Friday, April 20, 2012

Facility Meeting Minutes (04-14-2012)

Bicycling Rhode Island Avenue
DC Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) Facilities Committee (FAC) Report from April “Rolling” meeting

The DC BAC FAC conducts exploratory rides in different areas of the City in the months of April, June, August, and October. The purpose of these rides it to provide the City with input from a cyclist’s perspective on areas where cycling improvements are needed, or in areas that are slated for major redevelopment.

Ride: Rhode Island Avenue
Route: Rhode Island Avenue from Logan Circle to Eastern Avenue
Date: April 14, 2012
Attendees: Jeanie Osburn, BAC FAC Chair
Ellen Jones, BAC Chair
Randal Myers, BAC member (at large)
Jameel Alsalam, BAC member (Ward 4)
Mike Goodno, DDOT bike/ped coordinator’s office
John Iskander, Friends of Rhode Island Ave
Kyle Todd, Friends of Rhode Island Ave
Katy Bristow
Sean McBride
David Kalter
Mike Turner

Problem areas:
The worst segment stretches from Logan Circle to 12th Street NE. Along that stretch in particular the problems noted include:
  • · Dangerous intersection at Q Street: traffic turning right does so at high speeds and with little regard for cyclists riding along Rhode Island, or for pedestrians crossing Q Street NW in the crosswalk. This dangerous fast right turn scenario is repeated many times along Rhode Island Avenue in both directions.
  • · R Street NW: There is a bike lane on R Street NW that crosses Rhode Island Avenue near Marion St and 7th Street. The bike lane on the east side of Rhode Island Avenue is between a driving lane and a parking lane. On the west side of Rhode Island Avenue between Rhode Island Avenue and 7th Street, the lane is between two driving lanes- one to go straight, and one to turn right. Motorists who plan to turn right merge over to the right without checking for cyclists. Having the bike lane striping going all the way across Rhode Island Avenue would help by giving motorists a visual queue that they’re crossing over a bike lane.
  • · There is a hill between 1st Street NW and 4th Street NE which is hazardous for cyclists, particularly during rush hour, as traffic speed is fast, and cyclists naturally are slower climbing the hill.
  • · The section between 5th Street NW and 3rd Street NW has 3 gas stations with multiple curb cuts for traffic into and out of the stations. Motorists tend to ignore or be “blind” to cyclists and pedestrians as they enter and exit the stations.
  • · The intersection at 4th Street NE and Rhode Island Avenue is dangerous for outbound cyclists, because motorists tend to misjudge cyclists’ speed as they’re going downhill, and then the motorist does not yield right of way turning southbound onto 4th Street (either from the oncoming left lane or turning right when travelling in the direction of the cyclist)
  • · The underpass for the Metro tracks is dangerous. The area under the underpass is dark, the sidewalk is very narrow and thus not an option, and there are commonly events at a nearby church which cause congestion, double parking, and jaywalking.
  • · The slip lane into the Home Depot complex creates a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians. This is similar to the problem at Q Street NW described earlier.
  • · The curb cut on the NE corner of Reed and Rhode Island Ave. NE is dangerous. Rather than having a curb cut on both Reed and Rhode Island, there is a single curb cut that forces cyclists and handicapped people into traffic. Also, there is a big planter at the edge of the sidewalk, so if you do not cut the corner tight when coming up that curb cut, you run into the planter.
  • · The tall streetlights are nice in that the height allows the light to span a large area, however, in the spring/summer/fall when the tree canopy is full, those lights are above the canopy and provide little illumination.
  • · There is a dangerous pedestrian crossing at Newton Street NE. Traffic there goes pretty quickly, since there is no light or anything to slow traffic between South Dakota and Eastern. While there is a crosswalk, motorists pay little attention to crosswalks, particularly those with no signal.
  • · The traffic on Rhode Island Avenue moves as though it is a limited-access highway and not a street that traverses several residential neighborhoods. This is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians and is not conducive to the commercial development that the Friends of Rhode Island Avenue are working to promote.
  • · Sections of pavement are in bad condition, particularly around the construction at the Rhode Island Ave Metro Station and Eastern Avenue. On Eastern Avenue there is a drainage problem which causes flooding on Rhode Island Avenue NE at the intersection and degrades the roadway. This drainage problem causes icy conditions in cold weather and is a hazard for cyclists and motorists alike.
  • · Tree canopy: The tree canopy is a benefit to all (cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians) and should be maintained. There has been some draconian trimming of the trees particularly around power lines. There are also some missing trees. New trees need to be planted to fill out the canopy, and the health of existing trees should be assessed.
  • · There are no way-finding signs to guide cyclists along Rhode Island Avenue to destinations or to point out streets with cycling lanes, in particular the cycle lanes at Q, R, and 6th Streets NW and 4th, 12th, and 18th Streets NE.
Suggestions:
  • Slow traffic down using any means possible including constructing bump-outs, narrowing lanes, replacing traffic signals with traffic circles (such as at Rhode Island Avenue and 34th Street in Mt Rainier).
  • Traffic circles at Reed Street NE, Montana Ave. NE, 18th Street NE and South Dakota Avenue NE could help significantly in slowing traffic. Other things which could slow traffic include tightening the turning radius onto several streets to force slower right-hand turns, closing some curb cuts, and restricting turns at some locations. 
  • Lighting: the area under the Metro track underpass similarly to what’s been done at M and L Street NE underpasses would help tremendously. Also, by augmenting the tall street lights with lighting that is below the tree canopy, the street would have better lighting, and look more like a neighborhood.
  •  Consider utilizing the median space where there are no trees to provide extra footage to incorporate bicycle lanes on both sides of Rhode Island Avenue.
  • Either remove parking altogether from Rhode Island Avenue and make the parking lane a bus/bike lane, or keep the parking but get rid of the rush hour restrictions which would then allow cyclists to ride in the parking lane.
  • Put a pedestrian-activated light at Newton Street NE.
  • Review crash statistics to guide where to begin an effort to make Rhode Island Avenue safer for everyone.

Thanks to Rita’s Italian Ice for providing a free cup of ice to all who joined us for the ride.

As development along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor increases with more multi-unit dwellings, the impact of traffic on the corridor will increase. The DC BAC, Friends of Rhode Island Avenue, and cyclists along the corridor recommend making bike/ped friendly changes to Rhode Island Avenue.

Next ride will be in Ward 4 on a TBD date in June.

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