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To: Colleen Hawkinson, District Department of Transportation Suite 500, 55 M Street SE Washington DC 20003 M Street SE-SW Transportation Study - Public Meeting 3
Date: October 1, 2012 The D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), a legislatively appointed body that advised the Mayor and Council of the District of Columbia concerning bicycling issues, would like to offer recommendations and comments regarding the M Street SE - SW Transportation Study public meeting held Thursday, September 13, 2012 at the Amindon-Bowen Elementary School, 401 I (Eye) Street SW Washington, DC 20024. Recommendations
Upon review and discussion of the proposed alternatives, BAC has determined that each of the three M Street planning alternatives is flawed with regard to implementing a fully-realized street that accommodates the needs of all users. While BAC understands that there is limited street space along M Street, we feel that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has not fully evaluated other street configuration alternatives that would enable it to incorporate both bicycles and streetcars.
BAC acknowledges that the alternatives proposed by DDOT are preliminary and therefore lack the detail of an Environmental Impact Study. This document describes some bicycle facilities that DDOT should consider. In addition, as mentioned by some meeting participants, the preliminary alternatives appear to focus on moving automobiles, tour buses and larger vehicles through the area and not focusing on residents or visitors or walk or bike to or within the area. BAC recommendations are as follows: 1. BAC recommends a modified version of Alternative 3, M Street “Mobility Arterial”. Specifically, BAC recognizes the space considerations on M Street SE - SW that limit the safe movement of bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles along this street and through the corridor. Given the planned development along M Street, BAC supports a fully-developed “bicycle boulevard” on Eye Street, which roughly runs parallel to M Street, and enhanced traffic calming along adjacent streets. 2. BAC also recommends a modified version of Alternative 2, “Balanced Linkages”. This alternative would reconfigure the street so that modes would be clustered together 1
bidirectionally, in this case a 2-by-2-by-2 traffic configuration, which will be diagramed below. This alternative would also combine traffic calming enhancements on adjacent streets as described in other alternatives. While the proposed configuration would reduce vehicular traffic and available street parking on M Street, it could potentially enhance the “liveability” of the neighborhood. Observations Modified Alternative 3, M Street “Mobility Arterial” BAC recommends that DDOT modify the proposed alternative to ensure that it enhances bicycle connectivity in the M Street corridor by creating a “bicycle boulevard” on Eye Street consistent with Bicycle Boulevard Design Tools and Guidelines Report1 and incorporating certain practices identified in the ThinkBike Washington, DC Kingdom of the Netherlands Bike/Ped Subcommittee report2. While not optimal, BAC acknowledges that Eye Street, which is approximately two blocks north of M Street, provides the District an opportunity to create a bicycle facility that provides safe access through this neighborhood and could potentially encourage both adults and children in this area to adopt bicycling as a viable transportation alternative.
Bicycle Boulevard, Berkeley CA. Photo by By Payton Chung
According to the City of Berkeley and its Bicycle Boulevard Design Tools and Guidelines Report, a bicycle boulevard is a street where all types of vehicles are allowed, but the roadway is modified as needed to enhance bicycle safety and convenience. Typically these modifications will also calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. With Alternative 3, we recommend that the following bicycle improvements be included on Eye Street SE - SW and discussed in the ThinkBike Report: 1. Limit through-volumes by restricting traffic every 2-3 blocks through the addition of traffic calming pedestrian refuge islands, bike-friendly automobile specific speed bumps and a green
Bicycle Boulevard Design Tools and Guidelines Public Review Draft Report, City of Berkeley, Planning and Development Department Advance Planning Division, April 2000
ThinkBike Washington, DC Kingdom of the Netherlands Bike/Ped Subcommittee report, pgs, 29-49
wave signalization (an intentionally induced phenomenon in which a series of traffic lights (usually three or more) are coordinated to allow continuous traffic flow for bicycles). 2. Option for a bicycle tunnel configuration below South Capitol Street as in crosses Eye Street or some alternative that ensures the safe passages of bicyclists and pedestrians across this intersection. 3. Colored bicycle lanes to enhance visibility. In addition, BAC recommends the following enhancements / considerations to future planning alternatives: 1. BAC requests that DDOT be specific regarding bike parking and other bike-specific infrastructure requirements or concerns within the corridor. 2. Enhanced street lighting in area where lighting is poor. 3. Signage identifying connections to other bicycle routes, connections to points-of-interest on M Street. 4. Clarification of the connections past New Jersey Avenue and Eye Street SE, which is currently a DPW facility. 5. Clarification on proposed modifications to Virginia Avenue SE, which will be reconstructed as part of the CSX freight tunnel project.
