for "cut through traffic", I personally believe much of the concern is disingenuous and simply people complaining about congestion on Wisc. and looking to make it about safety when it's really about their frustration. But even if you accept that the concern is genuine, there are many steps you can take to reduce cut through traffic (and its speed) that doesn't simply add capacity back to Wisconsin. That view rests on the basic assumption that we just have to accept the inherent impatience of drivers and give them the wide arterials they demand because expecting them to just slow down and wait a few extra seconds is just too unreasonable. It's that assumption that leads to shrugs over pedestrian deaths.

by TM on Nov 15, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

Suburbs can have grids too (see: brightwood, petworth, older neighborhoods in Md. and Va. like the one I lived in near GMU)

Urban places can have street hierarchies (Tysons).

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

I find the push to discount neighborhood views troubling. It's not like these are reflexive reactions. There actually was a trial period, and these reactions are therefore at least somewhat grounded in real world experience.

Too many of the critics come from a purely theoretical perspective.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

I don't think it is good public policy or "good urbanism" to advocate flushing traffic from big arterial roads through neighborhood streets, and I'm surprised that you think that way.

Numerous studies have shown that increasing grid connectivity makes traffic slower, smoother, and safer. This is a well-demonstrated transportation planning concept. Rather than fighting this reconfiguration that made glover park safer, you could be arguing for traffic calming measures that makes the side streets safer.

Good urbanism is sustaining and supporting great neighborhoods as places where people want to live, raise their families and send their kids to school and stay in Washington, DC long term, instead of moving to the outer suburbs.

Which is why connectivity, walkability, and densification should be promoted, allowing more families to enjoy the benefits of Northwest DC while adding to the retail vitality and public safety.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 3:23 pm • linkreport

I think neighborhood input is important. I think open data is also important that way I can see if there is a difference between what people in the neighborhood feel is happening and what's actually being measured. Neighborhood concern shouldn't be the only factor and there is debate on when it should be a deciding factor.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

+100 AWITC, TM, and Царьхитект Neil.

Crickey, I have walked and jogged up and down the stretch of 37th between Calvert and Reservoir at least 500 times in my life - I promise you I'm not coming to this from a purely theoretical perspective.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

You may notice I did indicate not all critics were purely theoretical.

I note you value your observations. Why not extend that same regard to the neighbors?

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 3:42 pm • linkreport

I value neighbors' observations. But I understand them to be anecdotal (as are mine), shaped by particular assumptions and preconceived notions (as are mine) and do not believe they should be controlling above all else, to the exclusion of all other interests (nor should mine).

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 3:48 pm • linkreport

"You may notice I did indicate not all critics were purely theoretical. I note you value your observations. Why not extend that same regard to the neighbors?

Exactly,

@Dizzy, " I have walked and jogged up and down the stretch of 37th between Calvert and Reservoir at least 500 times in my life "

I have walked, biked and or driven down that stretch of 37th a few times a day for 18 years, or about 20,000 times. I can promise you, my observations aren't either.

In the end, folks here can squabble all they like. The decision was made. >75% of the neighborhood was in favor of it and DDOT's poorly understood and comical waste of money will be undone.

by GloverPark on Nov 15, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

@GloverPark

Unlike Crickey, I did not impute to anyone a purely theoretical perspective. I am happy to recognize you as a far more experienced authority on all things Glover Park than I. That's not the same as believing that either a specific collection of anecdata, or the interpretation thereof, is inherently superior on the basis of the holder's place of residence.

I live on a side street off of Connecticut Avenue. If I were to ever argue that this entitles me and my neighbors to near-exclusive access to that street, and everyone else should just stay on Connecticut where they belong, I would expect to be held in contempt. And rightly so.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

In the end, folks here can squabble all they like. The decision was made. >75% of the neighborhood was in favor of it and DDOT's poorly understood and comical waste of money will be undone.

It is misunderstood, because it's not possible to understand behaviors in complex situations. That's the point of the trial period. The paint on the roadway was pennies in infrastructure terms to try something that apparently had some plusses and minuses.

