Last night, DDOT held a public meeting to give an update on its Florida Avenue NE project. The project is looking at Florida Ave starting just east of the dreaded "Dave Thomas Circle," where Florida Ave crosses New York Ave in one of the most confusing and dangerous intersections in the city; down through where Florida Ave hits H Street and Benning Road (the "Starburst Intersection"). Varying between four and five lanes of cars, the road currently has narrow sidewalks, no bike infrastructure, and excessive speeding.
This is a significant opportunity to make the street safe for bicyclists and pedestrians in a neighborhood with unique issues and undergoing rapid change. Florida Avenue has always had a high number of deaf pedestrians because Gallaudet University is located right in the middle of the study area. In fact, there were several sign language interpreters at the DDOT meeting and several deaf neighbors who gave their feedback about safety in the area. The continued growth of H Street as a destination for people from all over the city, and the presence of Union Market and the pedestrians and cyclists it adds means it's especially important that pedestrians and cyclists have a way to get there safely. This will only become more acute in the future as buildings are still being developed on the western edge of the study area (near the new REI).
As recently as yesterday, WABA was letting people know that the previously released plans for redesigning Florida Avenue were alarmingly car-oriented and didn't do nearly enough to accommodate pedestrian or cyclist needs. They encouraged cycling advocates to attend the meeting and give DDOT feedback on the plan.
Here's the good news: DDOT's proposal has gotten much better since they last gave an update, It now includes reduced travel lanes and a ~0.6 mile long, curb protected, two-way cycletrack along about half the length of the street, from 3rd to 9th, with a shared use path along the south side of the short block from 9th to West Virginia and another one along the longer block from 2nd to 3rd. There are also two-stage turn boxes at 5th, 6th, 8th and West Virginia. Given what the cycling community had been expecting, that's a huge improvement (and an even larger improvement over the current situation). There are no planned bike facilities from West Virginia to H Street.
Cycle track between 4th and 6th Streets NE
Still, the proposal seems like too little to me. While it will serve a busy street, by itself, it won't do a good job connecting to other parts of the bike lane network nearby, such as the First Street NE cycletrack, the Metropolitan Branch Trail, or the bike lane on I Street. The Florida Ave cycle track also doesn't connect directly with the two-way lanes on 6th street. On a positive note, there are plans, I learned today, for a future lane along West Virginia Avenue, which will connect well with the Florida Avenue cycletrack. [Editor's note: There are also proposed facilities along M Street and through Union Market which, if built, would create connections to First Street, the Metropolitan Branch Trail and a future New York Avenue Trail.]
Map showing the location of the proposed cycletrack and the existing bike lane network.
In the end I felt like these improvements to Florida Avenue will be welcome, but with just a little bit more ambition this facility could be a truly great, very useful new addition to the DC cycling network.
You can see detailed maps of the proposal here, and leave a comment here. DDOT hopes to reach the 100% design stage in the spring of 2018 and start construction soon after that. I'm still disappointed in the glacially slow progress of the Shaw protected bike lane so take those dates to be extremely rough estimates only.
Florida Avenue, NE from 2nd Street to West Virginia Avenue, NE
Last week the Montgomery County Council approved the Lyttonsville Sector Plan, which sets up a framework for how to reorient and rebuild the area once the Purple Line and Capital Crescent Trail are built through it.
Bicycle Facility map
The Planning Board draft is not much different from the working draft I wrote about 16 months ago, but there are some things relevant to cycling which I don't think I mentioned, or have changed. It also keeps the new language about the Talbot Avenue Bridge. As a refresher, here's a list of all the proposed bicycle facilities
Another presentation has this rendering of 16th Street with its separated bicycle lane.
In addition to all of these facilities, they call for new and better bike parking, Capital Bikeshare stations, and better intersections. They also want the whole area to be a Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA).
Part of the Greater Lyttonsville Sector Plan area was designated as a Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Area (BPPA) through the 2013 Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan. The area currently designated as a BPPA is west of 16th Street, east of Rosemary Hills Drive and the Spring Center shopping center on 16th Street. The BPPA should be expanded to include the entire Sector Plan area to support the future Purple Line stations and anticipated increase in pedestrian activity within the area.
