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Breakfast links: Endangered peds, bikes and parking spaces

Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
Why Prince Georgians jaywalk: After a pedestrian was killed on University Boulevard in late August, TBD asks why anyone in their right mind "jaywalks" on major thoroughfares of Prince George's County and finds good reason. (TBD on Foot)

Cyclist hit on Clarendon Boulevard: A car and its driver hit a cyclist in Courthouse late last week. Yesterday, Virginia kicked off its second annual Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week. (ARLnow, Share the Road VA)

Van Ness project wants no parking: A proposed apartment near Van Ness is seeking a zoning variance (PDF, pg 1; 49) to allow 7 units and have no on-site parking. Neighbors are concerned residents will take up street parking even though Metro is only a few hundred feet away. (Northwest Current, ah)

DC plans climate action: On Friday the Mayor announced the release of DC's Draft Climate Action Plan, including aggressive plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. (DDOE)

DDOT parking meter pilot survey: DDOT Director Gabe Klein rejects assertions that the department has failed to plan adequately and invites readers to take part in a survey on the parking meter pilot projects across the city. DDOT's plan includes an exciting-sounding "'Intelligent transportation system' that will manage parking demand and pricing throughout the city," but we haven't seen DDOT's supposed plan. (d.ish)

Nightlife at heart of ANC contests: There are five contested ANC seats in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Most notably, Peter Raia (1B02) and Ramon Estrda (2B09), opponents of increasing the restaurant and bar zoning limitation, have both drawn challengers. (Borderstan)

Women lead surge in urban biking: As city cycling shifts from a niche sport to an accepted mode of travel, woman lead the trend. (Daily Beast, Rob Pitingolo)

Obama's helmet is effeminate, cowardly: A SF columnist criticizes Barack Obama for wearing a bike helmet while riding on Martha's Vineyard, because it doesn't look "masculine" enough. Plenty of bloggers rebut, including pointing out that George W Bush wore a helmet, too. (SF Gate, Adam Voiland, SF Weekly)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 


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If the columnist wanted to point out something effeminate, it should have been the women's bike he's on. He also needs to raise the seat.

by ah on Sep 13, 2010 9:40 am • linkreport

@Van Ness Project.

An apartment complex with no parking seems somewhat dumb. I guess it depends on the type of units they are but 1 spot per unit seems reasonable. I think its fair that the neighbors are worried about lack of on street parking.

by Matt R on Sep 13, 2010 9:44 am • linkreport

@Matt R: So what the neighbors are saying is that they want the free parking given to them, but not if it's given to someone else?

by Michael Perkins on Sep 13, 2010 10:00 am • linkreport

@ah: If Michelle Obama were riding a diamond-frame bike, would that be butch?

by Miriam on Sep 13, 2010 10:01 am • linkreport

I don't get the Van Ness building commentary. So what if there's a Metro stop nearby? That has no actual effect on whether a residential unit owner/renter will have a car. Maybe they will not have a car and will use Metro all the time. Maybe they will have a car and never use Metro. Proximity to a Metro station isn't a mandate to not having a car. Parking is super tight in that area. I don't blame neighbors for being concerned about more competition for street parking spaces.

I don't know if 1 parking spot per unit is reasonable. But the editorializing implying that neighbors are crazy to worry about the effects on street parking is rather off base.

by Fritz on Sep 13, 2010 10:05 am • linkreport

"That has no actual effect on whether a residential unit owner/renter will have a car."

That's demonstrably false. People living adjacent to metro stops are less likely to own cars (although I suppose I agree with your premise that some still will).

It's one of the justifications for the higher rents that these properties carry.

by Andrew Schmadel on Sep 13, 2010 10:10 am • linkreport

Re Van Ness building: a lot of people own cars, live in buildings where parking is available, and choose not to park there, parking on the street instead. Why pay $200 when you don't have to? Plus, the article says that if residents want off-street parking, they could pay for it across the street.

