Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Bicycling

Events


Events roundup: Precocious pedaling, Potomac Yard, trees, and transit

This week is jam-packed with engaging events to keep you entertained throughout the dog days of summer. Participate in a grown-up science project. Attend the groundbreaking for the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway and take the kiddies on a bike ride through Alexandria. With so much to do, why stay inside?


Photo by Colville-Andersen on Flickr.

Kidically Arlandria: Join the family biking party this Sunday, July 20 from 11:00 am to noon (followed by an optional group lunch after the ride) as Kidical Mass takes you and your kids on a bicycle tour through Alexandria!

The tour will pass through the exploding soon-to-be-exploding Potomac Yard retail corridor, around the leafy neighborhoods of Del Ray and through Arlington, before returning to the playground behind the Harris Teeter at the Eclipse in Potomac Yard. Ride will start from this location as well. Roll-out at 11:15am, but come early to play!

Groundbreaking new transitway: Come attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the region's first dedicated bus transitway on Friday, July 18, 9:00 am at 33rd Street and Crystal Drive in Arlington. This innovative system will provide faster, more reliable bus service along the Route 1 corridor through Crystal City and Potomac Yard. Learn more about the benefits of BRT in Arlington and Alexandria at this historic event!

Grown-up science projects: Ever wanted to participate in a study? Need some encouragement? Casey Trees will be offering restaurant gift cards to participants in a study which attempts to monitor the accuracy of data collection. Their goal is to standardize urban forest monitoring across the US and abroad, in an effort to improve urban life.

More information about volunteer requirements and a general study overview are here. The studies will take place Thursday, July 17th from 6-9 pm and Saturday, July 19th from 9 am to noon at 3030 12th Street NW.

Tacos and transit: Next Wednesday, June 23 at Paladar Latin Kitchen in Rockville, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Friends of White Flint, and Communities for Transit will be holding a rapid transit happy hour Besides noshing on latin food and $5 margaritas and mojitos at happy hour, learn the latest news about Rapid Transit in Montgomery County and how you can get involved. Connect with fellow allies, volunteers, and supporters.

Ride the Silver Line! Saturday, June July 26 is opening day for the Silver Line. The first train will leave Wiehle Avenue at noon, and you can get there by bike, car, foot, or Fairfax Connector bus. A group from Greater Greater Washington will ride to East Falls Church, then head back and stop at each of the new Tysons Corner stations along the way. Hope to see you there!

Government


Casey Anderson is Montgomery's new Planning Board chair

Montgomery County's new Planning Board chair will be Casey Anderson, a strong advocate for growing the county's urban areas and improving its transit network. The County Council voted 8-1 to appoint him this morning.

An attorney who lives in Silver Spring, Anderson has been a community activist on smart growth, transit, and bicycling issues, previously serving on the board of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. He stepped down to join the Planning Board in 2011, and can be seen walking or biking to meetings there. The council will have to find a replacement for his old seat.

Councilmembers appeared to rally around Anderson last week over four other applicants for the position. "Anderson comes closest to holding the vision I have for our County's future," wrote Councilmember Roger Berliner in a message to his constituents. "He is a strong proponent of smart and sustainable growth, served by world class transit. These are the key components of a strong future for our county."

The Planning Board chair is responsible for giving the County Council recommendations on land use and transportation issues, meaning they can play a big role in how and where the county grows. As chair, Anderson says he'd like to look at the way Montgomery County uses the amount of car traffic as a test for approving development. The tests often discourage building in the county's urban areas, where people have the most options for getting around without a car.

As a board member, Anderson has advocated for more transportation options and more nightlife as ways to keep the county relevant and attractive to new residents. He was the only vote against approving an extension of Montrose Parkway through White Flint, where the county wants to create a pedestrian- and bicycle-oriented downtown. He also served with me on the Nighttime Economy Task Force, which sought to promote nightlife in the county.

Anderson was a strong influence in favor of the county's Bus Rapid Transit plan, and persuaded some of his fellow commissioners to support repurposing existing lanes for BRT. Anderson also pushed for performance standards for BRT which aim to prevent BRT from being watered down in the future.

