18% of households in the DC area have at least one person who rides a bike for transportation "in a typical week." That, according to data released by the Census Bureau as part of the March 31 release of the 2013 American Housing Survey (not to be confused with the ACS), can be viewed as a floor, not a ceiling. There is likely a long tail of households wherein a member bikes "to any place inside or outside [their] neighborhood" less often than a "typical week."
2.5% of households responded that they biked in a typical week, 33.7% said they walked and 15.7% said they did both. All totaled 51.9% or Metropolitan households reported walking or biking in a typical week.
The survey data is a little clunky because it is done by household instead of person, and it reports for the whole DC Metropolitan area instead of by jurisdictions. The questions about biking and walking appear to be new so there's nothing prior to compare them to. You can see the survey here and the questionnaire here.
Reasons for not biking/walking
Unfortunately, they grouped biking and walking together when asking people the reason why they didn't bike or walk. Far and away the largest reason was the helpful "no reason" (must've been filled out by teenagers playing video games.) 79% of respondents listed that. But for those who did have a reason, health reasons, long distances and no sidewalks (remember it combined both modes) topped the list. DCInno has some good graphics showing this, but the article sometimes forgets that it's a question about biking and walking, not just biking.
Bike lane access
DCinno also has a graphic showing that the DC Metro ranks 11th among the 25 metro areas studied in bike lane access. Tucson, surprisingly, is #1.
Access to places
Included were a series of questions about what kinds of places one could access by foot or bike from their homes.
The responses to these are questionable, probably due to ignorance by the public about biking and about how to get around their neighborhood without a car, don't always make sense. The most glaring example of this is that, across the board, more people claimed that a place was accessible by walking, but not biking, then the inverse. For example, 2.5% of household can reach a grocery store by bike only and 9.7% claim they can reach one by foot only. There may be places that one can access on foot, but not on bike, but they are surely dwarfed in number by the places one can access on bike but not on foot.
The percentage of people claiming they can reach a place by bike are shown below:
Breaking the data down by subgroups, homeowner households (19.2%) bike more than renters (16.2%); people in new homes (13.6%) bike less than average, but those in mobile homes (23.4%) bike more; all-black households(10.6%) bike much less and all-hispanic households bike more (23.7%); unsurprisingly, the elederly (5.6%) don't bike much, but surprisingly neither do those below the poverty level (9.9%).
For walking (average all households = 46.6%), homeowner households (46.6%) walk less than renters (54.4%); people in new homes (44.6%) walk less than average, as do those in mobile homes (48.3%); all-black households(40.6%) walk much less and all-hispanic households walk more (58.5%); the elederly (38.6%) walk less, and so do those below the poverty level (45.5%). But the deviation for the subgroups for walking is less than for biking.
16% of area households have bike lanes nearby and 74% have sidewalks. 14% of sidewalks are identified as inadequately lit.
The monthly transportation costs question, unfortunately doesn't include bike expenses, just cars and public transportation. The average median monthly transportation cost for driving is $875 a month and for transit is $40 a month (but that is for all households, not just those that use transit or cars).
Prior to last month's Performance Oversight Hearing for DDOT, DDOT was asked to provide written responses to council questions. Within these responses was a lot of news of interest to cyclists.
Capital Crescent Trail repaving
DDOT has identified funds for the resurfacing of the Capital Crescent Trail. They're awaiting some basic design information from the National Park Service in order to obligate the federal funding. The trail surface dates back to the 1990's, and resurfacing has been requested by the Rec Trails Committee for some time now.
There was also some infrastructure that DDOT reported completing that has not been talked about much. The bike facilities and traffic calming along Sheriff Road NE was finished and bicycle boulevards on Jenifer Street and 41st Street NW, first discussed in 2013, have been completed as well.
Pennsylvania Ave and 15th Street protected bike lanes may be expanded
As has been widely reported DDOT plans to install 6.85 miles of bike lanes, protected bike lanes (PBL), sharrows, climbing lanes and contraflow lanes. And they plan to study another 4.43 miles of facilities including PBL on the east side of downtown, on Pennsylvania Ave west of the White House and on 15th south of Pennsylvania Ave. In addition, DDOT notes that
Some facilities not listed here may be installed if planning, engagement, and design can be completed.
Though they don't list those projects in the response, at a recent BAC meeting they presented another 17+ miles of on-road bike facilities and 8.47 miles of off-street facilities that are somewhere between "awaiting final approval" and "a twinkle in Mike Goodno's eye."
Protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Louisiana Ave NW and Brentwood Parkway
The largest projects on this list include a bike lane on M and L NW connecting the east end of the existing M & L protected bike lanes to the Metropolitan Branch Trail; a protected bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue SE from the Capitol to Barney Circle; a bike lane on Ridge Road SE from East Capitol to Burns Street; a 4 mile long side path along 16th Street NW from Spring Road to the Maryland boundary and another 3.5 mile side path along Massachusetts Avenue NW from Sheridan Circle to the Maryland boundary. Other PBLs would be on Louisiana from Union Station to the Mall, and a continuation of the 6th Street NE PBL along Brentwood Parkway to 9th.
In addition, in 2015-2016 DDOT plans to improve 10 intersections and add bike signals along the existing PBLs on Pennsylvania Ave and 15th Street NW.
DDOT to conduct a Feasibility study for Gateway segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
While DDOT was not asked about, and did not report on, all trail projects, they did give an update on some. As previously reported, DDOT has begun preliminary engineering for the northern extension of the Metropolitan Branch Trail from Brookland to Maryland. Preliminary engineering should be completed by early 2016. DDOT has completed the 30% design of the Rock Creek Park Trail, and is currently procuring a consultant for the completion of the design. Final design is expected by the end of 2015 with construction in 2016 or 2017. The Gateway Segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which would connect the Fort Lincoln neighborhood to the Kenilworth Segment near New York Avenue, is not funded for planning, design, or construction at this time, but DDOT will explore this segment by conducting a feasibility study. Construction of the Kenilworth Segment of the trail is currently on track to be completed in the spring of 2016.
Bike parking and CaBi expansion
DDOT has been trying to keep up with bicycle parking and bikeshare demands. They learned of 4 damaged racks in 2014 while installing roughly 300 racks, for a net increase of 296 racks. This is in addition to several hundred racks installed by some of the Business Improvement Districts. They plan to add up to 40 additional CaBi stations, depending on the availability of equipment
Bicycle collisions up 32% in 2014 compared to prior years
DDOT also provided data on bicycle and pedestrian collisions.
The number of cyclists involved in collisions, as well as pedestrians and total collisions are all up substantially in 2014. It's hard to know how much of that is due to more exposure and how much is due to other factors like better reporting or the unintended consequences of Obamacare.
Also, I get how there can be more cyclists in collisions than cyclist collisions (driver hits three cyclists) as there were in 2014, but not how the opposite can be true, as there were in the two earlier years. Not unless a cyclists is crashing into multiple cars and people and those are each counted as a separate crash.
DC is a slaughterhouse for young trees
A mostly unrelated, but shocking-if-true fact included in this report was about tree plantings:
In FY13 the survival rate of newly planted trees was 2.03% and in FY 2014 it was 2.79%.
That's insanely low. I think you had a better chance of surviving the Hiroshima bombing. Did they accidentally report the mortality rate? According to a study in New York City
Prior analyses of street trees planted by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation between 1999 and 2003 (n=45,094) found 91.3% of those trees were alive after two years and 8.7% were either standing dead or missing completely. Using a site assessment tool, a randomly selected sample of 13,405 of these trees was surveyed throughout the City of New York during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Overall, 74.3% of the sample trees were alive when surveyed and the remainder were either standing dead or missing.
The Weekly Standard had a column yesterday critical of transportation investments made in anything other than roads. While it starts out criticizing Metro for the recent fire, that while tragic and avoidable does nothing to undermine the fact that transit is far safer than driving, they also turn their ire towards bicycling.
And yet we Washingtonians are encouraged to use mass transit as much as possible....Or ride a bike. Even though less than 5 percent of area residents bicycle to work, there are now 69 miles of city bike lanes, with more on the way. The section of M Street by our office had long carried two or three lanes of car traffic. With bike lanes plus parking rules in effect, it’s partly down to one. Rush-hour can be unbearable.
This is a pretty commonly repeated criticism of biking "Only a few people bike commute, why do we invest so much in biking?" And it is flawed in numerous ways.
First of all they didn't include enough information to solve the word problem (Is 69 miles too much?). We would need to know how many miles of road DC has. The number is about 1500 miles and about 4000 lane miles. So cyclists-only space is either under-represented (4.6%) or very under-represented (1.7%). But then, of course, that's just a linear measure, if you want to talk about square footage, you basically have to cut the percentage set aside for cyclists in half, because bike lanes are usually half as wide as traffic lanes.
