Rosslyn to Lose ‘Tallest Building’ Crown — Rosslyn may eventually lose its distinction as the home of the tallest building in the D.C. region. The under-construction 1812 N. Moore Street office building in Rosslyn will soon claim the ‘tallest building’ crown, but a planned tower in Alexandria and a proposed skyscraper in Tysons will be taller. [Greater Greater Washington]
Bicycle ‘Hibernation’ is Over — The number of bicyclists on local trails is spiking as the weather becomes warmer. Bike Arlington says of the seasonal ridership spike: “Winter hibernation for Arlingtonian riders is over.” [Bike Arlington]
Books for ‘Mummy’ — Just in time for Mother’s Day, Arlington Public Library is out with some suggested reading and viewing on the topic of “mummies.” [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Not to be confused with Walk and Bike to School Day in October, which has a similar name and a similar mission, Bike and Walk to School Day “encourages students to bike or walk to school while teaching them about the health and environmental benefits of biking and walking.”
“Bike and Walk to School Day also helps to raise community awareness about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety education, safe routes to schools, well-maintained walkways, and traffic calming in our neighborhoods and around our schools,” says Bike Arlington, on its website.
The event, held in conjunction with National Bike and Walk to School Day, is a partnership between Arlington Public Schools, Bike Arlington and Walk Arlington.
“APS encourages all families and staff to participate in this event,” said a school system press release. “This energizing event reminds parents and students alike of the simple joy of biking and walking to school while focusing attention on the importance of physical activity, air quality, safety, and bike-able, walkable communities.”
The event will be held in the morning. Students and parents will be greeted at their elementary, middle and high schools by county and school officials and staff. At the schools, giveaways will conducted and “healthy refreshments” will be distributed, according to Bike Arlington.
Update at 3:50 p.m. — “Based on weather forecasts, some schools have opted to postpone their celebrations until Friday, May 10,” according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
The county’s BikeArlington program posted the following photo of one of the shelters on Facebook.
“The temporary rack assembly shown here will be replaced this week with 12 permanent racks,” BikeArlington said. “The two bike shelters are designed to accommodate 12 racks each, which together will provide cover for up to 48 bikes.”
“The Clarendon shelters are identical to Arlington’s two existing bike shelters. The first was located at the Shirlington bus station. The second recently opened at the Pentagon City metro station. An air pump and repair stand with basic tools will also be installed at all three bike shelter locations sometime this summer.”
The new bike shelters are part of the larger Clarendon Metro Plaza project, which has resulted in new paving, seating, lighting, landscaping and newspaper racks outside the Metro station. Construction on the project is expected to wrap up this spring and summer.
Photo via Facebook
Bomb Squad to Receive Protective Vest Donation – The Arlington County Fire Department’s bomb squad will receive a donation of two tactical protective vests next Tuesday. The vests will protect bomb squad personnel in explosive-related situations. Worth nearly $20,000, the vests are being donated by Firehouse Subs.
Lander Defends His Record — School Board member James Lander, who’s running for re-election and facing a challenge for the Democratic endorsement, is defending his record when it comes to school redistricting, student transportation and his support of Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. Lander says he “will continue to press for ways to improve student achievement and address the needs of a growing school population without breaking the bank.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Garners Third AAA Rating — Ratings agency Fitch has reaffirmed its AAA rating for Arlington’s debt. All three bond rating agencies have now given Arlington their top ratings for the year. [Arlington County]
‘Two Wheel Tuesday’ Event Tonight — The county’s BikeArlington program is holding its fourth “Two Wheel Tuesday” educational event of the year. Tonight’s event is “Savvy Cycling Tips,” which lets interested riders “learn the best tips on safe biking so you can ride in traffic comfortably.” The event will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Westover Library (1644 North McKinley Road). [BikeArlington]
Photo by Wolfkann
Due to the way the street moves drivers onto, off of and around I-395, it’s considered “inhospitable” for pedestrians and cyclists. A plan has been in the works for years to create a separate track for cyclists and to reconfigure the street to improve travel between the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City.
