CNU blogs

Walk Appeal Video-Part 2

1,000 Friends of Wisconsin - Wed, 2014-04-16 15:10

In this Walk Appeal video clip, Green Downtown Program Manager Matt Covert continues on his Walk Appeal tour with landscape architecture students. He points out the difference in thinking between building now vs. 40 years ago. See how a current apartment building on Johnson Street doesn’t consider the pedestrian, while a new building in progress...

The post Walk Appeal Video-Part 2 appeared first on 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

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Did you guess the Metro station? Here are the answers to this week's quiz

Greater Greater Washington - Wed, 2014-04-16 14:26
by Matt Johnson

On Monday, we posted our first challenge to see how well you knew Metro. I took Instagram photos of 5 stations and we asked you to try to identify them. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 40 guesses on the post. No one guessed all 5 correctly, but two people, Sand Box John and Phil, each got 4 correct. Congratulations!


Image 1: Prince George's Plaza.

The first image was of Prince George's Plaza. Half of you got that right. The station is in an open cut, and the southern end of the platform has nice terraced hedges. Those are visible in the picture from aboard a Greenbelt-bound train.

About a quarter of you guessed Arlington Cemetery, which was a good guess. That station also has side platforms and is in a cut.


Image 2: Greenbelt.

Image 2 was a tough one. This is a photo of a skylight above the faregates at Greenbelt station. Next time you head for the B30, look up.

Only one person, Phil, got this one right.


Image 3: NoMa-Galluadet University.

NoMa is a newer station, which is clear in this photo from the clean, fresh concrete wall. NoMa also went through the signage update early, which is why the sign has new elements, but is missing the "RD" in the circle that is present in the newest signage. 13 of you got this one.

Several of you guessed subway stations for this one. Since the arrow is pointing up toward the platform, this one clearly had to be a station where the tracks were above the mezzanine, not below.


Image 4: Wheaton.

This is a photo of the longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere, at Wheaton station. Of course, Metro has lots of stations with long escalators, so this one was a bit challenging. Even still, 15 of you got it right.

Other popular choices included Woodley Park (7 guesses) and Dupont Circle (4 guesses).


Image 5: Gallery Place.

17 of you correctly deduced that it was Gallery Place. This one is a great example of how to use deductive reasoning to solve the clue. There were some hints of that in the comments. What do we know about the picture?

First off, this is a station that has side platforms and is underground. That immediately narrows it down to 13 stations. We can't see a cross vault, which takes Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza off the list.

Given the length of the view and the position of the photographer, we can tell that the station has mezzanines at both ends. That narrows it down to 6 (Dupont Circle, Farragut West, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, McPherson Square, and Smithsonian). The platform is also missing pylons, which narrows it down to 4 stations, which don't have them (Farragut West, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, and McPherson Square).

Next Monday, we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

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Another way to see the US: Map of where nobody lives

Greater Greater Washington - Wed, 2014-04-16 11:45
by Dan Malouff

There are more than 300 million people living in the United States today, but America is such a huge country that we still have staggeringly vast areas that are completely devoid of humans. This map illustrates those places. Everything colored green is a census block with zero population.


Map by Nik Freeman of mapsbynik.com.

The eastern US is pretty well populated except for a few spots in mountains and swamps. But the west is a different story. It's covered with enormous stretches of land that are simply empty.

And Alaska's emptiness makes even the western contiguous states look densely populated. Those green areas near the Arctic Circle look bigger than most other states.


Map by Nik Freeman of mapsbynik.com.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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How politics sank a radical monument 105 years ago

Greater Greater Washington - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:20
by Neil Flanagan

The simple Commodore Barry monument in Franklin Square gets lost among the many dead generals of Washington. The original design was very different, but was scuttled amid battles over how much a memorial in Washington, and immigrants in American society, should maintain a clear identity or assimilate into the conventional.


A plaster model of Andrew O'Connor's winning design.

In 1906, an alliance of Irish-American groups decided they wanted a monument that would assert their participation in the founding myth of the United States. This had been denied; before 1700, the principal means of Irish immigration was through indentured servitude. The Irish, upwardly mobile and increasingly tired of their second-class ethnic status, were arguably making a bid to become fully a part of white culture.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a friendly society, saw the Revolutionary War naval hero John Barry as precisely the man to plug into the American foundation myth. The French had done it with Rochambeau and Lafayette. The Poles would do the same with Kościuszko, and the Germans with von Steuben.

The Hibernians wanted the best, so they courted the judgement of stars like Daniel Burnham, Frank Millet, and Herbert Adams. They had no idea what they were getting.


Andrew O'Connor in Paris.

