PDA

View Full Version : Bike stations along GWMP may not be installed



PotomacCyclist
05-04-2015, 10:05 AM
Arlington had proposed new stations at locations along the GWMP, including Rosslyn, Arlington National Cemetery, Roosevelt Island entrance, Gravelly Point, et al.

Now the NPS may block the new station locations. They did not comment on the matter.

http://m.wamu.org/#/news/15/05/03/plan_to_bring_bikeshare_to_george_washington_parkw ay_in_danger

mstone
05-04-2015, 10:08 AM
They don't want humans begriming their scenic expressways. Or a conservative member of congress is leaning on them to support cars more.

PotomacCyclist
05-04-2015, 10:14 AM
I think it's the latter. Local representatives need to push back on this. One senator or rep from some Western or Southern state shouldn't get to decide purely local Arlington/DC matters.

PotomacCyclist
05-04-2015, 12:07 PM
The timing of this news is puzzling or odd. It follows the announcement of the deal between Alexandria and the NPS re the Potomac Yard Metro station. Alexandria agreed to pay for improvements and plans for Daingerfield Island, the MVT and other areas along the GWMP.

Maybe there's no connection, but the timing makes me wonder. Why would the NPS go along with the bike station plan before, but not now? The aesthetics argument doesn't fly, if that's an objection. If that's a problem now, why wasn't it a problem a couple years ago? The new stations will not be substantially different from current stations.

The stations would be popular. Those stations could attract many local and visiting riders. I know I would use some of those stations frequently.

The NPS should at least state why they are opposed to the plan. The secrecy reminds me of the difficulties and initial obstruction by the NPS when DC proposed to add bike stations along the National Mall a couple years ago. At first they raised the aesthetics argument. Then it was revealed that the problem was the exclusive contact with Tourmobile. Only after it was revealed that the Tourmobile contact had been awarded illegally for decades did the NPS backtrack. They quickly agreed to bike stations on the Mall. The Tourmobile contact was allowed to lapse. It was not renewed.

Is there something similar going on now? They built up some potential goodwill with the Potomac Yard Metro agreement. But now they or some Congressional representatives are trying to sour the situation again. If it is a rep, why do they go on so much about local authority, but they interfere so much in local DC/NoVa matters? I'm speculating here, but we have nothing to go on, because NPS hasn't explained why they now seem to be opposed to the GWMP stations.

Kolohe
05-04-2015, 12:48 PM
I think it's the latter. Local representatives need to push back on this. One senator or rep from some Western or Southern state shouldn't get to decide purely local Arlington/DC matters.

NPS has long been a bunch foot draggers (with, now, the sole exception of the Potomac Yard land swap) independent on whomever's in Congress. (http://www.thewashcycle.com/national-park-service/)

bobco85
05-04-2015, 02:13 PM
From the article:


But now sources inside Arlington County government say the National Park Service wants out. The agency is asking Arlington to find other places to put the Bikeshare stations because it no longer wants them. It is unclear why, and Park Service officials were not available for comment.

Seriously, the writer took that and turned into "Plan To Bring Capital Bikeshare To George Washington Parkway May Be In Danger"? The title also misleads readers into thinking the bikes will be used on the GWP when it really will be the MVT.

At the very least, he put updates due to responses from NPS that say quite the opposite, but really the only news here is that the discussion of station location is underway (good news compared to hearing about NPS's previous issues with having any bikeshare station at Arlington National Cemetery). The rest is a rumor based on "someone from Arl Co gov't said something."

What a terrible article. (My apologies for the negativity, but I hate it when a journalist makes up a story before checking the facts.)

PotomacCyclist
05-04-2015, 03:10 PM
There aren't good alternatives for some of the proposed locations: Air Force Memorial, Cemetery, Roosevelt Island, airport (unless Arl works out a deal with MWAA).

Edit: I just saw the updates to the story. That changes the situation somewhat. I don't know how long the author/editor of the article waited to hear from NPS before posting the article.

chris_s
05-04-2015, 03:39 PM
I think most likely if the press hadn't gotten wind of it, those stations would have gone quietly the way of the dodo and the funds redirected.

Steve O
05-04-2015, 03:57 PM
Well, tonight's the ABAC meeting, so we can ask Arlington County staff what they know about this.

lordofthemark
05-04-2015, 04:16 PM
http://www.thewashcycle.com/2015/05/nps-says-its-committed-to-adding-bikeshare-along-mvt-and-dca.html#comments

PotomacCyclist
05-04-2015, 05:20 PM
I'm at DCA now. No bike stations yet.

