ANC Preview: The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data

Photo by randomduck.

The ANC meets next week for its March session. And it will be a star-studded affair. Well…not really “star-studded”, more like “public servant-studded”.

You see, not one, but two councilmembers will be in attendance to discuss a topic that has created a significant degree of whining recently: the Glover Park lane reconfiguration. Ward Three’s Mary Cheh and our own Jack Evans will be there to go through the ritualistic act of listening to angry people stand up and complain about how a few extra seconds of travel time via car through Glover Park is the absolute worst thing to happen to them in their entire lifetime.

The ANC has been incredulous of the changes ever since they were first implemented. Recently, they have been soliciting residents to complain about how the changes have affected them (ostensibly they asked for positive comments too, but who is going to write their commissioner and say “got through a couple blocks in a reasonable amount of time!”?).

To be fair, some have been complaining about the changes before the ANC asked them to complain. But now it appears that the ANC might request the changes be undone simply based upon these anecdotal complaints (to the tune of millions of dollars wasted). The old saying goes, the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Particularly in this case where we can actually gather real data!

Before we stick our noses in another neighborhood (a neighborhood, by the way, that the ANC never thought about for five seconds when negotiating a campus plan that could push more students into Glover Park), we need actual data about how travel times have or haven’t been affected by the changes. GM suspects that they haven’t. Travel speeds probably have, but that was the whole point! You can have cars drive slower for a few blocks and actually not produce longer average travel times simply by reducing the amount of times you’re stuck behind a turning car.

And even if travel times are slightly longer, we’re probably talking about 30-45 seconds or so. If you’re unwilling to give up this tiny amount of time to improve the safety of children and other pedestrians, frankly your anecdotes are worth less than nothing.

Here is the rest of the agenda:

GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E
3265 S Street, NW • Washington, DC 20007
(202) 724-7098anc2e@dc.govwww.anc2e.com
ANC 2E Public Meeting
Monday, March 4, 2013
at 6:30 p.m.

We will be meeting this month at the Georgetown Visitation School, 35th and Volta Place, Heritage Room, first building on left by gatehouse, 2nd floor

Councilmember Jack Evans

Councilmember Mary Cheh

and

DDOT Director Terry Bellamy

have kindly accepted our invitation
to join us at this meeting for a discussion at 6:30 p.m. of the effects of the Wisconsin Avenue reconfiguration north of Georgetown and Burleith (Calvert to Whitehaven)

Approval of the Agenda

• Approval of March 4, 2013, ANC 2E Public Meeting Agenda

New Business

• Effects of the reconfiguration of traffic lanes on Wisconsin Avenue between Calvert Street and Whitehaven

Administrative

• Approval of February 4, 2013, Meeting Minutes
• Public Safety and Police Report
• Financial Report
• Transportation Report
• DPW Report

Community Comment

New Business

• A proposal by CAG with community input on residential zoning regulations in the Georgetown Historic District
• Possible additional Capital Bikeshare stations planned – 34th & Water Streets and Wisconsin Avenue & O Street
• Rose Park wedding permit
• Nike Women’s Marathon Half – April 2013
• Sprint Four the Cure 5K – September 2013
• Marine Corps Marathon – October 2013
• Red-light cameras on M Street, NW
• Powerhouse, 3255 Grace Street, NW: public event space

ABC

• 3050 K Street, NW, Fiola Mare, ABRA License No. ABRA-091251, Application for liquor license (Petition Date – March 11, Hearing Date – March 25)

Old Georgetown Board

PRIVATE PROJECTS:

1. SMD 02, 1576 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-070 (HPA 13-121) Gas station, Sign scheme for “Shell,” Permit / concept
2. SMD 03, 3407 N Street, NW, OG 13-098 (HPA 13-173) Residence, Rear addition, Permit
3. SMD 03, 1438 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-095 (HPA 13-163) Commercial, Alterations to storefront, Permit
4. SMD 03, 1336 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-041 (HPA 13-067) Commercial, Signage for “GNC,” Permit – revised design
5. SMD 05, 1101 30th Street, NW, OG 13-109 (HPA 13-186) Office building, Alterations for new door within arcade, Permit
6. SMD 05, 3222 M Street, NW, OG 13-117 (HPA 13-194) Commercial, Alterations to façade facing C & O Canal, sign scheme for “Pinstripes,” Concept
7. SMD 05, 3100 Dumbarton Street, NW, OG 13-101 (HPA 13-177) Residence, Addition above garage and swimming pool, Concept
8. SMD 06, 1521 31st Street, NW, OG 13-116 (HPA 13-193) Residence, Replace wood fence at rear, Permit
9. SMD 06, 3026 O Street, NW, OG 13-108 (HPA 13-185) Residence, Rebuild rear two-story porch, Concept
10. SMD 06, 3015 Dumbarton Street, NW, OG 13-111 (HPA 13-188) Residence, One-story addition, window well and re-grading of rear yard, Concept
11. SMD 07, 1815 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-100 (HPA 13-176) Commercial, Sign scheme for “Roosters”, including sign at rear and on vehicular gate, awnings, Permit

No Review At This Time by ANC 2E: The following additional projects, which are on the upcoming March 7, 2013, agenda of the Old Georgetown Board, have not been added to the ANC meeting agenda for OGB-related design review and we do not propose to adopt a resolution on them at this time. If there are concerns about any of these projects, please contact the ANC office by Friday, March 1, 2013.

