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Today at 1:30 pm there will be a ceremony to open the newest piece of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the birdge between Diamond Teague Park and Yards Park (which is all too long a name, so until someone comes up with something better, I'm calling it WASA Bridge). "The next westward expansion depends on development of the Florida Rock development si...te, which is still in the planning stages. Stevens predicts that by 2013 the trail could connect the baseball stadium to Minnesota Benning."


  • The new City Market at O Street will include "500 vehicle parking spaces, 300+ indoor bike parking stalls, and a 270-linear-foot rooftop dog park."

  • The Examiner on the Montgomery County CaBi expansion open house.'It's trying to get developers interested in making space and financial contributions, said Gary Erenrich, one of Montgomery County's point people on the bikesharing effort. "Right now it is a hodgepodge," Erenrich said.'

  • Somewhere I'm sure there is someone who towed their car to the shop with a bicycle, but this is still impressive. 

  • A new map of the WB&A trail (from 10/7/11) in Prince Georges County unfortunately shows the future trail heading north and the current terminus as an overlook. Other differences with the old map include:
    • The American Discovery Trail doesn't use the WB&A anymore, possibly because of the loss of the Patuxent River crossing

    • The East Coast Greenway is now shown on the map and it does use the trail

    • The connector trail to Old Chapel Road is gone. In the intervening 10 years the neighborhood it would pass through, Saddlebrook West, has been built up and it appears no effort was made to get the trail built concurrent to that. There does appear to be a trail that connects to the closest end of Saddlebrook West - though the bridge symbol on the map for it is turned 90 degrees and the trail is marked as a road - but that then leaves trail users on streets and sidewalks.


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Prince George’s County’s bicycle and trail advisory group (BTAG) has asked state officials to meet with them about a possible state role for resolving a decade-old disagreement between Prince Georges and Anne Arundel counties over the best location for a proposed trail bridge across the Patuxent River. 


 


In a November ...

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The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, on their website, is advocating for Montgomery County to study the possibility of single tracking the Purple Line light rail in the Bethesda Tunnel


The CCCT Board is very engaged in advocating for keeping the Trail in the tunnel. Greg Drury, the Chair of our Purple Line Committee, gave testimony to th...e Montgomery County Planning Board on Nov. 17 urging the Trail be kept in the tunnel. He presented the CCCT position that single-track for the Purple Line in the tunnel should be seriously evaluated. If only one track is in the tunnel, then the Purple Line and CCT can easily share the tunnel without any expensive modifications to the tunnel structures. The Trail would be a much better trail than the trail that is proposed to be in an overhead above the Purple line. See the CCCT single-track statement for the full CCCT position.


Unfortunately the Planning Board did not support the CCCT request for a careful evaluation of a single-track option.


CCCT believes the Planning Board decision to not even evaluate single-track was misguided. The MTA gave opinions without supporting evidence in their testimony to the Planning Board against single-track. For example, Purple Line Project Manager Mike Madden asserted that single-track had already been studied. But the study he referenced was for a single-track section three times as long as the one CCCT proposes, and that section was on the line between stations. Many findings from that study will not apply for this very different proposal. MTA consultant Harriet Levine asserted that if there were only one platform in the tunnel, then it would have to be much bigger than either of the two platforms that are planned. But MTA's own sketch of the Purple Line concept at the platforms in the tunnel, in the M-NCPPC staff report, show that the tunnel is wider in the area of the platforms than elsewhere. The sketch shows that both platforms shown in their sketch can remain, along with a full width trail.


The CCCT Board does not assert that it understands transit operations well enough to assess whether single-track can work in the tunnel with an acceptable impact on speed and reliability of transit operations. But we do know that MTA failed to substantiate its assertion that single-track would have an unacceptable impact at the Planning Board hearing. The single-track option would be far easier and less costly to build than either of the two options the Board did recommend for study. If a careful analysis shows that the Purple Line operational impacts caused by single-track in the tunnel are modest, then single-track is the compromise we badly need so that transit and trail can successfully share the tunnel at reasonable cost and risk.


