Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Zoning meetings are your chance to ask for more bicycling facilities

The District, through the Office of Planning, is currently holding meetings to discuss draft revisions to the District's the zoning code. Among several proposed changes, the zoning revision will update parking regulations for vehicle parking and bicycle parking.  

The vehicle parking changes – eliminating minimums in transit-rich areas - will likely be the most contested.  This process could be on interest to bicyclists because it could reduce the space available for automobile parking and increase bicycle parking and infrastructure as well as increasing pedestrian and transit access.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG) is working with WABA and other organizationsto draw attention to the issue and to invite the public to attend meetings held in each Ward. CSG has created a petition that contains the main talking points for the zoning update. 

For those not able to attend the meetings, two Twitter Town Halls are scheduled, on Monday, December 14 2012 and Friday, January 14 2013, both starting at noon. Check the Zoning Revisions Review website for more details. 

Below is a calendar of revision meetings: 

Ward 6 
December 8, 2012            
Saturday, 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 noon Second floor, 1100-4th Street SW (above the Safeway, Waterfront Station on the Green Line)
Ward 2
December 11, 2012         
Tuesday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M. 421 7th Street NW (2 blocks south of Gallery Place Station on the Red, Green and Yellow Lines)
Ward 8
December 13, 2012
Thursday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M.                 
Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place SE (Anacostia Station on the Green Line)
January (To Be Determined)
(Update Locations added)
Ward 1
January 5, 2013
Saturday, 10:00 P.M – 12:00 noon 
Harriet Tubman Elementary School
3101 13th Street NW
1 block east of the Columbia Heights metro station on the green and yellow lines           
Ward 3
January 8, 2013
Tuesday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M.
Wilson High School
3950 Chesapeake Street NW
1 block east of the Tenleytown metro station on the red line                  
Ward 5
January 9, 2013
Wednesday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M.
Foster Auditorium, Ely Building, Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue NE
5 blocks east of the NY Ave / Gallaudet metro station on the red line.
Ward 7
January 12, 2013
Saturday, 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 noon
Room 2309/10, DOES Building
4058 Minnesota Ave. NE
Adjacent to the Minnesota metro station on the orange line
Ward 4
January 16, 2013
Wednesday, 6:30 P.M – 8:30 P.M.   
Takoma Education Campus
7010 Piney Branch Road NW
About 3 blocks west of the Takoma metro station on the red line.        

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BAC SEE Comm Mtg: 12/11, 6:30pm

The next meeting of the BAC Safety, Education, and Enforcement Committee meeting will be held the second Tuesday of even-numbered months as usual:

Tuesday, December 11
Teaism, 400 8th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

We will be sitting downstairs somewhere - look for helmets, big stacks of paper, or MPD officers if you don't know me by face. Appointed members and members of the public are invited to attend and help improve bicycle safety in DC. The current agenda is below, but suggestions for additional items are welcome:

Agenda items:
- Update on enforcement of U-turns across Penn Ave cycletrack
- Education/enforcement by MPD and DDOT along new L street cycletrack
- Safety conditions of the Metropolitan Branch Trail
- Discussion of committee agenda for 2013
- Safety benchmarks for 2012

For more information or to suggest agenda items, you can write to Jameel at

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Repaving of Pennsylvania Avenue Removes Bicycle Lanes

The District Department of  Transportation (DDOT) reports that it will begin repaving Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between 3rd and 14th Streets Tuesday, November 13, weather permitting. This repaving project coincides with the Presidential Inauguration, which occurs Monday, January 21, 2013.

The project will impact the bicycle lanes in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. The bike lanes will be unavailable when the center of the roadway is repaved and bicyclists will need to share the travel lanes with motor vehicles. Drivers are urged to use caution and watch for additional bicyclists in traffic.

The bicycle lanes will be re-striped once the roadway is repaved. However, please note that the plastic bollards at intersections along the bike lanes will not be reinstalled until after the Presidential Inauguration.

The work will be conducted overnight, between 8 pm and 5 am, Monday through Saturday, and is anticipated to take approximately 10 days to complete. At least one lane in each direction will be open for traffic at all times, but motorists and bicyclists are advised that delays are possible. Crews will mill and pave 2 lanes at a time, starting with the right lanes of eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Temporary Closure of Section of Metropolitan Branch Trail

As posted on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) Facebook page, the MBT will be closed from L to M Streets NE (south of New York Avenue to the ramp down to L) from this Tuesday to Thursday (November 13-15th) from 10 am to 3:30 pm while contractors install a cover to protect trail users from the adjacent development. To descent the trail, use the elevator at the New York Avenue - Galludet Metrorail station.

View Met Branch Closure in a larger map

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

BAC Bimonthly Meeting Tonight

The bimonthly BAC meeting is this evening. We have a fairly long agenda (below) including a "blue sky" brainstorming session on what BAC priorities should be in the next year. For the purpose of leaving time to do the brainstorming, committee and hearing reports will be condensed so we can get through the agenda at a reasonable hour.

The meeting starts at 6pm and will take place at 441 4th Street, NW at One Judiciary Square, in Room 1114, which is on the 11th floor. Please remember to bring government identification to enter the building.
As always, the meeting is open to the public. 

BAC Agenda 11-7-2012

  • Introductions
  • Approval of Minutes
  • Announcements
  • Public statements
  • Committee Reports: 
    • Facilities
    • Legislative
    • Safety
  • Hearing Reports:
    • Motor-driven cycle hearing (Randall Myers)
    • Automated enforcement (Jameel Alsalam)
  • Discussion: DCBAC role in reviewing development projects (15 minutes)
  • Blue Sky Brainstorming / Discussion: DCBAC Priorities for the next year (30 minutes)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lower Fines Plus More Cameras Could Enhance Safety On DC Streets

This morning I will be testifying on behalf of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council on the topic of legislation introduced by Councilmembers Cheh, Wells, and Barry which would set fines for speed camera fines based on traffic safety research. I had the opportunity to participate in a series of task force meeting which led to the development of this legislation. First, I want to say that the Councilmembers should be commended for taking an inclusive, public approach to developing the legislation. Second, I will suggest changes to make sure the legislation enhances traffic safety in Washington, D.C.