You did not actually know what would happen when they tried it. All the naysayers had (at best) was lucky guesses. Your "I told you so" attitude is counterproductive to the development of healthy neighborhoods in this city.

We have to try things. That's how we learn, in urban planning.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 4:04 pm • linkreport

Why wouldn't people want Wisconsin to carry a large load of traffic? It's what the road is designed to do. It seems pretty wasteful to artificially limit the use of such a useful piece of infrastructure.

by Potowmack on Nov 15, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

Rather: "It is misunderstood, because it's not possible to understand behaviors in complex situations, without testing. "

Potowmack: I agree! The road should have dedicated transit lanes to maximally transport residents in efficient, fast busses.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

Potowmack

indeed its best to utilize Wisconsin as fully as possible. as NF points out, the way to move the most people on it is via dedicated transit lanes. By making it conducive to walking, it can also be better utilized as a main street for the neighborhoods it passes through.

Too focus it only to maximize the movement of vehicles, would be to waste a useful piece of infrastructure.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 4:13 pm • linkreport

@Dizzy,

So I take it that you find contemptable the traffic calming measures, including diverters, to discourage Mazza Gallery and Friendship Heights mall traffic from incursion onto neigbhorhood residential streets?

by Jamie on Nov 15, 2013 4:19 pm • linkreport

Jumping in late, but here is some history and fact in a nutshell about the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project:

- a study and subsequent recommendation report for traffic and walkability was done in 2006-2007 for ALL of Glover Park

- neighborhood meetings were held to discuss what was referred to as "Streetscape" and not that many people attended. I know I didn't go to them, because I figured, who isn't for new benches, trees, better sidewalks? But, as it turned out, the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project focused on lane reductions in the name of traffic calming and pedestrian safety on Wisconsin Avenue.

- OK, fine. Who doesn't want calmer traffic and pedestrian safety?

- Oh, but where will all that traffic go once there are less lanes? (Some actually thought it would cause motorists to drive less. Nice thought, but it doesn't work that way.)

- OK, fine. Traffic will divert to collector road such as 37th, Tunlaw, etc. But it will be alright, yes, because the Streetscape recommendation report included improvements for ALL of Glover Park, right? So that crappy intersection of 37th and Tunlaw, for example, will also be addressed.

- Wait, what? Only Wisconsin Avenue is getting work done? So all that diverted traffic off of Wisconsin is going into the neighborhood and we are NOT getting problem intersections fixed. Apparently it was "not in the budget." (At this point my head exploded.)

- Subsequently, through neighbor grass-roots effort, the interior of the Glover Park neighborhood recieved some much need improvements. But not without a fight, and it really should not have had to come to that.

There are some of you who say that those of us opposed to lane reduction on Wisconsin are NIMBYs, or only concerned about our own micro-environments - please take the time to learn the whole story before you start with the name-calling. I, and many others, were simply dismayed that the scope of the project left out a lot of things that really needed to be fixed.

And I have to say, the changes on Wisconsin have NOT left me feeling safer as a pedestrian. Frustrated drivers run lights, get caught in the box, and zip around the medians. Less lanes and painted medians, in the case of our stretch of Wisconsin, provide a false sense of safety. The Streetscape project failed to do what it was intended to do. And it embittered many by the blatant disregard for how the lane reductions would affect the entirety of Glover Park.

by Adriana, no need for alias on Nov 15, 2013 4:20 pm • linkreport

@Jamie

So I take it that you find contemptable the traffic calming measures, including diverters, to discourage Mazza Gallery and Friendship Heights mall traffic from incursion onto neigbhorhood residential streets?

Correct. I find various Upper Upper Northwest measures, like making certain streets Do Not Enter (Except Local Traffic) at certain times, to be a terrible precedent and very undesirable.

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

OK, fine. Traffic will divert to collector road such as 37th, Tunlaw, etc.

Not necessarily, DDOT has released any data that says whether that happened or not.

