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Please Support Safe Streets in Takoma Park

Please Support Safe Streets in Takoma Park
By Gordon Chaffin • Issue #143 • View online
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Support beginner-friendly bike lanes -> https://www.menti.com/xcmq7ekr8c/0
Support beginner-friendly bike lanes -> https://www.menti.com/xcmq7ekr8c/0
Maple Avenue Needs Your Support for Safer Streets
Takoma Park, Maryland is asking for public comments right now on proposed improvements to 1.0 miles of Maple Avenue from the DC heading northeast. As shown above, Maple is a critical road connecting downtown Takoma DC with the fantastic Sligo Creek walk/bike Trail. Please join me in submitting ASAP your support for beginner-friendly bike facilities: a protected, “separated bike lane” (Option 3) or curb-height mobility lanes (Option 4).
Takoma Park is, explained charitably, the most concentrated collection of NIMBYs in any DC-area community. These are hardcore progressive social justice warriors who demand street parking that induces more driving and protest surface lots from becoming transit-oriented housing – but roll it all into an allegedly aggressive climate change plan. It’s very important that you show support as a nearby resident, a person who spends money at Mapple Avenue stores, and/or connects your family between Metro and trails like Sligo Creek.
  • Public Survey and Comment Form - Link
  • Slides from March 30th Mtg - Link
  • Chat comments from March 30th Mtg - Link
  • Video of March 30th Mtg - Link and embedded below
Look How Close This Is! We need your vote for Option 4 (or 3)!
Fill out the survey ASAP - https://www.menti.com/xcmq7ekr8c
Fill out the survey ASAP - https://www.menti.com/xcmq7ekr8c
Takoma Park Maple Avenue Complete Street Design Public Meeting-March 30, 2021
Takoma Park Maple Avenue Complete Street Design Public Meeting-March 30, 2021
Maple Avenue northeast of downtown Takoma has all the usual conflicts of making streets safer: residents and businesses claim to depend on on-street parking while the sidewalks aren’t safe enough and the only people who bike there are the bravest, most experienced, or people who can’t afford cars. As always, the width between curbs creates tradeoffs between car storage and travel – where most of the space is used – with vulnerable users of public space. As ever, I’m begging you to show support for something other than car-focused designs.
In the public survey, please share that this is an important route for non-car users of the street and that you don’t feel safe enough using Maple with your children. Explain how this route is critical for you and people you know to get from the Metro to the Sligo trail.
The top-left is downtown Takoma and lower-right is the Sligo Creek Trail crossing.
The top-left is downtown Takoma and lower-right is the Sligo Creek Trail crossing.
Takoma Park has broken this project into two sections. Lower and Upper Maple Avenue. The Upper portion is near downtown Takoma and has more single-family homes. For Lower Maple, closer to Sligo Creek, please support either of the two below design concepts:
This is a two-way cycletrack that separates and protects bike riders from traffic. This is a low-cost design, but re-purposes one of the two on-street parking lanes.
This is a two-way cycletrack that separates and protects bike riders from traffic. This is a low-cost design, but re-purposes one of the two on-street parking lanes.
This design is the most expensive possible: rebuilding the curbs so that bike lanes can be raised up to sidewalk level
This design is the most expensive possible: rebuilding the curbs so that bike lanes can be raised up to sidewalk level
I’m asking you to support those two above designs because they would do the most to increase safety for bike riders and encourage more people in the area to bike. Many families drive to a couple of parking lots along Sligo Creek Trail, then unload their bikes and ride or go for a walk. As a community – for greater safety, cleaner air, lower noise, etc. – we have to encourage more people to take Metro to Takoma or Silver Spring and then bike over to Sligo Creek.
As usually happens when street width is narrow, the planners put up paint-only bike lanes and shared-road “sharrow” markers as options for Lower Maple. Data and anecdotal accounts show that both of those designs do close to nothing to encourage more bike riding or make existing riders safer. Paint-only bike lanes in mixed-use areas become double-parking zones where rideshares pick-up and drop-off, where package delivery trucks stop to unload, and quick in/out movements of parked/ing drivers frequently strike bicyclists.
In theory, I prefer the curb-height mobility lane because it has big pedestrian improvements with new beginner-friendly bikeways. This will result in the most possible people biking to and through the corridor. However, installing a capital project with moving curbs will likely push the installation of this project back 2-5 years. The town would probably need to seek County, State, and maybe Federal money to complete design and installation.
I’m a mobility justice advocate, so I have to hold myself to be a pedestrian ally as well as a bike safety evangelist. The tension: support a safer road for bikes that can install next year or support a safer streetscape for everyone that *maybe* gets done by 2024-26. Under no condition will I support Lower Maple designs with sharrows or paint-only bike lanes. Those configurations have completely failed in all contexts where housing, business, and recreation collide at the curbside. Those roads kill people.
Plans for Upper Maple in Takoma Park include additional "bulb-out" tree zones that calm traffic.
Plans for Upper Maple in Takoma Park include additional "bulb-out" tree zones that calm traffic.
The Upper Maple portion of this project is fairly simple with one caveat. The curb width gets narrower and the adjacent land becomes very expensive detached homes. Takoma Park has already thrown out the idea for a single bike lane that climbs southbound to downtown. Street parking has to stay. With the 26 feet curb width, Takoma Park plans to preserve two-way traffic and add tree-planting bulb-outs which data show reduce driver speed.
I was unaware of this project until last week, so I don’t know if they’ve studied a one-way configuration. If they did, it would delay the project almost as much as the need to move curbs. I hope you’ll just fill out the survey to support those traffic-calming bulb-outs.
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Civic Participation Tools
  • Calendar - Civic Events by Gordon Chaffin
  • Watch Later - Upcoming Livestreams of DC-Area Civic Events
  • Watch Now - Past Livestreams of DC-Area Civic Events
  • Chart - DC Beginner-Friendly Bike Facility Pending Project List
  • List - Data and Tools for Civic Participation
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Know of Any Job Opportunities?
I’m job searching – bit.ly/GordonChaffinResume – and I could use your help finding a job in DC or SE Michigan. I’m looking for a mid- to senior-level role in an organization that serves the public interest. A role in public policy, media/journalism, or communications/marketing. I’d appreciate any leads/referrals. Please reply to this email!
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Gordon Chaffin

This is Gordon Chaffin's newsletter. By day, he's a local journalist and current events storyteller living in Washington, DC. The goal: produce writing and multimedia -- civic participation resources -- that include, inform, and equip stakeholders with the least power to improve their community. On evenings and weekends, Gordon is a freelance audio/video producer and photographer. Topics of interest: transportation -- especially non-car transit -- plus housing, environmental justice, social and gender policies like family-medical leave, and education -- especially early childhood. Please send news tips to gordon[AT]streetsensemedia[DOT]org and freelance job inquiries to gordonchaffin[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

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