Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Save the shrimp and the parking


Photo by NOAA Great Lakes... on Flickr.
Crustacean conundrum: Will the Purple Line harm two endangered amphipod species? A federal study says no, but some Chevy Chase residents have teamed up with an environmental group to challenge the finding in court. (Post)

Old law helps bike lane foes: Alexandria will have to hold several hearings on the King Street bike lanes, after opponents found a never-before-used 1963 law letting them force it before the traffic board and council. (Post)

Bike lane deficit: DDOT figures reveal that of DC's 72 miles of on-road bike lanes, Ward 8 has zero. Figures exclude off-road trails, but include non-dedicated lanes. Ward 8 may be hilly, and was built out in a car-dominant era, but still... (City Paper)

Shielding black boxes: Two senators have introduced a bill that would make crash data recorded by onboard computers the car owner's property. Is this good privacy policy or an impediment to crash investigations? (Streetsblog)

Bye-bye, Blue Goose: An architecturally infamous building in Ballston may not be long for this world. A developer has offered $6 million in community improvements (mostly for the Ballston Metro west entrance project) in exchange for more density. (ArlNow)

High speed = high cost: DC residents are paying through the nose for high speed internet service. A survey shows that the average cost of access in major cities is around $40, with DC's average of $60 a striking outlier. (UrbanTurf)

Bad boys: The DC Council will hold a hearing today to address misconduct by DC police officers. More than 100 officers have been arrested in the past 5 years. (WAMU)

"No parking after midnight?": An NYC-based designer has been soliciting comments on her graphic-based rethinking of parking signage. What do you think? They're certainly a more radical departure than New York's actual new parking signs. (Atlantic Cities)

And...: O'Malley's final state of the state address was largely a victory lap but also pushed for a statewide minimum wage hike. (WAMU) ... FedEx will be field-testing Nissan's new all-electric vehicle for DC deliveries. (WBJ) ... Construction will start next week on a Whole Foods in Riverdale Park, the first in Prince George's. (Post) ... Long trips are the most popular routes on the Beltway HOT lanes. (Post)

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Sam Sherwood moved to DC in 2007, and has lived on the same block of T Street NW (albeit in two different apartments) ever since. He is a commercial real estate appraiser with Integra Realty Resources, and spends his evenings playing guitar for Mittenfields

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"some Chevy Chase residents have teamed up with an environmental group" to stop the Purple Line.

But the "environmental group" is the same as the Chevy Chase residents. John Fitzgerald, the environmental lawyer leading the effort, is a long term resident on Elm Street in the Town of Chevy Chase. He appears to concede in the Post article that the Purple Line itself will not harm the amphipods, but that more development and people in the area could. This is just anti-growth dressed up as environmentalism.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Jan 24, 2014 9:07 am • linkreport

If there is no new argument by bike lane opponents to be presented at these meetings then its hard to see how bringing up a never used law is nothing more than a delay tactic.

If the Alexandria City Board thought there was a political risk to the bike lanes they would have quashed it already.

And again, the presence of bike lanes and their standards are widely known now. I don't think we need to have public meetings about them regardless. The technical issues are solved by traffic engineers and the opportunity for public input is the local jurisdiction deciding whether to have a complete streets policy or not. That's what angry King Street residents should be struggling against.

by drumz on Jan 24, 2014 9:08 am • linkreport

Good lord. From the Center for Sustainable Economy blog post on this:
An alternative underground route makes much more sense logistically. Moreover, the driving force for the proposal is not to improve transit but to enable large-scale residential and commercial development at Connecticut Avenue and along the Capitol Crescent Trail and to provide those new residents with access to Bethesda that is easier than taking a walk, a bike, a bus, a pedal cab or motor cab or a new dedicated bus line. Any of these could cost much less and lead to less net pollution and risk to the communities affected.
It appears that they really do think that nobody more than a few miles from Chevy Chase actually exists or would have any interest other than accessing the places where rich people currently live. I suppose that explains why they're so unconcerned with providing any transit access to the huddled masses outside of Chevy Chase and Bethesda.

by Gray on Jan 24, 2014 9:17 am • linkreport

@Wayne Good catch on that little coincidence. I saw that their contention was about the follow-on development rather than the line itself, but as the article also brings up: what is the alternative to this new development (in a walkable location close to Metro and jobs), and what would the impact of that be?

by Sherwood on Jan 24, 2014 9:18 am • linkreport

a never-before-used 1963 law

Love to see small-government people use an obscure law, instead of arguing against it.

Hope the Alexandria City Council will be smart enough to strike the law from the books, declaring a victory for smaller government folks.

Two senators have introduced a bill that would make crash data recorded by onboard computers the car owner's property. Is this good privacy policy or an impediment to crash investigations?

Of course not. Crash investigators can just get a warrant to summon the data. Making it personal property also does not prevent insurers from making it a part of the terms of contract that owners have to share the data. Owning something is useless, unless you can be prevented from sharing the information.

