September 10, 2012

Tales from the Seychelles

Land Ho! Land Ho!

Feels great to step foot on solid ground after spending 6 weeks straight at sea. Even if it's wet and raining part of the time here. It's what happens when one is in the tropics.

Pulled into port on Sunday, though. This place is dead on Sunday. Emptier than an out-of-service WMATA train. And only a few places open...most of which are along the beach at the hotels or casino. Good luck if you're near the port and need something on Sunday.

Mahe Island is tiny, relatively speaking, which is saying a lot since it's the largest of the Seychelles islands. The whole country has only 84,000 people, most of them on this island, which is maybe 15 miles long and 3 miles wide at the widest. But it's very hilly. Some steep rockfaces and a peak over 2,000ft high.

Very tourist-oriented (Sundays notwithsanding). Several hotels and resorts along the beaches. They get a lot of cruise ships during the tourist season (which thankfully for us hasn't started yet...we'd be anchored out instead of pierside otherwise).

A couple more days here...overnighting at one of the hotels. A real bed and real shower will be awesome compared to the ship, even if only for one night. If only the internet wasn't so expensive here...

It's a ship! And dry land!

July 28, 2012

More Tales From The Sand

The ship is coming to collect me today, so this may be it until the next port visit. It's been a fascinating, if hot and dusty, time here in Djibouti. Plenty of stuff on base to occupy one's time if they know where to look.

That said, it's still hot. It hit 112F yesterday. That's the temp, not the heat index. The heat index was much higher. Even though it's the desert, we're close to the water so there's still some humidity. No, I didn't try to fry an egg, cause there's no blacktop to fry an egg on.

And it's dusty too. Especially today. Wind kicked up early this morning off the desert so there's this hazy dusty pall over the sky today. And dust everywhere. Someone who's an OCD cleaner would have a heart attack in this place.

Forgot to mention before that there's NO overhead wires here. Everything electrical is underground. Since everyone's walking everywhere, it helps, but it's got a bit of an urbanist ring to it.

That's all from Djibouti. Our next installment will come whenever and wherever the powers that be allow it. Gotta love workin for the man every night and day...

July 27, 2012

A Sad State of Bollards

A couple months ago, cyclists along the Mount Vernon Trail in Alexandria noticed something disturbing beginning to happen. VDOT was starting to install bollards along the trail in the vicinity of the Wilson Bridge. First reported by Rootchopper (a regular bike commuter along the trail), these bollards have also been discussed on WashCycle and WABA.

And it's a mess. Besides being hard concrete (making them painful to run into), they considerably narrow the trail lanes, making it difficult to pass through at a normal rate of speed and VERY difficult for bikes hauling a trailer (i.e. a child trailer) or wide wheelchairs to pass through.

Bollards galore.

The bollards in this photo are at the bottom of the hill as one follows the MVT down from the Washington St Bridge Deck. With the downhill grade, cyclists are approaching these bollards at a higher-than-normal rate of speed, making it difficult to slow down and all but guaranteeing significant injury if they were to hit them. Furthermore, there is a curbed area of rocks just beyond the bollards on the left, an additional hazard in this area.

Who installed these and why was at one point a good question. At first it was hard to get clear information on who was responsible. NPS first said VDOT, since it's part of the Wilson Bridge project. Then VDOT said it was NPS, since Jones Point Park is under their jurisdiction. This tug of war lasted until WashCycle regular TurbineBlade (coincidentally a former neighbor of mine) received a letter from VDOT confirming that they were responsible for installation. The letter noted that because the bridge is considered "Critical Infrastructure", additional measures to prevent a terrorist attack were mandated by TSA/Homeland Security. The bike trail bollards are part of those additional measures. That it's VDOT's responsibility was also confirmed in a tweet to me by NPS.

