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Bicycling


Bike paths are good for business, says the president of the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce

Some people were skeptical that Shortcake Bakery would succeed. After all, it's next to grungy strip of auto repair shops along Route 1 in Hyattsville. But David Harrington, the president of the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce, whose wife opened the bakery, says the shop's location had an "unexpected asset": a nearby bike path.

David Harrington was the featured speaker at a economic development conference hosted by the Greenbelt Community Development Corporation last month. His personal experience with how bike trails can be advantageous for businesses was just one of the things he talked about.

"I can tell you one of the unexpected assets that we have at the bakery is that… it is near a bike path," said Harrington, referring to the Northwest Branch Trail, which is part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail system. "Cheryl and I always pray for good weather on Saturdays," he added, saying that when that happens "we may have 30 [cyclists] stop at Shortcake Bakery as they're going to Baltimore, going to College Park. It is a wonderful business asset."


Base image from Google Maps.

"If you create these bike paths and … create nice connectors for bicyclists to do commerce, that is an amazing business opportunity," he continued. "Walkability and bikeability are … strong economic tools that can help create entrepreneurship, and I think we need to look at that a lot closer than we are."

The Old Greenbelt Theater hosted the conference. Here's a link to the full video: http://greenbeltlive.com/greenbelts-economic-development/

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Bicycling


Alexandria's elections are Tuesday. Here are some candidates' views on walking, biking, and street safety.

About half of the candidates in Alexandria's upcoming mayoral and City Council elections say they believe Alexandria should do more to be a safe place for people to walk and bike. Here's who they are, and some detail on the policies they'd back if elected.


City Hall in Alexandria. Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM on Flickr.

The Alexandria's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) sent a survey to all the candidates, asking for their views on issues that people who walk and bike often face.

The survey questions covered street use and safety as well as walking and cycling issues. Specifics included quesitons about committing to a Complete Streets policy and expanding Capital Bikeshare.

Current mayor Bill Euille (D) is running for re-election as a write-in candidate after losing the Democratic primary to Allison Silberberg, the vice mayor of the City Council. While Euille's responses make clear that he wants Alexandria to be more walkable and bikeable, Silberberg did not reply to the survey questions.

All six City Council spots are up for election. Respondents from that race include incumbent candidates John Taylor Chapman (D), Tim Lovain (D), and Justin Wilson (D), and Council challengers Monique Miles (R) and Townsend "Van" Van Fleet (D).

On making Alexandria's streets safe for everyone

A few years ago, Alexandria passed a Complete Streets policy, which is meant to ensure the city's streets provide a comfortable experience for all users: people who walk, people who bike, people who drive, and people who use public transportation. But this policy needs continued council and staff support to achieve its

Lovain and Miles gave the most detailed answers when asked how they would push Complete Streets forward. Lovain noted that he is a member of Smart Growth America's Local Leaders Council, which helps promote Complete Streets policies throughout the US, and that he has pushed the Transportation Planning Board for the National Capital Region, which he will chair next year if re-elected, to follow Complete Streets principles.

"I can promise that, if I am re-elected, I will make sure that Alexandria continues and enhances its focus on Complete Streets in the years ahead," Lovain said in his survey response.

Miles says complete communities make places healthier, happier, and more sustainable, and that Alexandria should continue to make obvious repairs to the transportation system. She adds that organizations like Alexandria LocalMotion and, with resident involvement, the Transportation Commission and Urban Design Board, are crucial parts of design in Alexandria.

Miles also stresses the importance of small area plans, saying that they should constantly revisit and study the Complete Streets criteria. "An example of this would be to focus on the upcoming implementation of the Beauregard Small Area Plan and ensuring that important road safety measures are included," she said.

Chapman says he would continue to fund Complete Streets, and push for staff to work with neighborhoods on local projects.

Bill Euille says that as mayor, he would push the policy forward through "education, communications, outreach and advocacy," and notes that the initiative passed under his administration. Townsend Van Fleet says he would endorse the policy.

On walking and cycling to Metro

Alexandria currently has four Metro stations within the city boundaries, and making it easier for people to walk or bike to them is key to helping to cut surrounding vehicle traffic.

