Union Station Bicycle Transit Center

Author: Donald Paine

At the cusp of a livable cities movement, the Bicycle Transit Center is a highly visible catalyst promoting bicycle use and alternative transportation options by providing secure parking, rental and retail uses. At the doorstep of Washington’s major transportation hub, Union Station, the sleek veiled form reflects the technology of its contents while complimenting its eminent Beaux Arts neighbors. Echoing a bicycle wheel’s elegance and efficiency, arched steel tubes covered with an energy-efficient “skin” optimizes transparency in this sensitive historic context.

Union Station is the largest intermodal transportation center in the Washington metropolitan area and the mid-Atlantic region. Located just east of Washington’s central business district and blocks from the U.S. Capitol, Union Station plays a major role in the travel and commuting needs of thousands of residents and visitors to the national capital region from D.C., Virginia, Maryland and the entire East Coast.

The original train station was completed in 1909., but many modifications have been made over the years. The original train station was designed by noted architect Daniel Burnham and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The most recent major upgrade and rehabilitation of Union Station’s rail station occurred in the late 1980s. The Metrorail station at Union Station opened in 1976 and has undergone no major upgrade or renewal beyond routine maintenance projects and the addition of one mezzanine escalator and stair. As these adjoining stations experience new growth from expanded intercity travel, commuter rail’s growing popularity and the renewal of adjoining D.C. neighborhoods, Union Station’s many stakeholders have come together to begin extensive planning that will create a 21st century multi-modal transportation center.

Union Station is a complex of several structures and serves multiple functions. In addition to the Metrorail station, it contains Washington’s Amtrak intercity passenger rail station, the terminal for MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services, a bus terminal serving intercity and local buses, a retail center of shops and restaurants, a community gathering place with meeting rooms and public spaces, and a tourist attraction.

Read the full article at http://www.masstransitmag.com/article/10286935/union-station-bicycle-transit-center


As Washington goes …

Author: Philip Langdon

Population figures for all 50 states were released in late December by the US Census Bureau. Because the Bureau treats the District of Columbia as if it were a state, among the results announced were those for one city: Washington.

In Washington’s case, the census showed that the long period of urban depopulation has come to an end, and then some. Since 2000, Washington has achieved a net gain of nearly 30,000 inhabitants, and has seen its total population climb to 601,723. Harriet Tregoning, the District’s planning director, was quoted in The Washington Post as calling this a “huge milestone.” Joy Phillips of the State Data Center pronounced the population turnaround “a dream realized.”

Until 2010, every census since 1950 had shown the District losing people. At Washington’s peak in 1950, the city was home to 802,178 people. No wonder Washington municipal officials are now in a mood to celebrate.

William H. Frey, demographer for Brookings Institution, told me that since at least 2007, cities have been doing better than they used to do at retaining population. This, he suggested, reflects the nation’s distressed economy, which has made it harder for people to pick up and move — harder to sell one house and buy another.

Read the full article at http://newurbannetwork.com/article/washington-goes-%E2%80%A6-13900


Fifth Annual University Network Summit: Catastrophes and Complex Systems: TRANSPORTATION

TRB is cosponsoring the Fifth Annual University Network Summit: Catastrophes and Complex Systems: TRANSPORTATION on March 30-April 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit will be hosted by the Office of University Programs, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. The focus for the 2011 event will be on transportation, particularly with respect to disasters and the resilience and recovery of complex transportation systems. Various university centers of excellence programs and TRB will have exhibits highlighting recent and current research activities. For additional information contact Joedy Cambridge of TRB.

For more information: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/Fifth_Annual_University_Network_Summit_Catastrophe_164464.aspx


Walk This Way: Expanding Pedestrian and Bike Safety to the Whole District Won’t Be Easy

On Monday morning, District Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein sat at a dais at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments boardroom, next to the Dutch ambassador and other Netherlandish dignitaries. They were there to talk about how their country makes it easy to bicycle, before mobile workshops that would assess D.C.’s bike friendliness.