Why aren't the residents concerned about homes in that area, the majority of which don't have driveways or garages? Do those residents have more of a right to on-street parking than apartment/condo residents?

I think that if the price is right, a lot of people who don't own cars would rent/buy in this building. Or maybe people will park cars on the street ... it's not like they have less of a right to park there than other residents do.

Donald Shoup argues that developers ought to be allowed to decide how much or how little parking they build. If there isn't enough, they'll lose business. If there's too much, they'll waste valuable space. This is a perfect example of that; if potential residents don't want to live in a place with no parking, the developers will suffer.

by Tim on Sep 13, 2010 10:16 am • linkreport

Building more parking also needlessly drives up the cost of housing. One of America's most expensive cities really needs to take reasonable measures to reduce housing costs.

by Eric Fidler on Sep 13, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

The Van Ness building does sound like a unique problem. Very narrow site, one unit per floor, 12 units total, and a mandated 7 parking spots. Developer doesn't want to build a garage because that would take up "Ground floor retail" i.e. a garage entrance would be the entire front.

I am usually against this Shoupian nonsense, but the developer does have a few points. I seriously doubt 7 more cars will overwhelm VanNess street parking.

That being said, a blowback of government regulation is sometimes innovation; a Japanese style garage elevator might work well in this situation. Not sure on the cost and maintenance.

by charlie on Sep 13, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

The business question is whether the apartment developer can sell/rent apartments without onsite underground parking. Apparently they think they can, and reduce the overall project cost (and therefore prices) by not offering it.

The zoning question is whether the company should have the freedom to make this business decision. Why should they not? Why should they be required to create expensive, potentially inconvenient parking spaces that they've determined aren't necessary to sell/rent the units.

I'll note that in Van Ness there are plenty of single family homes that have street parking only. Why should they not have to provide their own off-street parking? I'll bet some of them have 3 cars per family, and take up a fair amount of street parking themselves.

by ah on Sep 13, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

a Japanese style garage elevator might work well in this situation. Not sure on the cost and maintenance.

That wouldn't solve the problem of having only 30 feet of frontage. Any garage entrance would still need ~half the frontage for a driveway. Unless you're proposing some sort of crane to lift cars from the street to the rooftop parking.

by ah on Sep 13, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

Re: Why Prince Georgians jaywalk

I'm a graduate student who lives in the Campus Gardens complex on 193, immediately next to where Cubias-Rivera was killed. In addition to the large Salvadoran population which lives in the area is a significant Univ of Maryland student population who live in the two apartment complexes which face each other on 193. The university shuttle system has two stops located on either side of the highway, a few yards down from the Metrobus stops. Thus, there are actually two groups of people crossing the same very stretch of 193, yards apart, to reach multiple bus stops. I cannot stress enough how inconvenient and dangerous this is. Both sets of stops are utilized extensively, and nearly everyday I witness a student or Salvadoran resident nearly get hit by a car. The author of this article is correct in pointing out mothers pushing carriages--they make probably a third of the foot traffic crossing this section of 193, by my estimates. Very scary.
The crosswalk located by 23rd not only is a ways down the street, but its at least a five minute wait for the walk-signal to come on--this means one would have to set aside at least 20 minutes to get to a stop located 50 yards across the street. Not efficient at all and not even that much safer--it is located immediately in front of BP gas station, which constantly has cars (sometimes illegally) coming in and out of its driveway, as well as cars making right-hand turns onto 193 from 23rd, while the "walk" signal is given to pedestrians. I have witnessed pedestrians almost get hit while crossing legally here--so one cannot blame pedestrians at all for deciding against using the crosswalk.
What there needs to be is some sort of pedestrian bridge here, or these types of deaths and near-deaths will continue to happen. I've quit using the UMD shuttle system for this very reason; taking advantage of the bus system is not worth risking my life. For many residents of the area, forgoing use of buses is not an option. The county really needs to address this issue, but neither population (student and immigrant) has the political resources and wherewithal to apply pressure on PG officials to fix the problem. Thus, the area will remain a danger zone, which is somewhat ironically currently adorned with large Baker and Dean campaign posters.