This hasn't sat well with bicyclists and cycling advocates. A meeting at the site was coordinated recently between WABA, the Alexandria Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, VDOT, and Federal officials, discussed in WABA's blog post linked above. Officials acknowledged the bicycle safety concerns of the bollards but insisted that the bollards must remain and it's too late to make major changes. Instead, VDOT's response to the meeting was to add the plastic bollards on either side, additional striping through the bollards, and the warning signs that are still too close to the bollards:

VDOT's "solution".

While the threat of terrorists doing something to the bridge is understandable, the response from Federal and state officials is very excessive compared to the safety concerns the bollards and curbed rock area present to everyday users. In short, officials are sacrificing everyday safety to guard against what is really a very unlikely threat. If Homeland Security and VDOT insist on keeping the bollards, what they need to do is widen the space between bollards so there's less risk of bicyclists crashing into them. The rock curb area also needs to be reduced in size, something that VDOT has agreed to consider.

Second set of bollards on the MVT, north of the Wilson Bridge.

A third set of bollards exists on the connection to Royal St.

I have a full photo set from my "trip to the bollards" on Flickr. All the photos I used in this article are from that photo set.

July 26, 2012

Tales From The Sand

In the grand tradition of Tales From The Sharrows, it is my honor to bring you this unofficial subsidiary post. Perhaps it's the heat getting to me, or something about all this dust and sand, but here it is.

Nominally, this is a US Navy "Expeditionary Base", but there are so many other people from all the services, plus lots of contractors, that you really can't call it just a Navy base. Yeah, it's near the water, but not ON the water. It is, however, near the close you can smell the helicopters taking off and landing.

Security is pretty lengthy to get into base, as one can expect given this part of the world, not to mention that Somalia (in all its lawless glory) is almost within spitting distance. But once you're on base, you have just about everything you need here. Mess hall, showers, gym, coffee shop (open 24/7 at that). And an Exchange if you need to buy toiletries because the airline lost one of your bags (since recovered, but not until after spending $33 on "essentials").

There's even a suburb....Cluville. Dunno if that's because of all the clues to where people live here, or some super-secret Certified Likeness Unit project, but Cluville has a laundry shop, a mini-mart, and the MWR Internet center. It's also probably the only suburb in the world where you can get DC-style population density with a FAR less than 0.5.

BTW, it's dusty here. Photo by US Army Africa.

The living units aren't too bad. On the outside, they look like cargo containers, but inside there's enough room for 2 beds (or if you're an unlucky low-ranking junior sailor/soldier/airman/marine, 3 beds), adequate air conditioning, and some lights and lockers.

It's also one of the few places in the world where you'll see more pavement for pedestrians than you will for vehicles. Virtually every road/driving space on base is gravel. And we have 2 bus routes: the Blue Route and the Red Route. They look to be 15-20 passenger "mini-buses", but if you like vehicles it's your best chance for a ride since there are almost no private cars on base.

This being the desert, it's pretty dry. Except last night. It rained. A whole half-inch. But it was enough to turn dust into mud that lasted into this morning. I heard this was only the 3rd time it's rained this year.

It sorta looked like this. Photo by Flickr user strukanb.

It was also a brief respite from the 108F temperature we had yesterday. Think we only hit 107F's a cooldown!

Signing off. Here for another day or so before I catch a ship to go bust some pirates. I wonder if it's dusty out there too?

Did I mention it's dusty here? U.S. Air Force photo.

A thought on bus shoulder lanes...

Last week, BeyondDC had a short piece on the potential for expanded bus shoulder use in the DC area. The area's Transportation Planning Board is asking for a working group to study the concept.

I'm sure BDC is aware of this, so I'm surprised he didn't mention it, but the Twin Cities metro area has a very extensive system of bus-allowed shoulders, where buses can use the shoulder during times of congested traffic. This is supported by state law, which governs the use and speed limits of bus shoulder use (namely a 35 MPH speed limit, but still faster than traffic going 10-15). MnDOT has been very supportive, and has undergone a program of shoulder improvements and minor shoulder widening to better handle the buses using the pavement. This improvement program isn't just for the freeways...several at-grade arterials have had their shoulders improved for bus use. These improvements helped out what was already a successful express bus system in the Twin Cities metro...the I-35W South (i.e. south of downtown Minneapolis) express buses alone carry 15,000 passengers a day.