The jury's eyes smiled upon an Irish-American devotee of Rodin, Andrew O'Connor. From Paris, he contrasted a naturalistic portrait of Barry with impressionistic depictions of Irish history. A freestanding personification of Ireland blends into a low relief depicting Irish history. After St. Patrick, the frieze turns quickly toward English oppression, until it terminates in tormented nudes looking west across the ocean to a new life. (R-L)

Situating Barry in a narrative of British violence was wildly unconventional, but completely accurate. Protestant landowners expropriated the Barry family farm when John was a child, casting him into even more abject poverty. He was at sea by 14.

The statue of Barry is tough, if not butch. He's leaning into the deck of a rocking of a ship, staring at a threat unseen. O'Connor exaggerated his hands and face to realize a psychological intensity that is present in only a few monumental sculptures in DC, Daniel Chester French's Lincoln, Henry Schrady's Grant, and the Adams Memorial.


Left: Detail of the Emigrants. Right: Detail of the John Barry portrait.

As far as I know, only the Eisenhower Memorial combines freestanding portraiture in front of bas-relief sculptures in a way that comes close to O'Connor's layering. The flickering of a radical direction for traditional sculpture appealed to artists steeped in psychology and modern philosophy but made enemies of Washington elites and populist conservatives.

The Hibernians balked at what they saw as a reification of hot-tempered Papist carnality. It's an altar behind a rail, for God's sake! And all that affliction was just so terribly 1545. It wasn't hard for the groups to push the stereotype further and see the statue of Barry as little more than a Bowery thug in Colonial duds. And those eagles...

The Hibernians wanted a statue that would include one of their own into the genteel pedigree of the memorial landscape. Looking around, that seemed to be mostly men in Classical repose with bald assertions of greatness. All this emphasis on misfortune and victimization was effete nonsense.

Controversy over the design went on for three years. A number of Beaux-arts sculptors and architects spoke out in favor of the design. In the end, the Hibernians reminded President Taft of their voting power, and he rejected the design on June 1st, 1909. The replacement is a competent statue by John Boyle, with an aristocratic commodore and a vacant female allegorical figure.

Like so many competitions, the winner judged by peers was brushed aside by the actual power behind it. After having a contest to make it look open and democratic, they put up whatever they actually wanted.

As one might expect, the appeal to respectability didn't work. At the dedication in 1914, Woodrow Wilson sniped at "Americans with hyphens" who wanted respect without shedding their identities.

Franklin Square, which seemed so promising at the time, never became a memorial ground like Lafayette Park. It never worked as a city park, either. Attention shifted elsewhere, leaving Barry adrift and alone.


John Boyle's completed Commodore Barry Memorial after completion.

Images: O'Connor design from Kirk Savage and the National Archives. Boyle design from the Commission on Fine Arts. A version of this post appeared on цarьchitect.

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A Special Focus on Planning for Healthy Schools

Planetizen blogs - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:15
SAGE has provided free access to material from the Journal of Planning Education and Research's focus issue on Healthy Schools. Click here for the links and synopses. Follow us on Twitter @JPER7 & on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JPERPlanning)
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Addressing Inequality and Access to Opportunity at the World Urban Forum

HUD blog - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:13

The World Urban Forum 7 (WUF7) took place April 5 – 11 in Medellín, Colombia. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan served as head of the U.S. delegation where he discussed with world leaders and economic experts what President Obama has called the defining challenge of our time: growing inequality coupled with declining access to entry into the middle class.

Increasing income inequality, a growing disparity between productivity and pay, and social and economic ceilings have stalled upward mobility for millions of Americans and they now threaten to undermine some of the core values of this country – fairness and equal opportunity.  At WUF7, Secretary Donovan discussed how these aren’t just American problems; they are global problems.

While in Medellín, the U.S. delegation took a tour of the Santo Domingo neighborhood which was once considered to be among the most dangerous in the world. Today, it is bustling with economic activity, a busy transit system that uses cable cars to get residents to and from jobs in the city center, a state of the art library, and new parks and plazas that are filled with people of all ages. These changes came about through an inclusive participatory budgeting process led by the city.

What we saw in Santo Domingo demonstrates that cities around the world, as well as in the United States, can tackle the challenges of public safety, economic disinvestment and poverty and create opportunities for transformation. We saw a community that has taken bold actions to ensure future generations can grow up in a neighborhood where opportunity is not a privilege for the few, but broadly available to everyone in society.  To be sure, much work remains to be done in Medellín, but its leaders and residents are committed to continuing to build on their early success.

During WUF7, as members of the U.S. Delegation, we shared how America has put a strong emphasis on supporting community and economic development at all scales; from neighborhoods to entire metropolitan regions. Whether it be through initiatives like the White House Promise Zones initiative, Strong Cities Strong Communities or through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, we are working to make sure the federal government breaks down its silos to support comprehensive community development and brings together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to achieve the best possible results for communities.

