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Baltimore woman pleads guilty in DUI crash that injured two cyclists in Annapolis

Sentencing will happen Dec 18th

Prosecutors said Colbert hit bicyclists Katie Pohler, 23, and Todd Green, 27, while she was driving on June 28 on Route 450 near Brice Lane in the Annapolis area. Officials said the victims were in the dedicated bike lane and that Colbert drifted into them.

Pohler and Green were flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where Pohler underwent treatment for critical injuries. Green was treated and released, but Pohler is still recovering.

Officials said Colbert had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 at the time, which is nearly double the legal limit. She had also been driving with a 3-year-old relative in the car, prosecutors said.

Frankly, she was lucky that her two victims were young and healthy. Some other cyclists might not have survived. In fact, if one of them later dies from complications due to their injuries, I suppose she could be charged with some form of homicide. 

She was orginially indicted on 11 charges

The woman has been indicted on 11 charges, including two counts of second-degree assault as well as driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor.

But the plea is for only 2 of those charges - causing a life-threatening injury while under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a minor

Capital Bikeshare Survey closes today

Do you love Capital Bikeshare and providing raw data via surveys, but have been frustrated by the need to those two things separately? Tired of not being asked how you first heard about Capital Bikeshare?

Well, meet the 2014 Capital Bikeshare survey. It will provide you a chance to combine your two great loves. And it's free!!! But hurry, this great offer can't last forever (in fact the survey closes today at 5:00pm). Operators (or servers really) are standing by.

You do not need to be a current or former member to take part, in fact non-members might have the most useful information. Offer not valid in the Virgin Islands. 

Pittsburgh built cycletracks in just 4 months

New York Avenue bike path becomes less nebulous

At GGW there's a post by Tony Goodman about the long hinted at New York Avenue bike path. A path on the north side of New York Avenue from Florida Market to West Virginia has been around since at least the 2005 bike plan, and in the 2006 New York Avenue Corridor plan it is included as a linear park that would, as shown at GGW connect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the Arboretum.

With NYAve getting more development, like the old Hecht's department store, it seems like a natural time to put this in the plan, which DDOT very recently did. A couple of new features of the trail will use old railroad infrastructure such as the tunnel under NYAve near Florida Market and the bridge over it at West Virigina Avenue. 

There are other opportunities to expand on even this such as

  • A better connection over the railroad tracks on the existing New York Avenue Bridge (since this bridge was just reworked, that ship may have sailde for a while)
  • A trail spur from the West Virginia Bridge along the old rail spur to Fenwick Street
  • A trail along the railroad tracks, but at ground level, from Montana Avenue to the Arboretun (or even across the Anacostia to the ART where it could connect to a future Beaverdam Creek Trail)
  • Trails along the unused rail spur on the north side of the tracks from just east of Bladensburg road to South Dakota Avenue and to the end of Adams Street NE. 

All in all, this is a good project to get on the radar. But DDOT has a lot on its plate right now, so we'll see how it goes. 

M Street NE Cycletrack might be last one for a while

At the most recent DC BAC meeting, DDOT gave an update on its work and included that it is only working on one possible cycletrack at this time - the "East End Bikeway" [nee the 9th Street Cycle-track] a north-south facility located between 4th and 9th NW which might also be bike lanes.

During FY2014 they added 8.5 miles of bike lane and 20 CaBi stations for a total of ~200, and work is underway on the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Pedestrian Bridge and the Kenilworth section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

There is also planning underway for improvements of the Rock Creek Park Trail (complete in 2015), the Fort Totten Section of the Met Branch Trail (2016), the Oxon Run Trail rebuild (2020), Klingle Valley Trail (2015), East Capitol Street EOTR improvements (2015), Maryland Avenue road diet (2016), Suitland Parkway Trail Rehab (2016), and the South Capitol Street Trail (2017). More projects may be added and other projects advanced if more local trail funding can be allocated to bike programs. DDOT is asking for $1 million (place pinky at corner of mouth) extra. 

Update: Just to add to this, DDOT's 2015-2021 project list is out and here are some things I missed:

  • A new Benning Road Bridge over Kenilworth Avenue that will have a bike path (2017)
  • Rehab of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that includes - wait for it - a connection of the downstream sidewalk to Virginia, along with other sidewalk improvements (2021)
  • The privately funded "Return to L'Enfant Plan" which will include bicycle connections around and across I-395 associated with the Air Rights property (2016)
  • The New York Avenue Trail (2017)
  • Met Branch Trail ramp to L Street (2015)

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Because this year, the region is actually going to clear it from bike trails and facilities so that bike commuters who rely on them can still use them - unlike what has happened in other years.

