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


Breakfast links: How to spend federal money

Image by brunoboris.
$8 billion, high-speed: The Obama administration awarded $8 billion for high speed rail, primarily to California, Tampa-Orlando, and the Midwest.

The Washington region got some smaller grants, like $75 million for a third track in Prince William and Stafford Counties and various small projects on the Northeast Corridor. (The Transport Politic,, Scott, Gavin Baker, mcs)

9.6% of trips, 1.2% of money: The Alliance for Biking and Walking released a report on bicycle and pedestrian spending, saying that only 1.2% of federal transportation dollars go to these modes which comprise 9.6% of trips. (Streetsblog Capitol Hill) ... Virginia has the lowest per-capita rate of bike-ped funding in the nation, Maryland 45th. DC had the fourth-highest among cities. (The highest: Atlanta.) WashCycle extracts more details.

Money for less free parking: The California Senate approved financial incentives for cities to reduce free parking and reduce minimum parking requirements. (LA Times, Ben)

Indian freeway turns town square into barrier: India put a 4-lane freeway (with camel lanes) in place of a crowded 2-lane rural road that had also functioned somewhat like a town square. Now people can get to other cities faster and it triggered a new engineering college nearby, but designers didn't accommodate crossing pedestrians, and people cross all the time, leading to many more deaths.

Challenge BikeArlington: If you commute to or from Arlington by car, foot, or transit, BikeArlington wants to try to bike it faster for the "Bike Vs." challenge. Send them your commute details and see how their time stacks up against yours. (CommuterPageBlog)

3-foot passing closer to passing: It lost the Careless Driving misdemeanor and a rule against passing too closely, but the bill expanding the bicycle passing distance to 3 feet made it out of committee and is heading to the Senate floor. (VA Bicycling Federation)

Urbanist Republican(s) for Planning Board: Montgomery County has narrowed the field to five for the open Republican seat on the Planning Board. Friends of White Flint want Ken Hurdle, who has a strong commitment to New Urbanism. (Post, FLOG)

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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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While "share of trips" is one measure it's not the only one. What about distance? It's not like we need a (continuous) sidewalk from Rockville to Fredrick. And even if there is one person who might walk it, it doesn't need to be 4-6 lanes wide.

by ah on Jan 29, 2010 9:15 am • linkreport

Why are we complaining? The Indian highway is camel-friendly, with separate lanes.

Or do we not like that Indian women are now able to get to college?

by ah on Jan 29, 2010 9:17 am • linkreport

@ ah, who do you mean by "we"? The new hwy is controversial for the people who live near it for the reasons stated; it provides some benefits but has negative consequences as well. I think the point is the controversy and negative consequences could have been minimized if there had been provisions for people crossing on foot incorporated into the design, like crosswalks and reduced speeds through the village.

by Bianchi on Jan 29, 2010 9:50 am • linkreport

The HSR funding is indeed good news. It is just a starting point, and I hope that it will be a catalyst for the 200+ mph service that is ultimately needed. HSR would be a much more efficient and convenient way to make trips of a few hundred miles rather than flying or driving.

The disruption and danger posed by that expressway are a shame, but those camel lanes are just too cool.

by Matthias on Jan 29, 2010 9:54 am • linkreport

Where does it say that wasn't incorporated into the design? The complaint is that they can't cross "whenever needed", which seems to mean they don't like being limited to whatever crossing spots have been provided.

This hardly looks like the SE/SW freeway:

by ah on Jan 29, 2010 10:20 am • linkreport

India and China are making many of the same bad mistakes that were made in the USA back in the 50's- thru the 70's- too much surface parking, too many cars and superblocks, too much demolition of beautiful historic buildings. They will regret this "progress" in the years to come.

In DC- it looks like some incremental progress is at hand;

by w on Jan 29, 2010 10:21 am • linkreport

I don't understand what happened to HSR funding for the NE corridor. A third of U.S. population lives in a pretty narrow band between DC and Boston, and the current trains are a joke.

by SJE on Jan 29, 2010 11:05 am • linkreport


HSR is going to require some serious infrastructure investment. The Acela could go fast, but most of the tracks along its route can't handle the high speeds.