The Streetscape project failed to do what it was intended to do.
Again, we actually don't know that. We have impressions that it's happened but impressions only get us so far. This isn't saying that the impressions are wrong but when they don't square up with what's happened before when road diets have been tried its important to figure out if the feelings come from the fact that Glover Park is truly exceptional or if people have other reasons for reacting negatively to the change.

I can accept that maybe DDOT didn't do enough (or did too much) but I need more than just assertions through a survey that only collected feelings. But that's actually on DDOT for not releasing it's data.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

"Frustrated drivers run lights, get caught in the box, and zip around the medians. "

Somehow I would not be angry mostly at DDOT in that situation.

Sounds like more enforcement is needed.

Or do we just accept that frustrated motorists always get their way?

How do we achieve change?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 15, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

@Jamie

Also highly relevant: this recent post from the "grilling AAA" thread:

It has been noted on this blog before that residents of Chevy Chase, MD have essentially cut their neighborhood off from the local grid, forcing drivers on to Western, Wisconsin and Connecticut. Residents of Friendship Heights and Tenleytown have done something similar with physical barricades and turn restrictions, turning River Road and Wisconsin Avenue into traffic gutters.

What any of this has to do with zoning or parking is beyond me, but let's stick to the facts: residents of these areas have talked their local transportation agencies into turning their streets into relative oasis at the expense of the rest of the region. These one-off solutions need to be revisited in a comprehensive manner.

by William on Nov 15, 2013 3:32 pm

by Dizzy on Nov 15, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

Traffic gutters? Wisconsin and River move fine, even in rush hour.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 4:39 pm • linkreport

So I take it that you find contemptable the traffic calming measures, including diverters, to discourage Mazza Gallery and Friendship Heights mall traffic from incursion onto neigbhorhood residential streets?

Not only that, but they don't work! Just today, I saw a dump truck ignore the new barriers at 42nd and Military. If only it was a roundabout or a neckdown, devices that keep connectivity but reduce speed enough to keep unsafe drivers under control in residential streets.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 4:42 pm • linkreport

The isssue of dumptrucks on Military is a seperate one. That is the major East-West route for cement factories in NE to NW, and they literally shake the houses located within a few hundred feet. In addition, one overturned and killed the son of the Dean of Georgetown Law School about a decade ago. If they can't be limited, at least let's not allow them to go through the enighborhoods.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 4:47 pm • linkreport

It was traveling on 42nd.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

It had to have come from Military. Or Wisconsin.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

Also, it's not about the dump truck - it's about the ineffective measures that funnel more traffic onto Military.

Even then, it's the fact that there is no grid connectivity between NE and NW other than Military that makes Military so blighted. Just as Wisconsin and Connecticut are so congested because of Chevy Chase's grid closures.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 15, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

I should say dump truck anbd cement trucks. There is a transfer station in, I believe, Fort Totten. As well as cement factories in NE.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 5:02 pm • linkreport

That darn park. Always getting in the way of smooth traffic flow.

by Crickey7 on Nov 15, 2013 5:03 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity
"...do we just accept that frustrated motorists always get their way?

It's a good question...
No, we cannot accept that frustrated motorists get their way. But "enforcement" only works in that moment, for that particular motorist that is pulled over. It doesn't change behaviour of drivers in general. There is no cure for self-important jerks who drive dangerously. Reducing lanes on Wisconsin Ave made these people act even worse. I rarely drive on Wisconsin, I'm not a frustrated driver. But I walk across Wisconsin a couple times a day, and the lane reductions, by my observation and experience, have made it worse for pedestrians.

by Adriana, no need for alias on Nov 15, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

Adriana,

Regular enforcment can lead to overall behavioral changes. If you have a reasonable expectation you'll get caught then you'll change behavior. You won't curb 100% of infractions but you'll make waves. That's how many jurisdictions ensure their HOV lane drivers remain compliant.

Crickey7,
You may be being facetious but greenbelts are great but they do present challenges. It was a source of frustration for me when I lived in fairfax because while they have a great stream valley conservation program that also made it hard to get from certain areas to others (I'm thinking of Springfield v. West Springfield on Old Keene Mill in particular).

