Now that’s we’ve had a big snow in DC, send us pictures of sneckdowns you spot in the wild. You can tweet them with hashtag #dcsneckdown, or email them to us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. On Monday, Greater Greater Washington and BeyondDC will publish the best ones.
Sneckdown today in Southeast DC. Photo by Ralph Garboushian.
Sneckdowns are where snow formations show the street spaces cars don’t use.
GGW reader Ralph Garboushian sent us this one already. He describes it:
“Shoveling and plowing patterns in front of my house show how the intersection of Potomac Avenue, E Street & 18th Street SE could be made safer for both pedestrians and motorists. The current design is a disaster – I have seen several accidents at this intersection, including one that sent a car nearly into my front yard and another that took out a historic call box and nearly knocked down a utility pole. In addition, this intersection is right in front of Congressional Cemetery and on the way to the Metro and sees heavy pedestrian traffic.
The intersection’s poor design combined with motorists speeding down Potomac create a hostile and dangerous atmosphere for pedestrians. This intersection desperately needs traffic calming and these plow/shovel patterns illustrate how it could be done.”
Support “The Diagonal” redesign option for Franklin Park
DC and the National Park Service (NPS) want feedback on their latest proposals to redesign Franklin Park. Of the 3 options on the table, the one titled “The Diagonal” is by far the best.
“The Diagonal” redesign option for Franklin Square. Image from National Park Service.
This proposal would introduce new paths leading diagonally from the corners of the park into its center. The center itself would feature a larger and better central fountain. Right now the center is poorly used, partly because access to it is circuitous, and the existing fountain is underwhelming (when people notice it at all).
Alone, these are big improvements. But this proposal also makes another strong change: It adds plaza space to the southwest corner of the park, along 14th and Eye Streets.
This proposal rightly accepts the reality of how that small part of Franklin Park is used, and modifies it accordingly.
The southwest corner is effectively a plaza already. With so many people using the bus stops on Eye Street, and entering the park from McPherson Metro station, the intended grass lawn there is more of a dirt patch than an actual lawn. Insisting it remain a lawn would be unrealistic, an eyesore, and would deprive the park’s users of what they really need. This proposal rightly accepts the reality of how that small part of Franklin Park is used, and modifies it accordingly.
Move the statue to 14th/Eye instead of K
Finally, The Diagonal plan moves the existing Commodore Barry statue from the 14th Street side to a more prominent location along K Street. This is a good change, but it would be even better to put the statue directly at the corner of 14th and Eye, to give the new southwest corner plaza a focal point.
I suggested these sort of changes in September. It’s encouraging to see them carried forward. They’re neither radical nor excessive. They retain the park’s existing strengths while tweaking its most important nodes.
The other options
Except for the welcome addition of a playground that’s common to all 3 redesign options, the other 2 alternatives are more conservative.
The option titled “The Center” would focus on cleaning up the existing park elements without making major changes. It would add a small plaza space along K Street, but nothing in the busy southwest portion of the square.
The other option, titled “The Edge”, adds a plaza and 2 small buildings along Eye Street, and makes some improvements to the central fountain. This would be better than the do-almost-nothing “Center” concept, but isn’t as strong as “The Diagonal.”
Send in comments
It’s not every day we get the chance to redesign one of downtown’s main public spaces. It’s important to get this right.
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.
Know what you’re watching: Map of Sochi’s Olympic Village
Sochi’s main Olympic Village is 20 miles southeast from downtown Sochi, near the city’s airport. It’s home to the athlete residences, stadiums for the indoor sports, a theme park, and a huge rail station. The venues for mountain sports are 35 miles inland, near Krasnaya Polyana.
Satellite view of Sochi’s Olympic Village. Original image from Google.
It’s not quite as bad as it looks at first glance, because at this map scale Amtrak’s tracker clusters bunches of nearby trains into a single purple-colored dot. So there are admittedly a lot more trains in the Northeast and near Chicago than appear individually here.
On the other hand, Amtrak’s map shows all trains, while the French version is only showing regular speed ones. For high speed trains there’s a separate map.
Now’s your chance to push for dedicated streetcar lanes
Should potential future streetcars on Georgia Avenue have dedicated lanes? DDOT is hosting a series of public meetings this month to help plan that route. The meetings will be a good opportunity to voice support for dedicating street space to transit.
The North-South Corridor, including 16th Street, 14th Street, and Georgia Avenue. Image from DDOT.
DDOT’s North-South Corridor will run from somewhere near the baseball stadium north to either Takoma or Silver Spring, right through the heart of Mid City DC. Planners are still working on the exact route, but the line will probably run on some combination of Georgia Avenue and 14th Street. It could also be a bus or a streetcar.
One big question is whether it will have any dedicated lanes. If you think it should, it’s important to attend one of the meetings and communicate that to DDOT.
Tuesday, Feburary 18 3:30-8:00 pm (presentations at 4:00 and 7:00 pm) DCRA, 1100 4th Street SW
Wednesday, February 19 10:00 am – 12:00 pm MLK Library, 901 G Street NW
Wednesday, February 19 3:30-8:00 pm (presentations at 4:00 and 7:00 pm) Banneker Rec Center, 2500 Georgia Avenue NW
Thursday, Feburary 20 3:30-8:00 pm (presentations at 4:00 and 7:00 pm) Emery Rec Center, 5701 Georgia Avenue NW
There are many benefits to streetcars regardless of whether they have dedicated lanes or not. But giving them lanes absolutely increases their usefulness, especially in a corridor with such high transit demand.
As part of any good corridor planning, it’s important to figure out where dedicating space makes the most sense. It’s also a good time to advocate for terminating the line at Silver Spring, where there are more potential riders than at Takoma. This is exactly the time and place for transit activists to show up.
Map of Amtrak and intercity bus lines, from AIBRA.
It’s probably impossible for this kind of map to be 100% accurate all the time. In all likelihood there are some missing links, and missing carriers. But it’s still quite an impressive undertaking, and a useful tool to bookmark.