Najarian Tries to Get on Ballot — Democratic candidate for Congress Nancy Najarian is trying to get on the ballot after authorities said she did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify. [Blue Virginia]
Winter Shelter Closes for the Season — Arlington’s emergency winter homeless shelter has closed for the season. More than 450 individuals stayed at least one night at the shelter over the past five months. The emergency winter shelter will reopen on Nov. 1. The county’s new year-round homeless shelter is not expected to open until some point next winter. [InsideNoVa]
Library Plans Bicycle Tour — Arlington Public Library’s seventh annual Tour des Bibliothèques is scheduled from the morning of Saturday, April 19. The event brings library staff and community members on a bicycle tour of seven Arlington library locations. [Arlington Public Library]
Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment – Arlington makes a significant investment in affordable housing compared to some of its neighbors. Arlington County devotes 5.2 percent of its budget to affordable housing, compared to 0.9 percent for Alexandria and 1.3 percent for Fairfax County. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The bikeometer will be on the trail near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street — known as the “Intersection of Doom” — with electronic displays counting “passing bicyclists in real time and cumulative daily, monthly and year-to-date counts,” according to an Arlington County press release.
The bikeometer is the first of its kind on the East Coast and sixth in the nation, according to BikeArlington. The data will be used in future planning for cyclists in the area in addition to providing “a highly visible, engaging and fun view of the volume of bike usage on the Custis Trail in Arlington.”
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be on hand, along with League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke, on Tuesday, April 1 at 10:00 a.m. to unveil the bikeometer.
Photo via BikeArlington
Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break — Drivers should expect traffic impacts and slippery conditions when driving on Walter Reed Drive in the area of S. Pollard Street, between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. The water from a 16-inch water main break has frozen and the southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are reportedly blocked. [Twitter]
School Board Candidates Critical of Budget Proposal — The three candidates running for the Democratic endorsement in the Arlington School Board race have qualms with Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $539.4 million budget. Specifically, the candidates were concerned about Murphy’s proposed cuts to diploma programs for students over the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]
Opower Prepares for IPO — Courthouse-based energy efficiency tech firm Opower is preparing for a $100 million Initial Public Offering. The company, which has been losing millions every year as it focuses on growth, will go public under the New York Stock Exchange OPWR. [InTheCapital]
Registration Open for Phoenix Derby — Registration is now open for the inaugural Phoenix Derby. The urban cyclocross bicycle race will be held on May 17 in a Crystal City parking garage. The event will benefit local bike education nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which is in the process of raising funds for construction of a new headquarters along the W&OD Trail. [Crystal City]
Peak Bloom Date Predicted – The National Park Service revealed its cherry blossom peak bloom prediction yesterday. The famous blossoms are expected to be at their peak from April 8-12. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Arlington County is in the midst of creating “Bike Boulevards” on 9th and 12th Streets S., parallel to Columbia Pike, to divert bicycle traffic away from the Pike in advance of the streetcar line.
Signs were installed in late 2013 on the two roads, and Arlington County is in the process of designing infrastructure to make cycling on the boulevards safer.
“The Bike Boulevards will include several types of improvements, including signage, pavement markings, hardscape improvements such as curb extensions and intersection reconfiguration, and traffic control devices,” county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher tells ARLnow.com.
So far, just the signs and pavement markings have been installed — of the $1 million budget for the project, Mincher said the county has spent $101,000. The major improvements will be at the intersections of 12th Street S. and Quincy Street; 9th Street S. between Highland and Wayne Street; 13th Street S. and George Mason Drive; and at 9th Street S. and Walter Reed Drive, which is included in a different project’s budget.
Studies for HAWK signals — like the one recently installed on Crystal Drive — are “90 percent complete,” Mincher said, at each road’s intersections with S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive. The various components of the project “will be implemented as soon as possible to make incremental improvements to the Bike Boulevards in the next several years.”
Although the county’s aim is to make cycling safer along the corridor, local cyclists have been concerned about perceived flaws in the plans. One, who declined to be identified, said in meetings about the project in 2011, the county saw pushback from the community, resulting in changes to the project.
After the meeting, “that was the last that the community heard until the fall of 2013,” the tipster said. “At that point the county painted the bike markers on the street and installed the street signs, but no more.”
