Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Appearances

Bicycling


Links roundup: Clash with Courtland over bike bullying

The DC blogosphere is still buzzing over Courtland Milloy's column yesterday calling bicyclists "bullies" and "terrorists." If you've been offline for the past 18 hours or so, here's a lightning-round roundup of the internet's response to Milloy.


Photo from WABA

Empathy and understanding: David Alpert responds with an entreaty for bridge building instead of finger pointing and derision.

Point by point: Aaron Wiener and David Cranor take down Milloy's arguments and fear head on.

Cooler heads at the Post: Post transportation reporter Ashley Halsey III responds to his colleagues Milloy and John Kelly with the welcome sentiment that it's time to tone down the tirades against bicyclists.

Protest tomorrow: DCist has the details on a protest ride to the Washington Post headquarters tomorrow afternoon, and a twitter roundup.

Muppet bikes: If this whole topic has got you down, the video at the end of Ben Freed's take in Washingtonian should make you smile.

Bike lanes in Ward 8: One of the true things in Milloy's column is that there are no bike lanes in Ward 8 (but there are some trails); however, lanes are coming.

Cyclists by the numbers: Matthew Yglesias pulled together a bunch of graphs about how poor people and Latinos are still most likely to be bicycling.

The bizarro Milloy: What if Milloy had penned an identical anti-driver screen? Ben Harris imagines the alternative.

WABA responds: WABA's Shane Farthing sets the record straight on the group's bicycle advocacy. You can help make cycling safer and more inclusive by becoming a WABA member or making a donation.

Bikes on TV: David Alpert was on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt this morning, and discussed bicycle issues. Watch the video:

Transit


Dan Reed debates BRT opponents

Greater Greater Washington staff editor Dan Reed appeared on Fox 5 to talk about Montgomery County's BRT plans along with opponent Paula Bienenfeld. Visually, even just the scene on set brings into sharp relief the changes the county is undergoing.


Image from Fox 5. Click to view segment.

The segment, starting with the anchor's introduction, seems to frame the issue around what this means for drivers. Reed talks about how BRT will move more people, and even those who don't ride the bus will benefit.

Bienenfeld, meanwhile, reads out the standard playbook of opposition. "We're not opposed to public transit," she assures everyone, before casting everything associated with transit as bad, such as devoting any space to bus stops. She also claims that having to cross a bus lane is unsafe for children. Reed later points out that crossing the regular car roadways is far more dangerous.

Bienenfeld criticizes the plan for not including things like Google self-driving cars, signalization, and "personal electric vehicles." Montgomery County already times its signals to move the most cars, even at the expense of those children walking and crossing the street, and none of the other options could move more people in fixed space.

Primarily, though, her objection is that "there was no public input" into the plan, which was created through "secret behind-the-scenes deals that have been cut." This seems astounding, given that a task force worked for a long time to create a plan, then released that plan a full year ago. Since then, county officials have refined and, in many cases, scaled back the plan, each time in full view of the public.

As Reed pointed out in the segment, this is still only a draft plan, with many more hearings yet to come. Unfortunately, people argue that there hasn't been enough input or a good enough public process almost no matter how long or short the public process actually is. This creates a "boy who cried wolf" effect for those times when government agencies really do try to ram a plan through with minimal public comment. The BRT plan is, at least thus far, not one of those cases.

One other argument from Bienenfeld rings particularly hollow: she argues that the plans "cram all the bus routes downcounty into underserved areas and lower-income, avoiding the wealthier parts of the county." Yet the bus routes include Wisconsin Avenue, which passes through some of the county's most affluent communities; most of the opposition has come from the neighborhoods between Bethesda and Friendship Heights.

Bicycling


Another great Capital Bikeshare visualization

Starting at 12:06, Greater Greater Washington contributor Veronica Davis, WABA head Shane Farthing, and Arlington bike planner Chris Eatough will talk about bicycling in DC on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Listen live or catch the archived audio once it's posted this afternoon.

They also posted this video which visualizes a few days of Capital Bikeshare trips:

This is yet another consequence of Capital Bikeshare's excellent decision to provide anonymous trip data. People have done all kinds of useful things with the data, like MV Jantzen's similar video and interactive visualization tool.

