Arlington, VA

Modern Mobility is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

The County is in the midst of putting together their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the next three years.

This document will determine what projects get built in the near future, from transportation to parks to stormwater infrastructure.

This is an opportunity to reset our priorities and “build back better” to a transportation system that is safe and sustainable.

Arlington’s Capital Improvement Plan should:

  1. Fund Vision Zero

Arlington is expected to adopt their Vision Zero Action Plan later this Spring. The Vision Zero plan envisions a comprehensive, safe-systems approach to identifying the common factors that contribute to Arlington’s severe and fatal crashes and to address those factors systematically.

Safety isn’t sexy, but failing to address it has an immeasurable cost. We need a dedicated pot of money that is always working to address those factors that are contributing to deaths and serious injuries on our streets.

  1. Build out the Bike Network for All-Ages & Abilities

In 2019 Arlington adopted a new vision for biking in Arlington, where biking is “an integral part of Arlington’s equitable, multimodal transportation system and provides safe, reliable, convenient and comfortable travel for persons of all ages and abilities.”

Arlington’s approach to bike infrastructure has largely been an after-thought. Projects are identified for other reasons, and “while we’re at it” we look to see if anything can be accomplished to improve biking as part of the project. This approach will never result in a comprehensive network for all-ages and abilities. We need dedicated funding to tackle the projects that matter most for biking.

  1. Speed up our Transit

Arlington has invested significantly in our bus network over the last 15 years, but those buses often struggle to attract riders when they sit in the same traffic as drivers while also waiting unnecessarily for long, slow boarding processes at each stop. Arlington needs to maximize the return on its transit investment by prioritizing projects that speed up our buses: dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority, queue jumps and support for all-door boarding.

  1. Safe Routes to Every School

Kids who walk and bike to school arrive happier and more focused. Walking & biking to school fights childhood obesity and raises a new generation that views walking and biking as normal everyday transportation modes. Making sure that kids have a safe route to walk or bike also helps control APS transportation costs and builds community ties. Every place that APS limits a school’s “walk zone” because of a dangerous street or intersection is a failure that needs to be addressed.

  1. Expand & Connect the Trail Network

When Arlington conducted a statistically-valid survey of recreational needs in 2016, paved multi-use trails were ranked the “most needed outdoor facility” with 87% of households indicating a need. Since that time, little progress has been made. The Capital Trails Coalition has laid out a vision for an expanded, interconnected trail system in the DC region. Arlington needs to do its part to see this vision realized by making progress on the Arlington Boulevard Trail and the Cemetery Wall Trail.

Arlington County is seeking input on your priorities for the upcoming Capital Plan. You can weigh-in here through this Friday, April 16th.

Chris Slatt is the current Chair of the Arlington County Transportation Commission, founder of Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County and a former civic association president. He is a software developer, co-owner of Perfect Pointe Dance Studio, and a father of two.

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