Greater Greater Washington

Transit


Run the Anacostia streetcar on MLK Avenue

DDOT has started the planning stages for the second phase of the Anacostia Streetcar line which will connect the Anacostia Metro station to the new 11th Street Bridge. The first segment, set to open next year, will connect the Metro station to Bolling Air Force Base just ¾ of a mile away.


Part of MLK Avenue in Anacostia. Photo by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr.

At DDOT's public workshop last week, part of the discussion dealt with the feasibility of threading the streetcar along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue through Historic Anacostia.

In each direction the street contains a parking lane and a through lane. Replacing the parking lanes with streetcar tracks will be difficult since the businesses will lose on-street parking for both their customers and for deliveries. Several of the businesses, especially on the 1900 block of MLK, lack alleys in which to receive deliveries.

There are several solutions to this problem.

One solution mentioned at the workshop and over the past few years is to route the streetcars along the old CSX railroad on the western fringe of Anacostia.

Though the right-of-way is already in place, such a location would remove the streetcar from MLK Avenue, which serves as a main commercial corridor of the neighborhood. Removing the route from MLK inhibits the streetcar's ability to revitalize the main street since the new amenity will actually lie two blocks to the west. For this reason we must look at every feasible way to run the line along MLK.

Running along MLK is possible, however, if private auto traffic and streetcars share the existing travel lanes and leave the curb lane permanently for parking.

This arrangement maintains the street parking and loading zones that businesses need while permitting cars, streetcars, and buses to pass through the neighborhood. The only possible downside to this arrangement is that streetcars will block the only travel lane at each of the two stops in downtown Anacostia.

Fortunately, since streetcars permit boarding through all 3 doors and since payment occurs when passengers are already on board, a streetcar's "dwell time", the time stopped at a stop, can be much shorter than that of a bus.

Here is what a streetcar line on MLK might look like, especially after the Great Streets streetscape project.

Mixing two-way streetcar traffic on two-lane streets is nothing new. DDOT even provided a photo of such an arrangement in Toronto:

The delay for drivers is minimal as there are only two stops planned in Anacostia and since each stop will take as long as the typical wait at a red light. More importantly, a line along MLK has the greatest chance to revitalize a neighborhood in need of economic development.

Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 

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What would happen when cars or delivery vehicles double park?

by Teyo on Jan 18, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport

And while you're at it, run it up Good Hope Road, too. We'll need that connection to the Skyland redevelopment.

by The Diarist on Jan 18, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport

@Teyo: Towed and crushed into a cube. You have fifteen minutes to pick up your cube.

by Michael Perkins on Jan 18, 2011 2:17 pm • linkreport

I agree with The Diarist (though I must admit I am biased). Good Hope is the next frontier.

Running streetcars on 2 lane streets with on street parking is also common in a city that is much, much closer to us than Toronto. In Philadelphia, trolleys run on tracks on 2 lane streets along what could easily be most of their above-ground routes.

When streetcars are around, the local population learns that it's a dangerous business to double park your car or delivery vehicle. Since streetcars can't just go around them, people will quickly realize that their cars and trucks are just potential roadkill for a much heavier streetcar.

http://home.comcast.net/~trolleydriver/2328Spruce40.jpg

by Eric on Jan 18, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

Seems like common sense to me. I think double parkers would learn pretty quick with a rapid response tow truck on duty for the first 6-12 months to tow violators post haste if they block the lane. Which is not something that happens often now. No reason to think it would be more frequent with the streetcar.

It is indeed crucial to route the streetcar on MLK.

The shared lanes for stretches isn't that uncommon in other places. The new South Lake Union streetcar in Seattle shares 2 travel lanes in a few places on that corridor without too much trouble. And MLK isn't a street with a great ton of traffic all day long, so delays would be minimal. The fact that we're only talking about 2 stops makes a big difference.

by Steve D on Jan 18, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

What about your reliability? Surely the more a trolley operates in auto traffic, the harder it is to maintain reliable headways. (as opposed to having a dedicated right of way, but how dare we propagate the "war on cars")

And actually on that note, how much faster and more reliable are the streetcars expected to be than local buses? Has someone studied the travel time/reliability improvements streetcars operating in mixed traffic have over buses operating in mixed traffic?

by EJ on Jan 18, 2011 2:22 pm • linkreport

I don't remember seeing a streetcar line in Toronto that prevented bikes on it, which is what the proposed street design, above, would do. if it's a transit corridor, then you have to get rid of the on-street car parking -- the District doesn't have room for on-street car parking -- especially on its most important thoroughfares. DC has to choose -- people or cars -- it can't be both. we have to allow people to bike -- walking and biking should take priority over all motorized transport, on every corridor, but especially on the major corridors.

i _hate_ bulb-outs (aka 'cyclist push-outs'). such a disaster.

in Toronto, i don't remember seeing any bulb-outs/push-outs -- they're just not necessary, and just make cycling even more difficult than it already is -- DC can't afford that. poor and working-class people can't afford to be giving all of their money just to ride public transit -- don't force them to ride public transit -- make the streets walk- and bike-accessible, first.

Not sure I buy into all the recommendations, but at least someone studied how bikes and streetcars interact (PDF).

DC already prevented biking on some of its already-planned streetcar lines -- disaster. Let's not let it happen again.

by Peter Smith on Jan 18, 2011 2:27 pm • linkreport

This is a great idea, but I'm not sure how well it will be received by the local community as well as the costs involved. Constructing streetcar tracks on a 2-lane road is problematic and considering there's a ROW just 2-3 blocks away, it will be hard to justify the expense and inconvenience.

by John on Jan 18, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

Peter, have you ever been to MLK Ave in Anacostia? Principles are nice, but if anyone demands that all on-street parking go away, then this routing is a non-starter for pretty much everyone other than transit dweebs and hardcore bike advocates. If the streetcar means no more on-street parking for the few businesses that remain on MLK today, then you will have lost all the political support that you need for this alignment in the surrounding community. In that case, the streetcar means "you can't drive anymore" in a very tangible way. There are principles, and there is the possible. For those of us that live in reality here in DC, it's a terrible idea for the prospects of this routing to propose eradication of all on-street parking - something that actually helps the pedestrians feel safer on this street.

MLK would still be just as bikeable as it is now (provided the track channel problem can be solved), and unlike the streetcar, bikes can easily travel through Anacostia one block to the east as well. That could be a parallel bike boulevard.

The street will continue to be walkable, certainly. The city did a good bit of streetscaping work here about a decade ago to put in bricked crosswalks and other amenities to improve safety.