by BG on Sep 13, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

The story you linked to says "around 5:30 last night, a cyclist was apparently struck by a vehicle on Clarendon Boulevard in Courthouse"

The original story uses the word apparently. There is no mention of a vehicle involved. Even if there was, we do not know if the cyclist was hit, or if he hit the car. There are no eyewitness accounts. There is no description of the accident. For all we know the cyclist hit a curb and went over his handlebars. Honestly, the guy doesn't even look like he's remotely dressed for a bike ride! He's wearing jeans and a long-sleeved button-down shirt tucked into his waist.

Yet you have taken a single snapshot of a guy being loaded into an ambulance and recast this as a car and its driver hit a cyclist in Courthouse late last week.

It would be nice if the headline of the morning roundup was not written like communist propaganda, and any commentary associated with links was at a very minimum limited to the facts as they are known.

"" does a great job of reporting the incident without hyperbole, and at the same time reinforcing the need for safe roadway practices by all users. You, on the other hand, have have taken a report with no detail at all and then decided what happened.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 11:03 am • linkreport

@Ah; yes, the developer seems more concerned about frontage. Sounds as if it 28', which is probably too narrow for the ground level retail as well.

I wonder if there are requirements on how WIDE a garage opening has to be; 14' seem very big and I've seen plenty of European buildings that stuff parking into smaller sports. I doubt American consumers would accept that, however.

by charlie on Sep 13, 2010 11:20 am • linkreport

I have lived in the Van Ness area for the past 25 years, so I can definitely address the issue of the "no parking" apartment building. First, the local residents are mourning the loss of our long-time Chinese restaurant, Shanghai Garden, which, while definitely not the best restaurant in the area, was certainly the friendliest. Second, I have no doubt that the residents will end up owning cars and parking them on the streets. I live in a high-rise condo in the Van Ness area. Almost everybody in our building has a car (we have a huge three-level underground parking garage to accommodate them); mostly, it's our elderly residents who don't have cars. While lots of people in my building do use Metro for commuting to work, I don't know anybody in my building who uses Metro on the weekends or for running errands; they use their cars, just like me. On the weekends, the trains run too infrequently, which all the scheduled maintenance on the weekends only makes worse, and the escalators and elevators are out too often. No way I'm lugging heavy groceries up and down broken esclators and waiting 40 minutes for a train while all my frozen food defrosts on an hot platform, nor am I taking two trains and 1 bus for a trip that takes me 15-20 minutes in my car. So, yes, I expect that most of the residents of this new building will end up with cars parked on the already congested side streets. I personally don't know anybody in my building (or even the area) who supports the requested variance. We lost our battle against Walgreen's (which just removed a huge and beautiful tree that it promised to keep standing), and we're determined not going to lose this battle. We don't see why the quality of live in our neighborhood should be destroyed just because we're close to a Metro station.

by WashingtonDame on Sep 13, 2010 11:22 am • linkreport


Thanks for the details. I'm always amazed at the amazement regarding PG County jaywalkers. When the built environment is designed completely for the convenience of drivers at the expense of folks on foot, there will be jaywalking.

What if, say on Pennsylvania Ave heading east into PG, there were breaks in the median only every 3-4 miles? Drivers would drive across the median to get to where they're going. This is obvious.

What if traffic signals where calibrated such that there were 5 minutes between cycles? You'd bet your ass drivers would be running those lights. In fact, they do where the cycle times seem excessive. Happens all the time.

Bottom line is, suburban road designers are killing pedestrians. Period. And no amount of signage, enforcement, or fence construction's going to change that.

by oboe on Sep 13, 2010 11:24 am • linkreport

Shanghai Garden was good? I lived near there for a year and by all appearances, it was a rat rotisserie.

