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Study of Capital Bikeshare concludes that it reduces congestion by 2-3%

From a recent study of Capital Bikeshare:

Our empirical results indicate that the average treatment effect of the presence of bikeshare docks is a 2 to 3% reduction in traffic congestion. In addition to these results, we also find evidence of a potential spillover effect, in which docks increase congestion in neighboring locations, perhaps as they lead drivers to find alternative routes to avoid bicycle traffic. The magnitude of this impact is substantial relative to the effect in which docks offer transportation alternatives and reduce traffic congestion.

Klingle Valley Trail to be completed in December 2016

Just in time for the Trump inauguration! (which is perhaps why that man is thinking of throwing himself into the creek).

Klingle Creek

DDOT held a public meeting on the construction of the Klingle Valley Trail and the restoration of Klingle Creek. This included several renderings of the trail, such as the one above, and a schedule.

Currently, the project is finishing up site preparation and in the process of gas line replacement on the west end of the valley. That will continue until November and then stream restoration and east side gas line replacement will start and last until spring. Stream restoration will be prohibited from March 1 to June 1, and during that time work will begin on the trail west of Connecticut Avenue and on the ramp to Beach Drive.

Klingle West Trailhead

The west end of the trail will connect to the remaining portion of Klingle Road NW, just east of Cortland Place NW.
Klingle West Trailhead

A lot of effort is being put into controlling storm water, including removing the existing pavement, using permeable pavement where needed and adding bioretention facilities.

Klingle Permeable

Klingle West Trailhead

I believe the current roadway along the ramp is to be narrowed to make room for the 8' wide Trail which will connect to the Rock Creek Park Trail on the east end.

In May, work will begin on the sidewalk from the east trailhead to Porter Street, replacing the current desire line which the red arrow below points to.

Klingle Desire Line

All of that trail work, and the gas line replacement, is to be done by the end of June. 

In July, work begins anew on the stream restoration and starts on the trail section from Connecticut Avenue to the east Trailhead.

Klingle CT Ave Bridge

The trail as it passes below the Connecticut Avenue Bridge.


Klingle CT Ave Bridge

The east trailhead will be just west of Rock Creek and Porter Street.
Klingle CT Ave Bridge

Stream restoration should be complete by November 2016, Klingle Road between the trail and Porter will be repaved on October of that year and by the end of the year, the whole trail - and the project will be complete. 

The new trail will have lighting, landscaping, fencing, benches, trash cans and signage. And the whole project should result in a cleaner Rock Creek too.

One addition that might makes sense in the future would be to add a trail connection along the right of way that used to be Jewett Street. On this map from 1937, you can see that it used to connect to Connecticut Avenue, and it's the reason that the Kennedy Warren Apartments are shaped like they are.

Klingle to North

I'm not sure when this road was removed (sometime between 1951 and 1970 though), but a trail along its extant ROW would connect to the current North Road and thus to Connecticut Ave, creating a useful connection between Klingle/Rock Creek and Connecticut Ave - as well as a better way to get around the Zoo for those travelling east-west.

Texting while driving, hit-and-run driver who killed Hagerstown cyclist sentenced to 5 years

Nadine Rager, a Western Maryland woman who struck and killed a cyclist while she was texting and then drove away, pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter by vehicle and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, all but 5 suspended. 

Circuit Court Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. sentenced Nadine Louise-Nicole Rager, 24, of Abbey Lane to serve 10 years, but suspended five years and gave her 165 days of credit for previous time served.

Long also ordered Rager, who pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter by vehicle, to be on supervised probation for five years upon her release and pay restitution of $1,979 to the family of John William Bushman Sr. to cover funeral costs.

In addition to texting while driving,

Investigators also determined that Rager was traveling home after visiting a drug dealer to purchase spice, or synthetic marijuana, and also had smoked some of the illegal substance earlier in the night.

Assistant State's Attorney Leon Debes said he learned that Rager was "not a very good person," noting several instances in which she lied about the events that unfolded the night Bushman was killed.

He told the judge that Rager was disrespectful to family members when she was jailed and showed little remorse for what had happened.

Meanwhile the defense argued that she was the victim of abuse

Assistant Public Defender Loren R. Villa said that Rager, also a mother of a young child, endured a difficult upbringing, and was abused and molested when she was a child.

She struggled with substance abuse and got mixed up with the wrong crowd, Villa said.

Bushman had had trouble with the law, but was trying to turn his life around. He was riding a bike to work rather than drive on a suspended license. 

Bushman and Rager were both traveling west along West Washington Street when the crash occurred. Rager, who was driving her boyfriend's 2010 Mazda 3, fled the scene without stopping, prosecutors said.

