Tag Archives: dc

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.

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.

Snow Route

Photo by Jeanne Welsh

As a recent transplant from the Midwest, I’m used to worse road conditions than we’ve seen today; I’ve driven myself through inches of snow as it falls, melts, and refreezes.  So I was surprised when I learned after I moved here that “the whole city practically shuts down when it snows”.

Even spurious rumors are founded in some truth; I do remember newsmedia portraying DC as slowed to a halt in previous years snowfall.  And although I have yet to confirm what the roads are like for drivers, those of us who rely on public transportation appear to be mostly unaffected by the snowfall, save for a minute or two delays on some bus routes.

This may owe in fact to some of the preparations on the part of WMATA, which include:

  • 2,200 tons of bulk rock salt to treat Metro roadways
  • 18,000, 50-pound bags of de-icer
  • 71 tractors, 70 pick up trucks, 18 larger trucks, five dump trucks with plows, 96 snow brooms, and 122 snow blowers to remove snow

Not to mention the de-icing equipment employed by MetroRail, which appears to have no delays expected for the remainder of the evening rush hour.  And given that there appear to be no service alerts for metro riders, its fair to call today a success for WMATA.

As for getting to those Metro stops on foot, pedestrians are advised as always to watch your step.  Or at least have fun seeing your footprint in the snow on the sidewalk for once.

Are the streets ready?

A.) For those looking to get into cycling accross town, here is a good summary of DC bike rides:

B.) For those who are already seasoned veterans of biking in DC metro, or for those training for it on the weekends, this service might help.  By comparing routes you might find a safer route, or if you use the new iPhone app to record your trip’s route and pace, you will be healthier for it. 

Or at least you’ll have something to brag about in a Twitter message for us lollygagging pedastrians waiting for for bus in the cold.  MapMyRide is available for FREE.

Google Street View in DC!

street viewAfter a long wait, Google’s Street View feature in Google Maps is finally available in DC.  As of last Tuesday (election day!), area residents are now able to view DC at eye-level.  Just like they would see things at eye-level, whether you’re a pedestrian, on bikes, or in vehicles.

What does Google Street View mean?  If you’ve ever looked for an address that doesn’t match your directions, or if you feel lost in a city because the address doesn’t match the crowded mess on a block, this tool will help you visualize that business or residence in a more natural way.  And with 360 degree views, and a panorama every 25 feet, plus the ability to zoom in, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding turn by turn directions.  Combine this with Google’s Transit finder or Walking directions, and the urban nomad finally has the means to find their way around DC.

Better yet, street view has been released for many cellphones: Blackberry, Google phone, and iPhone (coming soon) users will be able to find whatever they’re looking for in the newest version of Google’s map apps.  Download the latest version, and find that storefront from your own perspective (instead of merely top down).

Pedestrians Welcome

As I recent transplant from the Midwest, I was ready to fully embrace urban life in DC.  I sold my car and traded it in for a SmarTrip card, downgrading from a 2-bedroom home to a 1-bedroom apartment that was literally half the space for twice the rent.  I would live close to work, school, and all the nightlife a bus transfer could afford; it was time to live in a truly walkable community.

I settled on an apartment in Glover Park, where I am never more than half an hour from anywhere and only a 5 minute walk to groceries, the bank, hardware, a pharmacy, dining establishments, watering holes, and most importantly the MetroBus.  This neighborhood has been changing (and quickly), like so many others doubtlessly have over the last decade, reflecting the national trends towards reestablishing our urban centers.

Everyday I found myself spending more time in this place, giving me a true sense of belonging to a community.  But I am also determined to discover the community outside my neighborhood.

To help give order to these adventures around Washington DC is Pedestrian Capable, a blog which will reinterpret what many longtime residents may instantly recognize as fixtures in their neighborhoods.  In my previous residence I helped organize an online magazine/blog with multiple contributors who were likewise discovering their own community for the first time; an endeavor I would like continue in the DC community.  Think of this as an opportunity to discover DC through the lens of the observer and a chance for us to talk about those places and people in DC so well established that other local media would hardly have a news angle to cover.

They say the best way to explore a city is on foot, where neighborhoods rise and fall as blocks, leaving behind clues to their history like watermarks on the shore.  You can miss a lot of DC moving around the beltway, and find so much more on foot.  And that is exactly what we will find together in those areas that are Pedestrian Capable in DC.