Category Archives: Transportation

What’s More Valuable: A Bikeshare Station or Three Parking Spots

Photo by Jason Pier.

Back in November, DDOT moved the Capital Bikeshare station, that was on the sidewalk of Wisconsin Ave. by the canal, about 20 feet south and into the street. This was reported at the time by the Patch. DDOT explained that with the eventual construction of the new condo building where the Verizon parking lot is, there would not be enough space on the sidewalk for the station.

Moving the station into the street would necessitate eliminating three metered parking spots. To mitigate the impact of that change, the ANC requested that DDOT convert a loading zone across the street into a metered space and to introduce multi-space also across the street to enable more cars to park there.

When the parking spots were removed, the grumbling began. Most of it originated from Grace Episcopal, in front of which the parking spaces were removed. A church bulletin read:

While Grace supports the Bikeshare program (we have members that frequently bike to services), many members of our congregation rely on convenient access to street parking to attend services here. They include older members with health issues, families with young children and others for whom cycling to church is not an option. The loss of these three spaces is already being felt.

ANC chair Ron Lewis mentioned at the ANC meeting Monday night that he expected a compromise to be found whereby the station would be moved somewhere else. And GM is happy to support a compromise that each side can live with. But this situation presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate just how disproportionate the impact car parking has versus bike parking. Continue reading

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Is Georgetown Missing Out on the Bike Lane Boom?

Photo by AJfroggie.

Monday night, DDOT finally began construction of the long awaited separated bicycle lanes (or “cycletracks”) on L St. from the West End to downtown. This will hopefully precede another lane to be installed on M St. from 29th to Thomas Circle. This will bring improved biking facilities right to the threshold of Georgetown, but not through it. Will this mean that Georgetown will miss out?

For those unfamiliar with these types of bike lanes, the parking lane is moved one lane away from the curb, and the bike lane is installed with barriers between the parking lane and the curb. Studies have shown how dedicated lanes like these can cut cycling injuries by up to a half. And when lanes like these have been installed on 15th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., bike traffic along those routes skyrocketed while the impact to car traffic has been negligible.

The new lanes on L and M will provide a very much needed east-west route for bikers. However for Georgetown bikers, the lanes are tantalizingly close, but not close enough.

The L St. lane will travel eastbound from 25th (by Trader Joe’s). That means that if someone wants to bike from Georgetown to the lane, they will probably have to travel on M St.and Pennsylvania Ave.

GM is a confident city biker, but even he gets seriously unnerved trying to ride on M St. and Pennsylvania Ave. This gap between the heart of Georgetown and safe separated bike lanes will discourage people from riding bikes to Georgetown. But what can we do about it? Continue reading

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No Annual Visitors Passes in Georgetown

Photo by ThisisBossi.

As the Georgetown Patch pointed out the other day, unlike their Ward 3 neighbors, Georgetowners don’t get an annual visitors parking pass. If a Georgetowner has a guest coming, they may obtain a temporary parking pass, but the resident must travel to the police station in Cleveland Park with enough paperwork to secure the pass. But this pass is only good for a maximum of two weeks. The police are known to reject a resident who tries to renew the pass.

With a permanent permit like those issued to Ward 3 residents, the resident doesn’t need to go to the police station, the pass is mailed annually. And it can be used over an over again. And it’s this flexibility that’s why Ward 2 leaders have been wary about extending the annual guest pass program to their ward.

The problem boils down primarily to two concerns. The first is that in many (but not all) sections of Georgetown, parking is short. Making it easier for lots of visitors to park will exacerbate the problem. Secondly, there is a fear that Georgetowners would simply sell their guest parking pass to the highest bidder. Continue reading

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Looking Back at the O and P St. Construction

As the construction on O and P Streets draw to a close, GM thought it would be good to look back at how the project has progressed with this DDOT video.

The project should be complete by the end of the month. This would make the project under time. The original projection was 18 months. They’ve been working on it since the spring of 2011, so it’s only been about 16 months so far. GM said he thought it would take two years minimum, so he admits he was wrong about that.

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Finishing Touches on Streets Throughout West Village

 

Over the weekend, work crews moved methodically around west Georgetown repaving stretches of road left rough from over a year of construction on O and P Streets.

GM was aware that the work crews were going to finally repave the O and P St. intersections once the cobblestone/streetcar track sections were done. But since the work tore up streets all over the neighborhood to remove and recover old buried streetcar tracks, the repaving was equally extensive.