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

or rather, an expectation of enforcement.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 5:12 pm • linkreport

LOL, to read all the "smart growth" paeans to alternatives to the autombile. In the urbanist paradise, eveyone walks, takes the streetcar, and certainly doesn't need parking. Yet let some DC residents dare to suggest that current and induced through traffic be encouraged to stay on the arterials discouraged from using residential side streets, and some on this board get more aggressive and bothered than a AAA lobbyist on a bad traffic day.

by Jamie on Nov 15, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

I am very concerned by the lack of measurement in these comments. I am a Glover Park resident and that being said, I would like to see numbers in this discussion. It is my understanding that DDOT did not capture a complete "before" sample for relevant roads in our neighborhood. Given that, I think we should:
1) Make sure we have an accurate metric of traffic counts and speed for the current situation is captured and disseminated
2) Discuss concerns of the current situation
3) Discuss theories on how to address those concerns (e.g. no mercy enforcement of the illegal double parking that occurs on Wisconsin during rush hour)
4) Make changes such as no mercy enforcement of the illegal double parking that goes on Wisconsin
5) Take a measurement of the results
6) Go back to step 2

We can find solutions to the concerns being raised. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I respect that other Glover Park residents have concern over the current situation. However, repealing or removing the improvements that were made to Wisconsin without numbers is to give emotional center stage without using metrics. Let's make this a measurable discussion and not an emotional one.

by GP Steve on Nov 15, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

GP Steve, I agree

Jamie,

Except that when you have all the traffic on the arterial that can make it harder to add things like streetcars and bike lanes. Both from a technical and political perspective. If a road is backed up because there aren't other options then its that much harder to implement changes on that street that would solve that. It's nice to be able to walk around your neighborhood without worrying about cars as much but if its that much harder to cross Wisconsin avenue then is it worth it? Again, with the proper context, it's not duplicitous.

by drumz on Nov 15, 2013 5:58 pm • linkreport

So what Gr8Gr8wash & ward3vision is suggesting in this report, is that the immediate community desires, civil society due input has no value, over advancing economic driven (read as developer) interest masked by progressive urbanism. Being progressive is to support community interest and rights, not push your individual agenda. I'm a progressive by all counts political, and will always be on the social & environmental justice side. The editors & ward3vision need a course on progressives 101. Your organizations make it hard for us, who fight for community development in our immediate neighborhood. Stop pushing your agendas across neighborhoods, instead focus on routing back to your grassroots, before you yielded to a developer rhetoric.

by Claudia on Nov 15, 2013 9:16 pm • linkreport

What are the developer interests in Wisconsin avenue road diet?

Anyway, arguing about who is more progressive can quickly devolve into a no true Scotsman argument.

by Drumz on Nov 15, 2013 9:22 pm • linkreport

Crikey: No need to be cheeky. The origin of this dispute in Glover Park was that drivers are supposedly using side streets more than they were before. Barring data about whether that is true or not, we can only rely on the experience of other areas and transportation planning research.

Experience would predict the problems Military suffers. It reveals the problem of not having a grid to spread traffic out over, even beyond the bottleneck at the park. If it were designed as an arterial and zoned accordingly, nobody would care.

If the city were zoned such that the major retail and social areas were not on arterials, perhaps this would be less of a problem. But the issues with roads becoming big, dangerous dividers would remain.

On the other hand, it's possible to marry grid connections with slower traffic. The Tunlaw & 37th street intersection is a prime example of traffic calming that retains connectivity. And by all accounts it's a success. That is what I am talking about.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 16, 2013 2:21 am • linkreport

Either way, we need to see the data, and I hope that DDOT continues to study the area, to see what happens even if the lanes are removed.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 16, 2013 2:25 am • linkreport

Removing all these lanes around the city will make an evacuation of the city or a military response to civil unrest many times more difficult.

by AndrewJ on Nov 16, 2013 5:23 am • linkreport

It's upsetting to see the number of GP residents on this thread who use the words "my" and "our" in front of the word "streets". I thought all the streets belonged to all the residents, but I guess not. So, new rule: I live in the West End. From this day forth, all outsiders coming to downtown from the upper NW must use K Street. L and M are reserved solely for West End residents.

by DavidG on Nov 16, 2013 8:28 am • linkreport

All anyone is asking for here is a proper execution of study and implementation, of which DDOT did neither. On the front end, they made changes without taking baseline numbers and on the back-end, they reverted the changes by responding to the squeaky wheels.

