Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


Breakfast links: Stand up and be counting


PostSecret via BeyondDC.
Entitled Driver Syndrome alive and well: BeyondDC finds this PostSecret postcard which reads, "When I see cyclists in the middle of the road on my way to CHURCH, I'm tempted to knock them down!" Meanwhile, some drivers in Boulder, Colorado plan to drive really slowly on the wrong side of the road to interfere with an organized bicycle ride. (BeyondDC, WashCycle)

Count bikes and peds Thursday and Saturday: Arlington is doing another round of counting bicycles and pedestrians, this time on July 2 and July 4, "one of the busiest times of the year for active transportation." GGW readers helped Arlington out with previous rounds, and they could use our help again. They need volunteers for 2-hour shifts at 7-9 am or 4-6 pm on Thursday, July 2nd, or from noon-2 pm on Saturday, July 4th. They perform the counts at roughly 20 locations across the county. If you're interested, email bikepedcounts@arlingtonva.us.

Safeway Avenue, NW: Last weekend, Safeway held a "Barbecue Battle" in downtown DC. This involved closing Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic between 9th and 14th Streets, along with several side streets. Pedestrians couldn't cross the site unless they paid the entry fee. Reader Dan was trying to walk from the Folklife Festival to Metro Center, and had to wait 15 minutes for a Metro train at Federal Triangle instead. Should we be walling off large parts of downtown for private events?

Maryland may actually start being smart: The chair of the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee wants to put some real teeth into the state's Smart Growth law. Currently, there's a policy of promoting development near the state's urban areas and transit infrastructure, but it isn't really being followed. This year, a new law started tracking development, but the legislature dropped the part of the law that would have required 80 percent of development to go in "priority areas." (Gazette)

Development updates: The Montgomery Planning Board approved 2.2 million square feet of development right at Twinbrook Metro. This second phase, mostly comprising office buildings, will add to their existing residential projects in the area. (DCmud) However, zoning laws are also forcing them to build more parking than the market will demand, supplanting additional housing. On the other side of the Beltway, Prince George's has approved the 6 million square foot Westphalia development, another mixed-use but auto-dependent "enclave" next to Andrews AFB. (WBJ)

Metro morsels: A Post editorial calls on Congress to provide the $150 million a year in dedicated funding that they promised (Gavin Baker) ... A person jumped in front of a Metro train yesterday at Forest Glen, again shutting down the beleaguered eastern Red Line. The line is open again this morning. (Gazette, Post)

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

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I remember reading about the Tokyo system, which has a high number of suicide jumpers, putting big mirrors on the walls at certain subway stations opposite the platforms. The rationale was that people would be less inclined to jump if they had to look at themselves doing it. I don't know what, if any, research went into this or whether this experiment had any success.

by tpjim on Jun 30, 2009 9:25 am • linkreport

London installed pits between the rails as an anti-suicide measure. I was never really clear on how they were supposed to work. Was it that they'd fall into the pit and not be crushed?

by Reid on Jun 30, 2009 10:17 am • linkreport

Safeway Avenue, NW: Last weekend, Safeway held a "Barbecue Battle" in downtown DC. This involved closing Pennsylvania Avenue to traffic between 9th and 14th Streets, along with several side streets. Pedestrians couldn't cross the site unless they paid the entry fee. Reader Dan was trying to walk from the Folklife Festival to Metro Center, and had to wait 15 minutes for a Metro train at Federal Triangle instead. Should we be walling off large parts of downtown for private events?
Absolutely not.

Besides, is it a question of -should- or rather "was the closing of a large chunk of public land (or any sized chunk!) actually legal?" I tend to say no, but I am not a lawyer in municipal matters.

by Jazzy on Jun 30, 2009 10:20 am • linkreport

Closing streets to non-admission-paying pedestrians is probably a bad idea--I can't think of other such private closings, except occasionally for filming. Aren't most other events free?

Unless its changed significantly from the time I went, of all the events to close the streets for, the Safeway barbecue battle is one of the worst: Ordinary attendees are completely isolated from the "barbecue battle," couldn't interact with the competitors or sample their barbecue, but instead had to buy some overpriced mediocre stuff offered for sale. The big tent sponsored by safeway had nothing to do with barbecue but simply dispensed samples of the sort of industrial food you can buy at Safeway. Most of the other booths had nothing to do with barbecue or even food. It was everything people mean when they use the word "commercial" as a pejorative.

by thm on Jun 30, 2009 10:43 am • linkreport

That stretch of Penn Ave. is frequently used for street festivals and the like. From what I've noticed, the sidewalks aren't closed off (i.e., everyone still has access to the buildings there) and I think people even still have car access to their garages in those buildings ... Reader Dan could have walked around the closed off street area rather than wait for a Metro train. I thought 'smart growthers' wanted our streets closed down occasionally for alternative uses? What gives with the criticism of this alternative use? Don't like barbaque? (And btw, are we sure this was a private affair for Safeway ... and Safeway wasn't just providing some of the money to fund this public affair?)

by Lance on Jun 30, 2009 10:49 am • linkreport

For years public streets in Ballston would close for private pay-only events. Shamrockfest was probably the biggest/most popular of them.

