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Breakfast links: People out and about

Photo by andrew.deci.
Tourist season brings crowds: With the Cherry Blossom Festival and baseball's Opening Day coming soon, the Metro will be crowded evenings, especially at Gallery Place when Shady Grove-bound trains still pull to the far end of the platform. Dr. Gridlock discusses the reasons that is still happening and suggests riders try the Circulator and bike valet.

Myers blames the victim: An Examiner article about the impact of iPods on pedestrian crashes makes no mention of any element of driver responsibility in recent tragic crashes, relying entirely on unnamed "witnesses" and one-sided AAA quotes with no mention of any responsibility, even partially, by drivers. (Examiner)

One Texas town trying to stamp out cycling: A Texas man was arrested for commuting to work by bicycle. He was riding in the right-hand lane on a four-lane, 30-mph surface street but was arrested for "impeding traffic." He does not own a car and cycling is his only means of transportation. (Let Him Ride, Matt')

Arguing numbers on the Gaithersbungle: Supporters and opponents of the Gaithersburg West project hotly dispute the numbers behind the project, from how much money it will really bring to whether the ensuing traffic is too great or not. (Post)

Wisconsin ripe for a streetcar?: The Examiner discusses efforts to add a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar to DC's plans. A streetcar would draw many riders, but no real new development. Some residents, of course, say it would "ruin the neighborhood."

Anti angles: Opponents of redeveloping an Arlington church to include affordable housing are suing to stop the project, alleging the County's subsidies are excessive and fighting the way the two will share an entrance (Post) ... Residents of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn say a school expanding into its rear parking lot will destroy the very character of the neighborhood, even though parking lots aren't in character either (Brooklyn Paper via How We Drive) ... The Town of Chevy Chase wants to change development rules possibly to specifically stop a three-house plan on a large vacant lot. (Gazette)

Preservation preserves: Preservation rules for the Anacostia Historic District stopped a sloppy replacement of historic windows with cheaper ones that don't fit the original frames. (And Now, Anacostia)

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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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Alan Carpien's quote was not a reason... just absolutist hyperbole.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 22, 2010 9:38 am • linkreport

To not be able to hear an oncoming train or a plane trying to land because of headphones strikes me as implausible. I wear my headphones all the time and can usually hear street noise over what I'm listening to.

by Steve S on Mar 22, 2010 9:42 am • linkreport

I'm having a hard time picturing street cars between Q and R streets on Wisconsin.

by Lou on Mar 22, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

@Steve S:

In the case of the plane, the engine had died and the plane was gliding, so it wasn't even making any noise.

As to the other examples, I don't find it surprising at all that people can't hear anything around them - in-ear buds block out lots of external noise, and then most people are cranking music up to the 80dB+ level to block out anything else. Combine those two factors and even something loud like a truck can be reduced to a level where it's not easy to hear it.

by MLD on Mar 22, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

In the January 2010 issue of the Glover Park Gazette, Alan Carpien made the same arguments against a Wisconsin Avenue streetcar as Georgetown residents made against a metro station a generation ago.

"If we are isolated, let’s stay that way, with a “country”
and neighborhood atmosphere in the city. This isolation, if anything, makes us safer by keeping crime at bay."
(, p. 10)

I think it would be difficult to argue that Georgtown is better today without a metro connection to the rest of the region. On a nice weekend like we just had, many people avoid Georgetown because of the expectation of auto congestion. A Wisconsin Avenue streetcar will give visitors and residenta the option of avoiding this by taking a mode of transit that is more reliable than the 30s buses.

by Ben on Mar 22, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

Lou- below Calvert on Wisconsin Avenue, I would expect the streetcar would share a curbside lane with automobiles. North of Calvert, Wisconsin Avenue is six lanes in each direction-- wide enough for dedicated north/south streetcar lanes.

by Ben on Mar 22, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

Once again, Dr. Gridlock does his usual "yeah, I agree, there's a problem" shtick followed by "Weeelll, we could do this, BUT...."

It seems as if the solution he really wants to endorse is the pedestrian tunnel, but I don't expect to see that built in my lifetime.

What can Metro do NOW, in OUR lifetimes, Doc?

by Greenbelt Gal on Mar 22, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

Maybe the Examiner didn't mention driver responsibility because the story is about ipod wearers being unaware of their surroundings, and dying as a result of that. The examples were:

A plane
A train
A jaywalker
A cyclist crossing against a red light
A mugging

Where's the hook for drivers to be careful there? Why can't a story about ped and bike safety focus on our responsibility to keep ourselves safe, rather than blaming drivers?

by jcm on Mar 22, 2010 10:41 am • linkreport

Why do news reporters such as The Examiner on streetcars often report, "Project maps currently show a plan to build 37 miles of streetcar track in the D.C. area -- a hefty undertaking that began construction in Anacostia last year."