If the changes had been fully tested after the Tunlaw fixes had been completed, perhaps the exacerbation of issues on Wisconsin Avenue would have been mitigated. Instead of allowing things to settle in for a few months, DDOT changed things in a matter of days and weeks because drivers were perceiving inconvenience.

In my opinion, this falls squarely on DDOT. Please don't blame the messengers.

by William on Nov 16, 2013 8:39 am • linkreport

I'm a hearty proponent of the redesigned configuration of Wisconsin. Love the left-hand turn lanes as they make it far safer for me whether on in bicycle or in my car to get to Whole Foods, the liquor store, or CVS. Like many in the GP, I cross 37th Street and Tunlaw several times each day. Not sure if traffic is heavier or not, but the changes at Benton & Tunlaw and at Tunlaw & 37th have made it much easier and safer to cross.

I have been largely silent while the critics of the reconfiguration made lots of noise. I was silent because it was my feeling that the reconfiguration was a fait accompli. Pretty sure that the recent decision by the local GP ANC to reverse course is going to bring a lot of folks like me out of the woodwork. Look forward to seeing everyone at Mary Cheh's hearing on the 4th. Should be a rousing good time.

by Bob on Nov 16, 2013 10:23 am • linkreport

@Claudia

Excellent points! You've obviously been paying attention from the start, questioning things, and not going on pure emotion and basic arithmetic.

Sadly, I've been getting that feeling, too–that if we're not in lock-step with ALL of the beliefs/feelings of ward3vision or some of the writers on Gr8r, then it's not community. Bummer, because I am a total Jane Jacobs freak and city gal through and through, but some of the stuff that fellow urban progressive have said on here, sheesh!

Claudia, your point on developer interests in spot on. Some more history on this whole Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project, the following excerpt is from a report from Office of the Mayor dated 2011, that tells the more complete back story:

In the spring of 2006 the District of Columbia’s
Office of Planning (OP) engaged HNTB Corporation
to study retail, public realm, mobility and
parking improvement strategies for the Glover
Park Commercial District along Wisconsin Avenue
in Northwest Washington. This action was
taken in response to community requests for a
study that would list implementable solutions to
a perceived high turn‐over and vacancy rate in
the neighborhood retail strip, as well as, a general
sense that the corridor was underperforming
compared to the high purchasing power and
average incomes of its residents.

The initial driving force for the project was indeed commercial interests. And that's great, I'm all for business growth. Also, further on in this and other similar reports, concerns about pedestrian safety are mentioned, but only AFTER the concerns for the commercial needs of Wisconsin. Those who believe that the lane reduction project came about because pedestrians were hit-that is simply only part of the story. I'm not belittling the gravity of the accidents, I just think people should know the true and entire history.

by Adriana, no need for alias on Nov 16, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

Removing all these lanes around the city will make an evacuation of the city or a military response to civil unrest many times more difficult.

Not where we replace them with bike lanes or bus lanes they won't. Besides, that is such an exceedingly rare occurence, that I think we should just ignore it as a concern

by David C on Nov 16, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

It needs to be pointed out that Jacobs was adamant about the value of network connectivity and narrowing vehicular roadways. She also cared quite a lot for the economic stability of small shops, bikes, and parking limitations. She was very much of the "this is city life, get over it" mindset.

The grassroots aspect of her work is very valuable, and we shouldn't be ignoring community input, but it's the community's job to examine the premises that underlie their concerns. Otherwise, name-dropping Saint Jane is a distraction. I want to listen to the community, but let's see the data.