Folks (like you in this case) with the gung-ho attitude that every single transportation decision no matter where or what it is needs to result in fewer cars and less parking gives the rest of us a bad name, resulting in the reputation of GGW folks as car-hating childless elitists who think everyone should bike or walk everywhere.

by Steve on Jan 18, 2011 2:43 pm • linkreport

One solution mentioned at the workshop and over the past few years is to route the streetcars along the old CSX railroad on the western fringe of Anacostia.

Eric, that's actually kinda funny, because what you just proposed is partly what got us started down the road of letting the tail wag the dog in the first place ... The former Director or DDOT Dan T., bought the streetcars from the Czech Republic back in something like 2005 because he'd planned to use that 'right of way' to put up a demonstraction Light Rail project (not a 'streetcar per se but something closer to the Purple Line in MD.) Except, lo and behold, before buying the cars he forgot to check with the owner of the right of way (CSX) to see if they'd willing to let DC use the right of way. They weren't ... and they cars remained without a purpose until Klein was directed to make use of them for a streetcar system ... and we ended up with a streetcar system being designed around them. A problem which haunts us to this day in many regards including the all important 'no wires' requirement. Also funny how DDOT repeated the same mistake with thinking it could just take the right of way to Union Station ... and released plans ... before again being told 'no'. ....

by Lance on Jan 18, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

Other points aside, Lance, you are aware of the Streetcar master plan that was already on the books when Tangherlini bought the vehicles, right? They didn't just buy some vehicles because we 'might' put in some streetcars "somewhere" someday.

by Steve on Jan 18, 2011 2:59 pm • linkreport

What about SW bound streetcars take the CSX track, and the NE bound streetcars go along MLK? This halves the impact on MLK since only one track would be needed.

This arrangement would provide an excellent opportunity to develop an expanded business district between the two segments. It's at most 2.5 blocks between them, not terribly far. It also spreads the wealth that will inevitably stem from the establishment of streetcar stops. With 2 stops, the value increase is concentrated, but with 2 stops in each direction (4 total) you broaden out the area that will have pedestrian activity.

Logistics like wiring for the substations will be more complex, but you also wouldn't have to take away as much parking on MLK, or suffer the same kind of backups from a streetcar blocking the only lane. Planners can instead use some of the road width for vehicle bypass of just the NE bound streetcars.

Good signage could solve any confusion, but within a few months, everyone would have it figured out.

by Will on Jan 18, 2011 3:03 pm • linkreport

How about a loop? I would send streetcars south on MLK, then back north on the CSX tracks. I worry two lanes down MLK might make it too tough on the traffic, and end up discouraging customers.

by Patrick on Jan 18, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

Other points aside, Lance, you are aware of the Streetcar master plan that was already on the books when Tangherlini bought the vehicles, right? They didn't just buy some vehicles because we 'might' put in some streetcars "somewhere" someday

Shhh.. You're interrupting a very compelling narrative!

I'm still hung-up on the assertion that buying streetcars which will--in the next couple of years--be running down H Street is a "problem which haunts us to this day."

We'll leave aside the "all-important question" of whether these streetcars will use wires (these previously purchased ones that will run on H Street and across the river will), or some other form of power (the other will, too, unless they don't, in which case they'll use a different form of power).

What was the question again?

by oboe on Jan 18, 2011 3:22 pm • linkreport

Lance - I'm surprised to say - is somewhat right. The CSX line was the original route. But DDOT had a verbal commitment from CSX to run the light rail on that line. Then there was some fight over the cost of the land (too high), who owned it, etc...Plus, I heard from a friend at CSX that they were none-too-pleased with the law banning hazardous materials being taken via rail through town and so were then less inclined to play nice. DDOT was going to use an old agreement to force them to sell or else be forced to help pay to replace the 11th street and South cap bridges, but I guess that didn't work.

Last time I talked to Gabe Klein about this he said that CSX told him that they might reactivate the line at some point in time. Which is probably a lie, but CSX might be still hoping to get a big chunk of money or some other concession for it.

by David C on Jan 18, 2011 3:29 pm • linkreport

I live in Philadelphia now, and take the #34 trolley down Baltimore Avenue most nights. There's a parking lane, a bike lane, and a mixed auto / trolley traffic lane. I agree with the comments that motorists know not to stop where there are tracks. The one time I was on a trolley that was delayed by a stopped automobile, the automobile in question was a tow truck in the process of clearing an obstruction.

I also share Peter Smith's concerns about Bulb Outs: I generally prefer roads with traffic calming features and mixed bike and auto traffic to separate bike lanes, but with streetcar tracks, there's a hazard to cyclists that makes turning difficult. With a separate bike lane, you can at least turn right without hitting rails, and the schematic above seems to indicate that bulb-outs would preclude separate bike lanes. I like bulb outs, I like streetcars, and I like bikes (I tolerate automobiles but minimize my time in them), but the three may not be able to occupy this space harmoniously. Philadelphia does not have bulb outs for the vast majority of its trolley stops, but that makes use of trolleys by disabled people difficult. If I remember correctly, Tommy Wells proposed a design for bulb-outs on M St that would permit bikes to ride over them (slowly). Maybe something like that should be investigated here.

by Lucre on Jan 18, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

@Steve Other points aside, Lance, you are aware of the Streetcar master plan that was already on the books when Tangherlini bought the vehicles, right?

Making a simple reference to streetcars in a single document isn't a 'master plan'. DDOT claiming there was ever a master plan out there for the streetcars before Klein's experience with them is pure revisionism. And Tangherlini's plan wasn't for streetcars ... It was for light rail. Perhaps his plans being taken out of context where another reason for him fleeing from the Fenty adminstration. You do know he left because of what he saw coming down the road (figuratively), don't you?

by Lance on Jan 18, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

@ Will

I like the idea of parallel one-way paths, but the problem with the CSX right of way is that it borders 295. There's no way to affordably place new retail/residential/mixed use development beside the right of way, the kind of development MLK has the space and need for now.

by merarch on Jan 18, 2011 3:39 pm • linkreport

@merarch There's no way to affordably place new retail/residential/mixed use development beside the right of way,

Not everything we do in terms of transportation has to be aimed at benefiting developers. Some can actually be for the users of the transit alone.

by Lance on Jan 18, 2011 3:47 pm • linkreport

@Lance Not everything we do in terms of transportation has to be aimed at benefiting developers. Some can actually be for the users of the transit alone.

You don't think it benefits transit users for stops to be nearer to the things they're likely to use, or for the ride to be attractive enough to draw a sustainable level of ridership?

by Lucre on Jan 18, 2011 3:50 pm • linkreport

@EJ's question RE: "how much faster and more reliable are the streetcars expected to be than local buses? Has someone studied the travel time/reliability improvements streetcars operating in mixed traffic have over buses operating in mixed traffic?