According to the county staff report, the project would reconfigure 3,300 feet of Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street. It would provide shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, improve pedestrian space and construct a separate two-way bicycle track. The redesign is also intended to make room for the future streetcar line.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, Arlington County was granted Public Lands Highway Funds to make trail improvements. In FY 2012, the county was awarded a grant by the Federal Highway Administration to transform Army Navy Drive into a Complete Street. Designing the project is expected use the $706,000 of grants, and the County Board will vote on whether or not to accept and appropriate the funding for the project. It will then require additional funding for construction.
“This project aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s Complete Streets program to expand safe travel options for all modes of transportation along our roadways,” said the county staff report. “The proposed cycle track will be one of the first in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
County staff did not report any issues with the plan and recommends the County Board approve it on Saturday.
Last week, workers began construction on the intersection of Glebe Road and N. Fairfax Drive. The improvements are part of a pedestrian safety improvement project along Glebe Road that will spread to the Wilson Blvd and Carlin Springs Road intersections later this year.
The upgrades include installing new traffic signals, pedestrian crossing signals, street lights and trees. The intersections will also be reconfigured to improve safety. For example, the pedestrian “pork chop island” will be removed in front of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building, according to Tom Hutchings, Capital Project Manager with Arlington’s Department of Enviromental Services Division of Transportation.
“It tightens up the crossing distances at each intersection,” he said.
The red light camera that monitors northbound Glebe Road traffic at Fairfax Drive will remain in use during construction. Although the timing of the traffic lights will not change immediately, it will be evaluated later and tweaked as necessary.
“The timing is continually analyzed with every project we do,” Hutchings said. “It will be studied upon completion of the new lane geometry to optimize the intersection.”
The new traffic lights that were strung over the intersection last week are temporary; the permanent lights will be mounted on upgraded poles with mast arms. The previous poles were based on standards from the 1970s and did not meet the electronic wiring and mast arm standards in the current codes.
The improvements at the three intersections are part of a $2.5 million VDOT project that is locally administered by Arlington County. About 80 percent of the funding comes from federal and state sources, and about 20 percent comes from the county.
Although a number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents have occurred along this stretch of Glebe Road in recent years, such as the deadly cab accident last July, the intersections have been the subject of extensive studies since 2000.
“It is precipitated from acknowledgement of the high level of pedestrian activity in the area,” Hutchings said. “It’s to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along Glebe Road where a lot of development has occurred over the past 10 years, and pedestrian use of Glebe Road has increased.”
According to Hutchings, the addition of a bike lane for eastbound cyclists on Fairfax Drive occurred during an earlier phase of this project, as did the installation of traffic lights last year at N. 9th Street and N. Vermont Street.
Work on the Fairfax Drive intersection is expected to be finished by mid-June. The Wilson Blvd. intersection should be completed in August, and Carlin Springs in October.
Senior Citizens Tour Sewage Plant — A group of three dozen senior citizens toured Arlington’s recently-renovated Water Pollution Control Plant on Friday. The sold-out tour educated the seniors about the sewage treatment process and about the people who work at the plant, whose “informal motto” is “We’re No. 1 with your No. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Technology and the Homeless — Contrary to a common image of the homeless, most homeless individuals in Arlington have a cell phone and some even have laptops. Such technology is described as a “lifeline” to family, job opportunities and education. [Patch]
Map of the ‘Arlington Loop’ — Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published an easy-to-use map of the “Arlington Loop” — the 50 miles of off-street bike trails in the county. The map includes approximate ride times for bicyclists. [Bike Arlington, Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy Chris Armstrong
Registration Open for Bike to Work Day — Cyclists interested in participating in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17, can register online. There are three official pit stops in Arlington — Freshbikes in Ballston (3924 Wilson Blvd), Gateway Park in Rosslyn (1300 Lee Hwy) and Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive). There will also be a stop in East Falls Church along the W&OD Trail near the intersection of Lee Hwy and N. Washington Street. Last year, a record 12,700 people in the D.C. area participated in the event.