KWL
05-04-2015, 06:17 PM
I have a Cabi station very very near work. I have a Cabi station a few blocks from my house. Because I'm such a slow-a** rider (and even slower on those Cabi monsters) I really need a station at Gravely Point/National Airport. Good news from NPS tweet.

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 09:54 AM
I use the Jefferson Memorial or Washington Monument stations as intermediate points to break up the DC-Arlington ride. I have to push really hard to make the entire trip under 30 minutes and even then, I don't always make it. Now I don't even bother. I always use one of the other stations along the way to split up the trip.

If you are heading south on the MVT, you could ride over to the Crystal City Water Park and dock at one of the Crystal Drive stations. Then continue south on Crystal Drive and Potomac Ave. to the zig-zag connector to Four Mile Run Trail and back to the MVT.

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 12:13 PM
Reaction from the author of the WAMU article (via The Washcycle): https://twitter.com/MartinDiCaro/status/595283940052729856

"That statement does not address my specific question about the 8 proposed locations already identified." (referring to the NPS tweet: "The National Park Service is very supportive of providing access through bikeshare to the areas of the park identified in the grant. The park and our partners are beginning the process of identifying specific locations.")

chris_s
05-05-2015, 12:28 PM
Reaction from the author of the WAMU article (via The Washcycle): https://twitter.com/MartinDiCaro/status/595283940052729856

"That statement does not address my specific question about the 8 proposed locations already identified." (referring to the NPS tweet: "The National Park Service is very supportive of providing access through bikeshare to the areas of the park identified in the grant. The park and our partners are beginning the process of identifying specific locations.")

Word on the street is that NPS is saying that they are supportive publicly while at the staff level pushing to shift the station locations in a way that either makes them useless or delays them ridiculously.

Stuff like:
instead of bikeshare at the airport, bikeshare in Crystal city right next to the trail connector (90% less useful for reaching the airport)
instead of bikeshare on NPS property at the cemetery, bikeshare on cemetery property (passing the buck...)
instead of bikeshare at Roosevelt Island, more bikeshare in Rosslyn near the trail (90% less useful for bikesharing to Roosevelt Island)
instead of bikeshare at the Air Force Memorial, more bikeshare in Pentagon City (90% less useful for reaching the memorial)

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 01:12 PM
- Reagan National Airport: Arlington could work around the airport location by agreeing with MWAA on a location on the airport grounds. I don't think NPS has jurisdiction there. There is space for a bike station next to the parking garage, near the large bike rack location. This would actually be more convenient for cyclists. (There were supposedly two airport bike stations proposed. Perhaps Arlington/MWAA could install just one large station.) The bike station might be visible from the MVT, but c'mon. There is a massive parking garage there. How could anyone object to the visual impact of a bike station when there is a massive, multistory above-ground parking garage, right there. Depending on the exact site, MWAA might have to dig up some grass and flower areas. That would have a minor visual impact. But again, the massive parking garage is there. No one is going to mistake that area for a nature preserve.

https://goo.gl/maps/hBmUF

This is a view of the parking garage from the GWMP and the MVT. You can see the parking garage, so the aesthetics are already impaired. But you can't see anything at ground level, so the bike station would be invisible to drivers on the GWMP and to users of the MVT. The aesthetics objection makes no sense for this location:

https://goo.gl/maps/33Mxv


- Cemetery: I think it would be more useful to have a bike station tucked against the boundary trees of the parking lot at the visitors center. The station would not be visible from Memorial Ave., so NPS would have zero cause for objection on aesthetic grounds. They wouldn't have control over such a location anyway. But I don't know if the Army/Cemetery would go for a station in that spot. That area is simply a parking lot. It's a little cleaner in appearance than a typical parking lot, but I don't think a bike station would detract more than all the parked cars would. A parked or moving car isn't natural or serene in appearance either. Plus once you move to the visitors center and walk into the Cemetery, you wouldn't see the bike station at all. In addition, they just tossed a couple wheelbender bike racks against the row of trees. It looks rather sloppy. The racks aren't bolted down. When I visited there last week, I could easily push the empty rack around. They don't seem to be too concerned about the aesthetics of that area as is. If they are OK with loose bike racks in a sloppy arrangement, then why would they object to a neatly placed bike station. If they wanted Arlington to remove the bright photos from the map panel, that would be an acceptable compromise. ARL could also place the map on a side that faces away from the entrance to the parking lot. The empty panel could have something appropriate, such as a welcoming sign to the Cemetery or a photo of some part of the Cemetery. I think this could work.

