A plan to build a new headquarters for Phoenix Bikes has picked up some neighborhood opposition.
Phoenix Bikes is a nonprofit focused on empowering youths by teaching them bicycle repair and entrepreneurship. The organization wants to move from its present cinder block building in Barcroft Park to a new location on county-owned land adjacent to the W&OD Trail, near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and Four Mile Run Drive.
The new facility will feature education space, public restrooms, a drinking fountain, a water bottle refill station and an air pump.
A second public hearing on the proposal will be held tomorrow, Dec. 4, at the Park Operations conference room (2700 S. Taylor Street). Fliers sent to condo associations around the neighborhood suggest that some residents will be attending to voice opposition to the plan.
“Arlington County plans to remove trees… to build a replacement facility in what is now a wooded area for the nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which will be used for training teens in bicycle repair,” the flier says. “The facility will provide only 3 parking places and thus its visitors will be parking on streets near your homes. The facility will be lighted until 9:00 p.m. and may provide public bathrooms attractive to drunks.”
Susan Kalish, spokeswoman for the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation, says it’s too early to determine how many trees would have to be cut down to make way for the facility. She said any trees that are removed will be replaced per county policy.
“It’s way too preliminary to know how many trees are impacted because the exact location of the building, its size or the size of an associated parking lot have not been determined,” she said. “That said, when the building plans are finalized the County will use its standard tree replacement formula.”
The flier makes reference to County Board member Libby Garvey, who sits on the board of Phoenix Bikes. It also accuses Arlington County of not giving enough notice to residents about the first public meeting.
Phoenix Bikes is currently raising money for the new headquarters, which is projected to cost $1 million. As announced today, proceeds from next year’s Crystal City Diamond Derby will be used to help fund the headquarters.
The text of the full opposition flyer, after the jump.
Phoenix Bikes — a nonprofit focused on empowering youths by teaching them bicycle repair and entrepreneurship — wants to build a new location for itself at an estimated cost of $1 million, according to county Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. The facility will include public restrooms.
The organization currently has its headquarters in Barcroft Park, not far from the proposed location, but being adjacent to the W&OD Trail is key because it “is accessible by bike and near the community it serves,” Kalish wrote in an email.
“Arlington County is interested in this opportunity because Phoenix Bikes has a successful history supporting Arlington youth and the new facility will include public restrooms, a drinking fountain, water bottle refill station and air pump, which will be available to the community,” Kalish said. “Phoenix Bikes’ mission is consistent with Arlington County’s as it encourages fitness, fosters a car-free lifestyle, supports diverse communities and is a model for sustainable practices.”
Phoenix Bikes and the parks department will host a question-and-answer session for the community this Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Park Operations conference room (2700 S. Taylor Street).
The proposed site is on county property, but Phoenix Bikes would fund its construction. Kalish said it has already received several pro bono contributions that should diffuse some of the costs.
Police say 20-year-old D.C. resident John Wiley and an unnamed juvenile male were arrested around 9:40 p.m. after they stole a bike from the station. One of the suspects had a set of wire cutters in a backpack, police said. Together, the suspects were charged with Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools.
Arlington County Police have been cracking down on bike thefts recently, after declaring over the summer that such thefts were at an all-time high. Last week, the police department announced that a 42-year-old repeat offender named Michael Cullen had received a whopping 12-year jail sentence for a series of bike thefts.