Bus using the shoulder during heavy traffic. Image from Metro Transit.

MnDOT has also recently started implementing what they call a "Dynamic Shoulder Lane" on I-35W. They got the idea for the concept from VDOT and what they do on I-66. In their test case (which got UPA money a few years back from the Feds), the inside shoulder on northbound I-35W near downtown was reconstructed and upgraded...during normal times, it's basically a shoulder. During peak hours, it's basically a HO/T lane. Buses and HOVs can use for free, and solo drivers can pay to use if they have a transponder.

Unfortunately, most of the congested freeway segments in the DC area lack an inside shoulder, so similar application in DC may be limited. However, if VDOT can find a way to fully reconstruct I-66 between Fair Oaks and the Beltway (as they should've done 20 years ago), they could limit the major reconstruction to that segment and convert the wide inside shoulder west of Fair Oaks into a dynamic HOV or HO/T lane. This would allow for not just 1 but 2 HOV (or HO/T) lanes on I-66 in the peak direction between the Beltway and Gainesville (assuming the Fair Oaks-Beltway reconstruction allowed for 2 HOV lanes). The potential issue here would be enforcement, since I-66's HOV lanes are already heavily violated. But at the same time, MnDOT found that HOV violations on their I-394 and I-35W lanes dropped in half when they converted the lanes to HO/T lanes.

It's a concept that the DC area would do well to consider and implement.

June 17, 2012

An Eastern Shore ride

Since I'm about to get underway for awhile, I took advantage of the very awesome (albeit windy) weather yesterday to head up to the Eastern Shore for some biking. I'd noticed on my transfer down that there's a new bike trail near the southern tip of the shore. Indeed, last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service built a 2.5 mile bike/hike trail from their Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge north along the old Cape Charles Railroad. It's the start of what some hope to be a longer path connecting to Cheriton, although the farmers along the route are not happy about it.

From the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (just off SR 600 near US 13), I followed the trail north to its end at Cedar Grove Dr (SR 645), then hopped over to Seaside Rd (SR 600) and up to Sunnyside Rd (SR 639) and over to the hamlet of Oyster, VA where I found a local beekeeper selling honey.

From Oyster, it was a straight shot back on Sunnyside Rd to the town of Cheriton. I only briefly brushed Cheriton before I moseyed my way back to Seaside Rd and back south to the Refuge and my car.

All in all, it was just under 28 miles with beautiful weather but a bit of wind, especially heading north.

Photos from the day are on my Flickr page.

June 13, 2012

#BikeNorfolk Begins

I've just finished my first week back in Norfolk. I was able to get out on the bike 5 out of the 7 days (technically 6 if you include spending Saturday in DC), and thus officially begin what I'm calling #BikeNorfolk. I'll be using that hashtag on Twitter to record my bike travels in the city. Hopefully others will pick up on it.

I will admit, after a 7 year hiatus, I was impressed with the level of bicycling I've seen so far, especially in and around the Navy Base, Ghent, and the Freemason District. And it's not just those biking for training/exercise. Many folks, including women (I'd guess 35% of the total) and families with children are hitting the bike for small, local trips. This is all the more impressive because Norfolk has an acute lack of bicycle infrastructure. Individual, isolated sections of bike lane exist here and there, but they're very scattered and there is no connectivity between them.

There's also a small, but obviously growing, number of sailors who are using bikes to get around the Norfolk Navy Base. I was down by one of the ship piers yesterday and the one bike rack next to the pier gate was absolutely overflowing with bicycles (a few were "double-parked"). The lack of available rack space led several to lock their bikes up to a fence across the street.

