Capital Bikeshare expands to Falls Church, Route 1, MVT and elsewhere

CaBiFalls

I haven't been doing as good a job of covering CaBi expansion as I once did, and it just keeps happening. Like back in 2016 when it expanded to Tysons (I hope you're not just now reading that here). And then in December, they added stations to Gravelly Point and the parking lot at Teddy Roosevelt Island, as promised, after making an agreement with NPS, one that could result in other stations on NPS land.

The agreement is part of a new permitting process for placing Capital Bikeshare stations on National Park Service land.

Part of that agreement prohibits advertising on NPS-located stations. Now if we can only get one at DCA. 

But wait, there's more. In April, to not much fanfare, the next phase of stations were added in Prince George's County along the Route 1 corridor, with more to follow this summer and fall. There's not one planned for PG County Plaza though. 

Then in May, the system expanded again to Falls Church adding 11 stations to expand the system to 550+. 

Meanwhile, DDOT has been busy adding new stations and expanding others, though not without criticism.

This week and last week, ANCs have barely approved or delayed votes on endorsements for new stations. Commissioners at both meetings, as well as residents, have asked: where’s DDOT? Why aren’t they here to answer questions? DDOT’s absence at these meetings is a significant contributing factor to delay votes and opposition.

Not only are the current seven members continuing to add stations - especially Prince George County, which isn't done with it's phased rollout, but the Fairfax City - GMU  - Vienna region is studying the feasibility of adding stations of their own. So far public support is strong, and it is feasible, but it will require concurrent improvements to the bicycle infrastructure and other support. 

The study recommends starting out with CaBi connections to Mason and Metro and then develop dockless in the future. The CaBi stations would start along Old Lee Highway as a spine. Getting it started would cost about $1M.

FairfaxCity

Slightly related, Arlington is studying dockless bikes and are accepting comments through the end of the month.

DDOT to present interim plans for Florida Avenueon Thrusday

image from washcycle.typepad.com

DDOT will hold a meeting on Thursday, June 20th on interim plans to remake Florida Avenue NE between 2nd and 14th.  The purpose of the project is to address safety concerns along the corridor by reducing vehicle speeds, improving pedestrian crossings, and providing protected bicycle infrastructure. The meeting will be at New Samaritan Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall; 1100 Florida Avenue NE from 7pm to 8:30pm.

This is, of course, the section of road where Dave Salovesh was killed in April. As a result of that crash, DC Council passed emergency legislation to push DDOT to get work done on this sooner, and now it is expected to begin later this summer. 

Montgomery Co. Planning Board votes to end Little Falls Parkway diet and move the Capital Crescent Trail. (This wasn't even one of the options).

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Last night the Montgomery County Planning Board voted on a permanent change to the Little Falls Parkway/Capital Crescent Trail intersection that would move the crossing to Arlington Road and restore the road to four lanes. This wasn't even one of the options planning staff analyzed - it's a worse version of the worst of the three options presented last fall.

The intersection was redesigned, with a slower speed limit and an interim road diet, after a cyclist was killed at the crossing in 2016. The interim road diet worked. The interim road diet cut pedestrian/bike crashes by 50%, it had minimal effect on travel time, adding only 7 seconds; and throughput for drivers. The only downside it that it resulted in a some cut-through traffic on Hillendale Road.  But, according to one board member, "Montgomery County is built for the car" and I guess there's no reason to change that (other than safety, quality of life, public health and the very existence of humanity). 

After studying 10 alternatives and narrowing that down to 3 - a bridge, the road diet with safety modifications and a road diet with a moved trail, Planning staff recommended that Alternative A, the continued road diet with safety modifications, be enacted. But local homeowners wanted the road put back the way it was before over traffic concerns, even though - as noted - the analysis shows that the impact on traffic has been minimal.

Wherein local residents (and a far away Congresswoman) argue in bad faith

Where they got the idea for restoring it to four lanes, I don't know, but several citizens associations, like Westmoreland Citizens Association and the Citizens Coordinating Committee on Friendship Heights (CCCFH) sent letters supporting that and emails to members describing it as an option. 

CCCFH blames the cyclists for the problems

A core problem is that the CCT has become a bicycle commuter route. It was never intended as such. This results in safety issues in conflicts with the pedestrians and runners on the trail and with the automobiles on the Little Falls Parkway at the Trail/Parkway
intersection. Aggravating the safety issue is the disregard that so many bicyclists have for the rules of the road.