Upcounty, he opposed the board's unfortunate vote in support of the M-83 highway last fall. He did support keeping development in a part of Clarksburg near Ten Mile Creek which turned the Montgomery Countryside Alliance against his candidacy.

Councilmember Marc Elrich was the only vote against Anderson. Though he didn't nominate her this morning, Elrich favored former Planning Board member Meredith Wellington, who had support from some civic activists who feel that the county is growing too fast. The field of candidates also included current board member and real estate developer Norman Dreyfuss, current deputy planning director Rose Krasnow, and former County Councilmember Mike Knapp.

Montgomery County offers a wide variety of urban, suburban, and rural communities. Anderson's appointment suggests that the county's ready to embrace its urban areas while preserving the suburban and rural ones, providing a greater variety of community types and transportation choices for an increasingly diverse population.

Bicycling


Bicyclists politely explain that they're not terrorists (and neither are their small children)

A group of bicyclists rode to the Washington Post headquarters yesterday in a polite protest against Courtland Milloy's recent column attacking bicyclists and the paper's decision to publish it.

Jay Mallin made a video of the event:

Some people brought their young children. Many held handmade signs, with messages like "I'm a heart nurse, not a terrorist" (in reference to Milloy's statement comparing some cyclists to terrorists). DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson happened to be in the area, and told the assembled press that while "there is friction" between drivers and bcicylists, "the answer is not to say it's okay to hit people. It's not okay to hit people."

Ben Freed reported how one cyclist, Julie Sibbing of Alexandria, tried to put a sign in the lobby saying "I want an apology, Wash Post," but the security guard removed it.

Kishan Putta, Dupont ANC Commissioner and candidate for DC Council at large, also attended and spoke about his commitment to bicycle infrastructure, according to Perry Stein in the City Paper.

WTOP's Kate Ryan also interviewed Veronica Davis, a GGW contributor and founder of Black Women Bike, about the Milloy column:

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:

Bicycling


We need empathy and understanding, around bicycling, gentrification, and much more

Like many parts of our nation where many different people coexist, there are divides in the Washington region. Like many places that are changing, groups of people can direct resentment or intolerance at each other.


Bicycle and car photo from Shutterstock.com.

In many neighborhoods, new, more affluent residents are moving in, disrupting an existing social fabric that endured when many turned their backs on such communities. Likewise, the social order of our streets, where cars had almost exclusive use of the street save for delineated side sections for pedestrians, is giving way to a new one where multiple kinds of vehicles share space.

In both cases, new social norms are still catching up to our changing city. But it's easy for all of us to see another group, all visibly different in some way from ourselves, and lump them together. That goes for cyclists looking at drivers, drivers looking at cyclists, longtime older residents versus newer younger residents, or many others.

In a new column, Courtland Milloy says that "the bicyclists" in the area have "nerve" for, among other things, "fight[ing] to have bike lanes routed throughout the city, some in front of churches where elderly parishioners used to park their cars." And he specifically mentions me for pointing out a "Trampe" bicycle escalator as one tool which might be useful on 15th Street.

The Trampe is so far from an actual, serious, actionable proposal that it's not worth debating, but Milloy is also alluding to the fight over the M Street cycletrack and Metropolitan AME church. That was a prime example of groups of people not speaking to one another or building bridges.

Some church members felt that cyclists were interlopers trying to remake the fabric of a city that is only desirable because of the churches' hard toil when others were abandoning central DC. At the same time, some newer residents too readily dismiss churches' needs and concerns by pointing to laws concerning parking which don't match a more unwritten social understanding that had been established for many years.

Church leaders told city officials that a bike lane was a nonstarter and rebuffed bicycle advocates' requests to meet and talk. Some bicycle riders belittled churchgoers for living outside the city. And so on.

It's easy to denigrate others, but harder to understand why they feel aggrieved.