About 15 minutes after the accident, a passer-by spotted Bushman's body lying in the road and alerted authorities. The collision left pieces of the car behind, and investigators were able to identify the make and model of the vehicle

Without knowing the extent of his injuries, one has to wonder if 15 minutes would have made a difference here. That can be a very long time for someone in trauma as I understand it.

And she's a repeat offender here.

Rager's previous record includes probation before judgment for driving while suspended and using a handheld telephone while driving, prosecutors said.

Those charges were filed in 2014, but the pleas were entered on Feb. 5, a week after Bushman's death, according to Washington County District Court records.

Online court records indicated Rager also had an earlier conviction for using a handheld telephone while driving.

Some piece of work. 

On the one hand, the only other Maryland driver I know of who was sentenced to as long as 10 years for a fatal bike crash is former Terrapin football player Quinzy Fraser. [His sentence was suspended to eight years, of which he should be about half way done now. But I remember about 2 years ago he was up for parole, and I can't find him in the Maryland Corrections system, so who knows].

On the other hand, that sentence seemed a little short for someone who was, like Rager, a repeat offender, who drove recklessly and then left the cyclist to die. 

 

San Francisco city official to introduce policy to decriminalize Safe Stop Cycling

According to Streetsblog

[San Francisco] Supervisor John Avalos plans to introduce a policy urging the SFPD to let people on bikes treat stop signs as yield signs. It could legitimize the safe, practical maneuver already practiced by the vast majority of people on bikes, which is legal in Idaho.

This isn't the Idaho Stop, as it doesn't allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and it isn't even the Colorado Safe Stop, because treating a stop sign as a yield sign will still be illegal. That's a state law and San Francisco can't overrule it. But it will basically decriminalize such behavior by creating a policy that would “make citations for bicyclists who safely yield at stop signs the lowest law enforcement priority.”

Further weakening it is this

the non-binding stop sign legislation would need support from SFPD officials to have a substantial impact.

Still, it's a step above the status quo.

Sidewalk closure along Canal pushes pedestrians into the street

DC Water is rehabilitating one of their sewer lines in the area of the Capital Crescent Trail

 DC Water will begin the rehabilitation of the Upper Potomac Interceptor, which is the 48" sanitary sewer main that runs along the Capitol Crescent Trail, as well as cleaning and inspection of the 18" sanitary sewer starting at Canal Road NW. 

In order to do this work, the sidewalk on Canal Road NW between Foxhall Road NW and the Key Bridge has been closed for pedestrians. Unfortunately, there isn't any good alternative for pedestrians (and cyclists) travelling this route. A "detour" told sidewalk users to cross the street, but there's no crosswalk or curb ramps there, and the "sidewalk" on the other side of Canal doesn't pick up for several hundred feet. Even then, it quickly narrows down to about 1 foot wide and isn't really a viable option. The only alternative that doesn't involve ignoring the signs is to go all the way up to Reservoir Road, about 5 blocks away.

Sidewalk closed

The whole sidewalk was blocked at one point

Blocked

And people who ignored the sign (because they couldn't see the large boxes) eventually crossed to the median.

Median

Seems like a case where closing a lane of the road might have been in order. I wonder if DDOT approved this configuration, as it doesn't seem to be in compliance with the rules for "complete closure of a sidewalk."

When closing a sidewalk adjacent to a roadway with more than two travel lanes and where at least one end of the sidewalk closure is more than 150 feet from the nearest signalized crosswalk, the Traffic Control Plan showing the closure of the sidewalk requires the written approval of the District Department of Transportation Pedestrian Program Coordinator or work zone technician assigned to review the traffic control plan

Thanks to Brett for the photos and notifying me of this. 

View of the new DC Water Building from the ART

A new rendering, and others here.

Dc-water-boardwalk

It also looks like the trail is to get a new connection at 2nd Street, once that is opened. 

"D.C. Water operations have been designated as a Tier 1 National Asset by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For that reason, the property will be protected by security zones and a security buffer. There will be no interior bicycle parking..."

Going car free: it isn't just for New Yorkers

By Jonathan Krall

To some, a car is a symbol of freedom. To others, going “car free” means independence from the stress of driving. With Car Free Day and Try Transit Week coming up in September, now is a good time to ask: what is the appeal of doing without a car? So I asked my neighbors in Alexandria.

