‘Blog Comment Sections’ Hurting Arlington Way? — The “Arlington Way,” Arlington’s unique system of civic engagement and participation, needs to be revamped, suggests a contributor to the county’s Mobility Lab blog. The Arlington Way is “falling short,” resulting in “the drumbeat of criticism and opposition to all manner of needed investments,” writes urban planner Lisa Nisenson. She argues that the downfall of the Arlington Way is fueled by, among other factors, “the rise of unfiltered blogs” and “blog comment sections.” [Mobility Lab]
Route 50 Bike Path Now Open — A new bike path along Route 50, between Pershing Drive and Queen Street, is now open. However, riders should be cautious since “the path currently has a fair amount of debris on it.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington Hosts Capital Bikeshare ‘Fiestas’ – In August, Arlington County launched a series of five special events dubbed the Capital Bikeshare Fiesta. The events allowed Capital Bikeshare representatives to reach out to Spanish speakers in Arlington with information and promotional giveaways. [Car-Free Diet Blog]
Photo courtesy Danielle Newcombe Horvath
When Arlington County Police Lt. Heather Hurlock returned from a vacation last week, she found more than 70 messages from residents asking to register their bicycles.
This is the high demand that Hurlock — a crime prevention specialist with the county and the head of the bicycle theft program — said she’s seen since she launched the county’s bicycle registration program 15 years ago. ACPD registers an average 1,000 bikes every year, Hurlock told ARLnow Tuesday morning.
Hurlock said she gets satisfaction in returning stolen bikes to their owners, who sometimes have been missing the cycles for years.
“One time, I received a call from Alexandria about a recovered, stolen bike with an Arlington decal on it,” she said Tuesday morning. “I called the owner it was registered under and he had it stolen on his second day of eighth grade. The day I called him was his last day of college.”
Calls about the free registrations come from around the globe.
“At this point, I have bikes registered [from] all over the world,” Hurlock said. “I get calls from very strange places asking about their decal number after their bike was stolen.”
Hurlock is also in charge of recovering abandoned bikes. Every week, she patrols the county following up on tips about bicycles left unattended or locked to parking meters and lampposts for more than five days. After Hurlock leaves a note and waits two days, she impounds the bikes. After 60 days in county custody, the cycles are donated to Bikes for the World, an Arlington-based charity that gives repaired, used bicycles to needy people as close as Rockville and as far as Namibia and the Philippines.
If a cyclist can’t read the serial number on the bike to register it, Hurlock will engrave a new number.
To prevent theft, the police lieutenant recommended securing bikes using a sturdy U-lock and storing them in protected places.
Bike thefts from residential areas are up in Arlington County because residents leave their garage doors open with their bikes inside, Hurlock said. Overall bike thefts were down significantly in the first half of 2014, ACPD announced in May.
S. Hayes Street in Pentagon City has new, protected lanes for cyclists, the first of their kind in Arlington County.
Between 15th Street S. and S. Fern Street, bike lanes are now between parking spots and the curb, giving cyclists a buffer, in the form of parked cars, from vehicular traffic on the four-lane road.
The protected lanes — on both sides of the road — are part of a pilot project that includes pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the half-mile stretch of road that runs from 15th Street to S. Eads Street, according to county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
“The S. Hayes Street project is the first installation of a protected bicycle lane in Arlington County,” Baxter said in an email. “It is a part of a large effort to install connected and safe bicycle and multimodal facilities throughout the county and specifically in the Crystal City-Pentagon City area. The County continually uses opportunities in its paving program to better utilize space within the existing right of way to accommodate safer pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular activities.”
Baxter said Hayes Street was slated for re-paving, and county staff decided that the paving presented an opportunity to try the protected lane. Data has been, and will be, collected to measure usage and safety improvements between the buffered lane and the standard bike lanes in other areas of the county.
Although Hayes Street’s new bike lanes are the first in the county, more are coming, and all in Crystal City and Pentagon City. Protected bike lanes have been approved for Army Navy Drive between S. Joyce and 12th Streets and S. Clark Street between 12th and 15th Streets. The county is also in the process of community outreach for a redesigned S. Eads Street that would included some form of protected bike lanes.
