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A protected bikeway on Florida Avenue? Yes please!

DDOT's latest plan to redesign Florida Avenue shows a high quality protected bikeway between NoMa and West Virginia Avenue. 


Florida Avenue protected bikeway proposal. Image by DDOT.

This new plan came as a surprise when DDOT presented it Tuesday night. Previous plans had only called for shorter unprotected bike lanes. 

But this stretch of Florida Avenue is the only practical connection for people riding bikes to NoMa Metro from the Trinidad neighborhood or much of DC's Near Northeast. Since collisions have been a problem here, and since the street is wider than the fast-moving car traffic on it warrants, a stronger bikeway makes sense. 

Details of the design

The complete block-by-block plan is available online. It shows a two-way curb-protected bikeway on the south side of Florida Avenue, beginning at 3rd Street NE just east of the Red Line Metrorail tracks, and running east until 9th Street NE just shy of West Virginia Avenue. 

To reach West Virginia, the key connection into Trinidad and north into Ivy City, the bikeway jumps up onto the sidewalk for one block. DDOT will widen that sidewalk so it can accommodate people on both bikes and foot. From there, a two-stage bike box will help cyclists turn left onto West Virginia.


Bikes will use the sidewalk and a two-stage bike box between 9th Street and West Virginia Avenue. Image by DDOT.

East of West Virginia Avenue, Florida Avenue narrows significantly. DDOT isn't proposing to carry the bikeway into the narrower section. 

That stub ending has riled some community members, who've reached out to Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie to push for extending the bikeway all the way to Starburst intersection, where Florida Avenue ends. But extending the bike lanes east of West Virginia would likely mean either removing parking or making Florida Avenue one-way, both long-shot propositions. 

As of now, this plan is at the 30% design level, which means engineers have a basic design for the entire length of the project, but it's not yet precise enough to actually build. The full construction-level design will take another year to prepare; DDOT says to expect it in Spring of 2018.

In the meantime, you can use the project website to learn more, and to leave comments.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

February 23rd, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: bike, transportation



This is what school buses looked like in 1934

If you were an elementary school student the 1930s, this Dodge school bus might have been your ride. It carried students in Salem and Roanoke County, Virginia. 

Check out the inside, with its child-sized benches and aisles. Who wouldn’t want to face the middle, or lean back against another kid? 

The bus is on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. The museum’s fascinating collection also includes this vintage 1945 streetcar from DC Transit. It ran on line 20, from Union Station to Glen Echo. 

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

February 14th, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: bus, history



admin

Almost every large city in the United States now has bikeshare. Any city without it should count itself way, way behind the curve. There are at least 119 systems nationwide, covering all but two of the 20 largest urban areas.

This map shows every bikeshare system in the country with at least two stations. The 119 nationwide systems together have about 4,800 stations.

The largest networks by far are in New York, Chicago, and Washington. A second tier is led by Minneapolis, Boston, and Miami.

Of the 20 largest urban areas, only Saint Louis and Detroit still lack bikesharing. Unfortunately, Seattle’s Pronto will be the first major US bikeshare system to fail when it shuts down in March, adding a third.

Here are the ten largest systems. Or see the complete list of all 119.

Ten largest US bikeshare systems

Rank City Stations
1 New York 645
2 Chicago 581
3 Washington 437
4 Minneapolis 197
5 Boston 184
6 Miami 147
7 Topeka 138
8 Philadelphia 105
9 Portland 100
10 San Diego 95

There’s so much bikeshare, and its so diverse, that it’s hard to count

It’s been less than 10 years since the first large-scale bikesharing systems debuted in the United States. In that time, bikes have spread like wildfire across the country. This list only includes networks with at least two stations, but bikesharing has become so ubiquitous that individual buildings now offer single-station systems.

Even then, I’ve probably missed a few. It’s become virtually impossible to count them all. If you know of a missing system, mention it in the comments at GGWash.

Furthermore, it’s hard to compare the systems on an apples-to-apples basis. The older and larger bikeshare systems rely solely on stations to dock bikes. But many newer systems don’t need docks, or have simple racks instead of docks that serve as hubs. Comparing “hubs” and “stations” can exaggerate the size of hub-based systems.

That explains Topeka, which clocks in at number seven on the nationwide list with 138 hubs. But Topeka’s an unusual network; it actually has more hubs than bikes. With only about 100 actual bicycles, most of its hubs are usually empty. The network functions uniquely from any other in the country; even other hub-based systems don’t have that kind of ratio.

Topeka’s urban area is about the same population as Frederick, Maryland, so its system is remarkable no matter what. But it’s not actually larger than Philadelphia’s. If Topeka were a station-based network, it would probably have around a dozen stations.

The full 119-station list indicates hub-based systems with an asterisk, so you can spot them.

