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K Street Transitway options balance buses, bikes, cars, and loading

The two build options for the K Street Transitway trade off space for cars, buses and bicycles.

One option would create a two-lane busway in the center of K Street, leaving three general-purpose lanes on each side. The other option, on the other hand, makes the transitway three lanes, where the third lane lets eastbound buses pass each other in some spots and westbound buses pass each other in other spots. That option also contains a bicycle lane along the length of K Street.

While at first glance the plans seem to provide a clear choice between more accommodation for cars versus more for buses and bikes, the difference isn't that simple. Making a true "complete street" that works for all modes is not easy.

K is a major regional street, serving as a major east-west corridor and connecting to the Whitehurst Freeway and Key Bridge on the west. Huge numbers of buses use the street, from the Circulator to local Metrobuses to commuter buses from Loudoun County and Maryland MTA.

Currently, the road has four main center lanes used by through traffic and many buses. Medians separate the center lanes from side access roads mainly used for parking, loading, and some turns. The access roads disappear around Farragut, McPherson, and Franklin Squares, which extend partway into the K Street right-of-way. Unlike European boulevards, the side roads spend most of their time unused or blocked by non-moving vehicles. It doesn't create a welcoming retail environment and doesn't maximize the potential of this important corridor.


The 1600 block of K Street under the two-lane transitway option.

The transitway project proposes to move the medians inward, creating a narrower center space for buses only (possibly including taxis at night) and making the now-wider outer sections the general travel lanes for cars. One option makes the transitway two lanes, one in each direction, with a three-lane road on each side for other purposes. In this option, trucks and taxis would be able to stop in the rightmost lane to load and unload, and it may allow off-peak parking. Bicycles would also use the rightmost lane or share other travel lanes. When parks pinch the right-of-way, the general travel lanes would narrow to two in each direction.


The 1600 block of K Street under the transitway with passing lane option.

The second option removes one general-purpose lane in each direction, leaving only two. Instead, the transitway widens to three lanes outside of the areas adjacent to the parks. At many bus stops, the third lane allows buses to pass each other. Sometimes the eastbound bus lane widens to two while westbound remains one, and sometimes vice versa. In addition, a bicycle lane runs the entire length of the street adjacent to the sidewalk. Since there are only two general-purpose lanes, trucks and taxis would not be allowed to stop there. To allow some loading, this plan would cut loading zones into the adjacent sidewalk in a few places.

A major difference between the two options is commuter buses. Commuter buses stop less often but for longer periods of time. In the two-lane transitway option, therefore, they would not use the transitway but would rather stop in the curb lane of the general-purpose lanes. The transitway with passing lanes would accommodate commuter buses as well, where Circulators and Metrobuses could stop behind the commuter buses but then go around to continue on their way.

Therefore, while the initial reaction is to assume the transitway with passing lanes is better for buses, bus speeds would be very similar between the two options. The two-lane transitway would allow buses to run all the way from 9th to 21st, with stops, in about 12 minutes on average, while the passing lane option shaves that to about 11 minutes, mostly by reducing dwell times. Meanwhile, the current configuration requires as much as 17 minutes for buses to traverse the same distance.

At WABA's urging, many cyclists attended the meeting to evaluate the impact of the alternatives on cyclists. Reactions were mixed. On the one hand, a bike lane all along K Street gives cyclists a facility that's not present today and isn't present in the two-lane transitway option. However, would trucks and taxis simply park in the bike lane on a regular basis, forcing cyclists to leave and making it more harrowing? Some agreed with my suggestion yesterday to focus instead on high-quality separated, buffered bicycle lanes ("cycle tracks") on parallel one-way streets, while others felt that it was important to make K Street truly multimodal. They also pointed out that even with parallel bicycle facilities, some cyclists will be traveling to and from destinations on K Street.