The automated enforcement task force focused on how to change behavior to make people act more safely on the road – is the answer high fines, or is the answer more certain enforcement? In the case of speeding, the task force did not find evidence that higher fines enhance safety. By contrast, there is ample evidence that the presence of automated enforcement cameras does reduce infractions and enhance safety. These two facts reveal a promising pathway to increasing safety: increasing the number of automated enforcement cameras combined with lowering the associated fine to the level supported by the research.

Over the weekend, Mayor Vincent Gray announced that he is lowering the fine for speeding between 11-15mph over the speed limit from $125 to $100. If passed, this legislation would further lower this fine as well as the fines for some other infractions. The legislation should also require that new cameras be installed. This combination is the key to making sure that we continue the trend in recent years of decreasing traffic fatalities in Washington, D.C.

The full testimony of the DCBAC is below:


Testimony of the DC Bicycle Advisory Council
On “The Safety-Based Traffic Enforcement Amendment Act of 2012”
Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation, 
Jameel Alsalam
November 5, 2012

Good afternoon Councilmember Cheh and members of the committee. I am a representative on the DC Bicycle Advisory Council. The DCBAC has appreciated the chance to participate in the task force which led to this legislation. The process has been useful to bring community input and expert knowledge to the process of developing legislation. Today, I will offer suggestions to strengthen “The Safety-Based Traffic Enforcement Amendment Act of 2012” and ensure it enhances traffic safety.

For vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians, improving traffic safety and reducing dangerous traffic infractions is extremely important to preventing injuries and deaths. Over the past ten years, we have experienced a trend in steadily decreasing numbers of traffic fatalities in Washington, D.C. Over this period, the automated enforcement program has become a powerful tool in improving safety for all road users. Throughout the existence of the automated camera enforcement program there has been a consistent complaint from the motoring public that the fines imposed by the program are too high. Whatever changes we make in the automated enforcement program, we must ensure we do not reverse the existing trend of decreasing traffic fatalities in our city.

The automated enforcement task force focused on how to change behavior to make people act more safely on the road – is the answer high fines, or is the answer more certain enforcement? In the case of speeding, the task force did not find evidence that higher fines enhance safety. By contrast, there is ample evidence that the presence of automated enforcement cameras does reduce infractions and enhance safety. These two facts reveal a promising pathway to increasing safety: increasing the number of automated enforcement cameras combined with lowering the associated fine to the level supported by the research.
This legislation would lower some automated enforcement fines – it should also require that new cameras be installed. Making this link between both pieces of the puzzle is key to improving safety and defining a strategy for traffic enforcement for years to come.

But some people ask – “What if the research is wrong? What if people ignore the new lower fines and we end up endangering the lives of DC residents walking to the grocery store or cycling to work?” For example, when drivers make very rapid right turns they sometimes create “right-hook” crashes, which can be very dangerous for cyclists riding to the right. We can’t know for certain whether reducing the fine for turning right on red without stopping might increase the number of right hook crashes.

The way to solve this problem is to make sure we carefully study the impacts on safety of the changes being made by the legislation. The legislation currently includes a requirement for a study to assess the safety impact resulting from the reduced fines including “a detailed analysis of any changes in moving violations and repeat violation rates.” In addition, the study should examine the rates of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities before and after the changes are made.

In summary, the BAC supports the expansion of automated enforcement and a fine structure that contributes to the existing trend of reducing traffic related injuries and fatalities. We believe that the goals of this legislation are to strengthen the automated enforcement program and improve safety, and those are goals that we support wholeheartedly. We ask for two key elements to ensure these goals are met: 1) the legislation should link an increase to the number of cameras in D.C. to the proposed fine reduction to ensure that the legislation as a whole is safety-enhancing, and 2) there should be a robust study of safety outcomes after the changes are made to ensure that the positive safety trend we have been experiencing continues. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Request for Information About Met Branch Bike/Ped Bridge Over CSX Tracks

Below is a letter requesting that the District share information about the proposed bicycle and pedestrian bridge that will connect the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the Rhode Island Avenue - Brentwood Station in the District.
MBT Bridge at RI Avenue

Friday, October 12, 2012

Georgia Avenue NW Dedicated Bus Lane and Streetscape Project Meeting

Monday, October 15, 2012, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will hold a workshop to discuss the Georgia Avenue corridor study.  The meeting is at the DC Housing Finance Agency, 815 Florida Avenue NW from 5p to 7p.

Specifically, the meeting seeks input from the public regarding the lower Georgia Avenue corridor between Barry Place and Florida Avenue NW. The DDOT study proposes multi-modal improvements along the corridor, which include shared transit-bike lanes that are similar to the those used on 7th and 9th Streets NW roughly between E Street and Mt. Vernon Square.  In addition, DDOT has previously posted plans to operate streetcars along Georgia Avenue. This offers an opportunity to include future bicycle consideration for the this corridor.

As always, we appreciate your comments in the comments section. Below is a copy of the meeting announcement:

Georgia Streetscape Project Meeting

Facilities Committee Ride - M Street SE-SW

Image from DDOT's M Street SE-SW
Transportation Study page
Please join the Bicycle Advisory Council's Facilities Committee (BAC-FAC) on a ride or 'rolling meeting', October 27, 2012. We will explore the M and I (Eye) Streets SE / SW corridor on beginning at 1pm at Waterfront Metrorail station, near 4th and M Streets SW. 

The purpose of this ride is to review the current conditions and develop options for bicycle and pedestrian consideration in this area as suggested by the District Department of Transportation September meeting regarding the M Street SE-SW Transportation Study. BAC-FAC would like your thoughts on what bicycling facilities should be considered for this area and your concerns about road safety, signage, pedestrian access, vehicle parking and other issues that affect this area.

The ride will go east on M Street SW and pick up Eye Street, while making stops and notes as we head back west to Waterfront Metro. From there we will optionally explore 4th and P Streets SW. As always, we strongly recommend that you bring a helmet and reserve the right not to allow you on this ride without one. Please plan to arrive about 15 minutes before the ride begins, we will leave the Waterfront Metro Station promptly at 1pm.