1. SMD 02, 1607 34th Street, NW, OG 13-110 (HPA 13-187) Residence, One-story rear addition, Concept
2. SMD 02, 1637 34th Street, NW, OG 13-060 (HPA 13-092) Residence, Solar panels, Permit
3. SMD 02, 1718 34th Street, NW, OG 13-024 (HPA 13-044) Residence, Replace rear screen porch with 2-story addition, Concept – revised design
4. SMD 02, 3424 Reservoir Road, NW, OG 13-023 (HPA 13-043) Residence, Replacement windows – existing, Permit – revised design
5. SMD 02, 1742 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-096 (HPA 13-165) Commercial, Awning and sign scheme for “Dalton Pratt” – existing, Permit
6. SMD 03, 1404 35th Street, NW, OG 13-122 (HPA 13-185) Residence, Stucco garage, Permit
7. SMD 03, 3249 N Street, NW, OG 13-106 (HPA 13-183) Residence, Partial enclosure of porch, Permit
8. SMD 03, 3249 N Street, NW, OG 13-097 (HPA 13-174) Residence, Alterations to landscaping, rebuild garden wall, remove pool, Permit
9. SMD 03, 3326 N Street, NW, OG 13-082 (HPA 13-134) Residence, Replacement windows, rear porch, stairs, HVAC, pavers, Permit / concept
10. SMD 03, 3327 N Street, NW, OG 13-102 (HPA 13-178) Residence, Replacement roof, Permit
11. SMD 03, 1424 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-115 (HPA 13-192) Commercial, Alterations to storefront, rebuild rear addition, Permit
12. SMD 05, 3200 M Street, NW, OG 13-093 (HPA 13-147) Commercial, 2 bronze plaques for “Banana Republic,” Permit
13. SMD 05, 3222 M Street, NW, OG 13-080 (HPA 13-132) Commercial, Alterations to storefront, sign scheme for “H&M”, paint first floor façade, Concept
14. SMD 05, 3222 M Street, NW, OG 13-090 (HPA 13-142) Georgetown Park, Sign schemes, Permit
15. SMD 05, 3320 M Street, NW, OG 13-114 (HPA 13-191) Commercial, Sign scheme for “Maxalto” and “Boffi,” Permit – revised design
16. SMD 05, 3401 M Street, NW, OG 13-068 (HPA 13-119) Commercial, Replacement windows, Permit
17. SMD 05, 1211 Potomac Street, NW, OG 13-033 (HPA 13-053) Commercial, Awning and sign for “Luke’s Lobster” – existing, Permit – revised design
18. SMD 05, 3626 Prospect Street, NW, OG 13-105 (HPA 13-182) Residence, Foundation repair work – completed, Permit
19. SMD 05, 3630 Prospect Street, NW, OG 13-107 (HPA 13-184) Residence, Replacement stairs, structural repairs to front façade, Permit
20. SMD 05, 1079 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-113 (HPA 13-190) Commercial, Alterations to storefront, blade sign for “Jack Wills,” Permit
21. SMD 06, 1312 27th Street, NW, OG 13-099 (HPA 13-175) Residence, Replacement windows, Permit/concept
22. SMD 06, 1220 29th Street, NW, OG 13-048 (HPA 13-075) Residence, Replacement windows, Permit
23. SMD 06, 1510 31st Street, NW, OG 13-013 (HPA 13-016) Residence, Addition of second floor, Concept – revised design
24. SMD 06, 3010 O Street, NW, OG 13-085 (HPA 13-137) Residence, Alterations to windows, new window opening, Concept
25. SMD 07, 1645 31st Street, NW, OG 13-112 (HPA 13-189) Residence, Williams-Addison House, also known as Oak Crest and Friendly Estate, Paved terraces, Permit
26. SMD 07, 2519 Q Street, NW, OG 13-118 (HPA 13-195) Residence, Dormer at rear, relocate HVAC to rear yard, Permit
27. SMD 07, 2913 Q Street, NW, OG 13-046 (HPA 13-073) Residence, Relocate roof top mechanical equipment to rear yard, remove roof top ductwork, Permit – revised design
28. SMD 07, 3245 S Street, NW, OG 13-121 (HPA 13-184) Institution, Replacement windows on rear of Guest House, Permit
29. SMD 07, 3019 Dent Place, NW, OG 13-056 (HPA 13-083) Residence, Replace rear screen porch with 2-story addition, Concept – revised design
30. SMD 07, 1673 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 12-345 (HPA 12-579) Commercial, Sign scheme for “Meridian Health & Relaxation,” Permit – revised design options
31. SMD 07, 1825-B Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 13-103 (HPA 13-179) Commercial, Graphics for “Dry Bar” applied to storefront glazing – existing, Permit – revised design
32. SMD 08, 3700 O Street, NW, OG 13-071 (HPA 13-123) Georgetown University – Dahlgren Quadrangle, Site work and lighting, Concept – additional information

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13 Comments

Filed under ANC

13 responses to “ANC Preview: The Plural of Anecdote is Not Data

  1. I take the 31/32/36 bus every day to take my son to preschool in Tenleytown from Georgetown, and I have no idea what people are whining about.

    The time it takes to get through Glover Park is unchanged – at least unchanged by any noticeable amount of a minute or more.

    The bus does move more slowly sometimes but it is never stuck behind cars turning left, so the through time is the same. That’s exactly what DDOT has said would happen in community meetings for the past 4 years.

    I suspect that the whiners are not often pedestrians in Glover Park. If they were, they would be thanking DDOT and the Glover Park ANC for calming traffic so that walking around Glover Park, particularly with little children, isn’t so terrifying.

  2. Q St Neighbor

    It’s only anecdotal, but as a ped the changes have made that stretch so much better that it would be worth it even if it did take every driver 5x longer to move through the area (which I don’t believe is the case).

  3. Agree with Q Street neighbor as to the impact on the pedestrian experience, especially as we’re now walking and crossing with a stroller most days. I’m especially thankful that the turn (or in the previous alignment, “off-ramp” to 35th Street has been narrowed, which both creates a smaller distance for pedestrians to cross and forces turning drivers to reduce their speed and check for pedestrians.