Lovain suggests building a tunnel from the new Potomac Yard Trail to the Braddock Road station. He also says Alexandria needs "to proceed with the multi-modal bridge connecting Cameron Station to the Van Dorn Metro station."


The Potomac Yard Trail, looking southbound. Image by the author.

Van Fleet wants to make it safe to walk and bike to Metro, and ensure bike racks are available at stations. Bill Euille wants to add bike lanes and wayfinding. John Chapman wants to continue to push WMATA to redevelop stations, which he says would make access easier. Justin Wilson wants better trails and sidewalks.

Looking beyond walking and biking, Miles suggests that the city should explore "creative solutions" like the Old Town Trolley for areas outside of Old Town. "We must extend our reach beyond the half mile around a Metro station and ensure shuttles and other forms of transportation offer all residents the opportunity to have easy access to Metro stations," she said.

On Union Street, where people on foot and bike often travel

Union Street near King Street is a popular place to walk, and Union Street is also a primary north-south bicycle route through Alexandria that connects to the Mount Vernon Trail. At times, especially on weekends, Union Street can become quite congested, challenging the users to share the road safely.


It's typical to see people on foot, on bike, and in cars on Union Street. Image by the author.

Solutions for the King and Union Street intersection include better signage, crosswalks and sidewalks, along with making sure people know about traffic laws and that they are enforced.

Lovain suggests exploring "an alternative north-south bicycle route through Old Town, such as on Royal Street," noting "any such bike route should be implemented carefully in close consultation with the neighbors."

Van Fleet calls for more law enforcement on Union Street, especially during peak travel times.

Wilson supports changing the road way to allow people who walk, bike and drive to safely operate in the corridor.

Euille sees better street design and police enforcement as holdovers until the pilot pedestrian plaza approved in 2012 is completed.

On expanding Capital Bikeshare

Alexandria currently has 16 CaBi stations, located in Old Town, Del Ray and Carlyle. There are also 16 more on the way next year. Most of these stations will be added on the eastern side of the city. With the National Science Foundation coming to Alexandria in 2017 and the Transportation Security Administration following in 2018, the city will need to continue to expand Bikeshare, especially in its north and west sections.


Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

Wilson, a regular CaBi user, says he supports bringing in more stations as part of completing an "overall transportation picture". Lovain thinks expansion should be done "strategically," focusing on adding stations that are close to other stations. Chapman wants to see more stations in neighborhoods that don't have them but "have infrastructure to support it." Euille says he'll seek grant money and other ways to support expanding bikeshare.

While she says she's against "one bike rental company receiving city subsidies," Miles says she wants more bikeshare options in Alexandria.

Van Fleet does not want to spend "any city funds on bikeshare, as it is a money making corporation".

On walking and biking to school

Alexandria has over 14,000 students at 16 schools throughout the city. While some students walk and bike to the schools, the majority arrive either by bus or in private vehicles. If it encourage students to walk or bike to school, the city can combat traffic congestion, air pollution and childhood obesity and increase kids' happiness and effectiveness in the classroom.

Townsend calls for "schools and parents to educate the children regarding safe practices when walking and biking" and wants "those who chose to break the law" to face consequences.

Wilson supports "expansion of the City's Safe Routes to School efforts to improve the approaches to our school buildings." He also believes "that biker and pedestrian education efforts need to be part of school curricula."

Miles did not address walking and biking in her survey response.

Chapman "would work with the Alexandria City Public Schools to see if they consider pushing out the radius for bus service... but also make walking and biking a more explored option for families". He also says he would "work with the school system to provide more crossing guards, as well as work with the PTA to provide parent volunteers."

On calming traffic in neighborhoods

Drivers who are aggressive, speed, and don't yield to people on foot are problems for most Alexandria neighborhoods.

Euille calls for "proper funding" for Alexandria's Safe Streets and Complete Streets initiatives.

Wilson "strongly supports changes to the road space that are designed to force vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles more safely". He also supports making Vision Zero happen in Alexandria.

Lovain says aggressive driving and disregard for pedestrians are serious problems in Alexandria, and points to Complete Streets principles as a way to promote safety.

Miles wants to assemble a "safe roads commission" to look at how to make Alexandria safer. She also says she'd like to address Alexandria's street challenges with a "holistic approach" that accounts for how the city fits with the entire region, what's financially feasible, and what residents want.