There may be ways to better separate the bike lane. One person suggested raising it up to sidewalk level, placing the gutter and curb between the roadway and the bicycle lane and essentially making the bicycle lane a specially painted extension of the sidewalk. Many European towns do this with their bicycle lanes. The bicycle lane could also occupy a middle height, or have a mountable curb separating it from the roadway. However, other cyclists worried that such treatment would make it difficult for cyclists to pass slower cyclists, dog walkers, or others that might intrude on the lane, as they couldn't easily jump over to the car lane if necessary.

This project is part of the region's application for the competitive TIGER stimulus grants. Without that money, it's unlikely DC or the region can find funds to build it. Since the deadline for the grant applications is September 15th, project officials are moving extremely fast with the Environmental Assessment, planning to submit it to FHWA in mid-August. They won't be picking one of the two options for the application; final design decisions would happen if and when USDOT funds the project, and the design may blend elements of both.

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 understand the myriad issues surrounding building a dedicated lane on K street, and there are strong arguments for putting in dedicated cycle tracks elsewhere (L + M), but in the spirit of multimodalism I feel that a lane is essential.

I think the best solution for the bike lane dilemma is raised bumps that offer a bit of a deterrence to drivers and other motorists looking to pull over. This is a low cost solution that also has a traffic calming effect, in that they serve to prevent trucks from idling and slowing down traffic, and like highway shoulders they also alert drivers who may inadvertantly swever into the bike lane (maybe when on a cell phone?). It would also allow for more experienced cyclists to pass other cyclists and facilitate the construction of new loading zones and alley entrances.

I submitted that as public comment, so hopefully I get at least some support from the new urbanist cohort :)

by JTS on Jul 30, 2009 10:28 am • linkreport

What is the relative speed of commuter buses in the two options? The commuter buses on K Street carry a lot of people. Also, if the buses move faster, it will generate cost savings that can be used to add service.

by Ben Ross on Jul 30, 2009 10:30 am • linkreport

cyclists need a fully separated cycletrack. don't imagine we'd ask for it, much less demand it.

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 11:00 am • linkreport

I'm ecstatic over the possibility of this being built. I never thought this would even get to the drawing board. It has the possibility of creating a model for projects going forward for other high-use streets like Georgia Ave. or Wisconsin.

Re: bike lanes. I agree that the European model is best: widen the sidewalk and create a bike lane on the sidewalk with a slightly raised surface. At first pedestrians would probably walk in it, but I think with adequate signage, overtime people would learn not to walk in it.

I think generally speaking, the model of transitways like the Ringstrasse in Vienna should be the model for K St.

I've always been concerned, however, about what sort of tree cover the eventual transitway would have. The Ringstrasse has a great tree-cover, but it's wider than K St., and thus has more room for larger trees.

As a general matter, K St. needs much more trees.

by Reid on Jul 30, 2009 11:12 am • linkreport

I had to miss the meetings last night and haven't seen the drawings yet, but why is it bike lanes on K -OR- cycletracks on parallel routes? I want BOTH!

Also, we no longer have to look to European models for separated facilities on congested downtown streets. NYC has been implementing these for the past few years. David, wanna start a petition and paypal donation page to get DDOT engineers up there to see how its done?

by jeff on Jul 30, 2009 11:24 am • linkreport

I agree with the need for trees along either side of this transitway. I honestly think that's even more important than bike lanes. Otherwise, this will be truly a freeway and not befitting of a major corridor in the nation's capitol. If not trees, at least flowered medians like they have on Connecticut between O and the circle.

by SG on Jul 30, 2009 11:29 am • linkreport

SG, why trees or other greenery instead of providing real bicycle infrastructure?

I could provide an argument for real bicycle infrastructure -- if we're taking the hypothetical of bikes vs. trees -- it's about every reason biking is great for people/the city/environment/etc. -- all 150 or so reasons. Trees can and do serve a function, as do other types of greenery, but more important than bike infrastructure?

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 11:33 am • linkreport

I think the flowered medians on Connecticut make it more like a freeway. It makes jaywalking impossible. I realize that's illegal, but some amount of pedestrian flow in between blocks should be tolerated and not physically barred. I liken it to turning right on red. So long as we allow someone traveling in a deadly weapon to make a judgment call whether it's ok to go through an intersection despite the red light, why not let a person do the same?