Thanks to The Bike-sharing Blog for its excellent resources on worldwide bikeshare locations.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

January 26th, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: bike, transportation



See Google’s brand new satellite images of the Washington region

Google Maps now has brand new satellite images for the Washington region. The new photos, from December 19, 2016, show a cutting-edge view of our city.


New images from December 19 show the Downtown Holiday Market in full swing. Image by Google.

The new images only appear with certain settings. If you’re viewing in the default settings, you still get older photos. Here are instructions for how to change your browser settings to get the new imagery.

Also, the new pictures only cover part of the region; imagery for the Dulles Airport Metro station, for example, is from April.

Here are some highlights

The Georgia Avenue bus lanes, in all their red glory:


Image by Google.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture:


Image by Google.

Construction at Capitol Crossing, atop I-395:


Image by Google.

Preparations for inauguration on Pennsylvania Avenue. And are those moving trucks on the White House driveway?


Image by Google.

MGM casino at National Harbor:


Image by Google.

Takoma-Langley Crossroads transit center:


Image by Google.

The Wharf, at the Southwest Waterfront:


Image by Google.

And finally, the hole where the Washington Post used to be:


Image by Google.

What else can you find that's new?

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

January 25th, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: galleries



This momentous weekend launched a new reality. The city, and our battles, are different now

Here we are. Donald Trump is America's president. The largest protest in American history greeted his first day. Welcome to Washington and the USA in 2017.


Saturday’s Women’s March. Image from Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr.

Our weekend was momentous

Two days, two gigantic events.

As inaugurations go, Friday's was noticably small. But even a small inauguration is big enough to change the tone of city life.

Security fences partitioned blocks of downtown, and an army of police forces dominated the streets. Many locals stayed away to avoid the logistical and emotional headaches. Parts of the city became eerily dead, while others burst with unusual life, as Trump supporters descended to hotels and tourist areas around the White House.

Washington became a foreign city, its own residents outsiders to a security and tourist project to which we didn't belong, nor feel healthy within.


Security barriers in an empty downtown.

During the inauguration itself, Metro ran smoothly. Trump presented a bleak picture of America. Protests raged, mostly peacefully, sometimes not. GGWash's own David Whitehead proved that deescalation works

The new administration erased climate change from presidential priorities, and disciplined the National Park Service for reporting meager crowds. Joe Biden took Acela home to Delaware. 

We went to bed, unsure the country we would wake to find.

And then, on Saturday, three times more people attended the Women's March than Friday's inauguration. Nationwide, at least three million took to the streets.

There was grief and humor and defiance. Mayor Bowser chanted "Leave us alone!," DC police donned pink hats, and Metro had its second busiest day ever

In contrast to Friday, Saturday's Washington felt more ours than ever. The city became strangely joyous, as march-goers spread over downtown and the National Mall to reclaim our public spaces, replacing the inauguration's fenced-off security apparatus with revelry lasting well into the evening.

We went to bed with renewed determination.


Image from Andrew Aliferis on Flickr.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump's press secretary brazenly lied, and his counselor hoped to replace the truth with "alternative facts" intended to sow uncertainty and estrange the media.

The policy fights are just beginning

Trump may be the most urban president in history, but his party and his base are vehemently anti-urban. Administration policy seems to be largely under the purview of Vice President Pence, whose small town Indiana roots are decidedly not urban.

They plan dramatic cuts to many federal departments, including the Department of Transportation, where multimodal infrastructure spending will likely decline in favor of tax breaks for construction firms. The Environmental Protection Agency is likely to be gutted, enabling a new round of urban pollution and ending the fight against climate change. HUD raised prices for first-time homebuyers within an hour of Trump's swearing-in. The Department of Justice will no longer pressure police departments over civil rights.


What will the EPA look like in four years? Image from Paul Fagan on Flickr.

Locally, such massive cuts and a proposal to strip benefits from government employees could throw Washington's economy into recession, as jobs bleed out of the city. Or security and military spending could lead to a new boom. Either way, Congress' small government Republicans will override local decision-making in DC.

Nationally, the right is emboldened, while the left is beginning to act like a true opposition.

So, here we are. Donald Trump is America's president. The future of our city and our country is uncertain. We face colossal challenges. But GGWash's mission and values are still worthwhile, and our community is as strong as ever. We'll be here.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

January 23rd, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: economy, environment, events, government, in general, metrorail, The New America, transportation



This map shows all 23 protected bikeways in the DC region

As 2017 gets underway, there are at least 23 protected bikeways in the Washington region, totaling about 8.5 miles. This map shows them all.


Protected bikeways in the Washington region. 

Or at least, all those I know about. There are so many now that it's becoming hard to keep track. 