Please contact Jeanie Osburn ( if you have questions about the ride. Thanks and we look forward to seeing you and let us know if you have questions.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Safety, Education and Enforcement Committee Meeting- October 9

The BAC Safety, Education and Enforcement Committee will meet tonight, October 9 at 6:30 - 8:00 PM at Teasim, 400 8th St. NW.

Committee Chair and Ward 4 BAC member Jameel Alsalam will not be in attendance however, BAC member David Alexander will moderate.

The agenda includes the results of the City Council Task Force  regarding the Automated Enforcement
Program.  Click here for the attached items.

To the extent time allows, Mr. Alexander may also discuss the safety and enforcement aspects of proposals to allow mopeds, or electric bicycles on bike trails and in bike lanes, and any agenda items attendees might

See you at 6:30.

Monday, October 1, 2012

BAC Legislative Meeting - Wednesday, October 3

The next Legislative Committee meeting will be Wednesday, October  3 at 6:00pm. The location will be Teaism at 400 8th Street NW.

On the agenda:
  1. Changing the definitions of various vehicles - BAC should define preferred rules with respect to who can use bike lanes, trails and parking for Council Member Mary Cheh's office.
  2. Funding for compliance with the Bicycle Safety Enhancement. An FIS was performed in 2008 that put the cost at $2.8 million (See below). A request was sent to CM Cheh's office as to whether another one is needed. Can the District pay for this with speed camera revenue? Should BAC request that happen?
  3. Any other issues.
The committee chair, David Cranor, may be unable to attend. If this occurs the meeting may be rescheduled or chaired by another BAC member. We look forward to seeing you there. A copy of the Bicycle Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 Fiscal Impact Statement appears below:
Bicycle Safety Enhancement FIS

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dupont-Logan Bicycle Safety Community Listening and Education Session

The Dupont Circle and Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) jointly announce a public meeting for residents, business owners and organizations to discuss bicycle safety issues in the community Thursday, September 27, 7:00p to 9:00p. The meeting will be head at the Chastleton Ballroom, 1701 16th Street NW.

With biking for transit expanding rapidly in our community, many issues, concerns, and questions have arisen. Some topics for discussion are:

  • The District’s plans to make DC more bike/pedestrian-friendly; any plans or ideas for the Dupont-Logan area and its residents.
  • The laws/rules about street/sidewalk biking; consequences for those who break them. Whether any of these laws/rules should be revised or updated by the City Council.
  • New bike lanes: Where/when are they coming and where else are they needed. Tips for dealing with the new 2-way bike lanes for bikers, drivers, and pedestrians.
  • Lastly, a comprehensive discussion regarding the expansion of bike parking.
After hearing strong concerns about road safety at a public listening session on in June, the Dupont and Logan Circle communities are working together to discuss these and any other issues that residents wish to bring up. At this meeting, District transportation and police officials will be in attendance, in addition to community leaders and bicycling experts. The Dupont Circle Citizens Association, the Logan Circle Citizens Association, and the Urban Neighborhood Alliance are partnering with the ANC's on this important community listening and education session.

This is an opportunity to have your voices heard on bicycle safety concerns whether you're a daily or occasional biker, a pedestrian, or a driver. The meeting will be a guided discussion to help inform and guide the city’s public safety agenda so that your bicycle safety concerns can be addressed productively and collaboratively — if not at the meeting, at least in the near future.

Public Meeting for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Environmental Impact Statement

The District Department of Transportation will host a meeting Thursday, September 27 to discuss and solicit input on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Environmental Impact Statement and Section 106 Evaluation. While this project focuses on the reconstruction of the CSX Transportation freight rail tunnel, the rebuilding of Virginia Avenue SE offers an opportunity for the inclusion of bike infrastructure. The meeting will be held at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 Eye Street SW, 6:00p until 8:00p. 

This meeting will include a brief presentation and introductory remarks, “breakout” workshop sessions with the study team, and a concluding question and answer session. The introductory presentation will start very shortly after 6:00p. Both verbal and written comments will be taken at the meeting. Comment forms will be available at the public meeting and can be submitted on-site, via provided self-addressed/postage paid envelopes, or by email to

Questions about this meeting may be directed to:
Steve Plano
Parsons Brinckerhoff
1401 K Street, NW, Suite 701
Washington, DC 20005

For more information about the meeting and the proposed reconstruction, please visit

As always, please let us know what you think.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'Gimmie 5' Facilities Committee Community Ride

Met Branch Trail at S Street Pocket Park
The Facilities Committee and its chair Jeanie Osburn would like to invite you join District Department of Transportation staff member Heather Deutsch on a bike tour of Ward 5.

The "Gimme 5!" ride will travel to some of Ward 5's well-known and best-kept-secret sites.  This ride is in partnership with Cultural Tourism - a nonprofit organization helping DC residents and visitors discover, experience and celebrate the city’s art, culture, and heritage.

The ride is Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 1PM - 4PM beginning and ending at the NoMa-Gallaudet U (New York Ave) Metrorail Station (Near the 2nd and Florida Avenue entrance).

The ride will travel along the Metropolitan Branch Trail, stop in for a tour of Chocolate City Brewing Company, cruise through "Little Rome" (Washington Trinity University, St. Paul's College, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Catholic University, the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America), via Fort Totten, then on to the National Arboretum, and passing Gallaudet University on the return.

The ride is rated "moderate" and has some rollers and one climb (at Fort Totten - Bates Road NE). 

Helmets are required, locks are recommended.

For more information regarding DC Cultural Tourism's Biking Town / Walking Town Tours, please visit their  website.

Thanks and we hope to see you September 29.

Monday, September 17, 2012

M Street SE-SW Transportation Study - Public Meeting #3

Thursday, September 14, 2012 was the third and reportedly final meeting regarding the M Street Southeast / Southwest Transportation Study. Sponsored by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the purpose of the meeting was to show the public major alternatives and metrics used to to recreate the streetscape on M Street and selected adjacent streets in that area in the near term and over the next 20 to 30 years.