What about those tracks embedded in H Street NE? Are they chopped liver?

by Trulee Pist on Mar 22, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

Adding to the anecdotal evidence, quite often while walking (I walk much faster than most around here) or running I come up to people from behind who are walking/jogging down the middle of the sidewalk and preventing me from passing. I politely say "Excuse me" and, 9 times out of 10, when they have headphones on (or earbuds or whatever), they don't hear me until I have said it three times (louder each time) and am pushing by them. And, on many occasions they are startled when I do push by - evidence that they had *no clue* I was behind them.

These regular occurrences have allowed me to well understand how people get mugged from behind - they are simply not aware of their surroundings. The sound coming from the headphones does not have to be very loud - they just tune in to that instead of the noise from their surroundings such as walkers, runners or muggers coming from behind.

by EZ on Mar 22, 2010 11:02 am • linkreport

I do feel a bit sorry for the guy on the beach -- certainly not a place where you'd expect to have to be looking out for a plane.

by ah on Mar 22, 2010 11:05 am • linkreport

Some residents, of course, say it would "ruin the neighborhood."

Where's The Onion when you need them? Oh wait, they're covering some b*llsh!t happening somewhere.,16928/

So much hyperbole. I wonder what, according to Georgetown inhabitants, does not destroy their neighborhood. Seriously, those progressive democrats that live there are d@mn conservative.

by Jasper on Mar 22, 2010 11:22 am • linkreport

Here is a solution to the problem of crowding at Gallery Place.

Trains will no longer pull to the far end of the platform.

Any train operator that, forgeting the size of his or her train, leaves cars in the tunnel, is fired that day. No appeal, no excuses, pack you stuff and leave.

That will solve the problem. Does Metro have the guts to take on its union on this?

by urbaner on Mar 22, 2010 11:26 am • linkreport

If people stop walking/biking with headphones, how will all the teens in my neighborhood get their ipods? Yes, drivers should be aware of who may be stepping off a sidewalk, however to say the numerous zoned out joggers/walkers that step out from between parked cars or ignore the do not cross signs are not at fault it a little ridiculous. They need to realize 2+ tons of metal (even travelling under 20mph) can't come to a complete stop in the 1s window they've given the driver to react.

It's the city, not a quiet suburban street. Take off the headphones while interacting w/ traffic, hang up the phone while piloting 2 tons of metal and put breaks on your bike.

by m on Mar 22, 2010 11:35 am • linkreport


Guts are irrelevant. It's my understanding that the rules for firing employees are fixed as a part of Metro's labor agreements, and WMATA management cannot simply change them on a whim like that.

Of course, that doesn't stop commenters here and elsewhere from suggesting things of that nature.

by Alex B. on Mar 22, 2010 11:45 am • linkreport

@ urbaner: Firing people for honest mistakes is not a serious answer to the problem. Mistakes are human.

However, the disappearance of 8-car trains will take care of the problem. Also, don't DC trains drive themselves? Or are they still of since that crash?

by Jasper on Mar 22, 2010 12:19 pm • linkreport

They should have got rid of who ever designed Gallery Place; the station should have never been built like a T and built like a cross which the other transfer stations are except for Ft Totten.

The designs of Gallery Place & Ft Totten to an extent should never have been approved you'd never find a station like that anyway in the world except for maybe a rail terminal and even at those its easier to get around.

by kk on Mar 22, 2010 5:42 pm • linkreport

Why not place small placards inside the cabs to remind train operators of the number of cars?

If not, why not paste signs on the platform floor suggesting that passengers move up the platform for 6 car trains?

Both solutions are simple and cheap.

by Eric F. on Mar 22, 2010 5:46 pm • linkreport


The designs of Gallery Place and Fort Totten are the way they are because of the track geometry. Gallery Place cannot be a cross because the Red Line tracks begin to turn towards Judiciary Square right away. Fort Totten has the mezzanine between the two platforms because that's the only realistic track configuration.

by Alex B. on Mar 22, 2010 7:23 pm • linkreport

@ Alex

They could have changed the routing of the lines a little bit to accommodate the stations or changed the location of platforms to accommodate the stations instead of what they did.

Gallery Place opened in 1976 for the red line and the downstairs in 83 there was enough time to come up with something between the years. They could have planned it in the drawing board for the station but they did not its there fault for using a stupid ass design. Back when the line was designed the red line should have just been a straight path between Judicary Sq & Metro Center instead of making the turn or they could have just centered the green/yellow line tracks in the middle of red platform from the get go it

Ft Totten could have been built like a cross; I understand the portions were built at separate times but they could have got more creative with the design. They could built the green line platform further east so that there could be two ways to go downstairs than one. They could have used the hill that is east of the station to make the station a cross.

by kk on Mar 22, 2010 9:51 pm • linkreport

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