I am curious about the parking concern. I lived about 3/4 mile north of the metro, and street parking was always easy. I never had to park more than a block from my building. Maybe it's harder close to the metro.

But if there are buildings with parking lots that are underutilized, that is a clear indicator that street parking is not overly difficult. $200 a month is probably not overly burdensome for this relatively well-to-do neighborhood -- if it were any kind of challenge, then more people would just pay. I don't see that there is a clear enough problem of parking availability that anyone should be forced to build parking if they don't want to. Seven units is nothing.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 11:30 am • linkreport

"written like communist propaganda"?

by Fred on Sep 13, 2010 11:33 am • linkreport

All right, that was a bit of an exaggeration :) But my point is that every time there's an accident involving a bike, it says "driver struck cyclist." The phrasing casts blame on the driver despite the fact that details are rarely known.

If GGW wants to mimic the struckdc feed in its daily roundup, then that's their prerogative, but it would be nice if it didn't add attribution to the circumstances of each incident when they are not known.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 11:36 am • linkreport

Sigh. What is worse: Shoupians or the local ANC?

by charlie on Sep 13, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport

Did I SAY that Shanghai Garden was "good"? Did you even read my post? I said it was friendly and definitely not the best. Don't put words into my mouth, especially if you're going to use them to subtly disparage the validity of my comment by saying that the restaurant that I'll miss is a "rat rotisserie." Shanghai Garden outlived every other restaurant in the area, and there had to be a reason for that.

Yes, parking is hard to get closer in than where you lived, and who wants to park 3/4 of a mile away from their home anyway? I want to know where these legendary buildings are with their alleged underutilized parking spaces. Nowhere where I live, that's for sure. The front office and front desk in my building are constantly getting calls about available spaces. Most of the buildings on the block in question and above and below don't allow non-residents to rent parking spaces in any event due to security issues. The developer of this new space is going to spin lies about available parking spaces and then the renters are going to find out they can't find, much less, rent parking spaces in nearby buildings. It's a scam.

by WashingtonDame on Sep 13, 2010 11:55 am • linkreport

Keep in mind that the Van Ness zoning question isn't a question of forcing the developer to add expensive, unnecessary spaces to a private building. The developer probably won't be able to build the required seven spaces in the building's lot; they simply won't fit. And there's no rear access or anything of the sort. So, no building.

Hey, maybe that's what the local antis actually wanted all along. Good job.

by Tim on Sep 13, 2010 12:19 pm • linkreport

wonder if there are requirements on how WIDE a garage opening has to be; 14' seem very big and I've seen plenty of European buildings that stuff parking into smaller sports.

I believe that is the zoning code requirement--a driveway has to be 14' wide unless it's one-way only, which clearly wouldn't work here.

by ah on Sep 13, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

@ Tim

If it makes you feel better to stick a stupid label on me like "anti" because I don't agree with you as to what should occur in a neighborhood where I've lived for a quarter of a century, go right ahead. It doesn't advance the debate, but if sneering is what floats your boat, I can't stop you. (Just remember that that's Fenty's SOP, and he's probably going to be looking for a new job very soon.)

I'd rather have a new, non-chain restaurant or a store open in the site where the Shanghai Garden is than yet another apartment building, especially without parking, given what I know about the nature of the neighborhood (which I'm pretty sure is more than you know). My friends and I have been going to Shanghai Garden for decades, and we know all the staff by name, and they know us. It's a gathering place for the locals. Another non-chain restaurant or a store would be a second best choice to the original restaurant, but it's definitely better than another apartment in an already congested neighborhood. I do hope the developer pulls out the project if the variance is denied.

by WashingtonDame on Sep 13, 2010 1:26 pm • linkreport

Jeez, washingtondame, I wasn't trying to start a fight about Shanghai Garden, I was just surprised that it was being "mourned" since it didn't look like much.

Anyway, I just called Landmark Parking, who operate a garage right by the metro at 4301 Connecticut Ave.

