Ensuring Safer, More Effective Cycletracks

Every day in and around the District, tens of thousands of people decide to use a bicycle to get where they need to go. Thousands more decide to join them every year, with the estimated number of DC residents regularly commuting by bike more than tripling since 2000.

In order to provide safe and low-stress routes to get where people need to go, we have installed approximately seven miles of protected bike lane-miles over the past five years. Also known as cycletracks, these routes are designed to help people feel safer and more confident about riding a bike on city streets by putting a physical barrier between cyclists and motor vehicle traffic.

However, illegal unloading, parking and driving in cycletracks have been persistent problems, and undermine their safety and effectiveness. Although we will continue to take enforcement actions and educate the public about the hazards of parking in our bike lanes, we realize that more needs to be done to prevent motor vehicles from impeding cyclists who use our cycletracks.

These are some of the new improvements we’re testing on our cycletracks, which will hopefully make them safer and more inviting for their intended users:

Recycled-rubber curbs will hopefully deter motorists from taking U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack.

Recycled-rubber curbs will hopefully deter motorists from taking U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack.

On Pennsylvania Avenue NW, illegal U-turns by motor vehicles across the cycletrack (which is located in the center of the street) resulted in 11 crashes in the first 15 months of cycletrack operation. A one-block pilot test of “zebra” barriers showed a reduction in U-Turns. Learning from that experience, we will be installing longer, recycled-rubber curbs on both sides of the entire cycletrack, in order to provide a physical barrier to those tempted to make an illegal U-turn.

Green paint and long dividers help protect bicyclists on DDOT's new First Street NE protected bike lane.

Green paint and long, rubber curbs help protect bicyclists on DDOT’s new 1st Street NE protected bike lane.

On the brand-new 1st Street NE cycletrack, we built two blocks using concrete curbs to prevent motor vehicles from entering the cycletrack. In sections where the road is not wide enough to include the beefy concrete curbs, we are supplementing flexible posts with narrow, recycled-rubber curbing. To further emphasize that the cycletrack is for bike traffic only, we have added a coat of slip-resistant green paint along its entire length.

A rendering of the proposed changes to the L Street Cycletrack.

A rendering of the proposed changes to the L Street Cycletrack.

On the L Street Cycletrack, we plan to test narrowing a section (between 20th Street and 22nd Street) from eight to six feet wide, and installing additional barriers to provide smaller gaps to enter. Consistent with the design of the forthcoming M Street Cycletrack, we hope that the narrower width will reduce the ability and temptation for drivers to illegally enter the cycletrack. If successful, we will then narrow the remaining bicycle-exclusive sections of the cycletrack.

Cycletracks are new, so continuing education and modifying behavior remains important as well. However, none of these measures are necessarily the final answer to ensuring that our cycletracks are safe, clear and inviting places to ride a bike.

That’s why we’ll remain vigilant and flexible about the measures we take to improve our cycletracks. We will be monitoring illegal U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, illegal parking on 1st Street NE and L Street NW and crash reports on all three routes. We will continue to participate in cutting-edge research on cycletrack design and operation, such as the forthcoming Green Lane Project cycletrack evaluation research. We will also continue incorporating what we learn to improve existing cycletracks and the ones that we hope to build in the future.

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DDOT and D.C. Students Celebrate Third Annual National Bike to School Day

Safety first! A student participant in National Bike to School Day gets their helmet adjusted at DDOT's kick off at Lincoln Park.

Safety first! A student participant in National Bike to School Day gets their helmet adjusted at DDOT’s kick off at Lincoln Park.

Students and families in the District joined communities across the country to celebrate the third annual National Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014. Schools, bicycle advocacy groups, public health organizations, students and parents organized bike rides and bike trains to school to highlight and celebrate the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school.

At Lincoln Park, United States Department of Transportation Acting Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez joined about 200 hundred students from 12 Capitol Hill area schools to celebrate the third annual National Bike to School Day. The event was organized by the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). Special guests were present from a number of national partners, including the National Center for Safe Routes to School, Safe Kids Worldwide, and The Safe Routes to School National Partnership. Students left the school in groups, breaking through “Bike to School Day” banners on their way to school.

In all, 18 District schools officially participated in Bike to School Day today, and the total number of participating schools is expected to grow throughout May, which is National Bike Month.

A sign in sheet at School-Within-School (920 F Street NW) to count Bike to School Day participation for the Golden Bicycle Competition.