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2014 9:26 am • linkreport

An NYC-based designer has been soliciting comments on her graphic-based rethinking of parking signage. What do you think?

Send to USDOT, make federal standard, problem solved.
Will this happen? Of course not. Channeling Reagan: "Government does not solve problems. Goverment is the problem."

by Jasper on Jan 24, 2014 9:29 am • linkreport

I kind of found the proposed parking sign hard to decipher. I find it easier to simply read the sign's text. Then again, maybe that's because I'm well practiced at it.

by drumz on Jan 24, 2014 9:33 am • linkreport

@High speed = high cost: DC residents are paying through the nose for high speed internet service.

Can anybody explain this? I pay $66.95 for Comcast internet only, it does seem high for what I get, but it's a consistent 30 down/5 up with no down time.

@Jasper
The government "creates" problems, it's inherent in their struggle to maintain relevance.

by Bill the Wanderer on Jan 24, 2014 9:34 am • linkreport

Gray,

Do you also notice how that blog post lists all sorts of nice alternative transit options but fails to mention that lots of people will simply drive their own car absent the purple line?

by drumz on Jan 24, 2014 9:35 am • linkreport

"Fitzgerald said the agency’s finding...didn’t consider impacts from new development that would follow a rail line."

Then that will be the new development's problem, not the purple line's problem. How can you do an environmental impact assessment on future development that can't be quantified? Ridiculous.

by MetMet on Jan 24, 2014 9:38 am • linkreport

@drumz: Obviously, the "pedal cab" option would both cost less and reduce pollution.

by Gray on Jan 24, 2014 9:41 am • linkreport

I didn't really understand the example sign. There's no standing for most of the day, but 1 hour parking is allowed? Maybe that's just because the parking rules make no sense, but that seems particularly confusing to me.

by Gray on Jan 24, 2014 9:42 am • linkreport

RE: Parking Signs

They are easier to understand if you already understand how parking works and have the other signs there. It is also easy to understand if the parking rules are fairly simple - no parking these times, parking for X hours these times.

But the one with the split down the middle for some days? Makes no sense without being able to read the other signs.

by MLD on Jan 24, 2014 9:43 am • linkreport

Can anybody explain this? I pay $66.95 for Comcast internet only, it does seem high for what I get, but it's a consistent 30 down/5 up with no down time.

Which is somehow notably higher than anywhere else I have lived.

by Richard on Jan 24, 2014 9:43 am • linkreport

Fitzgerald said the agency’s finding — that the shrimplike creatures would be a safe distance from the project’s construction or rely on water unaffected by it — didn’t consider impacts from new development that would follow a rail line, including near downtown Bethesda and Chevy Chase Lake.

That sounds familiar. The fear of less desirable people moving in to someone's "pristine" country club neighborhood. Yet they forget that someone had to give up something for them to live there. I can here the judge saying, "Well developers would have to worry about endangered species then, not the MTA. So, why are we here?"

by adelphi_sky on Jan 24, 2014 9:46 am • linkreport

The high cost of internet in DC should be a political issue. I'd like to see where the mayoral candidates stand on that.

by Ben on Jan 24, 2014 9:47 am • linkreport

Which is somehow notably higher than anywhere else I have lived.

For the same speed level of service?

I'm wondering if the study adjusted for speed differences. DC is relatively wealthy, so there may be a number of people willing to pay for a higher speed tier.

by ah on Jan 24, 2014 9:50 am • linkreport

The parking sign idea is interesting, but I had to read the real signs in order to be sure what the one where it's red on the left and green on the right from 8:30-4 on weekdays means. ("Parking allowed, but not standing" seemed kind of weird until I realized it was a school zone thing.) A combination of words and diagram would probably be best.

by iaom on Jan 24, 2014 9:56 am • linkreport

"Government does not solve problems. Government is the problem." --> The existing problematic parking signs are the creation of a government. Albeit, a local rather than a menacing/distant federal.

by Non LTR on Jan 24, 2014 10:12 am • linkreport

At any rate, I think the biggest issue with DC parking signs is none of them really make clear the unintuitive "this limit on hours applies for the entire zone, the boundaries of which you almost certainly don't know and which might well stretch for miles from this spot, so after you park here you might get ticketed for parking several neighborhoods away on the same day" thing. (Probably on purpose.)

by iaom on Jan 24, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

@ Richard
Which is somehow notably higher than anywhere else I have lived.

Then what where you live now? The places you've lived since the wide spread roll out of the internet? Do you have a package deal? Are you in a contract?