Hey, I don't know the answer in full but I can tell you about the practicality. In the stretch of area proposed for streetcar use, there are about 7 or 8 buses that run @ regular intervals down this strip. What the current structure lacks is the ability to run the entire length of mlk to good hope road. I'm not sure if there's one bus that accomplishes that. If you were leaving ANacostia metro headed south on MLK, there are about 4 or so that run at less than 15min intervals.

Heading north you have about another 4 or so.

Those are the facts as I know them. How the feasibility study took this into account, I'm not as sure.

Needless to say that as a resident of this area, I don't understand why they're being installed other than to check off a list of urban "must-have's"

by HogWash on Jan 18, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport

@Lance Not everything we do in terms of transportation has to be aimed at benefiting developers. Some can actually be for the users of the transit alone.

That was an amazingly naive statement just there. It's not just the wrongly-maligned "developers" who benefit. Economic investment is one of the driving reasons behind implementing the streetcar system in the first place. If we place the path along the CSX right of way, we are not going to get our money's worth as taxpayers or in terms of potential economic development. This is supposed to be a hyperlocal portion of the transit system, not a commuter portion, by which I mean these tracks need to be extremely accessible from all angles along as much of the route as humanly possible. We're trying to put the paths of the tracks along places that will both A) best benefit the existing neighborhood, and B) allow the most room for increased economic development along the tracks. Placing the path along the CSX tracks accomplishes neither. Waxing pessimistic about the real value of a transit system accomplishes worse--nothing.

by Eric on Jan 18, 2011 4:14 pm • linkreport

Those who fear that bikes and streetcars do not play well together should go to Amsterdam. They work perfectly fine. Just make sure you cross the tracks and don't get stuck in them.

by Jasper on Jan 18, 2011 4:21 pm • linkreport

Principles are nice, but if anyone demands that all on-street parking go away, then this routing is a non-starter for pretty much everyone other than transit dweebs and hardcore bike advocates.

i'm not demanding all on-street parking go away, or even that any on-street parking go away -- i'm simply demanding a walkable and bikable street -- however you want to either make that happen, allow it to happen, or not prevent it from happening -- i'm all for it.

if we absolutely had to have bulb-outs for some reason, then i like the idea of making them bike-friendly (as mentioned), if that's possible.

other than that, i suspect you're wrong about removing street parking being a non-starter. the world is changing rapidly -- people's minds are opening up. from what I remember, and from some googling, there is an overabundance of both on- and off-street car parking in the area -- absurd amounts of it -- so much that there aren't even parking meters installed -- not necessary. so, getting rid of on-street parking should not be a problem, if that's how you choose to make room for bikes. there are always side streets, parking lots, etc. and, if you actually do make biking possible, people will start arriving by bike. it happens. we know it happens.

and this whole area is a car-centric disaster -- we have to start to allow people to get around by walking and biking. highways, boulevards, parkways -- place is about as hospitable as Mars.

when Air Force folks hop off the Metro, they're not gonna want to wait for some streetcar to show up -- they're gonna want to hop on a Cabi and split -- and they'll do it, but only if we allow them to do it. bikes will be faster, more fun, and less expensive. but folks need a route that will _feel_ safe as well as actually be safe. let's let them cruise through town to pick up a bagel and coffee in the morning, and stop by after work for a beer or three.

as far as transit and bike nerds/advocates/whatever, i think everyone who cares about the future of the world has a moral obligation to do their best to make sure that every street is walkable and bikable, in that priority order. transit is important-ish, but it's at least an order of magnitude _less_ important than making sure people can get around under their own power (a human right that we have largely deprived people of).

as far as cars helping pedestrians feel safe from...cars -- well, what can i say about that, other than i'd like cyclists to be able to feel safe from cars, too, and we should work to make that happen. we know bike lanes have a wonderful car-traffic calming effect, so that alone will make pedestrians feel safer, and we know that streets with bike lanes actually _are_ safer than those without. basically, everything points towards allowing bikes to ride this street and every street.

Folks (like you in this case) with the gung-ho attitude that every single transportation decision no matter where or what it is needs to result in fewer cars and less parking gives the rest of us a bad name, resulting in the reputation of GGW folks as car-hating childless elitists who think everyone should bike or walk everywhere.

fewer cars? no. less need for cars? yes. i don't care if people want to drive everywhere, or even if they just want to drive back and forth in their driveway all day -- care factor, zero. what matters to me is being able to walk and bike places. i think being able to walk and bike places is a human right, and therefore is much more a principle than 'just' a guideline or rule of thumb - we have to get it right, every time.

i think GGW (bloggers, commenters, etc.) has a reputation as probably the most influential urban planning blog in America today. i, for one, think it's the best. and they've done that either despite or because it/they often get transportation policy wrong, imo -- bikes are not being given the respect they deserve. i think they/we will continue to bend towards 'my way' -- that is, the walk- and bike-first way, in that priority order -- every time, without exception -- but we're not there yet.

car-hating? if by that you mean, "Generally favors giving pedestrians priority over cars, and occasionally advocating for allowing bicycles to travel on some DC roads," then yes, GGW is a 'car-hating' site.

childless? i know one of the writers has a spouse and kids and they use their car and they write about it. many of the policies advocated by GGW are very child-oriented -- often geared towards making children safe from cars, for instance. the site dabbled with the idea of including a lot more childhood education coverage -- it seems a good enough percentage of the commentariat didn't want it, tho. also, advocating for making streets/destinations walkable and bikable are inherently child-oriented because most children aren't allowed to drive, and must now still rely on using public transit to get them around -- a travesty for many reasons, one of which is that children don't get to vote, so it's easy to ignore their needs, and they have no good way to pressure politicians to act more responsibly -- talk about taxation without representation -- "Here you go, Johnny -- use your hard-earned pocket change to pay the ever-increasing transit fare so you can take a crappy bus to go visit your friends -- it's too dangerous to bike there." Gee - thanks, mom and dad -- 'preciate that. so, i have no idea whether the vast majority of GGW contributors are childless or not -- but I'd say their coverage is very considerate of the needs of children and their parents.

elitists? that's just weird right-wing psychobabble. this site advocates, in part, for allowing people to walk and bike -- which includes the most oppressed and socio-economically depressed/disadvantaged people in the City -- the young, minorities, women, undocumented workers, the elderly, even regular working-class people struggling paycheck to paycheck. there have been guest posts by social justice-type organizations. i dunno -- maybe they're all elitists? i have no idea. i generally like what they advocate for, tho.

by Peter Smith on Jan 18, 2011 4:38 pm • linkreport

Ah, DC, where streetcars don't belong on the street.

by Anonymous on Jan 18, 2011 4:43 pm • linkreport

Peter,

I'm so glad you think GGW is the best urban planning blog and it's flattering that we might be the best (can't say if that's true or not as there are many good ones).