Early on, I timed some of my trips to see how long it'd take me to get to various locations nearby. A sampling of those:

- Harris Teeter: 8 minutes
- Farm Fresh (a local supermarket chain): 11 minutes
- An awesome gelato shop that just opened in Ghent: 10 minutes
- A good DC friend who also transferred down to Norfolk and lives in Ghent: 9 minutes
- MacArthur Center, a shopping mall that some credit with saving downtown Norfolk: 4 minutes
- Freemason Abbey, an awesome restaurant downtown located in a converted church: 2 minutes (almost takes longer to lock the bike up).

With where I'm at and the relative proximity to many shops, it's often quicker to bike than to drive and attempt to park. While my complex has its own parking garage (only shared with the YMCA next door), it takes approximately 5 minutes for me to walk across the street, get up to my car (residents have to park on the upper floors...the lower floors are reserved for the YMCA), and drive down and out of the garage. Conversely, I can be out on the street with my bike in less than 30 seconds. That's a 4+ minute advantage to the bike over the car.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to bike commute yet. I made the attempt yesterday, only to realize that I can't fit what I need to bring into my backpack. I'll either have to pre-stage a uniform at the office, or acquire some panners and/or a trunk bag to go on the back rack. The plan is to do so once I'm back from a short sea trip next month.

With Norfolk's Harborfest/OpSail 2012 celebration that went on this past weekend, it was the perfect opportunity for a short bike trip around the waterside. You never know what you'll come across, whether it be other bikes...

Penny Farthing, anyone?

Or other sailors...

Manning the watch

Or even other ships.

The "new" Age of Sail

Sometimes you meet other people...

Musicians on the Green

And sometimes you just want to sit and play.

Making beautiful music

Lastly, does anyone know what an all-red bike signifies?

Don't think it's a Ghost Bike...

June 07, 2012

A new name, a new place

My long-awaited move to Norfolk has finally come and gone. I packed up what was left of my stuff in the car last week and bid adieu to Huntington and the DC area.

Bye-bye Beltway.

And so "Just Down The Parkway" has become "Just Down The Bay", where I'll continue to chronicle transportation and my bicycling adventures from Norfolk. Speaking of Norfolk, I found a place where The Tide LRT is literally right outside my window:

May 25, 2012

Froggie's #FridayCoffeeClub Finale

As most of you may know, I'm transferring from DC this upcoming week. Wasn't expecting to get a 4-day weekend at first, but my CO granted us today off. So I took advantage of it to hit up my last #FridayCoffeeClub. And yes, this was really my last #FridayCoffeeClub.

For those who don't know, #FridayCoffeeClub is an informal gathering of many of the bike DC crowd at M.E. Swing (a coffee roaster) at 17th and G NW. They meet up for morning coffee every Friday morning. It was initially (and still largely is) organized over Twitter...that's how I heard about it. The main "organizers" are Ed (@dailyrandonneur) and Mary (@gypsybug). Other notable DC bicyclists who regularly stop off are Brian (@SharrowsDC), John (@rootchopper) and Kate (@girlonabikedc). Of course, there are numerous others on Twitter who show up...too many to include here.

A little misty on the ride up, but it was relatively quiet, even on Washington St in Old Town. Noticed bollards at the bottom of the Wilson Bridge for the MVT (more on those later), and of course there are those bicyclists who don't bother stopping for red lights (a particular pet peeve of the rest of us a bad name), but all in all a quiet ride up.

Today was perhaps the largest gathering thus far...well over 20 folks stopped by (I lost count). It got to the point where bikes were "double-parked" along the side of the building and even parking across G Street, which led to various comments about adding bike racks or a "bike performance parking district".

Afterwards, after breakfast with a friend, and realizing I forgot my water bottle at Swing (to which I'm grateful to Brian for handing it to the barista for me to retrieve), I rode down to Pentagon via Memorial Bridge and the "path" along Route 27. Though drivers stopped for me at the ramps from GW Pkwy so I could cross, this whole area would still be a lot easier for bikes and drivers if the crossings were grade separated.

