Glover Park, Part 2: Pedestrian Capable

Over the last year since moving to DC I have been living without a car (for the first time), in turn learning how to live as a pedestrian.  Despite its pre-suburban influenced density Glover Park remains of the best pedestrian accessible neighborhoods in DC.

Although the neighborhood is not serviced by it’s own Metrorail stop, a handful of reliable WMATA buses run through this neighborhood that offer routes to Van Ness/UDC and Dupont Circle metro stations on the Red Line. Additional access is available on the 30–series WMATA buses running along Wisconsin Ave, with service running from Tenleytown/AU (red line) and beyond through GWU/Foggy Bottom (Blue/Orange line) and onward through downtown DC.  A short walk downhill along Wisconsin Ave. to Georgetown offers access to the Circulator Buses, which connect DC through some of the most popular routes for visitors and DC-lovers alike.

Indeed Glover Park is proudly multi-modal in its transportation infrastructure, even displaying a good balance between automobile transit and pedestrian access to most essential services within walking distance.  Because of the residential layout inside of the neighborhood, street parking is quite common (if not always plentiful), offering a safe buffer for pedestrians between the sidewalk and moving traffic.  Street-tree lined sidewalks line virtually every street, providing easy access to the business corridor along Wisconsin Ave and also allowing parents and children to walk to neighborhood school!

While Glover Park is not best known for it’s public transit, it is probably one of the safest neighborhoods for pedestrians and cyclists as I have experienced in DC.  Even drivers find themselves becoming pedestrians when they’re walking around the neighborhood, especially with the easy access to nearby businesses along Wisconsin Ave (which I’ll detail in the next blog post).  Glover Park has everything a resident could ask for: grocery stores, restaurants, park, schools, and is within walking distance (about a mile) to both Georgetown and American University (my alma mater); it’s easy to see what attracted me and many others to live in this neighborhood.

An Introduction to Glover Park

Glover Park is a neighborhood in Northwest DC which is sometimes referred to as part of Northern or Upper Georgetown, although it is historically (if no longer socio-economically) distinct as a neighborhood of its own. The neighborhood is roughly bounded by Glover-Archibold Nat’l Park on it’s west and the Vice President’s Mansion (connected to Rock Creek Park) on the East, roughly bordered by Georgetown to the south and Cathedral Heights on the north. Personally I have been happy to call Glover Park my home for the last year, so I wanted to introduce this neighborhood to the uninitiated, at least before I move at the end of this month.

This area is characterized by it’s narrow, tree-lined streets which sometimes deviate from the DC street grid to accommodate beautiful brick row-houses and garden-style apartment complexes in this mostly residential neighborhood. The architecture mirrors the aspirations of a growing middle-class in DC near the beginning of the 20th century, yearning to build breathing space for young families from the crowded and pollution dense urban cores that characterized cities at the time.

beginning construction of homes following the first World War, Glover Park has continued its growth with more modern apartment complexes and shopping centers built alongside the beautiful brownstones buildings and parks for which it is better known. Current residents of Glover Park continue this middle-class aspiration of home ownership, with many homes having small front or back yards and even a few garages, although at a considerable cost to potential owners in this highly desirable neighborhood.

Like many other neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, Glover Park is filled with young professionals, growing families, and students (like myself). These diverse populations require multi-modal transit to facilitate their professional lives as well as the personal pleasures that lead so many idealistic and adventurous individuals to Washington DC. In the coming days I’ll discuss how these pedestrians get to and from their homes in Glover Park, and a few more reasons for you to visit this great neighborhood.

Car Free Everyday

Has it been one year already?  Only one year ago this blogger celebrated Car Free Day by making a video documenting my daily commute using public transit, which went on to win a contest sponsored by the WMATA.

In celebration of this holiday, which encourages us all to reduce (or replace) our commute using multi-modal transit, I encourage you all to learn more about how to go car free today (and everyday) on this annual event’s website.  Here is the video documentary, in case you missed it, to show how one student (me!) went Car Free after moving to the National Capitol region:

Although many daily commuters already know why to use alternative transportation to automobiles, those new (or skeptical) to Car Free transit should consider some of the advantages of using these means.