It is not over. The Planning Board is only advisory to the Montgomery County Council. The Council T&E Committee will take this issue up on Dec. 5. Members of the CCCT and other stakeholders will be meeting with Councilmember Berliner the prior week to advocate for all reasonable options to be considered to keep the Trail in the tunnel. This should include single-track.


Meanwhile Wayne Phyillaier isn't so sure the tunnel is worth saving (at least not in the $40M form).


If going east from Woodmont Avenue, cyclists would have to pass through the conflicts in a very pedestrian active Woodmont Plaza to get to the tunnel entrance. Then they would be required to dismount, and walk up a tortuous switchback ramp built into the back side of a new JBG building to get to the overhead. The trail in the overhead will be at least as wide as the trail is in the tunnel today, but will have a vertical clearance as little as 8′. This will make it feel much more confining than it does today.


The proposed surface route will be less than 400′ longer than the tunnel route. You will only need to stop riding if you have to wait for the light at Wisconsin Avenue. A 10-12′ wide shared use trail on the north side of Bethesda Avenue and a shared use trail or cycletracks on Willow can separate cyclists from traffic.


A Jack Cochrane suggests a more direct route between the CCT and the Rock Creek Park Trail. It would be even cheaper to go with just a rope, and if you only wanted to go from the CCT to the RCPT, you could just invest in a mattress.

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Good afternoon


  • In his "retirement", Oberstar is doing less biking, not more. 

  • After a pair of bicycle-pedestrian crashes left one victim in a medically-induced coma, orange construction barrels were added to one part of Brooklynn's Prospect Park as an attempt at traffic calming.

Nice weather this weekend. Will we see it that nice again before March?


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I was asked about this stop sign along the Mount Vernon Trail; namely why is it still here?


I believe that this is where the trail crosses what used to be the entrance to the airport for NB traffic coming from the GW Parkway. Back in 1999 a new entrance (and two bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail) was built and this one was closed.

...

That project was a very big win for trail users. As the press release notes "Bicyclists, joggers and pedestrians will no longer have to wait for a break in airport traffic to continue on the pathway that runs along the G.W. Parkway near the Potomac River."


But, I wish they'd removed the stop sign and straightened out the trail here. There is now an unnecessary S Curve there and, of course, the useless stop signs (both directions). Furthermore, while it appears the old road is still used for parking, they could probably get by without it and remove the road from the trail to the Parkway.

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Good morning, especially for Iowa State fans


  • More bikeshare expansion. This one at 17th and Rhode Island NW.

  • If TE funding goes away - as is currently planned - that will be bad for cyclists. [Though I remain hopeful that DC, at least, will still choose to fund bike programs at something similar to what they've been doing.]

  • All that new bike parking ...in Anacostia? It's gone. [Again, not really what this article is about]

  • The cyclist who was injured in what they assert was an intentional hit-and-run on the GW Parkway is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the driver. "They [Parkway police] haven't been following up on this at all," said Turner.

  • A fight over the Alexandria Waterfront (which would get more trails under the proposed plan)) goes on. 

  • Five myths about bike-sharing.

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When we were brainstorming ideas earlier this month, I typed up one and deleted it because it was just too crazy. The idea was to buy and tear down the Air Rights and Apex building, then build the light rail and trail, and then resell the air rights, perhaps with higher height restrictions. It might even pay for itself.


Well, it looks like it wasn't... that crazy after all. At the meeting yesterday, that I did not attend and haven't yet watched, the Board had two proposed alternatives.


One proposal would build the Bethesda light-rail station for the 16-mile Purple Line just east of the tunnel, perhaps using county land at Elm Street Park. Another would build it in the tunnel but east of Wisconsin, sparing the most problematic of the two office buildings on the western side. The state would have to buy and tear down the Air Rights building on the east side of Wisconsin but could recoup some of the cost by redeveloping the land, board members said.


