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Capital Crescent - Little Falls Trail Connector Meeting tonight

I apologize for the late notice, but there is a meeting tonight about the planned design and  construction of a hard surface trail connection between the Capital Crescent Trail and the Little Falls Trail near the Bethesda Pool.  

The objective is to improve safety, efficiency and reduce conflicts on current route used by bikers near the Bethesda Pool and adjacent parking lot. The connector plan includes the crossing of Hillandale Road.  Park staff will available to answer questions at the Montgomery County Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center from 7:00 pm- 9:00 pm.

The current route used by bikers to connect the Little Falls Trail to the Capital Crescent Trail is through the Bethesda Pool parking lot which has led to conflicts when the pool is open.  To improve safety, efficiency and reduce conflicts, a trail connector is proposed for construction near the Bethesda pool.

There are two design ideas. One builds a trail around the southern side of the pool and the other around the northern side.

CCT Connector LFT

Tentatively, a 2nd meeting is scheduled for September. Deisgn will continue into early 2016, with bids solicited for construction in late winter 2016.

A ride on the Kenilworth Section of the ART

I recently took a ride on the completed, and not-so-completed parts of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail's Kenilworth section - Benning Road to Maryland. I didn't ride all of it, as some of it is not open (and I may have ridden parts that aren't open yet - shhhh). The photos are below. 

 

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Where the trail from Benning Road will eventually connect to Anacostia Ave NE.

 

 

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 The new Educare school will be the first building along the trail, which in this section appears to be on the west sidewalk.

IMG_3203Parkside Plaza, a New Park along Parkside Place (with bike parking). Not along the trail, but not far from it.


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Anacostia Ave NE along the trail

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 New, wider sidewalk along Anacostia Ave NE

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Along Anacostia Avenue, the sidewalk on the west side is a bit wider than on the east.

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New playground in Parkside along the trail

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 It's unclear if the trail will go in front of these houses, or stay on Anacostia Avenue NE. If the latter, the PBL on Hayes doesn't go that far.

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 The trail follows a sidewalk built along the back of the new Parkside development. I wish they had planned the trail in conjunction with the lighting poles better. 

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Trail as sidewalk leading to Hayes Street NE

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On Hayes, the trail becomes a real protected bikeway, but it isn't yet completed and work seems to have stopped, allowing debris and weeds to invade.

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Not really safe for riding with these big holes in the pavement.

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The trail will leave the PBL along Jay Street to cross Watts Branch via this trail and bridge

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Just north of Deane Avenue, the newly paved trail picks up.


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View of the football field from the trail

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 I wasn't the only person using the trail before it's opened.

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Cars on the trail already?

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View of the Arboretum from the trail


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Near the river, the pavement stops; most likely because trucks are still accessing this part to build the bridge across the Nash Run/Kenilworth Marsh. This part passes through the woods and provides views of the river.


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Bridge across Nash Run/Kenilworth Marsh, currently under construction.


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A large bird (turkey buzzard?) that was guarding the bridge.


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Art and bike parking near the pedestrian bridge over DC-295 at the corner of Hayes & Kenilworth Terrace.

Metropolitan Branch Trail could be functionally completed by 2018

Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Council passed an act to authorize the county to plan, design and construct the County's remaining section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail by 2018.

According to a document from February, phase II (as seen below) would be completed in FY 2018 - the same year DC plans to finish the Fort Totten section - along with an interim trail for phase I. The interim trail is being built because "there is no guarantee that the Ripley II project - a private project [behind which the trail will run] - will be completed on schedule." If all three sections are completed by then, the trail will then be functionally complete, with cyclists able to ride from Silver Spring to Union Station on the trail, even if that includes a few short interim sections.

The trail in Silver Spring will now be 12-feet wide (instead of 10-11) with 2 foot buffers and the whole thing will be lit at night. 

Screenshot 2015-07-24 at 11.18.16 PM

Maryland Highway projects to improve Route 1 and build lots of shoulders, a bike lane and a path

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently killed Baltimore's red line transit project, and in this case Baltimore transit users loss is (to a very small extent) Washington-area cyclists gain. The governor announced $2B worth of highway projects, some of which have a varying amount of bicycle benefits. Most notably will be improvements to Route 1 in College Park.

The US 1 College Park Pedestrian, Bicycle and Safety Improvements project will spend $30 million to reconstruct US 1 to a four-lane divided highway with a raised median and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian accommodations from College Avenue to MD 193.

And just outside the immediate area, near Fort Meade, Annapolis Road (MD -175) between Reece Road and Disney Road will be expanded from two to six lanes, with a median, on-road bicycle lanes in each direction, a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side and a 10-foot, shared-use path on the south side of MD 175.

