Morroy Announces Re-election Bid — Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy announced that she will be seeking re-election in 2015 at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Morroy, who is recovering from recent hip replacement surgery, outlined her goals for a new term. The goals include returning property assessments to the Commissioner of Revenue’s office, thus bringing it under the supervision of an elected official who’s directly responsible to taxpayers.
Arlingtonian Running for UK Parliament — Arlington resident Sonia Klein, who was born in London, is running for a seat in the UK House of Commons. Klein, who’s affiliated with the Labour Party, can run because residency is not required to run for House of Commons seats. Klein has previously served as vice chair of precinct operations for the Arlington County Democratic Committee. [InsideNova]
Whipple Appointed to Board of Health — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has appointed former state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple to the Virginia Board of Health. Whipple previously represented the 31st District, which includes Arlington, in the state Senate. [Commonwealth of Virginia]
New Cycletrack Proposed — Arlington County is proposing a sidewalk-level cycletrack along S. Walter Reed Drive to connect the W&OD Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail. However, some cyclists are concerned the cycletrack would be barely distinguishable from the adjacent sidewalk. [Greater Greater Washington]
Clarendon Office Building Sold — The recently-constructed office building at 3003 Washington Blvd in Clarendon has been sold. KBS Real Estate Investment Trust has reportedly agreed to purchase the building from Penzance Cos. for $146.8 million. The building is 95 percent leased to eight tenants. [GlobeSt, Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.
Arlington-based charity Bikes for the World, which takes used bikes and ships them to underprivileged communities around the world, will donate its 100,000th bicycle tomorrow.
The charity will send the bike as part of a shipment of 500 bicycles to Costa Rica, to be distributed to workers who use the bikes as part of their jobs in their rural economy, according to a Bikes of the World press release.
Bikes of the World has been sending bikes around the world, to places like the Philippines, Ghana and Afghanistan. The bikes help children get to school and help families climb out of poverty by providing reliable transportation. The bikes also provide jobs for people in the receiving countries, who get work reconditioning the bicycles once they arrive.
The 100,000th bike will be loaded into a shipping container tomorrow at noon at 1420 S. Eads Street as part of America Recycles Day. All of the bikes the nonprofit ships are donated by Americans in eight states and D.C., and recycled for their use internationally.
Image via Bikes for the World
The study, tabulated in infographic form (left) by county-funded transit research organization Mobility Lab, used 2013 data to analyze the commuting habits of of 131,300 working Arlington residents and the 180,300 who work in the county.
According to the study, 7 percent of all commuting trips by Arlington residents are either on foot or with a bicycle, and 4 percent of Arlington workers report either walking or biking to work. While 7.4 percent of commuting trips were biking and walking in the previous study, conducted in 2010, Mobility Lab Research Director Stephen Crim told ARLnow.com that he believes the 576-resident sample did not represent the county’s changing commuting patterns.
“We looked at this in comparison to census figures, and the census is showing really strong growth [in walking and biking] between the 2013 community survey and the 2010 community survey,” Crim said, “so we think there is an increase, but the sample didn’t pick that up.”
The longer term trend is clear: in 2004, only 4 percent of county residents biked or walked to work, and only 2.8 percent arrived at their jobs in Arlington via bike or foot.
The number of Arlington residents that drive alone to work is virtually unchanged — from 55 percent in 2010 to 54 percent last year — and hasn’t decreased significantly over the last 10 years, despite local officials’ emphasis on the “Car Free Diet.” Crim said that transit advocates should not be discouraged, however.
“A few percentage points over that period I’d say is real progress,” he said. “For Arlington residents, it’s a kind of hard argument to make because a lot of them are not going that far to work. Satisfaction across all the different modes is about the same. It’s that much more difficult sometimes, to make the argument, when someone still owns a car to not use it for work. They might have to drive a short distance or not get on a crowded interstate, so it’s a real challenge for all of Arlington’s programs.”
Compared with other jurisdictions around the region, Arlington’s residents lag behind only the District’s in alternative modes of transportation to driving. The regional average for those who drive alone to work is close to 70 percent, but only 38 percent of D.C. residents drive solo to the office.
Arlington residents’ use of Metrorail took a slight dip, from its peak of 27 percent in 2010 to 26 percent last year. The number coincides with the region as a whole; according to Mobility Lab, Metro’s ridership has been in decline since 2009.
The biggest statistical shift in working patterns comes from employees teleworking. In 2004, only 13 percent of Arlington residents said they teleworked at any point during the week. In 2013, that number is 30 percent, with the respondents teleworking on average 1.3 days per week. In addition, 19 percent of Arlington residents said they can’t telework at their current job, but “could and would” if the option were available to them.
