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Breakfast links: Running into walls

Meridian Hill Park construction. Photo by Mr. T in DC.
Anti-soccer or just generally anti-people?: The National Park Service fenced off grassy portions of Rock Creek Park which nearby residents have used for decades to play pick-up soccer. The Park Service has also refused to heed residents' pleas for usable recreation space in Meridian Hill. (City Paper)

Carnage in Prince George's: Over the weekend, the driver of a Jeep Cherokee struck and killed a 7-year-old boy and a 19-year-old friend on Central Avenue near Prince George's Community College. The driver apparently had a suspended license after three citations in the past seven months. Meanwhile, the driver of another SUV injured an off-duty police officer in Oxon Hill. (Post, Cavan, S.P.)

Groups want smaller, greener White Flint: Citizens' associations around White Flint have banded together to push back on the White Flint master plan. According to the article, they want a smaller area of development (probably not a good idea), more trees and permeable surfaces (likely a good idea), and more. (Gazette)

Potomac Yard Metro Alternative Analysis: Alexandria's Potomac Yard working group compares costs and benefits of various locations for an infill Metro station. (The Arlandrian)

Can BRT be great?: Streetsblog's Aaron Naparstek explains Bogota's TransMilenio bus system, the best BRT system on the planet. (GOOD, Dr. Syrup)

That's not treading lightly: FOX 5 touts the "environmentally friendly" impacts of the Intercounty Connector, but fails to note the larger environmental and health problem of induced driving and sprawl (or any mention of the deleted ICC bike trail). (Stephen Miller)

CirculatorTube: The Circulator and Downtown BID created some YouTube videos to promote businesses you can reach on the Circulator. (Matt)

I have an evil twin: One obnoxious anti-bicycle columnist linked to another obnoxious anti-bike screed by a Boston musician named Dave Alpert, who tags all Boston bicyclists as "self-righteous assholes" because of the transgressions of a few, while claiming cyclists' advocacy for their own safety is just "moral indignation." Then he busts out some self-absorption of his own by criticizing Whole Foods for not giving him free plastic bags, forcing him to (gasp!) buy some garbage bags. Ironically, and are both sites for different musicians, not related to me, named David Alpert.

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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TransMilineo works well for Bogota, for sure. As the picture shows, one essential reason they were able to get it running in 18 months is that it looks like they already had a 12-lane-plus expressway in place, from which they could rather easily repurpose 4 or 5 travel lanes for transit. The high passenger throughput depends on the fact that the busway is two lanes in each direction, without grade crossings. The only places in this area where we could replicate the TransMilineo would be the Beltway or I-395 (taking the HOV lanes back). There is not room in DC proper for a four-lane surface running busway, especially one without grade crossings. Further, a four-lane surface running busway is not really compatible with the sort of pleasant, efficient, walkable, outdoor-cafe-filled neighborhood which we hope transit can catalyze.

So we need to keep in mind that despite the fact that both TransMilineo and COG's proposal are called "BRT," they actually have almost nothing in common except buses. Whatever metrics of success TransMilineo might have are absolutely irrelevant to transit expansion here.

by thm on Apr 21, 2009 10:13 am • linkreport

You have been thinking through these issues a lot, David. Any tips for how we should lobby NPS on the issue of insufficient fields for play?

I used to organize the Sunday Ultimate Frisbee game before Malcolm X/Meridian Hill was abruptly closed. Any given sunday was an amazing slice of urban life. We had the drum circle going on the south side of the fields, frisbee playing in the middle, soccer on either side, capoiera playing in the side pavilion, picnicers in the tree-lined side fields, and tight-rope walkers nearby.