I'd say that it's definitely my goal that we be staunchly pro-walking AND biking AND transit of all types. Sometimes bus people say negative things about bikes, or streetcar people things about buses, etc. My view is, we do need to figure out how to plan for all. Not always can every street be perfect for all modes, but we should design the best possible network for all modes in ways that reduce auto dependence.

Also, as for education, we didn't drop the idea because commenters weren't into it; in fact, we've gotten a lot of great discussion when there have been education threads. However, we need enough contributors to really get a pace going. If anyone wants to write about education in ways similar to how we've written about transportation and development, please let me know.

by David Alpert on Jan 18, 2011 4:51 pm • linkreport

Why not use Shannon Place as the return route in a one-way pair with MLK? I believe a lot of those parcels have been consolidated and will be redeveloped soon.

by Maryland Ave on Jan 18, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport

Peter, much of the areas of upper NW have tons of off street parking. There are absurds amounts of on-street parking and they, like my area, don't even have parking meters. That's why many of us like living here. It's this same fabric found in other areas of the city. I guess I'm surprised at the notion that "there's so much parking, something needs to give." Are there lots of meters in Brookland or residential Georgetown?

So maybe you need to reconsider Steven's view on this rather than dismissing it as you have.

The Air Force folk have a bus that shuttles them back and forth. So I don't think they will opt for Cabi anymore than the streetcar.

BTW, injecting the "human right" debate on this takes the discussion into a level of ridiculousness. Come on dude, that's really a stretch and makes the arguments against the "sanctomonious" attitude of the growth crowd more sound.

by HogWash on Jan 18, 2011 5:17 pm • linkreport

@Peter, you misread my comment a bit. I also love GGW and think that 90% of the people here are fair-minded and reasonable enough. It's the few that take extreme views that give the rest of us a reputation that precedes us in many circles. "Oh, you read/write GGW, you must hate cars." It's unfair in any case, but not totally without merit when things like this come up and sentiments like your first comment are posted. Like I said, if you automatically take away the on-street parking as a requirement for the streetcar line, you've likely lost the support of the community that most needs to be carefully won over for this routing to happen.

Just like H street or several other potential streetcar corridors, this may not be the best place for safe new bike lanes, especially at the expense of on-street parking. There's hardly room to install a proper Class II lane on MLK as it is now. But there are a number of other possible routes through the area, and on roads that you wouldn't want a streetcar on.

But even as a carless, biking fella myself, I'll say that it's most important for the streetcar to run on MLK than it is for a new bike lane. If that turns out to be the choice (though I think it's not.) MLK most needs to be walkable with regular, convenient transit connections and a street full of neighborhood-serving retail. If I have to bike through Anacostia Park or 13th Street instead, no big deal. I usually do now anyways.

by Steve on Jan 18, 2011 5:39 pm • linkreport

@ Lance,

I didn't mean to sound especially for big developers making money vs. Average Joe transit user (though I don't think there's anything wrong with making money off of real estate development) My point was that, as a public infrastructure project, the streetcar should aim to achieve the highest return on investment as possible. This includes property tax returns of development on land the streetcar makes more attractive, and there's more buildable land on MLK than on the the CSX right of way. Ultimately this benefits the city coffers and District taxpayers, some of whom are transit users too.

by merarch on Jan 18, 2011 6:13 pm • linkreport

Lance -- WTF?

1. Tangherlini's plans (a/k/a the DC Alternatives Analysis) were for streetcars, not light rail. In fact that's one of my big criticisms of the current project, that plans for specific lines aren't differential depending on objectives and opportunities and appropriateness of LR vs. streetcars.

2. The streetcar plan was for the CSX line, because of a desire for speed of construction to get it going (remember that DC and Seattle started streetcar planning around the same time, and Seattle's line started running in late 2007), and the idea that changing the CSX tracks for streetcars would be much easier comparatively. My understanding the reason this didn't happen was because of title problems wrt ownership of the complete ROW, but I don't know for sure, it's not like they consult with me...

3. It was understood that it would be better for other ec. dev. and revitalization objectives for the streetcar to be on MLK Ave., but again, because of the desire for speed, that routing wasn't chosen during the time of the "streetcar" studies.

4. Yes, planning for streetcars and planning for the line on Anacostia predates Gabe Klein. At the Regional Bus Conference in Nov. 2006, a DDOT staffperson, I can't remember her name right now, claimed the Anacostia streetcar could be running as soon as 2008.

That makes pretty clear that DDOT was doing streetcar planning long before you claim. (They had ZGF on retainer then too.)

Note that while I agree with Peter Smith about prioritizing use of scarce roadspace for optimal uses, it's not always practical to do that at the start of a new program, especially in the face of much opposition. Build the success, and then deal w/other hard changes.

Similarly, I don't see what the problem is with bulbouts. They only bulb out into the equivalent of parking spaces. At least that's how it's done in Portland.

by Richard Layman on Jan 18, 2011 6:23 pm • linkreport

Richard, some bulbouts have been built across bike lanes or road shoulders - which is stupid. Thus they got a bad rap and some cyclists now just hate them on principle. I'm not one of them and see things the way you do. On an urban street, if built right, they're a great addition. But then, I have no principles.

by David C on Jan 18, 2011 6:32 pm • linkreport

I also recall going to one of the early streetcar meetings and the route was to go further along the CSX ROW to Minnesota Avenue Metro. I remember specifically asking how they would cross Penn Ave (at grade they said).

by David C on Jan 18, 2011 6:37 pm • linkreport

Many have mentioned locations where streetcars successfully share 1 lane with cars, with parking to the side.

I counter with Boston's e-line, which was shortened in 1985 because of complaints about the streetcars blocking traffic and such in the area where there are only 2 lanes.

And of course, the existing street-running portion is bustituted every time a flurry falls because apparently snow destroys the headways for the rest of the line.