The 23 bikeways range from lengthy to minuscule. DC's 15th Street cycletrack is both the oldest in the region and, at about 1.6 miles, the longest. On the other end of the spectrum are microscopic sections of normal unprotected bike lane where a few plastic bollards add a tiny degree of separation for a short stretch. The smallest is at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and U Street, where a mere 60 feet of lane is protected with curb and flexposts.

The District has by far the most mileage of protected bikeway, with about 7 miles and all of the five longest individual bike lanes. After DC, Arlington and Montgomery are in a virtual dead heat for second place, each hovering with almost exactly one mile of protected bikeway, spread across four separate locations in each county.

Prince George's, Alexandria, and Fairfax City each have tiny cycletracks, combining for one-quarter mile. 

For the future, DC has grand plans for a vast cycletrack network, and more jurisdictions are beginning to work on their own. Expect this map to expand in coming years. 

In the meantime, if you know of an existing protected bikeway that's not on this map, leave a comment to let us know. 

Update: This post has been updated to reflect additional protected bikeway segments that were missing from the original map.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

January 3rd, 2017 | Permalink
Tags: bike, maps, transportation



Newbie’s guide to getting around DC without a car

Do you know a DC newbie who needs a primer on how to get around the city without a car? I wrote one for ApartmentGuide.com. Check it out!


DC bus map, learn to love it to unlock the city.

November 29th, 2016 | Permalink
Tags: bike, bus, metrorail, pedestrians, roads/cars, streetcar, transportation



16th Street’s traffic lights are now optimized for buses

While planning for a 16th Street bus lane continues, DDOT has quietly made another important but nearly invisible improvement there: The traffic signals are now optimized for buses.


16th and U queue jump signal. Photo by the author.

33 traffic signals along 16th Street now have Transit Signal Priority, or TSP. TSP holds a green light a few seconds longer, or switches a red to green a few seconds sooner, if a bus is ready to pass through.

Stopping at fewer red lights speeds buses along a line. In particular, DC is using TSP on 16th Street to keep S9 buses on schedule. When one falls behind, the signal priority kicks in so that bus can catch up.

16th Street has so many buses that DDOT can’t give each one priority all the time, or it would gum up every perpendicular street along the line. But keeping buses on schedule is a nice improvement for riders.

16th & U queue jumper

In addition to TSP, at 16th and U there’s now a dedicated signal just for buses, called a queue jumper. It gives buses their own “go” signal a few seconds before cars get their green, allowing buses to jump ahead of a line of waiting cars. By the time cars get their green and start moving forward, the bus is in front of them rather than behind.

The bus signal looks different than a normal light, so car drivers don’t mistake it for one they’re supposed to follow. A horizontal bar means stop, and a vertical bar mean go. It’s the same as the dedicated streetcar signal at 3rd and H, and the same as bus signals along the Crystal City Potomac Yard transitway.

Traffic lights may not be as exciting as bus lanes, but these details matter. Thanks DDOT for making this progress.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

November 17th, 2016 | Permalink
Tags: BRT, bus, transportation



Get a look at 23rd century public transit in the latest Star Trek movie

In the Star Trek universe, transporter technology can instantaneously whiz characters from starships to planets and back again. The latest Trek movie, Star Trek Beyond, shows us transporters in service as public transit.


Public transporter booth. Screencap from Star Trek Beyond. Click for video.

Although transit has never been a key element of Star Trek, which is rarely set in big cities, the franchise’s long history does include a few scenes with futuristic transportation.

A few seconds later in that same scene, a high-speed train zips by.

In the previous movie, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, we saw a brief glimpse of a futuristic articulated bus.

And finally, in a 1995 TV episode of Star Trek Voyager, one character emerged from a 24th Century San Francisco subway system called Trans Francisco.

But all those futuristic trains aside, the transporter has got to be the coolest of Trek’s multimodal options.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

November 7th, 2016 | Permalink
Tags: fun, transportation



Why is this MARC train parked in Denver?

If you were in Denver this weekend, you might’ve seen an unusual sight: A MARC commuter rail train parked behind Denver Union Station.


MARC in Denver. Photo by Ryan Dravitz.

What gives?

Turns out the train was in Colorado as part of the testing for MARC’s new locomotives. Officials wanted to test the new locomotives with actual MARC rolling stock, to evaluate how the locomotives performed in real-life conditions.

The Federal Railroad Administration has a test track in Pueblo, CO, so off this train went.

The train was in Denver because Amtrak carries the equipment on a regularly scheduled train from Denver to Chicago (#5, the California Zephyr) and then from Chicago to DC (#29, the Capitol Limited).

Thanks to Matt Johnson and Twitter user @kencon06 for helping to solve this mystery.

 Comment on this at the version cross-posted to Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

October 5th, 2016 | Permalink
Tags: commuterrail, transportation



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