A view of the parking lot, a bike rack, the entrance to the visitors center parking lot and the row of trees that stands between the parking lot and Memorial Ave.: https://goo.gl/maps/N6AD5

This is the view from Memorial Ave. looking toward the visitors center and the parking lot. A bike station in the parking lot would be invisible from Memorial ave.: https://goo.gl/maps/zwUlW


- The Air Force Memorial is operated by the Air Force Memorial Foundation, which is now part of the Air Force Association. The AFA is an independent, non-profit organization. I don't think NPS has any official influence over them, but they might have some unofficial influence with them. There is plenty of space on the western side of the memorial grounds for a bike station. It would be out of the way and it wouldn't affect the viewshed of the memorial or the view overlooking the Cemetery, Pentagon City, the Pentagon or DC. There are cars parked along the Air Force Memorial Drive. I see large tour buses there frequently. A bike station is not going to affect the viewshed or aesthetics of the area more than a massive tour bus will. No one is going to be looking back at that western section or taking photos. A bike station would have no impact on the view or experience of any visitors to the Memorial.

A view of Air Force Memorial Drive. You can see the bike racks off to the right, plus several parked cars. Visitors will not be gazing at the Drive or at the parked cars or at any bike station located there.

https://goo.gl/maps/kORJ9


- The Pentagon bike station wouldn't be in a great location, even under the previous proposal (along Army-Navy Drive). I don't think NPS would have any say over this site in any case. I think the station could still be installed near the original proposed location. Probably in one of the satellite parking lots on Army-Navy Drive. It's a bit of a walk from the Pentagon transit center (Metro/bus), but not too far. It would be a little more convenient than walking to the existing bike stations in Pentagon City. I'm not too concerned about this location, given that DOD doesn't seem willing to allow a bike station closer to the Metro entrance. This is a DOD issue, not an NPS issue. Aesthetics wouldn't be a consideration here. There's nothing there but plain and drab-looking parking lots and the elevated lanes of I-395.

The overhead view of the parking lots along Army-Navy Drive: https://goo.gl/maps/70dlV

This is the Street View for one of the parking lots: https://goo.gl/maps/s0YOP


This would cover four of the locations (and five of the proposed bike stations). I have visited and walked around all of these areas in the past two or three weeks, as I was scouting out the bike racks for the BikeSpotter website. I'm now familiar with the details of each of those sites: where a bike station could fit and how that would affect the view and experience of visitors to each of those locations.

--------

Two locations might be more of an issue.

- The Roosevelt Island alternative would be a problem. I don't know why they can't put the bike station in a corner of the parking lot. The cars would block the view of the station from the GWMP for the most part, so I can't see how there would be any substantive infringement on the aesthetics of the viewshed.

A view of the Roosevelt Island parking lot. The GWMP is elevated above the parking lot. A bike station would barely be visible to any drivers. (Not that it should matter, but the NPS is very hung up on this.) The station would be visible to users of the MVT, but so are all of the cars, SUVs and station wagons in that parking lot. A bike station is not going to alter the aesthetics of that particular section of the trail that much. There are plenty of manmade objects in and around that parking lot.

https://goo.gl/maps/JLRWS

This is the view of that area from the GWMP: https://goo.gl/maps/53ayd

- Gravelly Point. Either there is a bike station there or there isn't. NPS can't really claim that there are good alternative locations. Just as with Roosevelt Island, they can tuck the bike station into a back corner of the parking lot, where it won't be visible from the GWMP or the MVT. Or if it is visible, it would have only a very minimal visual impact, especially when there are parked cars there. The aesthetics and viewshed arguments don't make much sense to me on this one either.

A view of the Gravelly Point parking lot. If a bike station were placed on the far end of the parking lot from this perspective, no one would be able to see it from the GWMP or the MVT.

https://goo.gl/maps/YoyVO

--------

- The final location is "Rosslyn circle." I'm not sure what this means. Is that a reference to the MVT/Lynn St. intersection area, the Intersection of Doom? If so, that doesn't seem to be the best place for a bike station. There's already a bike station near Lynn and 19th, about two blocks away from the intersection. If NPS wants to object to a bike station near the IoD, I won't be that upset.

So I think the NPS resistance may only have a major effect on the Gravelly Point and Roosevelt Island sites. Arlington could make a solid argument that bike stations can be added in the parking lot of both locations with almost no visual impact on the GWMP/MVT viewshed. I fail to see how a bike station would have more of an impact than all of the parked cars, or the boats and boat trailers at Gravelly Point. I don't understand the environmental objection either, if there is one. People are already biking to those locations, very frequently. There are a lot of parked cars and a lot of visitors. The presence of a bike station isn't going to change that materially. It's not as though these bike stations would be sited directly next to the MVT or the GWMP. Even if you consider the CaBi rebalancing vans, there are already many trucks, boats and large boat trailers at Gravelly Point. A rebalancing van isn't going to introduce a new element there, and the vans won't be entering the water and polluting the river that a truck might.