Possibility of Another Record Low Year for Tax Delinquencies — If Arlington residents continue paying their taxes as expected, the county could experience another record low for its tax delinquency rate. Treasurer Frank O’Leary says the current delinquency rate is 0.397 percent, which is below the 0.47 percent for Fiscal Year 2012. FY 2012 had the lowest tax delinquency rate in recorded county history. [Sun Gazette]
Amnesty International 5K Run for Rights on Saturday — Amnesty International will be holding its first 5K Run for Rights at 8:00 a.m. this Saturday, March 30. The race begins at Bluemont Park. Online registration closes tonight (Thursday) at 7:00 p.m., but on-site registration will be offered on race day. More details are available on the event’s Facebook page.
A pedal-powered pub turned heads in Courthouse today as it stopped by for a goodwill tour of Arlington.
The owners of Trolley Pub — a company that operates two open-air, pedal-powered party trolleys in Raleigh, N.C. – brought the vehicle up to Arlington in advance of their planned expansion here next month, to get a lay of the land and to introduce it to local law enforcement.
Police Department brass, County Board staffers, Health Department officials and other county employees stopped by on their lunch break to gawk at the 15-seat contraption and ask questions about its operation, legality and safety record.
The Trolley Pub, it turns out, is perfectly legal on the streets of Arlington, at least according to a preliminary police review. Owner Kai Kaapro said the trolley is classified the same as a party bus or limousine under the law; patrons are allowed to bring their own canned beer or boxed wine (no glass and no liquor) and drink it while pedaling around, since there’s a paid driver steering the vehicle.
The trolley itself does utilize pedal power, but it also has its own electric motor, capable of climbing steep hills and reaching up to 20 miles per hour. Normally, Kaapro said, the trolley will cruise around 5-10 miles per hour. Riders (up to 14, plus the driver) will be required to wear seat belts. So far, he said, there have been no reported accidents involving such vehicles in the United States (the concept originated in Europe).
Kaapro said he’s still scouting out possible routes in Arlington. Asked whether he thinks drivers might be annoyed by the slow-moving vehicle on local streets, he said it’s “really not more of an obstruction than a bus,” except it might move a bit slower.
“The novelty tends to moderate people’s tempers,” he noted.
Another concern he’s hoping to allay is that Trolley Pub patrons will be hardcore, out-of-control partiers. In fact, he said, most of his customers are in their 30s and 40s and not interested in getting sloppy drunk while pedaling across town. Twenty-somethings, Kaapro said, haven’t shown as much interest in his Trolley Pubs in Raleigh.
“Most young people don’t really need an excuse to go out and drink and hand out with friends,” he said. “We try hard to make sure it doesn’t get too rowdy. We like the older crowd.”
Plus, Kaapro said, the $35-40 per person price for a two hour tour might be a bit too high for those recently out of college.
Typical Trolley Pub customers are bachelorette parties, tourists, corporate team building exercises, and groups of friends on a pedal-powered bar crawl. Drivers, hired by the company, are typically bartenders or anybody else who can be fun and control a crowd at the same time.
Kaapro, 28, said he started the Trolley Pub two years ago after graduating from law school.
“For some reason this seemed more appealing to me than working for a law firm,” he said.
The Trolley Pub attracted quite a bit of attention during its stint in Courthouse today. One older woman blocked a lane of traffic, in front of about a half-dozen gathered police officers, to a take a cell phone photo of the trolley. Kaapro said he’s received some 20-30 calls for reservations already, just from people who have read about it online.
A new Trolley Pub (different than the older model pictured) is expected to start roaming the streets of Arlington in mid-April.
The open-air, pedal-powered trolley lets riders mix drinking and exercising while taking in the Arlington sights. Up to 14 people can ride along on a tour, along with one certified Trolley Pub conductor in the captain’s seat.