SoberRide to Offer Free Halloween Cab Rides – The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering free taxi rides next Thursday on the night of Halloween. From 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., revelers can dial 1-800-200-TAXI, be picked up and taken to their destination free of charge, within a $30 fare. The service is offered in D.C. as well as the Maryland suburbs and other Northern Virginia municipalities. The service is being offered to prevent drunk driving, and WRAP says that 52 percent of traffic deaths on Halloween come from drunk drivers. [SoberRide]
Crystal City BID to Give Away Free Bike Lights — The Crystal City Business Improvement District will be giving away free bicycle lights this afternoon (Friday). The giveaway is taking place at the Crystal City exit of the Mount Vernon Trail from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. At the bike light giveaway last year, cyclists received front and tail “Bug Eye” lights. [Crystal City BID]
Road Closures for the Marine Corps Marathon — The Marine Corps Marathon is this Sunday, and many road around Arlington will be closed while runners participate. The closures will begin at 4:00 a.m. and many roads will not reopen until 4:30 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Michael Cullen, of no fixed address, received a 12-year jail sentence for the thefts. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of grand larceny with the intent to sell, and one count of possession of burglarious tools. Cullen has the ability to suspend four years of his sentence if full restitution is paid to his victims.
“In Arlington, we have the ability to prosecute all types of cases,” said Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos. “Protecting the property of residents is of the utmost importance and thieves such as Michael Cullen will be prosecuted to the fullest.”
Because recent data compiled by the police department indicated bike thefts are at an all-time high, the Arlington County Police Department’s Burglary/Larceny Unit spearheaded a regional police cooperation to reduce the amount of bicycle thefts and to identify suspects. An increase in patrols and surveillance, along with hours of police detective work, led to a number of arrests.
Police say the following individuals have been arrested, in addition to Michael Cullen, as part of the regional bike theft crackdown:
- “Aldrick Johnson was observed on video attempting to break into an apartment building. Security called police and Mr. Johnson was apprehended. He pled guilty to possession of burglarious tools and burglary and received a sentence of four years with three years suspended.”
- “Ositafimma Emegbuism was Aldrick Johnson’s co-defendant. Mr. Emegbuism pled guilty to unlawful entry and received 6 months.”
- “John Sears was apprehended after a citizen observed him tampering with a bicycle inside of a parking garage. Police located Sears with a stolen bicycle in his possession not far from the incident. The bicycle had a cut cable lock and the rear tire was partially removed. Warrants for possession of burglarious tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, providing false ID to law enforcement, attempted grand larceny, destruction of property, and credit card theft were obtained.”
- “Irvin Coleman was identified as a suspect in multiple bike larcenies in Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria after pawning multiple bikes on separate occasions. Warrants were obtained for Coleman for his involvement in the theft/pawning of bicycles from Ballston Mall. Coleman avoided apprehension for some time but was eventually arrested. Coleman is currently held in Fairfax on no bond. His preliminary hearing for his Arlington charge, grand larceny with intent to sell, is currently set for October 24, 2013.”
- “Howard Montgomery was stopped after an officer observed him riding one bike while rolling a second beside him. He admitted that the bikes did not belong to him. After further investigation, it was determined that these bikes were stolen from a secured bike cage in an apartment building. Montgomery is to be indicted on charges of possession of burglarious tools, grand larceny and grand larceny with intent to sell.”
- “Five juveniles involved with bike thefts from Thomas Jefferson Middle School have been identified and adjudicated. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered for all suspects. Four of the defendants were sentenced. One juvenile is still pending.”
In some of the cases, the bicycles were recovered and returned to their rightful owners. Police continue to ask people to register their bikes for this very reason.
“We encourage people to register their bikes because if there is a bike recovered, then it’s not a long process to figure out who it belongs to,” said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Cyclists can register bikes online, and will receive a registration decal to place on the bike. Owners should also take a photo of their bicycle and record the serial number and any distinguishing features it may have.
Anyone who has had a bicycle stolen or who notices suspicious behavior around bike racks should call the Arlington County Police Department non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.
The 30-minute film, titled BikeSwell, followed county staff and members of the community for more than a year while the county was adding bicycle-related amenities like Capital Bikeshare and bike lanes in streets. Gripped Films, a film company founded by Arlington resident Jason Berry, produced BikeSwell on a $30,000 county budget.
“It’s a case study on some of the things that can be done, how it’s done, and how it’s going in Arlington,” said Chris Eatough, program manager for Bike Arlington, who was part of making the film. “We asked a lot of different people from a lot of different areas of life what they think of biking. Part of it is talking to people who drive and don’t bike.”
