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Curb-protected cycletracks now appearing in DC

Two new cycletracks will open in DC this spring, on M Street NW and 1st Street NE. Their designs are a step up from previous DC cycletracks, since they each include spots — though on M, a very brief spot — where a full concrete curb separates bikes from cars.

The 1st Street NE cycletrack (left), and the Rhode Island Avenue portion
of the M Street NW cycletrack (right).

The 1st Street NE cycletrack connects the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Union Station and downtown DC. DDOT installed its curb last week, from K Street to M Street. Crews are still working on striping and signals, but the project is close to opening.

The M Street cycletrack is longer than 1st Street’s overall, but the portion with a curb is shorter. It’s less than one block, where the cycletrack briefly curves onto Rhode Island Avenue in order to approach Connecticut Avenue more safely. DDOT officials say the M Street cycletrack is a week or two from opening.

Typically DDOT uses plastic bollards instead of curbs. The bollards are less expensive, easier to install, and can be removed occasionally to perform street maintenance. But they’re less attractive and less significant as a physical barrier, compared to a curb.

April 14th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



“Bikeometer” shows cyclists are significant

Yesterday Arlington unveiled the region’s first “bikeometer,” a high-tech device that counts how many cyclists pass by, and displays the daily and yearly totals for anyone to see.

By publicly displaying the data, the bikeometer helps illustrate that a lot of people really do use bikes to get around.


Arlington bikeometer. The numbers aren’t visible due to the camera scanning frequency. Photo by BeyondDC.

The bikeometer is on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn, near the Key Bridge. It’s a busy crossroads for cycling traffic headed into DC from Virginia. Older bike counts have shown thousands of cyclists per day at the location.

As of about 11:30 am yesterday, after only a couple of hours running, the display already showed 768 cyclists.

The device is technically called an Eco-TOTEM. It reads an underground wire, which counts bikes rolling over the trail above and sends the data to a digital display.

Arlington’s bikeometer is the first such device in the eastern US, although they’re common on the west coast and in Europe.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

April 2nd, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



Is Gaithersburg the next frontier for Capital Bikeshare?

Gaithersburg is considering joining Capital Bikeshare with up to 21 additional stations. But with turbulent bikeshare rollouts in College Park and Rockville, it may not be easy.


Proposed bikeshare stations in Gaithersburg. Map by the author, using Google.

The Gaithersburg City Council is mulling whether or not to join Capital Bikeshare, and how to fund the program if they join. At a meeting on Monday, the council worked out preliminary plans for 8 initial stations, to be followed by around a dozen more later.

Gaithersburg has a growing collection of mixed-use neighborhoods that will someday be connected by the Corridor Cities Transitway. Adding bikesharing to that mix makes sense, and can help Gaithersburg transition to be a less car-dependent community.

But is expansion even possible right now? And if it is, does Gaithersburg have the right plan?

Trouble in College Park and Rockville

Theoretically the next expansion of Capital Bikeshare in suburban Maryland should be underway in College Park right now. But with Capital Bikeshare’s parent supplier company in bankruptcy and reorganization, no new bikes or bike stations are rolling off the assembly line. As a result, College Park’s expansion is on indefinite hold.

Eventually the assembly line will start rolling again. But how long will it take, and how huge will be the backlog of existing orders? It may be some time before anybody can accept new orders.

Meanwhile, nearby Rockville has its bikeshare stations already, but they’re poorly used.

One big problem appears to be that Rockville’s stations are spread too far apart. Instead of placing stations every couple of blocks, Rockville only put one or two stations in each neighborhood. Cyclists have to commit to a long ride to use the system.

Based on the map of proposed stations, it looks like Gaithersburg is shaping up to make the same mistake. It might be better for both cities to rethink their stations, and cluster them together in a smaller part of town.

But implementation details aside, it’s great news to see more and more communities looking to progressive transportation options.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

March 26th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



Notes from Europe: Bikes + streetcars = no problem

I’m on vacation in Europe until the 24th. Each weekday until my return there will be a brief post about some feature of the city I’m visiting that day.

My destination today, Amsterdam, is simultaneously one of the world’s greatest cycling cities and one of its greatest streetcar cities. It utterly destroys the notion that bikes & trams can’t coexist well. The real enemy to both is streets designed primarily for cars.

That said, Amsterdam does a better job of separating both its bike and tram traffic from cars and from each other than any American city. That’s part of its success.


Amsterdam tram & bikes. Photo by faungg via flickr.

March 21st, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, streetcar, transportation



Notes from Europe: Bikeshare goes big

I’m on vacation in Europe until the 24th. Each weekday until my return there will be a brief post about some feature of the city I’m visiting that day.

Paris’ Vélib’ bikesharing network wasn’t the first in the world, nor even the first with modern characteristics like RFID membership fobs. But it’s the system that made bikesharing famous worldwide. It’s the system that exported the idea around the globe, following its 2007 launch.

Today, Vélib’ has about 20,000 bikes. That makes it the largest bikeshare system in the world outside of China (where the city of Wuhan’s network has a staggering 90,000 bikes). For comparison, New York has somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000.


Vélib’. Photo by Aurel via flickr.

March 18th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, history, transportation



The story behind Fairfax’s weird cycletrack

The City of Fairfax isn’t a place that usually comes to mind when discussing cycletracks. But Fairfax does have one, and it’s bizarre. It runs 270 feet along the back side of a strip mall parking lot.


Fairfax’s cycletrack, behind the parked cars. Photo by Google.

The cycletrack is part of Fairfax’s Mason to Metro Trail, an assemblage of sharrows, sidewalks, and dedicated bikeways that runs from George Mason University to Vienna Metro station.

