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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2012 at 9:25 am 4,306 96 Comments

Thieves Steal Wheels from Hotel — Two suspects were seen stealing tires and rims from two vehicles parked at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway) early Thursday morning. A security guard tried to intervene but the suspects fled. Arlington, particularly south Arlington, has seen an apparent uptick in wheel thefts recently. [NBC Washington]

Santa Coming to Clarendon Saturday — Santa Claus will be coming to Clarendon on Saturday evening. The Jolly Old Elf will arrive at Market Common Clarendon (2700 Clarendon Blvd) on a “big red sleigh,” otherwise known as an Arlington County fire truck, at 4:00 p.m. He will be on hand for photos until 7:00 p.m. There will also be strolling carolers and other family-friendly entertainment. It’s the shopping center’s 12th annual “Winter Wonderland” event. [Market Common Clarendon]

Last Westover Farmers Market of 2012 — The new Westover Farmers Market will hold its last market of the year from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The market, located at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. McKinley Road, will go on a holiday hiatus before returning on Jan. 13, 2013. The  market’s winter hours run through April. [Westover Farmers Market]

Brink Commends Funding for Blind Students — Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) is praising Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for his proposal to add $4.9 million in funding for blind and visually impaired students to the upcoming Virginia budget. The funds will help localities cover the cost of teachers, teacher’s aides and staff for blind and visually impaired students. [Alexandria News]

Bike Advocates Call For Plowed Trails — Bicyclists are calling on Arlington County to start plowing snow from bike and pedestrian trails. “By failing to plow the trails, [Arlington's Department of Environmental Services] puts more people onto the streets in cars,” said one bicycle advocate during yesterday’s county-organized online snow chat. “Is that really what you want, during a snow event?” [Along the Pike]

Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99

  • Buckingham Beauty

    Right…and who’s going to fund said trail plowing? We can’t even get the daggone sidewalks plowed — sure, Arlington plows the bus stops, but because the sidewalks never seem to get plowed, you have to either scramble over three feet of snow to get to the stop or walk on the streets to get to them.

    • gjunio

      all Arlington property owners are required to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property :
      http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/uepd/snow/page78323.aspx

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Except the county and the state – which is a significant portion of the sidewalks.

      • Buckingham Beauty

        Like Suburban said. But even when it’s private property, money could be better spent actually enforcing that rule, seeing as it’s WIDELY ignored, than in plowing the trails.

    • drax

      You don’t plow sidewalks, you shovel them.

      Plows could do streets first, and then the trails.

      • Quoth the Raven

        Does Arlington have that kind of equipment? Because, you know, the trails aren’t quite as wide….

        But that’s fine with me, as long as you finish the streets first.

        • drax

          I think they’d use the same (relatively) small trucks on the trails as they use on the side roads.

      • fedworker

        Who the heck rides bicycles when there’s snow on the roads. Where there’s snow, there’s gonna be ice patches…an accident waiting to happen. And who pays for this stuff? I’m sure its not free. We could assess a use tax to pay for this service or require AC bicyclists to pay a property tax (plus an additional $33 for a USS Arlington bicycle sticker to place on their trikes). novasteve and drax care to debate?

        • JamesE

          A bike tax would only be fair, some of those fancy bikes are quite expensive.

          • novasteve

            Aren’t they required to report them anyways due to the personal property tax in VA?

          • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

            Every time a cyclist buys a bike in Virignia, he or she pays a 5% tax. Imagine that!

            Next.

            ~

            @Fedworker – do people stop driving cars when it snows? No? Huh. Perhaps having the right equipment and some extra care makes riding a bike when it snows possible.

          • JamesE

            Very astute of you MB, I was totally talking about a sales tax and not a property tax, I am glad you picked that up!

      • Buckingham Beauty

        Not always true. Google “sidewalk plow”. Perhaps they don’t use them here in Arlington, but yes, you can plow a sidewalk.

