Greater Greater Washington

Posts about Video


See the view from a Silver Line train with this video

Can you barely wait until Saturday to ride the Silver Line? Get a sneek peek of the new line with this video from WMATA.

Video from WMATA. The video has no audio, so if you don't hear anything, your sound isn't (necessarily) broken.

This shows the view from a Silver Line train as it travels from Ballston to Wiehle-Reston East.

Silver Line trains began running simulated service over the weekend. Trains carry passengers from Largo to East Falls Church under an Orange Line banner, then offload and continue on to Wiehle without any passengers.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.


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:


Another historic resource is threatened: parking lots

A group of preservationists in Cincinnati are very worried about a precious historic resource disappearing: surface parking lots in the center city.

As you might have guessed from the titles warning about how the 273 parking lots have tragically dwindled to 270, this is satirical, and was actually an April Fool's joke which Streetsblog recently pointed out.

Some people talk about preserving parking lots and aren't joking. Sometimes, it's because they really feel a parking lot is part of history (though it's still debatable if that's worth freezing these forever in time). At other times, this is a strategy to stop a new building, not because of history, but because people don't want the building.

In a place like Cincinnati which is not growing rapidly, preservation is not often blocking housing affordability. There, there are many old and unique buildings which simply need to be preserved. Doing so wouldn't drive people out of the city; if anything, it'll make the center city a more desirable place to live.

In DC, there are also such buildings which contribute to making the city better, but for the most part they already are preserved. The day-to-day preservation fights are not about the architectural jewels but about whether historic preservation is also a tool to simply stop neighborhoods from having more new residents.


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.


Fun on Friday: Transit door chimes around the world

Whoever made this video compilation of "doors closing" chimes from metro lines around the world is a transit geek after my own heart.

After watching the video, I have a fresh appreciation for WMATA's comparatively pleasant choice.


"Floating" transit stops work well with bicycles

Ever played a game of leapfrog with a bus while riding your bike? Some cities are using "floating" transit stops so buses don't have to pull into the bike lane to discharge passengers. Could one work here?

A floating light rail stop in San Francisco.

Since buses (and sometimes streetcars) discharge passengers onto the sidewalk on the right side of the street, bicyclists often face conflicts with transit vehicles or transit riders. That's one of the primary reasons the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack was put in the middle of the street, rather than as a pair of curb-side bike lanes.

These "floating" transit stops make it possible for cyclists to stay next to the curb, while still allowing transit vehicles to stop without blocking the bike lane. As the video shows, cyclists and transit riders share the space easily.

With DC's growing network of bike lanes and cycletracks, conflicts with transit stops are going to grow. Floating stops like this could be a solution to the problem.


Videos show bus love, bike hate

Triangle Transit, in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, has a clever set of videos to publicize their bus service and its advantages:

The series of videos emulate the campy style of the classic soap operate, but to tell you that it's easy to pay the bus fare, they have real-time arrival information on smartphones (above), or that Triangle Transit buses can use the shoulder to bypass traffic on highways.

On a less smile-inducing video note, one Alabama man has gone around videotaping his drives, in which he shouts epithets at cyclists along the road (who are doing nothing wrong).

As Michael Keith Maddox passes a cyclist, he says he "ought to run him in a ditch," and he's "going to hurt one of them one of these days." In one of the clips in this mash-up he shouts, "Ride your bicycle, you piece of crap," and in another, he revs his engine as he passes while cackling, "That scare you, boys?"

Based on the videos, the county sheriff arrested Maddox, who also apologized on Facebook. But every day some people come across a bicyclist on the road who is doing nothing except trying to get from one place to another, yet have a similar, if more subtle, reaction.


What a supermarket can teach us about road design

What do grocery store aisles have in common with our roadways? More than you might think.

Streetsblog recently posted this video from Norway which shows an aggressive driver using his techniques in the supermarket with his cart.

Many aggressive behaviors that we commonly accept on our roadways absolutely wouldn't fly in a store or other space where people gather.

The video notes that in Norway, 70% of cyclists have had to deal with aggressive driving. We certainly know what aggressive driving can lead to in the Washington area as well.

These days, when I go grocery shopping I can't help but think of paralells between our grocery aisles and features that engineers use in traffic calming and road diets. Many elements in a grocery store aisle resemble a calmed street and provide a glimpse of how someone's behavior changes when the road changes.

Shared space, narrow lanes, tight corners

If a grocery store aisles are too wide, there is is less space to sell items. Plus, the stores don't want people rushing through without having to at least glance at the products on the shelves. Most grocery stores have aisles wide enough for two carts to pass, but people do have to pay attention and navigate more carefully than they would in a wider lane.