Events


S is for S buses, streetcars, and social media this week

Find out plans for better bus service on 16th Street, weigh in on streetcars, or listen to panels on DC social media and the future of transportation this week. Plus, be sure you've marked your calendar for the Greater Greater Washington 5th birthday party on March 5!


Photo by afagen on Flickr.

WMATA bus planners recently promised to explore ways to increase service on lower 16th Street, where riders often watch multiple full buses pass by at rush hour. They'll be back Wednesday to present possibilities to the community. Head to the Chastleton ballroom, 1701 16th Street (at R), 7 pm on February 20 to hear what they have in store.

If east-west transit is more your speed, DDOT is beginning a study of "premium transit" between Union Station and the Georgetown waterfrontbasically, continuing the H Street streetcar farther west, though by federal law they have to formally consider all modes. It's also Wednesday, February 20, 6-8 pm at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York Ave, NW (entrance at 12th and H).

Then, local issues and the future of transportation are on the agenda at Social Media Week, happening in and around DC February 18-22.

Most of the panels aren't DC-specific or focus more on national politics, but at least one looks at what's going on in our local community. "Digital District" brings together Ghosts of DC founder Tom Cochran, ANC commissioner and prolific tweeter Tiffany Bridge, Brandon Jenkins of Fundrise, Greater Greater Washington's David Alpert, and John Lisle, who recently left his post as DDOT's communication head to join DC Water. The panel is 4-6 pm on Thursday, February 20 at LivingSocial, 918 F Street, NW and will also be streamed online.

On Friday, check out "Ping My Ride: How Mobile Apps Transform Urban Living." Mark Berman of the Washington Post will moderate a panel of people from Uber, Waze, Capital Bikeshare, Parkmobile, and Parking Panda. Besides apps, the panelists will discuss open data and how sharing services are working in DC. The panel is 2-3 pm at Ogilvy, 1111 19th Street NW, or you can watch live online.

The Anacostia Watershed Society's Green Roof Networking Happy Hour is next Tuesday, February 26, 5:30-7:30 pm at Boundary Stone Public House, 116 Rhode Island Avenue NW. Environmentalists, LEED professionals, and anyone else interested can talk about sustainable development in DC.

Finally, only 2 weeks remain until the Greater Greater Wasington 5th birthday. We turned 5 on February 5, but that was the same night as the State of the District speech, so we're celebrating on our 5 year, 1 month birthday. The party is at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D Street, NW from 6-10 pm on March 5. Hope you can make it!

Bicycling


Tregoning, Sebastian, Alpert talk bike/ped issues live

I'm on a panel at this morning's Washington Post "Conquering the Commute" symposium to talk about how people get around on foot and by bike, along with DC planning director Harriet Tregoning and chief DDOT bike planner Jim Sebastian.

You can watch the panel live here:

Immediately afterward, Stewart Schwartz from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the most influential smart growth group in the Washington region and a small charity I hope you will support financially, will debate lifelong Outer Beltway booster Bob Chase on a panel with Transportation Planning Board head Ron Kirby. It should be exciting so stick around!

After the event, I will replace this live stream with embedded videos as soon as the Post gets them up.

Parking


Smart Growth and business folks talk parking

Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the Downtown BID's Alex Block, and I talked with Bruce DePuyt this morning about parking policy.

Part 2:

DePuyt phrased the issue well early in the discussion: the simple challenge is that not everyone can park in a place like downtown. Some people need to drive, but everyone can't, so the basic policy debate is how to allocate limited spaces among different people in the "fairest" way, whatever that is (special set-asides for groups like residents or those with disabilities, market forces, and/or our current policy, allocating based on who will tolerate the most circling to find a spot or who gets lucky).

If DC changes its policies in this realm, it's not about "discouraging" people from driving; as a number of you pointed out in the comments on some recent articles, it's DC's growth, not a government conspiracy, that's making parking scarcer. All the government can do is change the way it manages the available space, for better or worse.

Block also noted that businesses in the BID don't expect they can gain customers by increasing parking, because it's not practical. Instead, what they want is a good parking "experience": making it easier to find where the empty spaces are, smoother methods of payment, etc.

Our discussion came in advance of a parking "summit" DDOT is holding this Tuesday 12/4, 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square/441 4th Street, NW to talk about what they learned from their recent community meetings, survey, and our online chat. Councilmember Mary Cheh is also holding a hearing on the residential permit parking system Friday at 11 am.