There's plenty of injustice, and it's right to be outraged

Milloy points out:

I recall in the not-so-distant past when the city's bikers weren't newly arrived, mostly white millennials but black juveniles whom D.C. police frequently stoppedat least in neighborhoods that were being gentrified. Stopped for riding on sidewalks. Stopped for riding in parking lots. Now that kids like them are being moved to the outskirts of the city, if not out altogether, the District government is bending over backward to make Washington a more "biker-friendly" city.
Milloy highlights two failures of society here. First, police disproportionately stop young black males on the street. That means that that black youth who, for example, smoke marijuana are far more likely to be arrested than white youth. Black youth who break rules in school are far more likely to end up having the criminal justice system deal with the issue and possible punishment, while white youth far more often get a stern talking-to and a promise from parents to make sure it never happens again.

This sort of disparity is absolutely unconscionable. Mounds of books, articles, blog posts, and more have and will be written about this issue. We must not tolerate it.

This has little to do with bicycling. Bicyclists in DC are in fact probably very likely to support reforms to these injustices.

Second, it is entirely true that affluent groups of people tend to get more of what they want. They push for city services with more success. They lobby for zoning and historic preservation restrictions to protect elements of their neighborhoods and push change to other communities without this power.

Bicycling has long been an activity for two groups: those who can't afford cars and those who can, but choose to ride anyway. Now that the latter is growing quickly, there is new political support for bicycle infrastructure.

But you'd scarcely find a single member of that second group who feels that the lanes should just go in expensive neighborhoods. Bike lanes do not discriminate among who can ride a bicycle in them.

Cyclists, like many others, want to be safe first

Cyclists are precisely the group who want to see more bike lanes in Ward 8. Cyclists aren't looking to win some sort of battle about the soul of the city. They're looking to get where they want to go more easily and safely.

Yesterday was also the sixth anniversary of Alice Swanson's death. She was crushed under a garbage truck at Connecticut and R. Let's not forget the real human toll that traffic crashes can cause. And let's also not forget that people in poorer neighborhoods die or suffer in many ways as well, and often their families lack a voice to speak about their injustice.

Bicycling generates an odd juxtaposition where the typically most privileged members of our societymostly young, often white, primarily male, highly-educatedget to know what it is like to be a minority and feel threatened. Nikki Lee wrote that "cycling is awfully similar to being a woman," because random interactions are usually safe but every so often could be dangerous or fatal; small obstacles can be far larger just for you; and if something happens to you, society will probably blame you, the victim.

It also gives these privileged people (myself included) a chance to be reduced to a single adjective. To have peopleeven respected ones like NPR's Scott Simonassume something about you because of a superficial characteristic they can see.

There are jerks among every group. Some are riding bicycles. Some are driving. Some are white, black, old, young, gay, straight, trans, tall, short, athletic, bookish, long-haired, or like Milloy, sporting mustaches.

It's difficult to see past surface categories and understand people as people rather than as symbols of some group.

How about some bike lanes in Ward 8?

Milloy also says that "So far, more than 72 miles of bike lanes have been carved out of city streets. There are virtually none in Ward 8, by the way, which has the lowest income and highest number of children of any ward in the city."

There should be bike lanes in Ward 8. Unfortunately, DDOT planners have often tried to suggest bike lanes in projects, like the Great Streets program a few years ago, and hear angry residents say things like, "You just come in here with ideas and don't listen to us," and, "We don't want any bike lanes in our neighborhood."

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has been working to address this with its outreach east of the Anacostia River. Black Women Bike has been trying to dispel racial and gender stereotypes. But a few programs won't dispel misconceptions overnight. We need far more dialogue and interaction, on bicycling, on gentrification, and on much more.

I would like to work toward building these bridges across the divides in our city and region. I would love to work with Courtland Milloy to achieve that, and emailed him to reach out last night. Former DC council candidate John Settles has been talking about convening conversations among disparate people in DC.

I hope that if we can find the right venue for conversations, the readers of Greater Greater Washington, and of Milloy's column, will participate, not to point fingers at another side or deride their misconceptions, but actually to learn from each other and let understanding win over hatred.

Events


Events roundup: Tree care, electric buses, and more

Meet the people who care for DC street trees over happy hour drinks, then join them to help trees in Lansburgh Park. Tour an all-electric, zero-emissions bus of the future, and learn the history of Fire and EMS services in DC.


Photo by whiteknuckled on Flickr.