The desire to make a better life for ourselves and our families is a universal one.  The promise of real social and economic mobility that has been a pillar of our democracy has inspired others. Our resolve to increase the economic competitiveness and equity of American communities and to improve the life outcomes of all our people cannot falter or fade.  We must complete our unfinished work to insure that all places and people in America have a ladder of opportunity to succeed.

 

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Breakfast links: HOT lanes and cold weather

Greater Greater Washington - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:39
by Nicole DuPuis


Photo by Washington State Dept of... on Flickr.HOT lane prices rise: Tolls have been steadily climbing for the Capital Beltway HOT lanes. The toll reached $11.55 on April 3rd, coinciding with a tractor-trailer crash. (Post)

HOT lanes on the 14th Street Bridge?: HOT lanes are a possibility for the 14th Street Bridge to relieve some of the commuting congestion during rush hour. Vehicles with 3 or more people would drive for free in the lanes. (Post)

Winter redux: The winter we thought we left behind is back. It's cold today and may freeze tonight. Thursday should be warmer, with a slow creep back toward spring weather. (Post)

Tragic: GWU senior Carlos Pacanins was hit by a driver in College Park and died from his injuries. Police say he was crossing when the "Don't Walk" signal was flashing. Three other pedestrians have been hit at that intersection in the last year. (GW Hatchet)

Why conservatives like sprawl: Why do most conservatives blast government spending on transit but support tax breaks for homeownership? Maybe because exurban areas usually vote Republican while denser areas go Democratic? (Bacon's Rebellion)

What to expect on Metro: When should you give up your seat on Metro to a pregnant woman? What's the right way to ask someone to get up when you're pregnant? (Post)

Don't break up DDOT: Bob Thompson thinks creating more agencies is not the answer to problems at DDOT. It won't stop hasty action but could cut down on multimodal, big picture thinking. Richard Layman calls the bill a case of "ready, fire, aim." (Post)

Belgian Uber ban incites outrage: A Belgium court ruled that Uber is breaking the law, which drew scorn from an EU official who derided the decision as protecting the "taxi cartel." (TheNextWeb)

Study for the Susquehanna: Maryland is looking to replace the rail bridge over the Susquehanna River. A replacement could include a pedestrian and bicycle path; there is no trail link across the river today. (Cecil Daily)

The real problem in Silicon Valley: Selfish tech workers are destroying San Francisco, right? Not really. In Mountain View, the city forbids new housing near offices like Google's, ostensibly to save an endangered owl, while planning even more office buildings. Other area cities have blocked affordable housing. (TechCrunch)

And...: Today is Emancipation Day: DC government employees get a holiday and some parking rules are suspended. (Post) ... The federal transportation trust fund will likely go broke by the end of July. (Post) ... A water taxi is starting up between Old Town Alexandria and the National Mall. (Alexandria Times)

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Our new Transportation Website – Bus Bike Walk Wisconsin

1,000 Friends of Wisconsin - Tue, 2014-04-15 17:41

1000 Friends’ new website Bus Bike Walk Wisconsin will help Wisconsinites plan trips using buses, bikes – or their feet. Bus Bike Walk Wisconsin is intended to give users a one stop site for information on non-automotive transportation as well as provide information for advocates looking to promote better options for non-automotive users at the state...

The post Our new Transportation Website – Bus Bike Walk Wisconsin appeared first on 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

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The Park Service wants to fix a dangerous spot near Roosevelt Island

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-04-15 15:14
by Chris Slatt

The National Park Service is trying to make the Mount Vernon Trail safer as it passes by the parking lot for Roosevelt Island. The agency devised four alternatives, but has already dismissed two, one of which which would have done more to fix the problem than the more conservative remaining ones.
Location of the parking lot. All images from NPS.

In this area, the trail passes the entrance to the parking lot which drivers use to access Roosevelt Island. There is a lot going on in this area. Pedestrians and cyclists crowd the trail. Cars enter and exit the parking lot. Hikers cross to get to the Potomac Heritage Trail and Roosevelt Island.

To make matters worse, the trail crosses the parking lot with two sharp 90° turns. ADA ramps and at least one tree extend into the trail space, and the trail through the area doesn't even meet NPS' 9-foot trail width standard. As a result, there have been numerous crashes in the area, some involving cars, others between cyclists and pedestrians.


Current layout of the parking lot and trail.

Besides improving safety, NPS wants to install a water fountain, more and better bike racks (since bicycles are not allowed on Roosevelt Island), and better signage.

Alternative 1 keeps the trail separated from the parking lot by a curb and widens it to 9 feet, with a 2-foot grass shoulder on one side and a 2-foot paved shoulder on the other. It also shifts the parking lot crossing to a gentler angle.