I don't believe there are boat trailers at Roosevelt Island. But Arlington has proposed a new boat launch site somewhere near Rosslyn. Why would a bike station and rebalancing van have more of an impact than a public boat launch site would?

Arlington could relent on most of the locations and focus on the Gravelly Point and Roosevelt Island locations. That's the strategy I would pursue. In the end, all of the bike stations could be installed in nearly ideal spots (other than the Pentagon location, but I don't think DOD is going to back off on that one). NPS would "get their way" on most of the locations, when it wouldn't really matter at most of those sites. This is assuming that Arlington could reach agreements with the other organizations for the Cemetery, Airport and Air Force Memorial. If Arlington isn't doing so already, they could open up parallel talks with the relevant organizations.

dbb
05-05-2015, 01:42 PM
- Gravelly Point. Either there is a bike station there or there isn't. NPS can't really claim that there are good alternative locations. Just as with Roosevelt Island, they can tuck the bike station into a back corner of the parking lot, where it won't be visible from the GWMP or the MVT. Or if it is visible, it would have only a very minimal visual impact, especially when there are parked cars there. The aesthetics and viewshed arguments don't make much sense to me on this one either.

I'm not sure anything could make Gravelly Point less inviting. From the permapotties to the piles o'trash every Monday to the mudhole in front of the permapotties; begriming the area with a CaBi station would be an improvement!

scoot
05-05-2015, 02:03 PM
Word on the street is that NPS is saying that they are supportive publicly while at the staff level pushing to shift the station locations in a way that either makes them useless or delays them ridiculously.

Stuff like:
instead of bikeshare at the airport, bikeshare in Crystal city right next to the trail connector (90% less useful for reaching the airport)
instead of bikeshare on NPS property at the cemetery, bikeshare on cemetery property (passing the buck...)
instead of bikeshare at Roosevelt Island, more bikeshare in Rosslyn near the trail (90% less useful for bikesharing to Roosevelt Island)
instead of bikeshare at the Air Force Memorial, more bikeshare in Pentagon City (90% less useful for reaching the memorial)

I'm guessing there is some history here of which I am unaware.

You are implying that NPS is actively seeking to sabotage bikeshare under the radar while avoiding any appearance of responsibility. Which begs the question... why? If NPS seeks to block bikeshare, why not just come out and say so and why? There's going to be public debate over it at some level anyway, so why not participate?

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 02:13 PM
I mentioned earlier in the thread that NPS tried to block bikeshare from the National Mall, while hiding the true reasons. So there is a history here, not too long ago.

NPS used the aesthetics and "historic nature" of the National Mall arguments as justification, even though they allowed massive tour buses and the old Tourmobile buses to ride through the Mall. The arguments didn't even make any sense. Then it was revealed that the exclusive Tourmobile contract was behind the objections. NPS wanted to block Capital Bikeshare because of the Tourmobile contract. Then it was revealed that the Tourmobile contract had been renewed illegally, on an annual basis, for decades. It was awarded without going through a competitive bid process, for 42 years. Shortly after this was reported, NPS quickly backtracked on the matter of bike stations on the Mall. They said that they were in favor of bike stations all along, but they were looking for the right arrangement and the right time. They also let the Tourmobile contract lapse in the following weeks or months.

Clearly something was going on, and had been going on for a very long time, since the late 1960s. The general public still doesn't know how this managed to continue for so long. Who was behind it? Were there people in Congress who were benefiting or allowing this to happen? I wrote to my Congressional rep about this. He replied that he looked into it and didn't see anything to pursue. My guess is that there was an old Washington insider who would have been exposed and embarrassed (or even imprisoned) and that an investigation would ruffle too many feathers. There wasn't enough outrage about this, so the matter was allowed to fade away. I suppose that it's not the type of scandal to generate headlines and daily TV/Web news stories. Illegally renewed tourist bus contract? Someone broke the law, for a long time, but the effects didn't hit enough people and it didn't directly cause any deaths or wide-scale loss of life or money. So there was no incentive to open an investigation, which could have caught many people in its net. But some of us still remember it. The news broke just 3 1/2 years ago, but I guess that is a couple eons ago in the Internet Age.

chris_s
05-05-2015, 02:13 PM
You are implying that NPS is actively seeking to sabotage bikeshare under the radar while avoiding any appearance of responsibility.