Arlignton County will be clearing snow from up to 10 miles of trail 

The targeted areas include 5.2 miles of the Custis trail from Lynn Street to the Washington & Old Dominion trail; 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction trail from Fairfax Drive to the W&OD; 2.25 miles of the Four Mile Run trail from National Airport to Shirlington Road; and 0.4 miles of the Route 110 trail between the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.

Sorry W&OD Trail fans, but NVRPA was concerned the trail would be damaged. 

DC will be clearing all bike lanes and most of their trails.

And finally, Montgomery County 

is launching a pilot snow removal program this winter for the Montgomery Parks portion of the Capital Crescent Trail, located in Bethesda. Parks staff will clear snow on three and a half miles of the trail starting at the Bethesda Avenue entrance point to the Montgomery County / Washington D.C. line, as well as along 12 feeder trails. Parks staff will begin clearing the trail within 24 hours from when snow stops falling.

It remains to be seen what NPS will do about Rock Creek and the MVT. 

Meeting on Canal Road Study on Wendesday

DDOT is hosting the 3rd meeting on the preliminary study of Canal Road between Chain Bridge and M on Wednesday. The Canal Road study involves traffic, signage, drainage and slope stabilization issues, but there don't appear to be any documents or presentation materials available at DDOT's website, so your guess is as good as mine as to what it entails.  Since the CCT cross Canal and it and the C&O Canal Trail (and the old streetcar ROW) run parallel to it, those areas might fall within the study area. Again, who knows. 

If you go to the meeting, let us know about it in the comments, or send me photos of the presentation material.

Future Kenilworth section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Kenilworth section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Sidewalk Cycling and the Roller Coaster Paradox

From a story on Washingtonian

Graham argues allowing bikes onto sidewalks only transfers the hazards bikers face to pedestrians. “It doesn’t make sense to me, and I’ve got too many people who have fear of injury,” Graham says. The council member said he believes the bill will encourage more bike lanes, as pedestrians lobby for their construction to protect walking space.

There are two things here. One is that Graham is trying to protect people from the fear of injury - not actual injury. Some of this is legit, as people should not have to live with fear or be constantly startled, but some of this is what I call the Roller Coaster Paradox.

I usually refer to this when people ask "isn't biking dangerous?" It can be scary some time, scarier than driving, but it's not significantly more dangerous (if it is at all. I've become convinced that we really don't know). In that sense it's like roller coasters. People drive to the amusement park and then they ride roller coasters. They find the first part to be nothing of concern (maybe they even sleep on the way) but the roller coasters are quite terrifying, by design. But in reality the drive is far more dangerous. The fatality rate for 100 million miles of travel by car in 2000 was 0.86, but for roller coasters it was only 0.70 - and the drive is far longer than a roller coaster ride. So the roller coaster is scarier, but not as dangerous.

I think part of the concern about sidewalk cycling stems from this: it can be scary for pedestrians, but not that dangerous. Pedestrians have a legitimate right to ask to not be scared, but so do cyclists who are choosing the sidewalk over the road. What we probably need is for the MPD to enforce laws against unsafe sidewalk cycling and perhaps for the council to define some rules (a sidewalk speed limit, perhaps lower when pedestrians are present? A no passing rule, perhaps tied to sidewalk width? A strict "hitting a pedestrian on the sidewalk creates a presumption of guilt" rule?)

The second part is Graham's claim that this law will encourage more bike lanes due to pedestrians lobbying for them. I think this is a very unlikely outcome. For one thing, AllWalksDC already supports more bike lanes, as does the Pedestrian Advisory Council. In addition, since cycletracks have already been shown to reduce sidewalk cycling in DC, people opposed to that behavior already have reason to support them, I have not seen any interest in that from the people pushing for this law. If Graham wants more bike lanes and cycletracks, he's had ample opportunity to engage with DDOT to make that happen. This is not "Force 10 From Navarone" where the easiest way to destroy the bridge it to blow up the dam. The easiest way to install more bike lanes, is to install more bike lanes. 

 

Committee Roundtable on Move DC next week

Next Friday

The Committee on Transportation and the Environment will conduct a Public Oversight Roundtable on the District of Columbia Street Car system and the Move DC plan.

Persons wishing to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Staff Assistant, at (202)724-8062 or via email at abenjamin@dccouncil.us.

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