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Cyclist secures $21M verdict in Virginia Crash

Michael Sprick, who was struck from behind while riding on the shoulder on Route 100 in Pulaski County, VA, won a $21 million settlement (with $7 million in attorney's fees) in January. 

The settlement is "one of the largest personal injury settlements ever recovered in Virginia" wrote U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou.

The article at Virginia Lawyer's Weekly is behind the paywall and mostly about how hard the lawyers had to work to win the case. Sprick was in Germany, which created language issues and meant the billing was in an unorthodox format, since they're blind to retail cost. At one point they thought Sprick would die and they had to work with the insurance company to get the money to fly him back home. The truck was owned by a subsidiary of Hostess, which went bankrupt during the process. Still, most of the litigation was about damages, not who was at fault. Here's a more available article. 

Witnesses claimed the truck drifted onto the shoulder and hit Sprick from behind, sending him flying 105 feet. The driver claimed that a another vehicle forced him to the right. The driver was convicted of reckless driving and driving on a suspended license, and sentenced to a $500 in fine (with another $100 suspended for good behavior) and a suspended 90-day jail sentence back in 2011. 

DC Bike Swap on May 17th

From Gearin' Up Bicycles

If you're anything like us, you've been collecting stuff all summer and now you've got a room/shop filled with extra bike stuff you don't want or need. Luckily, Gearin' Up Bicycles is hosting a spring swap meet just for you and all your stuff on Sunday, May 17th!

Looking to unload your stuff? Secure your space today by going here: https://dcbikeswap.eventbrite.com. Looking for some parts, bikes, or good impulse buys? Bring a little cash for a donation and your best haggling skills to 314 Randolph Place NE at 10AM and get your swap on. A $5 donation is suggested at the door. Gearin' Up Bicycles is a non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for youth and young adults in under-served communities while encouraging cycling as a healthy and practical means of transportation.

Here's what you need to know:

What: Bike Swap Meet

When: Sunday, May 17th, 10AM-2PM

Where: Parking lot next to 314 Randolph Place NE

Who: You, your stuff, and Gearin' Up Bicycles

Why: Help support us so we can help kids. And get your swap on.

More information and updates available through Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/events/1455329368090616/ .

2015 Street Smart Campaign underway

The 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign is underway. This campaign includes advertising designed to improve road use coupled with increased enforcement.

In Arlington, it coincides with the 2015 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program.

The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas.  This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015.  Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.

A kick-off for the campaign was held on Wednesday in College Park. 

As part of the campaign, which runs from March 23 to April 19, regional law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists who break traffic safety laws. Violators on foot, bicycle, and behind the wheel will be ticketed and face fines up to $500, and drivers may also get points on their driver record.

Street Smart officials launched the spring initiative at College Park City Hall. Several pedestrian fatalities in College Park last year led officials to reduce the speed limit for MD Route 1 from 30 mph to 25 mph and to add improvements such as median fencing and signals to help pedestrians safely cross the roadway. Officials shared the message of awareness and accountability at today’s gathering.

This year they are again using the pictures showing people with tire tracks on their face, with the clever lines "Make eye contact, not body contact." I would love to find some evidence that the ad campaign side of it works. I'm skeptical. There is a scene from a TV show that I recall when I see these. Two characters at an ad agency are talking about a splashy TV ad they just made and one asks if it will improve sales. The other says no, but that the print and radio ads will. "Then why make the TV ad?" the first asks. "It's artsy, it will win awards and we'll make more money" is the response. These ads feel a little like that.

I'd rather have ads that explain the law to people who don't know it. Like the 3 foot law. Or mandatory bike lights. 

Maybe this would work better:

 

Bike Rack expanding to Brookland on April 18

They'll be opening in space shared with Filter coffee for the first bike/coffee shop. But when will we get our first cat bicycle cafe?

Bikes and coffee just go together, ask any cyclist. We feel that a bike shop should be a community gathering spot for the local community and for cyclists. A coffee bar helps to create that feel year round.

We’ll share space under one roof with Filter Coffeehouse at 716 Monroe St. NE. Filter will inhabit the street facing part of the store, and we’ll inhabit the rest. We’ll be offering everything you’ve come to expect from our Logan Circle location: the highest quality products and service!

I've for a long time thought of this as the next place to need a bike shop. Now at the top of the list - Takoma, Navy Yard and Historic Anacostia. 

Bike in Bloom is Back

Bikeinbloom

Capital Bikeshare has brought back Bike in Bloom. For those unaware, Bike in Bloom is a special pink capital bikeshare bike that is added to the system to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival. I believe the current single-day use record for CaBi is from last year's CBF, so it's a natural fit. But it's more than just a pink bike, there are also prizes.

When you spot the #bikeinbloom, whether it’s at a dock, on a ride or taking you for a spin, snap a picture. Post your photo to FacebookTwitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #bikeinbloom, and you’ll be entered to win great prizes from our friends and partners all over the DC area.