According to the meeting documentation, the M Street corridor, a roughly 1.7-square-mile area along M Street SE/SW, and the Southwest waterfront from 12th Street, SE to 14th Street, SW and from the Southwest / Southeast Freeway south to the Anacostia River / Washington Channel, will experience a dramatic increase in the residential and commercial population.

Upon initial review, it appears that each alternative appears problematic.  Of the three alternatives presented, only alternative two included provisions for a cycletrack located on M Street.  The other alternatives appeared to replace the cycletrack with a combination of parking or an enhanced transit lane, moving bicycle access to adjacent streets. DCBAC will continue to assess the proposal and formally provide suggestions for improvement. Please let us know what you think by leaving your comments.

The DDOT three proposed alternatives are as follows:

Alternative 1: M Street "Main Street. This alternative includes improved connections to transit (curb side Streetcar, express bus, and other 'premium transit services' which appears to include stops for Metrobus and the DC Circulator; two vehicular lanes each way; and increased connectivity and utilization of parallel streets to better facilitate traffic flow. This would include the enhancement of Eye Street to include lanes or sharrows to improve bicycle travel. This alternative does not include on-street parking. 

Alternative 2: "Balanced Linkages". This alternative focuses on bicyclist and pedestrian movements on M Street. On the edges of the street, cycle tracks are included; on-street parking; and two shared travel lanes that are not transit specific.  Transit would be moved to parallel roads (Streetcar to the north of M Street on Eye Street at least east of 4th Street SW and the DC Circulator to south of M street using several adjacent streets). This alternative contains two widths, one with parking on both sides and one with parking only on the north side. 

Alternative 3: M Street "Mobility Arterial". The third alternative includes a shared lane for Streetcar and other transit services on the curb side of M Street; improved pedestrian access; aggressive traffic calming on parallel streets; and an increase focus on moving vehicular traffic through the area. This alternative does not include cycletracks.

 DDOT requests comments about the presented alternatives. You can email comments to or fax this form to (202) 671-0617. Comments must be submitted by 5pm, Monday, October 1, 2012.  As always. DCBAC is interested in your thoughts and suggestions.  Please leave your comments below so that we can review and incorporate them into our comments that will be submitted to DDOT.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BAC SEE Committee 8/14/2012 - Automated Enforcement

How should DC’s automated traffic enforcement program be designed to maximize roadway safety while minimizing public perception that the program is unfair, punitive, or designed to maximize revenue? CMs Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh are co-chairing a task force to recommend legislative changes to the automated (camera) traffic enforcement program to better meet this goal. At the recent meeting of the BAC Safety, Education, and Enforcement Committee, a number of possibilities were discussed. 

Opinions on various proposals varied widely, however, the committee had broad agreement on two ideas which we decided to prioritize: 1) improving the justification of locations based on safety issues and 2) graduated fines for initial offenses (e.g., first one or first one at a particular location). Note that the table includes several ideas with comments which were not discussed at the meeting (because they have been raised since the meeting).

Priority ProposalsComments
Justification of locations:
1) Safety study
2) Public data*
Problem: Right now, MPD does speed studies to see how cameras reduce the amount of speeding at particular locations. In addition, they place cameras based on a combination of resident requests, history of accidents/fatalities, and other site-specific traffic pattern issues. However, residents sometimes argue that speed limits at a location have been set improperly or that there are no safety hazards at the particular location.

Recommendation 1: MPD and DDOT should study accidents and perception of roadway safety at proposed camera locations, and provide public justification for their placement of cameras based on safety issues, not just speeding. They should post the reasoning behind particular camera locations on their website. Update: Lisa Sutter of MPD has stated that their new website will include a map of automated enforcement locations with reasoning behind their placement.

Recommendation 2: As a way to bolster this, all crash data should be made publicly accessible so citizens can verify safety records at camera locations. In addition, MPD should generally focus their enforcement resources at locations with safety issues.
Graduated fines (warnings)Problem: Right now, it is possible that a driver could get a very expensive ticket (or even multiple tickets) without realizing that they had been caught or without realizing the speed limit on a particular road. This is true because although driving up to 10mph over the speed limit carries a $75 fine, in practice this ticket is never given, so the lowest fine given out is $125, and since tickets come in the mail, it is possible to get several tickets before the first one arrives. MPD publishes the location of cameras and allows a “warning period” for the installation of a new camera during which time people are mailed tickets without a fine. In addition, photo enforcement signs are placed including a neon banner on the normal speed limit signs. However, the 30 day warning period may not help occasional drivers or drivers new to an area.

Recommendation 1: We never want to "surprise" people with fines - we want to give them an opportunity to change their behavior first. Fines should be lowered for the initial offense. The first offense should carry a smaller fine so that drivers never get an extremely large fine for their first offense.
Other Possible ProposalsComments
More warnings:
1) Speed readout signs*
2) Warning tickets 5-10mph over the limit*
Problem: same as above “graduated fines”. MPD could use more alternative means to warn drivers about speed so that tickets are not a surprise.

1) In addition to increasing the number of cameras, MPD should increase the number of speed readout signs. While these signs don’t impose fines, they do cause drivers to think about their speed. Question: does research show these signs are effective or not?

2) MPD could send “warnings” with minimal fines to cover postage and handling such as $1-$2 for speeding 5-10 over the limit. Thus a driver would not be surprised if they receive a ticket for going >11 mph over the limit.
Income-dependent issues
1) Graduated fines by income
2) Fine alternatives such as roadway safety class*
Problem: Traffic fines serve as a deterrent against speeding. However, the same amount of money might not be noticable to a wealthy person whereas it could create economic hardship for a low-income person.

1) If possible, make fines income-dependent so that the deterrence factor is more even across people while not creating financial hardship.

2) As an alternative to paying a fine, allow people to take a safety course (either online or in-person). This could not be repeated many times, but could take care of initial offenses. It would be important that this be a high-quality course.
Fine reductions (immediate)No one likes to pay fines. If it is possible to decrease fines without sacrificing safety, then we should do it. We need expert information to say how the level of the fine affects the effectiveness of automated enforcement at improving safety.