The practice ended a couple of years ago. Not sure why.

by BeyondDC on Jun 30, 2009 10:51 am • linkreport

I ran into the same problem as Dan (Safeway Barbecue battle), except I did walk around -- I'd already left Metro Center (after seeing the crowds and delays), got down to 12th and Penn only to be turned back, and it took me 35 minutes to walk around the thing to get to the Folklife Festival. It wasn't just Pennsylvania Ave, either; they had 10th Street closed off between E Street and Penn. There were no announcements on Metro, and no indication on DC's street closures page or the Folklife page that the pedestrian crossings were closed.

This apparently was a Safeway benefit for the Police Boys and Girls Clubs, so I don't think this was a profit-making venture for Safeway (except indirectly) and I'm not sure how far complaining is going to go, but it's on my "to do" list. I don't object to closing the streets to vehicle traffic, but they could have set this up in a way that kept the pedestrian paths clear. Cutting off Metro Center from the Mall, especially on a weekend when Metro was having significant delays on the blue/orange lines, was incredibly stupid.

by Eileen on Jun 30, 2009 10:52 am • linkreport

Then Lance you are confirming my suspicions about smart growthers (of which I am not one) if you say they are for closing off streets for private, paid events. I expect some push back to your comment, though.

by Jazzy on Jun 30, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

After seeing Lance's comments, I just want to make sure everyone is clear: There was a $10 admission charge to this event and all pedestrians crossings between 9th and 14th were closed (along with Penn Ave) to anyone who just wanted to cross the street. To get from 12th and Penn to the Mall, I had to walk to 10th and Penn, walk back north to 10th and E, go east to 9th and E, and then walk down 9th to the Mall. The other events I've seen on Penn have closed the street to vehicle traffic, but they've been free so peds have been free to walk through, across, etc.

by Eileen on Jun 30, 2009 11:02 am • linkreport

Lance is only confirming all of our suspicions that he is a intellectually dishonest troll.

by Reid on Jun 30, 2009 11:04 am • linkreport

Moving on to another topic, the potentially homicidal drivers. Let’s hope these are just strange fantasies. I am not trying to defend homicidal fantasies, but with the increase not only in cycling but assertive cycling and cyclists riding two and three abreast, more and more confidently, it would seem to have been a good idea to have launched a public awareness campaign, notifying drivers of the rights of cyclists in this regard. Because it does seem that all of a sudden drivers are faced with a different world out there on the streets, one they no longer necessarily own and are entitled to. Yes, “share the road” has always been floating about in the ether, but more as a little fun saying and less as the operating reality, the law. Therefore, the District would do well to broadcast messages on neighborhood lists (for up to a year), on local TV stations, in the dwindling number of local papers and so on, about this. As a driver, yes, it’s irritating. As a cyclist, I could take up the whole lane, but I don’t. I can’t justify it in any way (except for the occasional safety reason) mostly because I am not fast enough, or don’t consider myself to be.

Also, as a pedestrian, cyclist and driver, I would say that of the three modes cycling is the most difficult to start and stop. ItÂ’s often difficult to remember this when walking and driving and does not excuse obnoxious cycling.

by Jazzy on Jun 30, 2009 11:13 am • linkreport

Lance,
I was walking north on 12 st. I approached the entrance and a uniformed officer (not private security) told me I needed to pay or walk away. I walked toward the old post office on Pennsylvania. About a quarter block down, there was an 8X11 piece of paper saying the sidewalk was completely blocked off (and it was). At that point, I would have needed to walk back down 12th st to Constitution, then down to 7th st and up to Gallery Place to catch a train. This would have been a 1mile walk. I decided going to Federal triangle made more sense (through 15min for a train added to the annoyance.)

It would have been very possible for them to post signs and do some more advertising about the street closures so that I would have known before walking up to Pennsylvania. It would also have been possible to allow some pedestrian pass-throughs so that the event would cut off a 5 block swatch of downtown pedestrian traffic.