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 16, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

@Adriana and @Claudia

Please talk to the ANC 3B Commissioners. You are taking the OP report way out of context. The community, through 3B, was concerned that Glover Park was losing businesses and the high turnover rate of people willing to invest in the commercial strip was troubling. Working with DDOT and OP, the streetscape study was begun around 2006 (requested in 2004/2005).

There were plenty of community meetings about this and the proposal had been vetted by all of the stakeholders.

This wasn't some developer conspiracy and I don't think ward 3 vision even existed then.

by William on Nov 16, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

Neil,
Thank you for those links.

As for data, let me point out that DDOT publicly admitted that they did NOT do any studies of the effects that Wisconsin Avenue lane reductions would have on the collector roads in Glover Park, Burleith, Cathedral Heights. It was only after a grassroots effort that traffic counters and speed recorders were temporarily installed. And this was well AFTER construction had already commenced. This data that was collected, COUPLED with community input, led to the improvement of 37th/Tunlaw intersection, and other fixes in the Glover Park interior.

Most of us can only make anecdotal observations - mine is that the lane reductions have proven counter-productive. My own experience walking Wisconsin Avenue is that traffic is not calmer, pedestrians are no safer than before. Narrowing vehicular roadways works in some places, but not in this case. I'm for the lanes going back the way they were, but you're right, I think official data would be important to review.

by Adriana, no need for alias on Nov 16, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

@William,
Believe me, I have been to many of those ANC meetings and spoken with my ANC3B reps. I have been involved in this ever since I learned in Winter 2011 that only the Wisconsin Avenue part of the study was to be implemented, ignoring much needed improvements to other parts of Glover Park dangerous to pedestrians and motorists.

Yes, William, you are right-there were plenty of community meetings, and lots of people didn't go to them. You know why? Because what's not like about a beautification of our avenue. Isn't that what something called a Streetscape project seems to be? Fix sidewalks, add some benches, more trees...so why take time to go to these meetings? Well, did we ever learn the hard way. Streetscape turned out to be a massive lane reduction project. And when the true nature of the project was revealed, you can bet people started coming to the meetings, but by then, it was too late. The only good to come out of the Wisconsin Avenue Streetscape project was that a few problems sidewalks were widened. And we got some nice new historical streetlights.

How am I taking the report out of context? I quoted verbatim the OPENING paragraph of the report. The whole thing started because a few community members found the corridor had too many vacant storefronts. That's not out of context, that's in black and white. What follows in the report is a stone soup of other reasons to "fix" Wisconsin Avenue. No one wants empty storefronts, we want a vibrant corridor, but the whole thing was mishandled and we ended up with an expensive folly.

by Adriana, no need for alias on Nov 16, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

People are certainly worked up about this. Some of the changes are for the good: the left turn lanes (Whitehaven from northbound Wisconsin, and Calvert and Whole Foods from southbound Wisconsin) are a very useful innovation that has probably reduced the accident stats in those blocks.

The problem during the evenings and on weekends is that strip between W Street and Calvert has become a lively destination that draws lots of folks from "out of area." That's fine, we welcome them, but they need to realize they can't come and park on Wisconsin or in our neighborhoods. That's what Metro, Metrobus, and the Circulator are for.

The solution is to facilitate the flow of traffic on Wisconsin Avenue, but keep it slow and civil, and to change people's perceptions that the Glover Park strip is a destination you can drive to.

Fist, enforce the 25 mph limit -- put a Metropolitan Police officer on foot patrol to slap some hefty tickets on red-light runners and agressive drivers. People will learn.

Second, ban parking on Wisconsin Avenue at all times from R Street north to Calvert. Widen the sidewalks where it's possible.

Third, set the same resident-only parking restrictions on the neighborhood streets in Glover Park that have made Capitol Hill a much friendlier place to live and work.