Van Fleet says traffic safety is "a law enforcement problem."

On achieving goals laid out in the city's transportation plan

Alexandria is updating the bicycle and pedestrian chapters of its transportation master plan to reflect changes that have occurred since 2008. The new chapters should go before City Council late this year.

A recent city audit of its own performance revealed that parts of what the 2008 plan called for, particularly regarding pedestrians and bicycles, hasn't gone into place.

While acknowledging that funding has been a factor in missing the goals, Wilson says he is "committed to the vision of the 2008 plan, and will work to provide the resources to see it to completion."

"We should also prioritize unfinished efforts to make sure the resources are available," Lovain says.

Euille and Chapman are committed to the plan, with Euille calling for "adequate funding" and Chapman saying he'll work with city staff to "determine a plan."

Miles says there is "no reason that the 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan should not have been completely implemented." She further adds that "City Council and staff revisited the plan in 2014 and spent more time studying and updating the plan before the original plan had even been completely implemented."

The elections are next Tuesday, November 3. If you live in Alexandria, make sure to exercise your right to vote for the candidates who support your views.

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Bicycling


If urbanists practice empathy, bike lanes on 6th Street could bridge communities

A church on 6th Street NW opposes plans to build a bike lane there. As a bike advocate, it's easy to be frustrated with that. But really, this is a chance to make region better by putting ourselves in each other's shoes.


New bike lanes on 14th St NW. Photo by the author.

There are a lot of people who want new bike lanes along 6th Street NW, but also a lot who don't. Members of the United House of Prayer, a church with a rich history in DC, are among the most vocal opponents.

If your urbanist-nerd social media stream is anything like mine, you woke up this morning to a flurry of news and commentary about last night's DDOT public hearing on the matter. And reading through some of the arguments against the bike lanes, I got mad and exasperated. Did you?

But wait. Urbanism and smart growth should be about building stronger communities, yes usually through the built environment. But building better communities for everyone. Our movement, our community, whatever you want to call it, doesn't always do a very good job at this. We can do better. We talk a lot about wanting to do better.

So let's stop for a minute.

Those of us who consider ourselves urbanists should look past how and what the churches are saying for a few minutes and think about why the churches saying it the way they are. I am trying, as much as I can, to put myself in those church members' shoes, and to give their motives the benefit of the doubt. And you know what happens when I do that?

I can start to see a very different perspective from my own. I can see how a decades-long history of those in power ignoring my race and culture's needs and voices starts to wear thin, and I can see how this would just seem like the latest in a never-ending stream of decisions that don't take what I want and need into consideration. That don't address what I see as priorities.

If seeing it through that lens seems unfathomable for you, I encourage you to keep privilege in mind. Ask yourself if you might be having a hard time sympathizing because, to you, this is just an instance of one particular group wanting special privileges. But what if it is YOUR OWN group NEVER EVER feeling respected for your wants and needs.

When I try to put myself in UHOP's shoes, I can begin to see some of the fear, and frustration with a changing city and changing times that's causing them to act that way. If they know they won't be listed to because of their skin color, maybe something else we value in this country—freedom of religion—WILL be listened to.

So as we try to build bridges with communities that don't look and sound like us, my plea today to those of you who look like me is to imagine yourself in church members' shoes (and try not to doubt the genuineness of their motives) today.

Have a little compassion for neighbors with a long history of being downtrodden, hurt, and afraid. And then ask yourself, how can we talk about this, and find a solution, that isn't us-vs-them. Even if down the road, others say it is. We can do better.

It sounds from WABA's Freedom of Information Act request that the need for bike lanes here really is a safety issue. I hope we build the lanes. But even more, I hope the urbanist community stops thinking of the people at last night's meeting as "them". "They" are our neighbors. Part of our community.

We should really make an effort (and not just a show of one without any real personal effort and soul-searching) to at least understand where these members of our greater community are coming from. And that's not to shortchange any of the public outreach DDOT has worked to do so far.

If urbanists and smart growth advocates want traction, we should welcome as many people as possible; not shut people out before they've ever had a chance to interact. Let's try to act and speak from a place of compassion, not one of frustration and anger. Let's be open to others' perspectives, motivations, and histories.