Included in the documentary will be a discussion of staff processes for creating bike lanes, and a look at work by biking advocates in meetings and boardrooms, Eatough said.
The premiere will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Thursday night. Tickets were available to the public earlier this week but have since sold out. Following the movie, there will be a panel discussion, moderated by Eatough, featuring Berry, Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee chairman Jakob Wolf-Barnett and others.
Eatough stressed that the documentary will not simply be pro-bicycle propaganda. However, in interviewing drivers, as well as representatives from AAA, the filmmakers found very little pushback, he said.
“Interestingly enough, the opposition was hard to find, even with drivers,” Eatough said. “We thought we’d be shooting fish in a barrel asking drivers stopped at intersections. There were a lot of comments that they just need their own space, they need their own area on the roads.”
The film will be available on YouTube Friday, Eatough said, and Arlington hopes to be able to send it to communities across the country to educate them about transitioning into a more bike-friendly area.
That’s what Arlington personal injury lawyer Bruce Deming thinks, and he’s written a book to try to educate the cycling public. Surviving the Crash: Your Legal Rights in a Bicycle Accident is Deming’s attempt to clear up much of the confusion that occurs in most cyclists’ minds after they are involved in an accident.
“There are so many urban myths out there about what your rights are, what do you do in the minutes/hours/days after an accident, who pays your bills, do you need a lawyer?” Deming said. “There are a lot of basic questions that people need answers to, so that’s why I wrote the book.”
Deming, a Lyon Park resident who runs a personal injury law practice in Courthouse, said cyclists in particular should be aware of the “contributory negligence” statute in Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland, three of just five states and cities in the country that have the rule.
“If a cyclist is injured as the result of a motorist’s negligence, and the motorist was 99 percent at fault, but the cyclist was 1 percent negligent, and that negligence contributed to the accident, that cyclist is barred from recovering anything for his or her injuries, no matter how catastrophic,” Deming said. “You really have to be squeaky clean.”
Deming said that throughout the book, he tried to emphasize a theme that if cyclists disobey any traffic laws or ride irresponsibly, they will reinforce negative stereotypes that motorist, insurance adjusters and police officers can have toward them.
“Cyclists are second-class citizens,” said Deming, who has been a competitive cyclist for 30 years and teaches spinning at Gold’s Gym. “They are presumed to be at fault sometimes when they might not be, and that comes in bias and prejudices in the minds of drivers out there. Every time a cyclist behaves recklessly on the road, those biases and prejudices are reinforced.”
Deming’s book is being printed and is expected to hit shelves in the next few weeks, he said. When it does, it will be available in print on Amazon for $11.95 and in e-book form for $7.95. Deming is hosting a book release party on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Lyon Hall (3100 Washington Blvd) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Those interested in attending, where they will receive free copies of the book, must register to do so.
This Saturday, Sept. 28, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Crystal City Business Improvement District will hold the Diamond Derby, a racing event in the parking garage at 2345 Crystal Drive.
There will be five races on the day, a kid’s race and a river ride that will bring cyclists from D.C. to the event, which are both free, and three competition races: the Open Challenge ($20), the Gran Prix ($20) and the team relay race ($70). All events require registration in advance. There will also be a place for the public to watch in the center of the action, an art gallery and lounge built right in the middle of the course.
The following Saturday, Oct. 5, is the day of the Arlington Fun Ride. At 8:00 a.m., riders will head out together to ride the 17-mile Arlington Loop, starting at 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive. Registration is $10 for individuals and $25 for families.
Cyclists can already use the recently-installed bicycle vending machine (pictured above), at the entrance to the Mount Vernon Trail in the Crystal City Water Park. Dubbed the “Fixtation,” the vending machine offers supplies that riders may need to repair their bikes in a pinch, in addition to a bike stand with basic tools and an air pump. The Fixtation’s ribbon-cutting ceremony will immediately precede the Arlington Fun Ride on Oct. 5.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser. Photo via Crystal City BID.
