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You can call the people responsible for the press release as well:

Contact: John B. Townsend II
Phone: (202) 481-6820

Contact: Lon Anderson
Phone: (202) 481-6820

Be polite!

ok so I think most people like myself have AAA for towing.I did not think AAA was a bike hater. I wrote them an email and told them that they can keep their tow truck and I'll keep my money. sooooo what if WABA had like a tire change service in the city? So let's say if you bought a bike in DC and got the WABA membership then if you got a flat in just DC then they would send like a courier during a week day or some poor soul on the weekends if you got a flat. Or one free one in a shop. Most shops I would hope would support WABA. Hells bells a flat change in a shop is damn near thirty anyway. Only one flat per year or something like that. Then WABA could use the money to play the AAA game....... and build me some sweet jumps on the mall.

This is my fault, but I guess we don't have to lump all of AAA in with AAA-Mid Atlantic. BikeLeague writes on their blog

We didn’t clarify that it was AAA’s mid-Atlantic chapter and spokespeople that came out in opposition to the new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave. (corrected above,) and evidently the National Headquarters of AAA is not too happy about taking the rap for their mid-Atlantic chapter…so sorry to the national AAA folks, who just this week issued a great story about sharing the road and are meeting with us in a few days to discuss potential things we can do together.

Another of AAA’s local chapters also came under some scrutiny this week for an article about sharing the road that was generally very good and supportive, with good quotes from AAA and cyclists…but included four bullets of advice that were totally off the mark. AAA is a big, very decentralized group – but with tens of millions of members, it is also very influential, and has a huge impact on cyclists. So, we’re looking forward to the dialog beginning later this month.

So AAA is not bike haters, but some people in it are a bit behind the curve...

@washcycle:
I would not worry about it too much. AAA is brand and AAA mid-Atlantic is part of that brand. Separating main brands from sub-brands is hard and just goes with the business of branding. Guilty by association kinda thing. So if AAA mid-Atlantic is tarnishing the AAA brand then the national headquarters should be concerned. But HQ should be calling mid-Atlantic and have them set things right.

Sadly I terminated my membership with them last year so I have less leverage when I write to them and complain. But I still have my membership card I can send them along with a nice note explaining why after 10 years with AAA I'll be switching to another company the next time I sign up for roadside service.

Thank you for making us aware of this. As a AAA Plus member I have written the Mid-Atlantic chapter an email making it clear that I am for more bike lanes. Personally I think bike lanes make things better not just for bikes, but for cars as well in terms of better managed streets. If others would like to comment to the Mid-Atlantic chapter you can do so at http://www.aaamidatlantic.com/About/Contact/.

FYI, There also is a thread started on the AAA Mid-Atlantic community forums at the following URL if folks want to comment there as well.
http://community.aaamidatlantic.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=aaacdmb01&tid=169

Dave, the link doesn't work for me.

Spoke to Townsend-

His problem is not adding bike lanes, but he believes that there should've been a study and a debate regarding taking away two lanes on Penn Ave. Hi clarified that he's not against bike lanes - in fact that he's all for adding bake lanes - but not at the cost of taking away two car lanes on Penn Av. He would like to see smaller bike lanes so that traffic is not worsened on the area.

He also spoke about the absence of an environmental impact study of how tour buses would be idling more due to increased traffic on those lanes.

He seems like a reasonable person that is willing to listen to various opinions. I encourange people to contact him via email or phone, but please be polite. I hope that AAA-midatlantic releases a new statement with their clarification on the opposition.

Maybe I'm way off, but isn't AAA a for-profit organization? Why are people looking at these announcements as though from an un-biased "good-for-the-people" type organization? The government on the other hand, is not looking for profits by creating these bike lanes for us.

Stan,

Please! What you are describing is not a reasonable person. This is a person trying to cloak his opposition of anything remotely beneficial to anyone besides automobile traffic with the mantel of reasonableness.

Environmental impact studies? Concerned about taking away two lanes? Smaller bike lanes? Entirely off point!