One Candidate for Treasurer Race — Democrat Carla de la Pava, who has served as Arlington County treasurer since July 7, following the retirement of Frank O’Leary, is running unopposed in November. No other candidate filed to run in the special election by the Aug. 15 filing deadline. [InsideNova]
Bracket Room to Host Pregame Shows — The Bracket Room, 1210 N. Garfield Street in Clarendon, will host both the Fox 5 and the 106.7 The Fan Redskins pregame broadcasts this fall, according to a press release. The on-location broadcasts will take place at the sports bar for all 16 regular season games. [PRNewswire]
Cyclists Stopped on I-66 — A pair of bicyclists “dressed like Lance Armstrong” were stopped by Arlington County police on I-66 this morning, according to scanner traffic. It’s unclear why the cyclists were on the interstate. Police directed them to nearby Glebe Road.
Arlington: Great for Soccer Moms? — Arlington is the No. 3 locality in the country for “soccer moms,” according to an analysis that factored in things like the number of soccer clubs and food and transportation affordability. [Nerd Wallet]
Ohio Town Raises Money for Arlington Family — Residents of Chagrin Falls, Ohio are trying to raise $10,000 for the Sachar family of Arlington. Their son, 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary student Eli Sachar, was struck and killed by a car on July 12 during a visit to Chagrin Falls. [Cleveland.com]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The bicycle counter on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn passed 200,000 trips earlier this month, a milestone for the first device of its kind on the East Coast.
As of last night, the counter was up to 204,899 trips since it was unveiled on April 1. There were 706 trips recorded today at 12:43 this afternoon, and 24,907 trips this month. The “Bikeometer” has been getting good reviews from the community, according to county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel.
“Many people have said that previously they had no idea how many other cyclists bike through Rosslyn,” she said. “County staff did not have a precise understanding of how many bicyclists were using the Custis Trail through the Rosslyn Circle area. With the installation of the Bikeometer counter and display we now know a lot more about the number of bicycle travelers on an average day, and how that number changes over the course of the year and by the day of the week. We’re also learning more about how factors such as weather can impact bicycle travel.”
The data should help the county as it designs safety improvements to the “Intersection of Doom” — where the trail, N. Lynn Street and the I-66 offramp combine in one of the most accident-prone intersections in the county, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. The improvements are in the design and engineering phase after being approved by the Arlington County Board in May, and construction is expected to begin next spring.
“Knowing the number of bicyclists and at what times they cross through the intersection is useful information in evaluating traffic signal timing at the nearby Lee Highway intersections,” McDaniel said. “We are currently evaluating if and how signal changes could be made to reduce bicycle and vehicle conflicts that occur at the trail crossing of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street. Staff will also conduct a study of the feasibility of constructing an underpass or bypass of the Custis Trail at the Rosslyn Circle location.”
The exact site for the stand has yet to be announced, but BikeArlington expects it to be near the Pentagon City Metro station.
The County installed two other stands — one near the Clarendon Metro station and one near the Ballston Metro station — in the spring. Crystal City BID installed a similar stand near the Crystal City Water Park last year.
The stands house tools allowing cyclists to make quick fixes or adjustments, like filling tires with air or tightening loose bolts. BikeArlington program manager Chris Eatough noted the stands are designed to be durable for weathering the outdoors as well as being fairly theft-proof.
“The Fixit Stands have been well received and we see lots of people using them,” said Eatough.
Although Eatough doesn’t yet have a date for the installation of the new stand in Pentagon City, he said it should be soon. The stand already has been purchased and BikeArlington just has to finish working out the installation details.
Kennan Garvey was a cycling enthusiast, taught children about bikes when he was in the Peace Corps and wanted to volunteer for Phoenix Bikes after he retired, his widow, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey said.
Since she created the fund, Garvey has aimed to raise $56,000 for Phoenix Bikes, a thousand dollars for each year her husband lived.
“When people first pass away, people want to give money, and people don’t forget,” Garvey said, “but they don’t remember so much [as time goes by]. I thought a ride would be a great way to keep the fund going and organized.”
When her husband died unexpectedly from a heart attack on Jan. 19, 2008, Garvey said she knew she wanted to set up a memorial for him to benefit Phoenix Bikes.
“Probably at about 2:00 a.m. that night it came to me that this would be the perfect memorial for him,” Garvey said.