Additionally, the I-270 interchange project in Montgomery County (which does not represent new funding) will include bicycle and pedestrian improvements along Watkins Mill Road within the project area and to the Metropolitan Grove MARC station.

Farther from DC the projects will build many "bicycle-compatible shoulders.

  • In Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Caroline Counties, MD-404 will be widened from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway with a median and shoulders to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians;.
  • In Worcester County US 113 will be widened from two to four lanes with a median and shoulders wide enough to accommodate bicycles from Five Mile Branch Road to north of Public Landing Road, a distance of 4.6 miles; and
  • In Baltimore County, northbound MD 140 will be widened from Painters Mill Road to Garrison View Road to accommodate an additional third travel lane and a bicycle-compatible shoulder.

White Flint Ring Road

By Jeff P.
 
The White Flint Mall is being demolished. In the process they have closed - for how long we do not know yet - hopefully not long - the north/upper entrance to White Flint Community Park, located just behind the mall. This park provides a safe route along community roads to Beach Drive and points South and East.
 
After contacting someone at Lerner, I heard back that ""The ring road will be closed from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. for safety reasons along the demolition site perimeter.  The demolition is scheduled between 7:00 a.m. and 7 p.m. consistent with Montgomery County Code, Monday through Friday (with the exception of national holidays) .  The roads will be open on Saturday and Sunday, and all observed holidays." Admittedly I would have been less upset if they had a sign near the lower end of the park so I wouldn't have found out that I couldn't go on after I had made it up the top. 
 
As this is my regular commute route I hope to keep updating the community on the state of the roads in the area regularly.
 
White flint

Driven to Distraction

By Jonathon Krall - crossposted from Alexandria News

Based on the latest report from the League of American Bicyclists, distracted driving is now endemic, so much so that the entire conversation about bicycles and cars on the roads may need to change. Being hit from behind, once considered rare, is now a common cause of car-on-bicycle fatalities. Cities, such as New York, are answering this threat with “vision zero” policies that aim to design fatalities out of our roadways, despite human error.

Previously, intersection collisions were considered most common and were a matter of drivers entering an intersection too fast to look in all directions. According to the LAB report, entitled “Every Bicyclist Counts", the biggest problem may instead be distracted drivers failing to look in any direction at all.

To me, the most interesting studies are those using heavily instrumented cars, where even the driver is monitored. After a period of exemplary behavior, drivers get used to being monitored and their mischief is recorded in detail. The result? People who use phones take their eyes off the road to manipulate the phone, look for the phone, or look at screen. This comes from a 2013 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study: “Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.” At 60 mph, 23 seconds is over 1/3 of a mile.

Virginia Tech reports that “even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.” The main problem isn't so much talking on phone as paying attention to the phone itself.

A “landmark study” by the American Automobile Association Foundation went further, monitoring the level of driver brain activity. Their finding? Distractions can be cognitive rather than visual, leading to dangerously inattentive driving. “Of all the tasks assessed, driver interaction with speech-to-text systems (such as the infotainment and other voice-activated tech offerings in many new vehicles) creates the highest level of cognitive distraction.” The AAAF goes on to say that “By demonstrating that mentally-distracted drivers miss visual cues, have slower reaction times, and even exhibit a sort of tunnel vision, this study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that 'hands-free' doesn’t mean risk free.” Anyone who has tussled with a voice-recognition system knows how frustrating they can be. In a car, they can be dangerous.

“Hit from behind” crashes should never happen if drivers are looking where they are going. Better reporting, such as straightforward accounts of all local traffic fatalities, would raise public awareness. The public, however, must surely have gotten the message by now. Education, it seems, cannot trump human nature.

With citizen input, Alexandria city staff are currently updating the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. At the February 18 meeting of the Transportation Commission, city staff reported key findings and recommendations, one of which was that “Staff should also conduct additional review of the Vision Zero policy from other jurisdictions to see if it is applicable in Alexandria."

Vision Zero is an increasingly-popular policy requiring road to be specifically designed to reduce traffic fatalities to zero. A simple example is a rural road with a barrier along the centerline, making passing impossible except in designated zones, where the road widens. In places where pedestrians or bicycles are present, vision-zero requires either physical barriers or design speeds below 20 miles per hour, a speed at which the pedestrian survival rate exceeds 90%.

While relatively new in the USA, the Swedish parliament decided, in 1997, to reach zero by 2020. As a result, traffic fatalities fell from seven per 100,000 people to less than three, despite a significant increase in traffic volume. In the USA, that number is greater than 11. By recognizing and designing for the inevitable fallibility of drivers, we can both be human and protect humans. 