With all due respect: Not sure what you heard during the telephone conversation but this is not a reasonable position.

Eric, why don't you give him a call?

I definitely don't agree with his position, but he's got a right to his opinion. His request for debate before constructions sounds reasonable.

I definitely don't agree with his environmental impact study request.

During our conversation it seemed that his main concern was Penn Av so I don't understand why include 15h, 9th, etc in their statement.

In any case, you should make your own opinion count by voicing your concern to AAA, DDOT, etc. Have you?

There has been plenty of debate about the Pennsylvania Ave bike lanes. The proposed lanes are part of the DC Bicycle Master Plan which was published in 2005. According to the plan, there was a lengthy public input process starting in 2002, with surveys, online feedback forms, meetings, etc.

DDOT should be commended for acting so quickly on implementation of the already planned and vetted bike lanes. Besides, Bike to Work Day is coming and bike commuters in the District need those lanes.

There was also a public meeting a couple months ago.

As opposed to being cynical or opposed to bike lanes, AAA Mid-Atlantic is pro traffic safety oriented, for the sake of all road users including pedestrians and bicyclists.

Share the road is more than a mantra or motto. We encourage people of all ages to enjoy the recreational and health benefits of bicycling.

This year we are putting our money where our mouth is, by co-sponsoring the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's "Bike to Work Day 2010," when thousands of bicyclists bike to work.


We also support bicycle safety campaigns in schools. A week ago, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education participated in the "Bike to School Day" activities in the region.

We donated more than 40 bicycle safety helmets to students at the Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary in Cheverly, Maryland.

We also support the building of "safe, convenient and well-designed" bike facilities in the nation's capital and other cities throughout the region.

We believe the streets belong to all users.

The District Department of Transportation recently submitted a plan to build barrier-protected bike lanes on five streets in downtown DC.

According to the CLRP project description form that DDOT submitted to the TPB, the plans include a pilot project to build bike lanes down the center median of Pennsylvania Avenue NW from 3rd Street NW to 14th Street NW.

As a critical first step, we also believe that bike lanes should be added in such a way as to not undermine the safety of bicyclists and in such as way as to not put operational pressure on traffic and transit users, as well.

This underscores the need for and the importance of using sound traffic impact and safety studies and what has been rightly called "good engineering judgment" in building bicycle facilities, especially in retrofitting bike lanes on existing streets.

This is why we are calling for an open and honest discussion of the best way to accommodate and operate bike lanes in Washington that safeguards the lives, ensures the mobility and motivity of all users, and facilitate traffic flow in light of proposed adjustments to existing geometric and traffic characteristics.

We are not cynical about bike lanes, we simply wish to make sure they are planned and implemented in a way that safeguards the lives and limbs of bicyclists, reduces the likelihood of crashes caused by motorists’ error, decreases the stress level of bicyclists riding in traffic, and promotes the orderly flow of traffic in downtown Washington.

Bruce W.

At your suggestion, I re-checked the DC Bicycle Master Plan, as published in 2005.

Where in this document is the data from long-range planning forecasts and modeling used to assess the compatibility of building bicycle lanes in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue?

Where is the impact study on the impact of the bike lanes on projected traffic volumes in the roadway in the future?

Where is the pilot study for Pennsylvania Avenue?

Are these impacts included in the DC Bicycle Master Plan?

But nowhere does it contain the DDOT's Bicycle Compatibility Index (BCI), study on building bike lanes and removing traffic lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in the "Federal Triangle" area, the "heart of the Nation's Capital."

The BCI was developed by the Federal Highway Administration.

It was derived from rigorous statistical analysis of the responses to a large scale survey of cyclists.

This is the standard tool for communities planning to build bike lanes.

As such, The BCI methodology allows planners "to evaluate existing facilities and determine and possible
improvements and to determine operational and geometric requirements for new facilities."

By design, this is an essential tool for transportation engineers and planners to evaluate the "capability of specific roadways to accommodate both motorists and bicyclists."

