The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Dinner links: Getting more

Photo by Éole.
Talk and text in Metro stations: Metrorail riders who use mobile networks other than Verizon should be able to start talking, checking their email, and texting in 20 stations starting October 16th. The other 27 underground stations will follow next year, and tunnels in 2012. The carriers will also pay Metro, and Metro will be able to use the system for operational communications and The Metro Channel, Metro's planned electronic customer information and advertising system.

Raise our TOD standards: Smart Growth advocates have to start demanding high quality projects, not just tall buildings around transit, argues NRDC's Kaid Benfield. He says it used to be such a struggle to get anything denser than suburban tract sprawl that many advocates welcomed high-rise TOD projects, but many of these projects are pretty lame. If we're to win over skeptical neighbors in places like Tenleytown, where he lives, we need good quality density, not cookie-cutter sameness that happens to be next to transit. (Switchboard, Andrew)

Why don't more people bike?: Tom Vanderbilt says lack of bike parking is the biggest problem. (Slate) ... Lack of decent shower and changing facilities, too, are a major impediment, possibly even more so for women? (DC Bicycle Examiner)

Lock 'em up or build 'em lanes: Continuing the cyclists vs. those who want cyclists to act differently debate, the Post letters include one non-cyclist who sees bicycle infractions daily (but not driver or pedestrian infractions?) and another calling for buffered lanes ("cycle tracks") (via WashCycle). A Vancouver Sun letter writer takes the "lock up cyclists" mentality through reductio ad absurdum and calls for the arrest of sprawl developers, city planners, SUV drivers, anti neighbors, and everyone else who, besides bicyclists, contributes to traffic jams.

Inflating more than the tires: Based on some anecdotal evidence, it looks like the great popularity of bicycling in Portland has driven bicycle prices way up. Bikes at Costco are cheap, but aren't selling. (Freakonomics, RDHD)

Inclusionary zoning vs just more housing: Matthew Yglesias isn't sold on inclusionary zoning yet, or more importantly, whether the DC government can actually implement it correctly. He suggests enabling more housing by relaxing rules that require parking, larger units, and/or shorter buildings.

Parking rules too tough to enforce? Just try anarchy: After years of spotty enforcement of the two-hour time restriction for free parking, Fairhope, Alabama decided to remove the time restriction rather than charge for parking. Local shopkeepers expect other shopkeepers to park all day in front of their businesses. Did I mention there's free all-day garage parking nearby? (PT's Parking Blog, Michael P)

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. 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 two children in Dupont Circle. 


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@ anarchy: Isn't that just what car drivers want? Free unrestricted parking? Give it to them. And they'll come back crying like little babies within no time.

by Jasper on Aug 18, 2009 4:30 pm • linkreport

Dedicated biketracks that are separate from the street and that are marked off to give room to pedestrians are the very best way to encourage more people to bicycle.

Forcing bicyclists to compete with cars in the street is completely insane and this is a recipe for disaster.

If the planners in this city and in other jurisdictions are serious about getting people out of their cars and onto bicycles they will start building these kinds of bike tracks.
Bikeways that either use part of the sidewalk or are physically cut off from dangerous roads and keep pedestrians out of range are very common in places where there are large numbers of cyclists like China, Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Denmark. It is a time tested approach and it works. We need to move away from a car-oriented approach to bicycling and provide safe places for people to bicycle in our towns and cities.

by w on Aug 18, 2009 4:47 pm • linkreport

It is because we push the wrong kinds of bikes over here. Commuter bikes in Europe are comfy and all the chains and gearing are completely covered, as are the tires so water doesn't spray everywhere. With bikes like that women can cycle around in nice dresses without a worry (unless the weather causes problems). See and for some good bike ideas.

by NikolasM on Aug 18, 2009 5:04 pm • linkreport

NikolasM where have you been all afternoon?

We need more Intelligent and Sane voices like your own to help counteract all of the idiocy out there in the blogosphere.