Join Casey Trees for happy hour: The DC non-profit committed to preserving and enhancing tree canopy will hosting a happy hour tonight from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Nellie's Sports Bar, 900 U Street NW. Enjoy drinks and learn more about Casey Trees' mission.

Talk about Montgomery's recent elections: Also tonight, Action Committee for Transit hosts reelected County Councilmember George Leventhal for a talk about last month's primary election as well as upcoming issues for the council. That meeting's from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building (One Veterans Place). Click here to learn more.

After the jump: Calling all Millennials to Bethesda, and other upcoming events around the region.

This isn't your father's public meeting: Next week, Streetsense, JBG, and Clark Construction are co-hosting Untapped Perspective to help the Montgomery County Planning Board receive feedback on their Downtown Bethesda Plan. They are in need of millennial input, so this event is geared toward 21-35 year olds who have some affiliation to Bethesda. They've got beer, food, and giveaways to make it worth your while. The event is Wednesday, July 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Streetsense, located at 3 Bethesda Metro Center. RSVP by July 14 to untappedrsvp@streetsense.com.

See the bus of the future: Come see the future in public transportation with ProTerra, makers of next-generation electric buses. ProTerra will be at several DC locations tomorrow, Wednesday, June 9th, displaying its quiet and emissions-free V2 40-foot buses. RSVP to Will Hansfield to attend.

The schedule of tours is as follows:

  • 8:30 am-10:30 am - USDOT, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
  • 11:00 am-12:30 pm - DDOT, 55 M Street, SE
  • 1:00 pm-2:30 pm - The Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
  • 3:00 pm-5:30 pm - Union Station, 40 Massachusetts Ave NE
Learn the history of firefighting in DC: Also tomorrow, July 9, join the staff of the DC Fire and EMS Museum in the Washingtonian Room of the MLK Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm for a panel discussion on the history of the DC Fire and Medical Emergency Service Department. Historians will discuss 150 years of DC firefighting history, and share photos and stories from DC's biggest fires. For more information contact Lauren Martino or call 202-727-1213.

Take care of trees in Lansburgh Park: Do your part to improve the health of DC's tree canopy at Casey Trees' second Thirsty Thursday event of the summer on July 10th. Weed, mulch, and water the 18 young trees planted in Lansburgh Park during its spring community tree planting season, to help them through their first few years. The event will be held in Lansburgh Park, 1030 Delaware Avenue SW, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Women bike, too: Join women's health expert and roll model Laurie from Proteus Bicycles on Sunday July 13th for a skillshare on women's health and biking. Learn how biking benefits your health and the health of our communities. Laurie will be meeting participants at the Georgetown Library, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

Do you know of an upcoming event that may be interesting, relevant, or important to Greater Greater Washington readers? Send it to us at events@ggwash.org.

Bicycling


Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together

Despite the fact that streetcar tracks can be hazards to cyclists, bikes and streetcars are great allies.


Amsterdam bikes and tram. All photos by Dan Malouff.

They both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets. It's no coincidence that the same cities are often leaders in both categories. In the US, Portland has both the highest bike mode share and the largest modern streetcar network. In Europe, Amsterdam is even more impressive as both a streetcar city and a bike city.

With that in mind, here's a collection of photos from Amsterdam showing bikes and streetcars living together.

Of course, it doesn't just happen. It's easy for bikes and streetcars in Amsterdam to avoid one another, and to interact safely, because each one has clearly delineated, high-quality infrastructure.

Chalk it up as one more reason to build good bike lanes.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Bicycling


Can a bike escalator help riders up 15th Street's steep hill?

DC will soon extend the 15th Street cycletrack north, but riders will have to puff up a very steep hill. Could that become easier with a piece of technology from Trondheim, Norway?

Comemnter mtpleasanter pointed this out in our discussion about the cycletrack.

This device, called a Trampe, is a long track where, on request, a small metal platform pops out at the bottom and glides up to the top at 3-4 miles per hour. A cyclist just places a foot on the platform and lets it push him or her up the hill.

The one in the video looks like it follows a straight line, but if it will work around curves, it could indeed be a great addition to the 15th Street cycletrack along Meridian Hill Park.