Image courtesy Mobility Lab
Patrick Henry Elementary Honored by State — Patrick Henry Elementary School was among 40 schools around the state honored by the Virginia Board of Education for improving the academic performance of economically disadvantaged students. It was named a Highly Distinguished School for exceeding both state and federal benchmarks two years in a row. [WJLA]
Arlington, Falls Church Have State’s Best Jobs Numbers – Arlington and Falls Church tied for the lowest jobless rate in Virginia last month. They both listed a 3.7 percent unemployment rate for September. Arlington’s unemployment rate had been at 4 percent in August. [InsideNova]
Dog Loose at Airport — Among the cases recently handled by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington was a dog loose on the property at Reagan National Airport. The pooch had been reported missing and was reunited with its owner. [Washington Post]
Bike Light and Arm Band Giveaway — All cyclists, runners and walkers who stop by the Crystal City exit of the Mount Vernon Trail tonight from 4:00-6:00 p.m. will receive a free bike light or LED arm/leg band, courtesy of the Crystal City BID. Limit one item per person, while supplies last.
Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict
The Capital Bikeshare program continues to grow in Arlington, and its annual report shows more residents are using it, and riding farther, than ever before.
As of June 30, 2014, Capital Bikeshare had 2,771 registered members in Arlington, a 31 percent increase over 2013, and the biggest year-over-year increase since the program was introduced in 2011. The program cost the county $536,000 last year — it spent about $1.4 million and generated $895,000 in revenue — also the best recovery-to-expenditure ratio since the program started.
While announcing its annual report for Capital Bikeshare, BikeArlington said it’s planning to have 137 stations in operation by FY 2020, compared to the 75 stations that are up and running today.
There are nine stations in the county that are currently funded and ready to be installed, with four along Lee Highway and four scattered throughout South Arlington. Crystal City, Pentagon City and Rosslyn will benefit most from the FY 2015 planned expansion, which projects to add 18 stations throughout the county.
There were 191,961 Capital Bikeshare trips that started in Arlington last year, a 24 percent increase over 2013, and BikeArlington estimates riders burned 16.2 million calories during their trips.
One development that may slow progress during 2014 was the bankruptcy of Capital Bikeshare’s equipment supplier in January, and the more recent bankruptcy of the region’s station vendor.
“There is still some uncertainty about the supply of new equipment due to our station vendor’s bankruptcy,” BikeArlington wrote on its website. “In addition to the equipment vendor’s bankruptcy, the two companies that worked together on the hardware and software components of the system have discontinued their partnership. The manufacturer of the software and circuitry for our Capital Bikeshare stations has committed to producing a new, enhanced bikeshare station that will work seamlessly with our existing system. We haven’t yet had a chance to test this new station, but look forward to ensuring this equipment meets or exceeds our expectations.”
BikeArlington didn’t say whether the bankruptcies or dissolved partnerships would delay the installment of future stations. The ones that have been installed since the bankruptcy were purchased before the company went under.
Images via BikeArlington
Seeking Fed Funds for Transportation Projects — Arlington County is seeking $840,000 in federal grant funds for three transportation projects. The projects include: bicycle and pedestrian improvements near McKinley Elementary School, Americans with Disabilities Act improvements along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, and an expansion of the Capitol Bikeshare system. [InsideNova]
D.C. More Expensive than NYC, SF? — In terms of housing-related costs, it’s more expensive to live in the D.C. area than New York City or San Francisco. That’s according to a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [Washington Post]
Cyclists Facing ‘Bikelash’ — Bicyclists don’t like being called “bullies” and “terrorists,” but the county’s Mobility Lab blog argues that it’s best not to respond with reason and logic to the increasing amount of “bikelash.” Instead, the blog encourages cyclists to act more strategically by organizing, publishing their own media outlets and engaging in the political process. [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Rosslyn intersection where cyclists and pedestrians face drivers exiting I-66 has received safety modifications in the past two weeks and more changes are on the way, county officials said on a tour of the site Tuesday morning.
In advance of a $5 million overhaul slated to be complete in summer 2016, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation changed the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street last week, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering.
“Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority at this location, period,” Marcus said as county officials and police watched people navigate the corner some locals call the “Intersection of Doom.”
One change is minor in cost but should be significant in impact: A no-turn-on-red sign is being installed at N. Lynn Street for those exiting I-66. That’s being done “as soon as possible,” Marcus said.
Additionally, cyclists and pedestrians crossing N. Lynn Street using the Custis Trail previously had a walk signal when all traffic lights were red — known as a “leading interval” — for just 2 seconds; the length of that signal was increased last week to 5 seconds, Marcus said. The county plans to increase the leading interval time to 15 to 20 seconds in the next six months, once new signal technology is installed.
