Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com October 17, 2011 at 8:29 am 2,455 27 Comments

State Change Could Cost Arlington Millions — A proposed change in the way Virginia determines how much localities are reimbursed for road maintenance could cost Arlington $9.2 million per year if approved. [Sun Gazette]

Bikeshare Expansion Approved, Sort Of — The Arlington County Board voted on Saturday to use $1.2 million in state funds to build about 30 new Capital Bikeshare stations along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Installation of the stations (and nearly 200 new bikes) is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2012. The action isn’t official yet, though. Due to an administrative error, the Board will have to reconsider the item at their Tuesday evening meeting. [Arlington County]

Board Talks Libraries at Meeting — Facing public comments in favor of restoring pre-recession hours at Arlington Public Library branches, the County Board on Saturday reiterated their support for the library. At the same time, members said that they must balance other budget priorities before restoring hours. [Sun Gazette]

Remembering Queen City — Former residents of an African-American enclave in Arlington known as Queen City recently recounted their experiences living there. Queen City was leveled in the mid-1940s t0 make way for the transportation infrastructure necessary for the new Pentagon complex. Many displaced residents settled in the Arlington View or Green Valley neighborhoods. [Patch]

  • charlie

    and the way we treat VDOT and Richmond will now come home to roost.

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Arlington is only a year late with the bike sharing…


    The stations are part of a phased expansion in 2011 that will add 30 stations and approximately 200 bikes to the overall system.

  • Hank

    $1.2 million for 200 bikes????? Ahhh, What the hell it’s state money. Not like it is coming out of our pocket.

    Seriously, does the county even care about how much things cost?

    • drax

      What would it cost to build/maintain roads and bridges for 200 cars instead?

      • Hank

        The myth is that putting 200 bicycles out there will displace 200 cars from the roads.

        Personally I think that bikeshare is a great idea. I just happen to believe that government (and my tax dollars) should not be involved. Elected officials make terrible decisions with other people’s money beacuse there are no consequences if the enterprise fails. Private investors, if they believe they can make a profit, or want to use their own money to create a bikeshare system should be funding this. That way if it fails the tax payer is not left holding the bag.

        The same goes for the Artisphere. If they Count Board members want an expensive arts venue littered with overly optimistic revenue figures then they should put their own money up for it and be on the hook personally if it fails. I guarantee they would take a second look at the revenue projections if their personal money was at risk.

        Getting elected to County Board does not grant them carte blanche to fund their pet projects at our expense. It entrusts them with the fiduciary responsibility to ensure our tax dollars are being wisely spent to run the government.

        • UnlimitedCustoms

          The myth is that putting 200 bicycles out there will displace 200 cars from the roads.

          I agree completely. For me, if bike-share ever came to where I live, it would replace walking trips, not car trips.

          • Josh S

            I’m not sure anyone has advanced that proposition.

      • Jamie Funk

        Less than $1.2 million since there is already infrastructure in place. Will there be additional roads built for the 200+ cars coming as part of the apartment complex being built that is mentioned in another article today? Doubt it.

      • Nothing. That’s what’s done now when a new high rise apartment is approved. Zip.

        • Josh S

          ^ obviously misunderstanding the question.

    • brendan

      well… these aren’t just any bikes…

    • bobco85

      Doing some quick math, with 30 stations at $1.2 million about $40,000 would be spent on average for each station including the cost of the bikes. I would take that over the average $100k+ intersection reconstruction project (like removing everyone’s favorite slip lanes and such). I also think it helps with tourism, since we have so many nice bike trails in the area.

      Now, the 1.2 million dollar question (it almost works perfectly) is this: how much revenue are they expecting to make from these new bikeshare stations?

      • Josh S

        I’m not sure “they” are expecting much of any revenue. I’ve never heard of the Bikeshare stations being installed either here or in DC as a revenue generating program. Besides, since it’s a public-private partnership, I suspect the marginal cash flow goes to the private company involved.

        Also, since the money was grant money from the feds, I don’t think it impacts Arlington’s budget one way or the other.

    • Just raise taxes. No need to limit spending or cut pork.

  • brendan

    wish the sun gazette would do a better job explaining the implications of the formula shift across different types of jurisdictions — does this give more money to rural counties like Highland & Bath along with the Southcentral & Southwestern parts of the state or does it result in an across the board reduction of benefits to municipalities?