@ah
DC is relatively wealthy
Haha, 'relatively'....by far and away the wealthiest region in the United States! And by most per capita economic measures the wealthiest region in THE WORLD. Just because the folks here don't flaunt it like the lessors in Silicon Valley, LA, Miami, Long Island, St. Tropez, and Monaco, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I would speculate the high cost of internet does have something to do with the fact that an average individual here is less likely to care about a higher rate, because they on average make more money than any other region. But it could also be unfair laws and government actions that favor the establishment [comcast]. For instance Verizon's cost of installing fiber optic lines costs more [adjusted for inflation] than comcast's cost of installing the original cable lines in the 1970s. I'm sure this is at play more than we realize here, as the governments barriers to entry have contributed to many inefficiencies amongst industries. Still I wonder why 9 million people in the 4th largest populated region in America have some of the highest internet rates. Economies of scale anyone?

by Bill the Wanderer on Jan 24, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

Did anyone else think that the shrimp was an orange tabby?

by Frank IBC on Jan 24, 2014 10:26 am • linkreport

@iaom

My beef is the contradictory info on many parking meters about when they're in effect. I get using the most restrictive, but what if I miss that sticker amongst all the others on the meter.

by ChrisB on Jan 24, 2014 10:27 am • linkreport

The plans for the Blue Goose building that I reviewed and voted for at the Transportation Commission meeting included a section of protected cycletrack along the property line to connect Ballston with the Custis Trail, as well as trail improvements and widening along the segment just adjacent to the property so that the cycletrack could connect better.

It is going to be interesting to see how they connect the short segment of cycletrack to the existing bike lanes on Fairfax Drive, but for now it's an improvement compared to having bike lanes on what is essentially a freeway on-ramp.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 24, 2014 10:39 am • linkreport

Anything is an improvement to that blue piece of junk.

by NikolasM on Jan 24, 2014 10:47 am • linkreport

@ah
For the same speed level of service?

I'm wondering if the study adjusted for speed differences. DC is relatively wealthy, so there may be a number of people willing to pay for a higher speed tier.
@Bill
Then what where you live now? The places you've lived since the wide spread roll out of the internet? Do you have a package deal? Are you in a contract?

Right now I get free high quality internet rolled into my apartment complex rent. It's mandatory and makes getting a phone or cable TV more expensive, but otherwise it seems to be a good deal.

In the past I lived in South Korea, where you get much higher speeds for about $20 a month no contract. I also lived in Beijing where speeds were lower and the price about the same, the largest problem being that you had to pay manually at the bank every month. A long time ago I lived in southern France, and had broadband when it was still relatively new. It was slower(everything was) but again cheaper. Finally I lived in Baltimore where prices are the same as they are in DC.

From my point of view, verizon and comcast deliver very little for $70 a month. $70 a month is a lot of money in the greater scheme of things.

by Richard on Jan 24, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

I got curious and clicked through the links on internet pricing.

The prices are based on prices paid by customers who subscribe to service using WhiteFence, which is a company that appears to be a shopping portal for various utilities (i.e., put in your zipcode and it shows options and prices from various providers).

So, really, there's nothing at all scientific about it - instead, it's a report on what people pay using their service, with no adjustment for which providers sell through WhiteFence (e.g., RCN did not appear as an option for me even though I use it in my zipcode).

Of course, these problems could apply in other cities as well, but it's not clear whether the same flaws/limits exist in all of them.

by ah on Jan 24, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

Re: Blue Goose. I thought the so-called beaver pond was already funded. Or is this for additional features not in the original design? Arlnow doesn't elaborate.

by Paul on Jan 24, 2014 12:24 pm • linkreport

The alternate proposal for NYC's parking signs is a failure of design. You have to first scan across the top of the sign to find the applicable day (which isn't automatic if it's rolled out, since some have rules applying Su/Sa, M-Th, F and some are Su, M-F, Sa, some have school days (which isn't the same as M-F!), etc.). Then you have to scan down the column to find the time, which isn't apportioned equally by length (the 4PM-7PM block is the same size as the 7PM-8PM block). Once you've done this, you get to look in a narrow block for a necessarily terse description due to extreme space constraints. Does 1HR mean 1 hour of metered parking? 1 hour standing? 1 hour free parking? Also, the inability to use arrows to clearly indicate where the rules apply to means the diagram becomes even more cluttered. Using only color to convey critical information puts at a disadvantage all color-blind drivers.

I'd much rather have the new NYC parking designs, which clearly indicates the situation first and then indicate the times they're in effect. All the alternate design is illustrate that the situation is complicated: you can't scan it, you have to really read it, which makes it dangerous as a road sign.

by Joshua Cranmer on Jan 24, 2014 1:11 pm • linkreport

My house pays $81.95 a month for Comcast, internet only, although I don't know the speeds off the top of my head. Not only is this stupid expensive, the service blinks on and off randomly several times a week. My techie roommate fiddled with it as much as he could, including getting his own new high-tech router and modem, but to no avail. Comcast extorts its local monopoly to charge inflated prices for bad service. It fills me with rage.

by Ampersand on Jan 24, 2014 2:39 pm • linkreport

@Ben -

Interesting point - I wonder where the candidates for mayor of DC fall on this?

You could definitely argue that internet access is a social justice issue and that all individuals should be on an equal playing field. That the internet is a common good to be shared and available to all.

by Chuck on Jan 27, 2014 1:29 am • linkreport

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