For just a moment today, let's set aside the arguments against the bike lanes, and talk of religion and taxes and everything else. Let's try to understand the underlying why of our neighbors (whether they live in the District, or in Maryland, or wherever) making these arguments. Whether or not arguments against the bike lanes are factually correct, or whether we agree with those arguments, let's understand the emotional and historical reasons people opposing the bike lanes feel compelled to speak up.

This isn't our first and won't be our last opportunity, but it is hard. We need to start a real conversation that results in compromises that actually make sense. It's tough to have a fight when there's so much tension on both sides. But I think it's on us to figure out how to make it happen.

I hope we'll give it a try. It's being a good neighbor to our fellow human beings, and it's a good thing to do. Race, and inequality, and history, and understanding are all vital to the future we all want.

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Bicycling


Alexandria's streets could be for people instead of cars, at least some of the time

Cities all over the world are trying out the concept of open streets, where a temporary event closes a street to cars so people can enjoy the space by doing things like walking, riding bikes, or rollerskating. Alexandria could join the fun.


An open street in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo by Nathaa on Flickr.

Open streets typically feature miles of closed streets including a commercial-district "main street." People wander between shops and things like public health kiosks without being squeezed onto sidewalks.

In 2010, two organizations—the Alliance for Biking and Walking and The Street Plans Collaborative—partnered to create the Open Streets Project, the goal being to make more open streets initiatives happen in a wider array of places by sharing information about them.

Open streets have been around a long time and are becoming more popular

The open streets movement has its roots in Bogotá, Columbia, where "ciclovias," streets temporarily closed to cars to encourage biking and walking, are opened on Sundays and holidays, beginning in the 1970s. In Bogotá, with its notorious traffic jams, the cyclovia provides relief from crowding, pollution and stress.

Today, open streets happen all over the country. In New York and Seattle, these are called Summer Streets. Seattle also does an event called Bicycle Sunday a few times per year. That event simply opens an attractive street to car-free recreation, similar to closing Beach Drive in DC each weekend.


Summer Streets in Seattle. Photo by SDOT Photos on Flickr.

Los Angeles does four CycLAvias each year, each in a different part of town and featuring 5-10 miles of open streets.


A CycLAvia in Los Angeles. Photo by 123ezm on Flickr.

In San Francisco, Sunday Streets began when bicycling advocates partnered with a supportive mayor and city staff. It is currently operated by Livable City, a nonprofit advocacy group. CycLAvias in Los Angelese began with a similar grass-roots effort. Both events attract numerous sponsors, including the local transit agency.


Dancing in the street in San Francisco. Photo by David McSpadden on Flickr.

Philadelphia got a taste of car-free streets when the Pope visited last month. The 4.7 square mile car-free security zone was so popular that Mayor Michael Nutter, and mayoral candidate Jim Kenney, each promised a smaller-scale repeat of "Popen Streets."

"We're celebrating our open streets," one citizen told the New York Times. "Blissed-out pedestrians are walking down the middle of roads," reported Philadelphia magazine. The effect on nearby traffic was minimal: the predicted traffic "pope-amageddon" never materialized.

Alexandria could have open streets events

For a city like Alexandria to try an open streets initiative, we would need an organization willing to lead it. The Open Streets Guide, a product of the Open Streets Project, describes best practices for would-be organizers. It also points users toward the annual Open Streets Summit, which provides training and networking.


The annual Halloween arade on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria: an open street with a costume requirement. Photo by the author.

One might imagine closing all of Mount Vernon Avenue (two miles) along with the commercial portions of East and West Glebe (one mile). This would bring attention to the many shops in Del Ray and Chirilagua. Similarly, opening Fairfax, Lee and Union Streets (1.5 miles each) and part of King Street (one mile) would introduce people to the shops of North Old Town and show off King Street in a new light. Grass-roots organizing could help make all this happen.

Like Art On The Avenue in Del Ray, open streets initiatives bring visitors. With open streets, though, organizers need not provide elaborate street-fair entertainment (though they might get a sponsor to do it). The opportunity to enjoy a car-free street is enticing enough that people make their own entertainment.