As such, it is a "practical instrument that can be used by practitioners to predict bicyclists' perceptions of a specific roadway environment and
ultimately determine the level of bicycle compatibility that exists on roadways within their jurisdictions."

DDOT has not shared this with the public or submitted to the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), as required.

Did DDOT use the BCI model to determine to add bike lanes to this avenue?

Why is this important? As the Federal Highway Administration guidelines note:

"For example, one of the decisions that must be made by the user of the BCI model is which hour of the day to
use for evaluating bicycling conditions. It has been assumed throughout this document that the peak hour will be the hour of choice."

"However,
depending on the route being examined, the operational conditions may change with time of day. For example, while traffic volumes may be
significantly greater during the peak hour compared with the rest of the day, travel speeds may be significantly lower due to the volumes."

"On other streets, on-street parking may be prohibited during the peak hour. Thus, the off-peak parking lane becomes the peak-hour curb lane for motor vehicle and bicycle travel."

For the safety of all, these questions must be resolved before creating a dangerous situation for bicyclists.


Without this study, we might be creating a situation that puts the lives and safety of bicyclists and motorists in jeopardy.

That is our primary concern.

As often stated by AAA, the concern is congestion. Congestion by definition slows traffic. Slower traffic is often safer, especially for those of us outside the steel cages.

If AAA was so concerned for everyone's safety they would not be selling cell phones while arguing against cell phone use while driving. Where is the push for high driver education standards? Where is the push to really reduce distracted driving? Where is the push for reduced speed limits in residential areas? Where are AAA's solution for effective traffic calming? Where is the push for increased traffic enforcement? I see a whole slew of press releases on AAA web site on how to get out of tickets. Why not teach folks how not to get the ticket in the first place!

I had a AAA card at one time. It said I was member for 15 years. I dropped AAA when I realized how myopic it had become with all cars all the time at the complete expense to all other modes of transportation. I drive, but I also walk, bike, and use transit.

Only when backed into a corner do we start to hear how safety for all is there primary concern. I can't tell you how many times I have seen Mr. Townsend and Mr. Anderson quoted in the media and have been offended and relieved that I canceled my membership.

AAA's own survey showed a high percentage of drivers are single occupancy vehicles. Well there is your congestion that you are so concerned about, not bike lanes.

As for things like bike lanes being a "war on drivers", what hollow complaint. When people think of war they think if death and destruction. Where does death and destruction come from on
the roads? 400 pedestrians die violent deaths every month due to motor vehicles. In fact more Americans have been killed by motor vehicles in the last 100 years than by war.

I think AAA is more upset that they didn't get the chance to kill these bike lanes. Guidelines are not laws. These are not yet permanent bike lanes.

Safety is indeed important and not to be ignored. It's just that AAA has little credibility with me in that regard.

It is interesting that Townsend would cite the BCI and accompanying Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS) as a measurement tool. When these tools were created the proposed facilities were not being used in the US and these measurements are better designed to calculate the need or effectiveness of a traditional bicycle lane, wide outside lane or roadway shoulder. With that said, and without blowing the dust off my TI-82, I think it would be safe to say that with the low traffic speeds, low/moderate AADT, minimal truck traffic and lessened turning conflicts by moving bicycle traffic to the center median that the BLOS would rise dramatically on Pennsylvania Avenue. On 15th St. auto traffic was slowed and diverted, as well as 2 way bicycle movements allowed. Even at peak rush hour, BLOS is likely to be much higher. On other streets with proposed physically separated lanes, BLOS improvements may be negligible (solely due to the items used in the analysis) but cyclist through put and comfort level would be dramatically increased. With all of these roads, the auto level of service degradation has projected to be at an acceptable level. I, L, M and 9th are at D or F LOS during peak hours already. This is one of the main reasons DDOT has been moving away from using LOS analysis- a change that started with Emeke Monema. Unless you're suggesting we take out the sidewalk or change the Metro tunnels to auto tunnels, this isn't going to change. Why not then look to making it easier for other transportation modes that have proven to help mitigate this traffic congestion?


