In early June, we told you about Falls Church’s request for regional transportation funding to bring Capital Bikeshare to the city.
Dozens of you took action, and now Bikeshare is coming to Falls Church!
There's a twist. Unfortunately, some outside the Beltway legislators do not see bike investments as part of regional transportation solution, they didn’t support Falls Church’s request for funding bikeshare, even though it will provide efficient connections to the two Metro stations on the periphery of the city.
But local officials came up with a solution: Fairfax will defer receipt of federal/state funds for a couple of its own bicycle and pedestrian projects, shifting those funds to Falls Church to kickstart bikeshare there.
Use our take-action tool below to send an email thanking Fairfax County and Falls Church elected officials! If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
The diverse, historic Richmond Highway (Route 1) corridor is on the cusp of major revitalization. A new bus rapid transit line is in the works and now the county is updating its comprehensive plan.
With your help, Route 1 could be a great modern urban boulevard. Make sure the new comprehensive plan supports green, walkable, transit-oriented, and inclusive communities.
We believe key elements to the plan should include:
- A grid of pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets for each transit-oriented center.
- Safe, reasonable crossing distances – with 10 to 11 foot lanes, protected bicycle tracks, and reduced speeds through the transit-oriented centers.
- Expanded and connected parks and stream buffers, and modern stormwater management.
- Proactive strategies to preserve existing affordable housing and include new affordable housing in redevelopment.
- Development scaled to high-frequency bus rapid transit with options for increases tied to future Metrorail at Beacon Hill and Hybla Valley.
It’s important that the plan include clear guidance on these issues to ensure that county staff, VDOT, and private developers follow-through in creating a sustainable and inclusive community.
Even if you don’t live near Route 1, show your support for this historic part of Fairfax.
Use our take-action tool below to show your support green, walkable, transit-oriented, and inclusive communities along Richmond Highway . If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
On Wednesday, July 13, the commission will consider for the final time whether to make inculsionary housing truly affordable for DC residents.
This decision could be a game changer for working class and low-income DC residents. We need you to speak up again in support!
IZ mandates that 8-10% of the units in new DC apartments and condos be priced and set aside for lower-income households.
But today, the prices for affordable IZ homes are too high. Too many residents have not benefited from the program because IZ units are still too expensive for them.
To fix this, we're pushing the Zoning Commission to lower the income targeting for IZ rental units from 80% of our region's median family income to 60% of median family income.
July 13 is likely to be the last hearing of this long, drawn out process.
Use our take-action tool below to remind the Zoning Commission and Mayor Bowser how important it is that IZ delivers on its potential to create more affordable housing for working class and low-income DC residents. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
In February, we asked you to support rebuilding Ramsey Homes into 52 new affordable homes in walking distance of Metro, jobs, and services.
Some neighbors asked to historically preserve all or some of four aging buildings. On Tuesday, after months of consideration, the City Council voted unanimously to replace all four buildings with 52 units of mixed-income, affordable housing.
The apartments were built in 1940-1942 for African American defense workers. They are long-outdated. Heating is inadequate, the electrical system can't support air conditioners, substandard plumbing can’t handle basic demand, and many spots are inaccessible to people with disabilities.
What arguments won over the Council and Mayor?
- Cost: It would have cost ~$750,000/unit to preserve an existing building and provide two affordable units in it. That would leave less money in the project as a whole to build more affordable units.
- Councilmember Bailey: In moving remarks, he talked about the huge loss of affordable homes, and questioned the value of preserving Jim Crow-era housing that made its residents feel different and 'less than' other community members.
- Open space: Mayor Silberberg said that although she strongly supports historic preservation, she didn’t want to save the 74-year-old buildings at the cost of open space, which neighbors wanted.
The vote directs staff to focus on demolition of the existing buildings, construction of 52 units in one building, and moving the building north toward Wythe St. to provide more open space facing single-family townhomes on Pendleton St.
The development will now be simpler, more cost effective, and more likely to win the tax credits it needs. It will provide housing for families at a range of income levels: 30-60% of area median income. We expect a final Council vote in December in time for ARHA to apply for tax credits in March 2017.
Use our take-action tool below and thank the Mayor and Counci lfor their vote on Ramsey Homes. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Downtown Silver Spring could become very bike-friendly, with three miles of interconnected, protected bike lanes.
Thanks to skyrocketing interest in bicycling for daily transportation, the County Council upped funding for bike improvements by 150%. It has identified bicycle pedestrian priority areas like downtown Silver Spring! But we’ve heard that some Silver Spring neighbors are concerned.
Downtown Silver Spring is the neighborhood I call home, and I personally couldn't be more excited that this summer, work will begin on Spring and Cedar Streets to bring the first separated bike lanes to Silver Spring.
Proposals for protected bicycle lanes are also under consideration for Dixon Ave, Wayne Ave, and Fenton Street.
It’s the Fenton Street proposal that’s prompting opposition even before studies have begun. Concerns range from loss of parking spaces to spillover into neighborhoods. These issues and others will be studied in a public process, and we think there are ways to address each concern. For example, there is ample parking available in the nearby parking garages and if needed, the county can put a neighborhood parking permit program in place.