But really, the flowered medians do little to prevent K st. from being a crucible in the summer. Trees create shade that can encourage walking and biking. We should plant a row of Elm trees down K like they planted on Penn Ave. Give it 30 years and it'll be the most beautiful street in town.

by Reid on Jul 30, 2009 11:46 am • linkreport

I think tree-cover and bike infrastructure are both VERY important for this project. I agree with Peter though about which is more important. Bicycle infrastructure, and more specifically SEPARATED bike lanes, is one of the most important investments this city must make, up there with the streetcars and a new Metro line in the city.

I'd say for most people, it is THE defining line between getting on a bike or not. Once we have a real network of cycle-tracks, we will start to see a bike culture more like that of a European city, where it's seen as "normal", and you don't need special gear, or be adventurous. :)

That in turn will ease some congestion on transit, and take some cars off the road... and people will be healthier... and the air will be cleaner... and...

by Justin Young on Jul 30, 2009 11:51 am • linkreport

+1 on Peter Smith's tree/infrastructure comment. and +1 on Reid's point as well. Especially considering that the middle of the road will be a transit way, and there are numerous parks that narrow the street at key points, I'm not sure if greening K street will do much more.

I don't think, however, that the bike lane on K and the cycle tracks on L/M are an either/or issue. I do believe that a lane on K street needs to be respective of many more realities. Namely, more (jaywalking) pedestrians, greater need for access to alleys and loading docks, etc. As stated above, I am firmly of the belief that whenever you can't cycle track, you should stud the bike lane (no more painted lines, ever!), just to provide a small barrier that deters blatant misuse of the space by cars. Because K street is so central, I'm not sure if a cycle track is the best option, particularly because we have no working examples in DC yet, and I wouldn't want to risk failure on one of the most well known streets in America.

As a pretty rabid cyclist myself, I am cognizant of the fact that considering the importance of the thoroughfare, K street's priorities should not fall to me and my kind as much as I and others would probably like.

by JTS on Jul 30, 2009 11:56 am • linkreport

Another option would be to have shared bike/bus lanes in the center, especially for the wider bus lane option. With real traffic separation it wouldn't be like the 7th/9th street couplet. Not that I'm discounting the potential for cylcetracks instead of bike lanes in that option, but I'm not sure that pedestrians wouldn't end up being more of the barrier to bikes in that situation along K Street, especially at peak hours.

by Sam Zimbabwe on Jul 30, 2009 11:58 am • linkreport

My point on bike lanes is: is it really that big of a deal having separated bike lanes on L/M Streets instead? We're talking 1-2 blocks away. If it makes the difference between trees or no trees, I say put the bike lanes on L/M and put in an attractive median. If the tree-lined median won't happen due to space constraints, then by all means insist on separated bike lanes (if possible).

Ideally, K Street should not be a barren wall of concrete running through our beautiful city.

by SG on Jul 30, 2009 12:18 pm • linkreport

My point on bike lanes is: is it really that big of a deal having separated bike lanes on L/M Streets instead?

yes. walkers and bikers and mass transit folks deserve priority -- the most direct routes -- in that order. cars can go a block or two over with little to no effort. it's easier for them. it may even help deter them from driving so much. having direct routes for walks and bikers and transit users will encourage those users to continue utilizing these better forms of transportation.

as far as central medians (as opposed to street-side/sidewalk-protecting medians) i haven't studied them or know anything about them formally, just my intuition and common sense and practical experience -- they seem bad for city life. they block the view of motorists who end up running down pedestrians and bikers who are crossing at various places, even in designated crosswalks. they get in the way of non-car people trying to cross the street where they want to. they can be expensive to maintain. they encourage speeding. they just seem bad for so many reasons.

street-side treescaping, on the other hand, seems to make sense to me. they provide some of that 'nature' effect which studies show is good for us -- fine. but more importantly, as pointed out by Kunstler in his TED talk, they provide physical (out of control cars) and subjective (feeling of)safety from moving glass and metal (and a bit of noise protection, too), provide shade from the sun (filtering it), some protection from light rain, visually denote 'the pedestrian realm', etc. i can get behind that kind of stuff.

you could make the argument that you want the pedestrian experience to be fantastic, which requires trees and shaded sidewalks/etc. -- fine. in that case, give us the sidewalks, cycletracks (or some quality bike infrastructure), trees, etc. the priorities always have to be walk, bike, etc. -- in that order. cars should always come last.

just my take.