The whoe morning was a little bittersweet for me. This is a great group of DC area cyclists, some coming from as far as the Mt. Vernon area, and the coffee's pretty good too. It's definitely something I'm going to miss. Going to an area where bicylcing is *A LOT* less prevalent is going to be a challenge.

May 03, 2012

Old Town Bike Parking

Dear Alexandria,

Since you took out the parking meters in Old Town several months ago for the new multispace meters, there are a lot fewer places to lock one's bike up to along King Street. Can you fix this?


March 26, 2012

Bike commuting while I still can

It's been a busy month. Between college classes, my temporary duty at the Pentagon, and my impending transfer to Norfolk, I haven't had much time for blogging.

But one thing I have been able to do is bike commute, especially over the last two weeks. 7 out of 10 commutes during those two weeks were bike commutes. I was also able to get a few bike commutes in during the previous weeks. And my schedule enabled me to make a few Friday Coffee Club gatherings with the BikeDC crowd.

This week, however, is my last week at the Pentagon. Which means it's my last week for easy bike commuting.

There have definitely been some advantages to the bike commute. First and foremost, it's exercise (all important to the active duty military member). Second, the cost is practically zero...always a plus with gas prices near $4/gallon and a peak-of-the-peak Metrorail fare of $3.05. Commuting time is comparable to the 9A bus (without having to deal with a 30-minute headway) or the off-peak Metrorail commute (my apartment's Metro shuutle doesn't run off-peak). And I was also able to park the bike closer to the office than both the Metro station and car parking.

Between roadtrips and the Suitland commute, I normally average about 2,000 miles a month on my car. Over this past month, though, I've barely put 300 miles on. While the lack of roadtrips accounts for some of that, at least 500 miles of the difference can be attributed to not using the car for commuting.

One thing I've noticed with my bike commuting is an increase in appetite. Unfortunately, instead of holding my food intake steady, I started eating more. So I haven't really lost any weight.

The overall experience is such that, when I transfer to Norfolk in 2 months, I'm going to look for a place to live that gives me the opportunity to bike into the Navy base. Until then, I have 2 more bike commutes to look forward to this week.

February 27, 2012

No bike commute this week

But what I didn't mention before is I snuck one in last week on Wednesday (bike commute #3). At least a partial involved biking to Braddock Rd Metro on the way in and to Crystal City Metro on the way home. So I guess you could say it was a multi-modal commute.

This week is the one that'll lack a bike commute. In part because I have to stage the car in Suitland tomorrow for a medical appointment, and then I'm part of a retirement ceremony for a fellow sailor on Thursday. So that takes out the two days I'd normally bike commute.

Good news is that next week presents several "late night commute" opportunities. And I might even make #fridaycoffeeclub next week.

February 18, 2012

Bike Commute #2

Yesterday was nice enough (sans fog in the morning), plus it was a short day for us (4 hour shifts instead of the usual 8), so I tried bike commute #2. Route wasn't much different than before, except that I used Crystal Dr to 12th St to Old Jeff Davis Hwy to Boundary Channel Dr.

Given my experience yesterday, it's looking like 40-45 minutes will be the standard for the bike commute time. I'm thinking the 38-minute inbound trip for bike commute #1 was a fluke...likely due to the moderate tailwind I had that morning.

Crystal Drive could stand to see a new layer of pavement, especially north of 26th St. Old Jeff Davis Hwy had REALLY bad pavement, though I imagine this street is a low priority for Arlington. In additon, there's some construction near the south end of the new Long Bridge Park that has the road all tore up.

I've learned that going north through Crystal City is fairly easy. The problem is heading back south...there's no good way to do it. Clark St is the nominal way, but has poor pavement, a hill to climb the overpass at 18th St, and interconnected signals with adjacent Route 1 that are all a mess. The best I've come up with requires sidewalk riding in two spots on Crystal Drive: at 15th St, then again from 23rd down to Potomac Ave.