Alternative 1.

This makes it easier to navigate, but harder for cyclists to see oncoming traffic. It also elevates the trail crossing on a speed table (a wide speed bump) which forces cars to slow as they cross the trail. It would also remove an existing curb cut from the west end of the trail that cyclists currently use to go from the trail into the parking lot.

Alternative 2 lowers the trail to parking lot level, separating it from the parking lot by only a stripe of paint, similar to a bike lane. It also widens the trail to 9' and provides a separate 3'-wide pedestrian trail. Like Alternative 1, it changes the angle of the crossing but the crossing would be at parking lot level, rather than on a speed table.


Alternative 2.

Alternatives 1 and 2 are the options NPS officials are still considering. They also developed a 3rd and 4th, but discarded them.

Alternative 3 was the most aggressive proposal. It separated cars from cyclists and pedestrians entirely by eliminating the parking lot and trail crossing. It shifted the parking lot closer to the parkway and rerouted the trail to be entirely on one side of the lot. NPS dismissed this option because it would have eliminated 11 parking spaces.


Alternative 3.

Alternative 4 proposed moving the trail to cross the parking lot entrance and then run between the parking lot and the parkway. This would have been less safe due to the speed of traffic entering the parking lot from the parkway, and the bad sight lines at that spot.

What is best?

The reason many cyclists use the parking lot is to avoid congestion between bikes and pedestrians. Alternative 1 largely takes that option away, while providing only 1 foot of additional width to address the problem. The possibility in alternative 2 to separate bikes and pedestrians onto different trails is a nice step.

However, moving the trail to parking lot level could increase conflict between bikes and cars, as cars could back out of parking spaces directly onto the trail. The speed table from Alternative 1 seems to be a better approach.

It's too bad NPS didn't consider widening the trail beyond the agency's 9-foot minimum trail standard, despite the huge amount of bicycle and pedestrian congestion here. Nationwide, a 10' minimum is more common, and Arlington prefers 12 feet.

Also, Alternative 3 was the the only alternative that would fully separate cyclists and pedestrians from car traffic, but it has already been discarded.

To review the full details of the project, or to submit comments, see the project website. You can submit comments through April 22nd.

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A rural village plan will breathe new life into Sandy Spring

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-04-15 11:49
by Ryan Sigworth

Sandy Spring could one day be a small, walkable community at the center of rural life in northeast Montgomery County, if all goes according to plan.


Rendering of the Sandy Spring rural village core by John Carter.

For 15 years, Sandy Spring residents asked for a plan to revitalize their rural village, which has gotten passed over as suburbanization swept the area. Montgomery County planners say a new open space, walkable main street, and some new housing and retail could turn things around.

Residents want new commercial establishments, coffee shops, and retail in the village center. As redevelopment takes place in the small community on Route 108 near New Hampshire Avenue, the changes will allow new mixed-use buildings located closer to the street to activate public space.


3D rendering of MD 108 and Brooke Road looking east. Rendering by MNCPPC.

The preliminary concepts encourage quality open space for public gatherings and community activities at the intersection of MD 108 and Brooke Road. As the historic center of Sandy Spring, the intersection is home to one of Maryland's oldest post offices. More public gathering space will strengthen civic engagement, create a sense of place, and generate opportunities for special events and festivals.


Sandy Spring streetscape rendering by John Carter.

Changes can also make the area more walkable. Today, the north side of MD 108 has no sidewalk and 90-degree parking in the right-of-way, requiring vehicles to back out into the road. Not only is the design dangerous, it creates traffic when village center activity increases.

Following the "Complete Streets" standard, there will be a wide, pedestrian-focused sidewalk and parallel parking. Bike lanes and improved pedestrian movements at intersections will give all users safe and equal access to the public space. These modifications are timely because Pepco is relocating its utilities underground in the area, further enhancing the corridor.

Over the last 10 years, many newer residents of varied income levels have also settled into the rural village. While these recent changes have increased competing interests and viewpoints, it is still a community founded on togetherness and communication.


Sandy Spring planning area and conceptual layout. Rendering by Roberto Duke.

Quakers established Sandy Spring in the early 18th century as a rural village based on communal exchange of ideas on social and political concerns, agriculture, and family. Today, many descendants of those Quaker families remain as their trademark brand of gentility still influences the town.

A high percentage of high-income residents own houses in the area. One quarter of households have incomes over $200,000, proving the town's potential for upscale business, specialty retail, and restaurants within the rural village.


Sandy Spring in the beginning.