A sign in sheet at School-Within-School (920 F Street NW) to count Bike to School Day participation for the Golden Bicycle Competition.

District schools are competing for the DDOT Golden Bicycle Award, which will be awarded to the school that had the highest percentage of students who biked to school today.

Bike to School events are being held nationwide today and throughout the month of May. To browse the names and locations of registered events, visit http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-biking/2014. 

DDOT’s Safe Routes to School Program

Walking and biking to school mean healthier children and less traffic. DDOT’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program works to make it safer and more convenient and fun to get to school on foot or by bicycle. SRTS is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

 

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DDOT Encourages Families and Schools to Participate in National Bike to School Day on May 7, 2014

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The 3rd Annual National Bike to School Day is quickly approaching. Held on May 7, this one-day event highlights and celebrates the benefits of choosing student-powered transportation to school.

To support schools holding National Bike to School Day events, DDOT is offering the following:

  • Temporary Tattoos for schools to hand out to Bike to School Day participants. To receive temporary tattoos, register your school’s Bike to School Day event at walkbiketoschool.org by May 2nd. Registered schools also have the chance to win prizes from the National Center for Safe Routes to School, including ten bikes and twenty bike helmets. Looking for ideas for your school’s event? Try here.
Key Elementary School proudly displays the Golden Bicycle it won in 2012.

Key Elementary School proudly displays the Golden Bicycle it won in 2012.

  • The Golden Bicycle Competition: For the third year in a row, DDOT is pleased to sponsor the Golden Bicycle Competition. The school with the highest percentage of kids who arrive to school on bikes, scooters and skates will win the Golden Bicycle Award to display until next year’s Bike to School Day. To participate, please report the number of students who rode bikes, scooters, skates or skateboards on Bike to School Day to DDOT’s Jennifer Hefferan (Jennifer.Hefferan@dc.gov) by the end of the day on May 9. While DDOT encourages walking to school on National Bike to School Day, only students on bikes, scooters or skates can be counted for this particular contest.
  • Bike to School with a Bike Ambassador: DDOT offers a limited number of Bike Ambassadors to accompany groups of students biking to school on Bike to School Day. The Ambassadors are knowledgeable in bike safety, and will bike with your students and model safe bicycling skills. If interested, contact Jennifer Hefferan at Jennifer.Hefferan@dc.gov.

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DDOT’s Ward 8 Project Update Presentation

PTSA Associate Director Carl Jackson answers DC Streetcar questions; Supervisory Civil Engineer Keith Foxx talks about efforts to reconstruct Southern Avenue.

PTSA Associate Director Carl Jackson answers DC Streetcar questions; Program Manager Keith Foxx talks about efforts to reconstruct Southern Avenue.

The expansion of DC Streetcar in Anacostia was the first order of business at DDOT’s Ward 8 Project Update presentation on March 26.

Two potential routes (that is, build alternatives) for the future Anacostia Streetcar Extension were discussed at the meeting.  One route (Alternative 4) would run on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and be a high-profile addition to the street’s commercial corridor. The less costly of the two options (Alternative 9) would utilize existing railroad tracks and have less of an effect on on-street parking.

Either of these alternatives would serve to augment the Anacostia Initial Line, bringing the streetcar line to the foot of the 11th Street Bridge and providing Ward 8 residents, federal and local employees and businesses with a modern, reliable and environmentally-friendly transit service.

DDOT officials also took some time to update attendees about two other high-profile projects in the area: the 11th Street Bridge project–which began featuring a new, inbound ramp on I-695 (Southeast / Southwest Freeway) earlier this month–and the South Capitol Street Corridor project, which includes the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

For more information on these projects, and other DDOT initiatives to improve Ward 8–including the St. Elizabeths East Campus, Oxon Run Trail, and Southern Avenue projects–please see the slideshow, fact sheets and Q & A pages from the presentation.

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Potholes, Explained

Pothole 101 – Introduction to Potholes and Traditional Pothole-Filling Techniques

Introduction to potholes and pothole-filling techniques. Topics include an introduction on how potholes are formed and a tutorial on how potholes are treated by trained District Department of Transportation (DDOT) professionals, including an overview of the various compounds DDOT uses to fill potholes.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

pot•hole n. 1. Holes in the roadway that appear after water infiltrates, and then expands and contracts, underneath the surface. This process weakens the surface material (for example, asphalt), which is further deteriorated as vehicles pass over it. Potholes appear in periods when there are frequent oscillations between below- and above-freezing temperatures.

