Greater Greater Washington

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Weekend links: Off and on the Hill


Image by @gklein97.
Real-time displays, displayed: Gabe Klein Tweeted a picture of the multimodal screens DDOT is unveiling, with upcoming transit arrivals, a map of nearby amenities, weather and more.

Bye bye SmartBike: SmartBike is shutting down on January 2, and SmartBike locations that don't already have a CaBi station will get one. (Dr. Gridlock) ... DDOT's contract with Clear Channel gives them bus shelter revenue in exchange for running SmartBike, and DDOT was trying to get Clear Channel to pay something for the right to get out of their responsibility. We'll try to find out if they succeeded.

Transit benefit passes, but a little late?: The $230/month transit benefit passed Congress as part of the tax bill. Many workers can continue deducting that pretax, and federal workers will get it for free. But some employers might take a month or two to switch back if they already reduced the benefit to $120 as expected, and also the extension will be up for renewal or expiration next year. (Examiner)

It's Bilbray, not Chaffetz: Jason Chaffetz won't be heading the DC oversight subcommitteee in the House after all, instead taking oversight of TSA and DHS (and he opposes the full body scanners). Instead, DC's House overlord will be San Diego Republican Brian Bilbray, who attended a WMATA oversight hearing where I testified but seemed to have a mysterious irritation with automatic train control. (Slate)

You get what you pay for: Metro's real problem is that it's chronically underfunded, Chris Zimmerman argued in his speech announcing his resignation from the WMATA Board. If we want a transit system like Paris's or escalators like Moscow's, we have to pay for it like they do. (TBD, Eric Fidler) ... Zimmerman also talks about making Arlington more livable in an interview on TheCityFix.

Height story focused on poor black areas?: Responding to Lydia DePillis's cover story on repealing the Height Act, Stephen Smith says she mostly recommends greater heights in poorer or minority areas, possibly because it's more politically feasible. Lydia responds that some wealthy areas were on the map, some really don't make sense, and yeah, maybe feasibility should factor into it. (City Paper, Market Urbanism)

As you an "autoist"?: Someone who rides a cycle is a cyclist. Why not call a car driver an "autoist"? Turns out, that up until the late 1970s, that term was fairly commonplace in some newspapers. (headsup, Matt')

Save on insurance as you don't drive: California has approved a pay-as-you-drive insurance program through State Farm. Drivers who drive very little could save 45% on their premiums. (Streetsblog SF)

And...: Bob McDonnell agrees to "look at" encouraging biking and walking in Virginia (VA Bicycling Federation) ... BART will look at 24-hour weekend service (Streetsblog SF, Matt') ... Dulles and National Airport will soon offer free Wi-Fi (Examiner) ... And in national news, gays will soon be able to serve in the military but undocumented kids brought to the United States will still be shunned. (CNN)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

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RE: Autoist

Motorist.

by Bossi on Dec 18, 2010 1:51 pm • linkreport

Too see when the use of autoist peaked, see:

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=autoist&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

by mecki on Dec 18, 2010 4:38 pm • linkreport

DREAM act I like the idea of the DREAM Act. However, from what I have read about it, the law had degenerated to a bureaucratic nightmare. And that would be a nightmare compared to the regular purgatory that normal immigrants have to go through.

by Jasper on Dec 18, 2010 6:18 pm • linkreport

regarding real-time displays, just thought i'd link to something that might have shown up here on GGW before -- the "World's First Transit Appliance" -- out of Portland, of course.

regarding tall buildings and gentrification, i think it's kind of funny and tragic that so many people feel free to spout off on how tall buildings are Teh Awesome but, when pressed, will not actually claim that tall buildings do anything but increase the rate of gentrification. that's more than a little twisted, imo, but we all have to choose what side of history we want to be on.