The trolley already exists in cities like Raleigh, NC. Pricing is not yet listed for the Arlington trolley, but Raleigh’s charges $30 per person for up to six people on a two hour tour, or $350 to rent the entire 14 person pub for two hours.
Riders who want to drink on the ride have to bring their own alcoholic beverages, but are able to use the on-board ice chest. No hard alcohol or glass is allowed, and alcoholic beverages must remain on board at all times.
The tentative launch date is April 13, according to the Trolley Pub Arlington Facebook page.
Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses — In what has become a Valentine’s Day tradition in Arlington, three same-sex couples applied for and were denied marriage licenses at the Arlington County courthouse yesterday. Arlington Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson reluctantly turned down the applications and spoke outside the courthouse in support of same-sex marriage. A similar demonstration, organized by another gay rights group, took place outside the courthouse last month. [Sun Gazette]
‘Dooring’ Bill Fails in Va. House — Legislation that would outlaw the “dooring” of bicyclists has failed in the Virginia House of Delegates. The bill had passed the state Senate but failed to pass a House committee earlier this week. The bill would have made it illegal to open a car door in the immediate path of a cyclist. Virginia is one of ten states in the country that do not have such a law on the books. [Washington Post]
Questioning the ‘Female-Friendly’ Sports Bar — Is Bracket Room, the new “female-friendly” sports bar that’s coming to Clarendon, insulting to women? One Washington City Paper writer says the answer is yes. She writes of Bracket Room partner and former reality TV star Chris Bukowski: “…his 2012 appearance on Bachelor Pad, in which former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants live in a house together and compete for $250,000, suggests he may not be the most in touch with women’s preferences. Over the course of the season, the chiseled-abs, blue-eyed Bukowski became the show’s villain, hooking up with and then ditching two of the female contestants.” [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
JBMHH’s Wright Gate, at Marshall Drive and Meade Street, will now close to visitors at 6:00 p.m., seven days a week. (It still opens at 5:00 a.m.) Previously, visitors were allowed to use the gate until 11:00 p.m.
Now, only Department of Defense ID card holders will be able to access the gate through 11:00 p.m.
Additionally, two JBMHH gate are now officially, permanently closed: Henry Gate, at Route 50 and N. Pershing Drive, and the Henderson Hall Annex Gate, on Southgate Road.
Currently, only two gates are open 24/7 to visitors and DoD personnel: the Henderson Hall Main Gate at the intersection of S. Orme Street and Southgate Road, and the Hatfield Gate, at Washington Blvd and 2nd Street S.
The changes are expected to impact bike commuters, who sometimes commute through Wright Gate and JBMHH as a safer, less traffic-filled way to get home at night.
JBMHH personnel say the changes were necessitated by a money-saving congressional mandate, which required the base to use military police or federal civilian security guards at installation gates. Previously, the gates were patrolled by private security guards.
“This action has resulted in fewer personnel to man the gates,” said JBMHH spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba.
In publishing last week’s Arlington County crime report, we wrote that a man’s effort to recover his stolen bike “backfired” when he was punched in the face and his new bike was stolen.
The victim of that alleged crime wrote us shortly thereafter and said it was actually he who had the last laugh.
The man, who didn’t want his name published but who was able to confirm non-public details about the incident, says he successfully recovered his pricey Gary Fisher mountain bike while the thief only managed to punch him once and take off with his girlfriend’s used $100 bike with pink tires.
Here’s the victim’s side of the story:
My Gary Fisher 29er mountain bike with multiple very distinguishable and colorful upgrades was stolen Sunday [Jan. 13] in downtown DC in front of a Safeway at 3 pm in broad daylight by a guy who broke my lock.