        • fedworker

          I’ll take a look. If it looks like a Zamboni then hell ya l’d like to see it. In fact I’ll volunteer to plow the trails…well just portion of trails around Four Mile Run near the Weenie Beenie

          • Buckingham Beauty

            Sorry, my comment was directed at drax, but if you’re interested, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowplow, and then scroll down to the gallery. The first photo in the gallery is a sidewalk plow. They’re narrow little things meant for narrow jobs lie sidewalks, paths, etc.

        • drax

          BB – I’m not surprised there are sidewalk plows out there, but I doubt they’re worth actually buying for us down here where it rarely snows.

          • drax

            And then, of course, there’s the snowblower…..

          • Buckingham Beauty

            I didn’t suggest that they were, and I don’t think they are. I was merely defending the concept of plowing sidewalks, which you questioned when you said that you plow streets and shovel sidewalks. Clearly, you can plow sidewalks. That was all.

          • drax

            In Arlington, you don’t plow sidewalks, I meant. My point was that plowing streets doesn’t take away plows from clearing sidewalks, that’s all.

  • South Awwlington

    It takes three days to get my dead end street plowed…good luck.

    • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

      And how many people use that street? In contrast, a thousands use the Custis to get to work, school, and shop, every day. The point the advocates are trying to make is that if the County is going to push cycling as a viable transportation alternative, it needs to prioritize clearing the mainline trails. Over Wilson Boulevard or Glebe? Of course not. But certainly over dead-end streets.

      • South Awwlington

        Frankly, I am glad so many cyclists use the bike trails commuting to and from work. I also hope we start seeing PPT stickers for said bikes.

      • Sam

        You may think a little differently if someone in your family is having a medical emergency and the ambulance can’t make it down the street, back up the hill, etc.

  • novasteve

    I might be Jewish, and thus don’t know much about how Christmas is celebrated, but I never thought Santa was supposed to be an Elf. I thought he had elves working for him.

    • Garden City

      In “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, Santa is referred to as a “jolly old elf.” The poem is also commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

      • novasteve

        SO elves get sainthoods?

        • Joe Hoya

          Well, they did save Middle Earth…

          • Ent

            *AHEM*

          • Army of the Dead

            C’mon, man!

          • Josh S

            The ENT clearing his throat has to be a prime candidate for immediate enshrinement in the ARLNow Comments Hall of Fame.
            *standing ovation*

  • Snow Plowing 101

    Arlington cannot even plow the streets, including major roads, so keep dreaming about bike trails.

    Hey Arlington, here’s a hint about plowing: it helps if the goal is to remove snow from the traffic lanes rather than just having the snow plows drive around aimlessly without plowing. Approach the task like painting — that is, moving the paint brush or roller from the exact spot that was previously painted helps get the entire wall painted. When a painter just keeps painting over the same strip again and again, not much gets accomplished. Same with snow on the streets.

    • Righteous Environmentalist (D)

      2 words: Car-free diet

      • Captain_Obvious

        3 words: Law abiding cyclists.

        • cyclist

          Do you guys have any useful words or just your own righteousness?

          • Captain_Obvious

            Yes, asking for law abiding cyclists is useful, more useful than the 99% of cyclists who aren’t law abiding.

          • cyclist

            No, responding to every single cycling issue with “cyclists should stop at red lights!” is NOT useful, and making up statistics is also not useful. Ignoring lawbreaking motorists is also not useful.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Using my own vision is not making up statistics.

          • ArlingtonWay

            Cyclists in Arlington are the worst. They want the rights of pedestrians AND vehciles and the responsibilities of neither. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some middle aged douche in spandex with a silly little dental mirror strapped to his helmet whip by me on the C&O missing me by inches when they could easily take a wide berth around. These experiences are exceeded only by the number of times I see cyclists run red lights. In short, they deserve all the abuse we can muster.

          • cyclist

            CW: Yep, that’s EXACTLY what it is. Making things up. It’s completely bogus.

            ArlingtonWay: Making silly generalizations is also useless.

            But I can whine about irresponsible douchebag Arlington drivers in their BMWs who drive too fast while texting and sipping lattes too, if you want.

            You are the one who deserves abuse – your post is not only pathetic and unfair, it’s completely unoriginal.

