Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Think outside the car


Photo by Amarand Agasi.
The right way to talk about performance parking: Michael pointed out this WTOP story on performance parking from before Wednesday's meeting, which frames the issue in a much better way starting with the lede. "Take a look at the driver ahead of you on the road. There's a 30 percent chance he's cruising for a parking space, wasting gas and delaying your trip." The article quotes DDOT's Rick Rybeck, who is much more on-message, talking about incentives. (WTOP, Michael P)

Sign for streetcars: Streetcars for DC is asking streetcar supporters to send letters to the DC Council, Mayor Fenty, and Eleanor Holmes Norton to get the city moving on streetcars.

Do parking spaces vote in Gaithersburg?: Once a bastion of progressive land-use thinking, the Gaithersburg City Council has gotten stuck in black and white car-centrism. A developer wants to build less parking than zoning requires for a site that's very close to transit and shops, but Councilwoman Cathy Drzyzgula opposes the request because "There is no evidence that Gaithersburg will not still be a car-driven community far into the future." Even if Gaithersburg isn't going to become car-free, there's still such a thing as less car-driven. (BeyondDC)

Tough to shake the cell phone habit: One reporter is having a tough time avoiding talking on the phone as she crawls along the Beltway in traffic. It's too bad there probably isn't good transit from her home to Adams Morgan. (Washington City Paper)

Reduce crash injuries, unsafe driving, or just driving?: A VW lawyer writes in a libertarian journal that safety regulations may create more danger than they save by, among other things, focusing attention on building cars that protect occupants from crashes over reducing dangerous behavior like talking on the phone. I'd be curious whether the author also believes in reducing government rules forcing auto-oriented development, a step most libertarians have sadly failed to take. (NY Times, Stephen Miller)

The Idaho Stop is safer: After Idaho instituted its law requiring cyclists to slow down and yield but not stop completely at stop signs, injuries went down 14.5%, and Idahoans are pleased with the law. (TheAthletesLawyer, Jaime, Michael P)

Hawthorne's sidewalk "war": The Post notices the sidewalk debate going on in DC's northernmost neighborhoods. Residents in Hawthorne, northeast of Chevy Chase, are at "war" over DDOT's plans to add sidewalks on several main streets. Opponents don't want the neighborhood to feel urban, while supporters don't feel streets are safe for children, seniors, and other pedestrians and bicyclists.

And...: A majority of Town of Chevy Chase residents testifying at a recent hearing support filing a lawsuit to try to delay the Purple Line (Gazette) ... Arlington will spend $3.3 million to fix up several streets in various neighborhoods (Post) ... A new real estate service in Seattle helps buyers find walkable, transit-oriented homes (SGA).

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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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Ugh, I just don't understand why the town of Chevy Chase is so opposed to the Purple line.

by Art on Jul 24, 2009 9:53 am • linkreport

WOW! Reading that Gazette article was depressing. Are those people really that uninformed? Or are they just plain old lazy and dishonest? Does Joan Rood really think that the Purple Line "create more pollution?" Seriously?!? As opposed to buses? Or her automobile-dependent lifestyle? As someone wrote recently, when it come to light rail and transportation, Chevy Chase has apparently figured out something that Paris, Barcelona, Munich and Zurich (including the wealthiest and most bucolic suburbs of all four cities) have not. As for David Salzman's contention that property values will plummet, I am so confident that his assertion is such complete and utter garbage that I would bet him my own house that the oppposite will happen. Currently, his house probably requires ownership of at least two cars -- not a great selling point as gas becomes increasingly expensive.

by rg on Jul 24, 2009 9:59 am • linkreport

Wow. Because 50 people showed up and 28 spoke out in support of a lawsuit to stop the purple line, that clearly constitutes a majority of the town? Stupid C-C-ians.

by NikolasM on Jul 24, 2009 10:00 am • linkreport

On the car safety article, I'm not sure what car makers are supposed to do. They can't really control driver behavior as well as they can control car safety in crashes.

Are we expecting them to eliminate cupholders, bluetooth integration, and put speed limiters on every car?

I'd rather they started with soft, pliable, marshmallow bumpers . . .

by ah on Jul 24, 2009 10:20 am • linkreport

SO frustrating that a line that will benefit hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis can be stalled by people with lots of money who live in a city that they want to look like a suburb. Seriouly, move to Loudon County if you don't like (smart) development.