“We’re giving more time for pedestrians and bikes to go first,” Marcus said, adding that new caution signs for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be added to the intersection.
Drivers headed west on Lee Highway, meanwhile, now have an additional 10 seconds of biker- and pedestrian-free time to clear the intersection.
To pair with engineering changes, the Arlington County Police Department has ramped up traffic enforcement and educational efforts at the corner where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, Capt. James Wasem said.
“People can expect to see uniformed police officers out here flagging cars over, directing traffic, handing out some brochures and citing violations,” he said about the measures enacted about two weeks ago.
Police issued 228 citations at the intersection from Sept. 15, 2013 through the same date this year: 133 for failure to obey traffic signals, 32 for improper turning and 1 for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Fifteen car crashes occurred at the intersection within that period, police said; just two crashes on record involved pedestrians.
The ACPD assigns an officer to direct traffic at the intersection on weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. but must spread officers between that corner, schools and other frequent crash sites. The department began sending an officer to the location “as often as possible” following recommendations from a traffic analyst the county hired this year, Wasem said.
ACPD is seeking funding to assign two officers to Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street every weekday morning, plus an additional two officers at Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, Wasem said. The latter intersection has been facing a chronic problem of drivers “blocking the box” during rush hour since construction began on the Central Place project, blocking lanes of Lynn Street.
The additional staffing would cost $180,000 through next year.
The pedestrian was crossing Lee Highway at a corner locals have called the “Intersection of Doom” about 8:20 a.m. when the driver of a black SUV plowed into her, officers and a witness said. The driver was headed north on N. Lynn Street and was making a left turn onto Lee Highway when she hit a northbound pedestrian who was using the crosswalk and had the walk signal, according to officers and witness David Clark.
Clark, a 56-year-old Rosslyn resident, was doing his daily exercise routine in Arlington Gateway Park near the intersection when he heard a yell.
“I was coming up from my pushup when I saw a lady crossing the street, and then I heard her holler,” he said. “The lady was in the crosswalk when she got hit.”
An ACPD officer was directing traffic when the crash occurred but momentarily had his back turned to that corner, officers said. An officer is posted weekday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the intersection packed with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, an officer said.
The pedestrian was taken to a hospital and thought to have a broken ankle, according to police scanner traffic. Officers on the scene said the driver could be ticketed, pending an investigation.
In May, the Arlington County Board approved spending an additional $75,000 on safety improvements to the intersection where cyclists have been hit by drivers several times. The upgrades will extend curbs at the intersection’s corners, modify traffic signals, add on-street bike lanes and remove a travel lane from Lee Highway. Construction was set to start in the spring and be complete in summer 2016.
County Can’t Stop In-Home Gun Sales — Concern was raised during the public comment period of Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting about a resident of Fairlington who’s selling weapons out of his home. The Board responded to the complaint about the weapons sales, saying it can’t stop the business from operating as long as it has all the proper permits. The resident has been trying to find a retail location to open a gun shop. [InsideNova]
Cyclists Encourage Cycling Etiquette — A sidewalk stencil appeared in Rosslyn earlier this year, encouraging those on the Custis Trail to “make us bicyclists look good.” One local blogger has four tips for conscientious cycling. [Ode Street Tribune]
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in Arlington — The Arlington County Police Department will participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 27. Police personnel will be on hand at three Arlington fire stations to accept “potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” no questions asked. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Arlington is moving forward with a bike trail along Washington Blvd and has moved the placement of the trail to save trees.
The trail is expected to cost about $1.7 million, according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel, but it has not been put out to bid yet. The trail has been approved and in planning stages for years, but its initial path would have necessitated digging up hundreds of mature trees.
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is likely to approve a realignment of the trail to put it closer to Towers Park and S. Rolfe Street, north of Columbia Pike. If approved, the county would pay $8,000 to the federal government to acquire the easement for the trail. The trail will then be put out to bid. Construction is expected to begin next year and end by summer 2015.
Phase I of the trail has already been built, between Route 50 and S. Walter Reed Drive, according to the county staff report. The trail segment in question would run from Walter Reed Drive to S. Rolfe Street and Columbia Pike. The trail is being built to “provide a new opportunity for persons in the southeastern part of Arlington to bicycle, walk or run on a route apart from motor vehicle traffic,” according to the staff report.
Waiting for approvals from the Virginia Department of Transportation has delayed the project, McDaniel said. VDOT controls the space adjacent to Washington Blvd where a large part of the trail will be built.
