The DDOT representative to the Bicycle Advisory Council recently announced that DDOT was working with the Architect of the Capitol and the ANC to extend the soon-to-be-completed protected bike lane (PBL) on 1st Street NE from Union Station to the PBL on Pennsylvania NW via Louisiana Avenue NE/NW.
The 1st Street NE PBL extension to Union Station is almost done, with the resurfacing to begin soon (if not already underway) followed by the installation of the concrete blocks similar to those further north. When done, First Street will become a one-way street with a two-way PBL, where now traffic is allowed to go two directions for part of the way. The PBL on this block will be two feet wider (10') than on the sections farther north, as DDOT now views 10' as the minimum for such facilities. There will be a loading zone on the opposite side of the street.
DDOT has been meeting with the AOC, local ANC and Councilmember Allen's staff to discuss extending the PBL further south, along Louisiana Avenue where it would connect to Pennsylvania Avenue via either 1st or 3rd. Discussions are preliminary and no alternatives have been defined yet, but the response has been mostly positive. One potential roadblock is that the design will likely require the removal of parking along Louisiana. Parking is under the purview of the Sergeant at Arms, not the AOC, and they are concerned about the loss of parking. But if all goes well, work could begin next year.
Study on the East End Bikeway, which would install a mile-long north-south bikeway on the east side of downtown, continues. They've collected data on traffic volume, parking, transit use, land use etc...They've also been reaching out to stakeholders, especially churches to address concerns early. They'd like to have a public meeting on it soon, perhaps September, and present alternatives. There will be choices about designs and about which street(s) to use. 4th and 8th have been ruled out, but they may get bike lanes. On other streets the options are a one-way PBL on each side of the street; a bi-directional bikeway on one side or a pair of one-way PBLs on adjacent streets such as 5th and 6th. The aspiration is to have the 30% design completed by the end of the year, with installation to start next spring.
DDOT has only installed about 2 miles of bike lanes so far this year. They've been busy filling small gaps, which are nearly as much work as longer lanes, but with less mileage; but DDOT thinks they're critical pieces which will pay off. They've installed a couple of small bike lane sections on 2nd and 3rd NE near Rhode Island Avenue; bike lane and sharrows on 19th Street NE/SE on Capitol Hill (This was originally to be a complete rebuild of the street, but became restriping only); bike lanes and sharrows on 49th street NE; a pair of one-way bike lanes on Galveston and Forrester Streets SE and one-block sections on 4th and 6th NE near Stanton Park. They plan to do the same thing on 11th and 13th near Lincoln Park too.
Design and community outreach is underway on the north section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. They're meeting with community groups, taking soil borings near the trash transfer station and the Metro tunnel and working on the 305 design which they hope to complete this year. The stickier sections are the crossing of Riggs Road and the area near the Brookland Metro entrance. They hope to start construction in 2017.
DDOT and DPW are creating a snow clearing plan for bridges for next winter. Last year no one was responsible for the 14th Street Bridge so it wasn't cleared. They are trying to prioritize bridge sidewalks for clearing and then DPW and DDOT are dividing up responsibilities, so that every bridge will eventually get service.
Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Council passed an act to authorize the county to plan, design and construct the County's remaining section of the Metropolitan Branch Trail by 2018.
According to a document from February, phase II (as seen below) would be completed in FY 2018 - the same year DC plans to finish the Fort Totten section - along with an interim trail for phase I. The interim trail is being built because "there is no guarantee that the Ripley II project - a private project [behind which the trail will run] - will be completed on schedule." If all three sections are completed by then, the trail will then be functionally complete, with cyclists able to ride from Silver Spring to Union Station on the trail, even if that includes a few short interim sections.
The trail in Silver Spring will now be 12-feet wide (instead of 10-11) with 2 foot buffers and the whole thing will be lit at night.
It's become an unfotunate trend on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, but it seems there has been another rash of teen-on-cyclist crime lately.
Just before noon on Monday, two men attempted to push a woman off her bike and when she was unable to get away from them, they demanded her money. They ended up stealing her iphone and $50.