The Trampe requires people to pay using a special card they can buy or rent; that could help the device pay for itself, but the hassle of managing a payment system also would seem to be somewhat considerable. It might be better just to make it free and encourage more people to ride, which would cut down on car traffic and perhaps slightly de-congest the extremely crowded 16th Street buses.

Edited to add: There are also many other places around the region which could benefit from such devices. Rosslyn would be a prime candidate, for instance.

Bicycling


The 15th Street cycletrack will soon continue up the hill to Columbia Heights

When the 15th Street cycletrack opened in 2010 with great fanfare, bicycle planners talked about extending it farther north. But attention shifted to other important projects. Now, it's coming back, and the cycletrack should lengthen from V Street to Euclid Street sometime in 2015.


Looking south from 15th and W. Photo by the author.

Since 15th Street is one-way northbound except for bicycles in the cycletrack, the only legal way to get on it at its northern end is using V Street from the west. People riding from farther north or east have to take busy 16th or U Streets or, as many do, ride illegally the wrong way on 15th or V.

Finally, a regular intersection for 15th and New Hampshire

In addition, the intersection of 15th, W, New Hampshire, and Florida has been waiting for a larger overhaul. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) added temporary bulb-outs in 2009 to narrow what was a huge intersection and a dangerous place, especially for pedestrians.

In the summer of 2012, DDOT unveiled potential designs to permanently rebuild this intersection and extend the cycletrack through.

Where 15th now widens into a huge sea of concrete feeding into 15th, W, and Florida, it will become a narrower, more classic intersection. There will be new trees and pedestrian medians including bicycle signals. The rest of the space will become bioretention basins to improve storm water runoff, water quality, and the walkable feel of the area.


Plans for 15th from V to W and surrounding streets. Image from DDOT.


Rendering of the cycletrack with curbs and bioretention. Image from DDOT.

Up the hill

After passing W/New Hampshire/Florida, the cycletrack hits a very steep hill along the east side of Meridian Hill Park, one of the steeper hills in northwest DC. Now, 15th has a pair of bike lanes, both going uphill, one on each side of the street.


The hilly and awkward dual one-way bikes on 15th Street. Photos by the author.

This design has never made much sense. Two bike lanes are redundant. Plus, it is dangerous to try to use the east side bike lane, because cyclists have to cut across fairly high-speed traffic to get to it. With this project, there will instead be a two-way cycletrack like 15th farther south.

Being allowed to go down the hill on 15th Street next to Meridian Hill Park will be a welcome change. Still, cyclists riding uphill will get a serious workout, while those riding down will have to take care not to build up more speed than is safe, particularly around the curve at Belmont Street and approaching the intersection at the bottom of the hill.


The space for the cycletrack is already there; it just needs to be reconfigured.

Reaching the top

After Euclid, there will still be a painted bike lane on the right side of the street. Goodno said DDOT will add a bike box (not currently shown on the plans) at 15th and Euclid to let cyclists headed north safely switch from the new cycletrack on the left side to the existing bike lane on the right.


The northern terminus point for the project at 15th and Euclid Streets, NW.

Drivers will not lose travel lanes and little if any parking. The parking on the west side of 15th will shift over to go next to the cycletrack, as elsewhere, but will just take up the space previously occupied by the old bike lanes. The parking on the east side of 15th won't change.

DDOT Bicycle Specialist Mike Goodno said,

This will be an extraordinary connection between existing bike lanes on V St, W St, and New Hampshire Avenue. There will be improvements for pedestrians with the hard medians. Cyclists will have 10 feet of space, versus 8 feet in the rest of the cycle track south of V St, and be protected by curbing. It will extend the reach of protected cycling north to Euclid Street, and there will be bicycle signals as recommended in the 2012 bicycle facility evaluation report.
DDOT has selected a final design and plans to put the project out to bid within the next few months. Construction should begin in 6 to 12 months, once a contract is awarded.

Support Us
DC Maryland Virginia Arlington Alexandria Montgomery Prince George's Fairfax Charles Prince William Loudoun Howard Anne Arundel Frederick Tysons Corner Baltimore Falls Church Fairfax City
CC BY-NC