Your comments are excellent.

carry on !!!

by w on Aug 18, 2009 5:09 pm • linkreport

W: in lieu of bicycle tracks, how about this concept?

by Froggie on Aug 18, 2009 5:18 pm • linkreport

Froggie: "In lieu of" is the wrong idea. "In addition to, as part of a system that provides unique approaches to unique problems on a corridor-by-corridor basis" is more like it. "Optimizing shared streets for bikes" is all well and good in some cases, and in some other cases a cycle track might be better.

by BeyondDC on Aug 18, 2009 5:30 pm • linkreport

Мне нравится это фото, хотя иронично мэр Лужков,
до сих пор, принял неразумние принципи землепользовании.

by цarьchitect on Aug 18, 2009 5:35 pm • linkreport

I have never considered lack of shower facilities or bike parking to be a reason not to bike. I don't have an expensive bike and have tied it to many things other than a bike rack. Plus I have never ridden a long distance for a purpose other than recreation that I needed a shower for. I bike as much as I feel is possible, but for the most part I don't have that many trips that I would like to take by bike. I usually prefer walking if places are under 1 mile and the rest of the trips are usually over 5 miles and require carrying something to or from a place which isn't too conducive to biking even with the two baskets I have on my bike. I can see more people commuting by bicycle if you work within about 5 miles of where you live and for some shorter trips, but just don't see many other trips other than recreational use being worthwhile by bike for the average person even though I love the idea of biking verses driving.

by Dunfarall on Aug 18, 2009 7:19 pm • linkreport

BDC: "in lieu of" was the first thing that come to mind. I wasn't saying that we shouldn't include bicycle tracks if they can be fit in. My purpose was to introduce another option should bicycle tracks run into...complications.

by Froggie on Aug 18, 2009 9:45 pm • linkreport

Dunfarall: I commute 9 miles by bike (Old Town Alexandria to Capitol Hill) and love it...anything under 5 miles these days I consider a short trip. Changing/showering facilities are important, though, especially for those coming from farther away or those with very high standards of professional dress at work (commuting even just three miles in a very expensive suit is probably not something that most people are going to do).

Also, on the parking issue. Theft is certainly a concern even if you don't ride an expensive bike. The thieves will take any bike, not only expensive ones and then you have the bike equivalent of "got a flat tire on the interstate" and it sucks. Also, I'm not sure about DC, but in many jurisdictions (Alexandria included), it's actually illegal to attach your bike to City property. This is rarely enforced, however (unless you live in a building with the World's Biggest Entitled Asshole who CALLS THE CITY to come cut a bike off of "his tree", and no this did not actually happen to me, but to a neighbor's friend who was visiting for lunch). Also, weather is a concern. Secured (in garage, preferably) bike parking would do wonders to encourage commuting, and more casual on-street stuff for running about town doing errands/getting coffee/whatever.

by Catherine on Aug 18, 2009 9:52 pm • linkreport

I'm willing to bet that the number of people who don't commute by bike because of the lack of shower and changing facilities is exactly zero. The number of people who don't commute by bike because it involves such things as the _need_ to shower and change clothes at work is much higher. The number who don't even think of it because it intrinsically involves exercise, sweating, and stuff like that is vastly greater still. Showers, secure parking, bike lanes, etc. are completely irrelevant to most people, who aren't interested in getting all sweaty before work.

This doesn't mean that those things shouldn't be pursued for those relatively few people who do think of biking as serious transportation (myself and three or four others in my department of some forty people, for example). They may even allow a few more people who are already so inclined to actually do it (as Metro's bike bus racks make semiregular part-way biking possible for one of my colleagues). But I simply can't see a mode that gets you to work lathered and breathless appealing to very many more people than it already does.

by davidj on Aug 19, 2009 12:20 am • linkreport

davidj, good observation about the "semiregular part-way" biking made possible by metrobus. When I was last commuting (my current commute is now a 3 minute downhill ride which I don't even consider a commute), I used to alternate between different modes. Usually drive the bike, then leave the car at work overnight, bike home, transit in the next morning, then drive home in the evening. Various combinations. I was lucky that I could easily, cheaply, and safely leave the car or the bike at work.

We had showers. The biggest reason why I never got into a bike habit was because I simply had too much crap I had to schlep back and forth. Clothes, documents, computer, sometimes books, and generally speaking I prefer to pack my lunch. You're right that showers and changing helps, but it only is a benefit to those who are already motivated enough.

Now I have a 3 minute commute, which changes things drastically, plus my dress standards at work are completely casual whereas in the past they weren't. And yes, even though you can shower and cool down a bit before you have to put a tie on, a hairy sweaty guy like me is still going to be sweating for a quite a while after the shower is done.

by spookiness on Aug 19, 2009 12:45 am • linkreport

Of all the places in alabama to effect change, Fairhope would be a good start. A possible lobbying campaign is in order.

by Jazzy on Aug 19, 2009 7:45 am • linkreport

How difficult would it be to mandate some sort of ground-floor shower area construction in new office buildings? Every building already has some janitorial area for storage and cleanup. Would it really be that difficult to augment that area with a small unisex shower? I would occasionally bike from Capitol Hill to Old Town when the weather was nice, but would avoid doing so in August because of the opressive heat and lack of a shower.

by monkeyrotica on Aug 19, 2009 7:53 am • linkreport

Shower facilities are a big reason for me. I grew up in MI, and I sweat like a beast just sitting still in weather like today. Theres no way I would ride to work in a suit on a day like today. The other reason is that I frequently wither have too much stuff to carry around or need to be downtown, in Fairfax, and in Alexandria all in one day. I would love to have a job that was downtown with a shower. I would rarely drive and might even get rid of the car.

by dano on Aug 19, 2009 8:14 am • linkreport

For me, the #1 reason not to bike is the road! I have less thoughts of where to put my bike and more concerns about getting hit by a car on the way there.

