The following represents the views of the author, not of ARLnow.com.
Yesterday the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee asked the County Board to recognize the importance of cycling in Arlington as it considers next year’s budget allocations. As any look at our streets will tell you, cycling in Arlington is at an all-time high. Bike lanes are put to good use, the trails are filled with commuters, and bike racks at Metro stations are full.
We are pleased that Arlington County actively promotes cycling, and that County Board Chair Jay Fisette has made it a central part of his agenda this year. In fact, the County Manager’s proposed budget does not specifically target any bike-related funding for cuts (to the best of our knowledge). But we do worry that some may mistake such funding for simple recreational funding. This is not the case and the County Board should resist any such suggestion as it finalizes the budget, perhaps being tempted to cut already-low funding further.
Cycling for transportation and health is — for individuals — a relatively low-cost choice. However, creating a safe and encouraging environment in which to make that choice does require help from the County. To that end, we respectfully suggested that:
- Bike Arlington’s ongoing efforts — such as coordination of Bike to Work Day, the Arlington/DC Community Bike Ride, and many other outreach efforts — be fully supported in the budget.
- The county take seriously the goals and commitments it made in adopting the bicycle element of the Master Transportation Plan.
- The county provide funding to adequately maintain its existing facilities. Prime transportation arteries like the Custis Trail — which gets thousands of users a day — are in such a state of disrepair that some cyclists even find it dangerous to ride in certain places.
We also reminded the County Board that adequate street paving isn’t just important to those who drive cars. It is also important to cyclists, who often find themselves unable to safely negotiate potholes in traffic – especially the kind that now exists after this winter’s snows. One possible source of improved efficiency (and thus cost-savings) could be found in directing the Department of Environmental Services to take responsibility (from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services) for funding the paving and maintenance not just of on-road bike lanes, but also for the Custis and other trails that serve as major transportation corridors.
The Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee and other local cyclists believe that during difficult economic times, the County should remain committed to making our streets and trails safe for bikes. Cycling provides a low-cost and healthy transportation option, reduces roadway congestion, and is something all Arlington citizens can enjoy.
Update on 3/25/10 — Police say they’re investigating the possibility that the suspect killed a woman in Fairfax County prior to committing suicide.
Update at 9:00 p.m. — This article is presented as first published. Police now say the man shot himself as soon as officers arrived on the scene.
“He just told me my baby is dead!” the mother wailed out, as neighbors watched from across the parking lot. A detective just broke the news that her son had been shot and was lying dead on a sidewalk. Another detective allowed a family member he was questioning go console her.
Neighbors in the garden apartment community, located off of South Quincy Street near Columbia Pike, mostly stood quietly and observed. Some talked in groups. Others were crying.
A rare incident had occurred less than an hour before this moment. Shots had rang out in Arlington. At this point we don’t know who fired the shots (or shot); that will come later in a police statement or press conference.
What we do know is that police received a call for a man with a gun around 4:00 this afternoon, near South Quincy and 12th Street South. A radio transmission said he might have been threatening to kill someone. Minutes later: “Shots fired! Shots fired! Shots fired!” Seconds later, the word that the suspect had been shot in the head and was dead.
The scene was secure, an officer said.
Police were called to S. Quincy St. and 12th St. S., near Randolph Elementary School, for a report of a man in his 20s or 30s with a gun. A call for “shots fired” went out shortly thereafter.
Police are now reporting the suspect has been shot in the head and is dead on the scene. No word yet on who fired the shots.
From this week’s Arlington Police Department crime report, a pair of robberies:
ROBBERY 03/17/10, 600 block of N. Glebe Road. On March 17 at 2 pm, an aggressive panhandler assaulted a teenage male and stole money from his wallet. The suspect is described as an African American male, between 20-30 years of age, 5’7”. He was wearing a dark hooded trench coat, sunglasses, khaki pants, and had a “scruffy” appearance.
