Posts about Bicycling
Last week Arlington painted its first green bike box, at the corner of Veitch Street and Lee Highway.
The bike box was originally installed in July, but without green paint. The new green markings make the box more visible, so car drivers know to stop behind it.
Between the bike box and its new buffered bike lanes, Veitch Street has become one of Arlington's best on-street bikeways.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Yesterday, San Francisco's BART system lifted its long-standing ban on allowing bicycles on rush-hour trains. Given bicycling's popularity in the DC area, and the Metro system's packed park and ride lots, perhaps a similar reform would work here.
After a lengthy trial process, BART will allow bikes on all its trains at all times, finally giving people an easy way to cross the San Francisco Bay with a bike. Like Metro, BART is overloaded through the urban core of San Francisco, and there were concerns that bikes would just make things worse.
The three trial periods were progressively more intense. BART allowed bikes on Fridays for a month, then for one full week, then for five full months. The agency wanted to measure how much disruption bicycles would cause and to gauge public support. As it turned out, the concerns were unfounded, and public support was quite high. Crowding did not get worse, and 79 percent of riders wanted to see the ban lifted entirely.
Like BART, Metro doesn't allow bikes during rush hour due to fears of crowding. But if passengers could bring bicycles on the train without inconveniencing others, there's no reason it would be a problem here.
Perhaps WMATA ought to consider a series of trials, too, to gauge how it affects our commutes. Metro is not BART, after all, and so may not be as good a fit. We won't know unless we try.
Railvolution conference. While there, they'll offer a series of short posts about their experiences.
Seattle is currently rebuilding its Broadway corridor to add a new streetcar line. When complete, Broadway will have both a streetcar and a cycletrack, making it one of America's most multimodal streets.
It's going to be quite a sight.
Seattle's Broadway corridor. Video from SeattleStreetcar.org.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
Arlington produced a half-hour documentary about its bike planning efforts, and how it became one of the east coast's best cycling towns. Give it a watch.
Cross posted to BeyondDC.
Can you fix a bikeshare key that suddenly won't fit into the slot? You can, but as I found, the repair is only temporary. If you use this trick, be sure to also call Capital Bikeshare and get a replacement key.
The problem came up on the day CaBi opened in Montgomery County. I was eager to use the new docks, and I had an errand that bikeshare could save 15 minutes on compared to walking. On my way home from work, I got off the Metro in Bethesda and walked to the dock. But my key wouldn't go in the slot.
I called Capital Bikeshare and a representative helpfully explained that old keys tend to get thicker and stop fitting in the slot. They promised to send another in a week or 10 days. They also offered a refund if I used a credit card; I declined, thinking it would be less trouble to walk to my destination.
From the beginning, I was puzzled. Plastic does age, but it gets stiff rather than expanding. After a few days, I looked more closely at my key. It was made of two layers of plastic that had begun to separate at the end with the arrowhead. When I began to pull them apart, a plastic sheet with an electronic circuit fell out.
One layer of red plastic had a slot for the circuit. I put the circuit into the slot, making sure to correctly position the raised circular dimple that's on the back of the square circuit in one corner. Once I got the circuit into the right place, presto: with the key squeezed between thumb and finger, it went into the slot. And I was off on bikeshare again.
On the heels of its third anniversary, Capital Bikeshare makes a big expansion into Montgomery County. Local officials celebrated the first of 50 new stations that will open here today in Rockville with a large crowd of well-wishers.
Montgomery County opened its first Capital Bikeshare station today in Rockville. All photos by the author unless noted.
"It's no secret that the Washington area has the worst traffic," said County Executive Ike Leggett. "That's why Montgomery County is committed to increasing its transportation options . . . Bikeshare is another cost-effective option that can help reduce the need to drive, especially for short distances."
State delegate Al Carr, County Executive Ike Leggett, and County Councilmember Roger Berliner try out the new Bikeshare bikes.