There is also no need to draw huge crowds. If the streets become too crowded for impromptu fun, such as the ice cream vendor "Popesicle Bike Race" in Philadelphia, the fun is spoiled.

There are fair concerns about open streets events, but we can sooth people's fears

The aim of Open Streets is to create new possibilities for public space, not shut them down. Separate from concerns over traffic disruptions during the event, some citizens worry that open streets events would lead to bans on cars—or, put differently, that Old Town might get a car-free zone. I've heard these concerns from the aging and disability communities, for example. My friend Dan Kulund, formerly of the Alexandria Commission on Aging, once told me that, even in a car-free zone, motorized transportation must be kept available for those who are truly unable to walk.

Both now and in the long run, though, I don't think an open streets initiative in Alexandria would lead to any kind of permanent ban of cars. After all, the events only last for a few hours.

Without fear of being run down by a car, people move about freely, as in a pre-automobile cityscape. Actually, there's no need to imagine—you can see if for yourself in the YouTube video, "A Trip Down Market Street:"

Recorded in 1906, this film shows the view from a streetcar in San Francisco. People move about in every direction on foot, horse, bicycle and car, with no conflicts and with no dangerous speeding. This video illustrates streetlife before "jaywalking" was invented, a "jay" being a person utterly lacking in sophistication.

Imagine a street festival, only less crowded, bringing citizens out to enjoy the shops and restaurants of our beautiful city. People in streets and cafes are both the spectators and entertainment. Perhaps not the most sophisticated of entertainments, open streets nevertheless sound quite civilized to me.

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Bicycling


America's biking paradise may actually be in... Michigan?

This is Main Street on Mackinac Island, in Lake Huron, Michigan. It's a Michigan state highway, M-185, and it's car-free year round.


Photo from Google.

M-185 encircles Mackinac Island, and forms the main street of the island's town.

There's no bridge to Mackinac Island. Visitors access it via airplane or ferry. With a lot of tourists but not many cars, M-185 has been car free since 1898.

I've never been there, but it looks pretty impressive in photos.

Have you been to Mackinac? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments.


The density of parked bikes looks like the Netherlands. Photo by Jasperdo on Flickr.


Photo by Jasperdo on Flickr.


Photo by Jasperdo on Flickr.


Bike for rent. Photo by ellenm1 on Flickr.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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Bicycling


Fairfax City will install its first bike lane

There will soon be a bona fide bike lane between downtown Fairfax and George Mason University, the first in Fairfax City.


Fairfax City's first bike lane, location map and proposed design. Images from the City of Fairfax.

On September 29, the Fairfax City Council approved a one year pilot program to test a three block bike lane on University Drive, the street that connects downtown Fairfax to the largest university in Virginia.

The bike lane will begin just south of downtown Fairfax, and will run south as far as Armstrong Street. There, it will meet George Mason Boulevard, where Fairfax installed its first sharrows a few years ago.

Crews will restripe University Drive this autumn, to change its configuration from having two car lanes in each direction, to having one car lane each way, a central turn lane, and bike lanes next to each curb.

This is a baby step

This bike lane, and its associated road diet, is a nice baby step for a community that's never given bikes much thought.

But a baby step it is. Not only did officials promise to reevaluate and possibly remove the bike lane after one year, but they significantly shortened it from the original proposal.

At one point, planners had hoped to stripe the bike lane north through downtown Fairfax, as far as Layton Hall Drive. Unfortunately, that was a no-go.


Map of the approved bike lane, canceled portion, and existing sharrows. Map by the author, using base map from Google.

A natural location

Fairfax City isn't a big community. It's located roughly between I-66 and George Mason University, and its historic downtown is one of the more walkable places in Northern Virginia outside the Beltway.

With a walkable downtown and a big university, it's a natural for better bike infrastructure.

Unfortunately, decades of suburban road design have left most of Fairfax City just as car-dependent as surrounding Fairfax County. Now, that's beginning to change. But ever so slowly.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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Bicycling


The Mount Vernon Trail is getting some TLC near National airport

Changes are coming to the part of the Mount Vernon Trail that runs alongside Washington National airport. While trail users will have to use a temporary path for during construction, the MVT will be safer and straighter in the future.