Despite the support for bicycle safety cited, and which they should be applauded, AAA-MA is falling short of support that is offered by its competitor at Better World Club, other AAA affiliates and even the national office of AAA. If Townsend, Anderson and AAA-MA have concern for cyclist safety and overall safety on our shared roadways there are better ways to go about it. They should be building allies with bicycle advocacy organization instead of creating an 'us vs. them' scenario with 'war on drivers' rhetoric. WABA and the League of American Bicyclists are open to dialogue and welcome their support of increased education for both bicyclists and motorists alike.

I agree with Jeff that it would be nice to see AAA, WABA, LAB and others join forces and collaborate to find solutions. It is good step that AAA is starting to support Bike to Work Day. I would further more suggest that some folks high in the AAA management give it a try if for no other purpose than to better understand the point of view of other street users. Most cyclist are drivers too, so they see both sides. However, few drivers are cyclists and thus "windshield prospective" prevails. AAA can not have much credibility in suggesting what is safe for cyclists unless they can truly understand what conditions are like for bicycle commuters.

Lord, what fools these mortals be."

Instead of writhing in fits of apoplexy over AAA Mid-Altantic's concerns about the speculatory data DDOT used to justify adding bike lanes to the center of Pennsylvania Avenue, one of Washington's busiest tour bus route, we should all take a deep breath.

We should all ask if the placement of the bike lanes was carefully considered and whether the design puts cyclists in a more dangerous position.

Let's see, fewer than 1 percent of us regularly bike to work, according to the January 2010 edition of Governing magazine. Bicyclists comprise 2.5 percent of the daily commuters in DC, which is much higher than the national average. Yet we are removing 25 percent of the travel lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue in non-peak hours and even a higher percentage of the lanes during peak-hours when the a steady convoy of five-ton tour buses is heading for the exists.

God forbids, but it sounds like a fatal accident waiting to happen.

We are also guilty of mouthing pious sounding litotes, saying one thing by denying its opposite.

Though we say motorists must "Share the road" with us, we are becoming the road hogs.

Though we say "the new protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave will have no impact on vehicle level of service according to a study by the District Department of Transportation," we all know no such study exists.

This is why the TPB is calling on DDOT to produce such a study before its next meeting on May 19.

Instead of using weird science to achieve desired outcomes, we need real science.

As the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center notes, "To determine whether bike lanes or paths are effective in reducing bicycle accidents not only with other bicyclists and pedestrians but also with motor vehicles, a cohort study design might be implemented comparing two groups of riders–those using a bicycle lane/path (exposed) and those not using the lane/path (unexposed)–and their respective accident incidence rates. This would, however, require large groups of cyclists. The cohort study might also be conducted in which the cohorts are roads versus paths and the rate of crashes calculated for each. This approach would require reliable data on usage of bicycle paths and roads, such as miles traveled."

Bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue NW? That's a capital idea.

Yet this is a problematic one too.

To safely implement this, the following quantitative and qualitative factors should be considered:

• Rider stress

• Collision history

• Average daily traffic volumes

• Gap Closure

• Cost/Funding

• Connectivity

• Implementation complexity

Another factor is "expected community reaction." Studies have shown "Other bicycle improvements that require removal of travel lanes and/or parking facilities are expected to have a lower degree of community support." To this end, AAA Mid-Atlantic is doing us a favor by rightly ringing the alarm bell that tells us that in rushing to build the build lanes, we might be putting the cart before the horse, or, in this case, the bike lane before the well-being of the bike rider, putting him or her into harm's way.

It is a thankless task. For doing this, AAA Mid-Atlantic has been wrongly and wantonly critized for raising legitimate safety concerns.

In its plan to add bike lanes to Pennsylvania Avenue, DDOT should make sure it is implmented in such a way as to improve the safety and/or comfort of bicyclists. It is my hope that the agency is following the standards developed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Far from opposing bike lanes, AAA Mid-Atlantic is simply asking the District to weigh the best practices for implementing dedicated bike lanes for the benefit and safety of all users. That's my two cents' worth.