Nothing so nefarious, merely the standard result you get when the top brass are behind something, but haven't taken the time to get buy-in from those who actually have to implement it. It seems like the folks doing the actual implementing don't really "get it" and so are trying to get it off their plate with the minimum required effort and maximum ass-covering. So agitating for the station locations that require the least effort and are likely to generate the least "but you RUINED the historic viewshed" criticism. Confronted with that reality, I think as bikeshare advocates the options are 1) educate and get buy-in among those doing the implementing (if you can find them/figure out who they are/get access to them) or 2) make it clear that they'll get equal or harsher criticism from the community for picking useless locations.

Steve O
05-05-2015, 02:56 PM
The Roosevelt Island alternative would be a problem. I don't know why they can't put the bike station in a corner of the parking lot. The cars would block the view of the station from the GWMP for the most part, so I can't see how there would be any substantive infringement on the aesthetics of the viewshed.

A view of the Roosevelt Island parking lot. The GWMP is elevated above the parking lot. A bike station would barely be visible to any drivers. (Not that it should matter, but the NPS is very hung up on this.) The station would be visible to users of the MVT, but so are all of the cars, SUVs and station wagons in that parking lot. A bike station is not going to alter the aesthetics of that particular section of the trail that much. There are plenty of manmade objects in and around that parking lot.

https://goo.gl/maps/JLRWS

This is the view of that area from the GWMP: https://goo.gl/maps/53ayd


Give me a giant "F"ing break! There are currently two dozen butt ugly metal barriers all around the south end of the parking lot, serving no particular purpose that I can discern. Prior to that there were two dozen of those butt ugly orange plastic barriers serving the exact same purpose. It's been that way for how long? Six years? Longer? I can't even remember anymore.
Aesthetics?? C'mon.

Steve O
05-05-2015, 03:00 PM
Gravelly Point. Either there is a bike station there or there isn't. NPS can't really claim that there are good alternative locations. Just as with Roosevelt Island, they can tuck the bike station into a back corner of the parking lot, where it won't be visible from the GWMP or the MVT. Or if it is visible, it would have only a very minimal visual impact, especially when there are parked cars there. The aesthetics and viewshed arguments don't make much sense to me on this one either.

A view of the Gravelly Point parking lot. If a bike station were placed on the far end of the parking lot from this perspective, no one would be able to see it from the GWMP or the MVT.

https://goo.gl/maps/YoyVO



Wouldn't want to mess up the aesthetics of Gravelly Point now, would we?
http://bikearlingtonforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=8492&stc=1

rcannon100
05-05-2015, 03:10 PM
Those are historical porta-potties. GW pooped there.

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 03:15 PM
I wonder if Gadsby's Tavern has a plaque with those words in its bathroom.

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 03:17 PM
The porta-potties have an educational purpose though. They are meant to resemble the odor of the town streets when horses used to do their business. That just doesn't happen anymore... oh wait. It doesn't happen anymore, except when the Park Police horses drop a load all over the sidewalks near the Tidal Basin.

scoot
05-05-2015, 03:21 PM
Those are historical porta-potties. GW pooped there.

While his SUV was parked in the lot, no doubt.

scoot
05-05-2015, 03:25 PM
serving no particular purpose that I can discern

To prevent those pesky bicycle riders from clogging up traffic in the parking lot?

Kolohe
05-05-2015, 04:24 PM
@Potomac Cyclist re: the mall & tourmoblie

Wasn't NPS still trying make that other bikesharing thing work even though it was pretty much defunct even by the time CaBi started up?

PotomacCyclist
05-05-2015, 04:47 PM
You're referring to SmartBike. Yes, NPS had one of the rare SmartBike stations at their East Potomac Park location. But they weren't operating the system. Clear Channel was, as an advertising program.

You are correct that SmartBike was already fading fast when CaBi started up. (However, SmartBike is also considered to be the pilot program that showed what might be possible. It helped inspire Arlington to start up their own bikeshare system. DC heard about the plan and the two agreed to start up a joint, multi-jurisdiction, regional bikeshare system. That turned out to be Capital Bikeshare.)

Starduster
05-05-2015, 05:38 PM
Wouldn't want to mess up the aesthetics of Gravelly Point now, would we?
http://bikearlingtonforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=8492&stc=1

Surely, you jest. [he said, holding his nose]

mstone
05-05-2015, 05:40 PM
make it clear that they'll get equal or harsher criticism from the community for picking useless locations.

mission: accomplished