However, lowering fines on its own won’t change peoples’ minds who think that automated enforcement isn’t focused on safety.
Fine reductions (after camera installation)Overall deterrence of speeding will be improved as cameras become more widespread people may stop attempting to memorize the particular locations.
Dedication of fines to road safety activitiesIn the past, roadway safety efforts have sometimes been hampered by a lack of resources. This includes: funds to purchase cameras, funds to run roadway safety classes (such as classes for children), funds to make roadway improvements and funds to hire dedicated traffic enforcement officers.

However, creation of dedicated funds could lead to more bureaucracy and unnecessary difficulty in managing funds.
Separation of fine discussions from budgetWhen DC has a budget deficit, there might be a temptation on the part of politicians to raise traffic enforcement fines as a way of filling that budget gap. Changing fines should never be done as a way to fill a budget gap. Instead, fines should be changed on the basis of safety considerations - where there are new research findings in how to improve safety, or new safety problems (e.g., texting while driving wasn’t a problem before cell phones, etc).

Recommendation: Fines should not be changed as part of the budget process, but only during a separate oversight process for roadway safety.
Inflation-pegged finesWhether or not enforcement fines are lowered or raised, it is important to keep the relative size of the fine the same over time. The fines should be automatically raised or lowered to keep pace with inflation/deflation, and then rounded to the nearest multiple of $25. This way, the Council will not need to specifically discuss raising fines on an annual basis.
* indicates the idea is new and was not discussed at the SEE Committee Meeting.

Add your comments to the various proposals about what you think would help improve safety the most while reducing perception that the automated enforcement program might be used to fill a budget gap.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tonight's (8/1) Legislative meeting is Canceled

The bimonthly legislative committee meeting at Union Pub on Capitol Hill has been canceled. The next meeting will be held in October.

Please let us know if you have questions.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

BAC Safety Committee: Traffic Safety Benchmarks and Building Relationships with District Traffic Captains

This post serves as notes from the June meeting of the BAC SEE Comittee. I apologize for not recording attendees.

Over the last month, the BAC Safety, Education and Enforcment Committee has been extremely busy. On May 30, the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary had a hearing on pedestrian and bicycle safety. [link here:] One of the big outcomes of that meeting was that CM Phil Mendelson (now council chair) asked MPD, BAC, PAC, and WABA to work together to put together proposals for traffic safety benchmarks. Since then, there has been a flurry of work on this issue by BAC and PAC. Second, we’ve been building relationships with the MPD District Captains responsible for coordinating traffic enforcement in their districts - please help build up these relationships. Third, we discussed the current state of bicycle theft data and some of the work being done to combat bike theft.

Action needed:

  • Please provide your ideas for traffic safety benchmarks - these ideas will be compiled into a proposal sent to MPD and the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary
  • Are you willing to meet with the MPD District Traffic Captain from your area? These meetings will take place during the work day, on schedules TBA, and require knowledge of local traffic enforcement priorities.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bi-Monthly DCBAC meeting

Wednesday, July 11 starting at 6pm, the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council hold its regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting. The meeting will take place at 441 4th Street, NW at One Judiciary Square, in Room 1114, which is on the 11th floor. As always, we want to hear from public thinks about bicycling in the District so we encourage you to attend.

Below is a draft agenda.

  1. Welcome and Introductions – 5 Minutes
  2. Questions & Comments from members of the public – 20 Minutes
  3. Approval of the Minutes – 5 Minutes
  4. Bicycle Element of the DC Multi-Modal Transportation Planning Project – 30 minutes
  5. Committee Reports – 30 Minutes
  6. New Business – 30 Minutes
    1. Proposed parking zoning regulation changes impact on bicycle parking
    2. Other
When entering the building, please turn right after passing the security checkpoint and use the south set of elevators. Please bring government-issued identification.

Monday, July 2, 2012

June Legislative Committee Meeting notes

Below are meeting notes from the bi-monthly Legislative Committee meeting held at Busboys and Poets @ 5th and K streets NW June 20, 2012. 
 Second-hand bike sale:
We discussed current regulations relating to 2nd hand bike sales. Currently 2nd-hand bike sales occur online at sites like Craigslist. It's agreed that this is a deterrent to people buying bikes - since many people don't feel they have the knowledge to buy in a "buyer beware" situation like that; while not serving to deter bike theft. (In addition the second-hand market is not taxed). 

Shane Farthing of WABA had a specific purpose in seeking to change the regulations, because doing so might help certain non-profits that would like to buy and sell bikes as part of their model.
It was also agreed that the lack of a legitimate 2nd-hand market, as exists in other cities, might be indicative of onerous regulations. Erik Kugler of Bicycle Space was in attendence, and while he said that his store would be unlikely to sell used bikes, he would welcome a change making it easier for a legitimate business to do so openly.

Action: Shane Farthing agreed to draft a proposal for discussion at a later time.

Compliance with the bicycle safety act:
We discussed the response from DPW saying that parts of the law had been complied with, others were underway and part was not being complied with due to a lack of funding. It was decided that a Council Member needs to ask for an FIS for the side-underrun guards so that we can know how much money needs to be budget. We also agreed that we need to push DPW to speed up installation on blind spot mirrors and that perhaps the law should be amended. Currently it specifies that blind spot mirrors be installed, when what we really want is that the blind spot be cleared - regardless of technology. Changing the law to require a solution for the problem without specifing the solution will allow for new technologies like blind spot cameras, to be used. It was suggested that we could ask for, and likely get, support from the union that the drivers belong to. 

Action: Ask a CM to request an FIS for side-underrun guards (decide at July meeting which CM)
Action: Submit a request to amend the law with respect to blind spot mirrors (decide at July meeting which CM to approach)

Encouraging passage of the anti-harassment law:
Due to recent changes in the council it is unlikely that this law will move forward. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

BAC Investigates Bike Accessibility along Georgia Avenue in Ward 4

On Saturday 6/23, the DC BAC Facilities Committee explored bike accessibility and connectivity to commercial areas along Georgia Avenue. Building walkable and bikeable communities is an important part of supporting local jobs - but to make it work, we need to make sure that people can get to commercial areas easily.