They have monthly parking available for $120 a month. So, contrary to your assertion, it doesn't really sound like there's a huge demand, since that's about as cheap as it gets anywhere in DC.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

Would this parking debate go away if, like Arlington, DC did not give residents of multifamily buildings resident permits if their buildings don't have the parking required by code?

In Arlington, if your building gets a parking variance approved (i.e. it's under a site plan), the residents don't get resident permit passes. Or so I understand, becuse I've tried to get resident parking permits approved for our townhome community, which was planned before the Metro arrived, and thus we do not have resident permit parking.

by Michael Perkins on Sep 13, 2010 2:12 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins, I doubt that would ever happen, but it doesn't seem equitable, anyway. Why should they be denied a permit, while residents of older buildings which also don't have parking would not? What about residents of single family homes, that usually have offstreet parking anyway or could build it? They already have a much bigger footprint than apartment dwellers, why should they get even further dispensation?

It seems weird that you would give a parking pass to people who live in places that do or can have parking on-site, but deny one to people that don't/can't.

I'm just having a hard time believing that parking is a major issue in this situation. I lived four blocks away and it wasn't. There's a garage a block away that has spots available for $120 a month.

I just see the usual NIMBY anti-infill stance, like the kind that has paralyzed Tenleytown, and caused it to stagnate to the detriment of all. Increasing density near metros is responsible development. There's no right to a guaranteed place to park onstreet, and the lack of parking in many other places that are far, far worse like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle certainly has not had any effect on property values. So there's little economic argument to be made either.

People just don't like it when things change in their neighborhood. That's fine, and hardly unique, but it's not a good reason to make anti-infill policy decisions.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 2:21 pm • linkreport

@Mperkins; wasn't the Arlington rule designed to stop multiple unmarried people (i.e. students) from living in one house, rather than as a zoning replacement? Not to say the idea couldn't work.

Washingtondame brings up an interesting point; people who could afford the condo will be Dual income and have two cars. I think they said 12 units, some two bedroom, and 7 spaces under zoning requirements. Already a mismatch. That being said, perhaps it is appropriate to make one spouse take public transit if you live in the city. I do think you need a car in Van Ness.

by charlie on Sep 13, 2010 2:47 pm • linkreport

"I do think you need a car in Van Ness."

Out of curiosity, why would a place that is served by Metro and multiple bus lines, and has most important amenities (e.g a grocery store & a drug store, a number of restaurants) in walking distance, be somewhere that you "need a car?"

If you need a car in Van Ness, where in DC would you possibly NOT need a car? In terms of walkability, Van Ness has to be in the top 10% of any neighborhood in DC.

by Jamie on Sep 13, 2010 2:55 pm • linkreport

@ Jamie; because Metro service blows during off peak hours, and Van Ness is far from everything. I didn't say you had to use a car often, and zipcar might be an effective strategy there....when I lived there it didn't have that option.

I was trying to distinguish between Dual income couple w/2 cars vs. DI income couples with one car. Problem with dual income is, of course, you don't work in the same place, and rail/bus might get you there.

And for the record, I'm in favor of car ownership almost everywhere DC -- car usage, however, is a different matter.

by charlie on Sep 13, 2010 3:03 pm • linkreport


"Almost everybody in our building has a car (we have a huge three-level underground parking garage to accommodate them)"

You really dont see the cause and effect here?

Look, if someone builds a 12 unit building with zero parking, they will attract a certain kind of resident. Folks who believe they need a car to make the strenuous 2 block journey to the supermarket will not move in because it will be a hassle to park the car they so dearly need.

Folks, such as myself, who dont want a car, will be enticed, because supposedly the cost will be lower, since I wouldnt be paying $20,000 for an underground space.

When I lived in Takoma, I shared a home with 4 people. The house had no driveway and garage, and none of us had a car. The curb space in front of the house was always empty.