The plan also calls for a greener Lyttonsville and much of that will benefit cyclists too.
For example, they want the Capital Crescent Trail to be a linear green space and they plan to get there through regulatory requirements for public and common space along the Trail for expanded activity areas, stormwater management and planting buffers. Furthermorehe plan calls for prioritizing street tree planting along connecting streets with bicycle lanes.
Daylighting streams will also create more and greener trails. A section of Donnybrook Stream is currently piped underground parallel to the existing Georgetown Branch trail, and they suggest daylighting it as a public amenity adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail. They would also like to daylight a long section of Fenwick Branch and build a shaded hard surface park trail connecting to a planned natural surface trail on parkland south of East-West Highway. That trail could be continued to the DC boundary, and from there perhaps to the Rock Creek Park Trail.
Last year, the DC Council requested that DDOT perform a congestion management study and last week, they delivered the final report of that study. Martin Di Caro writes
D.C. transportation officials are embarking on a five-year project to redefine congestion management, moving away from focusing solely on automobile traffic to creating a “multi-modal” analysis with measures to improve travel across every mode that clogs the roads and sidewalks: cars, buses, bikes, and walking. The new approach makes sense for a city in which fewer than half the residents commute by car.
DDOT researchers identified 10 corridors, each with multiple challenges, from bus route congestion to lack of bicycle accessibility. For instance, ...14th Street Northwest has... a “high stress” bike lane network
The report has some interesting facts and figures, such as this image on mode share.
Unfortunately, this map of mode share by neighborhood, groups bikes with taxis and "other" making it kind of useless. And the percentiles aren't granular enough to show where bike commuters live and where they don't.
Bike commuters have some of the shortest commutes, and shorter by average
The remaining study for bicycling deals with the Capital Bikeshare Walkshed (how much of the city is in walking distance of a bikeshare station) and mapping the district's streets for Bicycle Level of traffic Stress. The Bikeshare map isn't particularly surprising, nor are the conclusions that there are more kiosks in the central part of the city than in the residential parts or that the stations follow the pattern of Metro lines.
The level of stress analysis shows, surprisingly, that Wards 2 and 6 have the highest percentage of high stress streets, and Wards 4, 7 and 8 the lowest. They also showed that not enough bridges have facilities for cyclists (other than sidewalks) and that most major arterials are high stress. In some cases I might differ. For example, part of Pennsylvania Avenue EOTR has a nice sidepath (because they couldn't get a bike lane in) and so that's low stress if your going SE, but it's ranked as LTS 4.
All of this feeds into a combined map of all issues residents and visitors have accessing and using non-automobile roads (see map at the top of post) and then the 10 Focus areas mentioned by Di Caro. Of those 6 have bicycle accessibility issues. [Note 6 and 7 on the map aremlabelled incorrectly/reversed, and they're also mislabeled in table 8 in the report)
Those 6, and the actions that may address the bicycle issues, are
Sorry for the radio silence. I don't know what I had, but I have some footage of me sick at home. But don't worry, I have used the last bit of Krypton's power (Yeah I know, I already did that in Superman II, but no one said this movie was good) to heal myself.
Anyway, while I was staving off death, DDOT released the Updated Eastern Protected Bike Lane Study. It's extensive - nearly a 100 pages long, and I haven't read it all because that would leave no time to look up deleted scenes from Superman IV. The main message is that DDOT has eliminated two alternatives (1 and 2) and what now remains are No-build, Alternative 3 and Alternative 4.
In addition to the No Build alternative, DDOT will advance Build Alternatives 3 and 4 for further design and analysis, both of which would provide a two-way protected lane on the east side of the street. Both alternatives result in beneficial bicycle infrastructure and each would expand the bicycling infrastructure on the eastern side of downtown. .... Both build alternatives result in minor traffic impacts...Both build alternatives require some changes to parking. Alternative 3, on 6th Street, affects more metered parking downtown and 16 Sunday angled spaced. Alternative 4, on 9 th Street, removes 35-45 residential spaces in Shaw and zero Sunday angled spaces. The Sunday parking effects on 6th Street in Alternative 3 could be mitigated by expanding the angled parking provision to an additional block on 6th Street or by modifying parking configurations on other side streets.
