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“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

Howard & Anne Arundel create a new transit agency, but better service may not be the point

Howard and Anne Arundel Counties have teamed up to create a new transit agency that will take over bus operations in the two Maryland counties.

The new agency will be called the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA). It will replace the Howard Transit and Central Maryland Regional Transit bus networks that currently operate in the area.

Existing CMRT bus. Photo from CMRT.

The decision to consolidate services seems aimed primarily at saving money. A single agency will combine its overhead costs, reducing operating expenses by an estimated 17%. That will save about $2 million per year.

It’s unclear whether that $2 million will be reinvested towards improved transit service, or simply redirected back to each county’s general fund. Howard and Annue Arundel have the weakest transit coverage in the Maryland suburbs, so they could certainly use improved service.

Annapolis Transit may also opt to join the newly consolidated agency, but hasn’t yet agreed.

March 31st, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, transportation

Add a piano to make your city square sing

Here’s a fun way to add vitality to a public space: Outdoor pianos.

In 2009 Denver started adding public pianos along its busy mile-long downtown pedestrian mall. The pianos have become a popular and noticeable part of that city’s public realm. 5 years later, they’re still there, and people are still playing them.

Photo by voteprime on flickr.

Even if weather or careless use ruins them after one season, upright pianos aren’t particularly expensive. It would be completely practical for DC to buy one or two per year and put them in squares or circles around the central city. Roll them out in spring, and pack them back up around Thanksgiving.

The idea could work great in Farragut Square or along the Georgetown waterfront.

A potentially bigger holdup might be getting the National Park Service to allow it.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

March 28th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: parks, proposal

DC population grows more than any other local county

The US Census’ newest county-level population estimates show that between 2012 and 2013, the District of Columbia population grew more than any other metro area county.

Loudoun County grew slightly faster by percentage. But even according to that measure, DC is 2nd.

County 2012
District of Columbia 633,427 646,449 13,022 2.1
Loudoun VA 337,248 349,679 12,431 3.7
Fairfax Co VA 1,118,683 1,130,924 12,241 1.1
Montgomery MD 1,004,476 1,016,677 12,201 1.2
Prince George’s MD 881,419 890,081 8,662 1.0
Prince William VA 430,100 438,580 8,480 2.0
Anne Arundel MD 550,175 555,743 5,568 1.0
Baltimore Co MD 817,682 823,015 5,333 0.7
Howard MD 299,356 304,580 5,224 1.7
Arlington VA 221,275 224,906 3,631 1.6
Stafford VA 134,251 136,788 2,537 1.9
Charles MD 150,710 152,864 2,154 1.4
Alexandria VA 146,839 148,892 2,053 1.4
Frederick MD 239,520 241,409 1,889 0.8
Spotsylvania VA 125,772 127,348 1,576 1.3
Fauquier VA 66,526 67,207 681 1.0
Baltimore city MD 622,417 622,104 -313 -0.1

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

March 27th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: demographics, The New America

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: Moscow, skyscraper city

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.

Following the weekend in Amsterdam, it’s time to come home. I’m flying Aeroflot with a transfer in Moscow. If you’re a regular BeyondDC reader you already know about Moscow’s palatial subway and weird perpendicular archway bridge. Did you know Moscow is also home to Europe’s tallest skyscraper?

1,112 foot tall Mercury City Tower would only rank as the 10th tallest skyscraper in the United States, but it’s over 100 feet taller than Europe’s nearest challenger, London’s Shard.

Mercury City Tower under construction in 2012. It’s now complete.
Photo by Mariano Mantel via flickr.

March 24th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: architecture

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: Ride the high-speed rails

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.

Today, I ride the high-speed Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam. The Thalys system covers parts of France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. With top speeds of 186 miles per hour, it’s 24% faster than Acela‘s top speed of 150 mph, and much faster than Acela’s average speed.

Both Thalys and Acela trains are loosely based on French TGV trains, though they both have significant modifications.

Thalys high-speed trains at Paris Gare du Nord.
Photo by Darkroom Daze via flickr.

March 20th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: intercity, transportation

Notes from Europe: 19th Century urban renewal

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.

Without a doubt, Paris is home to the world’s most successful urban renewal scheme. The Haussmann Plan was carried out primarily between 1853 and 1870, and significantly contributed to the creation of Paris’ most famous boulevards and its iconic architectural style.

Under the guidance of city planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, large sections of Paris were demolished and rebuilt along wider, grander, straighter boulevards. And new building regulations were adopted that delineated the height and form of buildings.

Boulevard Haussmann, with its strictly regulated buildings.
Photo by Thierry Bézecourt via Wikepedia.

March 19th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: architecture, history, History of cities, urbandesign

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



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