Development


Every building doesn't need to be the same

Bruce DePuyt and I talked Tuesday about the Babe's project, a planned 55-65-unit apartment building one block from Tenleytown Metro which will not have underground parking and whose residents will not be able to get resident parking stickers.

A lot of people are nervous about this proposal, but it really should be a no-brainer. The Office of Planning report said that there are 560 parking spaces available for rent nearby. In just the garage at Cityline at Tenley (the building with the Container Store), there are 110-120 spaces going unused each night, and 50 during the day.

That means that even if almost everyone brought a car and just rented a space, everything would be fine. There's a strange legacy assumption that everyone who parks would need to either park in their own building or on the street, but there are actually a lot of garages in Tenleytown.

Plus, Douglas Development is explicitly planning to market the building to people who don't want to have cars. The Container Store at Cityline only sells containers. That doesn't make it a bad store because it doesn't also sell furniture or clothing. If you want containers, go there. If not, shop somewhere else. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with having a building for people mostly without cars, and other buildings and houses and neighborhoods can serve people with different needs.

Bruce was worried that someone with a car would want to buy a unit from an initial owner (actually, it's an apartment building, not condos, but I forgot to mention that on the segment). Regardless, I pointed out that some apartments in some buildings have decks, or more bathrooms, and others don't. People choose where to live based on the available amenities, and not every apartment, condo or house has to serve every need for every person.

This is a simple economic concept, but it seems to escape many people, like Council­member Jack Evans (ward 2), who was on the show before me. Bruce asked Evans about the proposal. Evans made the odd argument that a building designed for people to ride transit one block from the Tenleytown Metro is a bad idea because there isn't a Metro station in his own neighborhood of Georgetown.

Evans said,

I think it's a major mistake to do that in the District of Columbia. The reason being that the Metro system, the bus system does not work well enough to get people around in the city. I live in Georgetown. There is no Metro. For me to get around I'm taking buses, transferring, it takes me a long time to get anywhere.
This thinking reflects one of the most common cognitive errors we see in policy debates. People extrapolate their own experiences to everyone else. If I need to drive, everyone must. If I need a certain size apartment, everyone must. Therefore, the government must force the market to build those things.

We don't all need the same type of housing. Some people do need, or want, large suburban houses with big yards and 4 bedrooms and 2-car garages. We have a lot of those. Other people would rather save money and time and buy or rent a small unit without parking if it lets them live near the Metro.

Our zoning need not force everything into a single mold. That's what 1960s planners tried to do, and we know it was a failure. With the agreement to withhold residential parking permits to residents of this building, there's no way it can negatively effect anyone else. That means there's no reason to forbid Douglas from constructing the apartments they think the market demands.

Taxis


David & Bruce talk Uber

I talked with Bruce DePuyt today on NewsTalk about taxi service Uber, the recent debate about how and whether to regulate it, and what's next.

Zoning


Leave the '50s behind and learn about DC's zoning update

The walkable neighborhoods of the DC region are growing more popular with residents of all ages. More and more people are speaking up for amenities such as restaurants and shops within walking distance and a convenient transit line to work.


Photo by Andrew Gibson. on Flickr.

Join Pro-DC for a public forum on modernizing DC's zoning code. What does it mean for our city?

With Harriet Tregoning, Director, DC Office of Planning
and David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington

Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm
RSVP required. Register now!*

It's past time for DC to revisit its 1950s zoning code. A zoning update will help make the city more inclusive, livable, and walkable through some very important policies, like accessory dwellings, corner stores, and removing outdated parking requirements.

These changes will make it easier for older residents age in place, help newer residents afford to live and stay in DC, encourage more retail, and make streets safer.

But change can be frightening, especially when it affects our own neighborhoods. That's why it's no surprise that planners who are rewriting the zoning code are running into trepidation, misinformation, and anger as they share proposed changes with the public.

Don't be scared or misinformed! RSVP today.

* We're still working on the details for a venue for the event, but we promise that the event will be in the District at a Metro-accessible location. Once all of the details are confirmed, we'll send an email update to everyone who's RSVPed to the extent we have room. RSVP early to maximize your chance of getting in!

When you do RSVP, the page will say that you're going on a waiting list. That doesn't mean you can't come, but it just makes it easier for us to subsequently send details to everyone we can fit. We hope to include as many people as possible!

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