But wait, there's more. It's true that only 4.5% of DC residents commute by bike, but then only 38.9% commute by car. Another 38.5% use transit, 13.6% walk and 4.4% work from home. If we assume that about 1/3 of all transit users ride the bus, then only 69.8% of all commuters are using the roads and sidewalks (bus, car, bike, taxi, motorcycle, walk, other). If we want to apportion that space by mode share, cyclists would get 6.4% of the space, pedestrians would get 19.5% and then 18.4% of the roadway would be reserved for bus-only lanes. Is the Weekly Standard prepared to call for 735 miles of bus-only lanes and 256 miles of bike lanes in DC (because that's the logical conclusion)? That would be awesome.
Of course, the whole exercise is silly. Cyclists can use most of the roadway (over 90% I'd guess) and so can drivers and buses. I don't think each DC road needs 20% of the space set aside for pedestrians either. And then the average percentage of bikes or cars or buses on the road in DC is probably different from the DC resident mode share. In other words, it's all very complicated, and no one likely knows if cyclists or motorists are getting their "fair share" of the roadway and certainly not the Weekly Standard writers or readers.
But the real problem is that an appeal to the fairness of road-space allocation misses the whole point of transportation. The point is not to be fair to people due to mode choices, it's to allow people to move around in a way that meets the community's goals. Fairness does have a place in planning when talking about transportation equity and making sure we have a system that works for everyone regardless of income or physical abilities. (Y'know what transportation mode works really well for the poor?). But even that is only one concern. Transportation planning should also consider congestion, public health, choice, environmental impact and sustainability, land use planning, cost, livability and more. The Weekly Standard writers probably know that when all these other goals are accounted for driving will lose, so they instead appeal to fairness, and even that they have to fudge to get the answer they want.
Or perhaps the Weekly Standard believes that it has won the argument by showing how few people bike and how much space is allocated to them. If so, they've actually demonstrated that they don't understand the complexity of the issue they're writing about. It can't be boiled down to two numbers, that's for sure, and anyone who thinks it can is a fool.
[City officials] agreed [January 14th] to help pay for the Downtown Bicycle Network, a $1.2 million grid of routes.
The network will include what is expected to be the city's best bike lane: a 2.6-mile stretch of Maryland Avenue called a "cycle track," [a.ka. a Protected Bike Lane (PBL)] in which bicyclists will be protected from traffic by a buffer of parked cars.
On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved spending about $300,000 to help pay for the project. Money from a federal program will cover the rest.
[City Transportation Director William Johnson] expects construction to begin as soon as winter is over, with completion by the end of the year.
The spending approved Wednesday includes $240,000 for Toole Design Group LLC to help to create the Maryland Avenue Cycle Track, a north-south bike lane, and five connecting east-west lanes on Centre, Monument, Madison, Preston and Biddle streets. The project was initially slated for completion last year, but was delayed while city officials did additional traffic analysis.
The board also approved $52,000 for McCormick Taylor Inc. to do other work on the network.
Baltimore has 100 miles of on-street bike lanes, though few are protected by buffers and many stretches are not connected. The city also has 39 miles of off-road trails. The city is working to create another cycle track on Mount Royal Avenue and to launch a bike-sharing program.
Jeff writes "This is Greenbelt Road heading westbound toward Route 201 Kenilworth Ave. The lane starts from nothing after the underpass and ends at the exit ramps for Route 201. Possibly the most dangerous and least helpful bike lane I've ever seen."
It's like the (balding) comedian Gallagher said about gray hairs, "I don't want to look old, but it IS a hair."
Though these are not protected bike lanes, this is still pretty big news, primarily because it demonstrates a transition point for DDOT on two issues.
First, it means they're moving from the low-hanging fruit of bike lanes that can be added without removing traffic lanes or parking to projects that will get more push back from motorists. DDOT has always known that to get to their mileage goal they'd have to do that, but the fact they're initiating this means that they think they have the political cover to move forward with it. Capitol Hill has always had an abundance of bike lanes because they could be added without losing vehicle lanes, and it's telling that none of these proposed lanes are on Capitol Hill.
Second, it means that DDOT is viewing diagonal streets as appropriate places for cyclists. Several years ago there was a discussion about diagonals at a BAC meeting in which DDOT representatives stated that they didn't think cyclists wanted to ride on those streets and that they were going to try to give them other options, and the BAC disagreed. But now they're proposing putting bike lanes on three key diagonals (Pennsylvania Ave NW, Florida Avenue NE and New Jersey Ave NW). I've ridden on all three, and bike lanes will be a welcome addition. In case you're wondering, all 9 miles only cost $480,000. You can see the map and list below.