The cycletrack portion is just north of Fairfax Main Street. It curves around the back side of the Main Street Marketplace strip mall, using a cycletrack through the parking lot, and a simpler buffered bike lane through the loading dock.

It’s no 15th Street, but it’s something.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

March 11th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



DDOT lays out its plans for new bikeways in 2014

It may be snowing today, but spring is approaching. With construction season therefore around the corner, DDOT has released its list of planned bike projects for 2014.


Map of 2014 bike projects. Image from DDOT.

Most exciting, the highly anticipated M Street and 1st Street NE cycletracks are listed as “ready to go”.

Also ready to go are contraflow bike lanes on G, F, and Eye Streets NE, and standard bike lanes on 13th Street NW, F Street NE, I Street SE, and New Hampshire Avenue NW.

Several other bike lane projects are still in planning, although it doesn’t appear DDOT is actively moving any other cycletrack projects, following completion of M and 1st Street.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

February 25th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



Signs of bike boulevards pop up in Arlington

In 2013, Arlington began installing bike boulevards on the streets a block north and south paralleling Columbia Pike. The bike boulevards offer cyclists an alternative to Columbia Pike itself, which will one day have streetcar tracks.


Arlington bike boulevard street sign, with a wayfinding sign to the right.

What’s a bike boulevard

Bike boulevards are slow-speed neighborhood streets where cars and bikes share lanes, but which are optimized for bikes. They’re quiet local roads, usually lined with single-family houses, where there’s such light car traffic that separated lanes for bikes and cars aren’t necessary.

So far, Arlington’s bike boulevards include special signs and sharrows. In the future they may add other elements, like specialized bike crossings at intersections, or improved trail links.

Bike boulevards are common on the west coast, but as far as I know Arlington’s 9th Street South and 12th Street South bike boulevards are the first in the DC region.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

February 11th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



List of America’s largest bikesharing systems, 2013

American bikesharing boomed in 2013 like never before. Led by huge new systems in New York and Chicago, the total number of bikesharing stations in the US more than doubled, from 835 at the end of 2012 to 1,925 in 2013.


After three straight years at the top of the chart, Washington’s Capital Bikeshare slipped to second place. CaBi’s 305 stations barely edge out Chicago’s 300, but are behind New York’s 330. Those three cities make up a clear first tier nationwide, with no other systems cracking 200 stations.

Overall, 13 new bikesharing systems opened nationwide, bringing the total to 40. In addition to New York and Chicago, other noteworthy additions include San Francisco, Fort Worth, and Columbus.

At this point, it’s fair to say we’re no longer in the pioneering period. Any city that still doesn’t have bikesharing is beginning to fall behind.

It’s not just the big coastal cities where bikesharing is becoming popular. There are some unexpected hotspots, where groups of nearby cities have independently launched small systems. Four Texas cities have bikesharing, plus two more in Oklahoma. Small systems are also popular in the southeast, with 6 systems in close proximity in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Oddly, the only area of the country that seems particularly underrepresented is the west coast. San Francisco’s Bay Area Bikeshare finally became the first large west coast system this year, but it’s still the only one. Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles continue to lag.

Here’s the complete list. New systems in 2013 are in bold. Previous years are available for comparison.

Rank City 2012 Stations 2013 Stations
1 New York 0 330
2 Washington (regional) 191 305
3 Chicago 0 300
4 Minneapolis (regional) 145 170
5 Boston (regional) 105 132
6 Miami Beach 84 97
7 Denver 53 81
8 San Francisco (regional) 0 67
9 San Antonio 30 51
10 Fort Worth 0 34
11 Chattanooga 30 33
12 Madison 24 32
13 Columbus 0 30
14 Houston 3 29
15 Ft Lauderdale (regional) 25 25
16(t) Boulder 22 22
16(t) Nashville 20 22
18 Charlotte 20 21
19 Long Beach, NY 12 13
20(t) Kansas City 12 12
20(t) Aspen 0 12
20(t) Salt Lake City 0 12
23 Austin 0 11
24(t) Washington State Univ (Pullman, WA) 9 9
24(t) Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga) 9 9
26 Omaha 5 8
27(t) Oklahoma City 7 7
27(t) George Mason Univ (Fairfax, VA) 4 7
29(t) Greenville, SC 6 6
29(t) Des Moines 4 6
31(t) California Univ – Irvine (Irvine, CA) 4 4
31(t) Tulsa 4 4
31(t) Spartanburg, SC 2 4
31(t) Univ of Buffalo (Buffalo, NY) 0 4
31(t) Lansing 0 4
36(t) Louisville 3 3
36(t) Stony Brook Univ (Stony Brook, NY) 0 3
38(t) Kailua, HI 2 2
38(t) Roseburg VA Hospital (Roseburg, OR) 0 2
? Hailey, ID 0 2
(approx.)

Notes: Systems covering multiple jurisdictions are counted either together or separately depending on how they choose to represent themselves. Thus Bay Area Bikeshare is counted as a single system, while Denver B-Cycle and Boulder B-Cycle are counted separately.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

January 6th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, transportation



Vancouver’s most joyful bike trail makes commuting fun

There’s a common misconception in some circles that bicycling is merely for recreation, as opposed to a legitimate transportation mode. Of course that’s wrong, cycling is often the most convenient way to get from point A to point B in a city. But why can’t transportation facilities be fun too?

According to Vancouver, they can.


Vancouver “Whoopdeedoo.” Photo by Paul Krueger on flickr.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

December 19th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bike, fun, transportation



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