Some churches along on 6th Street and 9th Street have stated their concern that the addition of a protected bicycle lane will negatively affect the ability of people to access services and other church functions. Currently, select segments of 6th Street and 9th Street allow parking diagonally, in order to allow more cars to park in front of churches. Alternatives 1 and 2 would remove about 28 diagonal backin spaces; Alternative 3 would remove about 16 angled spaces; and Alternative 4 would remove zero spaces but relocate one of the four block faces to the opposite side of 9 th Street. In addition to designated parking, some churches also use roadway space for loading and unloading cars and buses during large events, such as funerals or large gatherings. DDOT has worked with church leaders to minimize effects on parking, by allowing angled parking through the bike lane on Sundays in Alternatives 1 and 2. Each of the alternatives offers flexibility for large events, such as funerals, to manage parking and provide improved bike facilities. Alternatives 3 and 4 provide greater flexibility in this regard for churches on the west side of both streets.
I'll note that in the description of the meetings with churches, not all oppose bike lanes and none mention gentrification as a concern.
The majority of comments showed support for bike lanes in a 52% to 48% split with the latter in favor of the no-build option. The most favored option is Alternative 3, the bi-directional protected lanes on the east side of 6th Street NW, which gained 40% of the overall preferences expressed. This was favored largely because of the minimal effects on church parking, traffic congestion, travel time, and the ability to function as a full-time protected bicycle facility.
The next step is to advance both build alternatives to the 30% stage.
After the preliminary design stage, if a build alternative is selected, DDOT can proceed with final design and then installation. Developing 30% design is typically a 6 to 9 month process for a project of this type, and final design and installation can take an additional 12 to 18 months, depending on the complexity of construction. During the 30% design process, DDOT will be able to better determine the timeline and timing of installation, if a build alternative is selected.
So 18-27 months till installation, if a build option is selected. Meanwhile, UHOP still opposes bike lanes on 6th, which is where Alternative 3, the most popular option, places them.
The purpose of this corridor safety study will be to identify and address multi-modal safety concerns, and to improve the overall quality of the network for all users. At this meeting, existing conditions and current traffic/crash data will be shared to capture ideas and suggestions from participants.
Alabama Avenue is a key bike route through the east side of Wards 7 and 8. The MoveDC plan recommends that it feature protected bike lanes for its entire length from MLK Boulevard in Congress Heights to Fort DuPont, and then continuing on Bowen Rd to Southern Avenue (where ideally it would continue along Marlboro Pike). This is a Tier 3 facility, but there's no reason to wait. And it would be even better if it connected directly to the Suitland Parkway Trail (which currently passes under Alabama without a connection to it).
The half-mile stretch includes 6-foot-wide bike lanes in both directions of Nebel that are separated from traffic with flexible white posts. To create the bike lanes, parking was removed from the west side of Nebel and relocated to the east side. The road’s travel lanes were also reduced from a little over 15 feet wide to 11 feet.
The project cost the county $135,000 and was built while Nebel Street was resurfaced. The project is part of a network of bike lanes that will one day connect major commercial and residential areas in North Bethesda, according to county officials. The plan is known as the White Flint Separated Bike Lane Network.
The lanes, built between Randolph Road and Marinelli Road, are intended to be part of a larger network tying all of White Flint together and connecting to the Metro.
The bike lane was added because many cyclists were riding against traffic on Glenbrook, which is a one-way street, to use the Capital Crescent Trail
The 0.2 mile, 5-foot-wide lane runs along Glenbrook from Bradley Boulevard south to Little Falls Park. The county removed some parking spots on the short stretch of roadway to complete the $55,000 project, which also included traffic-calming measures and green pavement markings at intersections.
