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The Brian Lehrer Show

Monday Morning Politics: "So Sue Me"

Monday, July 07, 2014

Slate's chief political correspondent John Dickerson talks about the latest out of Washington after the long holiday weekend, including President Obama's taunt to House Speaker John Boehner on the Speaker's lawsuit over executive action. Plus: the argument over illegal immigration and what to do over unaccompanied minors and families crossing the US-Mexico border. 

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The Takeaway

Navy Yard Gunman Kills 12

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The nation's capital went into lock down on Monday morning when a former Navy reservist killed 12 people in a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, and injured several more. Joining The Takeaway to share a sense of the mood in the capital is our Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty years ago today, hundreds of thousands gathered on the Mall in Washington, DC to call for increased civil rights for African-Americans. Peniel Joseph, professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University, and author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, reflects upon the March on Washington and Dr Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

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Transportation Nation

D.C.: Car U-Turns Through a Bike Lane Are, In Fact, Illegal

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane (photo by Elvert Barnes via flickr)

Almost 80% of bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue -- home to the city's only center bike lane -- are caused by cars making U-turns. But until recently, there was some confusion over whether the maneuver was illegal or not.

Earlier this month, DCist reported there were apparent inconsistencies in D.C. law regarding when and where U-turns are permissible.

On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray ordered an "emergency rulemaking" to leave no doubt: cars can't drive across a bike lane to turn around.

"This is an effort to ensure the safety of our increasing numbers of cyclists in the District by closing a regulatory gap,” Gray said. “This action is in line with my efforts not only to protect public safety, but also to encourage a greener, healthier, more sustainable District through my Sustainable DC plan.”

(As he put it in a tweet, "U-turns across bike lanes are illegal. Fine=$100.")

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Gray, said "in 2010 and 2011, 11 of the 14 bike crashes on Pennsylvania Avenue involved vehicles making those U-turns."

Mid-block U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue are one of the biggest safety concerns in the District. Dave Salovash bikes on the street every morning with his ten year old daughter. When he noticed the frequency of the mid-block U-turns, he decided to bring his camera one day.

"So I picked one spot and just stood there for half an hour and counted U-turns made across the bike lanes. I saw about 25 people doing it and managed to get pictures of about 20 of them," Salovash says.

The bike lanes have been in Pennsylvania Avenue's center median since 2010.

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Transportation Nation

D.C. Bikeshare Gets Boost from Osama Rally

Monday, May 02, 2011

Capital Bikeshare bikes at White House rally. (Photo: Stephen Miller)

(David Schultz, WAMU, Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) D.C. bikeshare trips spiked more than five-fold last night as residents converged on the White House to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden. Bikeshare helped swell the crowd size.

From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., riders took 558 trips on Capital Bikeshare. During a similar time period last week, they took only 105 trips.

John Lisle of the District Department Of Transportation tells Transportation Nation that, as of 1 p.m., fewer than a dozen bikes remained unreturned. Nothing to be alarmed or worried about, he says. Bikeshare members have up to 24 hours to return a bike before it is considered stolen.

Greater Greater Washington posted links to a few bike tracking apps that let you see from where the bikes were checked out and when.

Hat tip to Stephen Miller for the photo.

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Transportation Nation

Local D.C. Bus Service To Both Grow And Contract, Riders Not Happy

Friday, April 01, 2011

DDOT got an earful from angry riders of its Circulator bus service.

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) The District of Columbia began operating its own local bus service in 2005. It's called the Circulator.

The idea behind the Circulator was not to supplant the regional bus service provided by Metro, the local transit authority here, but rather to supplement it. The Circulator was meant to be a way to encourage people to go from the District's bustling downtown area to nearby economic "activity centers," as the city called them.

The buses were brand new and, thanks to shorter routes and limited-stop service, they come every ten minutes. Also, Circulator fares are 25 to 50 cents cheaper than the buses run by Metro.

By all accounts, the Circulator was an instant hit. Ridership boomed, new routes were added and City Council members began clamoring for the Circulator to come to their respective wards.

So it's surprising that the District is now scaling it back. Beginning today, the Circulator route that went around the National Mall is eliminated. And D.C.'s Department of Transportation, or DDOT, is proposing more route cuts, in addition to a 50 cent fare hike, for later this year. This would equalize the Circulator's fares with Metro's.