What's wrong with giving people the option to live somewhere without a parking space? We're talking 12 units here, it it really so hard to believe that 12 families/people in DC want to live somewhere without a car and not have to subsidize an unused space?

by JJJJJ on Sep 13, 2010 6:41 pm • linkreport

There are buildings near Van Ness that have no parking, like the one caddy corner to Tilden Gardens (I think Tilden Square is the name). I know because I looked at various places in the neighborhood. I also know people who live nearby who don't own cars. There are plenty of people who'd be happy to buy near a Metro w/o a car. Having given up a car even though I was 10 min walk from a Metro, I can tell you that it's not difficult to improvise or to use Zipcar. As for Van Ness, there's also an Avis rental car place nearby--on the weekend, daily rentals from a conventional car renter like them are usually very cheap. For people with cars, street parking is a mixed blessing--potential for damages, driving around, and walks home, but people do it and the area could easily support a few more street parkers. It's not like Adams-Moragn or Kalorama where that's very aversive. WashingtonDame is used to a certain way of life and can't imagine a different way of life that's actually pretty easy and pretty common in her neighborhood.

by Rich on Sep 13, 2010 11:30 pm • linkreport

At the end of the day it's ridiculous to assert that parking is a real problem in Van Ness, or that you can't live there without a car.

Adams Morgan (for example) is far more densely populated, has worse public transit access, and far worse parking. Try finding a parking spot in Adams Morgan for $120 a month! Yet, the neighborhood remains highly sought after, as is evidenced by the high rent.

Street parking just isn't that bad, and there are reasonable options for offstreet parking. This is Northwest NIMBYism at it's best: no growth around my metro (that I don't use anyway) because I don't want anything threatening my free parking spot.

Be careful that you get what you ask for: stagnant development, businesses going elsewhere.

by Jamie on Sep 14, 2010 8:39 am • linkreport

My wife and I live with our three-year-old daugther just under a mile north of the Van Ness Metro. We are car-free. You definitely don't "need a car" in Van Ness, and some of the comments here from the need-a-car crowd strike me as odd.

I can understand WashingtonDame wanting to shop at a different grocery store, but it's a weird argument against transit to talk about not wanting your groceries to melt while waiting for a train when you obviously have a Giant that's in walking distance of your home. You also have a farmer's market on Saturdays right at the Metro station.

For me, upon seeing this article, I was excited at the prospect of a new building going up -- whether it be rental or condo -- that could potentially provide additional housing in very easy walking distance of the Metro station. And I would love for the building to not provide parking, hoping, as others have mentioned, that this would slightly reduce the cost of housing at this building.

by Van Ness family on Sep 14, 2010 9:52 am • linkreport

I am also curious why one would "need a car" in Van Ness.

- Grocery store right there
- Restaurants

Travel on metro/bus during off-peak hours only requires that you use things like nextbus/next train and plan accordingly. What are all these amazing things that people want to go to all the time that Van Ness is "far away" from?

by MLD on Sep 14, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

@MLD, and another question is, if your life is so car-dependent, why would you choose to live right by the metro? I'm not saying that people near metros don't ever need cars. I live near the metro and also have a car. There are plenty of good reasons for this.

But I also accept the "consequences" of this: high population density, and sometimes difficult parking as a result of that. Though I'd hardly call it a consequence, since it comes with the benefits of such density - a tremendously walkable living area. That's why I chose to live there. But I certainly don't complain when new businesses open, and new condos are built, which puts further stress on street parking.

I guess I am saying, if easy parking is one of the most important factors in your life, then why not choose to live somewhere that's inherent design focuses on that lifestyle. Everything's a trade off, if you want to live near a metro, and have easy parking, you can expect to pay for it. Nobody should assume a right to easy street parking, a walkable neighborhood, and great transit access. You can have all those things, but you will pay for it. You should never expect free easy parking is a given no matter where you live.

by Jamie on Sep 14, 2010 10:36 am • linkreport

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