Arlington received $400,000 — and will pledge an additional $100,000 — in federal grant money to improve the walking and biking routes to the three schools in North Arlington.
The funds will go toward building new trails and sidewalks in Bluemont for Ashlawn students and will fund sidewalk improvements at the intersection of N. Kensington and 36th Streets around Discovery and Williamsburg, which are on the same property. Discovery is still under construction, but is expected to open for the 2015-2016 school year.
From the same federal program, the MAP-21 grant, Arlington will also receive $200,000 to bring sidewalks and streets in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to a county press release, a county study from 2012 identified more than 1,000 locations in the corridor that were “inaccessible to persons with disabilities.”
The county will chip in $50,000 in pay-as-you-go WalkArlington funding to help fund improvements to these areas, which will be handled in order of severity.
“We’re delighted that we can use local funding to leverage federal dollars to help two key groups of Arlingtonians move more safely and easily: Arlington students who walk or bike to Ashlawn, Discovery and Williamsburg, and persons with disabilities in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “We welcome the federal government’s funding of these very important projects to improve safety and accessibility for all.”
Both improvement programs will continue identifying other sites around the county where safety and accessibility need to be addressed.
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
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Grace Community Church is holding its first ever “Walk to Church Sunday” event this month, asking its members to get out of their cars on their way to service.
Walk to Church day will be June 22, but those who want to participate can pick up T-shirts and pedometers next Sunday, June 15 in the lobby of the church’s building — it rents space in Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at 125 S. Old Glebe Road — before or after their service.
Building on the success of events like Walk and Bike to School Day, the church is promoting its event as “National Walk 2 Church Day.” While it’s trying to encourage other houses of worship to participate, it’s unclear whether any have joined in on the cause.
The church is asking those not within walking distance to park their cars 15-20 minutes away and walk the rest of the distance.
“Walking is beneficial to your overall health,” the church said in a press release. “This is a great way to get out and get moving and see how many of your church friends and neighbors you spot. We encourage other churches to join us in Walk to Church Sunday.”
Grace Community Church plans for this to be an annual event on the fourth Sunday of June. Churchgoers can walk for either the 9:30 or 11:00 a.m. services.
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 walks, now in their third year, combine light exercise (a one kilometer course through Crystal City’s underground shopping area) with moderate drinking (multiple wine/beer and snack stations are set up along the course).
The 1K wine walks will take place between 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 12 and 13. The 1K beer walks will take place between 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Jan. 26 and 27.
The walks will feature “dozens” of varieties of beer and wine, as provided by the Washington Wine Academy.
Registration for the wine walk is $43.50 and includes a t-shirt and 20 tasting tickets. Registration for the beer walk is $38.50 and also includes a t-shirt and 20 tasting tickets.
Tickets can be purchased online. The course begins at the section of the Crystal City Shops closest to 2200 Crystal Drive.
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Today was “Walk and Bike to School Day” in Arlington and across the country.
The annual event in Arlington, organized by Arlington Public Schools (with the help of local PTAs), encourages students and parents to bike and walk to school more often. At Oakridge Elementary School, this year’s “spotlight school” for Walk and Bike to School Day, hundreds of students and parents walked, biked or even scootered to school.
Arlington County Police kept a close eye on the roads around the school in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood. Busy Arlington Ridge Road was temporarily shut down to allow a large convoy of kids and adults on bikes to make their way to the school, safely, from a “rest stop” at the historic Hume School (1805 S. Arlington Ridge Road).
After students arrived they gathered behind the school for a rally, featuring words of encouragement from Oakridge principal Dr. Lynne Wright, County Board member Walter Tejada, and ultramarathon runner (and Arlington resident) Michael Wardian. Wardian, along with some local triathletes and competitive cyclists, led students in a series of light physical activities.
APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said Walk and Bike to School Day is a fun event that sends an important message about staying physically fit.
“I think the message is [encouraging] a well-balanced lifestyle,” he said. “We want to emphasize many of the things that the community values here. Biking and walking is part of the community, part of our value system, and I also think it’s something we want to encourage kids to do.”
Some parents weren’t fully sold on the message, though. One parent, armed with petition forms, wore signs protesting changes to the school system’s busing policies. Nearby, a minivan also had words of protest scrawled on its back window. The changes have meant that some students now have to either walk, bike or be driven to school since they’re no longer eligible to ride a school bus.
County Fair Starts Today — The Arlington County Fair officially kicks off today at 5:00 p.m. The first racing piglet competition will take place at 5:30 p.m. The fair will run through Sunday at 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County Fair]
‘Pike Hike’ Scheduled for Sunday — WalkArlington is sponsoring a new community “walkabout” timed to coincide with the county fair. Pike Hike II Junior Walkabout will take participants on a family-friendly stroll of the Columbia Pike town center area from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 12. Sights along the way include the Pike farmers market and the Columbia Pike Branch Library. Participants will also get a free ticket to take the shuttle from the Arlington Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) to the fair. [CommuterPage Blog]
Libertarian Tries to Make Ballot — An independent candidate who has the support of the Libertarian Party is trying to make it on the Sept. 4 ballot for the 45th District House of Delegates seat. So far only Democrat Rob Krupicka and Republican Tim McGhee has been confirmed for the ballot in the race to succeed Del. David Englin. [Sun Gazette]
Large Crowd for BBQ Bike Ride — There was a large turnout last night for a barbeque and group ride from the Freshbikes store in Virginia Square. With the assistance of Arlington County police, the weekly ride takes cyclists from the store, up Military Road to the intersection with Glebe Road, and back. [Ode Street Tribune]
Flickr pool by Damiec
The first occurred around 11:15 p.m. in the 3300 block of Washington Blvd, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A 26-year-old female walked home alone after having spent a night out with friends. After she typed in the security code to open her garage door and walked inside the garage, she noticed the suspect standing at the bottom of her driveway. She became frightened and tried to close the automated garage door, but the man allegedly rushed toward her and stuck his hand over a sensor, causing the door to re-open. She made it inside the house, locked the door and called police while the suspect fled the scene.
According to Sternbeck, the victim described the suspect as a black man with a dark complexion and short hair, about 5’11″, 200 pounds and around 30 years of age. At the time, he had been wearing khaki pants and a red and white checkered shirt. The victim noted that she saw the suspect wearing black gloves when he put his hand over the garage sensor.
About an hour later, an individual matching the same description is believed to have attacked a woman in the 2100 block of Lee Highway. The 24-year-old female was walking home alone when the suspect allegedly grabbed and sexually assaulted her. The woman struggled and managed to punch the suspect in the stomach. He then reportedly threw her in some bushes and fled.
This victim told police that the suspect had covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming, and was wearing black gloves.
“Based on their descriptions and the similiarities in the incidents, we believe it’s the same individual,” Sternbeck said.
Police are reminding people to be aware of their surroundings, not to walk alone and to carry a cell phone for emergencies. Walkers are warned not to put themselves in vulnerable situations, or to have the “that can’t happen to me” mentality.
“We want people to be educated if they’re going to be out late at night,” Sternbeck said. “These are things you need to be aware of.”
Anybody with information about the suspect that may lead to his arrest is asked to call the police non-emergency number, at 703-558-2222.