This project will follow the Spring Street/Cedar Street Separated Bike Lanes project (the county's 4th protected bike lane), which is being constructed in Spring 2017. It will connect to, and extend those lanes west - where they will connect to the future Capital Crescent Trail. On the east side, it would connect to the Silver Spring Green Trail.
Because the road has different widths in different locations, the design differs from section to section. From Spring to Fenwick, there will be conventional 5' wide bike lanes. From Fenwick to Colesville Road there will be one-way, 6' wide separated bike lanes on each side, with a 6' wide buffer.
From Colesville Road to Georgia Avenue it will have a 2-way, 8' wide separated bikeway on the north side of the street. This will be accomplished by moving the curb in and taking advantage of an old bus bay.
The most unusual, and likely most controversial, part is the so-called "Colesville Transition," where eastbound cyclists will turn across the avenue to the north side to join the two-way bikeway.
Other intersections will be redesigned too. Designs use two-stage queue box pavement markings, colored paint, and floating bus stops.
The Capital Bikeshare program will provide residents and visitors short-term, on-demand access to bicycles at 29 stations located in Reston and Tysons.
The program is primarily targeted at workers who might be looking for ways to travel short distances to their office or a restaurant, without getting into a car.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Tysons Partnership President Michael Caplin and Fairfax County Bicycle Program Manager Adam Lind will participate in ceremonies in Reston at 2 p.m.and Tysons approximately 3:15 p.m.
Reston Celebration will be held at Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station, Capital Bikeshare station on the plaza at bus bay F, 1862 Wiehle Avenue, Reston.
After the conclusion of the Reston celebration, take Metrorail Silver Line (approximately between 2:36-2:58 p.m.) for an 8-minute trip to the Spring Hill Metrorail Station in Tysons.Capital Bikeshare station located just as you exit the station on the east side of route 7, 1576 Spring Hill Road, Vienna.
And more expansion is coming
Falls Church is hoping to add its own bikeshare program next year.
Meanwhile, in DC, REI (which sells bikes and, reportedly, other items) will be hosting a 3 day grand opening block party at its new location in the old Colisuem adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
Construction crews continue to take advantage of the favorable weather on site and completed all concrete placements of the gravity retaining wall on the east end of the project. Additionally, all foundations for the trail's light poles are now installed in the ground (a total of 52!). Upcoming scheduled activities include installing the electrical manholes and conduits that will power the new pole's LED luminaires.
Since then, Arlington County staff have been studying the idea between Fairfax and Glebe. In September they had a meeting with the Action Committee and other advocates and recently noted in a memo that the project is more difficult than other such facilities in the county.
The road width and possible impacts to parking are the main problems staff need to overcome. The width varies widely between 44 and 70 feet which makes a single, standard cross section challenging. As a result urrent and future planned curb lines will need to be modified to fit the PBLs in. The PBLs will have a significant impact on street parking, which will impact existing and planned developments such as Mosaic Park. Construction on Mosaic Park will start this year, which will impact adjacent sections of the road.
In addition previous public meetings have created an expectation of curbside parking and some frontage has been locked in by some developments.
They aren't giving up though, and a retrofit may coincide with the repaving and striping of N Quincy St currently scheduled for 2017.
Implementation of protected bike lanes will have a significant impact on available on-street parking. This will impact existing developments as well as other planned developments such as Mosaic Park. Mosaic Park is expected to begin construction in late 2016, which will impact the section of N Quincy adjacent to the project with construction staging and operations. Community and Development Previous outreach efforts to the community may have set an expectation for parking along N Quincy St and intersecting side streets. Some curb frontage is “locked in” by existing site conditions for some of the adjacent developments
Parking spaces along Wilson Blvd. will be shifted and rearranged to make way for a protected bike lane
At first it'll just be between Oak and Quinn, about half the total length. That part will be marked before the end of the 2016 paving/marking season. Later it will be extended to Courthouse Road. They're also studying the possibility of extending the lane past Clarendon to the Fairfax Drive/10th Street intersection, which will more than double it in length.