Someone mentioned the first proposal in the comments, but many criticized it because it moved the station too far away, which MTA seems to have reiterated. Still, residents and trail advocates unanimously supported the trail in the tunnel.


One option seems to have been removed from consideration.


The board rejected the idea of keeping the trail inside the tunnel by single-tracking trains there after state transit planners said that would make the light-rail line too slow and unreliable.


Here are the options as I see them:


  1. Stop the Purple line short of the tunnel, and leave the trail in the tunnel

  2. Move the last Purple line stop east, but still in the tunnel. Tear down the Air Rights Building and redevelop it. Keep the trail in the tunnel

  3. Spend up to $40M to build the trail in the tunnel with the Purple line.

  4. Don't excavate. Build the Purple line in the existing tunnel. Split the CCT into a ped trail that would continue through the tunnel, but be somewhat narrow (6 feet?) and divert cyclist on to street level.

  5. Don't excavate. Build the Purple line in the existing tunnel. Divert the trail to street level.

  6. No build

If the price of 3 gets down to the $5-10 million range, it gets more appealing. If the money isn't there then 2 or 4 become the best options IMO, depending on the cost of 2.


Of course, even if 3 is $40M it might still be the best option. It depends on where that $40M comes from. Will it use bike project funding, or will it come from road funding? Are we giving up a county-wide bikeshare system or one highway interchange? Because knowing the opportunity cost changes my answer. Also, will the state pick up more of that $40M as a purple line expense? Jack Cochrane thinks it should stay in the tunnel no matter what. The "Friends of the Trail" are staking the same position. Perhaps real trail advocates can use that to our advantage.


A decision might be less than two months away


The council’s transportation committee is to discuss the trail Dec. 5, and full council consideration is planned for January.


In addition, the board made another recommendation in favor of the best possible trail.


Board members also recommended that the county spend $1.9 million to build switchback ramps to carry runners and cyclists from the trail alongside a Purple Line down to the Rock Creek Trail. Maryland transit officials said they would study ways to spare more trees in building the trail connection.

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Good morning


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Trail maintenance in DC is currently handled by a mish-mash of agencies and contractors, but no single person or agency is truly responsible. The Department of Transportation (DDOT) is responsible for some maintenance, but so is the Department of Public Works (DPW) which DDOT does not direct. This leaves many tasks routinely ignored and results in ...damaged, unusable trails, some in need of complete repaving.



Photo by Travis Jon Allison on Flickr.

To address this problem, DDOT, through its Urban Forestry Administration (UFA), is pursuing a plan to assign an employee to the full-time task of trail maintenance and to equip this employee with specific tools to aid in that task. Given the tools needed to do the job well, the new staffer can increase both the utility and longevity of the trails DDOT builds.


There are many tasks that need to be performed to keep a trail open and in good repair. Tasks like sweeping, debris removal and snow removal improve the utility of the trail. Clearing vegetation that grows next to and over the trail can improve safety and extend the useful life of the trail. In some cases, trails have been effectively closed due to snow. On the Suitland Parkway Trail maintenance has been ignored so long that the trail is literally crumbling away.


This isn't just a matter of convenience for trail users, it's about saving money by dealing with problems early. Just as changing your oil frequently will save you money in car repairs, maintaining a trail will save money that would otherwise be spent on repairs.


At the Recreational Trails Committee meeting this week, UFA announced that the new trail maintenance staff member would be issued a small utility work machine, like a Toolcat 5600. This machine can be equipped with one of over 40 attachements that would allow the operator to perform dozens of tasks: plow and remove snow, clear glass or sand that poses a safety hazard, and mow grass, for example. The new staffer would take ownership of both the vehilce and the trails.


Perhaps as importantly, the staffer wouldn't have to limit him or herself to off-street trails. In a snow event, he or she could clear bike lanes like the prominent ones on Pennsylvania Avenue, or the wider bridge sidepaths.