There's one more to consider. As the nation's capital, the District's transportation infastracture contains an odd network of streets, roads and highways, that few outside or within the District understand.

Unlike in other cities, federal roads dot the landscape as well as non-federal roads and local roads. This is best understood when a snow emergency occurs, wherein the federal roads are given priority treatment. One such roadway is Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

One of the most famous addresses in the world is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the White House. When the Pennsylvania Avenue Project was undertaken by First Lady Laura Bush in 2004, it was the colloborative effort of "dozens of federal, local, and civic agencies that worked with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)." It resulted in the creattion of a safe and beautiful pedestrian space on the Avenue.

Other segments of this avenue are unique in several senses . For example, the "Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site" is part of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. As the National Park Service notes, "The Avenue is more than just another city street; it is, rather, America's Ceremonial Way." That is because Pennsylvania Avenue has been "the site of a quadrennial inaugural parade for over 200 years, since Thomas Jefferson’s second inaugural on March 4, 1805."

Concerns have been raised about the questionable provenance of adding bike lanes smack-down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. Yet there has been little discussion about the risks to bicylists or whether the federal government was consulted or briefed on the idea.

Beyond this, imagine the outrage if the federal government were to unilaterially close traffic lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue without first consulting and seeking input from DC officials, including Mayor Fenty, members of the District council, and DDOT officials, who maintain the roadway.

This happened several years ago when the federal govenment closed a two block swath of the avenue in front of the White House for security reasons.

In this case, it is DDOT that is doing this without consulting the National Capital Planning Commission or the Federal Highway Administration.

What's good for the goose is not necessarily what's good for the gander.

Interesting… this weekend John B. Townsend II writes a few posts trying to re-frame the argument as AAA being concerned about the lack of proper study and public comment as well as for user safety in general. While some of this may be true, if that was really the case wouldn’t you just come out and say as part of your argument against the new bike lanes from the start? That would seem a reasonable and prudent approach if I were doing it.

But alas, I’m not a PR nor lobbying professional so I guess giving inflammatory comments to the media in press releases and op-eds such as Lon Anderson’s “war on drivers” and John’s own “they're taking so much from so many to give to so few” was the way to go. Man, I have a lot to learn and I’m glad there are so many kind people to teach me.

So maybe I was just having a bad week and was just getting a bit confused? Maybe that was the old AAA view point as John was kind enough to post in a comment above, “This is why we are calling for an open and honest discussion of the best way to accommodate and operate bike lanes in Washington that safeguards the lives, ensures the mobility and motivity of all users, and facilitate traffic flow in light of proposed adjustments to existing geometric and traffic characteristics.”

Once again, Lon and John were able to teach me that open and honest must mean making inflammatory comments and some may argue the spreading of mis-information and half-truths like their past actions demonstrated. I think I’m catching on fast here. This spin thing is pretty neat.

But now I am really confused as to whether or not AAA Mid-Atlantic is my friend. Luckily I have Jessica Scales and Jacob Allen Kidd’s posts to follow up and assure me that AAA is not anti-bicycle. They were even kind enough to cut and paste what appears to be the same post across other blogs where similar discussions painting AAA in a bad light were taking place. Right after John re-framed the argument. The old me might have thought they were associated with AAA’s newfound social media blitz, but that wouldn’t be open and honest so once again I would be wrong. Sorry AAA, I don’t know what gave me that far fetched idea.

So now it all makes sense to me. I guess all these people on all these blogs weren’t mad about how you made ridiculous and inflammatory quotes to the media, again. I guess just giving the facts around your argument and opposition against something isn’t juicy enough anymore. Looks like your opponents wanted to ram bicycle lanes down the motorist’s throats without study or comment and AAA is the knight in shining armor to save the day. It turns out all the cyclists were mad about was AAA standing up to this injustice, not to any reckless comments or press releases which may have inadvertently found their way into the media’s hands and neglected to explain what the real issue was. I was wondering about that so thanks for clarifying.