A man witnessed the robbery and captured the suspects on video.
"They asked me if I was calling the feds,” he said.
The witness also pulled out his phone and watched as it took the young thieves seconds to rob the victim of $50 and an iPhone.
"They were just walking up and they pushed her and caused her to wobble,” the witness told us. “Knocked her off her bike and took her phone and cash out of her wallet.”
When he called 911, the dispatcher told him that wihout an address, "they could not send help because there are no markers to help direct them to the section of the trail they were at." This is particularly frustrating because this limitation was noted at least 5 years ago, and was suppossed to have been solved. Have they done nothing to address this issue (n
The victim and the witness were able to walk out to a cross street on 3rd and R Streets and meet with a D.C. officer.
Police say officers arrested two teenaged boys from Northeast D.C. on Tuesday for the incident and have charged them with robbery force and violence.
But wait, there's more! The Wedesday prior to all of this, there had been another crime that got less attention. This one was reported on the MBT listserv.
I've not seen it mentioned elsewhere, but I just found out yesterday that a friend of mine was jumped/knocked off his bike at the RI Ave ped bridge last Wed nite ~10:30PM. Perp was hiding in the bushes at the base of bridge & sprung out as he was passing by. The guy hopped on his bike & rode off on the trail southbound w/my friend in pursuit on foot. Four others were standing on the stairway, but did nothing (perhaps lookouts?) & were gone by the time police got there. He hadn't heard about yesterday's incident when I talked to him in the afternoon & I him showed the photos posted online & he said that one of the guys may have been the same one that waylaid him; he's following up w/MPD to see if he can help identifying anyone involved. Others on the trail were not far behind & may have fared worse than he did (black eye from being punched & road rash/bruises from hitting the ground) as he's a pretty tough old goat.
I guess we can home both crimes were with the same kids. All of this follows another wave of crime in May.
MPR realty has proposed redeveloping the Rhode Island Center shopping center into seven residential buildings totaling 1,555 units with ground floor retail. This is located adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail at the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station pedestrian bridge (as is visible in the bottom half of the rendering above. I suspect the pedestrian bridge and trail played a part in making this site more appealing to developers.
For trail users, this is an opportunity to improve the trail's connection to Rhode Island avenue, which for now involves riding through a shopping center parking lot and up or down a steep ramp. Getting to 4th Street, which is a little less unpleasant than that could also be improved. Density along the trail should also increase its use and its safety.
In addition to all the improvements to the trail itself, the NoMa BID proposals for improving the Metropolitan Branch Trail includes ideas for improving the neighborhood in ways that compliment the trail.
Newton Street Greenway
There aren't many details in the presentation on this, and it will likely be more fleshed out in the final report, but the idea is to create a connection to Newtown through the Brookland Metro site to Monroe Street access.
Brookland Bicycle Repair and Storage Station,
The idea is to install a low-cost, temporary storage and repair facility on land off of 10th Street. Below is a rendering of what such a facility could look like.
In addition to the Edgewood connection, there are two other ideas for the Edgwood area (between Franklin and Channing Streets). One is to revive the Edgewood Street School Garden, which is maybe a little rundown right now. A rendering of what that could look like is below:
Edgewood Flexible Street
In some ways, this is one of the most exciting ideas. The idea is to turn Edgewood Street into a curbless woonerf, even if they don't use that words. Not that Edgewood gets a lot of traffic, but getting DDOT to try a shared street idea, and prove the value of it, will make it more likely elsewhere.
Finally, there's a suggestion to activate the Penn Center - the large red building between the Metropolitan Branch Trail, Randolph Place, R and 3rd. The suggestion is to populate the Penn Center with active uses that will draw more people to the trail and add eyes to the street. In the rendering below it has a bar.
Late last month, Governor Hogan finally made his long awaited announcement about the fate of the Purple Line and the project will move forward. It's been something of a roller coaster for the Purple Line lately. After seeming to be a done deal, the election of Hogan, who had oppossed the project duriing his campaign, put the project in jeopardy. The project is of interest to cyclists since part of the Purple Line will be built on the right-of-way of the current Georgetown Branch Trail from Bethesda to Lyttonsville, and construction of the light rail will make possible the extension of the Capital Crescent Trail from Bethesda to Silver Spring. Though the two projects are linked, the media hasn't mentioned the trail very much during its Purple Line coverage.