Due to the uniqueness of Sandy Spring and the limited size of the planning area, Montgomery planners staff took a different approach to the planning process. In February, they held a four-day planning workshop in Sandy Spring focused on specific land use topics and time devoted to interacting with residents on their vision for the future of their village.

In other words, the heavily lifting of planning work was essentially done in four days. With the collaborative community vision of residents firmly in hand, staff developed illustrations and renderings in advance of recent community outreach meetings. The renderings are currently on display at the Sandy Spring Museum through April 2014.

Planners will develop a draft plan over the coming months with continued community follow-up and intend to have an adopted plan by April 2015.

If the Planning Board and then the Montgomery County Council adopt it, planners will quickly follow up with a sectional zoning amendment to rezone the property within the planning area. This will trigger the development and land use standards to implement the plan's vision.


Aerial rendering of Sandy Spring. Rendering by Roberto Duke.-->

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3 Reasons We Should Pay Attention to Medellín

Planetizen blogs - Tue, 2014-04-15 10:33
Medellín has been called the most innovative city in the world, and recently hosted the World Urban Forum WUF7 to huge acclaim. It has taken back the city's public realm, found simple solutions to complex problems, and emphasized a "City for Life."
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Baltimore's car-stuffed waterfront is poised to keep adding more cars

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-04-15 10:21
by Jeff La Noue

Fancy office towers, hotels, museums, and tourist attractions line the contours of Baltimore's Chesapeake Bay harborfront. So too, do massive parking garages and interstate-sized roadways that feed them. What does the future hold? According to a new plan, still more parking.


A waterfront parking garage at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. All photos by the author.

Like much of America, Baltimore waterfront development since the age of cars has been designed for the age of cars. That looks likely to continue as the waterfront grows.

The Greater Baltimore Committee and Waterfront Partnership hired architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross to prepare Inner Harbor 2.0, an overarching new plan for reinvigorating Baltimore's Inner Harbor waterfront.

The Director of Landscape Architecture for Ayers Saint Gross, Jonathon Ceci, said about a parcel of harborfront currently covered by beach volleyball courts, "The site is basically an island cut off from the rest of the Inner Harbor. Besides Key Highway [on one side], you've got the water [on the other side] and a lack of parking garages. The question was, how do you make it a magnet for urban activity?"

How does Ceci plan to create "a magnet for urban activity"? Apparently, with parking garages. The Inner Harbor 2.0 plan recommends a $20 million garage on this waterfront site at a public cost of $12-14 million.

Baltimoreans should question the line of thinking that big garages are the best magnets for urban activity. Big garages and wide roads go hand in hand. They create the "island effect" that Mr. Ceci wants to eliminate.

Baltimore's near waterfront has more high-rise parking spaces than high-rise residential units with waterfront views. There are at least 6 waterfront parking garages, and at least 14 large parking garages within one block of the waterfront. At least 9 parking garages rise to between 7 and 12 stories tall. The waterfront has around 4,500 parking spaces already planned or under construction: 4,000 at the Horseshoe casino and about 500 at Rash field.

Meanwhile, the one-way street pairs adjacent to the harbor have 10 lanes of through traffic, while at many times, cars cannot make it through a light in one cycle. Baltimore has used these streets for 180-mile per hour races.

What Baltimore's waterfront has gained by attracting tens of thousands of cars it might have lost by being unfriendly to pedestrians, bicyclists, urban livability, and more local populations. Walkers can enjoy a promenade ringing the water, but to venture inland, they have to cross many lanes of unfriendly traffic. These physical road barriers separate the water from Baltimore's traditional downtown and may limit economic development from more easily sweeping inland.


A family racing from the Inner Harbor to safety.

Ironically, all the car infrastructure may not make car driving easy. Supersized roads and garages contribute to congestion that can offset cars' theoretical time-saving advantages. Driving across town and up and down garages sometimes is slower than walking and bicycling. The business case for more parking erodes if corresponding congestion leads to traffic jams and stress.


Rush hour traffic near Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

By adding four high frequency Charm City Circulator bus routes, Baltimore has made progress. It can do much more to shift the balance.

Here are some additional ideas to consider near the waterfront:

  • Create an app that directs cars to affordable satellite parking spaces.
  • Create a tax on new parking garages and dedicate the revenue to non-automotive transportation.
  • Let developers choose to pay into an alternative transportation fund instead of building parking as required by zoning.
  • Encourage parking at outlying transit stations that serve downtown.
  • Re-introduce and enforce bus-only lanes downtown.
  • Create peripheral park & ride lots with frequently departing shuttles servicing downtown, similar to the way airport shuttles work.
  • Create iconic Inner Harbor bus shelters.
  • Operate Camden Line trains on weekends for special events and Orioles games.
  • Ask the Orioles to reward fans for not bringing a car.
  • Create a discounted MTA family pass.
  • Ask downtown employers to create financial incentives for employees to not bring a car.
  • Build Pratt Street and Key Highway cycletracks to support bicyclists and bikeshare.
  • Add Charm City Circulator routes to South Baltimore, Canton, the Casino parking garage, and new park & ride locations.
  • Make sure the east-west Red Line moves forward.
Baltimore's waterfront must be accessible to people who own cars. However, with more affordable, safe, and convenient alternatives, some drivers would be happy to visit the city's downtown waterfront, while leaving the car outside of the city center.