    As far as the driving experience, I don’t spend much time driving through that stretch of Wisconsin (and not during the day on weekdays), but I haven’t noticed a big change in either direction… some days it seems faster than the previous alignment, and some days slower.

  4. Andy2

    Like others have said, it is so much better as a pedestrian.
    Many of the complaints on the GP listserv complain about traffic and not being able to quickly drive from the neighborhood to Wisconsin to go to Ace or Whole Foods. I think this is a success – as Americans we don’t walk enough. Living in GP or Georgetown affords us the luxury to walk to the dry cleaner, pharmacy, grocery, barber…Leave the car at home and enjoy the neighborhood.

    One thing that I think Mary Che and Jack Evans can look into are the complaints about excess Wisconsin Ave traffic funneling to 37th.

  5. RNM

    To sum up GM, the views of anyone who doesn’t agree with his view are worth less than nothing. All said while throwing “for the children” out there as a shield for his never ending war on cars religious zealotry. Sounds reasonable…read sarcasm. I think everyone understands that you want to do anything in your power to slow cars, eliminate cars, denigrate people who drive cars, and on the flip support any idea that is not a car from bikes and trolly to metro and gondolas.

    Anecdotes may not be data, but you know what, they are votes. They are donors. If this world was run on data only…well it would be drastically different. We are a nation that wants Champagne on a beer budget. We don’t make choices based on logic and data. Your choice is not based on logic or data, it is based on belief that minor pedestrian improvements and anti car/bus choices are inherently better…and maybe they are for what you want but I don’t remember seeing your name on the ballot for emperor or even mayor. So guess it is up to you to battle for your elitist views…but hey isn’t that what this whole blog is about from the right kind of stores to the right kind of transportation….what next the right kind of people?

    Frankly, I will just keep zipping through the neighborhood streets as I have for more than a decade to avoid Glover Park and the far worse upper Georgetown stretch of Wisconsin at most hours. Can’t see how that outcome would be any better and probably worse for “the kids” you throw out as.

  6. maddiegrant

    I drive that stretch every day (from Fulton to O St. to drop my kids at Hyde and then drive off to work). The changes are actually pretty awesome, except there is one left turn (into some alley, the one near where Myer Emco used to be I think) missing a left turn lane marker, which holds up traffic, and some asshole always unloading in the right hand lane. And if you get stuck behind a bus you can’t turn onto 34th until it’s gone – but that bus stop by Fillmore is like the Tardis with 10,000 people getting on or off at any given moment.

    Otherwise, I love the changes.

  7. @RNM – “Frankly, I will just keep zipping through the neighborhood streets as I have for more than a decade to avoid Glover Park and the far worse upper Georgetown stretch of Wisconsin at most hours. Can’t see how that outcome would be any better and probably worse for “the kids” you throw out as.”

    In your own words, the changes to the traffic flow haven’t changed your behavior at all, so I’m not sure how it would be better or worse.

  8. RobRob

    @RNM – Why do you even waste you time coming here?

  9. GP_Resident

    Just so we are all clear, anecdotes from people living in the area are “worth less than nothing” yet the unfounded suspicions of someone who admittedly does not live in the area, it is implied, mean something?

    Speaking as someone that lives on a street that has been greatly affected by the traffic calming (a laughably horrible misnomer if there ever was one), I can assure you that the data that needs to be collected is not on Wisconsin Ave but rather on the once quiet neighborhood streets. These are the streets that have had their traffic volume explode with an influx of commuters who recklessly ignore stop signs, block intersections, drive aggressively and speed.

    Additionally, and granted this is an anecdote so it should be ignored by all in favor of a non-resident’s suspicions because, well hell he eats pizza from an overpriced tourist restaurant every week, but a well known Glover Park business owner has stated that his business has been hurt by the new traffic pattern.

    I appreciate some people, like Andy2, who encourage people that live in the neighborhood to leave their cars at home and walk – but that badly misses the point. The vast majority of cars travelling through GP during and just before and after rush hour are not residents being lazy but rather commuters going home.