The Mount Vernon Trail detour under the Route 233 bridge. All photos by the author.

There are three major things happening to the trail: it's moving away from the George Washington Parkway where it passes under the Route 233 bridge, it's getting a new barrier wall under the Metro bridge that carries the Yellow and Blue lines into the airport, and it's moving around a large tree that forces a quick S curve.

"The goal of the project is to improve visitor safety while ensuring we protect the natural resources along the trail," says Aaron LaRocca, chief of staff for the GW Parkway at the NPS, on the planned work that is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2016.

The trail work is part of a larger effort to rebuild some of the entrances to National airport.

Trail users should expect detours

People on foot and bike will have to detour onto temporary mulch pathways during construction. The detour under the Route 233 bridge opened this week and will be used for two to three weeks, says LaRocca.


Overview of work planned to the Mount Vernon Trail. Image from the FHA.

Cycling over the mulch is challenging, with many riders dismounting and walking their bike through the detour during the morning commute on Wednesday. The temporary path is also narrower than the MVT, which could create a chokepoint for cyclists and pedestrians during busy times.

"When considering construction projects, the park strives to minimize impacts to the visitors," says LaRocca. "Unfortunately, there is little space for wider detours because the area is congested with car and trail traffic. [GW Parkway] doesn't use grass or paved detours because they create long term impacts for a short-term closure. In the past, mulch detours were used successfully along the MVT."


Trail users are warned of the detour well ahead of the split.

The detour around the Metro bridge will likely be the most onerous of the three for cyclists. Trail users will have to climb a mulch path up to the exit road from National airport to the GW Parkway.


Looking down the hill from the National airport exit road towards the MVT.

Trail users will then have to cross the road where cyclists will have to hop the curb on both sides of the street.


MVT Metro bridge detour crossing the National airport exit road.

They will then have to descend a narrow sidewalk back to the MVT.


The sidewalk MVT users will have to use to return to the trail.

The detour around the Metro bridge will be used for three months, says LaRocca. The agency has not determined when the detour will begin, he adds.

The detour to straighten the Mount Vernon Trail past the large tree at the southern end of the project area will only be used for two days, says LaRocca.


The southern detour to straighten the Mount Vernon Trail past the large tree in the center of the image.

This is going to make the trail better

The Mount Vernon Trail is a popular and critical piece of the region's trail network. Despite its popularity, the facility dates to the 1970s and includes a number of blind or difficult turns—including the one around the large tree near the southern end of National airport—that can prove difficult for cyclists.

In addition, the trail does not include the separation between cyclists and pedestrians and joggers that is common on newer trails around the world.


The bike trail and pedestrian walkway are separated in the new Gantry Plaza State Park in New York City.

There are lots of other ways to make the Mount Vernon Trail better. Ideas include straightening the sections just north of Daingerfield Island where the trail swings around a clump of trees and separating cyclists from pedestrians through Gravelly Point where there is a lot of congestion.

However, all of these ideas cost money that has yet to materialize in regional or federal trail funding plans.

It might be small, but the work the NPS is doing at the south end of National airport is great for the MVT.

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Bicycling


Montgomery County has plans for a protected bikeway network in White Flint

Work is already underway on an update to Montgomery County's bicycle master plan, but the county isn't waiting that long to start working on building bike infrastructure in a quickly-urbanizing neighborhood.


A protected bikeway in Bethesda. Photo by Dan Reed on Flickr.

At a meeting at Walter Johnson High School Tuesday night, planners discussed a proposed network of protected bikeways in the White Flint area. The county's Department of Transportation has agreed to recommend adding this network to the Capital Improvement Plan. That means that it'll recommend the County Executive put money to design the bikeways into his budget.

Protected bikeways are a better way to create low-stress bicycle facilities than conventional bike lanes, which rely just on paint. They keep cyclists separate from drivers with things like flexposts, parked cars, curbs, or medians. In some cases, the protected bikeway may be raised to a higher elevation than the street.


The Montgomery Planning Board's proposed protected bikeway network in White Flint. The dotted lines in the northwest section are not part of the current proposal for the CIP.