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 12:33 pm • linkreport

Bikers take president over mass transit? No way. The goal should be to move as much people through a major commuter route as efficiently as possible. Mass transit should get the priority, in conjunction with pedestrian access. Then come bikers.

Look, I like biking as much as the next guy, but when you are talking about a commuter route in DC, there is a limit to how much it will be used in our swamp like climate for that purpose.

by asds on Jul 30, 2009 1:59 pm • linkreport

I agree asds. Transit is first. It moves the most people. Biking is good because it doesn't pollute but it will never be for everybody and it doesn't move as many people.

by Cavan on Jul 30, 2009 3:04 pm • linkreport

Why not leave it just like it is? Best option IMHO. Spend the money on beautifying streets that really need it (lower Georgia Ave, lower North Cap)

by Wayan on Jul 30, 2009 3:17 pm • linkreport

Bikers take precedence over mass transit?

yes. there are myriad reasons why this should be the case, but at this point in time it's not all that interesting a debate, imo, b/c we have a common enemy that is killing us, figuratively and literally, the single occupancy vehicle (aka the car).

the larger point is, should we sacrifice bike infrastructure for trees? or for cars? that answer, to me, has to be 'no'.

if it was a case of 'transit vs. bikes', then i suppose we could talk about it, but again, we have a common enemy -- cars.

one of the problems with leaving room for cars, is that you're leaving room for cars. imo, to give our kids a fighting chance, we have to flood our cities and towns with walkability, bikability, and mass transit, and we have to greatly restrict motor-ability (i think this is a civil and human rights issue, above all). this is the exact opposite of what GM engineered -- they removed all transit, and helped degrade the quality of walking and biking by flooding our cities and towns with cars.

GM was spectacularly successful. we can be, too. but we shouldn't be bashful about it -- we should make driving around DC extremely difficult -- every day we should get one step closer to having cars bear the full brunt of their actual impact on the city -- externalities and all. decongestion/depollution charges, taxes, fees, fines, traffic calming, tolls, new road rules/laws putting onus of safety of walkers and bikers on drivers, new safety requirements, fewer and slower-moving highways/streets/avenues/boulevards, restricted private automobile access to various streets/roads/parts of town, etc. -- we need to use all these techniques and more.

nowhere is it written in stone that our 'commuter corridors' need to grant access to private automobiles. it didn't exist just 100 years ago, so why should it need to exist now? the point of major commuter corridors is to allow massive amounts of people to commute -- so, let them walk and bike and take transit. Copenhagen does it -- they move a lot of people, too. why not here? if there's any room left over after walkers and bikers and other human-powered transport, then we'll drop in some transit, and only after transit should we consider letting folks ride electric bikes or motorbikes and scooters, maybe even allow in commercial traffic, eventually taxis and other utility vehicles, and then if after all that there is still room left over, we can let private cars drive on these commuter corridors, too -- for a hefty fee. else, they can go around.

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 3:30 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure why some of this debate has turned into bike lanes vs trees? I attended the event last night and in my understanding both of the alternatives under consideration actually make a push for increased tree cover on K St. Additionally, the proposals are looking at more innovative and lower impact ways of dealing with storm water runoff such as rain gardens in both median and curbside areas, as well as pervious pavement in feasible locations. Kudos to both of these efforts, I say.

The real tradeoff between the two alternatives, as David touched on, is one between the addition of another transit lane and a bike lane, with limited loading zones, in option 3 vs a dedicated loading/delivery zone lane (at the expense of the additional transit and bike lane) in option 2.