As it turns out, cars are kind of a pain. Eric Zander of Del Ray finds grocery shopping easier by bicycle: “due to parking and such, it is actually faster to ride than drive." For Mark James, also of Del Ray, a car is a burden. “I've been car free since April 6, 2013 and LOVE not having the responsibility in owning a car." Dino Drudi of Old Town takes DASH because he likes “being 'chauffeured' around.” Scott Anderson of Cameron Station tried going car free and his perspective changed: “Living without a car has taught me that a lot of the people who do drive cars, ought not to. I have been hit twice, thankfully without serious injury."

In the USA, cars are pervasive. Some responses to my question came from car owners who simply drive less than they used to. While cars are still endemic, vehicle-miles-driven in the US stopped growing in 2005, with nationwide impacts. In July, Iowa DOT chief Paul Trombino told the Urban Land Institute that he plans to reduce Iowa's highway lane-miles to save money.  Virginia Tech's Ralph Buehler studies local trends. In 2012, he reported that 12% of Alexandria households are car free, the highest percentage in the DC area outside of DC itself (Arlington was third at 11%).

To my mind, the growth in car-free living is a sea change. Rather than fewer cars, however, the change is that Americans have more options and use them more often. Put another way, we can now go car free without being mistaken for losers, freaks, or New Yorkers. For Stacy Langsdale of South Old Town, it was easier gave up her car while in graduate school, where “there was no social expectation of car ownership.”

As I myself tried car-free living, I kept my car until it was only causing expense. Anderson had a similar experience when he moved to Virginia. “I took with me an old and somewhat unreliable car, so when I saw that there was semi-decent bus service and things I could walk to, I decided to drive it as little as possible. After a few months of really not using the car at all, my oldest daughter needed a car so I gave mine to her.” For Langsdale, “the trigger was the realization that my registration had lapsed and I didn't feel any urgency to renew it.”

Without a car, some trips take longer, but with the benefit of exercise and, with transit, time to read. Running errands without a car requires advance planning and problem-solving, something I personally enjoy. While some do crosswords to keep their minds sharp, I figure out how to run my errands by bicycle on a rainy day without getting my groceries soaked on the way home. Lightweight rain gear and a good weather app come in handy.

Margaret Wohler, another resident of Del Ray, tells me that “errands with children [are] easily solved with a cargo bike or tag-along. My little kids enjoyed this...bundle them up in winter, or adjust the timing of your errands in bad weather."

Car-free living is hardly a “lifestyle,” but it can be healthy. More exercise, slowing down, and reducing stress are sure to please your doctor. Says Wohler, "I have adjusted my shopping habits to biking: I grocery shop every day and get fewer things in smaller quantities, European-style."

Like any change in habit, trying transit can have unexpected benefits. When I began taking the bus four years ago, I found co-workers at the bus stop, ready with workplace news and gossip. Because I value exercise over gossip I usually ride my bicycle. But on rainy days, when traffic seems more aggressive, the bus can be a lifesaver. And that workplace gossip, a career-saver.

Alexandria celebrates Car Free Day on September 22 and Try Transit Week September 21-25. 

crossposted at Alexandria News

Connecting the TR Bridge's downstream sidewalk for cheap

Last week, GGW had a post that reported Arlington County's counter data for three of the six (I'm including Wilson here) bridges from Virginia to DC with bike/ped facilities.The three included were the 14th Street, Key and Roosevelt Bridges. Arlington doesn't have count data for the other three. Unsurprisingly, the Roosevelt Bridge had the lowest count. The Roosevelt Bridge has a lot of well noted and well known issues, but also a lot of potential that makes it low hanging fruit. 

One thing that could be done relatively cheaply is to connect the downstream sidewalk to the Mt Vernon Trail via the Arlington Boulevard Bridge and at at-grade crossing ot the NB Parkway as seen in the crudely-drawn image below. I mentioned this before earlier this year.

TR to MVT

The Arlington Blvd Bridge is oddly built, being ~twice as wide as the road, allowing the extra width to be used by a trail crossing. 

An at-grade crossing of the Parkway would be odd, but there already is one further south, so it can't really be a deal-breaker.

From 23rd and Constitution, this is about 0.1 miles shorter for those going north on the MVT than using the Roosevelt Bridge's north side. So, it provides marginaly utility. But it would have a recreational benefit, especially if NPS were to add amenities to the two newly accessible medians between Arlingtlon Blvd and the Parkway. And it would create some redundancy as well.

For those going south from 23rd and Constitution it would still be about 0.2 miles longer than using Memorial Bridge, but it might involve less interaction with traffic. But the point is it could be done without building any new bridges. It would need NPS approval though.

