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Downtown BID looking for BTWD Volunteers

Please help us make Bike to Work Day a success!  Volunteers are needed for the Downtown DC pit stop.

Date: Friday, May 15

Location: Freedom Plaza, 14th & Pennsylvania Avenue NW (near the Metro Center and Federal Triangle Metro stations)

Time: 6:30 AM – 9:00 AM

 

Volunteers are needed for the following tasks:

-Handing out t-shirts

-Handing out food

-Unloading and setting up boxes of t-shirts, produce, and water bottles

-Handing out free tickets for drawings of donated items to attendees

 

We ask that volunteers be flexible and willing to help out as needed!  If you’re not comfortable with your assignment, please don’t hesitate to speak with the Volunteer Coordinator for reassignment at any time.

Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes.  No flip flops.  Volunteers will receive a free Bike to Work Day t-shirt, as well as coffee and snacks.

Contact samuel@downtowndc.org if you’re interested in helping out!  Thank you!

NoMa Beer Garden Opens in May

From a NoMa release. This is below and just west of the Met Branch Trail where it crosses over M.

In May, Wunder Garten beer garden is opening at 150 M Street, NE, just steps from the NoMa/Gallaudet U Metro station. The beer garden will occupy the last parcel in the 2.5 million SF Constitution Square development. The 300-seat venue is styled as a Bavarian beer garden and is a place neighbors and friends can meet, socialize, or take an outdoor education class with REI. The drink menu will feature Bavarian, Austrian, and German beers, as well as regional microbrews. Food will be provided by a rotating selection of the region’s most popular food trucks.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down and having a Hefeweizen with my friends,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, President of the NoMa Business Improvement District. “We’re tickled to combine great outdoor education, craft beers and good food in a fun neighborhood space.”

Wunder Garten is operated by Proust Partners, which is owned by Christopher Lynch (co-owner of L'Enfant Cafe in Adams Morgan) and Biva Ranjeet. Munich native Allon Pultuskier advised on the beer garden’s design and ambiance. The owners have been working with property owner StonebridgeCarras and the NoMa BID over the last year on this initiative.

REI, which is opening a 52,000 SF flagship store in the Uline Arena just a few feet away, will hold free classes at the beer garden on a wide range of topics on how to live a life outside. Whether locals want to learn a new activity or advance their skills, REI will offer its expertise on bike repairs, camping, the best local outdoor destinations and more. REI will also host fun events like presentations from outdoor personalities and celebrations of the local nonprofits that take care of DC’s trails, bike lanes and rivers.

Wunder Garten will use umbrellas and tents to shade benches and tables on the rear of the lot. Decorative landscaping will create a causal and inviting atmosphere and transform a currently unused lot into an urban oasis.

“We are excited to provide an inviting space for the neighborhood and the city to gather, enjoy themselves outdoors, and have a beer,” said Christopher Lynch. “With all the rapid growth in NoMa, bars and recreational spaces were two things we have consistently heard that residents want.”

Operating hours are as follows:

Monday — Thursday: 4 PM to 10 PM
Friday: 12 PM to 12 AM
Saturday: 12 PM to 12 AM
Sunday: 12 PM to 10 PM

For more information, visit wundergartendc.com

DDOT Update: Bike lanes around Stanton Park

Pulled up from the comments on this post.

This is Mike Goodno, Bicycle Program Specialist at DDOT. We will be installing bike lanes on 4th and 6th Streets around Stanton Park this summer. Bike lanes on C Street are a component of the Maryland Avenue redesign and will be implemented with that project.

 

NPS says it's committed to adding bikeshare along MVT and DCA

Actually they said they were "committed to improved access through @bikeshare" which is funny since bikes aren't allowed on the GWMP. But anyway, this morning WAMU's Martin Di Caro reported that plans to add bikeshare stations along the Mt. Vernon trail adn areas nearby were in jeopardy.

The Arlington Cemetery Metro station, the Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon entrance at Army Navy Drive, the Roosevelt Island entrance, Rosslyn Circle, Gravelly Point and two stations at Reagan National Airport would all get Bikeshare docks under the plan.

But now sources inside Arlington County government say the National Park Service wants out. The agency is asking Arlington to find other places to put the Bikeshare stations because it no longer wants them. It is unclear why, and Park Service officials were not available for comment.