According to Art Holmes, the county's director of transportation, 14 stations and 218 bikes will open today in Rockville, Shady Grove, Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park, communities where cycling is most popular. Eventually, there will be 50 stations and 450 bikes. The county seal now appears on the bright red bikes along with the logos of DC, Arlington, and Alexandria, which already have Capital Bikeshare.
Several local officials attended and spoke at the announcement, including county councilmembers, state delegate, and representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Bike advocates, including the Washington Area Bicyclist Association were also there in force. Passers-by stopped to admire the bright red bikes and ask questions about the new service.
The federally-funded expansion is one of the nation's first bikesharing projects in a suburban area. If it's successful, it could be an example for how to encourage cycling outside of large cities.
But first, county officials need to make area streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. Councilmember Valerie Ervin recently told WTOP she wants to fill gaps in the county's trail network and ban right turns on red.
At today's event, Councilmember Hans Riemer said he believes Capital Bikeshare will help Montgomery County attract businesses and younger residents who don't want to drive everywhere. "Every time you see a red bike," he said, "Recognize that we're moving forward."
Drivers making illegal U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue are a danger to cyclists in the bike lanes, but a small physical barrier called a Zebra could stop them once and for all. The federal Commission on Fine Arts has given DC transportation officials permission for a trial run, but it's unclear when it'll actually happen.
In the spring, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) proposed using the Zebra, a small, round barrier made by the Spanish company Zicla, to separate cyclists and cars. On Pennsylvania Avenue, they can also prevent dangerous and illegal U-turns across the bike lanes, which have become increasingly common despite attempts to increase police enforcement.
But they also meet the aesthetic concerns of the Commission on Fine Arts (CFA), which has limited jurisdiction over how DC's federal core looks. In June, Mayor Vince Gray first announced that DDOT would work with CFA to address safety problems with the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes, but CFA met several times over the summer without talking to the agency.
Last week, CFA released the consent calendar for their September meeting, which happens tomorrow. The consent calendar is made up of projects with no objections that the commission can approve without any debate. One of the projects they'll be approving is a "pilot project" to install Zebras along two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue. This is very positive news for the cycling community and bicycling commuters. The Zebras will provide protect cyclists from some of the most unpredictable and dangerous U-turn maneuvers drivers make.
However, there are still a few unanswered questions. First, the CFA referred the pilot project to the Historic Preservation Review Board for additional study. It's unclear how bike lane separators are a historic preservation issue, even on a historic street like Pennsylvania Avenue. The city's Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978 says that HPRB only has jurisdiction over buildings, building demolitions, statues, or pieces of art, and that Mayor Gray can decide whether or not HPRB has to review the Zebras. It's unknown when or if the board actually will.
Second, what criteria and metrics will DDOT use to determine the success or failure of the Zebra installation? This information has not been released yet, but is important to understanding whether Zebras should be used for the rest of Pennsylvania Avenue or other areas of DC.
Also, CFA has only recommended approving the "pilot program." If the Zebras are successful, will DDOT have to ask CFA for approval to install Zebras along the entire length of the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane, causing more delays?
Finally, what is the timeline for construction? DDOT had previously stated that the Zebras would likely be available this month. However, DDOT has a history of delaying bike projects. With winter weather just around the corner, it is conceivable that the installation won't occur until next spring.
Regardless of the uncertainties, getting the CFA's blessing for Zebras is a major leap forward towards increased cycling safety on Pennsylvania Avenue. In the coming weeks, more information will become available concerning the road ahead and how DDOT will evaluate the pilot program.
- It's fine to not build parking at Tysons Metro stations
- Arlington considers using fees to reduce parking
- Sexist Metro ad asks "Can't we just talk about shoes?"
- Downtown & Georgia Avenue Walmarts open for business
- Rural Virginia leads eastern US in cars per household
- Are our sports spaces serving all genders?
- Good design, lots of parking at Wheaton's tallest building