Initially, maintenance would be limited to DC trails like the Metropolitan Branch and Anacostia Riverwalk, but its possible DDOT could work out an agreement to also maintain National Park Service-owned trails like Rock Creek, the Capital Crescent and the DC portion of the Mount Vernon Trail (the island next to Arlington Cemetery at the west end of the Memorial Bridge is actually part of the District).


Until recently, DC didn't have much of it's own trail network, but the District now owns several miles of new or repaired trail. If UFA's plan is approved, users will start enjoying much better, and safer, cycling conditions.

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Good afternoon


  • New bike parking in Congress Heights! (not really what the article is about, but I'll say that I'm all for recycling). 

  • DDOT is now investigating how to fix the Capital Crescent Trench and the source of the water leak that created it. Good job people who may have reported it. 

  • MoCo is hosting an open house to discuss "a bikesharing init...iative proposed for an area stretching from the District of Columbia line to the Beltway along both Montgomery County portions of the Metrorail Red Line, including Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Forest Glen and Wheaton on the eastern metrorail leg, and Friendship Heights, Bethesda and Medical Center along the western portion. Staff is seeking input on bikesharing locations as part of a grant application to the Maryland Department of Transportation for a bikesharing system." Tuesday, November 29 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the lobby auditorium of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville.

  • On the other end of the CCT, Silver Spring Trails advocates for re-considering single tracking the Purple Line in the Bethesda tunnel to make room for the trail. "If the Planning Board can ask the MTA to evaluate tearing down large buildings or moving the transit station hundreds of feet away from the connection to Metro, then the Planning Board can also ask MTA to substantiate their assertions that single-track will not work. If single-track can work, it would be by far the easiest and cheapest to build."

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More Fun at the Wilson Bridge by Rootchopper


The photographer adds "Last week the detour on the Mount Vernon Trail at the Wilson Bridge went straight here. Today, it was a left hand turn. Good luck to anybody who tries to ride through the gravel transition. This contractor's detours are poorly designed and built."

How is it not Friday yet?


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by David Alpert


Winter is getting closer and closer, which means sooner or later DC will likely see some snow. DDOT is pondering how to ensure they can plow the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes when snow does come.



Photo by afagen on Flickr.
...

DDOT uses large plows to clear Pennsylvania Avenue and other major roads quickly after a snowstorm. The large plow, however, can't fit in the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes, at least not as long as the white pylons remain near intersections.


DDOT added those pylons to make sure drivers realize they're not supposed to drive in the lanes when making turns. Occasionally, some do anyway, and police cars periodically park in them, but most of the time the pylons effectively guide drivers and protect cyclists at the corners, where there are more conflicting turning movements.



A smaller plow could come back later to clear the snow from the lanes, but depending on the size of a snowstorm, this would likely not happen until 24 to 48 hours later, meaning the lanes could remain impassable for up to 2 days while the regular roadway is clear.


The other option DDOT is considering is to remove the pylons for the winter. This would allow the plows to clear the lanes. On the other hand, it could mean drivers again getting confused and driving in the lanes, and cyclists feeling less safe at corners.


It doesn't snow very often, so if they do remove the pylons, the lanes would be a little bit worse every day in the winter, but keeping them means they'd be a lot worse for a few days. What's better: keeping them always passable to cyclists, or keeping them in their optimal condition at the cost of losing them temporarily when it snows?


The bicycle team would like your input. What do you prefer?



Cross-posted from GreaterGreaterWashington

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Good morning


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The Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) will meet Monday November 21st at the Durant Center from 7 to 9 PM. We welcome all who are interested in promoting bicycling and walking in Alexandria.


What: BPAC monthly meeting


When: Monday November 21st, 7 PM

...

Where: Durant Center, 1605 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314


Why?: Because no citizen of Alexandria should ever be afraid to ride a bicycle to their neighborhood grocery store.


Agenda includes: Presentation on the Mt Vernon Village development in Arlandria/Chirilagua (where MOMs and the CVS are now), Community bicycle rides, Bicycle-Friendly Community project, Capital Bikeshare, Recruiting new members for BPAC, and much, much more.

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