Trains should run on their own ROW whenever possible. Without their own exclusive lane, they're just buses that can't pass each other (frog style bus bunching, where one bus serves a,c,e and the second bus serves b,d,f) or can do nothing to get around a disabled vehicle.

by JJJJJ on Jan 18, 2011 6:38 pm • linkreport

Have the streetcars down the middle lanes. Maintain the parking lane. The streetcar stops should be at traffic lights Have the traffic lights timed with the streetcar.

by David J on Jan 18, 2011 6:38 pm • linkreport

Nice idea from a purist urban design perspective. Unfortunately, this has to overcome:
- Section 4(f) provisions that govern federal transportation spending near historic structures
- the fact that that the CSX corridor is cheaper, operationally much more efficient while putting riders just 2 blocks from MLK Ave
- the fact that dedicated ROW is much preferable to a shared lane on a two lane road.
- the fact that this proposal would put considerable burden on the retail corridor during construction

You could get the best of both worlds to some degree through wayfinding strategies and street treatments that tie side streets to MLK

by David on Jan 18, 2011 6:44 pm • linkreport

I was gonna mention that streetcars run in mixed traffic here in Philadelphia with no hassle but lo, I was beaten to the punch - twice! And they can stop EVERY BLOCK if passengers request it, so I wouldn't be worried about a streetcar with stops several blocks apart holding up traffic.

by dan reed! on Jan 18, 2011 6:59 pm • linkreport

There are absurd amounts of on-street parking and they, like my area, don't even have parking meters. That's why many of us like living here.

right now i live in a similar environment, in downtown San Jose. things are changing here, too, albeit more slowly than in DC. parking is ever-so-gradually becoming more scarce/expensive because citizens and politicians and businesspeople have decided that there are better/higher/more productive uses of our limited space, and more people are moving to city/town centers (more demand). you and i and everybody else can fight to save cheap car parking, and/or we can adjust our lifestyles, and/or we can move if we are unable to maintain the free/easy/cheap parking we've grown accustomed to. i think it's just personal choice within the context of these more macro movements going on, which we may or may not be participants in and/or proponents of -- like urbanization, and sustainable/smart development, etc.

so, as far as "there's so much parking, something needs to give" -- i don't see the world like that, generally. i see it as, "this road is not bikable, so this road needs to be made bikable" -- and if it comes down to a question of having car parking vs. a bike lane, then i say 'bike lane' -- always.

if it's 'bike lane' vs. 'sidewalk', then i say 'sidewalk' -- always.

if it's 'streetcar' vs. 'bike lane', then i say 'bike lane' -- always.

so, my philosophy, i think, is very simple, and pretty easy to apply in most cases -- in this case, with MLK, it's simple, imo -- people can walk here, they can drive here, and they'll soon be able to train-ride through here -- so, how about biking? well, we'd like to allow biking, but we're told we need to have car parking and/or transit 'bulb-outs', both of which may or may not prevent biking -- the car parking and transit bulb-outs are not justified, imo -- allowing people to bike on this street deserves a higher priority than allowing people to park on this street, and/or making it even easier for folks to use transit on this street.

so, a good example would be the 15th Street bike lane. in that case, little to no car parking was lost, but one car travel lane was lost and replaced with a (now-bidirectional) bike lane. so, i and other bike types could have advocated for removing car parking just because we hate cars and car parking, or we could have advocated for making the street bikable and whether or not the street gets to retain or even increase its car parking is not very important to us. we got our somewhat-more-bikable street, and that's the important part. mission accomplished, all without losing (much) car parking. on MLK, if we put in the streetcar _and_ kept the car parking (while also allowing cars to drive on the street, of course), we'd be prioritizing _two_ forms of motorized transport over biking -- a disaster for human dignity, the environment, etc.

so, on MLK - i don't really care what is effectively preventing biking on that street -- whatever it is, if it's not some other form of non-motorized transport, then it has to be justified. so, i will complain about _anything_ that prevents biking -- whether it's car parking, pedestrian bulb-outs, space-gobbling raised center medians, 'parklets', etc.

So maybe you need to reconsider Steve's view on this rather than dismissing it as you have.

i don't know if 'dismissing' is the same as 'disagreeing,' but i do disagree with his view that biking is not a must-have on MLK, or that it is already possible, or that it could be located one block over, etc. none of these are desirable/acceptable, imo.

The Air Force folk have a bus that shuttles them back and forth. So I don't think they will opt for Cabi anymore than the streetcar.

i dunno - i'm convinced that people will ride bikes when it feels safe. and i'm definitely psyched about Cabi.

BTW, injecting the "human right" debate on this takes the discussion into a level of ridiculousness. Come on dude, that's really a stretch and makes the arguments against the "sanctomonious" attitude of the growth crowd more sound.

i wish i was the one to invent this 'ability to move as a human right' argument - but i've seen it elsewhere. i will admit that i came to the conclusion myself after i thought about for about five minutes, so i was happy to see other folks validate the idea, even if you think it 'ridiculous' and 'a stretch' and 'sanctimonious'. Here's an article that talks a bit about the 'transportation as a human right' argument. It says, in part:

Ontario is one Canadian province that has attempted to address the issue of transit as a human right. A report put out in 2002 by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (www.ohrc.on.ca) entitled Human Rights and Public Transit Services in Ontario established “Equal access by persons with disabilities, older Ontarians, and families with young children to adequate, dignified public transit services.”
So, that doesn't cover everyone, but needless to say, I'm a fan of America's hat, Canada. The American Bar Association's magazine, Human Rights, did an issue on transportation as a human right-type stuff.

A lot of transit activists, from the BRU in LA, to the folks who sued BART in Oakland, have 'social justice' roots -- which is very similar to, if not exactly the same as, using 'human rights' to argue for more/better/adequate/dignified public transit.

I don't know if I'd generally consider it a human right to have the government of Washington, DC cart me around to do my shopping and sightseeing and whatnot, but once they removed the ability of normal folks to walk and bike around, from and to their destinations, _then_ it became the District's responsibility to restore some of what they stole from citizen-taxpayers. That point, to me, is unambiguous. If you restore the ability of normal folks to walk and bike to their destinations, and _then_ you decide to cut funding for motorized public transit, or even Cabi, then that might be something we can live with, maybe it could even be 'acceptable' -- the key is to reverse the policies of the last century which have forced everyone into car dependency and public transit servitude.

It's the few that take extreme views that give the rest of us a reputation that precedes us in many circles.

MLK took extreme views. His reputation preceded him.