          • dirty biker

            Drivers in Arlington are the worst. They don’t realize that even a small mistake behind the wheel can kill pedestrians or cyclists. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve nearly run me off the road, while texting on their stupid cellphones, running red lights, opening doors into my lane or generally behaving like a**hats. They could have left me plenty of room but they never do…

            I’m cribbing from another cyclist quote but- when I see a cyclist doing something stupid (like running a red) I think “That guy is going to get himself killed.” When I see a driver doing something stupid, I think “That guys is going to get SOMEONE ELSE killed”

            Idiots are everywhere but the impact of idiot drivers is geometrically higher than that of idiot cyclists.

          • Captain_Obvious

            I’m not CW. and I’m not making things up. When I am driving around here, I RARELY see a cyclist stop at a stop sign, stop at a red light, or signal turns. Sure, plenty of drivers do the same thing, but not the majority. I’m sorry you can’t see this, try to remove the dental mirror attached to your helmet once and you’ll see that I’m right.

            yes, drivers around here suck and so do cyclists.

          • CW

            Hey, what did I do to you people??!! I keep my mouth shut on one cycling-related thread and people are blaming me for things i didn’t even say…

            Anyhow, even as a full time cycle commuter I am not really strongly in favor of plowing the trails. The main reason is just a pragmatic one, which is that if there is a significant snowfall, plowing won’t get them down enough to be rideable. The only real solution is to wait for them to melt down. Even with plowing and a ton of salt, I still don’t think I would risk riding the trails for fear of an errant ice patch here or there.

          • cyclist

            Sorry, CW.

            Capt. Obvious, go take stats 101 and stop this nonsense. You are one person, making up numbers based on vague observations. Your “stats” are absolutely worthless. You are not the center of the universe.

          • dirty biker

            I’m with CW on this one- if it’s that nasty out there I’m probably going to work from home or drive (no public transport option for me…).

            However, it does absolutely suck when DES uses the trails to pile up road snow (say Custis where Lee goes under I-66). The mess and danger from that can last for weeks

            I’ll also add however, that FFX County (not exactly the most bike friendly place) does a pretty good job on their section of trails (much better than Arlington).

          • Captain_Obvious

            Ok cyclist, not sure how I’m being vague. I see it EVERYWHERE around here. The funny thing is, I remember when I see a cyclist stop at a red light…cause its so rare when they do.

        • 5555624

          3 words: Law abiding motorists

  • Matt

    Ha! Unplowed trails are the only time it is safe for runners, walkers and dog walkers to use the trails from insane cyclists. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

    P.S. It’s called an audible warning…try it some time!

    • Cyclist going way too fast on the trail

      “ON YOUR LEFT”

      • Car going way too fast on the road

        HONK!

        • Car going way too fast on the road

          Eh, I need a bigger car. The last time I ran over a pedestrian I could still feel the bump.

    • CW

      Cyclist passing Matt on the left: “ON YOUR LEFT!!”

      Matt, if he is like 99% of runners: *nothing…has headphones in, doesn’t hear cyclist at all*

  • novasteve

    The University of Michigan had these tractor brush machines that they used to plow sidewalks so they they didn’t have to cancel school ever from snow events due to worries about people suing over lost tuition money. I’m sure Arlington could afford one of them, and maybe by the time it’d done plowing all the trails, it will be summer.

    • ArLater

      Unfortunately Steve, that whole sueing thing is a myth, albeit a good one.

      However those tractors are awesome and definately would work well on the bike paths around here.

      Go blue!

      • novasteve

        So why no snow days other than it really doesn’t snow that much there? It just never melts until spring.

        • ArLater
        • Glebe Roader

          This is from the link above, regarding Univ of MI students suing over lost tuition money:

          But the story known to many students about a University Law student suing the University for money lost because of a snow day cancellation is an urban legend.

          While the story is entertaining to prospective students touring campus, University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said it simply isn’t true.

          “While there’s been a long-standing rumor about such a lawsuit, the University’s Office of the General Counsel has never found any record of it,” Cunningham said yesterday.

          • novasteve

            I could swear the school told us that was the reason there are no snow days. Do you have any idea how crappy it was to walk from Markley to the Frieze Building for an 8AM class during the winter with snow out in the pitch dark? IT SUCKED.