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Breakfast links: Back to normal

Greater Greater Washington - Tue, 2014-04-15 09:01
by Chad Maddox


Photo by daveynin on FlickrMounds of trash on the Mall: After Cherry Blossom Festival revelers left heaps of trash on the National Mall, the National Park Service admits it wasn't prepared for the crowds. Not enough staff and no overnight workers plagued clean-up. (Post)

Metro hits a high note: With hundreds of thousands of visitors, Metro clocked 638,474 trips on Saturday, the highest the most for a Saturday since 2010's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. (DCist)

Back to disruptions for Metro: Metro will resume track work now that Cherry Blossom crowds are gone. Crews will test new cars on the Green Line and shuttle service will replace trains on sections of the Orange and Blue Lines. (Post)

Not just one Bethesda: Where are the neighborhoods in Bethesda? To customize development to different areas, planners try to identify distinct neighborhoods such as Woodmont Triangle, Bethesda Row, and the area around the Metro station. (Gazette)

Underpass art: NoMa's dark and uninviting underpasses will become "art parks" with contemporary installations. With a budget of $1.75 million, the NoMa Parks Foundation is looking for submissions, to be installed by 2015. (DCist, WBJ)

Clarendon tops for Gen Y: With its rents, income, and well-educated young population, a new ranking names Clarendon Washington's best neighborhood for millenials. It placed the Washington area third nationally after New York City and Austin, Texas. (ArlNow)

'Tis a silly crosswalk: In Norway, artists replaced a crosswalk sign with a Monty Python-inspired one that encourages pedestrians to cross in a silly way. (Fast Company)

They want you: Alexandria is looking for people to serve on its Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan Advisory Committee. Meanwhile, WMATA still wants input on its late night bus service survey. (TheWashCycle, PlanItMetro)

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Events roundup: From Silver Spring to Shaw to Sweden

Greater Greater Washington - Mon, 2014-04-14 14:40
by Andrew Watson

Talk about transit, walkability, and sustainability in Montgomery County, Shaw, and even Sweden at upcoming events around the region.
Photo by Evil Sivan on Flickr.

Rapid transit happy hour: If you like chatting about transit while enjoying a post-work beverage, join Communities for Transit and the Coalition for Smarter Growth at a Montgomery County transit happy hour on Tuesday, April 15.

Learn about the county's Bus Rapid Transit plans and talk with other transit enthusiasts at the Metro- and MARC-accessible Communities for Transit office, 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 500, in Silver Spring. RSVP here.

After the jump: Walking tours of Shaw and East Falls Church, budgets in Arlington, and zoning in Montgomery County.

Smart growth and sustainability in Sweden: Interested in how other cities handle neighborhood and district planning? Walker Wells, a green urbanism program director at Global Green, will discuss sustainable planning practices in three Swedish cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmo. The presentation is at the National Building Museum (401 F Street NW) on Tuesday, April 15, 12:30-1:30 pm. RSVP here.

Tour Shaw and East Falls Church: The Coalition for Smarter Growth's walking tours resume with two great ones this month. On Saturday, April 26 from 10 am-noon, see how new development is bringing a renaissance to the historic Shaw neighborhood in DC. And on Saturday, look at ways the area around East Falls Church Metro could become more walkable and bikeable. Space is limited so RSVP today!

Arlington Capital Improvement Plan forum: Arlington is preparing its 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan and needs your input! From streetcar funding to pedestrian projects to street paving, provide your opinions at a public forum on Wednesday, April 16 from 6-8:30 pm in the County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd at Courthouse Plaza.

Montgomery zoning update open house: Montgomery County planners have been hard at work rewriting the county's zoning code to update antiquated laws and remove redundant regulations. The Planning Department is hosting a series of six open houses beginning next Tuesday, April 22. Planning staff will be in attendance to answer questions. The full open house schedule is below:

  • April 22: Rockville Memorial Library (6-8 pm)
  • April 24: Wheaton Regional Library (6-8 pm)
  • April 29: Park and Planning Headquarters, Silver Spring (5-8 pm)
  • May 1: Marilyn J. Praisner Library, Burtonsville (6-8 pm)
  • May 5: UpCounty Regional Services Center, Germantown (6-8 pm)
  • May 6: B-CC Regional Services Center, Bethesda (6-8 pm)
Do you have an event we should include in next week's roundup and/or the Greater Greater Washington calendar? Send it to events@ggwash.org.