Ride Attendees:
Jeanie Osburn - Ward 5 BAC representative
Randall Myers - At-large BAC representative
Jameel Alsalam - Ward 4 BAC representative
Nathan Picotte - Ward 4 resident
Julianne Horn - Ward 4 resident

On the ride, we visited:
1) 8th Street signed bike route
2) Walmart development site at Georgia and Missouri
3) Walter Reed development site
4) Crossing Rock Creek Park

We want to send a special thanks to Coucilmember Muriel Bowser and staff members Judi Gold and Brandon Todd who joined us for the beginning of the ride. CM Bowser shared with us her priorities: expanding access to Capital Bikeshare in Ward 4, and ensuring that bicycling is an attractive transportation option for everyone. Achieving these goals means a mix of focus on facilities throughout the city, safety, law enforcement, convenience, and affordability.

[map of our trip here]
View BAC Ward 4 Facilities Ride in a larger map

8th Street Bike Route
We started our ride at the Capital Bikeshare station located at 9th and Upshur Street, and then rode along the signed bike route along 8th Street. Since Georgia Avenue is a relatively busy road, many cyclists use parallel routes, such as 8th Street, to access the commercial areas along Georgia. 8th Street is a quiet residential street which is very comfortable to bike on, but it is also somewhat hilly and has a stop sign at nearly every block, and in many blocks the road surface is not good. Due to this combination, there are some locations where cyclists must brake heavily at the bottom of a hill, thus making 8th Street a somewhat inefficient route for long-distance cycling.

There was some discussion of 8th Street v. 9th Street v. 5th Street and how cyclists from the east would access commerical areas along Georgia Avenue. The consensus is that 8th is better suited than 9th for cycling, and that 5th is better than both of them (in terms of conditions) but is 4-5 blocks away from Georgia, so not ideal for commercial access. Since bike facilities along Georgia are not likely, I would like to pick a parallel route as a recommended route for cyclists accessing the commerical areas, and make some improvements (either 8th, 9th or 5th).

Specific committee recommendations:
  • Choose a route parallel to east side of Georgia Avenue to prioritize as a major bike route to commerical areas along Georgia (either 8th or 9th or 5th)
  • Make improvements to whichever route is prioritized to make it an efficient bike route
  • E.g., if 8th Street, consider making 8th and Kennedy a 4-way stop and removing a stop sign or two along 8th Street so cyclists don't have to brake hard at the bottom of a hill to make the route more efficient

Walmart Development Site at Georgia and Missouri Avenues
In many neighborhoods, new commercial development has increased commerical activity and the number of people walking, biking, and driving through the area. With a new Walmart development planned at Georgia and Missouri, the group wanted to look at how cyclists would access the entrance to the new store. While we weren't sure exactly where the bike racks or entrances would be, the main entrance will likely be along Georgia Avenue. This may create cyclist/pedestrian conflicts since Georgia and Missouri are very busy streets which may lead cyclists to ride on the sidewalk. The ideal access route for cyclists is along Peabody, especially if 8th or 9th or 5th Street is improved as a bicycle route. Walmart has also mentioned plans for a Capital Bikeshare station. This would be the northernmost CaBi station in Ward 4, and its important that it be placed in a location which is safe and convenient to access by bicycle. 

In connection to the Walmart development, ANC4B has requested a number of traffic improvements to handle the increased traffic. One thing they asked for was a traffic diverter on Peabody just east of the parking garage entrance. The group agreed that something like this would also help cyclists as a kind of "bicycle boulevard" improvement to 9th/8th streets, by diverting vehicle traffic and parking away from those routes. ANC4B also asked for a rebuild of Georgia and Missouri, which if undertaken, might be able to handle bicycle improvements to ease cyclists accessing the front Walmart entrance.

Specific committee recommendations:
  • Widen sidewalks along Georgia and Missouri to accommodate higher pedestrian volumes and the likelihood of cyclists along the Georgia Avenue sidewalk.
  • Locate the CaBi station either along Peabody or near the corner of Georgia and Peabody to encourage cyclists to use Peabody instead of Georgia or Missouri.
  • Consider improvements to the intersection of Georgia and Missouri, especially if bike racks and/or CaBi station are located along Georgia Avenue, which would encourage cyclists to use Georgia Avenue.
  • Install a traffic diverter on Peabody in accordance with the ANC4B recommendations, but ensure that the installation does not create dangerous circumstances or blockages for cyclists accessing or leaving the site via Peabody.

Walter Reed Site
The closing and redevelopment of the Walter Reed site is a very exciting project for cyclists and in particular for improving connectivity in upper Ward 4. Currently, cyclists going north-south west of Georgia Avenue in Ward 4 cannot pass through the Walter Reed site and are forced to ride on either Georgia Avenue or 16th Street, both of which are busy commuter routes without any bicycle facilities. With the opening of the fences at Walter Reed, cyclists will be able to ride through what was previously a blockage in the DC bicycle route system. The committee visited the site to examine likely bicycle routes north-south through the area.

We anticipate that the main route people will take is 14th coming from the south, to Luzon diagonal for a block, to Aspen, to the 13th Street entrance to Walter Reed, to the 12th Street exit from Walter Reed, back to 13th along Fern, and then connecting either to Kalmia if going to Beach drive or the CCT or Burlington/Fenton if going to Silver Spring. To anticipate this and create connectivity in the DC bicycle route system, DDOT should focus on creating continuous bicycle route connections through this area.