The core issue here is what it takes to not just close down a block for a private event, but to also close down sidewalks and cross streets. Even public parades (excluding those with security concerns) have periodic pedestrian and car cross-throughs.

by Dan on Jun 30, 2009 11:20 am • linkreport

As a card carrying, hummer-arsoning smart-growther, and speaking for all smart-growthers, let me point out here that the issue is permeability. A street fair where you can pass through and not pay isn't so much of a problem. Even if car traffic is restricted (and this is what Lance is probably talking about), a public space with vendors is still mostly public. But closing cross streets (presumably a necessity to ensure that no one snuck in without paying) is just a compounded insult.

by цarьchitect on Jun 30, 2009 11:32 am • linkreport

I'd just like to recommend the pedestrian counting exercise--I did it last time (back in May) and it was surprisingly fun and educational. It might be a cool activity to do with kids as well. Unfortunately I can't make it this time around, but it's totally worth doing.

by Dan Miller on Jun 30, 2009 11:57 am • linkreport

Ditto tsarchitect.

by BeyondDC on Jun 30, 2009 3:54 pm • linkreport

tsarchitect, BeyondDC, others ... Interesting ... so now you know how those of us who get around by car feel when access is denied us through something as simple as lack of adequate parking. Yes, insulting.

But getting back to Dan's original complaint ... How is having to be inconvenienced by having to spend an extra 15 mins in the Metro system any worse than say ... having to spend an extra 15 mins looking for parking because we as a community haven't done our fullest to ensure sufficient and readily available parking for those going somewhere/anywhere via car?

by Lance on Jun 30, 2009 10:55 pm • linkreport

Btw,

Those street closures were well publicized:

DDOT List
For Immediate Release

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Media Contacts: Officer Helen Andrews (MPD) at (202) 727-4383

John Lisle (DDOT) at (202) 671-2004

***TRAFFIC ADVISORY***

Road Closures for Weekend Events

Several Events Scheduled That Could Impact Traffic

(Washington, D.C.) Several special events are scheduled in District this weekend and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has provided the following information about related road closures and parking restrictions.

2009 17th Annual Caribbean Carnival

On Saturday, June 27, 2009 and Sunday, June 28, 2009, the District of Columbia will host the 2009 Caribbean Carnival. The parade portion of this event will utilize the entire roadway of Georgia Avenue between Missouri Avenue, NW, and Barry Place, NW. During the course of this parade no traffic will be permitted northbound or southbound on Georgia Avenue, NW, along the parade route. The times, routes and street closings of the parade and festival are listed below.

Parade: Saturday, June 27

The parade will begin at 11 a.m. and may last until approximately 4 p.m. The parade will start at Georgia and Missouri Avenues, NW, proceeding southbound on Georgia Avenue, westbound on V Street, NW, and disband.
There will be no parking on Georgia Avenue, NW, between Missouri Avenue and V Street, NW, from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 27.
Metro Buses will also operate northbound and southbound on an alternate route.
Street closures will be as follows:

o Beginning at 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. , Georgia Avenue, NW, from Missouri Avenue to 9th Street, and Barry Place, NW, from Georgia Avenue to Sherman Avenue

o Beginning at 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Georgia Avenue, NW, from Missouri Avenue to Barry Place, and V Street, NW, from Georgia Avenue to 9th Street.

o Beginning at 7:30 a.m. until further notice on Sunday, June 28, 2009, 9th Street, NW, from Barry Place to Euclid Street

Festival, Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28

The festival to be held at Banneker Field will begin on both days at noon and last until approximately 7 p.m.
There will be no parking beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2009, until 6:00 .m. on Sunday, June 28, 2009, at the following locations:

o Barry Place, NW, (both sides of the street) between Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue

o 9th Street, NW, between Barry Place and Euclid Street

o Sherman Avenue, NW, between Barry Place and Euclid Street

o V Street, NW, between Georgia Avenue and 9th Street

National Capital Barbeque Battle

Event Dates: Saturday, June 27, 2009 and Sunday, June 28, 2009

Event Locations: Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between 9th and 14th Streets,

10th through 13th Streets, NW, between Constitution Avenue and E Street

Event Time: 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2009

11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, 2009

Street Closures: Beginning on Friday, June 26, 2009, at 7 p.m. until

11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, 2009:

Ø Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between 9th Street and 14th Street, NW

Ø 10th through 13th Streets, NW, between Constitution Avenue and E Street

Gospel Rescue Ministries Summerfest

Event Date: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Event Location: 800 block of 5th Street, NW, between H and I Streets, NW

Event Time: 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Street Closures: From 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 27th, 2009 at the above event location.

Eastern Market Grand Reopening

Event Date: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Event Location: 7th Street, SE between Pennsylvania Avenue and N. Carolina Avenue, SE

Event Time: 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Street Closures: From 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, 2009, at the above event location

Festa Italiana 2009

Event Date: Sunday, June 28, 2009

Event Location: 595 3rd Street, NW

Event Time: 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Street Closures: From 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, 2009, 3rd Street, NW between E and G Streets, and F Street, NW, between 3rd and 4th Streets

Motorists traveling in the area of these events may experience delays and should consider alternative routes if possible. The Metropolitan Police Department and the District Department of Transportation would like to remind motorists to pay full time and attention whenever operating any motor vehicle and to be mindful of heavy pedestrian traffic that may be associated with special events. These street closings are subject to change without notice based upon unanticipated events and prevailing conditions.