The next meeting of the Ad Hoc Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Advisory Committee Meeting is scheduled for August 12, 2015. Citizens are invited to participate.

I was attacked while on my bike, and so was one of my neighbors

Last night, while riding home, I was involved in an incident that I wasn't sure how to interpret, but I then found out that at nearly the same time, at almost the exact same location, one of my neighbors was stabbed.

I was riding across the Sousa Bridge on my way home from work, and as the bridge ended, and the trail around Barney Circle began I saw a man walking towards me along the trail. He was on the "westbound" side, like me, and did not seem to see me as he didn't move over to the "eastbound" half of the trail, but he was wearing sunglasses and was hunched over so I figured he just hadn't noticed me yet. I slowed down and was about to ring my bell (I don't like to pass someone who I don't think sees me, and I don't like to cross over to the opposite side either) when he stepped to his right, across where the center line would be - if the trail there had one; so I figured he'd seen me and I pedaled on, moving to the far right of the trail.

As I passed him (with plenty of space), he moved toward me and I felt him put his hands on me  - one on my left shoulder and one on my back - and push me. Luckily I stayed upright, but I had to stop a few feet farther on to get my balance. I wasn't sure what had happened. Was that on purpose, or had he not seen me as I thought, and I startled him. When I looked back he was walking towards me very quickly saying "my fault. my fault." But the speed at which he was walking, and the stories I'd heard of others being pushed off their bikes and robbed, made me nervous. Without thinking I shouted "F--- you, back off!" At this point he got angry "No, F--- you, F-- you" he said and started running toward me as I rode away at full speed. As I crossed the intersection of Barney Circle and 17th, I looked back and saw him still running full speed toward me, Terminator-style, so I rode on up Kentucky Avenue. About half a block up, I stopped pulled out my phone and dialed 9-1, and figured if I saw him turn the corner, I'd dial the last 1. I didn't and so, unsure if this had all been a misunderstanding (I'd startled him, and then I cursed at him) or if this was a robbery/assault and not sure the police could get there in time to him - or if they could even do anything if they did, I put my phone away and continued on to pick up my kids at daycare.

I regret that now. Because at around the same time, two blocks from the intersection I had just left, a woman was touched in almost an identical fashion, except in her case, the assailant had a knife. 

The victim, 33, who did not want her name published, said she halted at a stop sign after crossing the John Philip Sousa Bridge. She had started pedaling again when she saw a man, who seemed unsteady on his feet, walking toward her. She was crossing the street at the intersection of 17th and G streets SE, about two blocks from her home.

She said that she tried to steer so that she would avoid the man, but he grabbed her arm and hit her in the shoulder.

She managed to stay on the bike and pedaled away. After several blocks, she looked over her shoulder to see if the man was following her. She saw that she was bleeding.

She stopped at a residence where a person was in the front yard and told him, “I just was stabbed! Can you help me?” She called 911 and was taken to a hospital, where she received stitches to close the knife wound, she said.

Police are looking for a black man between the ages of 30 and 40 and about 5 foot 11. He was wearing a black shirt and black jeans at the time of the stabbing at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

Based on Strava, my incident happened almost exactly at 5pm, which means I'm not sure if it happened before or after hers. 

I did call the police later that evening to report the incident - in case it was part of a pattern (little did I know). A police officer showed up and seemed pretty disinterested (he was very concerned that we had a package on our front porch though), and didn't take a report and basically made me feel like I'd wasted both our time, but after the stabbing I was able to contact the investigating officer in that case. 

I guess my lesson here is that when I feel uncomfortable enough to run, I should call 911. 

CaBi at National Airport by summer 2017

Along with several other locations along the Mt. Vernon Trail. Via NBC4

Arlington County recently approved the addition of eight stations, bringing the number of stations from along the parkway from one to nine. Federal funds the county received will help pay for the stations. 

The county has proposed the following Capital Bikeshare station locations:

  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Pentagon
  • Parking lot serving the parkway and Theodore Roosevelt Island
  • Gravelly Point Park
  •  Crystal City 
  • Rosslyn
  • Joint Base Myer/Henderson Hall
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Installation is expected to begin next summer and will take a year to complete. 

Depending on where the DCA station is, it could be a real benefit to employees and passengers alike. 

6 out of 9 of the 2016 TLC Technical Assistance Program recommended projects are bike related

The TPB initiated the Transportation/Land-Use Connections (TLC) Program in November 2006 to provide technical assistance to local jurisdictions as they deal with the challenges of integrating land-use and transportation planning at the community level. The TPB’s FY 2016 Work Program budgets a total of $420,000 for this program. Of this total amount $160,000 is committed by the Maryland Department of Transportation from its Technical Assistance program element in the TPB’s Work Program.