I think the separated (NYC style) bike lane option added to the third alternative makes this one a winner in terms of both discouraging vehicular use of this lane as well as being a highly visible model to be replicated (if successful) in other parts of the city.

by makeke on Jul 30, 2009 3:40 pm • linkreport

i spoke with one of the presenters last night, and asked him about trees, runoff, and other "environmental" aspects of the plan. i was told that there's no guarantee that trees will be planted in the places where they're denoted on the plans.

due to concerns about "vistas" and "views", they might just plant grasses and flowers there. i'm not really sure what the vistas would be of (more K street soulless box buildilngs?), but there you go.

by IMGoph on Jul 30, 2009 3:51 pm • linkreport

I can't believe anyone would want to prioritize bikes over mass transit, especially on K Street. I have biked K Street and taken the bus on K Street hundreds of times, and at rush hour it can take about half an hour to go a few blocks by bus. By bike I can always get through, and if things were to really get congested I could always switch to another street. There is a clear and screaming need for better cross-town mass transit. There are dozens of ways for a person to get across downtown by bike, and hardly any good ways via bus or subway.

The city should make it as fast and convenient as possible for buses to move faster along K Street... a three-lane separated "transitway" sounds like a major and much-needed upgrade. Glad it is even on the radar screen.

by jeff gerhard on Jul 30, 2009 3:55 pm • linkreport

Jeff G., Agreed. Peter., Agreed that the biggest problem is the single occupancy vehicle. However, you are going to get a heck of a lot more of them into fast buses than you are on bikes.

by asds on Jul 30, 2009 4:12 pm • linkreport

Transit is first. It moves the most people. Biking is good because it doesn't pollute but it will never be for everybody and it doesn't move as many people.

just to kind of challenge what seems to be obvious to some of y'all, please take a look at this famous pic:

http://bikehacks.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/bycar.jpg

now venture with me on a quick, unrealistic experiment. buses vs. bikes. buses in a long line - 10 of them - loaded full with passengers - say that gets us 600 people (60 per) in about 400 ft of space (40 per), assuming the buses are bumper to bumper. in the next lane over, 600 bikes are all lined up, side by side and behind one another, and that may take up, say, 1000 ft. of space, assuming bikes are 'bumper to bumper'.

now, you hit the 'go' button, and everyone takes off. assume no stopping. a couple of miles down the road, we find that the buses, having kept together tightly and speeded up to the speed limit of 35 or whatever, have 'won' this race/bet -- they were able to transport more people than bicycles over that distance in a shorter amount of time.

but what if we start introducing some reality into the scenario? let's imagine 1-minute headways -- a very short amount of time between buses. theoretically possible (though, i think practical research has shown it is not doable in reality -- think the limit is 90 seconds or so, but not sure on that), but not all that likely. but even if you introduce that modicum of realism into this highly-controlled experiment, the buses would seem to lose their 'volume/capacity/speed/work' advantage immediately -- the buses would see an overall delay in their time to completion of 9 minutes -- bikes can cover a lot of ground in 9 minutes (humans can sprint/run a 4-minute mile).

to me, it seems highly like that it would be bikes that would be able to move more people than buses could over intra-city distances of anywhere from 0 up to 5 miles or so, and possibly even longer distances.

it will never be for everybody

neither is drinking beer. fine -- more beer for me.

life is full of choices, but the key, i think, is providing a choice, an option, for people who can't or won't ride a bike. that is very different from suggesting those non-walk/non-bike options should be prioritized over walking and biking.

I can't believe anyone would want to prioritize bikes over mass transit, especially on K Street.

believe it.

i'd note that many of our driving friends can't believe we would want to prioritize public spaces and bikes lanes and express bus lanes and tram lanes over car lanes.

There is a clear and screaming need for better cross-town mass transit. There are dozens of ways for a person to get across downtown by bike, and hardly any good ways via bus or subway.

it may be true that there is a need for better cross-town mass transit, and i'd argue there's an even stronger need for cross-town bike access. and up/downtown bike access. and bike access in every direction. to me, the low bike mode share points to the severity of the situation. just because it's theoretically possible to accomplish something does not mean it will be desirable to accomplish it. transportation comes down to making choices about preferred modes of travel -- people don't prefer to bike in DC. why? plenty of reasons, but number one, i would argue, is that there is little to no bike infrastructure. change that, and you'll see lots more people biking, a la Portland.