(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department apprehended three bike theft suspects in Ballston this afternoon (Friday).
The suspects were caught with a bicycle that had been reported stolen this morning, according to Lt. Dan Murphy, who heads the ACPD’s property theft division. Around 12:30 p.m., police pulled over a minivan with four suspects inside. One female suspect ran away from police and is still at large. The other three were handcuffed and taken into custody, although one managed to flee from the van before police caught and detained him.
“Recognizing the larceny of bikes is an ongoing problem,” Murphy told ARLnow.com at the scene. “We’ve developed plans to prevent bike theft, including plainclothes surveillance, GPS tracking and bicycle registration.”
In total, nine police vehicles responded to the call, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street in front of Pizza Autentica. Murphy said the large response, which included plainclothes officers, was warranted because of the number of suspects in the minivan, which was later towed from the scene. The van had chemicals and cleaning supplies in it, leading onlookers to question whether it was, as one put it “a rolling meth lab,” but Murphy said the individuals were only suspected of bike theft.
Murphy couldn’t release information about the suspects, either the ones in custody or the one at large. He did say, however, that this wasn’t the only bike theft bust this week. ACPD officers arrested an alleged bike thief who had three stolen bikes in his possession on Wednesday.
To help increase the likelihood that a stolen bike is returned, cyclists are encouraged to register their bike with the police, a free service for residents and non-residents who cycle in Arlington.
The stolen bike is expected to be returned to its owner, a 10-year-old girl who had received it as a Christmas gift, according to Murphy.
NPS is preparing a new transportation plan and environmental assessment for the heavily-trafficked zone, Park Service Superintendent Alexcy Romero announced Thursday.
“The purpose of the [environmental assessment] is to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway and roadway users and to increase overall visitor safety around the memorial area,” Romero said in a statement.
The Park Service installed temporary flashing lights last winter at a crosswalk on the northbound GW Parkway, prior to the circle, to urge drivers to slow down for pedestrians and cyclists. In summer 2012, various other safety improvements – pedestrian warning signs, rumble strips for drivers and directional pavement markings – were installed.
The changes were made in response to a series of accidents and near-misses.
Comments on new safety improvements can be submitted through September 30 on the Park Service’s planning website.
The Park Service asks that commenters include their addresses, phone numbers and email addresses in their remarks, warning that “personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time.”
Additionally, park staff will set up information booths at Alexandria farmers markets and near Memorial Circle.
The public will have opportunities to review the transportation plan following its release this fall, according to NPS. The Park Service is expected to make a final decision on the plan by the summer of 2016.
Photo (top) via Google Maps
Elementary school students got moving and learned about pedestrian safety on the first day of school in Arlington Tuesday morning.
With a police escort, families walked from Fort Barnard Park to Drew Model Elementary School in Nauck as part of a joint pedestrian and cyclist safety initiative by Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department.
The new program encourages families to create healthy habits and discuss how to stay safe, Arlington Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy said.
“The message is safety for students both coming from and going to school,” Murphy said before families strolled in the post-Labor Day heat.
Keeping kids safe on streets using “the 3 ‘E’s” of engineering, education and traffic law enforcement are a top priority of the county, added Larry Marcus, Arlington’s transportation, engineering and operations bureau chief.
As she walked her 3-year-old son Kanoa to his first day of Montessori school, lifelong Nauck resident Jaque Tuck, 30, said she wanted to teach her child healthy habits.
“On his very first day, we wanted to let him know everything is okay and to give him some exercise,” the child protective services employee said alongside her husband, real estate agent Karl Tuck.
Julia Stewart, a substitute teacher at the school, said she opted to walk her 11-year-old son Braden and 7-year-old son Tristan to class as a way to build community.
“I wanted to meet people who live in the neighborhood and go to school with us,” Stewart said. “You make it kind of a walking bus.”
Arlington families were notified about a month ago if they lived in a “bus zone” or a “walk zone” — and were encouraged to walk if possible, a department spokeswoman said.
Principal Darryl Evans encouraged Drew Elementary parents to walk their kids to school and supplement the two crossing guards who have posts near the school.
“We have a lot of children who walk in our community. It’s important that the adults help us out,” he said about school with 671 students enrolled this fall.
In a related pedestrian and cyclist safety campaign, some ACPD patrol cars now have rear stickers — with the words “PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful)” — that remind drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to share the road.
The release of the decals coincides with enforcement of the state law enacted July 1 requiring that drivers pass “at a reasonable speed” at least three feet from a cyclist they pass, according to a statement issued by the county.
ACPD stepped up high-visibility safety patrols around schools today for the beginning of the school year.
‘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.