The BAC recommends that further development of plans that include integration of the following concepts:
Modified Alternative 2, “Balanced Linkages” The alternative as proposed by DDOT includes a cycle track M Street SE - SW, however, it eliminates streetcars from consideration, placing it on adjacent streets. BAC believes that the adding street cars and other transit options, as well as bicycles, is an integral part of creating fully-functional streets. This alternative is the only alternative that includes parking on M Street. While BAC acknowledges that street parking is important for residents, the District has seen stagnation in new automobile registrations while also seeing an increase in population. BAC recommends a reconfiguration of M Street so that it combines like modes, specifically, a street configuration of 2-by-2-by-2 from 9th SW to South Capitol:
| TP | TP | B | B | M | A | A | A |
B = cycle track (6 ft each direction) TP =transit priority (12 ft each direction) M = Median (4 ft) A = Automobile (10 ft each direction) Total width = 70 ft In this configuration, the middle “A” lane would act as a vehicular turning lane. The total width of the street from 7th Street SW to South Capitol is 80 to 84 feet. Part of the sidewalks could be used as stations for TP lanes, shifting a few feet, the M would be eliminated and the B and A lanes would shift by 6 - 8 feet to accommodate stations on the B sides.
Another configuration allows for the cycle track to be placed between the sidewalk and the transit lane:
| B | B | TP | TP | M | A | A | A |
As illustrated below in Joyride a blog by posted by Mia Birk, a former Portland bike coordinator and founder of Alta Planning + Design3, cycle tracks and stations can exist with widths that allow pedestrian access that complies with Americans with Disability Act requirements.
An improved design takes cyclists around the streetcar platform on SW Moody in Portland, OR. (photo by M. Birk)
M Street narrows to 67 feet between South Capitol and 11th Street. In this section, the vehicle turning lane could be narrowed or eliminated. In addition, if the development planned for M Street can be modified, the setbacks for new building construction in this area could allow for more sidewalk and street space adding room for stations at certain locations. Joyride again illustrates below how cycle tracks and transit lanes could coexist shown on a street that is narrower than M Street:
Bikes & Streetcars – Let’s be Best Friends!, Mia Birk, January 2011
A Portland Street envisioned with streetcar and a two-way cycle-track. (photo by M. Birk)
In this alternative, street parking acts as a buffer between streetcars and a cycle track with a bulbout providing room for a pedestrian crossing and with the removal of some parking, a transit station. Conclusion BAC acknowledges that streets with bikes and street cars can be hazardous. A report by John Hendel for TBD, states that the City of Portland and Alta Planning + Design produced an 2008 report called "Bicycle Interactions and Streetcars: Lessons Learned and Recommendations” which states: "If a bike lane is provided on a street with right-running tracks, bicyclists are still subject to a heightened risk of crashing on tracks because any left turns or evasive maneuvers from the bike lane result in a shallow crossing angle. Analysis of survey crash data indicates that a large percentage of track crashes occur because of bicyclist evasive maneuvers."4 Alta report suggested design elements that reduce the danger of bicycle and street car track interaction that we hope DDOT incorporates into subsequent alternatives5: 1. Streetcar tracks and platforms should be center-running or left-running wherever possible. 2. Bicycle facilities should be separated from streetcar tracks as much as possible by: a. Developing a parallel, excellent bicycle facility. b. Creating high-quality cycle tracks or bicycle lanes adjacent to streetcar tracks. c. Offering 90 degree track crossings whenever possible, by positioning the bike lane or cycle track to cross at 90 degrees; signing and/or marking the best angle for tuning and creating “Melbourne left turn” opportunities (which places the streetcar lane as far as possible to the left of a bike line on a one-way street). 3. Develop a policy framework for future bicycle and streetcar integration, including: a. Policies related to bicycle integration in streetcar planning processes. b. Innovative design guidelines for integrated streetcar and bicycle facilities.
The District isn't quite sure how to balance streetcars and bikes,TBD on Foot, John Hendel, April 2012
Bicycle Interactions and Streetcars: Lessons Learned and Recommendations, Prepared for Lloyd District Transportation Management Association (LDTMA)Prepared by: Alta Planning + Design, October 17, 2008, pg. 10
c. Developing performance measures to evaluate safety. 4. Create supporting programs for education and wayfinding. According to the 2000 Census, nearly 37 percent of District households do not have a car6. Given this data, adding automobile parking and up to three vehicle travel lanes in certain alternatives seems excessive appears to negatively impact a recently introduced goal of the Mayor’s Sustainable DC Initiative, which states that by 2032 “at least 75 percent of all trips originating in the city will be by walking, biking, transit, or other clean transportation alternative”.7 While the alternatives presented by DDOT have potential, BAC hopes that the agency modifies future presentations to reflect goals set forth in the Sustainable DC and other initiatives. A bicycle boulevard on Eye Street or an M Street that incorporates a cycle track and streetcars can contribute to the community we all hope to create. We look forward to working with you. Thank you for considering our recommendations and let us know if you have questions. Sincerely,
Representatives of the District of Columbia Bicycle Advisory Council
cc: Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of the District of Columbia Phil Mendelson, Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia Tommy Wells, Council Member, Ward 6 Mary M. Cheh, Council Member, Ward 3, Chair of Committee on Environment, Public Works and Transportation Terry Bellamy, Director, DDOT James Sebastian, Bicycle Program Manager, DDOT George Branyan, Pedestrian Program Manager, DDOT
List of U.S. cities with most households without a car, Wikipedia, The Carfree Census Database, Bikes At Work
A Vision for a Sustainable DC, Government of the District of Columbia Office of Planning) and the District Department of the Environment, April 2012, pg 5
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