The charity bicycle ride will start and end at Phoenix Bikes at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive, and will span the entire trail. There will be turn-around points at 15, 30 and 45 miles into the trail, allowing riders to bike 30, 60, or 90 miles. Riders can also do an extra 10 miles on the Custis Trail to complete a full 100-mile-ride, according to Phoenix Bikes Executive Director Henry Dunbar.
“It’s a great ride, really suitable for kids,” Garvey said. “You don’t have to cross roads much and there aren’t any huge hills.”
Garvey and Phoenix Bikes partnered to raise money in her husband’s name for the nonprofit in 2008, and have wanted to organize a ride to feed the fund for the past five years, Dunbar said.
“Kennan was an avid cyclist and obviously a very connected member of the community,” Dunbar said. “Having an annual event that would continue to memorialize him and build on this fund is part of our plan to grow.”
Phoenix Bikes plans to use the fund, which has a goal of $10,000 for Saturday’s ride, to help its effort to build a new education center that will have room for more of the young bicyclists it mentors, Dunbar said. The current location accommodates eight to 10 middle school-aged children, who are taught bike repair and business skills, but Phoenix Bikes wants to double that with the new building.
Registration is still open for the ride, and those interested in donating but not riding can sponsor a rider, like Garvey’s grandson, who learned about bicycling from his late grandfather. Garvey said that the goal is for every rider to pledge $500 via either donation or sponsorship. The fund has has raised $4,120 so far.
“We’re getting there,” Garvey said. “I’m not sure if we’ll make it to $10,000, but we’re getting there.”
Although Garvey broke her collarbone in May while training for the ride and will not participate this year, she said she will be there to cheer on her family members and the other riders.
“For whatever reason I wasn’t meant to ride this one,” Garvey said.
Garvey and Dunbar said they plan to hold the ride annually to keep the Kennan Garvey Memorial Fund growing, and to make sure that he is remembered.
“It’s hard, but it is what it is,” Garvey said of the loss of her late husband. “We had a great life together.”
Photo courtesy Libby Garvey
Two new Capital Bikeshare stations became available for public use yesterday in Arlington, and a new bicycle path shouldn’t be too far behind.
Capital Bikeshare announced on Twitter yesterday that it had installed a 15-dock station at Lee Highway and N. Cleveland Street in Lyon Village and an 11-dock station at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive at the edge of the Buckingham neighborhood. The two stations are the fourth and the fifth to have opened in Arlington this year, according to Paul DeMaio, Arlington’s program manager for Capital Bikeshare.
“This makes 72 stations in Arlington and 323 in the region,” DeMaio told ARLnow.com in an email. “Thirteen stations are in planning with another 17 stations recently funded with the start of fiscal year 2015 this past July.”
DeMaio said Capital Bikeshare is on track to have 133 stations around Arlington by 2020.
In other bicycle-related news, the shared-use path being constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of the Route 50/N. Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is projected to open next month, according to David Goodman, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.
The trail will run along the highway’s eastbound side from the intersection with N. Pershing Drive, at the Fort Myer gate, to the N. Rolfe Street offramp.
On the other side of Route 50, the shared use path has been realigned and extended under the 10th Street bridge. These paths are expected to open when the construction on the project is complete, projected to be the end of August.
Photos via @bikeshare
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on an agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to construct a bike park on the northern side of Columbia Pike near Arlington Mill Community Center. Dominion Power, which has an easement for its power lines, is also party to the agreement.
“The focus of the project is to install a bike park with a learning loop for beginning riders,” the county’s staff report states. “The park improvements will include site furnishings, sand play area, water bottle filler, bike repair station, plaza space and a paved bicycle path.”
The park was approved back in 2009 as part of the Neighborhood Conservation program. The project has “been on hold” as the county’s Department of Environmental Services realigned the trail to improve pedestrian safety and to accommodate streetscape improvements.
Staff has already solicited bids for the project. Once the County Board approves the licensing agreement, a separate proposal with the chosen bid is expected to go before the Board in the fall.
Photo via Google Maps
Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]
Library to Launch Tool Lending – Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]
Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]
Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The Arlington County Police Department announced yesterday that 74 bicycles have been reported stolen this year, compared with 124 at this same point last year.