The TPB received a total of 15 applications for FY 2016 TLC technical assistance including one from the District of Columbia, six from Maryland, and eight from Virginia. Applications included proposals for planning projects as well as for 30% design. Funding requests ranged from $30,000 to $80,000. The total amount requested for all applications was $749,000.

The TLC Project Selection Panel met on July 7, 2015 to develop a list of projects to recommend for funding in the FY 2016 round of TLC technical assistance. The TLC recommends funding 9 programs of which 6 are bicycle related. 

Arlington County – Low Stress Bicycle Network Mapping ($45,000) Arlington County requests assistance in planning to increase bicycle use among the “interested, but concerned” user group. Working off research from Northeastern University, the County hopes to implement a network mapping methodology that will identify areas of low traffic stress to direct future bicycle facility investments and encourage more residents to consider bicycling. The final plan will include a GIS database of high-priority missing connections in the County to guide the ranking of capital projects.

District of Columbia - K Street / Water Street Bikeway and Pedestrian Connectivity Enhancements ($60,000) The District of Columbia requests assistance in addressing connectivity issues in Georgetown between the Capital Crescent and Rock Creek Trails. The project will create a safer, more accessible link between the two trails, as well as improve public space between 34th St and Aqueduct Bridge. The plan will address these present concerns and future multimodal issues with the anticipated expansion of the DC Streetcar.

College Park – Citywide Bicycle Boulevards ($30,000) The City of College Park requests assistance in the creation of a plan to design bicycle boulevards along neighborhood streets. The plan will work to identify routes and detail specific elements of roadway retrofits to improve safety and traffic stress for existing and potential cyclists. The final document will map and identify key City destinations, bikeshare stations, and cost estimates for proposed facilities.

Fairfax County - Vienna Metrorail Station Area Bicycle Improvements ($45,000) Fairfax County requests assistance in planning to prioritize and design improved on-road bicycle facilities along streets that access the Vienna Metrorail Station. The project will help the County identify and evaluate potential facilities, and develop planning-level cost estimates to guide future funding.

Gaithersburg – Improving Access to Transit ($30,000) The City of Gaithersburg requests assistance in improving first and last mile connections to the city’s three major transit stations. The plan will borrow techniques from the TPB’s TCSP funded “Access to underutilized rail stations study” and identify low cost and high investments to improve station access. The final plan document will include facility recommendations, financial cost estimates, to be implemented by the City in the short- and mid-term.

Prince George’s County – Central Avenue Connector Trail 30% Design ($80,000) Prince George’s County requests assistance in designing the first segments of the proposed Central Avenue Connector Trail, linking the Capitol Heights, Addison Road, Morgan Blvd and Largo Town Center Metrorail Stations. The trail is divided into five priority segments, and this project will help design facilities for the first segment near the Addison Road Station.

All projects are to be completed by June 30, 2016. Here's a list of previously completed projects

In addition, under TAP, the following projects will be funding for Maryland

Montgomery County, North Branch Hiker-Biker Trail ($2,000,000) - Construct a trail connection between Rock Creek Trail and North Branch Trail.

Montgomery County, MD 355-Clarksburg Shared Use Path ($523,416) - Create a link in the existing trail network along MD 355 between Little Bennett Regional Park Trail and the Frederick Road Bike Path

DC hospitals are required to collect bicycle injury data, but not to release it

At a recent DC Bicycle Advisory Council Safety Committee meeting, Helaina Roisman, GWU Hospital’s Outreach Coordinator for Trauma Services and Injury Prevention informed the committee that all DC hospitals are required to collect trauma and injury data (Which I suppose is part of the Injury Surveillance and Trauma Registry). This data includes designations as to which injuries relate to bicycle crashes. 

But, this information is not shared with the public, and doesn't even appear to be analyzed. Even the District government has had trouble getting access to it. In 2012, DC assembeled a team to do an assement of District Traffic Records, and that group reported that:

There are four trauma centers in the District; however, data are not compiled from each facility and no comprehensive trauma registry exists. Information related to hospital records, both emergency department and inpatient, was not available to the assessment team.

They listed the development of a District trauma registry that receives data from all four trauma centers as a top priority.

This information, assuming it can be released in compliance with HIPAA, etc..., should be made publicly available for study and analysis. Having reliable injury data would enable the city to set benchmarks and evaluate progress over time on injury prevention, and to build safety education programs that address the real risks in DC. 

GWU, and other hospitals, reportedly have a legal obligation to try to prevent the injuries that they treat and it seems that making data of this sort available to researches - and even data nerds in the public - would be a great way to meet that obligation. 

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