Friday, November 19, 2010

DDOT painting parking lines on Flagler & U Streets NW: what is your opinion?

See this 11/19/2010 message from Bloomingdale resident Christian Seitz:

I awoke Thursday morning and was startled to see the rough outlines (in spray paint) of parking box delineations along the 100 block of U Street, much like those that exist now on 1st Street. There was absolutely no notice from DDOT about this change to our streetscape. I have received info that all of U & Flagler Streets in Bloomingdale will be receiving these new parking delineations. The parking lines are new to these streets and a part of the overly-long WASA improvement project.

If you live on these streets (and want them or do not want them) or care about the aesthetic or safety of Bloomingdale, please email me by Monday at 6 PM and let me know: Your name(s), address, and if you are FOR or AGAINST these new parking lines. Email: . I will pass this info along to John Salatti and DDOT for their consideration.

Below is a list of the PROS and CONS. Thank you.

Arguments Against Lines:

1) There is no chronic speeding or traffic problem requiring lines. U & Flagler Streets are not heavily traveled streets even during rush hour. 1st Street received these because it has a much higher traffic volume and a problem with speeding cars. Cars speeding on U & Flagler are limited and consistant but not at all pervasive and chronic. There is even less of a need on Flagler which is one-way. This is a problem requiring occasional police enforement for reckless commuters from MD and far reaches of the District, and not a permanent, visually extreme, streetscape-altering solution. If traffic worsens in the future, then lines are one among many possible solutions that should be discussed by neighbors.

2) Lines may draw more traffic. The highly visible lines may actually draw traffic off of 1st St and down U over to 2nd St in order to attempt to avoid the typical backup at the light at Rode Island Ave.

3) Lines may tarnish our streets’ quiet residential feel and lower property value. U & Flagler Streets (unlike 1st Street) are quieter side streets and not heavy commuter streets. They are more residential in nature. Often neighbors are crossing from between parked cars to visit one in other. Children ride bikes on the street. Once in, it is doubtful that these will ever go away. Do we want to detract from the peaceful feeling? The lines would add to the already vast amount of roadway indicators, signage etc., creating just one more layer of visual clutter. Furthermore, the lines will dilute that residential feeling that makes our neighborhood appealing to prospective buyers thus lowering property value.

4) Lines would alter Bloomingdale’s unifying visual aesthetic to accommodate outside commuters. The lines would create inconsistency in the visual aesthetic that defines and unifies our neighborhood. Since only 1st and Bryant Streets have these, this would add to those odd few, and I do not think we want to do this to all streets in Bloomingdale. Can you think of any other neighborhood in DC that has these on consistently on side streets? Should we alter the look of our neighborhood to pacify reckless commuters from other regions or should they adapt to our needs?
5) U & Flagler are not commuter streets. The exceptions to this 1st and Bryant Streets are commuter “through” streets. 1st is used by MD and DC commuters for access to Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, and New York Aves. Bryant is a through route to/from North Capital, George Ave, 1st and 4th Streets, and the Howard U. Campus, thus, there these lines are justified to abate speeding and define lanes.

Arguments For Lines:

1) Lines help to slow traffic by visually thinning the street. These lines help to slow traffic because of drivers belief that there is less room to maneuver. [However, where this has been effective, there have also been yellow lane lines. We definitely do not want the addition of lane lines. In addition, as previously mentioned, traffic and speeding is not a pervasive and chronic problem].

2) Lines help to make more easily visual what is legal and illegal parking. Given the confusing nature of the plethora of the Districts parking signs that seem to be ever-changing, lines will help to make more easily visible where it is legal and illegal to park. [However, given the inconsistency in signage, it is likely that this will just add another layer of confusion and it is not a solution to a shortage of parking.]

3) Lines increased safety will help our neighborhood by protecting residents. The decreased speed resulting from these lines will help our neighborhood by increasing the safety or residents. [However, because there will be no lane lines in the center of the roadway, I have doubts about their ability to lower speed and worry about increased traffic because of their higher visibility. Furthermore, speeding is not a chronic problem requiring so permanent a solution.]


IMGoph said...

so, every point "for" you've diluted with something from your points against, but you didn't dilute your points against in the same way.

fine, you're opposed to the striping, i get that, and that's defensible. but you really shouldn't pretend to be giving a pro/con choice here if you're really only saying con/con.

do you have any proof that "Lines may tarnish our streets’ quiet residential feel and lower property value" or "Lines may draw more traffic"? i mean, those are claims that you should be able to defend with statistics. otherwise, they're fear-mongering.

bamoll said...

I live on a smaller side street in Bloomingdale, and I would actually welcome these boxes for the 'pros' that you name (without the qualifiers that you add).

BTW - I highly doubt these lines lower property values and draw more traffic. No one is going to drive on your street because there are now parking boxes... That just doesn't make sense. Just as IMGoph notes, please show the stats to back up those claims.

CSnDC said...

Ultimately the parking lines were an error by DDOT and DC Water (WASA). A result of the on-going water (lead) line replacement and corresponding street work. The mistaken belief was that they had been present before work began.

DDOT was in the process of putting the lines in as I sent out the above message. Thus, time was limited to address the issue. I sent the above while several other actions and actors went to to determine the purpose of the lines (whether they were requested or a part of some traffic planning decision or an error). I have little spare time, and do not like spending it lobbying city agency or polling neighbors. There are a thousand ways I would prefer to spend my time. But I decided that this was a matter of some importance to my street and my neighborhood, so I took action. I had little time to go door-to-door on the affected streets asking each resident their opinion. Thus, I sent the above broad request for emails. I passed along every opinion (opposed and in favor) regardless of my personal opinion. I hope that you emailed your opinion so that I could pass it along, as opposed to just blogging about it.

Yes, I thought the lines uneccessary and was reticant about them for all of the reasons cited above. In hindsight, perhaps I should have dropped in a note stating openly my blindingly apparent opinion on the matter. My goal however was to stop what was not previously present and what I deemed presently unecessary. Further, I did not state every single reason against the lines because those I stated were adequate. I made no effort to gloss over my opposition. If there were more arguments for, I was not aware of them but would have welcomed them. But if I saw error in those arguments I would have added a refutation to those as well. Given the time, I would like to have provided more statistics to back up my more hypothetical points. Visual impact, not being one of them. I can site to dozens of sources and experts to back up the negative impact there.

As you so astutely point out I did not draft an unbiased well-researched opinion survey. I find it odd that you would be taken aback that opinion would make its way onto the internet, but to call this "fear-mongering" is ridiculous hyperbole. Further, if you would like the research on the positive and negative impacts of parking lines I suggest you conduct it and provide the information so that we can be better informed citizens.

Finally, if you so want the parking lines on your street and think it odd that I would want to turn away such an embarrasment in riches, you should take action to obtain them. There are resources to do that. Our communites need people that have passion. But passion doesn't get things done. Action does.

Paul Kirk said...

IMHO, they are superfluous and add to the already ample number of signs that pollute the streetscape. How many more stark, angular lines and signs can be packed in?