    • 350sbc

      It snows much more in Michigan, so people know how to handle snow and what to expect. People down here freak out when it snows an inch.

      • novasteve

        I don’t recall it snowing that much in south east michigan. It just didn’t melt. So if it snowed in november that snow would be around until april.

    • ringo

      Ohhh. So you went to Michigan. I guess that explains why you’re so insufferable. Finally, some clarity.

      • Glebe Roader

        … and NYU.

  • novasteve

    You could use 100 proof Popov and just melt the snow by igniting it.

  • Arlingtoon

    We can’t even get our street plowed. The trucks pull up; the “driver” gets out (usually a desk jockey for DES who has no idea what they’re doing) and shakes their head.

    The last time we had a big snow we joined our neighbors in hiring a freelancer to clear the road. Should have deducted the cost of that from our property tax payment.

    • DESk jockey

      it’s probably illegal to clear public roads as a private plow operator

      • Arlingtoon

        So sue me.

      • Josh S

        How about when the neighbors go out with their shovels and clear the street on their own? Is that illegal? And if it is, as Arlingtoon points out – so what? A small, third-tier residential street? Who is going to complain?

  • Matt

    Problem Solved — Hire that Ballston Bomber guy to ignite and melt the Custis.

  • Rich

    A description of the suspected wheel thieves would certainly HELP. I’m sure we won’t get one though. It’s not like its become an epidemic for us here in South Arlington or anything.

  • Arlingtonienne

    Might I point out that the type of show-stopping snow event for which we so worried about having cleared bike trails is really kind of anomaly in our geographic region? Why on earth would we invest in the capability to do this when it only needs doing four or five times every three years? People, this is not Minnesota…

    • M2

      That’s true. The number of days I have not been able to bike to work because of snow on the trails has been small. No more than two weeks out of any year in the last ten years. Plowing the trails would be nice, but maintaining a capability to do that is overkill here. Ice, from snow melting on the side of the trail during the day, pooling on the trail, and then freezing overnight is more of a problem than snow.

      • http://blacknell.net/dynamic/ MB

        Arlington already has the capability. It just doesn’t deploy it for trails, but for streets and other path clearing activities.

    • drax

      Right, so when it does snow, we could plow all the roads with our meager equipment for a few days, and THEN use it on the trails.

  • Merry Christmas to All

    Three men wearing all black clothing, one wearing a scarf and walking like the Penguin, were seen entering the BB&T bank then realized that they were at the wrong bank and needed to withdraw funds from the BoA on Glebe went shopping for new tires for their silver or gray sedan.

  • 350sbc

    Put some chains on those bike tires and you wouldn’t have any issues.. ha ha ha.

  • Mr. Plow

    Having ridden the trails here for 10 years on a daily basis, I think I have some perspective.

    My recollection is that there are about 2 or 3 snow/ice events a year, on average, that make trails impassable or too treacherous. And, really, the problem isn’t the whole trail, it’s sections of the trail that could be cleared in 20 minutes work.

    Trail-advocates should prioritize the trouble spots first. Some of the worst stuff though, is not in Arlington County jurisdiction, I think. The biggest problem is the bridges, especially the Key Bridge, which is just as important to pedestrians as it is to cyclists. The problem is that when it doesn’t get plowed, the sun turns the snow to slush, then it refreezes overnight and the next morning commuters are trying to walk and bike over a frozen irregular sea of slush. I’ve seen salt sprinkled on it, but it doesn’t do much good, IMHO. The Mt. Vernon trail, which is NPS land, is also bad.

    • TCE

      So using your perspective… if there are only 2 or 3 events a year or in terms of days maybe 6 to 9 days (snow here usually melts in 2 days except for the really big one every few years.)… then the cost benefit analysis says that having equipment and manpower to do that for just 9 days out of 365 just isn’t worth it… take a bus or subway in those couple of days… it would be safer anyways. Stop acting like you have to bike 100% of the time.