  10. VoltaRezzie

    I have to agree with GP. As the mother of a young baby who unfortunately cannot carry five bags of groceries with a small person strapped to her chest, the new traffic pattern is really harshing my Whole Foods mellow. While these are certainly #georgetownproblems, I’ve given up on that whole shopping strip now that the trip north on Wisconsin takes five times longer than it should. Eat my anecdata.

  11. djc08012

    I have my agreements and reservations with this article by GM: I will agree that hard data is required to make a better informed decision before amending this project. Perhaps the lane configuration is not the only issue with the traffic slowdown; Traffic light timings may need to be tweaked, street parking on Wisconsin that cuts two lanes down to one may need to be scheduled differently…so many factors can influence the issue.

    What bothers me about this author is how easily he dismisses public opinion as “less than nothing” while supplanting his own baseless anecdotes throughout the piece. You “suspect” travel times have not been altered, or if they have, by perhaps “30-45 seconds”. Did you sit in a car with a stopwatch both before the realignment, and after? Have you sat on the roadside and counted the number of cars passing through Wisconsin Avenue, or Tunlaw Road, or 37th Street? Did you make note of where traffic backed up on these roads during random times of the day? Where is YOUR data to substantiate the claims YOU make?

    Be careful how you inform our residents that their opinions are shit as you shovel your own on this site.

  12. Topher

    @GP and DJC:

    I don’t think my anecdotal experience is worth any more than anyone else’s. And I don’t think anyone’s views are worthless simply because they disagree with my own.

    I only said that I think someone’s anecdotes are worthless if they’re unwilling to give up 30 seconds of their travel time for the benefit of the safety of children and other pedestrians. Am I really staking out a radical position there?

    And yes, 30 seconds is speculation on my part. It’s no more factual that those that think the delay is five minutes. Except that DDOT’s initial findings are that northbound travel times are exactly the same and southbound travel times are up 30 seconds.

    I think tweaks need to be performed. Light timing, parking restrictions, even lane alignment all need to be reconsidered, but only based upon hard data. Not on my or anyone else’s personal accounts. I think this is a reasonable position! What I think is unreasonable is to simply stamp your feet and demand years of work and millions of dollars all be thrown away and all the changes be reversed because it just sure *feels* like its a lot worse. That is what many are doing right now.

    But if the data shows that after the work is completely done and enough time has gone by for behavior to adjust there are significant increases in travel time, then by all means lets reconsider everything, even the lane reductions. I’d hate it if it came to that, but I could accept it.

    I’m sorry if I come off as overly strident on this issue. It’s because it means a great deal to me.

  13. Adriana

    It is disappointing to me that there is all this talk about improved pedestrian safety and calmer traffic, but ONLY about Wisconsin Avenue. Both Tunlaw and 37th have been besieged by a surge in traffic – earlier in the year because of construction, and now because of the reduced lanes. And for years these streets have had inadequate places for pedestrians to cross that our government did not address. At one point last year, a stop sign was placed at 37th and W, helping to slow traffic and allowing pedestrians some chance to get across. And because of citizen action, there is a plan coming to fix the mess of an intersection that is 37th and Tunlaw.

    I think the perceived problems of Wisconsin could have been fixed without the lane reductions. Better timed lights and better marked crosswalks would have gone a long way and not cost millions.

    I rarely use the car, so getting stuck in Glover Park traffic is not my problem. What IS my problem is the increased traffic on the side streets made up of drivers looking to avoid the backups on Wisconsin. I fail to see how the new traffic pattern on Wisconsin addresses pedestrian safety on the avenue, or in any part of Glover Park. I’ve observed on Wisconsin Avenue cars getting stuck in the crosswalks or trying to zoom around other cars. That doesn’t make for a safe experience either for drivers, bikers, or pedestrians. I think the new wider sidewalks at Holy Rood and near the gas station are great – is that what people are talking about when they say Wisconsin is safer now?

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