Just like H street or several other potential streetcar corridors, this may not be the best place for safe new bike lanes, especially at the expense of on-street parking.

i think there could potentially, theoretically, be some instance where keeping car parking, at least temporarily, could be more important to making a street safe/nice/productive/available than adding a bike lane, but i don't believe this is one of them.

by Peter Smith on Jan 18, 2011 7:21 pm • linkreport

@Richard, You must be thinking of the plans they had for light rail … not the streetcar which is a fairly recent thing.. The difference being the light rail operates on dedicated rights of way such as the CSX tracks and the streetcar operates in mixed traffic. This aspect took everyone by surprise. Previous discussion of the cars never talked about this aspect. Even the K Street line which I remember being talked about maybe some 5 years ago at best, was in a dedicated right of way. Putting the cars (any rail cars) in traffic came later ... and without public discussion or buy in.

by Lance on Jan 18, 2011 9:00 pm • linkreport

This post makes me more optimistic about the potential for streetcars on Georgia Ave., which has two lanes of through traffic and one lane of parking going each way. They are putting bump-outs on the avenue now north of Petworth Station. They would have to expand them to make them streetcar stops.

by Steve on Jan 18, 2011 10:54 pm • linkreport

@Eric Fidler: The only possible downside to this arrangement is that streetcars will block the only travel lane at each of the two stops in downtown Anacostia.

Wow. If that's really the only downside you can think of, you just aren't trying.

by David desJardins on Jan 19, 2011 3:42 am • linkreport

Im not sure if that image really shows a bulb-out arrangement in Toronto. However, Torotno has recently implemented this design along Roncesvales Avenue in the West end. It is the only street (that I know of) which has used this design and it has been in operation for less than a month. Also, there is a gentle incline on both ends which allows bikes to travel through without having to dodge around the bulb out.

by ian on Jan 19, 2011 8:49 am • linkreport

Given the reaction of long-time business owners to the disruption and financial pain of the H Street streetcar to nowhere, I have a hard time seeing this get the support of local residents and businesses, especially when they're likely to see other issues as far more pressing and worthy of scarce financial resources.

by Fritz on Jan 19, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

@Peter, Thanks and that was quite a response!!! Reading from my droid made it difficult but whew! Quite a response it was :)

by HogWash on Jan 19, 2011 9:49 am • linkreport

Lance. Uh uh. Light rail doesn't necessarily run on dedicated ROW. There are 4 types of fixed rail transit: streetcar; light rail; heavy rail; and railroad. They are differentiated by the weight of the car and the intent of the service. Streetcars typically are used on the shortest routes, more for intra-areal transit and railroads used for the fastest longest trips. NOte that they are talking about streetcars, not light rail vehicles, for the Baltimore Red Line (which I think is a mistake).

By law (FRA and FTA) heavy rail and railroads have to be on separated right of way, this has to do with the speed and safety considerations for the service.

This is not the case for LR. Certainly the way LR is implemented in Phoenix, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Portland illustrates this. There are many more LR systems that I haven't ridden on that have separated ROW. Mostly, it's a mix, as it is with Phoenix, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Portland.

Just because a transit vehicle uses railroad tracks doesn't make it "light rail." The LR cars in Baltimore are much different than the Inekon based streetcar vehicles that DC will use.

ANyway, I stand by my previous response and the interpretation it represents.

by Richard Layman on Jan 19, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

However, Toronto has recently implemented this design along Roncesvalles Avenue in the West end.

Thanks for the info, @ian -- this is an important one to watch.

SF is exploding with bike-blocking bus/transit bulbs all over the city.

Here's a pic of the 'Roncey Ave' 'bikable' bulb-out in Toronto.

It seems like cyclists are concerned, for various reasons.

Here are some more pics and commentary.

This article calls them 'bump-outs' -- and notes how difficult these street demolitions are on businesses.

Back to parking and business and streetcar tracks/construction -- every time I read about streetcar work, i think, "Man - [City X] seems to really want to shut down every single business on the street." It just seems so unfair and insane -- why do we let them get away with it? Is it just like, 'hey - every man for themselves'?

And each city is never fully successful in accomplishing their goal of closing every business in a construction corridor, but they do usually manage to shutter at least a few, and damage all of them, some irreparably (they eventually close due to accumulated losses, etc.).

So, i understand that parking is an issue, but there are much bigger issues at work, here -- cities like DC need to not work so hard at putting small businesses out of business. If the City actually tries to help small business stay afloat during and after these ginormo-projects, then maybe we can make a bit of progress on making room for bikes, and true revitalization, and rehabilitation, etc. One of the reasons business associations fight real transit is because the City is implicitly threatening the livelihoods of those businesses -- we need to change that. We can't guarantee the world, but we can at least guarantee a soft landing, compensation for delays, etc. Instead there are lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, failed businesses and losses of employment, etc.

i'm happy to see folks write about DC becoming a place where it is not so difficult to start a small business, and a place looking to correct malignant, anti-small business policies.

by Peter Smith on Jan 19, 2011 5:29 pm • linkreport

Actually Peter, the reason most businesses fight transit and bikes is because at least in DC many of them live outside of the city and they drive to and from work and they believe that everyone else travels the same way.

Of course it's differential (the core of the city people are more likely to walk and use transit, and to some extent bike; and this is less the case in outer parts of the city) but we don't do a good job of stating this, and working to make sustainable transportation mode split more of a reality in other parts of the city where it is less of the case--e.g., on my block, we're the only household without a car.

That being said, yes, the city could do a lot better job dealing with the wrenching impact on business during transportation construction projects.

And that's irrespective of doing a better job wrt supporting and nurturing independent business in general, which is an issue I deal with too.

by Richard Layman on Jan 19, 2011 5:35 pm • linkreport

This idea of a streetcar in the only travel lane in each direction on MLK is a BAD idea. You have to wonder where the people live who actually propose such a plan.

I live in Fairlawn and have been pretty active with the streetcar discussion for my neighborhood of Anacostia/Fairlawn going all the way back to the beginning when it was the Anacostia Lightrail Demonstration project to run on the CSX tracks.

While I am open to having a streetcar like set up in the general Anacostia area, I am not in support of any plan that would run a streetcar in BOTH directions on the same street. Our main neighborhood streets, Martin Luther King, Jr Ave and the future route that would run on both Good Hope Road and Minnesota Ave are all major roadways that have one travel lane in each direction and one curb lane for parking on each side, which are used for delivery's and parking for business and residences that have no off street parking.

A curb lane streetcar on MLK should be a non-starter for the reasons above. So the alternative idea that automobile traffic should stay behind a streetcar for 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile on MLK between Howard Road and Good Hope Road is ridiculous, and is literally an accident that would be waiting to happen. People are not going to be patient to stay behind a streetcar so they would try to cross into the oncoming travel lane to get around it. It is not going to work.

Because I work for Metro and generally support public transportation, I use the rail systems in every city I visit. In Portland, New Orleans, and just about every other place I have been, you never have streetcars or lightrail that travel on city streets travel in both direction unless the street is wide enough to have at least one travel lane with no streetcar tracks. H Street and Benning Road are wide enough to follow this standard, MLK can not.