      • What TCE Said

        +100

      • M2

        Yes. If you’re going to be serious about biking to work you have to have a back-up plan. In a normal year I miss as many days for “bike in the shop” as I do for snow.

      • cyclist

        I don’t expect them to keep the trail clear of snow every single day. Just like I don’t expect that for the roads.

        • Rob42

          The difference is, we clear the roads for use by first responders, who don’t normally use bike trails. Thus there is a greater return to maintaining equipment for road clearing than for trail clearing.

          • drax

            Of course. Roads should come first.

      • Mr. Plow

        Since you’re the cost-benefit expert, how much do you think it should or would cost to hire one guy to spend 1 hour with a 1 snowblower on the key bridge or some similar stretch?

  • Buckingham Beauty

    Yeah, the Key Bridge falls under DC, since the whole Potomac belongs to DC and not VA.

  • Amused

    We can always fly over the snow when we get the spaceships Tajeda mentioned.

    • DCBuff

      Coming to an ArlCo near you in 2013! Thanks to Chairman Tajeda.

  • Ted

    Just great, County Board approves site plans for 700+ vehicle parking garages so non-residents can drive to their offices SOV, puts pressure on residents to bicycle to work in the winter via ‘car free diet’ program. Who pays for the bicycle accidents?

  • RaptorGuy

    I don’t see any eagles or eggs. Are we sure that isn’t leftover debris from the flooding?

    • Ziv

      Raptorguy, I would guess that that is a juvenile/young adults nest. The original Arlington parent pair have been pretty successful and I have seen a juvenile twice in 3 years, so maybe some of the juveniles are nesting nearby.
      This time of the year the “old place” looks abandoned as often as not.

  • Mr Mayan

    Who cares? The World comes to an end next week! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

  • R. Griffon

    Problem solved.

  • Source Please

    “By failing to plow the trails, [Arlington's Department of Environmental Services] puts more people onto the streets in cars,” said one bicycle advocate during yesterday’s county-organized online snow chat. “Is that really what you want, during a snow event?”

    Are there stats to prove this? When it snows I work from home or take Metro.

  • Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

    Snow removal on bike trails is an important issue for Arlington County. County staff have been strategizing for the last year to find a viable solution to improve bike commuting in winter weather. It is an issue that has included Department of Environmental Services planners and operations staff, and Department of Parks and Recreation. There are several significant safety and environmental concerns for bikers and our trails that have been raised.

    - Trails don’t have gutters or drainage, so snow pushed to one side will continue to melt, run on or along the trails and refreeze. A thin layer of ice can be difficult for cars to maneuver on streets and is also an important safety concern for bikes on trails where it could potentially be a greater hazard.
    - Salt can aid with refreezing and treatment for light precipitation events, but it’s toxic to most vegetation and landscaping along bike trails, most of which run through County parkland.

    The County is still in the process of identifying resources to make trail plowing possible. This includes procuring properly sized equipment that would be capable of plowing narrow trails and bridges that could not withstand the weight of a heavy pickup truck equipped as they are used on streets for plowing and treating, as well as identifying and training additional staff. We are dedicated to finding the best solution, including coordinating with area agencies who are also responsible for maintaining trails that run through Arlington County.

    A transcript from yesterday’s chat can be found online at http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/page87816.aspx.

    • darsasx

      Heated trails, duh – it’s not like the county can’t float 6 or 8 more $78 million bonds (and have the actual costs be underestimated by 30% to boot). Wait – make that heated, gold-plated trails. And run them downhill – both ways – it takes too much effort to be Lance going uphill.

    • Steve-o

      I seem to remember when living in Germany that they swept the bike paths with little tractors that had a spinning brush on the front. It was great, everyone was able to ride bikes year around, even in the snow on the major bike routes.

    • Glebe Roader

      Thank you for your response.

  • B22201

    Is there really that much snow here that it warrants plowing the bike trails? I ride, and think that even if you were to plow them, that the width of the trails is so small that water is just going to refreeze over the surface and create icy patches. I’d much rather ride across a crusty bit over black ice. That, or everyone should get bikes like my fried Jay has. He’s raced and won (I think he won), the Iditarod bike race (follows the same path as the dog-sled race).

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