Although the Dutch could brag about their capacious bike parking facilities and dedicated cycle tracks, it wasn’t wholly an instructor-student dynamic. In many instances, the foreigners ended up praising D.C.’s bicycling infrastructure, from signage to new bike lanes to high usage of helmets. Klein tapped away at his Android phone for parts of the presentation–he’s familiar with the Dutch innovations, having brought a few of them to D.C. already–and looked up to smile at photos of children cycling to school. When his turn at the mic came, Klein delivered a stirring encomium to bold action for a bike-centric city.

“We can’t say we want to be more sustainable, but we also want to widen our roads and make it easier to drive, it just doesn’t work that way,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be more aggressive over the last few years than we have been.”

Even in the confined political environment of Washington–where many streetscape changes have to be vetted by multiple levels of city and federal government–Klein has hurled himself into elevating pedestrians and bikes over cars, with the idea of increasing both access and safety (a tricky thing, since more people on foot and two wheels means more targets for vehicles to hit). Aside from a few high-profile reversals–like the wide Pennsylvania Avenue NW bike lanes that later had to be slimmed down–he’s mostly gotten his way. DDOT is now retrofitting so many streets for bikes that the agency is trying to figure out how to contract out the work, rather than doing it all in-house. One need: More paint stripers, to keep up with all the traffic flow revisions the agency wants.

Read the full article at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2010/11/17/walk-this-way-expanding-pedestrian-and-bike-safety-to-the-whole-district-won%E2%80%99t-be-easy/


As shelters move farther out, network of buses connects homeless with downtown

Author: Steve Hendrix

Mark Fischer might not have a fixed address, but he sure has a fixed commute. On Monday morning, Fischer, 47 and unemployed for almost a decade, started his day as he always does: rolling out of bed at 6:15 a.m., pulling on his two jackets and topcoat and hurrying out to the sidewalk to catch the bus – the homeless bus.

Fischer and a group of about 30 men, most lugging backpacks and bulging plastic bags, stamped their feet to hold off the pre-dawn chill in front of a D.C. shelter in an old warehouse on New York Avenue NE. Promptly at 6:35, an empty white bus, airport limo variety, pulled up. The doors opened and the men shuffled aboard for the trip downtown, to their daily rounds.

The homeless commute might be a little less refined than the one most Washington workers experience, but it is every bit as regular. Each morning, the District government operates a kind of free mini-Metro for the homeless, connecting the city’s increasingly outlying network of shelters with soup kitchens, social service bureaus and preferred panhandling blocks closer to downtown.

Then, each evening, the homeless commuters join the outbound flow. With the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on G Street NW serving as depot, 10 scheduled buses load up to take the homeless back to shelters on the outskirts of town. The city spends about $1.8 million a year on transportation for the homeless, including the daily buses and a hypothermia van that patrols the streets on wintry nights.

Read the full article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/05/AR2010110503169.html


In The News: Bike Sharing Expands in Washington

Author: J. David Goodman

As Lauren Statman made her way along Calvert Street in Washington on Sunday, she stopped to investigate a new phenomenon on the sidewalk near her home: a large, empty bike share station.

From just 10 stations and about 100 bikes downtown, one of the first municipal bike sharing programs in the country is ballooning by a factor of 10: 100 stations and about 1,100 bikes are to spread around Washington and across the river in Arlington, Va., by the end of October.

The system officially opens to the public on Monday with 400 bikes at 49 stations. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty plans a morning news conference on the program.

“It seems cool because you don’t have to commit,” Ms. Statman, 23, said. She does not own a bike, she said, but will consider using the city’s bikes now that she has become interested in riding again.

Read the full article at: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/bike-sharing-expands-in-washington/?scp=1&sq=Bike%20Sharing%20Expands%20in%20Washington&st=cse