####

John Lisle | Public Information Officer | District Department of Transportation | Office of the Director | 2000 14th Street, NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20009 | 202-671-2004/direct | 202-486-5838/cell | 202-671-0650/ fax | John.Lisle@dc.gov, e-mail | www.ddot.dc.gov

Serving with Excellence and Integrity

d.

by Lance on Jun 30, 2009 11:01 pm • linkreport

Parking restrictions are not even remotely the same thing. There is a huge difference between restricting how you get to a place versus closing it off entirely. Pretending otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

The kicker here is that it would be easy to fence gates at each cross street so that access wasn't cut off. Just flash your receipt or hand stamp at the gate to move from block to block; easy. There's no good reason why that couldn't be done.

by BeyondDC on Jul 1, 2009 1:03 am • linkreport

I was in Korea last month. In Seoul, they are installing sliding glass doors and glass partitions on all the subway platforms. Train rolls in and stops, and the doors slide open in tandem with train doors. It definitely requires precision in spotting the train. It also provides a surface for yet more advertising. I was told it was being done to eliminate suicide-by-train, which is apparently a big problem in Korea. It also cuts down on the draftiness of the stations, keeps the heat and AC in and things are quieter. But so much for peering down the tracks to see if the train's coming, a time-honored custom, at least in New York.

by Paul on Jul 1, 2009 8:01 am • linkreport

BeyondDC we were talking about Dan's easy (or as it turned out) not so easy access to the closest Metro station. If you are complaining about people not having the right to enter a closed off area where people are being charged an entry fee ... Well, just look at the many street closings in that one DDOT message which I posted. This is something that happens constantly in DC and is just a part of life. It is part and parcel with living in a big city. I've had situations where I couldn't even get home because some group or other were in the Hilton near where I used to live and for crowd control purposes people weren't allowed to even go down some of the streets around there ... unless they could provide an ID showing they had a reason to go down that street. Every weekend somewhere in DC (and some weekend too) there is some place we can't go or cross. Yes, it is public space that is being privatized and I too would be very upset about this privitization were it not that I understand that these closures are temporary and are just part and parcel of living in a big city ... especially a big city with a lively street scene.

And again, how is Dan having to go 15 mins out of his way to allow this lively street scene to exist any different from asking drivers to spend an extra 15 mins to park because some of us believe parking should be made more difficult?

And as for the checkpoints to allow sidestreets to be open, I think that is a good idea ... But I can also see why the event's sponsors might not want to spend money on extra security guards that could instead go to the charity the event was meant to support. Or perhaps they felt that chopping the event into different areas would ruin the experience for the event goers. Bottom line though is that on a Saturday or Sunday (when the event was held), asking people to find alternative ways around this street fair isn't exactly onerous. I suspect your beef isn't really that but the fact that public space was being used for a private purpose. But as I mentioned earlier, this happens all the time in DC ... At least this was for a good reason ... it was for a charity event.

by Lance on Jul 1, 2009 8:47 am • linkreport

Lance,
I think your logic is pushing it a bit. Any time I've driven in D.C. it's rarely hard to find nearby parking in a garage. Those garages are often expensive, but then your complaint is cost rather than convenience. Also, a mile detour for a driver is very different from a mile detour for a pedestrian.

I don't think posting on a single government website at the bottom of a cellar behind a sign "Beware of the Leopard" is exactly advertising the street closing to the general public. As for added expense, I don't think larger than 8X11 signs near the cross streets before people walked into dead ends wouldn't have been much of an expense. I don't think keeping a sliver of sidewalk open along all of would have been much of an expense. In fact, if they put a single walkway at 12th and let people walk down Penn to that entrance, they could have had a single guard policing the entrance in both directions instead of needing to have guards at the north and south ends. The even looked like mostly separate booths so a fence in the middle would have been only a mild change in layout.

As for the charity aspect, I saw big signs for Safeway and nothing mentioning the charitable cause. The charity is only mentioned on the lower half of the website. While I don't deny the value of their charitable contribution, this was a corporate advertising event at its core.

by Dan on Jul 1, 2009 10:28 am • linkreport

Lance, when I have to walk a long block, or park 10 blocks away from somewhere, I often wonder why we didn't build everything on stilts like the Boozier wanted. It would be so much easier if I could simply walk or drive or take a monorail under the buildings.

You're right, it's just a part of cities to be inconvenienced slightly; this includes not being able to find parking. However, closing a large street and all cross streets to everyone is categorically different, as it's an expropriation of public space. It's also unnecessary. Simply charging overhead on booths in a public space would have sufficed.

by цarьchitect on Jul 1, 2009 11:04 am • linkreport

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