by Peter Smith on Dec 18, 2010 11:44 pm • linkreport

At first I thought I would be open to taller buildings in Washington, but having just walked around Georgetown this morning, I've changed my mind. Keep the height limit! It's noticeable how a couple of buildings constructed in Rosslyn in the the last three years have impacted Georgetown for the worse. Walking south on 35th and 36th Streets, their southerly location blocks the light and creates a hulking silouette above the streetscape. Let's not mar other views. The low scale city, light filled streets and open views are some of the best defining characteristics of the nation's capital. Why strive to be like anywhere else. Leave the height limit alone.

by Sarah on Dec 19, 2010 12:11 pm • linkreport

At first I thought I would be open to taller buildings in Washington, but having just walked around Georgetown this morning, I've changed my mind. Keep the height limit!

one of the things i'd like to do over the next few months is just some general education/outreach on exactly this type of thing -- basically, to sensitize folks to what, exactly, height limits mean experientially -- to actually show what new views will look like, not from on top of some roof somewhere, but from street level. We need to connect people with the reality of tall buildings -- a degraded urban environment, with what i suspect studies will show is hastened gentrification, even in spite of that degradation.

we'll probably see a website in the next month or two. :)

i'm just trying to figure out what we should name the website/campaign -- i.e. should it be specific to DC at all? DC is just one town, but it's ground zero for the building heights debate, and this is the GGW/DC blog, and/but the building heights debate is ages old, and is informed by decisions around the world.

by Peter Smith on Dec 19, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

Autoist was never that popular a word, compare it to motorist

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=autoist%2Cmotorist&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

by Tom on Dec 19, 2010 12:50 pm • linkreport

Walking south on 35th and 36th Streets, their southerly location blocks the light and creates a hulking silouette above the streetscape

are you really saying that buildings in Rosslyn block the light in Georgetown? Really?

by andy on Dec 19, 2010 2:09 pm • linkreport

are you really saying that buildings in Rosslyn block the light in Georgetown? Really?

This is just what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure this is physically impossible for any number of reasons. Building height, location, the east-to-west path of the sun.

by Mike B on Dec 19, 2010 8:12 pm • linkreport

I'm not saying that the buildings put Georgetown into shadow. I don't know the name of the project -- its those buildings that house Corporate Executive Board and a hotel -- but their placement is bulky and blocks what was once a clear north-south view. (And the taller Rosslyn buildings are pretty mediocre architecturally.) At 11 a.m. on a Sunday, all one can see if a bulky silouette that spans the view from 35th beyond 36th Streets. And yes, in December, the sun moves from east to west at a very southerly angle.

It seems to me that the low scale of Washington is one of its most attractive and distinguishing features. If folks want tall buildings there are any number of cities where those are about the only feature, so move there, if that's your heart's passion. Or there's Rosslyn if you want to stay closer to home....

by Sarah on Dec 19, 2010 10:21 pm • linkreport

@ Sarah: At 11 a.m. on a Sunday, all one can see if a bulky silouette that spans the view from 35th beyond 36th Streets. And yes, in December, the sun moves from east to west at a very southerly angle.

I have not checked the sun around this time of day from your POV, but during the summer, I have enjoyed many a fantastic sunset over Rosslyn from behind the Lincoln Memorial. Beautiful.

I actually like the Rosslyn skyline. I do think that the ground street planning is a mess. But it is hard to mix high rises, urban living and a massive transportation node: I-66, US-29, GW Parkway, Key Bridge, Wilson Blvd, Ft Meyer Dr, US-50, Mt Vernon Trail, Custis Trail, many bus lines and two metro lines. And all of that next to a relatively underused National Park and two very important military monuments.

by Jasper on Dec 20, 2010 1:11 pm • linkreport

Transit benefit passes My employer has sent out an e-mail informing employees they can sign up $230 benefit. However "Due to the timing of the announcement and ... scheduled holidays, ...[we]... will not be able to make any payroll changes until February."

Thanks Congress!

by Jasper on Dec 20, 2010 1:52 pm • linkreport

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