[Just to tease CaBi a bit, it looks like they used a template for this month's email and then failed to fill it all in. This results in sentences like "We added __ new stations and expanded ____ last month. " and "There were ___ trips covering ___ miles in November 2014. This represents a 1 percent increase over November 2013." I've done the same thing in my monthly reports at work.]

WABA's Arlington Boulevard Trail Concept Plan

WABA recently put together a detailed Concept Plan for the Arlington Boulevard Trail, with hopes that it will lead to more investment in the corridor and a complete and better trail. This is similar to the 1999 Concept Plan that WABA wrote for the Metropolitan Branch Trail (but hopefully will follow a faster timeline). Without rewriting the whole thing here, I'll just quote a bit of the summary.

Much of the Arlington Boulevard bicycle route already exists in the form of off-road paths and wide service roads with little traffic.Building just 1.3 miles of bridges and 8.1 miles of protected bicycle lanes (or off-road shared-use paths) would create a continuous trail,22 miles in length, on both the north and south sides of Arlington Boulevard. A basic, interim version of this focused on at-grade improvements and “low hanging fruit” could be built for just $2-4M,while a high quality path with grade separated crossing of major obstacles would cost $20-40M as redevelopment allows for increased investment.

The map below gives a pretty quick view of what is envisioned. 

Mostly what is needed to bring this idea to fruition is paint, maintenance and some trail widening. The major capital improvements including a connection from the Marine Corps Memorial to the south span of the Roosevelt Bridge, new trail or protected bike facilities through the Seven Corners region, a bike/ped bridge over I-495, 

It really is kind of a no-brainer. There are a lot of trails in the pipeline right now, but after that, there aren't that many options in the urban core. This is one of them. 

NVTA two-year plan meeting

Arlington’s Transportation Commission (TC), will host a Town Hall session on March 30th to discuss the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s (NVTA) Two Year Program in order to get a more localized perspective from the region’s citizens. Arlington has three projects up for consideration under this Program, at least one of which has significant bike elements to it

The Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements includes the Columbia Pike Bike Boulevards and the Washington Boulevard Bridge project. 

The meeting will be on Monday, March 30, 2015 at 6:30 PM at the County Board Room

Related, here is the full list of NOVA two-year plan projects and the list of proposed funding for NOVA projects using CMAQ/RSTP money. Alexandria and Arlington are getting all the bike-share money they requested, but Herndon is getting none of the Trails to Metrorail funding.

Trolley Right of Way Survey Results - Local Edition

The Trails Committee of the Palisades Citizens Association recently presented the results of their survey at a PCA meeting earlier this month. While most of the people at the meeting seemed to be either supportive or ambivalent about the trail, a small group of 8-9 participants were strongly opposed to the trail and questioned the validity and meaning of the results. One major concern of this group was that the survey results included the responses of DC residents who didn't live in the immediate area. [Respondents who lived outside of DC were eliminated because the land is DC-owned land]. As a result, the Trails Committee reworked the slides to include, in addition to the previous analysis, a presentation of the responses of those who lived only in Palisades and Foxhall Village.

Enhancements

While support does drop a few percentage points if only locals are considered, the same six points that were highlighted originally, still garner at least 60% support.

Similar shifts are true when looking at other results. For trail surface, a slight majority of locals support no change to the surface as opposed to a strong plurality when all residents are considered. For bridge construction, each bridge still has majority support.

Bridges

Likewise, support for bicyclists on the trail went down and concern for trail issues went up, but only by a few percent.

There were other concerns with the survey that those opposed to a trail brought up. Some thought that the word "enhancement" was biased in favor of the trail. Others worried that the question asking if a respondent supported the statement "I prefer no enhancements" was confusing, since a positive response of support or strongly support was needed to show that one preferred no enhancements. The presenter pointed out that the meetings where the questions were defined were open to the public and that at least one person strongly opposed to changing the ROW was on the committee and signed off on the questions.

A first look at the Metropolitan Branch Trail's northern DC sections

DDOT today hosted a presentation of the preliminary design plans for the Metropolitan Branch Trail's remaining DC sections. This includes the remainder of the trail from Catholic University to Maryland, as well as the Prince George's County Connector.

The trail will include on-road and off-road sections, sometimes as trails through green space, sometimes as a sidepath and, in one stretch, jammed as elegantly as possible between an in-use trash transfer center and cement plant on one side and an active rail line on the other. Call that a drainage ditch-to-trail conversion. The width varies from 12 feet, where possible, to 10 feet in other sections.

Image (78)

Starting from the Brookland CUA-Metro and moving north, the plan is to redesign the Metro Plaza, but somehow I have no renderings of that. From there trail users would use the existing side-path - the section built in 1999 and shown in purple on the picture above - until reaching Fort Totten Park and the trash transfer center. At that point, the trail would squeeze between the industrial facilities mentioned above, separated by concrete retaining wall and a low fence. 