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 5:53 pm • linkreport

If you make driving more difficult like Peter Smith advocates, people and business will just leave the city.

The elephant in the room that urban advocates in this area don't want to admit is that DC is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the region as a jurisdiction. Fairfax County has more people, more population growth, more jobs, and more job creation than the District.

The future of the region is outside of the District; people like Peter Smith will only expedite that.

by MPC on Jul 30, 2009 6:07 pm • linkreport

"The elephant in the room that urban advocates in this area don't want to admit is that DC is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the region as a jurisdiction. Fairfax County has more people, more population growth, more jobs, and more job creation than the District.

The future of the region is outside of the District; people like Peter Smith will only expedite that."

Wow. That's a pretty bold statement. It's funny that you would compare a city to a county... kinda like apples and oranges... but ok.

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Jul 30, 2009 6:30 pm • linkreport

MPC,

Fairfax County doesn't have more jobs than D.C. According to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' most recent Growth Trends to 2030 report, D.C. currently has about 145,000 more jobs than Fairfax County. Interestingly enough, D.C. will still have more jobs than Fairfax County going all the way out to 2030.

With about 32 million square feet of new privately-owned office potential in D.C. and about 8 million square feet of new government-owned office potential, D.C. will be in the race to capture more of this regions job and population growth with the right planning and leadership. This planning includes transit, an item we're discussing in this very thread. There could also be an additional 100,000 residential units built in D.C. in addition to the office space.

The K Street Transitway looks to be a big score for D.C., and it has the region's support.

D.C. isn't irrelevant when it has the largest number of jobs of any single jurisdiction in the D.C. region. And, it'll be that way for the foreseeable future. With the right planning and leadership, D.C. could swing the jobs and population pendulum even more in its favor.

Have a nice evening.

by otavio on Jul 30, 2009 6:38 pm • linkreport

I will echo the comments of asds and Cavan - mass transit should take precedence over bicycle infrastructure. I'm in favor taking a pair of parallel streets to K and upgrading the bicycle infrastructure on those routes. Cramming every mode onto two way K street and creating contention between them while L, Eye or other nearby streets simply remain one way auto traffic sewers makes no sense.

BTW Peter I recently spent 3 days (Wed-Fri) in downtown Portland at the end of May and there aren't bikes whipping around the Rose City Amsterdamn. I maybe saw 2 or 3 bikes for every ten minutes I walked around. I can also attest that Portland doesn't try to cram every mode onto one downtown street. They've got alot of one way streets downtown and in the Pearl district and do alot of the bicycle and transit solutions by pairing parallel streets. The Portland Streetcar circulates through the heart of the Pearl and downtown on 10th (north) and 11th (south) and neither or those streets has bicycle infrastructure beyond bike racks. Similarly the Portland MAX Light Rail's East-West transit mall (Morrison/Yamhill) does not have bicycle lanes. The corresponding North/South bicycle routes downtown are 13th/14th and Broadway while Couch is the East/West route.

by Paul S on Jul 30, 2009 6:43 pm • linkreport

I live in the city and don't even own a car, but often times after reading this blog, I wish that all the biker/walker/car haters would just move to Reston Center already. I mean that is what they are looking for.