Why is there no funding? Projects with big price tags for things that "nobody uses" like trains are an anathema to the public in the USA. Piece by piece stuff like roads doesn't have a huge number attached to it, and hey, everybody drives, right? People can't get jazzed up about spending $18 hojillion dollars to build a train system for those elitist east coasters.

by MLD on Jan 29, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport

@ ah, well check this photo. An obvious place for a stop light and cross walk, but none installed. I don't understand your resistance to constructive criticism of design, or denial of the real complaints of the people who live there whose lives have been negatively impacted - impacts that could be minimized with some easy and attainable design elements that do not at all hinder what benefits the new road brings. Please note I have not said the road is bad, only controversial. It seems obvious to me the controversy is greater then need be because the of missing design elements. HAVE

by Bianchi on Jan 29, 2010 11:51 am • linkreport

@Bianchi - because the reaction seems to be preprogrammed: highway = bad. The photo you posted suggest pedestrians are perfectly happy going in the road. And the complaints are of the order of "geez, we can't take advantage of the outmoded infrastructure any more". It smacks of the anti-development biddies we complain about in DC.

by ah on Jan 29, 2010 12:11 pm • linkreport

oops. re: example of an obvious place for a light and crosswalk.

by Bianchi on Jan 29, 2010 12:12 pm • linkreport

@ah, it seems like you're expressing anti-improvement sentiment. really, what do you have against a crosswalk at a place where you 've observed "pedestrians are perfectly happy going in the road"? Of course they're going in the road. Pedestrians in DC go in the road. Thats like saying "the road gets wet when it rains". I don't get it. You're against crosswalks? And at a place where people are already going in the road? So there's no need for a crosswalk at Connecticut Ave and Nebraska NW because people are going to go in the road regardless? Who needs crosswalks because people are going to go in the road with or without them? What are you saying?

by Bianchi on Jan 29, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

Crosswalks? They don't need no stinkin' crosswalks:

by ah on Jan 29, 2010 12:46 pm • linkreport

@ ah, in the frogger vid the cars (and motorbikes) aren't going 75 mph. I think you're just trolling. Last week you were arguing that mode-share, including crosswalks, is "sophisticated". This week it's anti-development.

The following are not "the complaints of the order of "geez, we can't take advantage of the outmoded infrastructure any more"".
"...vehicles cruised past at 75 mph."
"Villagers made death-defying sprints back and forth across the highway, chasing their goats and children."
"People used to fracture their limbs in accidents but now an accident means death".

How selfishly anti-development to not want to be killed! A light and crosswalk would add 2 minutes to the 1 hr. bus ride to the college.

by Bianchi on Jan 29, 2010 1:04 pm • linkreport

@Bianchi: saying that someone is "trolling" is so 7th grade. Grow up already.

by mch on Jan 29, 2010 8:08 pm • linkreport

Another shared town square / transportation RoW:" />

Anthony Bourdain - Train vs. Marketplace from TravelChannelTV on Vimeo.

by Squalish on Jan 30, 2010 12:27 am • linkreport

It would make sense to upgrade the NEC to European HSR standards before pursuing other projects elsewhere. Traffic congestion, population density, and economic activity along the NEC exceed that of any European corridor. There is no reason to delay this upgrade. But it seems as if the Obama spendthrift administration cant get enough pork projects that will do little to enhance the overall transportation infrastructure of the United States. Even Republicans are crying foul for this poorly targeted investment scheme.

by Cyrus on Jan 30, 2010 1:42 am • linkreport

@mch - " so 7th grade. Grow up already." I double-dog dare ya to try an' make me!

by Bianchi on Jan 30, 2010 1:41 pm • linkreport


you are not exactly correct...
the lower Rhineland region- from Cologne thru Dussledorf/Ruhr, along the river up to Rotterdam on the coast is one of the most populated & dense regions in the world- one of the differences between that area and the NEC is that the Rhine has whole lot more rail and investment in rail. It is also criss-crossed by major freeways and served by many airports- but it is the largest conurbation in Europe.

Many Americans focus only on Ireland,England, France, and maybe Spain when talking about Europe and they completely forget to look at the nightime sattelite photos taken from space.

Again- the main hub of civilization in Europe is the Rotterdam/Cologne area.

by w on Feb 1, 2010 12:06 pm • linkreport

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