My suggestion is if those who want the streetcar in the Anacostia area---and based on the meting of January 12, it seems those most in support don't actually live in the community---need to work with, and RESPECT the views of the people who live in the community, and with those residents and DDOT, see if there are alternate routes that might run a streetcar loop route that wouldn't have streetcar tracks in both directions on the same street. If you look at DC's sample system of Portland, OR, this is how their system runs and same goes for New Orleans where streetcars that run on the streets in both directions are in the median where they are separated from automobiles.

Also at some point we need to get to a "Bleep or get off the pot" decision. For 6 years of meetings, I have heard representatives of DDOT say, "...well if you guys really don't want it...." and then they come back later still pedaling the idea despite what they hear. I don't think I am being unfair to say the majority, and not just a slight majority but a sizable one, has said they don't support a streetcar in the Anacostia area. I do know there are some supporters of it---and with a route change, perhaps I too could be in support--but I think even the staunchest supporters would have to concede that they are in the minority of opinion. At some point someone at DDOT needs to say the community has spoken, we hear them, and move on or away from the project.

by Christopher on Jan 19, 2011 9:50 pm • linkreport

The reason that Anacostia was selected to be the first place for streetcars wasn't because of demand there, but because of concerns about equity (a la Peter Smith's interesting cites above) and a desire to improve transit access opportunities to people who were presumed because of income to have fewer opportunities.

A better local transit network and a bigger transit network was seen as a good thing. Council was very keen on this. Probably Mayor Williams was. DDOT cared, etc.

I think it was laudable to do this, but a mistake from the standpoint of actually creating a system. People felt like it was being done to them. They weren't concerned about the broader objectives. (DC is pretty conservative when it comes to innovation.) And therefore DDOT has been extremely bogged down. (think how at the same time DC started the streetcar planning process, so did Seattle. And Seattle has had an operational line for 3+ years now...)

Contrast this to the Circulator. You do it downtown, and everyone wants one for their neighborhood, even people East of the River, who had expressed their sentiment that they were being denied...

But Christopher's point about the width of MLK Ave. and how Portland's streetcar runs one way on the street (and note that in the center city there the light rail splits too and runs one way on one street and in the other direction on another street) is a good one.

It's important to have streetcar service on MLK Ave. to strengthen the commercial district there. I don't know if service should be southward from the Anacostia station to west of the river, or northward from west of the river. But the idea expressed upwards in the thread about bi-directional service using different streets for each direction is reasonable.

Frankly I think DDOT should walk away from Anacostia--except wrt Christopher's point about the routing, which might change people's minds. Walking away wouldn't go over well politically. But I do think there's a lesson here.

1. Donald Shoup makes the point that in terms of these kinds of investments, it's best to help the people who are already helping themselves... And frankly, with resources being scarce, the reality is that you have to make choices, and not squander resources and opportunities.

2. My experience is that with implementing new ways of doing things transportationally or otherwise, it's better to do it where it has the greatest likelihood of success from the outset, rather than having to work your a** off to make it possible maybe for some middling success.

I have made this point before, not that it likely stuck, with people from DDOT, about this particular experience, that while equity is important philosophically, the "market development" costs of selling the program may be too extreme to make the project worthwhile, at least initially, that they should pilot programs where they will work, get demonstrated success, and thereby increase demand by people in other parts of the city who want to receive AND USE similar infrastructure.

by Richard Layman on Jan 20, 2011 8:08 am • linkreport

Thank you Christopher! I'm glad to see someone comment who has actually experienced the area not just saw it on a map. Until your post, it never dawned on me that there the streetcars will run in both directions on opposite sides of the street. Whoaaaa! How in the heck is that going to work? Even with the current rush hour traffic, I can't imagine that adding a streetcar will be helpful, especially when you consider the traffic from the new DHS headquarters.

Although I do acknowledge Peter's point about various modes of transit offers more business opps for neighborhoods, I do not see how this works in THIS proposed area. Certainly, the areas on MLK filled with raggedy storefronts needs a revival. But, I believe that the new DHS headquarters and not streetcars will bring businesses to the area.

RE: Parking, have you seen the stretch of MLK in question? If so, do you really think 15th street is comparable?

Richard, as far as equity and access, I would absolutely LOVE to have a Trader Joe's in Ward 8. I'm sure I could make a great case about how this would be a great move because it [insert a million pros here] but I also have to look from a standpoint of not just (again) looking at it on a map and deciding that this is good. It is been suspected for a while, but now it's rather clear that many of the people supporting this project (even on this site) have never seen the area in question.

Can you imagine any of the A buses having to travel in one lane of traffic? I'm not even sure how the pick-up/drop-off would work in those cases.

by HogWash on Jan 20, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

HW -- don't see how you could look at a map or demographics and make a case for TJ's opening a store in W8...

The reason that people like me think the streetcar could work on MLK Ave. despite Christopher's good points, is that streetcars work on similarly sized roads elsewhere, as was pointed out, in Philadelphia specifically.

And in cities and neighborhoods with density, transit service such as with a streetcar is far more important to neighborhood success and vitality than prioritizing the mobility of automobiles.

Hence, people ought to be in agreement with Peter Smith about the need to prioritize how road space is used for optimal mobility.

It'd be interesting to study parking space use on MLK Ave. and see the actual statistics on how much it truly supports business there. At the same time, it'd be a good time to develop a sharing parking strategy, even a transportation management district there, to deal with providing parking, as well as support of the sustainable transportation modes.

But to the best of my knowledge there is no substantive revitalization plan for Anacostia per se, at least along the lines of how I would write a commercial district revitalization framework plan.*

- http://www.cambridgemainstreet.com/index.php?page=Market-Analysis-2009

Although I guess the Retail action strategy retail assessment probably does some of this. The link appears to be broken on the OP website:

http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/In+Your+Neighborhood/Wards/Ward+8/Retail+Action+Strategy/Anacostia%2FPolar+Point

(* I've been meaning to write a "new year's" blog entry on this, that creating a new revitalization plan for east of the river should be a major economic development and planning priority for the Gray Administration.)

by Richard Layman on Jan 20, 2011 12:45 pm • linkreport

Yeah, there are a bunch of parking lots in that neighborhood. Perhaps a better strategy would be to

1) Remove on street parking along MLK.
2) Set up meters in nearby parking lots - like the bank parking and church parking.
3) Pay the banks, church and other nearby lots a cut of the parking meter revenue.

Not only does it allow for more space for the streetcar, it makes for a more efficient use of parking.

by David C on Jan 20, 2011 1:33 pm • linkreport

This is a good discussion going on here.

There is another possibility I was close to including in this post but didn't. It might be possible to lay the tracks in the travel lanes, as show above, but to shift the tracks to the curb at each of the two stops. This would permit cars to pass the streetcar at each of the two stops.