Specific committee recommendations:
  • Place signage along main bicycle route from 14th Street to the south through to 13th Street to the north
  • Improve pavement and bike facilities along Luzon connecting 14th Street to Walter Reed entrances to the south
  • Consider a direct bicycle route through the Walter Reed site (whether or not this is a road connection, but regular cyclists will likely avoid sidewalks)
  • Place wayfinding signage from the northern entrance to Walter Reed to the CCT (13th -> Kalmia -> West Beach -> Grubb) and to Silver Spring (13th -> Fenton) and Takoma Metro station (Butternut)

Crossing Rock Creek Park
While Ward 4 is a very pleasant place to bicycle, a major challenge is crossing Rock Creek Park to access other the western part of Ward 4 and Ward 3. There are few crossing routes for either bicycles or vehicles, and there is shared jurisdiction between DDOT and the National Park Service. The options for a cyclist crossing RCP are:

1) Military Rd
2) Joyce -> trail parallel to Military
3) Joyce -> trail parallel to Beach -> Bingham
4) Sherrill -> Beach -> Bingham

Military Rd. is a very heavily trafficked route. It has a 35 mph speed limit, but many vehicles travel >40mph. There is no shoulder, bike lanes, or sidewalk, and there is a guard rail which prevents a cyclist from escaping onto the grass should they feel endangered. All of this combines to make Military an unappealing option.

On the ride, we took 14th to Rittenhouse to Joyce to the trail. Joyce road is fairly adequate way to go into the park from the east side. From there, a cyclist could choose to use the paved walking/biking path parallel to Military Rd. up to Oregon. The BAC Facilities Committee examined this route as part of the ride. By chance, we were riding the route on the day after last week's giant storm, which meant that in addition to the downed trees, the entire trail had been covered by 2 inches of mud in a 30 ft section that led several in the group to doubt we were even on the trail. In addition, the trail had tons of sticks and branches which made it even more treacherous than it usually is with its extreme steepness/narrowness/windyness. The group agreed that the trail was inadequate for a regular cyclist. Update: one regular rider and Ward 4 resident has written to disagree with this perspective - he observed that NPS maintenance of the trail has been excellent and by Monday had cleaned up the trail. He rides the trail every weekday, preferring it to other options.

Instead of leaving the park to the west along the trail, a cyclist could ride along Beach drive (on the sidepath or on the road) and then exit via Bingham Dr. NW. We didn't actually ride this one, but based on reports of other Ward 4 residents, it may be better than the two other alternatives. This route is a somewhat circuitous way to cross the park, and there are no climbing lanes, but it currently seems to be the preferred option. On the ride we exited via Sherrill, which also doesn't have a climbing lane, but is comfortable at least on the weekend.

Specific committee recommendations:
  • We need improved routes for cyclists to cross Rock Creek Park
  • Best would be to improve Military Rd. to include a shoulder, at least on the uphill portions
  • Next best would be improving the sidepath to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to share
  • Next best would be installing climbing lanes on Joyce and Bingham and ensuring the trail parallel to Beach Drive between these roads is well maintained and widened.
  • Cooperation is needed between DDOT and NPS to improve connectivity in this area.
Overall, the committee thoroughly enjoyed riding through Ward 4 and eagerly awaits the improvement of bicycle connectivity through the Ward, extending the CaBi station network to more areas of the Ward, and improved access to commercial areas along Georgia Avenue. Here's the crew:

[photo of our group here]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Facilities Committee Meeting - Ward 4 (June 23)

Please join the Bicycle Advisory Council's Facilities Committee (BAC-FAC) on a ride or 'rolling meeting' on Saturday, June 23, 2012. The ride will beginning at 1:30 PM near the Capital BikeShare station at the corner of 9th Street and Upshur NW.

On this ride, the Committee will examine bike accessibility and connectivity to commercial  areas in Ward 4, particularly along Georgia Avenue NW and including the Walter Reed and Walmart development sites. BAC-FAC would like your thoughts on what bicycling facilities should be considered for this area and your concerns about road safety, signage or other issues.

Please contact Jameel Alsalam ( or Jeanie Osburn ( if you have questions about the ride. 

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you.

Safety, Education, and Enforcement Committee Meeting (June 12, 2012)

The next meeting of the Safety, Education, and Enforcement committee will be the second Tuesday as usual at:

Teaism, 400 8th Street NW, Tuesday, June 12, 6:30pm.

A couple of weeks ago was the latest in the series of hearings being held by CM Mendelson on pedestrian and bicycle safety and enforcement. The hearing has created ample agenda items:

1. Development of traffic safety benchmarks (collaboration of BAC, PAC, WABA, MPD)
2. Ongoing changes being made to crash report form system
3. Bike theft data and prevention
4. Breath alcohol program roll-out

As always, the public is welcomed to attend.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

BAC testifies at DC Council hearing on pedestrian and bicycle safety

Yesterday the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary held the third in its series of hearing on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Jameel Alsalam testified at that hearing on the work that the BAC has been doing with MPD over the past seven months, in particular addressing communication between MPD and the cycling community and the training measures that MPD has been taking to address problems being investigated by the committee. Important steps are being taken, but there is still more work to do, and we need to make sure that the measures that MPD are taking are effective in eliminating the underlying problems.

Full BAC testimony is here:

WABA testimony is here:

Video of the hearing (click on Committee on the Judiciary, and look for the 5/30 entry):

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bi-Monthly DCBAC meeting

Wednesday, May 2, from  6pm to 8pm, will be the regularly scheduled bi-monthly DC Bike Advisory Council meeting taking place at 441 4th Street, NW, One Judiciary Square, in Room 1114. Room 1114 is on the 11th floor, use the south set of elevators. Please bring a government-issued identification to enter the building

Below is our agenda for tomorrow's meeting: 

1. Introductions - 5 Minutes
2. Green Lanes Presentation by BikesBelong Coalition - 30 minutes 
3. Approval of Minutes - 5 minutes 
4. Committee Reports - 50 minutes 
5. Bike to Work Day Action Plan - 15 minutes 
6. Other Business - 15 Minutes 

As always, the public is welcomed. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Facility Meeting Minutes (04-14-2012)

Bicycling Rhode Island Avenue
DC Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) Facilities Committee (FAC) Report from April “Rolling” meeting

The DC BAC FAC conducts exploratory rides in different areas of the City in the months of April, June, August, and October. The purpose of these rides it to provide the City with input from a cyclist’s perspective on areas where cycling improvements are needed, or in areas that are slated for major redevelopment.