No bike commutes next week. I have company in town. Anticipating my next one on the 28th.

February 15, 2012

Bike Commute Follow-up

Wind makes a difference. A big difference. While they were light on my bike commute into the Pentagon yesterday morning, they increased noticeably by afternoon. Based on observations from National Airport, they were gusting above 20 by the time I left to head home. And it had an took me over 45 minutes to get home, fighting that headwind the entire way home.

February 14, 2012

Froggie's First Bike Commute

Last week, I had a bit of a change in workplace...I'm now working at the Pentagon on a temporary duty assignment (Navy calls it TAD, Army/Air Force calls it TDY). By far the biggest change that's occurred with the office shift is the commute. Instead of my old Suitland commute where my choices were a 25min drive or a 1h10m Metrorail ride, I have many more options for commuting to the Pentagon. It's a simpler Metrorail commute (7 stops on the Yellow Line). Or I could take the 9A Metrobus, which stops right in front of my apartment. Or I could continue driving...albeit with the peak-flow and with parking a dicey and/or expensive proposition. Or I could bike.

Now that I have my permanent badge, I thought I'd try my inaugural bicycle commute this morning. It's the first bike commute I've had since high school...about 18 years! Between it being my first bike commute in forever plus the nature of my new office location, some pre-planning/preparation was in order.

First up was a trip to BicycleSPACE so I could pick up a couple more lights and a reflective vest...this being because some of my commutes (for the next couple months) will be in the dark. I also needed to know where available bicycle racks are at the Pentagon, since bikes are not allowed inside the building. According to this interesting Army Pentagon guide (which appears to have been partially written by a bicyclist), there are about 30 bicycle racks near the northeast corner, another 30 near the southwest corner, and about a half-dozen along the side of the mall on the north side. I selected the parking area near the northeast corner as my target.

This morning was cool, but not horrible, so I dressed accordingly (1 layer on the legs, 2 on the torso...I overheat easily), grabbed the bike lights and vest, and headed out around 5:50am. My route north began by crossing over to Washington St then up through Old Town. I've gone through Old Town countless times, but almost always on Washington St. Today's the first time I headed north with the intention being to cross the Monroe Ave Bridge, which I did by mostly taking Columbus St and Alfred St. Aside from one driver who didn't realize I had right-of-way at an all-way stop, the ride up to and through Old Town was uneventful.

Across the Monroe Ave Bridge, I opted for Potomac Avenue. Potomac Ave is a new 4-lane divided street built to service upcoming development at Potomac Yard, and it also has a parallel bike/ped path. Though I wouldn't quite say that it's "pool table flat", the small hills are very manageable and it's definitely flatter than the nearby Mount Vernon Trail. It's nice, smooth, and above-all quiet. While dozens of cars were plying the northbound lanes of the parallel Route 1, I only had 5 cars pass me on Potomac Ave.

To get through Crystal City, I opted for Crystal Drive to 18th St to Eads St. Crystal Drive isn't too has a bike lane except for the section immediately underneath Route 233 (National Airport connector). 18th St has an underpass at Route 1 so one doesn't have to cross Route 1 at-grade. Eads St was a bit could stand to have a repaving. But the nice thing about Eads St is it brings one right into the south parking lot area at the Pentagon.

Getting to the bike racks from the south parking lot was...interesting. It involves a couple turns, and the gateguard looked like he wasn't sure what to think, but he allowed me through. I found the bike parking easily looks like there were originally a small number of old-style bike racks with the slots for putting your tire through. These have since been considerably expanded by newer racks of the same type. I got in just before 6:30am.