ROBBERY 3/19/10, 6000 block of N. 27th Street. On March 19 at 11:30 pm, a woman was walking to her house when two unknown men approached her. One implied that he had a knife and stole her purse and jewelry. The suspects left in an unknown vehicle. Both suspects were described as white Hispanic men. The first suspect was 5’7”, 160 lbs, and was wearing jeans and a dark colored hooded sweatshirt. The second suspect was 5’5”, 180 lbs, and was wearing loose jeans and a white “Abercrombie” shirt.
The rest of the report, after the jump.
The experience of being diagnosed with lupus can be depressing and frustrating, says Arlington resident Krista Blackburn. When she was diagnosed with the incurable autoimmune disease in 2007, at the age of 21, she didn’t even know what lupus was. Now, she’s trying to remove some of the mystery surrounding the disease.
Blackburn will be holding a fundraiser at The Front Page in Ballston (4201 Wilson Blvd) tomorrow, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. The goal is to “raise awareness and find a cure for this stupid disease,” as she likes calling it.
Blackburn and her “Kickin’ It For Krista” team, which is raising money for the DC Walk for Lupus Now event next month, will be selling $5 wristbands that will allow participants to take advantage of specially-arranged food and drink specials.
Among the specials: half price appetizers and burgers, $2 Miller Lite bottles, $2.75 rail drinks, $3 drafts and $3.25 glasses of house wine.
Caps tickets, Best Buy and Lost Dog Cafe gift certificates and movie passes will be raffled off during the fundraiser. There will also be performance by 90s cover band The Civilians, whose members have recently moved to the DC area from Charlottesville.
Blackburn says she expects between 100-150 people to show up, but she’s hoping even more people will come to chip in for the cause and learn about the disease. “This walk means a lot to me personally,” Blackburn said.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s recent actions make the state look “small and backward,” Jay Fisette said to the 70 protesters who gathered on the steps outside the George Mason University School of Law in Clarendon Tuesday.
They were there — in the words of organizer Cathryn Oakley — to “send Attorney General Cuccinelli a message.” That message: discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong, no matter how you interpret the law.
“This is about our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Fisette, chairman of the Arlington County board and Virginia’s first openly gay elected official.
Cuccinelli, a graduate of GMU law, was at the school to speak to a group students. He entered the building through a back door, away from the protest.
“Welcome to March Madness, Cuccinelli-style,” Ebbin told the crowd . “We’re here to call Ken Cuccinelli on his fouls… no Virginian has been so out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.”
“Ken Cuccinelli is not only an embarrassment to our Commonwealth, but sadly he is an embarrassment to this institution,” Ebbin said.
Cuccinelli later told ABC7 that he is doing what voters elected him to do.
“I got more votes than anyone ever running for AG in Virginia history,” Cuccinelli said in the interview. “People of Virginia knew what they were getting when they elected me.”
More photos and raw video of some of the speeches, after the jump.
Twenty-three Arlington police officers attended Tuesday night’s board meeting to speak out against a proposed four percent decrease in police department funding. The cuts would result in the reduction of 11 officers from the department’s community policing force and four positions from other parts of the department.
In addition, certain regularly-scheduled pay increases would be frozen and health care costs would increase. Officers say despite promises and words of praise from Arlington leaders, compensation is lower than many comparable local jurisdictions.
“We’re falling behind,” said Ken Dennis, president of the Arlington Coalition of Police union. “We need to keep up with the Joneses.”
Dennis had all the police officers in the room stand up in order to represent the number of officers that will have been lost to budget cuts since 2009 if the proposed budget is approved.
David Green, president of the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association, said pay increases haven’t kept up with inflation since 2001.
Brynn Bennett, a six-year veteran of the force, said officers will begin leaving the department if nothing is done to improve conditions.
“We will hemmorrige skilled officers to those agencies that can better help us provide for our families,” Bennett said.
“When you turn your back on the employees, morale hits an all-time low and the ripple effect will be seen in the services provided,” police officer Mike Rowling told the board.”The message is loud and clear: employees are not a priority.”
Rowling suggested the county raise taxes to the advertised rate, which is two cents higher than the county manager’s proposed rate, in order to properly fund the department. The suggestion drew loud applause.