“There were significant concerns about the safety of the bicyclists on both streets,” he continued, “but predominantly on 12th as there is significant vehicle traffic from the post office and the Rosenthal development [at the Glebe Road and Columbia Pike intersection] coming in, plus with no sidewalks the cars, bikes and pedestrians have to share the same bit of road.”
Arlington transportation planner Dan Malouff wrote about the Bike Boulevards on Greater Greater Washington earlier this month, noting that the project is the first of its kind in the D.C. region, but many skeptics emerged in the comment section questioning the boulevards.
“The bike boulevards thus far have been executed so badly as to be comical,” said one commenter, named Pikecycle. “Still today most of the minor cross-streets lack stop signs for crossing car traffic, which makes cyclists stop every block in places (in many cases with poor visibility for cross traffic). The major cross-streets (Walter Reed, Glebe) have neither signage nor lights nor street-level painting (the lone exception is an awkward existing regular cross walk/light).”
“Classic modern Arlington ‘smart growth’: winning headlines with expensive, long-delayed projects that are so NIMBY compromised as to be virtually useless,” the commenter continued. “In sum, riding on Columbia Pike (as long as the streetcar remains a pipe dream) is faster, safer and a much better option.”
Date Set for County Board Special Election – Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman officially has declared that the Arlington County Board special election will be held on April 8. The special election is being held to replace now-former County Board member Chris Zimmerman. [Sun Gazette]
End of the Road for Seoul Food Truck – The Seoul Food truck, which makes stops in Rosslyn, Courthouse, Ballston and other lunch spots in Arlington, will be retired at the end of this month. The owners say they want to spend more time focusing on their brick-and-mortar store in Silver Spring, Md., next to the Wheaton Metro station. [Food Truck Fiesta]
Bike Boulevard Signs Installed — Arlington has installed signs and sharrows designating 9th Street S. and 12th Street S., which run along either side of Columbia Pike, as “bike boulevards.” The county has not yet, however, installed improved intersection crossings or trail links, leading some to say that the bike boulevards so far do little to improve safety for Pike cyclists. [Greater Greater Washington]
Preservation Arlington Mourns Loss of Homes — The group Preservation Arlington says a total of 14 demolition permits were applied for in January. “In review of the Arlington County tax records, eight of the eleven houses are owned by builders and are speculative redevelopments, and two are being redeveloped by individuals who bought the property within the last year,” the group writes. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials.” [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
From the Tour de France to the Clarendon Cup, from the Marine Corps Marathon to a local 5K, there’s one thing all races have in common, and one thing Jason Berry wants to replace.
Berry has spent the past 10 years in Arlington making films about cycling — he directed BikeArlington’s documentary BikeSwell, as well as several award-winning documentaries — and has been a competitive cyclist for even longer. He’s poked countless holes in his expensive gear and suffered hundreds of pinpricks when this spring he just snapped.
“I had just gotten a brand new jersey with my team for race season, and the night before the race, I just couldn’t bring myself to poke a hole in it,” he said. “My sister had just gotten me these cat magnets for Christmas, so I decided to see if they’d work instead.”
The next day, he raced with cat magnets on his back. Rather than draw insults and mockery, Berry’s impromptu idea was the subject of praise and jealousy.
“I wouldn’t have given it much thought,” he said, “but when I heard someone say, ‘can I buy these?’ It was like ‘ding, ding, ding!’ I was off and running.”
On Nov. 18, Berry officially launched his new venture, Race Dots. The dots are rare-earth magnets, the strongest permanent magnets available, and have an interlocking design — patent pending — to stay in place on a cyclist or runner’s shirt. The metals required to make the magnets are only available in China, so that’s where they come from; a disappointment to Berry, but worth it.
“I really wanted it to all be made in America,” he said. “But the only mine in the country is controlled by the military.”
The first time he affixed a racing bib to his shirt with a magnet was just a few months ago, this spring. In June, he started buying magnets from Home Depot, seeing which worked best. None of them did. Some were too small or too weak. Others were strong enough but would break when they snapped together.
Berry went through about 15 different prototypes, designing new systems of interlocking sides, new designs for their tops and sending his orders to a manufacturer he found in China.
“I’m a filmmaker, not an industrial designer,” the 44 year old said with a laugh over coffee. “I’m in very new, uncomfortable territory, but it’s exciting. My life might be totally different now.” (more…)
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]