The report comes less than a year after ACPD declared bike thefts to be at an “all-time high,” and just seven months after one bike thief was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the middle of a bicycle thief crackdown.
Despite the drop in reported thefts, ACPD says it still is “aggressively working to reduce the number of incidents,” but offered some tips on ways to avoid getting your bike stolen.
From Arlington County police:
- Do NOT leave bikes unsecured on your lawn, porch or driveway.
- Always lock your bike’s frame and wheels with a high quality U-Lock to a solid, fixed object. Cables don’t provide sufficient security to protect your bike.
- If stored in a storage locker, secure your bike to an immovable object.
- Take photos of your bike and any distinguishing features, to include the serial number and keep them on file.
- Work with your Homeowner’s Association or property management to improve security for your bike storage area by adding locked cages and cameras.
- If you are a victim of bicycle theft, file a police report.
- If you notice suspicious behavior, call the police immediately.
- Register your bike for FREE with the Arlington County Police Department. Visit www.police.arlingtonva.us and go to Online Services and click on Register Your Bike. Within approximately seven days you will receive an ACPD decal which, when visible, may be a deterrent to theft.
We strongly encourage residents to register the serial number of their bicycles for free as this is used for identification purposes if stolen and increases the chances it will be returned. If you cannot read your serial number and wish to register your bike, the Arlington County Police Department Crime Prevention Unit will assist you with engraving a number on the frame. Call 703-228-4057 to make arrangements.
This year’s event, in the garage under 1851 S. Bell Street, replaced the Diamond Derby of past years, but includes largely the same activities: several underground races and a bar and lounge in the middle of the garage to watch the cyclists zip around.
Unlike previous years, all proceeds from racer registrations go to benefit Phoenix Bikes, an Arlington-based nonprofit that teaches youths how to build and repair bicycles while fostering “real-world skills and education.”
Cyclists can register to participate in the kids race, team relays, a “celebrity cruise” with an obstacle course and sprint competitions. The events start at 2:00 p.m. and runs until 6:00 p.m., with last call at the bar at 5:30 p.m. Registration for each race is $20 per rider. Spectators can watch for free.
“The Derby is a creative way to show off Crystal City’s accessibility for bicycles and cars — by highlighting the area’s often overlooked parking assets,” Angela Fox, President/CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, said in a press release. “We are excited about the evolution into the Phoenix Derby and its ability to support this amazing Arlington-based nonprofit organization.”
Photo via Crystal City BID. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
There will be six “pit stops” in Arlington tomorrow — five during the morning commute and one in the afternoon — that have music, free food and beverages, giveaways and bicycle vendors. According to BikeArlington, more than 10,000 people participated in the event last year.
“Arlington County celebrates biking every day,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “The County is a great place to get around by bike with more than one hundred miles of multi-use trails, on-street bike lanes and designated bike routes. Even if you don’t own a bike, Capital Bikeshare is a convenient option with 69 stations in Arlington and more throughout the region.”
The event will be held rain or shine, but those biking might want to pack a poncho just in case: the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for this afternoon into tomorrow morning, and forecasts are calling for a 100 percent chance of rain.
Below are the times and locations for Arlington’s pit stops tomorrow. You can register to participate online:
- Rosslyn (Rosslyn Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- Ballston (FreshBikes Bike Shop, 3924 Wilson Blvd — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- Crystal City (Crystal City Water Park, 1750 Crystal Drive — 7:00-9:00 a.m.)
- Columbia Pike Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- East Falls Church Metro Station – Morning (2001 N. Sycamore Street — 6:30-9:30 a.m.)
- East Falls Church – Afternoon (Tri360 Bike Shop: W&OD Trail at Washington Blvd and Lee Highway — 4:00- 7:00 p.m.)
Bike to Work Day is a part of National Bike Month, and, in honor of the month, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is offering free classes this weekend, hoping to educate those less confident in their cycling abilities so they become bike commuters. The classes will be held at the Arlington Central Library parking deck (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Also announced this month: Capital Bikeshare is now selling daily, monthly and annual memberships at Arlington Commuter Stores, and those buying memberships can use their keys the same day.
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Arlington will be rolling out a pilot program for S. Eads Street this fall that will give residents an idea of what the future of the Pentagon City/Crystal City corridor will look like for years to come.