Constricting traffic on Little Falls Parkway to accommodate bicyclists is not at all an optimal solution to the safety issue

Kenwood Citizen's Association echoed this. The trail is "not a commuter trail", they say without noticing how many people use it to commute. It's a recreation trail, and thus, I presume, it's OK for it to be unsafe and for a few people to get badly hurt on it. I don't follow the logic, but whatever.  They then go on to erroneously claim that the current design is dangerous because the bollards are hard to see at night. 

This "not a commuter trail" claim is bunch of horseshit though. Here's what Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer said at the groundbreaking for the first section of the trail: "This has been one of our priorities, to encourage more walking and bicycle riding, both for recreation and as an alternative to the automobile." IT WAS ALWAYS MEANT TO BE A COMMUTER TRAIL. (Hill, Retha (1 October 1992). "Work to Start On Trail for Bikes, Hikes". The Washington Post.)

Kenwood Forest II also supported restoring four lanes, because the cut-through traffic made their neighborhood less safe, as they have lots of kids that are "apt to run out into the street".  They also opposed the connector trail. 

I'm disappointed to report that the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail also sent a letter supported Alternative B without the road diet. Not sure the thinking there. 

WABA meanwhile supported Alternative A and called B a step in the wrong direction. 

You know who else wrote a letter in opposition the road diet? Representative Doris O. Matsui (D-CA 6th). 

Screenshot 2019-06-14 at 1.08.42 AM

I wonder where she lives in the DC area? This is a long way from California. In addition to the butt-insky nature of this which is mildly (more even maybe?) offensive, she calls road diets unfair, which is bunch of bunk, and she misunderstands the point which is not mode shifting but saving lives. Earl Blumenauer needs to stop by her office. Until then she can pound sand back in Sacramento.  

Board Vote

So, the board didn't vote for Alternate A. Or the Bridge. Or even Alternative B. They voted for Alternative B without the road diet. Which is sure to make things less safe. Former WABA board member Casey Anderson & Natalie Fani-Gonzalez were the only ones to vote for Alternative A. [Correction: Anderson voted for Alternative A, and Fani-Gonzalez supported B with the road diet, but voted for the one without it. The vote was 4-1, with Anderson the only one voting against 4 lanes.]

Alternative A and B were both expected to make the road "safe". But B was expected to result in more delay for trail users (30 seconds) AND for drivers (13 seconds vs 7 seconds); to result in more cut-through traffic on Hillendale, cost more both to implement and to maintain, and have more environmental impact.

Moving the CCT (B) doesn't beat the road diet (A) on any of the metrics they analyzed.

And they chose an option that's worse than B.

Staff already indicated that Alternative A was most in line with the County's Vision Zero goal of no fatalities by 2030.

Vision Zero represents a paradigm shift in traffic policy, stating that pedestrian and bicyclist severe injuries or fatalities are unacceptable, and putting the onus on system designers rather than road and trail users to ensure a safe transportation system. By removing the multi-lane threat, slowing vehicles, and reducing confusion between trail users and motorists, the Recommended Facility Plan will significantly increase safety and meet Montgomery County’s Vision Zero policy.

As you can see, this change will mean that trail users will get to Little Falls Parkway and then follow the Parkway to Arlington Road, cross it at the intersection and then follow the Parkway back to the existing trail. The pictures above and below don't match what the board voted for because they show a road diet.

image from washcycle.typepad.com

This is not how you get to zero deaths. Nor is it how you reduce GHG emissions to zero by 2035. Just frustrating and sad. They literally just had to do nothing.

At least we know that Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail will spring into action to fight this plan that makes the trail worse. 

Update: From BethesdaMagazine's coverage:

Planning Board member Tina Patterson said she was unaware until recently the fatality that sparked the road changes occurred when a vehicle struck a man who was riding a recumbent bicycle, a bike that places the rider in a reclining position and is harder for motorists to see, researchers suggest.

“Had I known this after the fact and moved forward with the staff recommendation, I would have been very embarrassed,” Patterson said. “When we’re going to talk about something that is impacting the community, we need to get the full details. We know that road diets are sexy and it’s the trend right now but sometimes it’s not appropriate.”

There's nothing illegal about riding a recumbent bicycle. And VisionZero is not about saving the lives of people who do nothing wrong, and saying "screw it" about the people who do. 

Planning Board member Natali Fani-Gonazalez said she did not agree with maintaining the road diet because drivers often do not stop for pedestrians attempting to use a crosswalk, creating dangerous situations.

“What we have here is a behavioral problem in this society. People just want to think about themselves and what they’re doing without thinking about how it will impact other people, so … if you don’t have a traffic light, especially in a place with so many people using the intersection, it’s not safe,” she said.

Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson, the lone vote against moving the trail to Arlington Road, said he doesn’t believe community members advocating for a four-lane intersection understood the timing of the traffic signals will have to be changed to accommodate trail users’ crossing.

“I may be outvoted but honestly I don’t think this is a good idea,” Anderson said. “I think the road diet has been successful … I just wanted to say I think this is a mistake.”

Surface Transportation Board proposes to extend the negotiation period for railbanking

image from flic.kr

The federal Surface Transportation Board has proposed a change to the rules dealing with negotiation time limits for railbanking that should be helpful to those trying to create rail trails. Railbanking is the process by which railroads that are to be abandoned instead get turned into trails.

Under existing rules, a prospective trail sponsor has 180 days to complete negotiations with a rail carrier over a line that it has proposed to abandon. But current practice is for the board to issue extensions for "good cause" and it seems that they grant them pretty liberally. The new rules would give sponsors a year to complete negotiations, permit up to three one-year extensions if the trail sponsor and the railroad agree; and permit additional one-year extensions if the trail sponsor and the railroad agree and good cause is shown. This basically matches the changes that Rails to Trails (RTC) has sought (and so is good news for supporters).

The whole rule making effort began last year when the National Association of Reversionary Property Owners (NARPO), suggested a set of rule changes.* NARPO represent the interests of adjacent land owners, and can be considered the anti-rail trail opposite of RTC. One of those changes recommended limiting the number of 180-day extensions of the interim trail use negotiating period to a maximum of six extensions and the STB proposed a rule to do just that.

Then RTC petitioned for a separate rule change to instead establish a one-year period for any negotiating period and codify the Board's authority to grant extensions of the negotiating period for good cause shown. 

So the two rule proposals were considered together, and RTC brought the receipts. RTC had a database of almost every instance where a sponsor sought to build a trail and that it included how long negotiations lasted for most case.

of the 370 railbanked corridors for which its database indicates the length of negotiations, 289 railbanking agreements (78.1%) required more than 180 days to negotiate, while approximately half (183 of the 370 corridors) were negotiated within one year. RTC argues that its data supports the conclusion that an initial railbanking negotiating period of one year, rather than 180 days, would more closely reflect the actual length of time required to complete railbanking negotiations. RTC notes that establishing a one-year initial interim trail use negotiating period would promote greater administrative efficiency and reduce burdens on trail use proponents and railroads to file extension requests, and on the Board to review and approve such requests.

Which all seems to make sense and the STB saw it that way too. 

NARPO objected to the "good cause" standard starting on the 4th extension and instead wanted an "extraordinary circumstances" standard, but STB rejected that as well.

To accomplish [the goals of the Trails Act], the interest in concluding the Trails Act process within a reasonable amount of time must be balanced against the need to allow parties enough time to complete their negotiations and finalize a Trails Act agreement—and applying a good cause standard of review beginning at the fourth extension request would appropriately effectuate this goal. Applying such a good cause standard should provide sufficient time to allow trail projects that have a reasonable prospect of success to be completed while at the same time taking into account situations where negotiations may extend for many years without any likely or achievable resolution. A good cause standard for extensions that exceed three years in total would provide the Board with more flexibility than an extraordinary circumstances standard but would still require a meaningful case-specific showing of need for any such extensions.

This is all a positive change for the process. I don't know of any such negotiations going on in the DC area (Shepherd Branch?) or any that would, but you never know. If you'd like to comment on this, you have 26 days.

*In its petition, NARPO also requested that the Board require a railroad or trail sponsor negotiating an interim trail use agreement to send notice to landowners adjacent to the right-of-way; and require all entities filing a request for a trail use, or extension thereof, to pay a filing fee.

VDOT meeting on I-395 Shirlington Interchange tomorrow

image from www.virginiadot.org

The Virginia Department of Transportation will host a meeting on June 12 to learn about and give input on alternatives identified by a study assessing safety and operational improvements at the I-395 Shirlington interchange (Exit 6).

More importantly hey will also discuss the intersection of South Shirlington Road and South Arlington Mill Drive, where the Four Mile Run Trail crosses Shirlington; and the intersection of Gunston and Martha Custis, where the ramp is that leads to the ped/bike bridge over I-395.

The project seems primarily or exclusively concerned with improving the oval there (by slowing down traffic, and trimming, widening and realigning lanes) so I'm not sure if any of this will have anything to do with biking, but there is room for improvement in these areas, and the wider study area as well.