But then NPS tweeted

So we'll see how this all shakes out. CaBi at DCA would be awesome

The "Gas Station Preservation Act" of DC actually isn't law yet.

In mid-March I reported on a bill that was introduced that would, among other things, create extra hoops for any gas station that wanted to convert into something else like a condo or office building. Then at the end of March, the Post reported that this was already law. 

You'll be happy to know that I was probably right and they were most likely wrong. It looks like the bill they cited (Bill 20-71 for those of you keeping track at home) died in chamber (which might explain the "little fanfare"). So, that should put everyone at ease.

But, if you oppose such a law, because it's stupid, then you should be worried that the same language was re-introduced this year (Bill 21-46). The upside is that there is still time to kill it - I suppose. 

The gas station advisory board, actually dates back to 1976, when full service stations were being converted into self-service. The concern was that auto owners would be unable to find places to have their car serviced. I don't know if anyone has challenged the city's ability to do this from a property rights standpoint, but if so, then I guess it has stood up.

I heard a rumor that this expansion of the law came from Jack Evans, who was concerned that his gas station of choice (on Wisconsin Avenue, I think) was going to be converted into a condo and he was unhappy about that, so he wanted to be able to stop that. Prior to that, they were actually going to kill the Gas Station Advisory Board which has had no members since 2006.  

One more thing, the bill doesn't apply to all gas stations. I don't know if this is a mistake or what, but the current change to the language would only mean that a full-service station couldn't be turned into a condo. But it doesn't appear to apply to nonfull service station.

Below is the current law with the additions in bold. The underlined part is emphasis I added. 

No retail service station which is operated as a full service retail service station on or after April 19, 1977, may be discontinued, nor may be structurally altered, modified, or otherwise converted, irrespective of the type or magnitude of the alteration, modification, or conversion, including, but not limited to, any alteration, modification, or conversion which has the effect of merely obstructing access to an existing garage, service bay, work area, or similar enclosed area by any motor vehicle which was previously accommodated, into a nonfull service facility or to any other use.

So this may very well be targeted at harming a Georgetown service station conversion, but it's neither law nor currently targeting all gas stations.

It's still stupid, and they should just follow the recommendations of the Office of Boards and Commissions and kill this particular board. That is all, now back to bike stuff. 

Rock Creek Trail Construction to start this fall

Now people can finally stop asking me about it all the time. Sheesh.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will rebuild the trail along Beach Drive.  The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will finish the trail work in late 2016/early 2017. For a community that has been waiting for over a decade, construction on the trail will be a welcomed sight.

I think we all know what Joe Biden would say about this. This is not just a rehab project, when finished the trail will be better than ever  - wider, safer and with a section in the tunnel. But wait, there's more.

The trail will be reconstructed in conjunction with a complete rebuild of  Beach Drive from the Rock Creek Parkway to the Maryland border. 

During construction, FHWA will close both Beach Drive and the Rock Creek Park Trail. But WABA is working to ensure reasonable detours. 

The full 3.7 mile trail rehabilitation will not be complete when FHWA finishes their work next summer. DDOT is responsible for all trail sections across the creek from Beach Drive and along Rock Creek Parkway (south from Beach Drive), along with the new spur trail along Piney Branch Parkway. DDOT intends to complete design phase for their trail sections by August 2016 and begin construction in the fall of 2016. The agency plans to finish the entire trail reconstruction in 2017.

DGS now mowing the Palisades Trail

The Palisades Citizens Association Trails committee would like to announce that the DC Department of General Services has begun to mow the whole Palisades Trolley Trail from Galena PL to Foxhall RD.
DGS goal is to mow the trail 8 times during the season which began as of Thursday, April 23rd.

There is likely no single ideal density for bikeshare success and equity

NACTO has a "Practitioner Paper" out arguing that the ideal density for bikeshare stations is 28 per square mile. They argue that such a density will create the most successful and equitable system. But there are several problems with the analysis, starting with the definition of success and including a confusion of the terms "convenient" and "equitable", as well as the odd decisions to ignore population density and selectively ignore the impact of multi-jurisdictional systems.

How do we define success for bikeshare?