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How Not To Measure Housing Affordability

Planetizen blogs - Mon, 2014-04-14 13:40
Critics argue that smart growth reduces housing affordability. Their criticisms are partly legitimate and largely wrong, based on incomplete and biased analysis.
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Curb-protected cycletracks are now appearing in DC

Greater Greater Washington - Mon, 2014-04-14 13:04
by Dan Malouff

Two new cycletracks will open in DC this spring, on M Street NW and 1st Street NE. Their designs are a step up from previous DC cycletracks, since they each include spots—though on M, a very brief spot—where a full concrete curb separates bikes from cars.


The 1st Street NE cycletrack (left), and the Rhode Island Avenue portion of the M Street NW cycletrack (right).

The 1st Street NE cycletrack connects the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Union Station and downtown DC. DDOT installed its curb last week, from K Street to M Street. Crews are still working on striping and signals, but the project is close to opening.

The M Street cycletrack is longer than 1st Street's overall, but the portion with a curb is shorter. It's less than one block, where the cycletrack briefly curves onto Rhode Island Avenue in order to approach Connecticut Avenue more safely. Officials say the M Street cycletrack is a week or two from opening.

Typically DDOT uses plastic bollards instead of curbs. The bollards are less expensive, easier to install, and can be removed occasionally to perform street maintenance. But they're less attractive and less significant as a physical barrier, compared to a curb.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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How well do you know Metro? Can you guess the station?

Greater Greater Washington - Mon, 2014-04-14 11:45
by Matt Johnson

One of WMATA's design principles from the start was to have a uniform station design. That can sometimes make it hard to figure out which stop you're at. But there are subtle differences. Can you spot them?


Image 1

A few weeks ago, I started posting one photo a day under the tag #whichWMATA on my Instagram account. We've decided to bring it to Greater Greater Washington. But instead of posting every day, we'll post once a week.

Can you guess where these photos were taken?


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so that the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: Some people interpreted the instructions to say that all of the photos are from one station. They are not. You can guess the station for each of the five photos independently.

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Three ways to build in Forest Glen without creating more traffic

Greater Greater Washington - Mon, 2014-04-14 10:23
by Dan Reed

As new homes, offices, and shops sprout around the region's Metro stations, Forest Glen has remained a holdout due to neighborhood resistance to new construction. But that may change as WMATA seeks someone to build there.
Metro wants to redevelop this parking lot. All photos by the author.

Last month, the agency put out a call for development proposals at Forest Glen, in addition to West Hyattsville and Largo Town Center in Prince George's County and Braddock Road in Alexandria. WMATA owns 8 acres at Forest Glen, most of which is a parking lot, and developers have already expressed interest in building there.

Forest Glen should be a prime development site. While it's on the busy Red Line, it's one of Metro's least-used stations. It's adjacent to the Capital Beltway and one stop in each direction from Silver Spring's and Wheaton's booming downtowns. Holy Cross Hospital, one of Montgomery County's largest employers with over 2,900 workers, is a few blocks away. But since Forest Glen opened in 1990, not much has happened.

On one side of the Metro station is a townhouse development that's about 10 years old, while across the street are 7 new single-family homes. The land the parking lot sits on is valuable, and it's likely that WMATA will get proposals to build apartments there because the land is so valuable. But zoning only allows single-family homes there, the result of a 1996 plan from Montgomery County that recommends preserving the area's "single-family character," due to neighbor concerns about traffic.


Townhouses next to the Forest Glen parking lot.

As a result, whoever tries to build at Forest Glen will have to get a rezoning, which neighbors will certainly fight. It's true that there's a lot of traffic in Forest Glen: the Beltway is one block away, while the adjacent intersection of Georgia Avenue and Forest Glen Road is one of Montgomery County's busiest. While traffic is always likely to be bad in Forest Glen, though by taking advantage of the Metro station, there are ways to bring more people and amenities to the area without putting more cars on the road.

Make it easier to reach Metro without a car

Today, two-thirds of the drivers who park at Forest Glen come from less than two miles away, suggesting that people don't feel safe walking or biking in the area. There's a pedestrian bridge over the Beltway that connects to the Montgomery Hills shopping area, a half-mile away, but residents have also fought for a tunnel under Georgia Avenue so they won't have to cross the 6-lane state highway.

Montgomery County transportation officials have explored building a tunnel beneath Georgia, which is estimated to cost up to $17.9 million. But county planners note that a tunnel may not be worth it because there aren't a lot of people to use it.