Board Approves Paid Parking at Arlington Mill Center — The Arlington County Board has approved a plan to have drivers pay for parking longer than 4 hours at the new Arlington Mill Community Center. The plan, approved by a vote of 3-2 in a special Board session, is intended to discourage commuters from using the center’s parking garage. Chris Zimmerman and Board Chair Walter Tejada voted against the plan, arguing that parking should be free at all times. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Seeks Better Bike Map — Arlington County is asking for public input into its effort to design a better bike map of the county. Bike Arlington has created a short survey for local cyclists. The survey will remain open until Sept. 17. [Greater Greater Washington]
Old Bike Shop Profiled — The Old Bike Shop, which opened in January at 2647 N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, was recently profiled as part of an Arlington Independent Media student video project. “I sell what I think is good,” said owner Larry Behery, of his bike “recyclery.” [YouTube]
Arlington Trail Counters — Arlington has “the region’s most extensive bike and pedestrian tracking system,” with nearly 30 sensors on trails and sidewalks. According to sensor data, two thirds of trail users are bicyclists. [Washington Post]
Ebbin Prostitution Bill in Limbo — A bill sponsored by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), that would allow a prostitution conviction to be expunged if it’s proven the dependent was forced to work as a prostitute, got a cool reception from the Virginia State Crime Commission. The commission took no action on the bill, which was held over from the 2013 General Assembly session for possible consideration next year. [Associated Press]
Amazon Now Charging Sales Tax in Va. — Amazon.com is now collecting the 5.3 percent state sales tax from customers in Virginia. The change went in effect on Sunday. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
The event, called Zen Around the City, will be held at Mind Your Body Oasis yoga studio (1750 Crystal Drive) in Crystal City, on Wednesday, Sept. 4 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. It will feature experts in cycling and yoga, a dinner and gift bags with $25 worth of memorabilia.
Zen Around the City is for women only, and includes an optional 30-minute yoga class before it starts. Once the yoga is over, attendees can expect “women-specific advice on getting around on a bike,” and a lesson on the health benefits of cycling.
Billed as an event for the “bike-curious,” tickets are $5 and, as of Thursday, there were only 45 remaining.
Image via Arlington Transportation Partners
Howard Montgomery, 47, of no fixed address, was spotted just before 3:00 a.m. last Thursday riding a bicycle and carrying another alongside him, Arlington County Police said. When an officer questioned Montgomery, he tried to flee but was taken into custody “after a brief struggle,” according to the police report.
Montgomery, who was also in possession of “a power grinder with numerous blades,” admitted to stealing the Cannondale and Drossinger bikes, police said. He was arrested and charged with grand larceny, larceny with intent to sell, possession of burglarious tools and obstruction of justice.
The arrest comes after ACPD announced that bike thefts in Arlington had hit an all-time high.
The two bikes stolen were not registered with the the police department, making it more difficult to return them to their owners, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Sternbeck said the area where Montgomery was arrested, around the 1600 block of S. Eads Street, is one of the “hot spots” for bicycle thefts around the county. Bicycle thefts tend to happen more frequently at commuter locations with lots of bike racks, he said.
While Montgomery confessed to stealing the two bikes, he did not admit to any prior crimes, said Sternbeck.
The area’s first electric bicycle store will open near Clarendon on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Hybrid Pedals, at 925 N. Jackson Street, specializes in selling electric bikes that can travel 20-30 miles on a single charge, giving riders the option to pedal when they want, extending the bikes’ range. Hybrid Pedals founder Alan Levine also founded Mario’s Pizza House — just around the corner from Hybrid Pedals at 3322 Wilson Blvd — and the food delivery service Doctor Delivery.
Levine said in a press release that his is the first electric bike store in the Washington, D.C., area, but the shops are already popular in California and Florida, as wells as overseas. Hybrid Pedals will carry bikes from seven manufacturers, including Pedego, Stealth, Thrust, and VeloMini.