A variation on this would create a TR bridge connection by going under Arlington Blvd at this same bridge, loop around and up to cross Boundary Channel on the south side of it, along S. Washington Blvd to an at-grade crossing of S. Washington Blvd and then up to the bike path along the north side of Memorial Circle. 

TR to Memorial Circle

This would actually have more utility to those who are going toward Arlington Cemetery or to Arlington via the trail along the west side of 110. But the space under the Boundary Channel Bridge is a bit narrow.

Then, if one wants to go completely nuts, there is this.

Nuts

Instead of crossing Washington Boulvard it goes under Memorial Avenue on a protected bike lane (made by narrowing Washington Blvd) and then back over Boundary Channel via the unused west-side sidewalk on the Washington Blvd bridge, onto a trail along the inside of the loop there and then onto North Boundary Channel Drive. I have no idea who would use this. Still, no new bridges needed. 

NE Maryland could get a new rail trail

Between Salisbury and Mardela Springs near Delaware.

Their target is a stretch of unused railroad tracks that stretch from Salisbury to Mardela Springs.  And their goal is to turn those tracks into a new pedestrian and cyclist trail.

The Wicomico County Council will soon be sending a letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation asking the department to consider the tracks to trail project in its upcoming five-year budget.  But some nearby neighbors, like Colston, wouldn't mind seeing another addition to that project before the letter is sent.

"A fence.  A big fence," said Colston.  "So that people don't have access to my backyard."

Some people are so arrogant. What makes him think people want access to his back yard. Does it have a trampoline or something awesome like that? [Because if so, I'm on my way right now - trail or no].

Continue reading "NE Maryland could get a new rail trail" »

Cycling has a higher risk of fatality than driving or walking, mostly because of men

Yesterday's CDC report linked to a study that compared the risk of various modes of travel. It used mortality rates from 1999-2003 and exposure as determined by the 2001 National Household Travel Survey to do so. Cycling was determined to be more than twice as deadly as riding in a car and about 1.5 times as deadly as walking. 

We found that bicyclist fatality rates per trip were higher for males than females and for adolescents and adults than children 5–14 years of age, which is consistent with studies that used amount of time spent cycling as the primary exposure measure (21). Although children spend more time on bicycles than adults do (21), they may be less likely to travel on roads with high traffic volume or high speeds or during nighttime hours, which are more dangerous settings in which to cycle. On the basis of amount of time spent cycling, Rodgers (21) found increased bicycle fatality risk for those who rode after dark. Such differences in exposure to different traffic environments were not captured in our analysis.

A few interesting tidbits jumped out at me. 

1. While motoring gets safer as you move into middle age (25-64), walking and biking get more dangerous. This is probably because the data includes single car fataliteis, but not single bike fatalities - and becaue single bike and single pedestrian fatalities are probably much more rare per capita than single car fatalities are - meaning that youthful operator failure may be more of an issue for driving.

However, when looking at injuries instead of fatalities, 15-24 year olds have the highest injury rates for all modes. 

2. For women, biking is safer than walking, but for men it is not - and significantly so. But when considering injuries, biking becomes much more risky than walking regardless of sex. 

3. For women, biking is not that much more dangerous than motoring (7.2 fatalities per 100 million trips compared to 6.3 for motoring), but for men it is more than twice as deadly. Which means that much of the difference betweeing motoring and cycling fatality rates is being driven by male cyclist behavior.

The overall mortality rate for males was six times greater than the overall mortality rate for females. In 2012, males accounted for 87% of total bicycle deaths in the United States. This proportion increased over the 38-year study period, from 79% in 1977 to a peak of 90% in 2001.

One could conclude that if men biked more like women did, there would be fewer cyclist deaths.

Again, the study only suggests possible countermeasures

Measures that prevent crashes and injuries for pedestrians and bicyclists are needed, especially given the recent focus on increasing physical activity through active travel. The benefits of physical activity, including prevention of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, must be balanced against the increased injury risks for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on roadways. Effective countermeasures for these road users include sidewalks, bicycle lanes, bicycle helmets [Here it cites a 1995 recommendation - probably based on one of the discredited studies], reductions in vehicle speeds, and engineering measures such as traffic signals at high-speed intersections; exclusive walk signal phasing; refuge islands and raised medians on multilane, high-traffic-volume roads; and increased intensity of roadway lighting to reduce nighttime pedestrian crashes.

As noted yesterday, a lot of the difference in risk might be due to cycling outside of the urban environement - riding on bike-unfriendly highways or shoulders next to 55mph lanes. DC, the most urban "state" in the country, certainly seems safer than others. So while biking in generaly might be more risky than motoring nationwhide; in an urban area - and one with bike facilities especially - that may no longer be true.

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