Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Standing alone


A different roadside stand. Photo by protoflux.
And then there was one: Boston's MBTA is now participating in Google Transit. That leaves WMATA as the only major transit agency not participating. Michael calculates that 9.5% of transit trips tracked by APTA are now on non-participating systems; about two-thirds of those are on WMATA. NY/NJ's PATH is the second largest laggard. (Globe)

They're called roadside stands for a reason: The State Highway Administration is shutting down a popular fruit stand that's operated on River Road in Bethesda for 10 years. They say it's a safety hazard. When can planning around roads consider them in the broader context of what we want communities to look like, instead of just how to clear out everything, including trees, for the cars? Local political payback is playing a role as well. (Post via Yglesias)

Go Saqib: Eleven Maryland state legislators from the Potomac, Rockville, and Germantown parts of Montgomery County, plus two Frederick County delegates, signed a letter supporting light rail for the Corridor Cities Transitway and two new lanes on I-270. Saqib Ali, the young (for a delegate), software engineer representative from North Potomac quickly clarified that he doesn't support the widening, and hadn't seen its brief mention in the letter before signing.

Not another passive park?: Richard Layman argues that maybe the two-district option for Poplar Point could work if the park in between contained active recreation, amusement, and education, with museums, recreation centers, libraries, theaters, or even a Ferris wheel. The federal rules might prohibit any building in the park area, however, even for recreational or civic uses. (RPUS)

A safer McLean: Even in more auto-oriented towns like McLean, bicycle and foot traffic is increasing amid insufficient facilities and safety precautions. A task force there is looking to add missing crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes in McLean's central business district. (Fairfax County Times, mooniker)

States not fixing it first: Many states have skipped repairing old and decaying bridges with their stimulus money, preferring instead to spend it on shiny new ones. Virginia is one that is fixing its bridges, however. (AP, Froggie)

The condo paradox: Following up on the U Street noise debate, Rob Pitingolo points out that many younger residents want to live in neighborhoods with bars, but generally lack enough savings or long-term job stability to buy a condo. Paradoxically, thanks to the greater developer profits on condos, new buildings right on nightlife streets like U Street are mostly condos rather than the rental apartments that many people who want to live right on U Street might be able to afford. (Extraordinary Observations)

Tweet of the day: @eschor: NY Times has THREE reporters live-blogging the #^!%$@ "beer summit". Death of journalism, meet your defining moment. ... The Post's blogger outreach publicist also sent around an email saying that Post reporters had surveyed local bartenders about which beers the participants liked.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Current State law prohibits the produce venders from the public right-of-way. Of course, when a public agency is made aware of an illegal situation: the agency must act. Any demand for change should first target the law by way of your legislators -- even if the SHA wanted produce venders to remain in place, right now they're not allowed to even consider it.

by Bossi on Jul 31, 2009 10:03 am • linkreport

That's great that Google got the T data up and running so fast (I'm assuming the decision to sign up happened recently, it could be that it's been in the works for a while). I notice, however, that the commuter rail stations aren't giving any departure times. That's pretty useful information to leave out. Maybe it will be added soon.

I've long thought Boston had an unhealthy approach to transit. It's blessed with a lot of great legacy infrastructure, but it seems intent on wasting it away in preference for auto-centric projects. They should have rebuilt the full E line and even brought back that A line.

To their credit they did recently restore commuter rail to the South Shore.

by Reid on Jul 31, 2009 10:33 am • linkreport

Wait we are now pro Ferris wheel!? Is the Farris Wheel lobby paying you off?

by RJ on Jul 31, 2009 10:39 am • linkreport

Roadside stands just contribute to a car dependent lifestyle. The should all be shut down and force to move to a more pedestrian friendly environment.

by Tom on Jul 31, 2009 11:04 am • linkreport

Indeed, Tom. What River Road needs is sidewalks. Lots and lots of sidewalks. And bumpouts, parking (performance of course), some speed humps, and a much lower speed limit.

Everyone will be better off that way.

by ah on Jul 31, 2009 11:38 am • linkreport

@Tom-
I have to respectfully disagree. While I absolutely support your end result -- local-based farmers markets in central pedestrian areas -- I can't quite agree with your means. In this situation, I think I'd rather have incentives for pedestrian-oriented markets rather than outright disincentives or bans on auto-oriented markets. At least in either case, it helps foster a "buy local" mentality (even though a number of the markets don't grow locally -- hence why they're open in winter; or selling produce not found anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic).

@ah-
Speed humps introduce a variety of issues along arterials, and to posit a thought: if River Rd were reduced... would you really ride your breaks all the way down that hill approaching Carderock Springs Dr? I know I wouldn't, and neither does anyone else. No one respects the *existing* limit, no less a reduced one. I'd rather see the speed limit increased to at least reduce pace differentiation / speed variety -- possibly reducing the aggression that builds up when cars stack behind the one driver actually obeying the speed limit. If people really want a slower road, the design needs to reflect that: horizontal deflection for vehicles and an environment supporting a variety of users (which you did hint at w/ sidewalks & bumpouts... but that's pennies for what would need to be done comprehensively).

by Bossi on Jul 31, 2009 12:05 pm • linkreport

@Bossi-- I'm pretty sure ah was joking.

by Josh B on Jul 31, 2009 12:44 pm • linkreport

The most ridiculous part of the stand issue (after the jump in the second linked Post story) is that roadside stands are allowed on state property if they sell seafood. The state says that's because of "Maryland's unique seafood heritage." I guess the stand is less of a hazard if it doesn't sell fruit?

by Josh B on Jul 31, 2009 12:49 pm • linkreport

Yes, that tidbit made me laugh, too... I'll admit I haven't read too deeply into it, but is it possible to circumvent it by framing yourself as a seafood stand?