Update from DDOT: The CLRP is mostly a process step, and there is a lot more design that goes into any of these bike lane installations. Some of these could be protected bike lanes. Some they have started some preliminary design on, some they have not. Some are easy, some are hard. But all have to go through this step before installation.
All of these are “funded” in some form or another, but not all are necessarily funded in the current 6-year budget. And while this is a regional process step, they also still have some outreach/engagement/procedural steps to take as they advance the design on these, and those have to be done before installation. But they have the “build” year as 2015 for almost all of these so that they have the flexibility to install these sooner without going through this annual CLRP process again.
Also, Virginia is proposing improvements to the I-66 Corridor inside the Beltway that includes completion of unspecified elements of the bicycle and pedestrian network around the corridor.
And both Northern Virginia and DC made the removal of streetcar lines official. Update: In DC's case, the small “spur” from Benning Road to Minnesota Avenue station is being removed, since that is not being pursued further as part of the ongoing EA, but there is still active environmental work on the whole of the extension from Oklahoma Avenue to the Benning Road Metro station.
A while ago I stopped covering the "car parked in bike lane" story becaue it's just so prevalent that it would quickly dominate the blog (also on the "Dead to me" board: "Bank robber escapes on bike") But this one does stand out a little. A cyclist approaches the driver of a Lehigh Valley Dairy truck who's using the bike lane as an unloading zone, and when told he can't park there, the driver tells the truth "I don't care."
The Sustainable DC Plan that Mayor Gray initiated back in 2011 to make the District into the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the nation over the next 20 years has had several byproducts such as the Sustainable DC omnibus legislation that requires large employers to offer transit benefits to their employees (which could include bike benefits).
Another piece to spin out of the plan is the Sustainable DC Mayor's Order,
The Mayor’s Order established 10 interagency Task Forces, each focused on a distinct area of sustainability, such as Green Affordable Housing, Green Jobs, Healthy Food Access, or Building Energy Performance. Each Task Force was asked to develop proposed actions and map out the potential regulatory, legislative, and cost implications of those actions, and to recommend for further consideration or implementation those that passed muster.
Those Task Forces have completed their work and their final reports are now available. The bike relevant recommendations are that:
The DPR and DGS align capital and operating budget requests for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure with Move DC and DDOT’s trail and bicycle infrastructure development schedule. Parks near new trails and bike lanes should receive trail connections and infrastructure such as bike racks.
Affordable housing site design requirements should include visible, easily accessible secured bicycle parking or onsite bike share facilities to encourage more bike use
And of course, the Plan itself recommended expanding bikeshare in DC by another 200 stations, expanding the formal trail network and creating a 100 mile bike lane network.
Late next year, DDOT plans to perform a complete reconstruction of the two blocks of Florida Avenue between U Street and Barry Place. In addition to pedestrian, stormwater, traffic signal and utility improvements, the project will add bike lanes. Depending on how accurate a 2012 presentation on the area is, the design will include bike lanes on Vermont between Florida and V, bike boxes on Florida at Vermont, and and a combination of bike lanes and sharrowed lanes on Florida Avenue and Sherman. Combined with the work at Florida and 15th, it should lead to bike lanes on the entirety of Florida Avenue between 9th and 15th. Right now the project is awaiting ROW acquisition and won't go out to bid until June, with construction scheduled to start in October and end in May 2016.
DDOT has been planning to improve this part of Florida Avenue for over a decade now. A couple of plans, the 2004 Duke Plan and the 2007 Great Streets plan, had designs for this area which included among other things, reconnecting W and Bryant Streets and adding a traffic circle in at the intersection of Florida and Sherman Avenue. Those items do not appear to be a part of this reconstruction project. A more modest redesign was on the table in 2008, but that did not include bike lanes and it appears that the work was never done.
One of the 2011 designs, via GreaterGreaterWashington (south is to the left)
The only image included in the Ward 1 update is for Green Infrastructure improvements, and doesn't show striping. But it does look similar to the 2012 plan, so it appears that much of the design will remain the same.
If the 2012 plan is followed, then 9th between U and V will have sharrows. Florida between V and Vermont will have southbound sharrows and northbound bike lane. Between Vermont and W, Florida will have a northbound bike lane and combination of a bike lane and sharrows in the southbound direction. None of these bike lanes will be next to parking, and the northbound section shown above will be separated from most traffic by a landscaped median (though parking and a traffic lane will also be east of the median too). North of W, the bike lane will be painted green to Sherman Avenue and placed between the turning lane and the thru traffic lane. The bike lane/sharrow combination will then continue to Barry Place. Bike lanes will also be added to Sherman between Florida and Barry Place.