At Gunston, it would be great to see that sidewalk improved. In fact, get ride of the sidewalk and rebuild it at the desire line. Then use the sidewalk space to build a bicycle path (the storm drain will be difficult to remove, but a bike path could start at street level and rise up above the drain. It would need to be wide enough for two way traffic. I'd also get rid of that curve at Gunston so as to slow cars making that turn down.

As someone noted in the comments, the base of the bridge would be a great place for a wayfinding sign. Same person asked for a crosswalk across Gunston at the base of the bridge. I agree with the idea, not sure about the safety. And several have asked for a tunnel under Shirlington at Four Mile Run (which I think is part of a plan elsewhere). 

Not part of those areas, but I'd love to see a little trail connection between the Four Mile Run underpass and the CubeSmart parking lot. Not because I think a lot of people will bike to the CubeSmart, but because that creates a shorter connection to Shirlington Road going north (or coming south going the other way). 

Residents are invited to stop by Drew Model Elementary School, 3500 23rd Street South, Arlington, VA 22206 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to view displays and learn more about the study. A presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. VDOT staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Give comments at the meeting, or e-mail or mail them by June 24, 2019 to Ms. Olivia Daniszewski, EIT, Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

DDOT's Rock Creek area livability studies

This year, DDOT has held two meetings - in February and May -  on their Rock Creek Far West Livability Study. Studies like these can form one of the first steps to changes on the ground and so their important stepping stones to protected bike lanes, road diets and other projects that make streets safer, greener and more conducive to walking and biking. Officially:

The Rock Creek Far West Livability Study will identify opportunities for safer travel for residents and visitors to the neighborhoods in the study area. The purpose of the study is to enhance the quality of life of the community through improvements to transportation safety and connections to destinations. This study will also align with Mayor Bowser’s Vision Zero Initiative, which has an objective to reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of the District’s transportation system by 2024.

The study area covers DC's Western corner, including the Palisades, from the C&O Canal to Massachusetts Avenue. 

After the first meeting, ANC 3D sent a letter supporting a bicycle trail along Nebraska Ave, bicycle lanes along Rockwood Parkway and Loughboro Road, and a PBL along Nebraska, Loughboro and Arizona all the way to Canal Road. 

At the 2nd meeting they presented draft recommendations. These included

  • A road diet on Dalecarlia Parkway that then allows for more space for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Make 48th between MacArthur and V into a "shared street"
  • Provide new connections to the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) at Arizona and Norton
  • Improve Tunlaw Road for cyclists
  • Add a PBL to Loughboro/Nebraska; bike boulevards to 49th, Glenbrook and and Rockwood Parkway, a bike facility on 37th and a sidepath on Massachusetts Avenue

Screenshot 2019-06-10 at 12.27.46 AM

I pretty much only bike through the area the way most people do - on the CCT, canal towpath or MacArthur. Occasionally I ride Massachusetts and I'd probably use a sidepath in the uphill direction. I'm surprised the Palisades trolley trail isn't one of the recommendations and that there isn't more in the southern part of the study area. 

It's a shame that trails aren't included in the Glover-Archibald corridor, Battery Kemble corridor or the green corridor south of Fulton that connects them. Or the Whitehaven Parkway for that matter. 

A third meeting should happen in August or September, but the best way to make comments before then would be to use the interactive map.

And more time critical, DDOT is doing a study on the east side of Rock Creek Park and holding a meeting on it this week (June 12). You can see the map of existing and proposed bike facilities for that area here

Work underway on Silver Spring Bikeways

image from pbs.twimg.com

Montgomery County DOT (MCDOT) broke ground on the protected bike lanes on 2nd Ave. and Wayne Ave. between Spring St. and Georgia Ave. last fall, but they were delayed by utility issues and weather. Work is underway now, and they've been making progress on the PBL and on the protected intersection at Second and Spring. 

Late last month they moved the median on Wayne, were putting in temporary striping, they've poured concrete aprons and islands and moved streetlights.

At the protected intersection they note about the rectangular concrete apron on the westbound side of Spring Street

Buses need this space when turning left. Initially, we designed this area just with a hatched (painted) area, but we were concerned people would park there. This concrete apron will not be challenging for the bus to use during its turn, and people will be less likely to park here. Note, once the final striping is in place, the parking lane will align with the apron and the bike lane will be against the curb.

Last year they said work would take two months to complete, so we might be 5-6 weeks away from completion. This would be the first protected intersection in the area, IIUC. 

image from www.montgomerycountymd.gov

Nutley Street Interchange and I-66 Trail redesigned, again. Meeting tomorrow night.

image from outside.transform66.org

June 2019 Design

The Nutley Street Interchange, which is being rebuilt to widen I-66, has been redesigned again. You can see the design as of February here. The new design is meant to 

  • Provide safer, more efficient travel for vehicles entering and exiting I-66 East and West
  • Improve safety for vehicles and pedestrians traveling on Nutley Street
  • Connect the new grade-separated shared-use path with planned bicycle and pedestrian improvements around the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metrorail station and a shared-use path being built into the Town of Vienna.