These proposed lanes won't be the entire bike network in White Flint, but they will be a starting point for creating a low-stress network in the area, Montgomery's newest urban neighborhood. Other streets will have different types of bike infrastructure, and the protected bikeway network may well grow larger over time.

The redesign of White Flint's suburban streets is a positive step in the county's quest to transform the auto-oriented suburban district into a walkable and bikeable district.


Two-way protected bikeway in Seattle. Photo by Matt Johnson on Flickr.

While the Montgomery County Planning Board recommended more separated bike lanes on the west side of Rockville Pike, those streets are already well into the design phase and changing them now would be expensive and time-consuming. Those planned streets aren't without bike infrastructure. In most cases, they will have conventional bike lanes or shared-use paths.

This proposed network is a great start, and will likely be just the tip of the iceberg. Planners intend to recommend more separated bike facilities around the county as part of its bicycle master plan.

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Bicycling


Capital Bikeshare will add 99 DC stations over 3 years. Your neighborhood will probably benefit.

Almost every neighborhood in DC will see new Capital Bikeshare stations in the next three years. A new expansion plan charts out the locations for 99 new DC stations.

Twenty-one high-traffic stations, all in and around central DC, will also get more docks.

In the plan, the District Department of Transportation and its consultant, Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning, consider three scenarios for expanding:

  1. Don't add any stations
  2. Add stations in areas where bikeshare is likely to succeed and which are more than ¼ mile from an existing station, as well as enough stations in the core to meet demand
  3. Add stations so everyone in an area of at least 10,000 people per square mile is within ¼ mile of a station
Scenario 2 means that Capital Bikeshare would need about $1.5-1.8 million in public funds each year, but that amount would stay stable over time. In Scenario 3, the cost would grow from that level up to $6.4 million in Fiscal Year 2021 and possibly more beyond.

Partly because of this, the report recommends a "balanced expansion" closest to option 2 but somewhat larger. That expansion balances new stations in three types of areas:

  • Revenue: Places where Capital Bikeshare gets a lot of money because people take bikes out for long times and pay extra fees (mostly tourist areas)
  • Ridership: Places where Capital Bikeshare stations get a lot of heavy use
  • Access: Places with lower Capital Bikeshare usage but where stations let people access important destinations or ensure more people have the ability to participate in using the system

Many "access" locations are very important and valuable. For example, the report notes that Southern Avenue and Capitol Heights are the only Metrorail stations without a station within a half-mile. (There is also no station within a quarter mile of Federal Triangle). Both stations are actually in Maryland, but immediately adjacent to the DC line.

There are many good reasons to place stations here. Southern Avenue, for instance, is actually very close to THEARC, the terrific arts, entertainment, and education campus in DC's Ward 8. It's about a 15 minute walk from Southern Avenue, but bikeshare stations at Southern Avenue, at THEARC, and other locations in the nearby neighborhoods would do a lot to help people reach this important center without driving.

And, in fact, the report shows a station at Southern Avenue and several more in the nearby area as part of the Fiscal Year 2017, the second of three years of expansion.

Other priority "access" areas include Carver-Langston, Alabama Avenue, Buzzard Point, northern Columbia Heights, parts of Petworth and Brightwood, Fort Dupont, and the St. Elizabeth's campus.

The places with the most opportunity to grow ridership which lack enough stations include 16th Street in Columbia Heights and near Meridian Hill Park, Shaw, eastern Columbia Heights, Southwest Waterfront, and the Stanton Park area of Capitol Hill.

Finally, the "revenue" areas with the most opportunity for growth include the areas around the Capitol, the National Gallery, the Holocaust Museum, the National Shrine and Catholic University, and the large hotels in Woodley Park. Some of these, of course, will require federal cooperation.

This interesting map from the report shows why some areas generate a lot of revenue for Capital Bikeshare:

This map shows the volume of trips between neighborhoods, combining all of the stations in one "cluster" into a single point to show the high-level patterns:

You can also see how often stations have been down for maintenance, and how many trips CaBi has "lost" as a result:

Here's a map of where trips between neighborhoods tend to favor one direction over another. Not surprisingly, the darkest lines run along large hills (and also popular commuting patterns).

There's a lot more in the full 143-page report.

What do you think of these decisions? Will you benefit from this expansion?

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