Likewise, many many road diets reduce either the total number of lanes or in the width of the lanes. Besides slowing down cars in narrower lanes, such a change also frees up room for wider sidewalks or bike lanes.

But since aisles don't have special lanes for people with and without carts, maybe the closest parallel is the concept of "shared space," where all modes mix equally and drivers usually need to travel close to a walking pace.

In addition, the height of the shelves can mimic the function of buildings on city streets and create a streetwall. That creates the effect of an "outdoor room" and helps define a sense of place for an area.

Intersections in the grocery store are usually at right angles, and end displays can even be wider than the shelves in the regular aisle. This means that anyone entering or exiting has to stop and look both ways before proceeding.

Many street calming projects remove slip lanes that encourage speeding and cause drivers to ignore pedestrians. In their place, tight corners and curb extensions (often called bulb-outs or neckdowns) give pedestrians more room.

Obviously we can only take the analogy so far. There are as many differences as there are similarities. A grocery store and a state or local DOT have different goals; you don't commute through the grocery store.

But this does help illustrate how our built environment influences our behavior. The design of a grocery store aisle forces some cooperation and courtesy from all users, just like a road can induce people to drive at a certain speed (regardless the speed limit) and be mindful of other users traveling by foot or by bike.


Driver assaults bicyclist, police ticket bicyclist: The video

Evan Wilder has posted the video of his experience with driver road rage, where the police wrote him a ticket, rather than the driver who swerved to a stop right in front of him, then threw his bike into the back of the truck.

Sarah Hughes from DCist points out that, according to the transcript, the driver seems to have thought Evan should have been in the adjacent bike lane. That is a contraflow lane, which lets people ride westbound from the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the rest of R Street along a one block section which is one-way. (To get to a parallel westbound street requires going up and down a hill.)

Motorist: What the f**k are you doing touching my car? The bike lane's over there.
Cyclist: The bike lane….
Motorist: The bike lane is over there, dude
Cyclist: This IS the bike lane
Motorist: THAT is the bike lane.
Cyclist: Look at this.
Motorist: That's the bike lane, dude.
Cyclist: See this arrow
Motorist: I don't know about that but you ain't gotta touch my car.
C See that arrow? It points that way.
Motorist: I don't even know about all of that shit. I don't drive a bike. Don't put your hands on my f**king car.
The driver seems to have believed that Wilder should have been in the bike lane, and therefore that justified passing him too closely, stopping right in front of him, yelling at him, and then throwing his bike into the truck.

In DC at least, people on bicycles are allowed to ride in any lane (outside of freeways) where cars are allowed, as well as in bike lanes. It's best to use the bike lane when it's available, but there are a lot of reasons not to use one even when it's not a contraflow lane in the wrong direction.

If you're driving, it's never okay to try to muscle a cyclist aside or drive in a way that's aggressive toward the cyclist, even if the other person is wrong. (And the same goes for any other road user.) Particularly since sometimes, as in this case, it might turn out you are wrong instead.

Unfortunately, it's too easy to ascribe hostile and nefarious motives to others on the road. Just look at this comment on yesterday's Dr. Gridlock chat (hat tip, again, to Sarah Hughes):

I commute down Connecticut Ave via car to work and back and have noticed that cyclists are increasingly hostile to cars, confrontational and dangers to themselves. They now ride two abreast, one in each traffic lane, taking two of the four lanes available. The only reason they do this is to be hostile to drivers and express aggression. ...

More and more of them are wearing cameras on their helmets. ... Am I to be harassed by angry cyclists daring me to do something that they can record on their cameras?

Some people do ride recklessly (and some people drive recklessly). But nobody is putting a camera on his or her bike to "dare" drivers to do something; they do it because they've experienced, as in this case, many other people misunderstanding the rules of the road, taking offense at the cyclist's behavior (even if it's totally legal), getting angry, driving aggressively, and causing a crash... and then police ticketing the cyclist.


Make cycling safer with protected intersections

Protected bike lanes, or cycletracks, are great for encouraging bicycling, but intersections often don't offer much protection for cyclists. Enter the protected intersection:

The design is based on Dutch designs that gives all parties more time to react to conflicts and makes intersections much safer for cyclists. The design is not standard in the US, but neither were protected bike lanes up until a few years ago. Which intersections around here do you think should get this treatment?

Thanks to reader Jeremy Frisch for the tip.

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