Ride: Rhode Island Avenue
Route: Rhode Island Avenue from Logan Circle to Eastern Avenue
Date: April 14, 2012
Attendees: Jeanie Osburn, BAC FAC Chair
Ellen Jones, BAC Chair
Randal Myers, BAC member (at large)
Jameel Alsalam, BAC member (Ward 4)
Mike Goodno, DDOT bike/ped coordinator’s office
John Iskander, Friends of Rhode Island Ave
Kyle Todd, Friends of Rhode Island Ave
Katy Bristow
Sean McBride
David Kalter
Mike Turner

Problem areas:
The worst segment stretches from Logan Circle to 12th Street NE. Along that stretch in particular the problems noted include:
  • · Dangerous intersection at Q Street: traffic turning right does so at high speeds and with little regard for cyclists riding along Rhode Island, or for pedestrians crossing Q Street NW in the crosswalk. This dangerous fast right turn scenario is repeated many times along Rhode Island Avenue in both directions.
  • · R Street NW: There is a bike lane on R Street NW that crosses Rhode Island Avenue near Marion St and 7th Street. The bike lane on the east side of Rhode Island Avenue is between a driving lane and a parking lane. On the west side of Rhode Island Avenue between Rhode Island Avenue and 7th Street, the lane is between two driving lanes- one to go straight, and one to turn right. Motorists who plan to turn right merge over to the right without checking for cyclists. Having the bike lane striping going all the way across Rhode Island Avenue would help by giving motorists a visual queue that they’re crossing over a bike lane.
  • · There is a hill between 1st Street NW and 4th Street NE which is hazardous for cyclists, particularly during rush hour, as traffic speed is fast, and cyclists naturally are slower climbing the hill.
  • · The section between 5th Street NW and 3rd Street NW has 3 gas stations with multiple curb cuts for traffic into and out of the stations. Motorists tend to ignore or be “blind” to cyclists and pedestrians as they enter and exit the stations.
  • · The intersection at 4th Street NE and Rhode Island Avenue is dangerous for outbound cyclists, because motorists tend to misjudge cyclists’ speed as they’re going downhill, and then the motorist does not yield right of way turning southbound onto 4th Street (either from the oncoming left lane or turning right when travelling in the direction of the cyclist)
  • · The underpass for the Metro tracks is dangerous. The area under the underpass is dark, the sidewalk is very narrow and thus not an option, and there are commonly events at a nearby church which cause congestion, double parking, and jaywalking.
  • · The slip lane into the Home Depot complex creates a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians. This is similar to the problem at Q Street NW described earlier.
  • · The curb cut on the NE corner of Reed and Rhode Island Ave. NE is dangerous. Rather than having a curb cut on both Reed and Rhode Island, there is a single curb cut that forces cyclists and handicapped people into traffic. Also, there is a big planter at the edge of the sidewalk, so if you do not cut the corner tight when coming up that curb cut, you run into the planter.
  • · The tall streetlights are nice in that the height allows the light to span a large area, however, in the spring/summer/fall when the tree canopy is full, those lights are above the canopy and provide little illumination.
  • · There is a dangerous pedestrian crossing at Newton Street NE. Traffic there goes pretty quickly, since there is no light or anything to slow traffic between South Dakota and Eastern. While there is a crosswalk, motorists pay little attention to crosswalks, particularly those with no signal.
  • · The traffic on Rhode Island Avenue moves as though it is a limited-access highway and not a street that traverses several residential neighborhoods. This is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians and is not conducive to the commercial development that the Friends of Rhode Island Avenue are working to promote.
  • · Sections of pavement are in bad condition, particularly around the construction at the Rhode Island Ave Metro Station and Eastern Avenue. On Eastern Avenue there is a drainage problem which causes flooding on Rhode Island Avenue NE at the intersection and degrades the roadway. This drainage problem causes icy conditions in cold weather and is a hazard for cyclists and motorists alike.
  • · Tree canopy: The tree canopy is a benefit to all (cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians) and should be maintained. There has been some draconian trimming of the trees particularly around power lines. There are also some missing trees. New trees need to be planted to fill out the canopy, and the health of existing trees should be assessed.
  • · There are no way-finding signs to guide cyclists along Rhode Island Avenue to destinations or to point out streets with cycling lanes, in particular the cycle lanes at Q, R, and 6th Streets NW and 4th, 12th, and 18th Streets NE.
  • Slow traffic down using any means possible including constructing bump-outs, narrowing lanes, replacing traffic signals with traffic circles (such as at Rhode Island Avenue and 34th Street in Mt Rainier).
  • Traffic circles at Reed Street NE, Montana Ave. NE, 18th Street NE and South Dakota Avenue NE could help significantly in slowing traffic. Other things which could slow traffic include tightening the turning radius onto several streets to force slower right-hand turns, closing some curb cuts, and restricting turns at some locations. 
  • Lighting: the area under the Metro track underpass similarly to what’s been done at M and L Street NE underpasses would help tremendously. Also, by augmenting the tall street lights with lighting that is below the tree canopy, the street would have better lighting, and look more like a neighborhood.
  •  Consider utilizing the median space where there are no trees to provide extra footage to incorporate bicycle lanes on both sides of Rhode Island Avenue.
  • Either remove parking altogether from Rhode Island Avenue and make the parking lane a bus/bike lane, or keep the parking but get rid of the rush hour restrictions which would then allow cyclists to ride in the parking lane.
  • Put a pedestrian-activated light at Newton Street NE.
  • Review crash statistics to guide where to begin an effort to make Rhode Island Avenue safer for everyone.

Thanks to Rita’s Italian Ice for providing a free cup of ice to all who joined us for the ride.

As development along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor increases with more multi-unit dwellings, the impact of traffic on the corridor will increase. The DC BAC, Friends of Rhode Island Avenue, and cyclists along the corridor recommend making bike/ped friendly changes to Rhode Island Avenue.

Next ride will be in Ward 4 on a TBD date in June.