The new design is only slightly different from the standpoint of cyclists. The biggest change is that on the northwest side of the Nutley Street bridge the Nutley Street trail is wedge shaped instead of balloon shaped, creating a 300 degree turn that will force cyclists to slow down more. I can't believe that they can't slope the trail from the bridge over I-66 to the underpass below the ramp in a more direct line on that side. Maybe the right option is to go straight over the ramp and then have the trail slope down to ground level on both sides (like in the image at bottom). Oh well. 

image from washcycle.typepad.com

Early 2019 design

The other changes are with the route of the I-66 trail on the northeast side and the Nutley Street Trail on the southeast side. In both cases the route has been shifted, but not in a way that matters much. It also moves the sidewalk on the south end. 

Reroute

A new design alternative has been proposed for this interchange and will be discussed at a community information meeting on June 5, 2019, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at James Madison High School, 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna. In addition to traffic flow improvements when complete, this new design will reduce construction impacts for drivers and project neighbors. 

DC's busy bicycle legislative agenda, part 3

image from www.activelifedc.com

In parts 1 and 2 of this series wherein I discuss the torrent of bicycle-relevant bike laws proposed in DC, we covered Charles Allen's Vision Zero bill and Transportation Benefits Equity Act as well as the Budget. This week we'll look at four smaller bills.

Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Mandatory Protected Cycling Land Amendment Act of 2019 in late April, following the death of Dave Salovesh.  The bill mimics similar legislation out of Cambridge, MA that requires the city to include the safest bike paths whenever a roadway is reconstructed.

The DC bill requires DDOT to build a protected bicycle lane on any street segment where one is recommended by the Multimodal Long Range Transportation Plan (aka MoveDC) whenever the road is to be repaired, reconstructed or get gutter replacement. They are, to the greatest extent possible, to be built contiguous with other portions of the cycle network.  DDOT will be required to provide 60 days notice prior to starting construction of their intent, of the construction schedule and of the 30 day public comment period. Recommendations from affected ANC's made during the comment period are to be given great weight.

But, the whole requirement will be waived if the DDOT director determines that it is impractical or unnecessary to build the bike lane because (1) it would be too expensive (2) cyclists wouldn't use it (3) safe cycling can be accommodated with it or (4) the city would need to buy land to build it. The DDOT Director will need to write a letter to this effect and post it on DDOT's website. 

So that gives DDOT a lot of wiggle room and basically allows for them to bypass it any time they want as long as they're willing to take the heat, but this is the same as in Cambridge.  And it appears that the affected ANCs are the ones the road segment passes through, not those ANCs nearby where people who bike on the road might live. But hopefully it will push DDOT to build out the bike lane network from MoveDC faster. 

The Curb Extension Act of 2019, introduced by David Grosso, is similar but deals with curb bulbouts instead of bike lanes. Notably, it doesn't reference MoveDC. 

Another bill from Cheh, the Vulnerable User Collision Recovery Amendment Act Of 2019, would extend the contributory negligence carve out from the Motor Vehicle Collision Recover Act of 2016 to include people on e-bikes and electric scooters. Not sure why they chose to just extend it to those on electric scooters and not all of those on Personal Mobility Devices, but maybe they think that's already covered by the otherwise confusing "Segways...and other similar non-powered transportation devices." Still I would have just included everyone on "motorized bicycles" and "personal mobility devices" which are the classes those currently belong to. Instead they intentionally leave out mopeds,  

Chales Allen and Jack Evans have also introduced the Bike Valet Grant Program Act. It creates a grant of up to $3000 per event to pay for providing a bike valet for festivals and events. 

Finally, Councilmember Todd introduced the Cyclist Safety Campaign Amendment Act of 2019. It specifies the questions relating to bicyclists that the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to quiz driver license applicants about on the driver's license examination (specifically the 3 foot law, the Dutch reach and yielding to cyclists when turning) and it establishes a public outreach campaign to educate the public about automobile-bicycle fatalities.

Witnesses sought after cyclist seriously injured in Loudoun County June 1 evening

Loudoun County police seek witnesses for cyclist seriously injured Sycolin Road between Shreve Mill Road and the Leesburg Park and Ride. Crash was between a vehicle and bicyclist on Saturday, June 1, at approximately 9:40 pm.

 

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