"Here's your piece of shrimp with a side of apples, plums, carrots, lettuce, garlic, onions, and herbs. Oh, and your liter of cider."

by Bossi on Jul 31, 2009 12:54 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty sure that there are loads of seafood stands, at least at times, along that stretch of river road. I am surprised they haven't exploited that loophole (although maybe next week they will). Heck, partner with the seafood stand and set up shop together. Surely the seafood stands sell lemons with their crab and fish ...

(and yes, I was joking in my earlier post--River Road is never going to be a pedestrian environment and IMHO it's not worth trying to turn it into one. Crosswalks, sure, but people aren't going to walk to farmstands along river road, at least not in this decade or the next).

by ah on Jul 31, 2009 1:01 pm • linkreport

What we need is to turn these suburban arterials over to DDOT, who will take two years to do a convoluted "streetscape" study, ending up with an overwrought design that costs twice what it should, takes three times too long to build, and is impossible to maintain.

by Paul on Jul 31, 2009 1:03 pm • linkreport

I think that PATH is actually already integrated into Google Transit. So that can't be it.

by orulz on Jul 31, 2009 1:07 pm • linkreport

At this point, I think that Google should go begging to WMATA and negotiate at any terms whatsoever. I hate when we look backwards... Perhaps it is time to abolish WMATA and build something MBTA-style, at the very least it'd lead to a merged MARC/VRE with weekend service.

by Jason on Jul 31, 2009 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Jason: Why should google go begging to WMATA? As far as they're concerned, they're serving more than 90% of the country without any spending on their part. They've shown that they're perfectly happy not working with transit agencies that won't sign up.

WMATA just announced upgrades to their trip planner. I'm not impressed. New features include being able to abbreviate "north" with "N", having the planner not make you reenter all of your data when it can't find a match, and being able to search for trips 5, 10 and 20 minutes before/after instead of just 15. Woo hoo.

by Michael Perkins on Jul 31, 2009 2:10 pm • linkreport

@orulz: Thanks for the tip; I verified that PATH is in Google Transit. I haven't been able to figure out the Staten Island Railway but I think it is. We're down to 8.5% of US ridership of which WMATA is 6%. The biggest system other than us that's not in the system is now Phoenix buses.

by Michael Perkins on Jul 31, 2009 2:46 pm • linkreport

I agree with Layman, but only if there's more density on the other side of South Capitol Street. Museums in the park has worked out well for San Francisco, for example.

However, the wetlands in the middle are necessary, not for the city, but for the river. As long as they have a connection to the river, it's fine. AN Aquatic park sounds nice.

by цarьchitect on Jul 31, 2009 3:11 pm • linkreport

We look like a bunch of braindead rubes because WMATA refuses to deal with Google Transit. It makes WMATA look second class on top of having bums like Catoe in charge and with the fact that one measly track circuit can't be fixed. You never see this with MBTA and SEPTA, TA's riders allegedly hate.

I really think Michael Perkins should run for Metro board. He's the forcible change they need.

by Jason on Jul 31, 2009 6:25 pm • linkreport

And he rides the bus!!

by Jazzy on Jul 31, 2009 9:44 pm • linkreport

Staten Island Railway

It's part of the MTA, and its data is included in Google Maps.

by wmata on Aug 2, 2009 9:35 pm • linkreport

PATH also seems to be in Google Maps...

by wmata on Aug 2, 2009 9:40 pm • linkreport

Thanks, noted. The latest figures are correct then.

And I'm flattered that there are some that would want to see me on the board, but I think there are many more qualified than me and besides it's an appointed rather than elected position.

by Michael Perkins on Aug 3, 2009 12:14 am • linkreport

Then we should do all in our power to get you appointed!! You're the change they need, who is more qualified and progressive too?

Answer: NOBODY!! You'd have Catoe negotiating with Google or threatening him to be sent back to LA. Anything to make us not look like backwards brain-dead rubes.

What I'd do for an RTA a la Chicago, Boston, or Philly. At least then MARC/VRE would run off-peak and PG County would have decent bus service.

by Jason on Aug 3, 2009 7:01 am • linkreport

(ahem, and he rides the bus)...now, if he only lived in dc...

by Jazzy on Aug 3, 2009 4:22 pm • linkreport

I would be willing to pay his relocation costs as long as it meant having him on the board.

I want my RTA. An RTA would do wonders here. Anyone in Boston/Philly/NYC/Chicago disagree otherwise?

by Jason on Aug 4, 2009 11:07 am • linkreport

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