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Marti Ann Reinfeld, a planner with DDOT, says the Circulator is a work in progress. While some of its routes have been successful - very successful - others, such as the National Mall route, haven't. She says the District plans on adding several more Circulator routes in the next few years as they get more data and refine exactly what this bus service is and could be. As for the fare hike, Reinfeld says that was planned since the Circulator's inception almost six years ago.

How are Circulator riders reacting? For that, check out this WAMU story. (Spoiler alert: they're not happy.)

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Transportation Nation

Sleeping Air Traffic Controller Sparks Debate: Cost vs Safety

Friday, March 25, 2011

Air Traffic Control Tower at DCA (Image: (cc) by Flickr user dbking)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Two airplanes landed without the aid of air traffic control shortly after midnight Wednesday because the lone controller in the tower at Reagan National Airport fell asleep at the switch. (TN partner WAMU has been reporting on this out of D.C.) Politicians and regulators are all equally upset by the incident, but they disagree on how to respond, particularly on what to spend on a response. The positions are revealing a partisan divide on willingness, or depending on your perspective, eagerness, to spend on safety.

Before the next midnight shift, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had directed the FAA to place two controllers on the night shift at Reagan Airport. "It is not acceptable to have just one controller in the tower managing air traffic in this critical air space," he said in a statement. He also called for an FAA investigation.

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Thursday, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt announced it had suspended the controller on duty early Wednesday morning.

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Transportation Nation

Bike Sharing - Not Just For The Tourists Anymore

Friday, January 28, 2011

Courtesy Capital Bikeshare

(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Last year, D.C. unveiled its nifty new bike sharing service, Capital Bikeshare, which allows riders to swipe a credit card and rent a bike for a few hours from dozens of street corner bike-sharing stations across the city.

It was billed as one of the crowning achievements of former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and his prolific transportation guru Gabe Klein. (Ironically, the launch ceremony for Capital Bikeshare was held just days after Fenty's devastating primary election loss to the city's current mayor, Vincent Gray.)

At the time, one of the big questions that many people a few people I had was: who is Capital Bikeshare for? Is it really going to significantly improve transportation in Washington? Or is it going to be used only by committed cyclists and/or tourists looking for a quick way to museum hop?

Well, some early data is in and it looks like my skepticism may have been unfounded. As the map to the left shows, most of the trips taken by Capital Bikeshare have been within D.C.'s residential areas - not around the touristic mecca of the National Mall.

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Transportation Nation

City Council Vote On Streetcar Could Signal New Era In D.C. Transportation

Friday, December 03, 2010

A prototype of D.C.'s new streetcar

(Washington, D.C. -- David Schultz, WAMU) The D.C. City Council, convening in a lame duck session next week, will cast a crucial vote on funding for an urban street car project.

The project was the darling of outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty and his Director of Transportation Gabe Klein. Building a streetcar as a supplement to the city's already-existing bus and subway service was a huge part of their overall goal to make D.C. more walkable and to spur economic development in blighted neighborhoods.

D.C.'s Mayor-elect, Vincent Gray

But the project's costs have been climbing steadily upward, and there are still questions about how the streetcars will be powered (i.e. whether there will be overhead wires blocking D.C.'s monumental views).

Then, after a campaign that focused heavily on D.C.'s longstanding race and class inequalities, Fenty lost his reelection campaign. Badly.

His soon-to-be successor, current Council Chairman Vincent Gray, has been much more cool to the streetcar. In a late night budget session earlier this year, Gray eliminated funding for the streetcar project — only to reinstate it later that day after an outcry from the local transit backers.

Gray later blamed the elimination of streetcar funding on a "staff error," and said he is a full supporter of the project. But the upcoming vote, which could be one of his last on the City Council, will be a true test of that support.

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Transportation Nation

DC Metro Governance: What Does It Mean? (And Why Should I Care?)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

(Washington, DC -- David Schultz, WAMU) I know, I know -- the makeup of a local transit authority's board of directors is not exactly the sexiest topic, especially not at a time when most people are thinking of turkey, football or some weird combination of the two.

But while this may seem like something only a wonk could love, there's actually a sneaky political power play in the works here that could shift the balance of influence in the D.C. region and fundamentally alter the way Metro operates.

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Studio 360

Behind the Scenes

Saturday, November 18, 2000

Producer Carol Rabel talks to preparators who are installing the elaborate sets from the theater and film productions of director Julie Taymor for her retrospective at the National Museum of Women in Washington, DC.

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