The next Thursday I was biking to Caps practice at Kettler in Ballston on my girlfriend’s pink tired bike (which the perp is pictured with here) when I saw a bus pull up with my stolen Gary Fisher on front. I put the pink tire bike I was riding on the rack with my stolen Gary Fisher and boarded the bus. I rode for a few blocks and got ready to make my move at the Whole Foods. I went to get both bikes and the guy charged off the bus and we wrestled for the Gary Fisher. Eventually I got my lock around the frame and wheel so he couldn’t ride away as he got one good punch in. With the Gary Fisher secure, I knocked him down and he put his hand in his bag and threatened to have a gun. He probably didn’t but l was spooked and let him up and backed off.
He got up and got on the pink tired bike and rode off. I got my nice Gary Fisher back. He rode off on this pink tired bike that I bought for 100 bucks a few years ago heading toward Courthouse and Rosslyn. I assume he dumped it right after he rode out if sight because he stood out on that thing and cops never found him.
I was fine after the fight and didn’t have a mark on me.
If you see the pink tired Specialized Hardrock around Clarendon he stole it. Also by the time I got to Kettler on my Gary Fisher, practice was over. At least I got my bike back.
I’m sure the police don’t encourage confronting thieves like this and maybe that’s why they took the successful part of the report out. But the bike I got back is really valuable to me.
Police say they have not made any arrests in the case so far.
Streetcar Referendum Might Be Necessary — Arlington County might be forced to hold a bond referendum for the Columbia Pike streetcar if it’s unable to sell a certain type of revenue bond to partially fund the $250 million project. For now, the project is awaiting word on whether it will receive up to $75 million in federal funding. [Sun Gazette]
Higher-End Stores at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has undergone a transformation that brought higher-end “aspirational luxury” stores to the mall. Recent addition to the malls include Oakley, Sperry, Mezlan and Cole Haan. Among the stores that have recently left is Aeropostale, which was forced out by a Microsoft Store. [Washington Post]
‘Dooring’ Law Proposed in Richmond — A law has been proposed for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session (which starts tomorrow) that would make a vehicle occupant liable in the event they open their car door in the path of a cyclist, causing an accident. Similar laws are already on the books in Maryland and D.C. [WTOP]
State Dept. Cancels Search for Lease in Rosslyn — The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, based on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, has canceled a search for a new lease. The agency is now looking for a building to buy, raising the prospect that it may be looking to move into the District. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Jkurl11
The Old Bike Shop, located at 2647 N. Pershing Drive, specializes in vintage and refurbished bikes and bike parts. Owner Larry Behery, a former car mechanic and carpenter, says there was an unmet need for a used bike store in Arlington.
“There are a lot of shops in the area, but they serve a higher-end clientele — someone who’s already into bikes, already into racing, someone who’s into spending a couple of thousand dollars on a bike,” he said. “But there was nobody really just being a liaison for the beginner,” for people who “need something inexpensive to ride to the Metro… something solid and something that’s not stolen or broken off of Craigslist. ”
Behery and a business partner have been selling used bikes at the Courthouse flea market on Saturdays and at the Georgetown flea market on Sundays. Behrey, who started out collecting old bikes and bike paraphernalia before deciding to sell them as a side business, said he buys his bikes at auctions and from charities that receive bike donations. Before the shop opened, he fixed them up in a garage outside his Springfield home.
Business was good enough at the flea markets that at one point last year Behery decided to go all-in and open a stand-alone store.
“It ended up kinda snowballing and increasing in demand… and finally it got to the point where there were enough [customers] to justify doing something like this and actually having a shop,” he said. “I couldn’t not take advantage of that opportunity.”
Behery says he still plans to sell bikes at the Courthouse market but is planning to discontinue his visits to the Georgetown market. He says he thinks the quality of the bikes at his small shop will help him compete against nearby higher-end bike stores and the Wal-Marts of the world that sell cheaply-made budget bikes.
“We made a lot of really good stuff back in the day that can’t be produced any more — recognizing that there was a need for good quality bikes that were inexpensive,” he said.
The Old Bike Shop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
In addition to bikes and bike parts like locks and tires, the Old Bike Shop will offer bike repair services.