2019-02-26 Transportation Safety Commission, audio recording and notes

I attended last night’s meeting of the Traffic Transportation Safety Commission (TSC).  You can find a (rather poor-quality) audio recording, and an Excel file that serves as an index to the recording, here on Google Drive. Basically, use the Excel spreadsheet to find the times for items you would care to listen to, then move to that spot in the recording to hear what was said.

I attended because TSC was considering an on-demand flashing sign at the crosswalk where Glen Avenue hits Courthouse Road.  The sign is called a rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB).  It would allow pedestrians to stop traffic in order to get across Courthouse. We already have a few of these in Vienna.  Here’s a view of an RRFB pair on Beulah.

Continue reading 2019-02-26 Transportation Safety Commission, audio recording and notes

Second walk the length of Maple, 1/23/2019, minor update 1/28/2019

I am convinced that the people pushing for MAC development haven’t actually spent much time walking or biking on Maple.  They keep saying silly things like “Maple should be more walkable”, when in fact, objectively, Maple is about as walkable as it gets.   And even sillier things like, we need broad sidewalks along Maple.  When, in fact, the sidewalks are perfectly adequate now, other than the irregular surface created by the bricks.  Which they are going to add to.

Ever since I have lived in Vienna, I have made it a point to walk along Maple.  Sometimes just for exercise, but more typically, to get somewhere.  To run errands without getting in a car.

So now I occasionally walk the length of Maple and count the number of pedestrians that I pass as I walk.  Just to get across the point that, although Maple is quite walkable, few choose to walk down it.

Today, 1/23/2019, 3:30 PM, about 45 degrees, light wind, mostly cloudy skies.  First nice day in quite a while.  On my 2+ mile round trip from Wade Hampton and Maple to East Street and Maple, and back, I passed a grand total oftwo people.  Or about one person per mile.

Edit:  And on Friday 1/25/2019, 4 PM walk down the length of Maple– partly cloudy, about 45 degrees — I passed a total of 9 people, or fewer than one person per 1000 feet.

(By contrast, I passed a total of 12 on my walk on 12/31/2018.  Or maybe one person every 1000 feet.)

There are plenty of reasons not to walk down Maple, but the car traffic is the dominant one.  Maple gets about 33,000 vehicles a day — about one-fourth the traffic load of I-66.  It’s just unpleasant, no matter how you slice it.  It’s noisy, and you never escape the smell and taste of diesel exhaust.  It’s almost certainly unhealthful.  I tried to get this point across by explaining why Maple Avenue is never going to be anything like Mosaic District.  The traffic is the reason.

So Maple is, to be clear, a dis-amenity.  It’s something you avoid if you can, and you use it for purely utilitarian reasons — to get from Point A to Point B.  The whole point of walking down Maple is to get somewhere nice — as opposed to being on Maple.

So, to me, the idea used to sell MAC — that many individuals will choose to stroll down Maple — that it will become this walker’s paradise, and require broad sidewalks to deal with the crowds — is just absurd beyond all reason.   And so when I see my Town predicating part of redevelopment based on this notion, I just have to say, I have no idea why they keep saying this, but it clearly bears no relationship to reality.

But perhaps I see it this way because I, in fact, routinely walk the length of Maple.  Maybe some of the advocates for MAC zoning should try that.


Walkability, updated 7/19/2018

Updated 7/24/2018 to add reference to Town of Vienna 2016 Community Survey.

One of the arguments that the Town makes regarding MAC zoning is that it will make Maple Avenue more “walkable”.  I find that puzzling, as I walk on Maple all the time.  On this page, I want to take the “walkability” issue apart and analyze what I think the Town means by that.  My conclusion is that the “walkability” they are aiming for will not reduce car traffic on Maple.

First, 81 percent of Vienna residents are satisfied or very satisfied with the “Safety/ease of walking in Town of Vienna”, according to the Town’s 2016 Community Survey.  That certainly matches my impression:  Once on Maple, there are no barriers to walking anywhere on Maple. Continue reading Walkability, updated 7/19/2018

Traffic noise and air pollution adjacent to Maple Avenue, updated 7/28/2018

Anyone who has walked along Maple during rush hour knows that the traffic generates significant noise.   This page answers the question, just how noisy is it?

This is an important question for two reasons.  First, the only “public open space” that the Town appears to be getting is small paved areas directly adjacent to Maple Avenue, and the MAC zoning rules appear to enforce that.  The Town expects people to enjoy the space directly adjacent to the road.  Second, the Town promotes MAC as a way to make Vienna more “walkable“, by which I think they mean that they expect people living on Maple to walk to destinations on Maple.   For that as well, high noise levels will be a significant disincentive to walk to Maple Avenue destinations. Continue reading Traffic noise and air pollution adjacent to Maple Avenue, updated 7/28/2018