“There’s literally nowhere you can’t go on an e-bike,” Ray Carrier, Hybrid Pedals operations manager, said. “The range can be extended to any length if the rider pedals… If you know how to ride a regular bike, you can ride an e-bike within moments of ﬁrst trying one out. There’s no steep learning curve as with a Segway, which has limited range and is stymied by ‘rough’ terrain such as grass and gravel.”
Hybrid Pedals also has a license to sell to police and emergency responders, offering bicycles that can go as fast as 60 mph. The bicycles available for public use by law can’t go faster than 20 mph. Levine’s store will also sell solar-powered e-bikes, which he said are useful for extended power outages when a wall charger can’t be used.
The showroom’s grand opening ceremony on Sept. 7 starts at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 7:00 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 3:00 p.m. There will be live music, project demonstration and test drives as part of the event.
A total of 67 bikes were stolen in July, but police say they’ve been working “aggressively” to reduce the number of thefts. At least six suspects were recently arrested in connection with bicycle thefts, and one pleaded guilty to nine felony counts.
According to police department statistics, from June 1 to Aug. 5, a total of 126 bikes were stolen for a total property loss of nearly $100,000.
The most common time for bike thefts was between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Trek was the most commonly-stolen bike brand, while the Clarendon area was the “hottest area for stolen bikes.”
Police are asking residents to take steps to make sure their bike is safe. From an ACPD press release:
Recent data shows that bicycle thefts are at an all-time high in Arlington County and the Police Department is asking the public to join in the efforts to reduce this trend.
Sixty-seven bicycles were reported stolen in July 2013 and police have been aggressively working to reduce the number of incidents. Residents can do their part too by following a few simple steps:
- Register your bicycle with the Arlington County Police Department at http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/police/citizens/forms/bicycle_registration.asp. You will receive a decal that may be a visible deterrent to theft. Your bicycle information will also be on file should become a victim
- Take a photo of your bike and record the serial number. Also, list distinguishing features and save the file to your computer or email account
- Always lock your bike’s frame and wheels with a high quality modern U-Lock
- Remove all detachable items such as lights and bags
- If you are a victim of bicycle theft, post the theft as stolen online in an attempt to locate it
- Always file a police report with ACPD
Citizens should be reminded to call the non-emergency line [703-558-2222] if they observe suspicious behavior around bike racks. A police officer will respond to the area and determine if a crime is being committed.
ACPD has recently been able to identify and arrest at least six subjects in connection to bicycle thefts across the County. One of the subjects, Michael Cullen, 42, of no fixed address, pled guilty this past week to nine felony counts related to bicycle thefts.
County Mulls Streetlight Changes — Arlington County is considering changing the type of LED streetlights it uses after complaints from residents. One possible change is using lights with a color temperature that more closely matches traditional sodium-vapor lighting. [Sun Gazette]
Cyclist Sets Up Stolen Bike Sting — A cyclist whose bikes were stolen from a Fairfax County parking garage managed to set up a sting operation in Arlington to try to catch the thief. The cyclist found one of the bikes for sale on Craigslist, arranged for the seller to come to an Arlington parking lot, and flagged down a police officer to lend assistance. After agreeing to a sale, listened to by police via a cell phone in the cyclist’s pocket, the seller was arrested. [Gripped Racing]
Transgender Fashion Show to Benefit Arlington Org — A transgender fashion show will be held this Saturday in Falls Church to benefit NovaSalud, a Courthouse-based HIV/AIDS nonprofit. The show’s Honorary Mistress of Ceremonies is Kristen Beck, a retired Navy SEAL who was formerly known as Chris Beck. [Falls Church News-Press]
This Day in Arlington History — On this day in Arlington history, 1937, it was reported that the County Board was debating whether movie theaters should be allowed to open on Sundays. Also, it was reported that a majority of the $176 million the IRS collected in Virginia in 1936 came from taxes on tobacco. [Sun Gazette]
Photo courtesy James Mahony