    On the surface it appears to be another attack on the urban & suburban tax bases by the state’s rural conservatives, which would be an important aspect of the proposed changes, but hard to say without more info.

    • MC

      What also needs to be considered is the fact that the County Board has been choosing to take over responsibility for roads from the State in recent years, adding to our fiscal exposure. The big move was taking over responsibility for Columbia Pike so the trolly could be built. I assume that is a major road, so presumably the County will get more money for it, but we still incur out of pocket expenses for a road used by many out-of-County residents.

  • CW

    “State change could cost Arlington millions”?

    What, are we thinking of joining Maryland or something?

  • ArlingtonianEssie

    With the way plans look for Arlington, installing these bikes and investing the large sum of money is worth it. Maybe this will promote better health and become active.

    • brendan

      $6,000 per bike? I’d love to get that contract, especially when the bikes probably cost $100 to make.

      not to mention half the people using this service think it’s perfectly fine to ride on the sidewalk and ignore traffic signs.

  • Michael H.

    A lot of the money goes toward the stations, not just the bikes. It’s not $6,000 per bike. Why do people always conveniently ignore the stations when they post comments on these articles?

    As for the benefits, it’s not just replacing car trips. Cycling also promotes personal health, which is a significant issue across the country. The U.S. spends hundreds of billions a year (according to most estimates) on healthcare costs as a result of bad nutrition, sedentary lifestyles (and smoking). While you can say that bad nutrition is not tied to a sedentary lifestyle, I tend to see a connection among most people. People who don’t exercise tend to eat very badly, because they don’t have any concern or thoughts about health. All of those healthcare costs are borne by taxpayers (for the increased spending by gov’t healthcare systems and disability programs — many people go on disability because of obesity-related problems) and those paying private health premiums. That’s a massive subsidy for people to eat junk food and drive their cars for 1-mile trips year-round.

    • brendan

      yes, we get those beautiful stations…

      I’m talking about the end result, what is the cost to have x number of bikes available to the public? Yes, there are costs for every bike to be put on the road (or sidewalk as is often the case). In this case the end result will be 200 more bikes available at a cost of $1,200,000 and therefore the cost per bike put on the road is $6,000. By the time this program is done filling every corner of arlington with overpriced clunkers it will have been cheaper to have bought anyone who is interested a new and nicer $400 personal bike.

      The idea that bikeshare has more than a negligible impact on public health is ridiculous. How many people ride these for more than 30 minutes a day 5x a week?

      These are the clumsiest and goofiest clunkers out there and are not built for long rides. What percentage of the population uses cap bikeshare regularly? What percentage of those use it for aerobic activity more than once a week? Negligible.

      Capital bikeshare is decent in concept and i know all these want to be green DC area liberals are desperate to catch a hold of the bike fad so it’s easy to throw a couple million here and there at overpriced cruisers, but we should work on making the area more bike friendly (rather than haphazardly laying down paint establishing bike routes) and educating both drivers and riders on the rules for peaceful cohabitation.

  • Hank

    Raise your hand if you think the fatties will be the ones renting these bikes!!!

    Regardless… the government should not be spending tax dollars (federal, state, or local) on this. Entrepreneurs should be doing this if they think they can make $$$ from it. Environmentalists should be doing this if they think it will displace cars off the road. Fitness gurus should be doing this if they think that doing so will lessen obesity and make Arlington fitter. Whether you are doing it for the $$$, the environment, or for a healthy lifestyle you should build, and operate the bikeshare locations with your own damn money.

    It appears that under this public/private partnership the private operator gets the profit, and the govt. gets to pay the bills. How is that a wise use of taxpayer dollars?

  • MC

    While I knew the story of demolition of Freedman’s Village, I wasn’t aware of demolition of Queen City. There is a sad history of racism and eviction of black residents that happened in our County at the Federal level that needs to be known. I hope that a planned museum to Freedman’s Village gets built and becomes a part of people’s tour of Arlington Cemetery.

  • Barbin

    On the road maintenance: I guess the GOP will do all it can to deny Arlington. We already send plenty of money south and get nothing in return.

  • Hank

    Get nothing in return?????
    The county just blew $1,200,000 on 200 bikes via a transportation grant.

    • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

      Chicken feed son, just chicken feed.
      Heck, we blew more than that on the outside attorney fees fighting the hot lanes.
      What is money when we can always get more by increasing the assessed value of the the houses in the county ??


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