Smooth circulation on Wisconsin Avenue at all times. Less traffic and parking cruisers in the neighborhood west of the avenue -- I guarantee it will work. Try it, you'll like it.

by Publius Washingtoniensis on Nov 16, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

I work around the southern part of the Wisconsin Ave changes at Whitehaven St. I was very happy to hear about the changes to streetscape and lane configurations as I walk up to the northern end of Glover Park frequently. But I have to admit, something isn't working right. A few observations:

- Where are these wider sidewalks? There was no widening of Wisconsin Ave sidewalks anywhere I could see, especially on the stretch north of 35th St. at the cemetery where they are barely wide enough with the light poles for a single pedestrian to pass through.

- Traffic congestion is the worst outside of rush hours at midday when there are only two through lanes. Box blocking is routine such that traffic coming north from 35th/Whitehaven to Wisconsin barely moves. Lots of reckless driver moves are a result.

- Light timing needs to be adjusted, especially northbound, to allow traffic to clear through. Right now, traffic doesn't move well enough to create clearings for turning vehicles after the light changes.

- The huge volume of vehicles accessing the British School and (to a lesser extent) Hardy MS also cause significant backups at these intersections because of the large numbers of turning vehicles.

- Rush hour illegal parking decimates the throughput of the road leading to more backups as curb lane vehicles try to merge back into traffic. Until tickets for this a priced high enough that delivery companies will no longer see it simply as the cost of doing business, this practice will not end. If necessary, institute higher fines for commercial vehicles.

- It would be good to understand the level of turnover in the parking spaces on Wisconsin. Perhaps they can be eliminated in Glover Park. At least toward the southern end, nearly every building has off street lot or garage parking of its own.

- I like the idea of dedicated transit lanes at the curb perhaps there would be more business and local resident buy-in for this if the Circulator continued up Wisconsin to increase bus frequency.

- Last thought: How the hell is a streetcar line ever going to fit up here?!?

by Chris on Nov 16, 2013 7:17 pm • linkreport

Does anyone have information regarding how many people have been struck while crossing Wisconsin Ave in Glover Park? I was struck by a work van while attempting to cross Wisconsin Ave at the north end of its intersection with Calvert St as I headed to the little triangular pedestrian island before 37th St.

by Struck Glover Parker on Nov 17, 2013 12:24 am • linkreport

Chris,
The sidewalk was indeed widened at Holy Rood Cemetery. Unfortunately, the streetlights were put back in such a way where there is still impediment, but the sidewalk is definitely wider than before. The sidewalk was also widened further north at the dry cleaners and gas station at Calvert. Thumbs up to the part of the Streetscape project.

What would you have delivery trucks do? Not all businesses have alley access. Delivery trucks pulled over on the street is just part of city life. It is merely punitive to ticket them, and will not change behaviour. As you point out, yes, fines are a cost of doing business. And when those fines go up, guess who covers it in the end? Yes, we, the consumers.

by Adriana on Nov 17, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

@Adriana: No problem with delivery trucks in general on Wisconsin, but not during the rush hour when the curb lanes are marked for no parking or standing. Just one vehicle parked in that lane ruins the whole flow. Deliver before or after the rush; that's why those no parking loading zones exist. (It's a big problem downtown and on other rush corridors, too.)

by Chris on Nov 18, 2013 9:09 am • linkreport

Ticketing delivery trucks just ends up with the delivery companies passing along their costs to the customers. I think towing might be the old significant enough deterrent to have them change their behavior. As an alternative, could the trucks park on the opposite (less crowded) side of Wisconsin depending on the higher volume flow of traffic for the house they are delivering? I see Starbucks gets their deliveries at around 8pm after the strip has less traffic. What actions can we take to alter the delivery timing behavior to be more friendly to Wisconsin traffic?

by GP Steve on Nov 18, 2013 10:18 am • linkreport

Well, the solution to that is like what Starbucks - but more importantly, major cities - does, i.e. off-hour delivery. It's pretty smart on a number of levels and everywhere should be doing more to encourage it (like New York has done and like we're about to).