Neither project is necessarily a done deal at this time, but the announcement does appear to remove a major hurdle for both. A list of proposed changes to the Purple Line that Hogan put forward to reduce costs appear to only have minor impacts on the Trail. Still, Montgomery County is paying for the trail and they will now have to shoulder a larger burden of the light rail costs, so it is possible that some of that money will come from trail. I've argued that under federal rail-banking law, the County has to include the trail, but even if my reading is correct, they don't have to make it nice.
A few of the changes Hogan has proposed are directly relevant to the trail. Montgomery County will take on a greater role in providing trail detours during construction and the trail bridge over the developer road at the Chevy Chase Lake Station has been reduced from 60' to 40'. There are some less direct changes like replacing green tracks with ballasted track, less landscaping and the removal of the requirement that the project comply with the LEED Silver standard which could make the trail less pleasant or result in a less bike-friendly Purple Line, but those changes will likely be trivial.
Ironically, these changes will make the future trail corridor marginally less park-like than it was going to be otherwise. It is the loss of greenspace that the so-called "Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail" - a group which actually supports the current Georgetown Branch Trail and opposses the planned CCT expansion - opposed and that led them to support Governor Hogan's review of the Purple Line. Needless to say, they aren't happy.
The trail isn't out of the woods yet (see what I did there?). Not only does the Purple Line need to continue to move forward in the face of lawsuits, changing responsibilities, a forthcoming lobbying push against it and possible funding issues with the FTA (The lawyer suing the government to stop the Purple Line has already said he plans to push for a supplemental environmental impact statement and the federal money has only been recommended, not obligated); but the trail needs to continue to be funded as well. And projects can be killed even after work begins. Despite all this, things look much better now then they did in November.
The PL/CCT expansion project will forever change the exisitng trail corridor. Gone will be the wooded, gravel-surfaced Georgetown Branch Trail from Bethesda to Lyttonsville. During construction, the trail will follow a to-be-determined detour, and once complete will be replaced with an extended Capital Crescent Trail that continues from Lyttonsville to Silver Spring on its own right-of-way.
Though the new CCT will have less tree cover and less of a natural feel, it will have much greater utility. The new trail will be paved and will have its own right-of-way all the way to the Silver Spring Transit Center where it will connect with the Metropolitan Branch Trail. It will have a grade-separated crossing of Connecticut Avenue and a new bridge over Rock Creek Park (see renderiings below).
I hope they acquire a lot of Arlington-County style count data for the trail before, during and after construction so that we can see how much the changes to the trail change the usage of the trail. I'm willing to bet usage will go up considerably, which I would call success - even if Ajay Bhatt wouldn't.
Trail bridge over Connecticut Avenue
Trail bridge over Rock Creek Park east of Jones Mill Road
The NoMa Parks Foundation recently selected "LIghtweave" as the second winner of the "Underpass Arts Park" competition, and this installation will go on the L Street section. The north side of the L Street underpass, unlike the M Street one, is part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail. In fact, there are two types of concrete used to designate which part is the trail - the portion between the lamps and the road and which part is the sidewalk. Unfortunately, there wasn't more of an effort made to distinguish between these two parts and so I suspect few users are even aware. Perhpas DDOT was waiting for the L Street stairs to be replaced by a ramp.
The new L Street underpass design doesn't designate any space for the trail and the light installations will be erected on the part of the underpass that is currently the trail, thus blending it all together.
The rendering doesn't show any cyclists either.
Not that this is bad. There's no reason why trail users and sidewalk users can't share this space, but I'd like to see something that makes it clear that the underpass is part of the trail. And some paint marking that separates cyclists and pedestriasns would be useful as well. But, at the minimum, something that makes it clear that cycling is allowed and even encouraged on this block would go a long way to reducing the amount of fist shaking that will likely result when the ramp is completed.