Can't wait for the next met branch trail section to open. Goodbye Rhode Island Ave.

by Kristen on Aug 19, 2009 8:23 am • linkreport

My reasons for not biking to work, in descending order:

1. I sweat profusely in anything over 70 degrees.
2. I have shower facilities at work but prefer to shower and be done with it at home.
3. I run home from work (4 miles) several days a week for exercise.
4. My route would include moderately dangerous roads.
5. I have secure bike parking at work but it's way in the bowels of the parking garage.

And re: women bikers, it seems to me that I see more women bike commuters than men. They often have cool vintage bikes and look totally awesome riding them.

by Reid on Aug 19, 2009 9:07 am • linkreport

Ah, finally, the Metro Channel, when sweetish thoughts bring thoughts of "Total Recall" to mind....

by J.D. Hammond on Aug 19, 2009 9:49 am • linkreport

Cohaagen raised the price of air again.

by Alex B. on Aug 19, 2009 10:50 am • linkreport

A la Reid, my reasons for not biking to work, in descending order.

1. Traffic: It wouldn't be so bad in the neighborhood, where I could ride on the sidewalk, but once into downtown fuggedaboutit.
2. No shower or changing facilities at work.
3. Music: I like listening to my iPod when I walk to work, but would have to do without if I rode a bike. (I would be willing to forego this pleasure if #1 and #2 were addressed.)

by cminus on Aug 19, 2009 1:13 pm • linkreport

there are classes taught by a bike association that teach people how to properly and safely ride in the streets. It can be done.

by Jazzy on Aug 19, 2009 1:31 pm • linkreport

there are classes taught by a bike association that teach people how to properly and safely ride in the streets.

Unless these classes are also attended by a significant number of motorists, I still don't think I'd feel comfortable.

by cminus on Aug 19, 2009 1:48 pm • linkreport

that is what I dont get about WABA and their moronic insistence on people cycling in the roads with cars and trucks.
Its fine if you are a speed racer in top condition- but what about the broader demographic that doesn't want /wish to risk their lives?

Vehicular cycling is sheer madness. It should be done away with. It is a horrible and dangerous concept- and it leaves out everyone who is not willing to pay megabucks for a super composite super fast racing bike with millions of dollars of high tech equipment who is risk aversive.

Everyone that I know that practices vehicular cycling has been injured in an accident usually involving a car or truck If you want to do this- go ahead -be my guest.

Just dont set up the rules and regs to make me have to stoop to this crazy and childish level of macho man behavior.

by w on Aug 19, 2009 1:50 pm • linkreport

That is what I dont get about WABA and their moronic insistence on people cycling in the roads with cars and trucks...

If only we had some system of comprehensive, segregated, levitating "skypaths" so that sane folks could ride their bicycles through the stratosphere like they do in every other country in the world. Til then, I will continue to ride my bike the way I do now: by pushing it along the sidewalk at a brisk walking pace, hiding behind a tree whenever I spot an automobile, or a glimpse of Spandex.

by ibc on Aug 19, 2009 2:08 pm • linkreport

Unless these classes are also attended by a significant number of motorists, I still don't think I'd feel comfortable.

I ride in the street (self-taught) after about a 10 year hiatus. It's scary at times, but I know you can do it.

Its fine if you are a speed racer in top condition- but what about the broader demographic that doesn't want /wish to risk their lives?

Again, it can be done. I am hardly a speed racer in top condition, just a li'l ole woman riding pretty slowly. Sure people honk, but you must ignore them, and not expend the energy on them.

by Jazzy on Aug 19, 2009 2:16 pm • linkreport

Portland may be experiencing bike inflation but it may be that most bikes being sold there are, instead of toys, actually used for commuting. Thus, you are seeing a different CATEGORY of bikes. The freakonomics writer thinks that many people would not be able to $400+ for a bike, but if a person is substituting his car for a bike (which is possible in Portland), it is very affordable.

by SJE on Aug 19, 2009 4:17 pm • linkreport

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