Im not singling out anyone, but it seems like the goal of many on the blog is to just turn the city into another suburb.

by sds on Jul 30, 2009 7:05 pm • linkreport

If you make driving more difficult like Peter Smith advocates, people and business will just leave the city.

this could theoretically happen, if we just made driving more difficult without giving anyone an alternative, but implicit in this arrangement of starting to charge drivers for degrading the quality of our city life is that we would start spending money on the best and most cost-efficient modes of transport available -- namely walking and biking. and this switch to a more human-centered city implicitly improves the quality of life of the city, pulling in more people and companies (@see New York). we can and probably should, for now at least, continue to add more and better transit services. eventually we'll thin them out and just rely on walk/bike and high-quality transit lines, like Japan does in some places.

how likely is it that people will leave the city as we continue to start recouping some of those massive subsidies to drivers? not very, imo. the populations of various cities all over the US are blowing up, relative to rural areas. worldwide, we now know that more of the world lives in cities than in rural areas. there's a trend here -- we may not agree with it, but it's happening. i suspect we'll have plenty of megacities, and many more 'multi-centric' cities, but the whole massively-destructive and expensive suburban adventure is, i hope, on the wane in the US. China and India and others will have to learn the hard way, probably, and our kids will suffer for it, but we didn't do any better.

BTW Peter I recently spent 3 days (Wed-Fri) in downtown Portland at the end of May and there aren't bikes whipping around the Rose City Amsterdam

i'll say that i don't think the number of bikes you saw is actually relevant, but it's interesting you mention Portland. lots of the bikers there are not so happy with spending gajillions of dollars on mass transit when the bike scene there continues to explode with virtually no money, relatively-speaking. if we're talking about limited resources and spending our money wisely and all that type of stuff, there seems to be a clear path to success -- spend as much of your money as you can on walk and bike infrastructure.

They've got alot of one way streets downtown and in the Pearl district and do alot of the bicycle and transit solutions by pairing parallel streets.

true. and, again, bike advocates there are not necessarily happy campers with having rails to contend with on streets that they'd like to ride on. there are ways to mitigate the risk of rails (put them in the middle lanes -- leaving outside lanes to bikers, or using rubber flanges to keep bike tires from getting stuck in the rails, etc.), but in the end, rails are just dangerous to bikers. sf streetsblog just posted about this yesterday, i think.

to me, the answer here is simple -- every. single. street. and road in the District and in America should have full walk and bike access -- period. no exceptions. and this should remain particularly true for the most major corridors in the city -- meaning K Street, all major roads and avenues, etc. and it should even be true for highways (Aiken/North Augusta, South Carolina is putting the finishing touches on a highway extension with an Amsterdam-like segregated/separated multi-use path beside it for about 5 miles worth, if rumors are to be believed).

http://www.aikenstandard.com/Local/0127-palmetto-parkway-bike-path

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 7:59 pm • linkreport

sorry for the spam, but a couple more comments as to getting real bike infrastructure on K Street, as opposed to settling for alternate or side streets:

1) putting real bike infrastructure on K Street will increase the capacity of K Street. <repeat/> that's why pedestrian and bicycle counts are so important -- it helps those car/bus/transit-centric among us (which includes me to a certain extent, of course) to realize that people outside of glass and metal boxes also count as 'traffic' (or 'commuters' or whatever). if you want to increase the traffic-carrying capacity of any road or street, you need to add walk and bike infrastructure. if you want to kill the traffic-carrying capacity of any street, reserve as much of it as you can for tremendously space-inefficient single occupancy vehicles, inanimate objects, etc.

2) if you want to increase the livability/ambience/safety of a street, add bike infrastructure. studies show walkers and bikers see safety gains after the introduction of bike lanes, and we know that 4-to-3 road diets-for-bike-lanes reduces car accidents, too. the ambience of the street is improved b/c you have less pollution (air, noise). in theory, it's possible you'd start seeing street-side cafes right on K Street!

3) realistically, getting cars to pay for the damage they do is going to be a long process. by demanding real bicycle infrastructure on K Street, you increase the capacity of the street by converting some of its car-carrying capacity over to bike-carrying capacity. this has the triple goals of increasing the streets commuter-carrying capacity, making it easier (i.e. possible) to get around by bike, and restricting the ability of cars to move around so freely (making other modes of transport more attractive, relatively-speaking). this forces more well-to-do folks to look for walk/bike/transit alternatives, which then gets their money and political focus behind more and better walk/bike/transit, etc. it's a virtuous cycle.