The challenge, though, is merging back into the travel lane after the stop. Not impossible, but it might delay the streetcar by a few seconds while looking for an opening in traffic. If the stops are placed at stop lights, the lights could be timed to give the streetcar a head start when leaving the stop.

DDOT would have to pave the streetcar stop with a special material to discourage people parking in the stop space.

by Eric Fidler on Jan 20, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

Richard wrote: HW -- don't see how you could look at a map or demographics and make a case for TJ's opening a store in W8

Nor did I make the case that a TJ's would work in Ward 8. I commented that I would "like" to have one there. Just like those who don't live there would "like" to have a streetcar.

Also, can you please share what you think the streetcar will be able to do that the several bus lines running through this same area wouldn't do. What does the n'hood (not transit advocates) gain by adding streetcars? I've seen countless advocates suggest what a good idea this will be but haven't seen anything touting the benefits outside of "more modes of transit is always good."

And are you really suggesting that streetcars will work on MLK because they have them in Philly? This isn't Philly it's Congress Heights in DC.

Again, out n'hood is not simply a spot on a map.

by HogWash on Jan 20, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

Or even what will the streetcars do the area that the new DHS won't

by HogWash on Jan 20, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

RE: Parking, have you seen the stretch of MLK in question? If so, do you really think 15th street is comparable?

i only meant to 'compare them' in the approach that i would take to correcting them -- always looking to _increase_ opportunities to make the street better (e.g. make it bikable) instead of looking to _decrease_ what some might perceive (possibly correctly) as negatives of the street (e.g. on-street parking) [This practical and political school of thought coming from Jane Jacobs (to the extent i understand it correctly).]

It'd be interesting to study parking space use on MLK Ave. and see the actual statistics on how much it truly supports business there.

i'm a bit ashamed to say i don't know this (yet), even generally-speaking -- but apparently i'm not the only one, since most bicycle advocacy organizations seem to have no problem handing precious street space, especially in business corridors, over to car parking, parklets, bulb-outs, and all sorts of things that preclude the subjective safety required for cyclists.

At the same time, it'd be a good time to develop a sharing parking strategy, even a transportation management district there, to deal with providing parking, as well as support of the sustainable transportation modes.

I like the 'sharing parking strategy' -- i like all the rest, too, but the parking strategy stuff seems like it could be 'big bang for the buck'.

Yeah, there are a bunch of parking lots in that neighborhood. Perhaps a better strategy would be to 1) Remove on street parking along MLK., 2) Set up meters in nearby parking lots - like the bank parking and church parking., 3) Pay the banks, church and other nearby lots a cut of the parking meter revenue. Not only does it allow for more space for the streetcar, it makes for a more efficient use of parking.

so, yes, i don't know much about parking policies, especially in/around biz districts, but this sounds reasonable - and i'm sure there are plenty of variations. i'd make sure some of the cash goes back into streetscape improvements/beautification (a la Shoup).

There is another possibility I was close to including in this post but didn't. It might be possible to lay the tracks in the travel lanes, as show above, but to shift the tracks to the curb at each of the two stops. This would permit cars to pass the streetcar at each of the two stops.

...but would make cycling on this street almost-fully-impossible instead of 'just' very-difficult-to-impossible.

An additional point -- bikes can be _very_ good for business -- and this is for myriad reasons, one being that they are very space-efficient (at least compared to cars), and they afford individuals/families the ability to have loads more spending cash for outlays on dining/entertainment/retail instead of buying/fixing/maintaining/operating cars, and they allow somewhat-conscientious folks like me to have more than a couple of beers while we're out. The empirical data/studies on walk/bike shoppers vs. car shoppers is still coming in, but it looks good -- about what we'd expect (Euro studies, someone making the case for a Toronto biz street, most biz owners think, often incorrectly, that most of their shoppers (e.g. 90%) arrive by car (e.g when it might be only 19%), SF study). We know folks continue to seek out bikable areas to live, so they can walk and/or bike 'downtown' (to the retail corridor).

Also, can you please share what you think the streetcar will be able to do that the several bus lines running through this same area wouldn't do.

provide dignified transit?

buses were forced upon the American people by GM/Shell/Standard Oil/Firestone because these corporations were interested in selling cars/oil/tires/etc. why do u think these corporations today throw their money behind 'bus rapid transit' instead of streetcars? same reason -- they want to keep people in cars.

by Peter Smith on Jan 20, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Also, can you please share what you think the streetcar will be able to do that the several bus lines running through this same area wouldn't do.

Peter: provide dignified transit?

Wow! Dignified transit? You support streetcars for anacostia because we need dignified transit options?

Well sir, on any given day, I can hop on a series of buses (94, w6, 48, b2, 92, w4, 32 etc) and I don't consider neither of them undignified ways to get around.

Undignified? Wow!

Whether they were forced upon us or not, for the area in question, buses (however undignified they are) provide a much better means of travel than streetcars. On that one, I'm 100% correct.

Undignified?

by HogWash on Jan 20, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

Higher capacity transit. More comfortable transit. More convenient and likely reliable transit. MANY MORE USERS. There is no coincidence that transit ridership dropped significantly in the US along with the replacement of streetcars with buses.

But I laugh when seeming progressives criticize the streetcar. Who do they think ride buses? Mostly, the people are poorer and blacker and browner than the people who ride the subway. Don't poorer, blacker, and browner people deserve higher quality transit?

- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/78080273/ (demographics)

And economic development. If you are to believe the experience in Portland, Seattle, and other places. Hey, it's not my neighborhood, although I've been there, and I think it's fair to say that it is significantly languishing.

The reason the way the neighborhood is the way it is has to do with having a broken economy at the submarket level. If you want to improve it, you'll have to stimulate demand. Parking lots at the Curtis building aren't doing much for your local economy. Neither is the church building at the Metro Station...

- image, empty store front on MLK Ave. SE http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/1257655678/

Again, it doesn't matter to me, except on equity grounds. As Donald Shoup says, it's best to help people who are already helping themselves. Quality transit investments, in my opinion and experience, are the best public investment in neighborhood revitalization. I think the NY Ave. infill Metro station is a perfect example of that.

If you don't want the investment, the city should put the money and effort elsewhere.

See from http://www.cts.umn.edu/Publications/ResearchReports/

- The Hiawatha Line: Impacts on Land Use and Residential Housing Value, Feb 2010, CTS 10-09

- Transportation as Catalyst for Community Economic Development, Dec 2007, CTS 07-07

-

by Richard Layman on Jan 20, 2011 4:15 pm • linkreport

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