  • Reducing individual emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles (by taking them off the road)
  • Reducing stress from traffic jams on the Beltway
  • Increasing savings from fuel costs saved using public transit
  • Increase exercise by increasing walks, or burning calories through cycling.
  • Increase of leisure time – Sit back, read the newspaper, and let the driver do the work!

The best way to discover the benefits of using public and alternative transit is to try it for yourself, so please take the pledge to participate on Car Free Day.

Metrobus Survey

Last week I was able to participate in a ridership survey of Metro’s 30s bus lines. I thought I might share a few of my thoughts and experiences with the public and WMATA alike.Ridership SurveyRidership Feedback
(click either thumbnail to enlarge)

My introduction to Washington’s public transportation system was literally hopping off an intercity coach/bus and onto a WMATA 30s bus (I can’t remember which) from Metro Center to my new apartment in Glover Park (off Wisconsin Ave). For a newcomer to DC this line seemed both necessary as a route through otherwise disconnected parts of the city and erratic in its inconsistency.

Since that confusing first ride I have seen this series of bus routes strive to improve their on-time performance.  I can finally say that the 30s buses are dependable for a daily rider like myself.  The redundancy of buses running down parallel parts of the route actually help alleviate bus-bunching during rush hour, although it takes a little practice to adjust to the habit of just waiting for the next bus.

I’d like to thank WMATA for welcoming rider feedback, and to congratulate them on some real positive developments on a much maligned series of bus routes.  My only complaint being that after 2 questions there is a wasted opportunity to solicit more from riders of other buses; the survey was distributed through forms on-board the 31 bus I was riding, which was excluded from the survey (along with a couple more popular routes).

Please feel free to share your experiences riding the metrobus system, or to discuss surveys of public transit you’ve taken before, in the comments.

Thin Red Line

After last week’s disaster, I still think it’s safe to ride the Red Line. But after another week or so riding to work and class , I have to say that I’m finding alternative transportation between home, work, and school; this blogger has fully embraced his blog’s namesake.

For starters, the Red Line itself has been predictably difficult.  I’m glad Metro has taken appropriate steps to ensure our safety, but the Red Line in particular was subject to heavily dependent riders (like myself). Unlike some of the other lines in WMATA’s system, Red line trains seem particularly prone to the busy rush hour, probably because it has the fewest parallel track miles.

Usually this means that instead of riding the D2 bus to Dupont Circle metro stop, I take a D1 bus further to Metro Center, where I was usually transferring to a Blue or Orange line train.  Metro is right to advise riders to build in extra time when taking the bus since they’re more packed than ever.  Either way I’m loading on more time to my daily transit.

Of course good city transit is multi-modal; besides public transit and automobiles, DC is a great pedestrian town.  Although I don’t have a bike, I have tried walking home from work when I can this summer.  It’s only about 2 miles across a bridge between Roslyn and Glover Park, or a little less than an hour walking up Wisconsin Ave.  Not to mention the fresh air and exercise.

So instead of complaining about the delays and track maintanance, I would encourage anyone to try a different mode of transit for themselves.  Even if your commute wasn’t impacted, you don’t need any excuse to explore your transportation options.

Geo-Local, Internet

Sometimes I wonder how people used word-of-mouth recommendations for restaurants and stores before the web. Sure we had great newspapers (and with the Washington Post we still do), but when you’re transplanted into a strange town where you don’t know anyone word-of-mouth just doesn’t happen.

I ended up in Glover Park not just for the rent, but probably because Wikipedia gave me the clues that the location was right. Google Maps helped me find an apartment within walking distance to the grocery store. This move would not have worked so well for me only 10 years ago.

Once I moved in, I could use HopStop to find the right Bus/Rail times.  Later I found the WMATA’s site worked a little better.  I found out the sort of places other locals would like using Brightkite.  I traded in for an iPhone with GPS at the end of my contract.  I use Brightkite even more.  Yelp is still pretty invaluable for me.

And since I know that I could live here for another several years and still not find everything, I’m glad we have the right tools through the Geo-local internet.  Wired is right; GPS+internet is changing how we take part in a community.

Snow Day

President Obama went on to comment that, “I’m saying when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don’t seem to be able to handle things.”   Sound advice from a fellow midwestern transplant.

Please watch your step on the sidewalk tonight, as melting snow may refreeze overnight.