4) every street deserves full walk and bike infrastructure (even side streets one block off the main street), but the biggest/most important streets deserve the biggest/mostest/bestest walk and bike (and even transit) infrastructure.

by Peter Smith on Jul 30, 2009 9:25 pm • linkreport

What are the numbers on the amount of buses vs walkers vs bus whatever is the most should get priority plain and simple.

Why is it so hard for some accept that maybe bike lanes should go on another street; the bike riders on K Street are probably 1/8 of the lowest of other modes of travel on K street.

For people that keep talking about Denmark; DC is not Denmark and will never like Denmark the mentality of the citizens is different and that will not change.

Copenhagen and most cities are Europe are old ass cites and really was not design for automobiles or any kind (bus, car etc) heck some werent design for carriages plus there are canals present there; that creates a different atmosphere than here where you dont usually run into streets which dead in at canals, couldn't fit a mini coup and so forth. Stop comparing DC to these places

For bikers say one reason why should there be bike lanes on K street rather than any other street nearby as long as the street is parallel what difference does it make which street it is they would only be blocks away is this because of laziness or something or that you just want your way.

The trees provide a vital resource to hell everybody while people on bikes do not.

Not all forms of transit(cars, bikes, bus, walkers, skaters, skateboarders and anything else that get people from place to place) have to be on every single road or have to be on the same road. They should all go by who uses the path (street, road, avenue) the most and whom ever gets the short end of the stick gets nothing.

Commuter buses should use the same roads as the normal cars why should DC build a path to support transit that DC has no involvement in only local traffic should be using the bus lanes (metrobus and the Circulator) not buses coming from Loudon county, St Marys County, Prince William county, Eastern Shore MD and others if they use it they should be required to pay a toll. Local DC traffic and perhaps bordering county commuter buses should use them not some county 30, 40 or 50 miles away.

by Kk on Jul 31, 2009 12:33 am • linkreport

kk, interesting points. As someone who lives in one of those neighboring counties, I would attest that most of the people who commute to DC from around the beltway tend to use the Metro. The commuter buses tend to come from places like Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Charles County, Prince William, and Loudoun. It's just easier to use the Metro if you're from one of the beltway counties. Perhaps that changes the calculus of which buses you think should be allowed in the busway?

by Cavan on Jul 31, 2009 9:54 am • linkreport

Trees - Very important for pedestrians and the climate too.

Buses and Bike lanes - I favor bike lanes on most major streets but really good bike lanes on the parallel streets with a major bus corridor on K would be fine.

Bike lanes vs separate tracks - Planning should allow electric bikes and low speed electric mopeds (20 mph) to use any separate bike tracks/paths also. They may already use bike lanes on roadways, which is appropriate when they go no faster than bicycles.

Electric bikes and mopeds are a green transportation option that should be included in complete streets planning. They are especially good for people who are not quite athletic enough for city bicycling or don't want to arrive at work all sweaty, or need to drop off a kid at school, etc. because they can ride 2. They solve congestion problems and are very energy efficient and produce no ground level pollution, but also need some protection from cars and trucks.

by Sylvia Rhomberg www.go-electric-now.com on Jul 31, 2009 12:07 pm • linkreport

The transitway should provide for trolleybuses. If the overhead wire ban is repealed, trolleybuses can run, thereby reducing noise and air pollution. Using batteries can increase the range and effectiveness of the network. Existing diesel-electric hybrid buses can have trolley poles installed. At first, they would only draw power when on the transitway or other streetcar right of way. Off the line, they would operate in standard diesel-electric hybrid mode. With the right power storage technology (e.g., supercapacitors or heat-treated LiFePO4 batteries), short stretches of overhead wires can be installed to quickly recharge the buses. This combination can eventually result in a complete trolleybus network with minimal overhead wire installation expense.

On a related note, I prefer the 3-lane alternative and allowing commuter buses to use it as well. This has the highest passenger throughput. Bikes can have lanes on I, L or M, if there isn't enough room on K, as those are only 1 or 2 blocks away. The important factor for the bikes is having access to this area, not actually using K St. itself.

by Chuck Coleman on Aug 1, 2009 10:39 am • linkreport

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