The county has decided that the four-lane road, which runs parallel to Jefferson Davis Highway from Army Navy Drive to Four Mile Run, is unnecessarily wide, and should be changed to a three-lane road — the center lane for left turns — with increased pedestrian and bicycle amenities.
The county’s Department of Environmental Services recently released a survey asking residents which plan for S. Eads Street they prefer: a regular bike lane with a buffer and a larger parking lane, a street-level “cycle” track with a physical buffer, or a “raised cycle track” with a larger barrier less space for both parked and driving cars. The survey will be open until June 18.
“The reallocation of the available street space allows for other uses such as widened sidewalks, bicycle facilities, pedestrian median refuges, and on-street parking, all to meet the existing and future needs of S. Eads Street,” the county writes at the beginning of the survey. “This pilot program will include many elements that may be included in the final design of S. Eads Street. During the pilot, various aspects of roadway operations will be monitored, including travel times and vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic counts.”
The pilot program this fall will reduce the traffic to three lanes and institute a “protected bike facility,” as well as increased pedestrian crossings and reconfigured parking. The program will be installed between 15th Street and 23rd Street S., according to DES spokesman Eric Balliet, and most closely resemble “Option 2,” which includes the street-level cycle track. Balliet said the dimensions of the program will differ from those presented as the long-term Option 2 changes.
The Crystal City Sector Plan calls for increased density along parts of S. Eads Street closer to Army Navy Drive, which is also a part of the alignment for the Crystal City streetcar. There will be a meeting for residents to discuss their thoughts and concerns over the future of S. Eads Street on Wednesday, May 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Aurora Highlands Community Center (735 18th Street S.).
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) A week after another cyclist was hit at the intersection of Lee Highway, N. Lynn Street at the Custis Trail, the Arlington County Board approved adding $75,000 to a contract to engineer improvements to the intersection.
The planned improvements to the area, which includes the trail’s intersection with Fort Myer Drive, include removing a travel lane from Lee Highway and extending the curb at the intersection’s corners. It also calls for upgraded traffic signals, on-street bike lanes, signs and landscape areas and a “Corridor of Light” public art feature.
The most troublesome part of the intersection. where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, has been where two lanes of traffic from I-66 turn right on N. Lynn Street toward the Key Bridge. That traffic comes in conflict with pedestrians and cyclists on the trail, who get the green light at about the same time.
The improvements are designed to give cyclists less time in traffic as a result of the extended curbs, as well as greater visibility and a safer “queueing” area. In addition, the start of the Custis Trail would be widened to allow for greater cyclist and pedestrian flow.
The Board voted yesterday to amend its contract with Toole Design Group, which is designing the updates to the intersection, to include additional design of underground features and water main relocation. The project is expected to be 90 percent complete with design by this summer with construction beginning next spring and completing by summer 2016.
Once the project reaches 90 percent design, Arlington Department of Environmental Services says it will schedule a public meeting to present the intersection’s final design to the community.
According to DES, the design of the improvements were funded by a federal grant, and the construction is being paid for by the JBG Companies, which is developing the Central Place office and residential skyscrapers two blocks away. If approved, the contract amendment will bring the total cost of the design to almost $1.2 million. The construction is currently estimated to cost $5 million.
The intersection was cited as needing a redesign in the Realize Rosslyn public outreach process, and some have suggested a pedestrian tunnel or flyover. According to DES, there are no other plans for improvements to this intersection, but the construction doesn’t preclude any changes in the future.
“There’s been a lot of attention at ways we can improve this intersection,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said at yesterday’s meeting. “The Realize Rosslyn process is underway, and we did [talk about] incorporating some focus into potentially systemic changes to the intersection.”
In addition to the trail improvements, Arlington announced yesterday it purchased a plot of land adjacent to the intersection, at 1101 Lee Highway, to preserve green and recreational space for the area. The land might also some day be used for a realignment of the bike trail, to improve safety.
The county paid $2.4 million to a private landowner and is considering constructing an “ancillary boathouse” to pair with a proposed boathouse along the Potomac River that the National Parks Service is considering.
“Over the years, community members have voiced strong support for a boathouse in the County along the Potomac River,” the county wrote in its press release, “to create public access, establish a home for high school rowing programs and to offer educational opportunities related to life along the Potomac.”