So my bike commute wound up being about the same as the bus commute and a few minutes longer than the shuttle/Metrorail commute. But there are several advantages to the bike commute: I get exercise, I can park the bike closer to my office than the metro entrance is, I don't have to pay Metrobus or Metrorail fare, and I'm not waiting up to 30 minutes for the 9A bus or up to 15 minutes for my apartment's Metro shuttle. About the only real disadvantage is that the bike parking isn't covered and is exposed to the elements. The earlier Army website suggests that covered parking used to exist, but no longer does.

Future routing tweaks are possible, and there may be days where I want a leisurely ride home anyway. Besides the Mount Vernon Trail, I could also pass by Long Bridge Park, or head down Commonwealth Ave and Mt Vernon Ave through Del Ray. But I'm thinking something close to my current route is going to be my shortest/fastest commuting route.

Weather-permitting, I'm planning on bike-commuting twice a week. I'd do additional days, but we do Physical Training 3 times a week at the office and I don't want to over-do it, at least not at first. Once I get into a groove (plus in better shape), I might revise this and bike more often. And for those days where the weather's bad, I have both a Metrorail and a bus option. All-in-all, it's a commuting win.

February 06, 2012

Musings from an NPS visit

Tonight's MVCCA Transportation Committee meeting featured visitors from the National Park Service and US Park Police regarding the George Washington Parkway. What followed was a quick Q-and-A, mostly related to the section south of Old Town Alexandria which our committee represents. Here's a quick recap of the comments:

  • Numerous complaints about increased traffic in BOTH directions of the Parkway during rush hour with BRAC and the new hospital at Ft Belvoir cited as the cause. Excessive speeding by traffic was also mentioned.
  • Because of the traffic, it's very difficult for drivers to turn out onto the Parkway during rush hour, especially for those turning left. Nevermind the issues that cyclists and pedestrians face trying to cross the Parkway.
  • On that note, NPS has no current plans to improve bike/ped access to the MVT, though they had considered intersection improvements at Belle Haven Rd at one point. This is problematic since, between the south end of Old Town and the "Stone Bridge" at Alexandria Ave (a little over 3 miles), there is no way for bikes and peds to access the Mount Vernon Trail that doesn't involve hopping a curb and going through grass.
  • The current (acting) NPS Superintendent has no intention of lifting the GW Parkway bicycle ban. The NPS reiterated that the current policy ban was put into place "in the name of safety".
  • When asked about MVT improvements, the rep said that NPS is looking into an "express bike lane" in the Gravelly Point area. This would allow through cyclists to avoid the heavy congregation of pedestrians just east of the parking lot that go there to watch airplanes take off and land at National Airport.
  • US Park Police apparently have data on accidents/crashes that occur on the Mount Vernon Trail proper. They're looking into making that data available to members of the transportation committee.
  • NPS has automated traffic counters at several locations along the parkway and posts aggregate monthly stats on them. The committee asked if they also have hourly counts, which they'll look into. The hourly counts would give a better idea on when the low-traffic times are on the Parkway.

Also mentioned, but not discussed, is a draft resolution offered by WABA and FABB in support of allowing bicycles on the George Washington Parkway. Even though the current NPS Sup has no interest in revising the current ban policy, the committee is willing to entertain the possibility of supporting a partial lifting of the ban during low-traffic times. We'll be discussing the resolution at next month's meeting.

January 11, 2012

Volunteers needed for bike/pedestrian counts in Alexandria

It's that time again! The Alexandria BPAC is asking again for volunteers to help with counting bicycle and pedestrian traffic at select locations across the city. The two dates/times involved are next Thursday the 19th from 5-7pm and Saturday the 21st from Noon-2pm. If interested, please contact Elizabeth Wright (BPAC member): ewright953 (at)

These counts are conducted as part of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, and also help city staff and planners get an idea on bicycle/pedestrian flow, changes in bike/ped flow, and identify areas for potential facility improvements. First-time volunteers must attend a training session (which can be also done over the phone if necessary) and sign a waiver of liability.

I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of volumes we count next week and compare them to previous counts.