by MetroDerp on Nov 18, 2013 5:18 pm • linkreport

The survey is belittled in this blog-post. From a public policy standards ANC3B should be commended, rather than belittled. I'm always amazed at how those of us who have busy lives working, studying, living, spending money in our neighborhoods, have very little options of stating our views on neighborhood issues. The city and the Smart Growth movement (with DCOP director as a leader) have done a good job at helping to revitalize our city. However, along the way (during the Housing Market crash in 2008-2010) the movement and the city have done an even better job at "propagating" community polarization by driving real-estate developers interests masked by smart growth doctrines, much like the metaphor that a hammer is a tool to construct or destroy.
I once attended a lecture at the World Bank on eco-cities, and the director of the Smart Growth coalition was asked, how is your movement addressing the affordable housing issue in DC? I'll paraphrase his answer; we can't address it directly, because market demand is driving the issue. It is too costly for developers to build more affordable units. Therefore we can only encourage spreading development throughout the city, even higher density (height) will not yield the profits needed to accommodate affordable housing. That was in 2009, since then the city's economic development departments, (DCOP, DDOT, DMPED, etc) have pushed development down our throats, and blogger-urbanists, bikers, etc. bit the bait. The reason why I bring this up, is because at no point do Smart Growth advocates, DCOP, DDOT, etc. actually start a sentence with "DC residents in this neighborhood want...." they steered themselves very far away from the actual everyday users, DC residents, humans, and strictly narrowing their focus only on one aspect of sustainability. By doing the survey and allowing for civic participation via technology, ANC3B has taken a step to halt the polarization that is occurring in our beloved city and neighborhoods. It is my humble professional and resident advocate opinion that we must continue to halt the polarization of our neighborhoods. This blog-post only perpetuates the rhetoric of: we (blogger-urbanists) know the better trend vs we (car-abusers) want to prevent progress of any form. Yet, there is the often forgotten group that is reasonable, equitable, and progressive. This last group covers most of DC residents, and is often ignored by the hurtful polarization.
There are many DC residents like myself who grew up in the city, or now call it home, who will have families and grow old in the city. At some point we will need at least one car, to drive our kids or elderly parents to the doctor and the unjustifiable traffic along Wisconsin Ave, during rush hour will be a huge nuisance. Read the surveys and you will see that most of the no's offer something similar to the above as a comment. The traffic caused by the realignment was not an issue of US vs THEM, it was an issue of efficiency, in a neighborhood that does not have metro nearby, has steep hills, and is demographically family oriented, and is not a thriving commercial corridor. I propose for DDOT, to be stricter with delivery trucks, buses, and large vehicles. Why is it that DDOT doesn't even attempt at inconveniencing the commercial sector, in an equitable city (which DC unfortunately is not) the inconvenience is shared by all not just the residents, in DC we pay taxes without representation and are the first to be inconvenienced by the city. Survey results are posted on ANC3B website, kudos to my ANC! I'm glad I voted for them. http://anc3b.org/wp-content/uploads/ANC-3B-Streetscape-Survey-Results-Public.pdf

by Claudia Barragan on Nov 26, 2013 6:14 pm • linkreport

"in a neighborhood that does not have metro nearby"

I am dreadfully confused. I thought this post was about Cleveland Park.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 26, 2013 9:29 pm • linkreport

So what is your solution to the affordable housing crisis?

by Neil Flanagan on Nov 26, 2013 9:42 pm • linkreport

Walker,

Naw, this is Glover Park.

Anyway, from what I understand, there is a conflation between owning a car and being able to have affordable housing. I don't really see where one leads to the other. Certainly counter examples exist on both ends. How does making it easier to drive lead to lower housing prices? How do you specifically do that in Glover Park where a lot of the neighborhood/streets were built in a time before autos dominated?

And as an addition to what Neil says, how do you create a more affordable city that doesn't include the building of more living spaces?

by drumz on Nov 26, 2013 9:55 pm • linkreport

drumz

thanks - thats what I get for coming in at the bottom of a thread thats so long. I guess I was confused by the implication that the urbanists were bad for being anti-car - I thought the GP people were mostly complaining about the traffic calming forcing cars to where they prefer to walk, while the old folks need cars meme was more a CP meme. I can't keep the ward 3 objections to change straight.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Nov 27, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

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