CementPlantRendering

 

Trail between the Cement Plant and RR Tracks

Then it would turn left to go over the Metro tunnel and sharply right to get back to 1st Place NE where it would connect to the PG County Connector; the existing trail west to Gallatin Street and to the continued trail north.  To 1st Place there would be both stairs and a ramp.

FtTottenMetro

 

Trail map near the Ft. Totten Metro

The Gallatin Street connection to the west will be improved with a better turn radius; a wider, better surface and a more trail like feel (sorry I failed to get a photo of this either).

The PG County Connector will be an on-street route on existing roads, with a small trail connection right at the boundary. 

GallatinEast

 

DC portion of the PG County Connector

Heading north, the trail will stay on a sidepath along the west side of 1st Place and then the south side of Riggs. There will be no bridge over Riggs or a trail east of 1st Street on NPS land because NPS ultimately refused it. Along 1st Place at Riggs, a sidewalk will also be added to the east side.

1statRiggs

 

1st Place NE at Riggs Road

The trail will go on-road/sidewalk along 1st Street NE until crossing New Hampshire Avenue and then head west on McDonald Avenue to Blair Road. At Blair Road, the trail will again transition to a side path that will be 10-12 feet wide, depending on conditions. Just north of McDonald, the trail will double as access to the Oglethorpe Community Garden and will thus include a small bumpout for garden loading and unloading and allow limited vehicular access on a 12 foot wide section.

Oglethorpegarden

 

Oglethorpe Community Garden

North of Peabody, the trail will come with improved crosswalks, landscaping and some additional streetside parking, built by reducing Blair by a lane.

Blair

Along Blair Road, narrowed to add parking

 Just north of Tuckerman the trail splits into two 6 foot sections for part of a block.. 

AndyHarrisSucks

 

Trail map near Tuckerman

...before reconnecting into a protected trail - separated by a wall - along a lane-reduced Blair Road.

BlairNarrowed

 

Blair Road with protected path

The trail will turn under the railroad tracks at Aspen, and then along the side of Sandy Spring before returning to an on-street route along Maple, Carroll, Ceder and Eastern.

SandySpring

 

Sandy Spring

The last piece of the trail is a block long section on the SE side of Eastern/Takoma Avenue from Piney Branch to the existing, ignoble terminus of the Maryland section of the trail along Takoma Avenue.

Eastern

 

Connection to Montgomery County

It's unfortunate that the Riggs Road Bridge could not be included, just as it was disappointing that the Monroe Avenue underpass could not, but that was expected, and has been for a long time. 

It's also unfortunate that the PG County Connector is almost all going to be on-road in DC, when there is a suitable green strip there (owned by NPS of course) for use. 

But all things considered, it looks great and I'm ready for them to build it. Construction should begin in 2017.

Secret Service Police officer(s?) harassing cyclists in Rock Creek Park

Twice in the last 6 weeks I've gotten reports from cyclists about being harassed by a Secret Service police officer, and while I'd like to flatter myself that all people treated such way will immediately write me about it, that's certainly not true, so I wouldn't be surprised if there were more. The first cyclist posted their experience to the bike Arlington forum.

I was biking on Beach Drive (in the part that has a path next to it) in Rock Creek Park at 15 mph. A secret service agent stopped me and told me to get out of the road because I was going below the speed limit.

The SS officer in this case was wrong, but it didn't seem too egregious. I'm working on the assumption that the second incident involves the same officer.

I was riding north on Beach Dr. Behind me I heard sirens and saw an unmarked car with lights flashing.  For reference traffic was very light, I was riding solo and not holding anyone up. The officer screams at me to get off the road which I tell him I will (thinking he means at a safe street crossing), he then screams profanity and pulls in front of me forcing me to jump into the dirt. 

The unmarked car, followed by two uniformed division secret service cars then pulled over and the second car stopped traffic in the southbound lanes to "escort" the cyclist onto the bike path on the other side of beach drive. 

He then screams at me for "riding a f-ing bike in the f-ing road" and I think tries to escalate the situation by continuing to use profanity and a raised voice.  After it is clear that he has no reason to detain me, the officer in the second car stops both sides of traffic and tells me I have to use the "bike path"

He was told to never ride in the road again. I'll note, they weren't responding to some other crime. The lights and sirens were for the cyclist.

In neither case has the officer been identified, though in the second he drove a dark blue unmarked sedan, had dark hair and a beard and was about 5'9  and about 250 lbs. If you have a similar experience, do as you're told (no reason to escalate things with someone with a gun) but try to get a license plate, a name or a badge number. The particularly bold among you could politely ask the officer to write them a ticket (I personally wouldn't though).

Cyclists, of course, have every right to ride on Beach Drive and the speed limit is a maximum, not a minimum. Nor do I think it is the job of the Secret Service to keep traffic flowing in Rock Creek Park. I suspect the Secret Service - which is not having the best year ever -  would be eager to bring this individual (if it is just one person) back into line. 

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