+1 on rg's comments. If the pro purple line people got some money together and sent the anti purple line people to Europe for a few weeks on a transit tour, I'm willing to bet dimes to dollars that the PL foes would come back with dollar signs in their eyes and probably build the rail with their bare hands. They have no idea what they are talking about.

by JTS on Jul 24, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

I find the concept of the auto safety article interesting. As for the car centric development one, In all honesty, Randall O' Toole and pro-sprawl 'libertarians' are intellectually dishonest to the "big government" aspect of building highways and subsidizing sprawl through the type of stuff Gaithersburg is doing with parking restrictions. Personally, I think government should allow developers to choose, based on market conditions, how to plan their communites. our current sprawl problem isn't because of the market, its because of overbearing government regulation that (then) favored sprawling development. An interesting blog that talks about urbanism form a 'libertarian' perspective is the "Market Urbanism" blog.

by A,m on Jul 24, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

JTS, you can't convince that (extremely small, extremely super-local) group at all. You could take them everywhere and provide them with any piece of evidence and they'll still spew nonsense. They'll praise whatever system you show them and then immediately resume throwing feces at a wall in the hope they stick with the Purple Line.

If they sue, they'll just waste their money. It is extremely hard to overturn an EIS in court. No one could get it done for the ICC and the case was much stronger than any TCC lawsuit. The Purple Line was more methodically planned since it has more stringent federal funding metrics to live up to than the ICC did.

by Cavan on Jul 24, 2009 11:18 am • linkreport

The Gazette article indicated Chevy Chase residents are comparing their effort to stop the Purple Line to that of Justice Douglas to preserve the C&O Canal. An earlier Gazette article on the 10K Race on the Trail this March quoted other Chevy Chase "Save the Trail" advocates making a similar comparison between themselves and Justice Douglas. The Chevy Chase "Save the Trail" group has led numerous hikes of the trail in Chevy Chase, but none of their organized hikes have ever gone east beyond Rock Creek. Their most recent hike, associated with their March 10K race on the CCT, only went one mile, they turned around before Connecticut Ave.
Justice Douglas invited the editors of the Post to hike the entire 184 mile C&O towpath with him, and the hike took two weeks to complete. While Justice Douglas walked the entire C&O Canal, you can bet "Save the Trail" will never lead a walk of the entire future CCT between Bethesda and Silver Spring - that would require actually leaving Chevy Chase!

by finishthetrail on Jul 24, 2009 12:12 pm • linkreport

Give it time. Eventually the Chevy Chase Purple Line opponents will start comparing themselves to the Freedom Riders. Except the Freedom Riders used busses instead of Mercedes Benzes. But when has logic ever gotten in the way of a stupid analogy?

by monkeyrotica on Jul 24, 2009 12:19 pm • linkreport

Monkeyrotica,

For those of us that aren't quite so enlightened, who are the Freedom Riders?

by Art on Jul 24, 2009 12:54 pm • linkreport

Alright, about those streetcars... In the chat with Tommy Wells, I asked how we're supposed to implement streetcars without the necessary right-of-ways. He responded that we could eliminate traffic/parking car lanes in some areas (I'm not holding my breath) and provide signal priority in areas where trolleys would be forced into traffic. Again, this hasn't happened with express buses when it has been promised before. When we have dedicated bus lanes and traffic signaling for buses, I'll throw my full weight behind streetcars.

And, since I'm on a rant:

Why does the Nextbus phone interface give callers bus arrival times in hour-minute format (e.g. 1:37PM)? Online, Nextbus displays information in the number of minutes until a bus is predicted to arrive. That makes sense to me... why not have the same system on the phone interface? Additionally, when I indicate that I just want arrival times for buses within the hour, it will tell me, for example, that an S1 is coming at 10:50, an S2 at 11:02 and 11:28, and an S4 at 10:45 and 11:17 before saying that an S9 is coming at 10:37. Obviously, it would make the most sense to just give me the information that the S9 is coming first instead of listing them out in order by bus route number.

by Adam L on Jul 24, 2009 1:44 pm • linkreport

For those of us that aren't quite so enlightened, who are the Freedom Riders?

There's this thing called wikipedia...it's on the Internetz. Check it out sometime...

by ibc on Jul 24, 2009 2:13 pm • linkreport

If you are wondering why the Town of Chevy Chase opposes the Purple Line along the Capital Crescent Trail, and why 18,000 petitions and 2,000 emails and postcards have been sent from all over the Region to the Governor, I urge you to walk the Trail and see for yourselves what is at stake.