Labeling the bike lane pilots a “war on drivers” without further explanation pretty much makes the AAA Mid-Atlantic point of view clear regardless of what studies are done. That point of view is OK, AAA advocates for motor vehicles and that is its priority. The way it is presented isn’t. I’m also sensing AAA may not have been banking on the backlash created in this case either. So it is a bit disingenuous for John to try to spin what caused most of the anger to begin with. I’m guessing people can see through it no matter how AAA tries to paint it after the fact. If a more civil tact had been taken from the start this may have been a non-issue (or at least less of an issue). And if AAA feels the lanes weren't presented to them in a fair manner, their initial response still isn't justified and warrants the strong reaction.

Even though I am a cyclist (and might I add driver too) believe it or not I actually would like to hear more of DDOT’s studies around adding the lanes. I’m not an expert on their history, but I have a feeling they have been vetted more than the argument AAA is making and I think it would put a lot of this to rest. If requisite steps were skipped, that is an issue and needs to be addressed. I think most people who are speaking out on this would agree. From what I can see this wasn’t the crux of the issue that started the backlash against AAA. It was the manner in which AAA's argument and opposition was presented.

Times are changing and I hope AAA can adapt and truly does want to partner with other groups in good faith to make the region a better place to get around in. Everyone would benefit from it. Toning down the rhetoric (and this goes for all sides) would be a good place to start. Comments like “a war on drivers” and “they're taking so much from so many to give to so few” and neglecting to clarify opposition to issues is going to raise a pretty strong reaction as I think you have seen…

Ditto. I would also like to hear more about DDOT’s studies around adding the lanes.

When the dust settles and cooler heads comes to their senses, I think you will find that this is what AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling for too.

That is in the best interests of all. Don't you think so. Until then, it is best to tone down the rhetoric and to stop talking pass each other in an effort to score points.

The truth is, AAA Mid-Atlantic's traffic safety credentials are impeccable, even if they question the best way to add bike plans to protect and save lives.


Stop shooting at the traffic safety messenger. Like Cassandra of Greek mythology, we are doom to hear the message to our peril.

For doing this, AAA Mid-Atlantic has been wrongly and wantonly critized for raising legitimate safety concerns.

The original press release says nothing -- zero-- about safety. Nothing.

I'd have a lot more respect for AAA if it really believed in its positions, rather than playing this "I didn't really say what I said" game. It's just insulting.

I'd also have more respect if they didn't use sock puppets.

I blew it and allow me to clarify my last point, which fell short. In Greek myths
Cassandra was the prophetess that no one wanted to hear.

As the mythmakers tell, she was famed for predicting Troy's defeat and warned the Trojans not to accept the Greek gift of the Trojan horse.

However, she was ignored, and Greek troops hidden inside the wooden horse captured the city.

In this sense, I believe AAA Mid-Atlantic is the traffic safety messenger, that we can choose to ignore to our peril. We might not like what they say or how they say, but at least they have the courage to speak the truth to powers that be and the public about the needed for sound judgment in how DC adds and deploys bike lanes.

I really do believe AAA blew it with this issue. If they had started with something like, "...we have safety and process concerns and we would like to work with DOT and WABA to find a solution." Instead we see "war on drivers" and AAA on TV calling the lanes "stupid" and complain about congestion. That is why there is backlash and perhaps a lost opportunity. The AAA messenger sent the wrong message (war & congestion) and we heard it. Now the message (safety & process) has changed. We hear it too, but we trust the messenger just a bit less now.

In this sense, I believe AAA Mid-Atlantic is the traffic safety messenger, that we can choose to ignore to our peril. We might not like what they say or how they say, but at least they have the courage to speak the truth to powers that be and the public about the needed for sound judgment in how DC adds and deploys bike lanes.

In a word: nonsense. The original press release was about congestion, nothing else. To say that AAA is the "traffic safety messenger" is laughable -- they have consistently chosen driver convenience over safety, whether the issue is cell phone use, speed cameras, red light cameras, or traffic enforcement.

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