And crossing Georgia Avenue is only a small part of the experience of walking in the larger neighborhood. Today, the sidewalks on Forest Glen Road and Georgia Avenue are narrow and right next to the road, which is both unpleasant and unsafe. WMATA has asked developers applying to build at Forest Glen to propose ways to improve pedestrian access as well, and they may want to start with wider sidewalks with a landscaping buffer to make walking much more attractive. Investing in bike lanes would also be a good idea.

Provide things to walk to

Another way to reduce car trips is by providing daily needs within a short walk or bike ride. The Montgomery Hills shopping district, with a grocery store, pharmacy, and other useful shops, is a half-mile away from the Metro. But it may also make sense to put some small-scale retail at the station itself, like a dry cleaner, coffeeshop or convenience store, which will mainly draw people from the Metro station and areas within walking or biking distance. Some people will drive, but not as many as there would be with larger stores.

Putting shops at the Metro might also encourage workers at Holy Cross to take transit instead of driving, since they'll be able to run errands on their way to and from work. Encouraging this crowd to take transit is important, since hospitals are busy all day and all week, meaning they generate a lot of demand for transit, making it practical to run more buses and trains, which is great for everyone else.

Provide less parking

Whatever gets built at the Metro will have to include parking, not only for commuters, but for residents as well. While Montgomery County's new zoning code requires fewer parking spaces, each apartment still has to have at least one parking space. Even small shops will have to have their own parking. The more parking there is, the more likely residents are to bring cars, which of course means more traffic.

Thus, the key is to give future residents and customers incentives to not drive. The new zoning code does allow developers to "unbundle" parking spaces from apartments and sell or rent them separately. Those who choose not to bring cars will then get to pay less for housing. The code also requires carsharing spaces in new apartment buildings, so residents will still have access to a car even if they don't have their own. If Montgomery County ever decides to expand Capital Bikeshare, the developer could pay for a station here.

And the developer could offer some sort of discount or incentive for Holy Cross employees to live there, allowing hospital workers to live a short walk from their jobs.

No matter the approach, there are a lot of ways to build in Forest Glen without creating additional traffic. A creative approach can do wonders for the area's profile and elevate the quality of life for residents there.

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Categories: CNU blogs

Breakfast links: Migration

Greater Greater Washington - Mon, 2014-04-14 09:09
by Matt Malinowski


Photo by ashokboghani on Flickr.Fewer move to Washington: With fewer high-wage jobs, the DC area is no longer drawing as many people to move here from elsewhere in the country. The area remains a magnet for international immigrants, however. (Post)

Act with autonomy, or not?: Chairman Mendelson plans to approve DC's budget using the process set up by DC's recently-passed budget autonomy referendum, instead of the traditional process. But Mayor Gray says doing that would risk Congress' ire and even a return of the control board and criminal penalties, and promises to veto a budget passed under that process. (City Paper, WAMU)

Sprawl continues amid transit: In 4 of the 5 metro areas that pioneered light rail in the US, the percentage of transit ridership and urban population declined. The investment was not enough to counteract sprawl. (Atlantic Cities, Chuck Coleman)

Purple Line property purchases coming: Maryland is starting the process of buying over 600 properties along the future Purple Line to make way for station platforms and power substations. Construction could start by 2015. (Post)

Bold ideas to improve Rosslyn: A Realize Rosslyn plan outlines the area's challenges and how to overcome them. Improving the pedestrian experience through more welcoming buildings, streets, and even an outdoor escalator will be key. (WBJ)

Peak tourism follows peak bloom: Capital Bikeshare and MARC set ridership records, and trash cans overflowed, as huge crowds of people came to DC for the Cherry Blossom parade. (WTOP, Post)

And...: How much does a parking spot cost? (UrbanTurf) ... Gondolas, hanging trains, and toboggans, oh my! (Guardian Cities) ... WMATA's new test facility in Greenbelt is coming along, and is there an extra 7000-series car up there? (Sand Box John)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.

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In November, "concern" won’t cut it for Bowser

Greater Greater Washington - Sat, 2014-04-12 11:29
by David Alpert

Muriel Bowser has won the Democratic nomination for DC mayor. Do you know what she stands for?
Photo by weeviraporn on Flickr.

Bowser, who represents Ward 4 on the DC Council, has won what's typically the District's highest-profile race while generally minimizing the amount of discussion on her vision for the city. Sure, she supports better education, jobs, lower crime, affordable housing and a functional government. But every other candidate in the primary backed those things, too.

Bowser was quite adept at citing facts and figures but also showed a real talent for framing issues in a way that sounded good to everyone. She generally praised many ideas in the abstract but remained noncommittal as they became concrete.

Continue reading my latest op-ed in the Washington Post.

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