Traditional Pothole-Filling Techniques

    • Cold Mix Asphalt: Cold mix asphalt is a type of material that is used to patch potholes when roadway temperatures are consistently below 32°F. While this material is more malleable that hot mix asphalt (discussed below), it is also more susceptible to deterioration than its hot-mix counterpart.
    • Hot Mix Asphalt: Hot mix asphalt is the “preferred alternative for patching operations” according to Federal Highway Administration Report No. FHWA-RD-99-168. Because of its composition, hot mix asphalt has more viscosity than cold mix asphalt and settles, or cures, faster as well. However, it can only be applied in a climate where roadway temperatures are at 40°F and rising.

Using cold mix asphalt to fill potholes on Rhode Island Avenue NE.

Due to consistently low temperatures, DDOT is currently utilizing cold mix asphalt to fill potholes around the District. In addition to low temperatures, the agency is also limited by precipitation and cannot fill potholes in the rain or the snow. DDOT crews have patched more than 19,000 potholes as of March 31, a figure that industry professionals think will steadily grow in the days leading up to the start of the agency’s 2014 Potholepalooza campaign.

 

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DDOT’s Ward 7 Project Update Presentation

DDOT's Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson, Director Terry Bellamy and UFA Associate Director John Thomas answer questions from the Ward 7 community after a meeting on March 6.

DDOT’s Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson, Director Terry Bellamy and UFA Associate Director John Thomas answer questions from the Ward 7 community after a meeting on March 6.

The night before DDOT met a major milestone in its 11th Street Bridge project by opening a new, inbound ramp on I-695 (Southeast / Southwest Freeway) the agency provided updates on the project and an assortment of other initiatives that it hopes will have a positive impact on the Ward 7 community.

Hosted at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church on March 6, the presentation allowed DDOT an opportunity to showcase the many projects that it is actively moving down the pipeline in Ward 7, including an effort to improve traffic safety and traffic flow at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, a project to upgrade Minnesota Avenue from A Street SE to Dix Street NE, the agency’s Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study and an ambitious initiative to enhance the traffic signals at more than 200 intersections in Wards 6, 7 and 8.

An attendee reads up on the agency's Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study.

An attendee reads up on the agency’s Barney Circle / Southeast Boulevard Transportation Study.

In addition to detailing these and other projects, DDOT walked residents through the often involving process that it has to go through to bring each and every one of its large-scale initiatives to life.

The first-and foremost-step in this process is reaching out to the affected community for their thoughts about a project. This phase, as well as all the other steps that DDOT undergoes before it starts construction, “are key so that we can ensure that these undertakings—as well as everything else we do—are done correctly and that they meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia,” said Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

Community involvement and other steps that DDOT goes through in the course of a project are "key...to meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia," said DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

Community involvement and the other steps that DDOT goes through in the course of a project are “key…to meet the needs of the people who we serve: the residents of the District of Columbia,” said DDOT Chief Engineer Nick Nicholson.

For more information about the DDOT’s Ward 7 Project Update Presentation, please see the slideshow and the agenda from the presentation.

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DDOT Issues More Than 100K Visitor Parking Passes

parking pass

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) mailed out more than 111,000 new visitor parking passes through late November. The new passes are valid through September 30, 2014.

The Visitor Parking Pass (VPP) program is designed to allow guests of District residents to park for more than two hours on Residential Permit Parking (RPP) blocks.  The passes are only valid during the hours of RPP enforcement and are not necessary on holidays or other times when parking restrictions are not subject to enforcement.

Visitor passes were issued to residents in Wards 1, 3, 4, 5 and some parts of Ward 6.

If you reside in one of these areas and did not receive a VPP—or live on an eligible RPP block—please visit vpp.ddot.dc.gov to request a pass. You may also request a VPP by calling (202) 673-6813 between 8:15 am and 4:45 pm, Monday through Friday, to speak with a DDOT representative. If you are eligible, DDOT will mail a pass to your address.

Eligible residents that previously requested a VPP will receive a pass in the mail.

Please note that residents are also able to obtain temporary parking passes from Metropolitan Police Department stations for eligible vehicles.

More information about the Visitor Parking Pass program is available online at ddot.dc.gov/vpp.

Please Note: District residents who receive the passes cannot use them in lieu of registering their vehicles with the District Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  If residents receiving passes have guests that stay overnight regularly, then the visitor must register their vehicle through the Registration of Out of State Automobile (ROSA) program once a Warning Citation is issued by DPW parking enforcement personnel.

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