Safe bicycling conditions offer so many benefits. More people will bicycle rather than pull out the car for both commutes and errands. That reduces traffic and greenhouse gasses, and helps people live healthier, more active lives. More bicycling makes streets calmer for people driving, biking, and walking alike. Urban retail sales have increased where cities have added bicycle lanes and bikeshare.
In short, protected bike lanes as part of a complete network will contribute to a more sustainable and pleasant downtown Silver Spring. That makes a great neighborhood even better!
Use our take-action tool below and voice your support for bike lanes in downtown Silver Spring. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Falls Church hopes to join the popular Capital Bikeshare in 2017 -- if it can secure funding from two regional transportation bodies.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) are considering the city's funding requests today and June 9, but have said they need to hear loud and clear from residents that they want the expansion.
Tell NVTA and NVTC that yes, Falls Church residents want Bikeshare!
Tonight (June 2), the NVTC will consider $850,000 to fully fund the first 3 years of operating expenses for the 16 stations Falls Church hopes to build. Next Thursday (June 9), NVTA will consider the city's capital request of $2 million to purchase stations and get the program up and running in Falls Church.
If funded, Falls Church has identified 3 priority corridors for the initial Bikeshare network: the Broad Street corridor, Washington Street corridor, and W&OD Trail. Capital Bikeshare would provide an easy and really cheap way to get to the East Falls Church and West Falls Church Metro stations! Falls Church's Bicycle Master Plan identifies a fourth corridor, Roosevelt Boulevard, as a priority for future expansion – providing a connection to Metro for thousands of residents.
The bright red bikes are already in place or on the way throughout much of Northern Virginia -- Arlington has 84 stations, and Fairfax is rolling out stations before year end. If you want to see Bikeshare in Falls Church, NVTA and NVTC need to hear from you today.
Use our take-action tool below to ask NVTA and NVTC for Bikeshare in Falls Church. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!
Metro's revised SafeTrack plan is out, and riders along the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines will be suffering much earlier than in the original plan. That may be necessary maintenance, but it'll mean local officials have to move fast to find alternative ways to get people east and west.
The first "surge" is single-tracking from Ballston to East Falls Church from June 4-13. That single-tracking includes rush hours and every other time. There will be fewer trains at rush hour everywhere along the Orange and Silver west of there and the Orange Line east all the way to New Carrollton.
Then, the really big challenge hits June 18, when Metro will shut down the line from Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road for 16 days, June 18-July 3. This will also mean no trains from Arlington Cemetery to Rosslyn. That means no trains on these areas for over two weeks.
And this won't just affect people traveling on the east side of the region. There will be 54% fewer trains from Eastern Market to Rosslyn during rush hours and 40-43% fewer on the Orange and Silver lines in Virginia.
In July, Yellow/Blue riders are affected, followed by more single-tracking on Orange/Silver, and then a big Red Line single-tracking in August.
We'll need bus/HOV lanes and staging parking lots
Last week, we talked about 8 big ideas to help. Based on your feedback, we want to prioritize dedicated express lanes for bus and carpoolers along main arterial roads, including the bridges into DC.
In addition, the DOTs should find lots that can serve as park-and-rides and slugging staging areas. People could park in these zones and form ad-hoc carpools (called "slugging"), or ride special shuttle buses using the 42 extra buses Metro has available for the surges.
Workers, employers, retailers, and everyone else will have to step up too, to share rides and adjust work hours to keep people getting where they need to go. Still, many people don't have that option and need a way to travel east and west without spending hours in traffic. The only way we are going to encourage and move enough people by carpool and bus is if we offer a speedy and reliable trip with dedicated express lanes.
We don't have all the answers. The local DOTs have the experts who need to figure out the specifics. Or maybe they have variations on this plan that would work better. But while asking people nicely to please telework or carpool is part of the answer, it's not enough on its own. Some priority for carpoolers and buses is necessary.
There's not a lot of time. But the SafeTrack "surges" won't be permanent. It's not unreasonable to try some meaningful policies in late June to try to keep people moving.
Let’s all roll up our sleeves and take on this challenge. We can do it!
Ask your local DOTs to get this figured out right now
Please ask your local transportation officials to step up. We've suggested some recommendations in the form, but you can customize it as much as you'd like. Our system will automatically send your letter to the right officials based on the jurisdiction you enter, and will sign the letter with your first and last name.
Should driving fast a priority on main streets where people are shopping or dining at an outdoor café? Or in neighborhoods where children might be biking or walking? Of course not.
But a proposed US Department of Transportation (USDOT) rule would do just that in our communities.
This USDOT draft rule (more info at T4America) would deem a road congested if vehicles are moving at a slow speed, compared to an open road at 3 am! It would make driving fast and moving trucks the ultimate goals of our transportation system, overriding all other transportation modes and needs.
In turn, this would:
- penalize communities where people live close to work, or travel shorter distances at slower speeds.
- penalize and divert funding from places where people are opting out of congestion entirely by living in a transit-oriented neighborhood, taking transit, telecommuting, walking or biking.
- make it more dangerous for people walking and biking, including on roads running past our schools, through our towns and in the transit-oriented neighborhoods we are working so hard to create.
If this rule stands as written, we expect it to endanger efforts to increase investment in much-needed transit and in safer streets in our communities.
Use our take-action tool below stand with us and other people across America and ask USDOT to change the rule. If you can, please take a moment to put our template into your own words! Form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers. Thank you!