NACTO uses the metric "trips per bike per day" as the sole definition of success. I've used the term but I by no means think this is a way to measure success. It's useful for seeing how a system's use is growing, but that's about it. No city leader was saying that they would fund bike share "but only if bikes are used many times every day." 

The reasons for adding bike share are related to use, but a high number of trips per bike is not the goal. And how something achieves its goals should be the primary measure of success. A good place to look at how DC area leaders saw the goals of bikeshare is the region's 2010 Tiger II application for bikeshare expansion funding. 

The benefits they foresaw were user cost savings, user travel time savings, increased access, congestion reduction, emissions reduction, healthcare cost savings and accident reduction. They also saw benefits in getting users to purchase and use their own bikes - something that just doesn't show up in tpbpd. 

Considering these benefits, not every trip is equal. In systems with identical tpbpd which is more successful, a system that replaces mostly walking and other biking trips or one that replaces mostly driving and taxi trips? Certainly it's not unreasonable to think that a tightly packed system replaces more walking trips than a more sprawling system. 

There probably isn't one metric for measuring success. In fact tpbpd isn't even necessarily the best metric for defining use. I'd argue that miles per bike per day is - it has the added benefit of giving a direct relationship to health benefits too. But use is only one part of the equation. To measure success we'd also need to know trip replacement, initial cost, subsidy per unit of use, emissions reduction, trips where users would have stayed home instead, how much it encouraged users to bike with their own bikes, increase/decrease in transit use, reduced VMT, etc...

This analysis ignores the nuances of the other benefits. In fact by their definition, CaBi is less successful than Divvy and Citi-bike, despite Citi-bike's funding issues and Divvy's smaller use. By this logic, CaBi would be more successful if it took the stations east of the river - which have low ridership - and dumped them into the Anacostia. That should raise red flags. 

In contrast to NACTO, I would argue that any city maximizing tpbpd is leaving money on the table.

If each trip has an average benefit value to the city of, for example, $1 and each bike has a subsidy of $0.99 day, than the goal should be to maximize trips while adding stations that average at least 1 tpbpd. That means expanding the system more and more into lower use areas until all of the benefit has been captured. The benefit above cost is the "profit", and the goal is to maximize "profit".

Convenient does not mean Equitable

On the subject of an equitable system, NACTO states that

Like everyone, low-income people want convenient travel options that work for the trips they are trying to make. Bike share systems can provide this if they maintain a high station density (approximately 28 stations per square mile) across all neighborhoods in the service area, including low-income areas.

No doubt higher station density in low-income areas would be better for low-income people. But we live in a world of limited resources. Adding stations to one area to create high station density would mean removing them from somewhere else. Likely an effort to create 28-station-per-square-mile density would mean removing the worst performing stations - those in poorer neighborhoods - to create high density elsewhere. Would that be more equitable? According to NACTO, yes.

Station density and service is often worse in low-income areas. New York’s Citi Bike is an exception: while Citi Bike does not cover the whole city, the areas that are served are evenly covered with stations. As a result, bike share in New York is equally convenient throughout the program.

So, having high density in wealthy parts of the city (see the map of NYC on page 4) - lower Manhattan and Brooklyn - and none in low-income neighborhoods like Harlem, Queens and Staten Island is more equitable than spreading them out. Got it.

Conflating convenience with equity misses the point that the two are actually in conflict. Something they concede elsewhere.

systems that have lower station density in low-income neighborhoods often exacerbate equity issues as stations are too far apart to provide a real transportation option for low-income riders. Such systems attempt to achieve nominally or geographically equitable bike share coverage at the expense of service quality and utility

Right. For a given cost you can increase equity and coverage, but that comes at the expense of lower use. Or you can increase use, but that means covering a smaller service area. I find it hard to believe that the poor are better off with no bikeshare stations where they live than with only 9 per square mile.

In an ideal world, cities would have the money to add as many stations as an area needs, but they don't. Choices have to be made. Trade-offs have to be accepted. The reason that NYC's system looks different is that it is a privately-owned business, and businesses don't seek to create equity, or mitigate congestion, or improve public health, or reduce pollution. Businesses look to make money. And making money means maximizing tpbpd. Publicly-run systems have different goals and will look and operate differently as a result. In NYC, positive exteranlities are a side effect. In DC, they're the main point. So it's odd to hold NYC up as a symbol of equity.