Meanwhile, look at the photos at:
http://www.savethetrailpetition.org/

It's not hard to understand why we want to preserve this beautiful cathedral of trees and tranquil Trail.

by Pam Browning on Jul 24, 2009 4:39 pm • linkreport

Re: Do parking spaces vote in Gaithersburg?

This blog and BeyondDC really got it wrong.

First issue: while you put quotation marks around a statement attributed to my colleague, Cathy Drzyzgula, she never made that statement. The Gazette story, it should be noted, did not put the statement in quotations; they were apparently paraphrasing, but inaccurately so. (Below I linked to the entire meeting. Please see for yourself.)

Second issue: Cathy has not "opposed the request", as you report. The Gazette story stems from a public hearing at which no one took a position; they simply asked questions.

Third issue: the property in question is not "very close to transit" as you report. To be fair, there is a Ride On bus stop nearby. However, the property is not within the 5-minute radius planners generally look for in proximity to the nearest transit stop to justify "walkability". Nearest transit is the MARC station about a mile down the road.

The City of Gaithersburg has been a pioneer in the region, and in the United States at large, in embracing and actually bringing about transit oriented developments. Though the names have changed over the years, the members of our current City Council are at least as committed, or more than any elected body – anywhere, at any time - to fostering public transit, encouraging its use, and planning our developments with those goals in mind.

IÂ’ll also add, on a somewhat related topic, that our city may have been the first in the country to enact a green building code for both residential and commercial development, as well as our City-owned buildings. All under the leadership of the current Mayor and Council.

So, notwithstanding BeyondDC's pronouncement that we have “lost so much ground”, based, I’m assuming, on the last sentence of a single Gazette story, I would invite you both to do a little digging and, perhaps, give us a call or send an email when you have questions as to our intentions and/or long-term planning goals. I’m happy to provide you, and any others who have questions, with my personal email address, judashman@aol.com, and invite the dialogue.

Last, IÂ’ll say - as I did to BeyondDC - that I do enjoy your blog and appreciate how you bring important issues to the attention of a wider audience.

Yours,
Jud Ashman
Gaithersburg City Coucil

Here's the link to the meeting video the meeting in question is the July 20th meeting: http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/poi/default.asp?POI_ID=994&TOC=107;81;88;385;994;

FYI, the public hearing referenced begins at 25:00, and Cathy Drzyzgula's relevant statements are at 1:20:25 and 1:40:45.

by Jud Ashman on Jul 24, 2009 4:46 pm • linkreport

Gaithersburg's attempts at new urbanism have mostly flopped--Kentlands, an annoying place for pedestrian and driver alike, Traville--too small a acale, among others. the area has bus coverage, but it's too infrequent to build ridership and development is not dense enough.

by Rich on Jul 24, 2009 8:47 pm • linkreport

I've walked the CC section of the Crescent Trail several times. "Cathedral of trees" does not come to mind. there's not that much to see and unlike the well used Bethesda portion, it seems mostly to be dog walkers. the major landowner is a golf course that seems to be the primary beneficiary of Connecticut Avenue's camera enforcement.

Freedom Riders--African Americans and a few White allies who attempted to integrate intercity bus and terminals in the South. They often were beaten by lynch mobs. The idea of CCers viewing themselves in that light is tragic, but I'm sure some matron will draw the analogy anyway.

by Rich on Jul 24, 2009 8:52 pm • linkreport

Woah - so this is how nasty rumors get legs. Just keep repeating it, and pretty soon folks won't realize that no one made this comparison -- except on this list serve.

by Pam Browning on Jul 24, 2009 10:00 pm • linkreport

The Idaho stop? Puh-leeze. Already so many bicyclists don't even slow down at a stop sign or a red light -- when current law requires them to do so. Somehow bicyclists are going to change their habits and "slow down" when they reach an intersection? Yeah, right.

Probably the only thing good about the law is that drivers will know once and for all that, no, bicyclists aren't going to stop at a stop sign or red light.

And before people start throwing accusations at me of being an ignorant driver, let me just point out that, actually, I don't drive. In fact, I bike. And I stop at stop signs.

by Dustin on Jul 25, 2009 8:38 am • linkreport

Great article, well written! Really appreciate the photo use and attribution. <3

by Amarand Agasi on Jul 29, 2009 12:40 pm • linkreport

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