Because of NPS's tonedeafness to the wants of the community we have lost most of that. Where else are we seeing Black, White, Hispanic, young, old, wealthy, working-class, and middle-class people coming together around here? NPS killed the best place we had as a community and I am pissed about it. A lot of people are. More than I am pissed though, I am really sad. It is so depressing that the bureaucrats came in and damped the best community resource we had.

by zt on Apr 21, 2009 10:23 am • linkreport

I am with NikolasM,

Artificial turf fields are the way to go. They can be used year round and stripped for every sport. And once you play on them, you never want to go back; which comes the down side. An artificial turf fields are in such high demand that you have to have some form of formal reservation system in order for it to work, which will make it almost impossible for a pickup game generate. Also, geese hate the turf, thus no geese poop.

by RJ on Apr 21, 2009 10:41 am • linkreport

Potomac Yard Infill Station

The 2 best options in my opinion are Alternative B3 and Alternative D.

Alternative B3 is best because it is outside of the existing easement and would produce the least amount of disruption during construction and cut in. Also the lowest cost option.

Alternative D would be the lowest cost option for west of the CSX tracks. I would be curious if this option was considered running the alignment in a shallow cut similar to how the Branch Avenue station was built.

by Sand Box John on Apr 21, 2009 10:53 am • linkreport

Steve, are you suggesting that a fenced off lawn is a better use of the park space than usable park space which is in constant demand?

The key ingredient in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X park's transition from a seedy drug dealing venue, dangerous location of violent crime, and meet-and-greet for prostitution was the presence of sports players. These activities attracted a critical mass of well intentioned able-bodied folks who took back the park. It isn't surprising to me that a lot of the old problems crept quickly back once the sports stopped being played.

by zt on Apr 21, 2009 10:58 am • linkreport

Thanks for mentioning the consequent health problems associated with induced driving!

by Bianchi on Apr 21, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

There does need to be some sort of noise thing -- perhaps something like placing baseball cards through the spokes -- on bicycles so they can't sneak up on pedestrians without the latters' notice.

Note that electric automobiles such as the Fisker Karma will have artificial sound effects for such a safety purpose.

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 21, 2009 11:27 am • linkreport

zt really does sound like he could be talking about Silver Spring's gathering place called 'The Turf' before it was destroyed.

IMO such fields are something planners & neighborhoods should consider more often as a facility complementary to 'natural' parks. Around here they're viable for very high-traffic parks, but in the desert West with rapidly shrinking aquifers, they may be the only practical way to present that kind of experience eventually.


TransMilenio is a *great* was to do things - if you have:

A) A large underclass which can't afford cars, and can't take part in the workforce without mass transit

B) A great deal of oil wealth per capita, a majority of production exported, and a serious need to grow the economy before production falls further after a clear peak.

C) A government powerful enough to suddenly, in the span of 18 months, seize thousands of lane-miles of congested highway.

D) Thousands of lane-miles of congested highway, already built.

by Squalish on Apr 21, 2009 12:05 pm • linkreport

The park is certainly is a lot safer than it was years ago, but if last time I was walking through the park at dusk I definitely saw some things I wouldn't have a couple years ago.

The main point though, is people who want to actively use the park should take precedence over folks who wish to ramble through once in a rare while. Not all parks, just ones like this in the middle of residential neighborhoods. If someone is looking for pretty, rather than functional, there is a large space designed to be gorgeous just a few steps down.

by zt on Apr 21, 2009 12:13 pm • linkreport

Eh, I can see both sides. There needs to be some middle ground about turf usage, or there won't be any turf at all - and if t degrades to the point where there's no grass, the only thing you can do is to completely close it off to let new sod take root.

I don't want to defend the Park Service on the specifics of their plans, but the simple fact is that grass wears out. There's got to be some way to manage it well before the situation is so dire that the only option is to close it off and re-sod. Now that Meridian Hill has some nice grass, let the people use it. But not too much.

by Alex B. on Apr 21, 2009 9:59 am

Well said!

by KC on Apr 21, 2009 12:49 pm • linkreport

Interesting how the anti urban freeway mentality favors the ICC while trashing the infinitely more environmentally sensible proposed I-66 K Street Tunnel.

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 21, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

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