Oddly, there’s still a stretch of streetcar track still getting worked on. The block of O St. from Wisconsin to 33rd is still torn up. It should be done soon, and the whole project can wrap up! Continue reading

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Car2Go to Become Even Better Option for Georgetowners

Back in March, GM noted that the new Car2Go car-sharing service had the potential to be a great option for Georgetowners. Now it’s getting even better.

For those new to the system, it works this way: There are (now) 200 blue-and-white Smart Cars scattered around DC. With a membership you can hop in one and drive it to where you’re going. Once you get to your destination, don’t worry about returning the car to where you picked it up; it’s a one-way rental. Plus, you don’t have to worry about parking tickets; the company has taken care of that.

But even though you don’t have to feed a meter or worry about moving the car after two hours, you still need to find a legal space. This can sometimes be a problem when you’re driving to a nightlife hotspot. Car2Go is now going to make that a little easier. Continue reading

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Say Cheese

The other day, GM noticed a new camera on the light post at Q and Wisconsin. Maybe it’s been there a while, but it’s the first time that GM noticed it. GM started to wonder whether it was one of those new speed cameras we’re supposed to get. So he contacted DDOT to see if they knew anything about it.

Turns out that DDOT doesn’t administer the cameras. So GM contacted MPD. Not hearing back by “deadline”, GM was preparing to write an article about the mysterious camera when he finally figured out that the camera is a DDOT camera after all. Continue reading

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Walking in Georgetown

This week, Slate is running a series by Tom Vanderbilt on the state of walking in the U.S. Yesterday, Vanderbilt looked into the much-discussed Walk Score rating. What this is is a algorithmic that looks are various factors that improve the walkability of a particular location. For instance, how many coffee shops can you walk to? How many grocery stores? What transit can you walk to? Close by entertainment & restaurants, etc.?

So what is Georgetown’s Walk-Score? 89, or “very walkable”

This only puts Georgetown as the 19th most walkable neighborhood in DC. This doesn’t strike GM as quite accurate. One thing holding Georgetown back is that the northwest corner of Georgetown (i.e. the University, particularly around the hospital) has a pretty bad rating, relative to the rest of the neighborhood. For instance, the 4000 block of Reservoir Rd. has a rating of 78, which is still “very walkable” but is pretty low for central DC. On the other hand, the 3200 block of M St. has a perfect score of 100. Continue reading

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Glover Park Streetscape Improvements Should be Carried On to Georgetown

As discussed here back in November, Glover Park is about to undertake a significant transportation project to improve its streetscape and traffic management. The project will do many things. On the most superficial level, it will beautify the sidewalks by widening them and installing new Washington Globe streetlights.

But more fundamentally, the project will take the stretch of Wisconsin Ave. and adjust how traffic flows. Right now, through most of Glover Park there are six traffic lanes, two of which are for parking, the other four for moving traffic. The change will reduce the overall lanes to (essentially) five lanes. Two lanes for parking (except during rush hour), two lanes for moving traffic, and one lane at each intersection for turning traffic.

These changes will be great. While it is true that it means only one north-south travel lane in each direction during non-rush hour times, the reality is that with cars waiting to turn left, there is often only one travel lane as it is. This will smooth out the flow of traffic since you’ll no longer get stuck behind a car turning left when you want to go straight. Continue reading

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New Car Sharing Option Well Suited for Georgetown

There’s a new car sharing company in DC, and it may be well-suited for Georgetowners. The company is Car2Go. Once you’re a member, you can grab any of their cars and use them, paying depending on how long you use the car. It’s 38 cents a minute, but the first hour tops out at $13.99, so once you have it for about 40 minutes, the next 20 minutes are basically free. It gets cheaper per minute the longer you keep it.

The unique thing about Car2Go is that there are no “stations” for the cars. They are left wherever the last driver left it. Which means you can pick up the car, drive to where you want to go, and just leave the car wherever (you don’t even need to worry about parking meters or 2 hour limits).

This leads to some degree of uncertainty since the availability of cars depends on other users having driven a car to a location convenient to you. The good news for Georgetowners is that Georgetown is likely to be a place that a lot of Car2Go users will end up driving to. So there should be a decent availability of cars in the neighborhood. While writing this, GM checked the real-time availability map on the company’s website, and there were seven cars available in Georgetown:

Perhaps the best way to think of this service is as a replacement for a cab. If you’re going across town for an evening out, this service is perfect. You just grab a car, drive it to H St. or wherever you’re going and just leave the car there. You can take a cab back home, you don’t need to return the car. Since the charges are only 38 cents a minute, you can get across town for under 8 bucks (without owing any tip). Continue reading

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