And Also the TPB reviews SmartBike Expansion
Some background: the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG or sometimes just COG) is a regional organization of 21 Washington area local governments. It is a planning organization for a whole host of issues including the environment, affordable housing, economic development, health and family concerns, human services, population growth, public safety, and transportation. One part of COG, The Transportation Planning Board (TPB), an independent board associated with COG, serves as the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the region, and defines the regional transportation plan. According to federal law, an MPO must be designated in every urbanized area with a population over 50,000. The TPB prepares plans and programs that the federal government must approve in order for federal-aid transportation funds to flow to the Washington region. The TPB defines the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), a 6-year financial program that describes the schedule for obligating federal funds to state and local projects. The TIP contains funding information for all modes of transportation including highways and HOV as well as transit capital and operating costs.
The 2010-2015 TIP is open for comments and Eric Gilliland of WABA issued the following statement on it on July 10th.
Dear Members of the Transportation Planning Board:
I am writing today on behalf of the 7,000 members of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association to offer our comments on the Draft 2010-2015 Transportation Improvement Program or TIP. WABA is a local non-profit bicycle safety and education organization established in 1972 that works to promote cycling for transportation and recreation throughout the DC area.
WABA is extremely disappointed with the Draft as it currently stands and urges the TPB to amend the TIP to include significant additional funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. As the Draft clearly illustrates, the TPB continues to fund a transportation system which has led our region to the second worst traffic in the nation, and not the balanced, multi-modal system the TPB wishes to achieve for our region.
is the stated goal of the TPB to provide convenient bicycle and pedestrian
access and to increase mode share for biking and walking throughout the DC
area, yet of the more than $17 billion for transportation projects in the Draft
TIP, less than 1% of TIP funds are allocated to bike and pedestrian
projects. Of the $168 million dollars in the bike/ped program, over 60%
will be spent in DC alone and zero dollars have been allocated to bike and
pedestrian projects in northern Virginia. There are also zero dollars for
such projects in Prince George’s County.
The chronic underfunding of these modes continues to prevent the region from making gains in biking and walking mode share. According to the recently released Household Travel Survey, between 1994 and 2007/2008 the percentage of people driving alone has increased while walking and biking mode shares have decreased. The study showed that together biking and walking modes make up 4% of commute trips and therefore, at a bare minimum, these modes should receive 4% of TIP funding. The Draft TIP and the results of the Household Travel Survey clearly show that the Transportation Planning Board’s ability to guide regional transportation policy, and therefore impact air quality, congestion, and mode shift, is negligible at best. If the TPB is committed to increasing the number of people walking and biking, and thereby reap the commensurate benefits in air quality, congestion mitigation, and carbon emission reduction, the TIP should fund these modes at a percentage of total funds above their current mode share.
continued policy of auto-centric transportation planning is clearly displayed
in the long list TIP amendments approved by the board for funding through the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In addition to creating
local jobs, and fixing crumbling infrastructure, projects using ARRA
transportation funds must be evaluated by their ability to reduce energy independence,
cut greenhouse gas emissions, and foster smart growth development. While
some of the projects in the TIP amendment will work toward achieving these
goals through their secondary benefits to cyclists and pedestrians, of the
nearly $300 million dollars in TIP amendments funded through ARRA, only $7
million has been dedicated to bicycle or pedestrian specific projects, or .02%
of allocated funds. Further, bike and pedestrian projects on the current
TIP in the out years can be funded with stimulus dollars now, and new priority
unfunded projects can be added. But this, too, has not happened.
Given the scarcity of local dollars, the deadline on the use of ARRA funds, and the long backlog of unfunded priority bicycle and pedestrian projects, the region is missing a tremendous opportunity to build out the cycling and walking infrastructure in a way that would very effectively encourage more people to use these modes. If the Transportation Planning Board is committed to the goal of a multi-modal transportation system, then it needs to encourage its members to put forth projects that will help move us in that direction. We strongly urge the TPB to not adopt this draft until funds are shifted from projects that do not meet the goals of the TPB to ones that will make a positive impact on transportation in our region.
Washington Area Bicyclist Association
One thing that the TPB will be reviewing on Wednesday is a package of projects which request Federal TIGER stimulus grant funds. One of these projects is a request for $10M for a regional bike-sharing program which would provide funding for bikes and stations in DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery County (Bethesda and Silver Spring)(mentioned at the July DC BAC). This amount would provide about 1,600 bikes and stations which would be distributed amongst these jurisdictions. This funding would hasten the expansion of bike-sharing throughout the urban core of the region. If the TPB approves the package, then it goes to the Feds for approval and funding. Eric Cantor would love that. Some of the other projects seeking TIGER money are the K Street Transitway($95M), Priority Bus Corridors that extend the reach of the K Street Transitway($93M), improvements to two Metro Stations and a new transit center ($37M), HOT lanes ($170M), and additional bus priority treatments across two routes from suburban Virginia ($7M).
Regional Bike Sharing
1,600 bicycles at 160 bike stations in core urban areas of DC, Alexandria, Arlington,
Silver Spring and Bethesda.
$10 million (76% of $13.2 million total cost)
With the success of the District’s pilot bike-sharing and other urban core jurisdictions interested
in providing a similar service, the time is right for a regional bike-sharing service. This
component would provide a single bike sharing system for the region’s urban core. Bike-sharing
can effectively extend the reach of public transit, and is a low-cost and healthy manner of
improving mobility and accessibility.
The Capitol Hill BID is reporting that the Hill will get one of the new SmartBike kiosks.
Holben confirmed the stations could be installed as early as this fall or as late as Spring 2010. The Capitol Hill BID will be working with DDOT in its effort to find the best suitable locations for the SmartBike stations on Capitol Hill.
Also, the K Street Transitway above is supposed to make the street better for cyclists, but doesn't say how:
The K Street Transitway will enhance the performance for all modes of movement: pedestrian, bicycle, transit, vehicles (resident, commuter, and visitor), taxi, and delivery services. The goals of the project are to create a Great Street experience that is high-performing and safe for all modes, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, and automobiles.