The way to improve equity is to spend more money to add stations to low-income areas while finding ways to help low-income customers to use the system without credit cards or large upfront costs.

Station density follows population and activity density, which is likely the larger driver of use

The NACTO paper shows plots from each city showing rides per day per dock plotted against station density at each station. That certainly seems to hold up the premise that higher station density leads to higher utility. But there are two errors with this.

Cabi plot

First of all, station density is driven by population/activity density (the old "correlation does not equal causation"). Designers place stations where there are a lot of people and activity centers, and these are exactly the places where we'd expect to have the most use. Dupont Circle gets a lot of users because a lot of people want to go there or leave there; not because there are so many stations nearby. We could bump Rock Creek park up to 28 stations per square mile, but it probably wouldn't increase use that much. I suspect that if we redid these plots, but replaced station density with population density, they would look extraordinarily similar.

The other is that the curve they chose seems to imply that further density will lead to even more rides per dock per day, with growth being exponential. So if we moved the entire CaBi system into a circle with 1/4 mile radius, ridership would go up to several thousand a day - which is ridiculous. Even if we moved the DC system to the ideal 28 stations per square mile (an ideal which these plots appear to undermine, I'll add), it's unclear that this would increase ridership, since utility has two parts - how easy is it to get a bike and return it and where can you go. Densifying the system would cause one of these to go up and the other to go down. 

CaBi, like San Francisco, isn't really one system

One thing that lowers CaBi's tpbpd is the fact that the core is surrounded by lower use "pods" in Montgomery County, east DC, and in Arlington and Alexandria. Again, that the system serves these areas is not a sign of failure. If we look at just DC by itself, the tpbpd goes up to 6.1, which would place DC at the top of the heap. If we looked at the part of CaBi just in the L'Enfant city, it would likely be even higher.

For the paper, NACTO only looked at the San Francisco portion of the Bay Area Bike Share, a similar consideration for CaBi seems appropriate, especially since each jurisdiction is responsible for placing it's own stations. There is no CaBi overlord looking to maximize tpbpd over the whole system and Montgomery County is uninterested in moving one of its stations to Arlington even if it would increase the system's average utility. But this is irrelevant since the rest of the premise is flawed anyway. 

28 stations for square mile is BS

I've been pushing back on this notion that there is one ideal station density that has to be replicated world-wide ever since people started holding up Paris' station density as the ideal.

The 28 stations every square mile "industry standard" comes from a study done by APUR, the Paris Urban Planning Agency in 2006. In that they set the guideline for station placement at one every 300 meters, which several people have translated as 28 per square mile. (ITDP places it at 36 per square mile, but i'll leave that math to someone else). Regardless, that guideline was created before Velib started operation in 2007.

Now I'm sure there are some extraordinarily smart people in APUR, but the idea that the guideline they designed before they'd installed even one bike share station, and based on no comparable experience from anywhere else, is the ideal one is a bit hard to swallow. I can't believe that with the benefit of nearly 8 years experience in multiple cities, NACTO can't do better.  The original guideline was a guestimate, for a very different city starting with a much larger system. Would 320 meters have worked better? 230? Has anyone bothered to find out? And does what work for Paris - which has a unique urban design - work for New York City with it's skyscrapers, or DC with its much lower population density? Some planners are very good, but rarely does anyone hit the bulls-eye on the first try. And rarely does someone find not only their ideal solution but everyone else's - despite different inputs. Is Paris even still using this number?

DC has two large rivers and a lot of off-limit federal land. It will never be able to achieve the station density of lower Manhattan or of Paris. Nor should it try to. The ideal station density is different for CaBi than it is for Chicago, different for DC than it is for Arlington and different for Ward 1 than it is for Ward 5.

Shane Farthing is leaving WABA

As of an alert today

Today, it is with a great sense of pride in our accomplishments and in recognition of the need for new priorities and new challenges—both for WABA, and for me—that I write to tell you that at the end of June I will be stepping down as WABA’s Executive Director. There is only so long one’s transportation, recreation, and occupation can overlap so significantly before one’s mind starts to look outside for new things to learn, new challenges to address, and new ways to contribute.

What a DC bridge to Roosevelt Island could look like

Via Washingtonian

image from www.washingtonian.com

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