Submit Content

Modern Mobility: Arlington needs a ‘Street Guide’

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

Arlington prides itself on its public engagement, but when there is a fundamental disagreement on the basic design of our streets, public engagement becomes a frustrating, repeated rehashing of the same arguments rather than a productive and collaborative conversation about what might make a particular street unique.

Arlington needs a Street Design, Operations and Maintenance Guide — a set of localized standards, tools, interventions and policies that reflect not just professional engineering standards, but also community-driven values.

As someone who attends a lot of transportation project public meetings, I’ve heard the same feedback directed at the County in meeting after meeting: people wanting real, physical protection for bike lanes, not just paint; folks concerned that we are building wide lanes that encourage speeding; a desire to not have to push a button in order to safely cross the street; frustration with sidewalk curb cuts that seem to direct pedestrian out into the middle of an intersection rather than into a crosswalk; a desire for shelter and seating for bus stops, not just a signpost on a sidewalk.

None of these pieces of feedback is really location-specific. These requests were not because of a particular feature of the street or neighborhood where the project was being built; instead, they represent a fundamental disagreement between how Arlington currently designs and operates its streets and how residents wish them to be.

This disconnect creates a frustrating experience for both residents and for staff. Residents are frustrated, feeling like they need to go to every single transportation project engagement session and give the same feedback over and over, often with no visible results. Staff are frustrated because their engagement session, meant to help inform them about unique conditions and needs in a particular location is instead overrun with feedback about bigger, over-arching design issues that are unlikely to be changed as the result of feedback on a single project.

It’s past time for Arlington to have a community conversation about how we design, operate and maintain our streets and then put it all down in a frequently-updated, publicly-accessible guidance document. Many of Arlington’s peer localities (and nearly all larger cities) have a street design guide (Examples: Montgomery County, MD; Austin, TX; Seattle, WA; New York, NY)

An Arlington Street Guide could cover design issues (lane widths, protected bike lane materials, corner radii, etc.) as well as operational issues (signal timing policies, right-turn-on-red restriction policies, etc.) and maintenance issues (snow removal, street sweeping, pothole filling, keeping traffic calming features in good shape, etc.) and be a useful resource for county transportation staff, engineers for private developers, as well as Arlington citizens and advocates.

Providing an appropriate venue to have these broader design, operation and maintenance conversations would free up project-specific public engagement time for its intended purpose: discussing site-specific conditions that local residents may be more familiar with than County staff. On top of that, it would give an opportunity for community values and priorities to be inserted into existing county operational decisions like signal timing, pedestrian recall, etc. which are currently made entirely based on staff judgement.

With Arlington preparing to work through the “Multimodal Safety Toolkit” it promised as part of the Vision Zero Action Plan, now is the time to get started on Arlington’s Street Guide. Arlington has already started releasing for public review some of their existing guidance and the toolkit will further set out design guidance for the sort of interventions Arlington is willing to install on our streets to improve safety. With that great starting point, the County should prioritize codifying guidance on operational and maintenance procedures to create a one-stop-shop for understanding how we design, operate and maintain these critical parts of the public realm.

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.

Recent Stories

(Updated, 4:10 p.m.) It hasn’t been a perfect ten months, but Mir is happy to be alive. It was nearly a year ago when he, his wife, and his young…

Arlington’s fall aquatics class registration did not go swimmingly for many who attempted it on Wednesday. On the plus side, there appears to have been some degree of improvement from…

Today’s Listing of the Day is a 2 BD/2 BA home on a 2.5 acre lot with an oversized one car garage.

Discover what you should be doing if new to real estate development in Boring Title this week.

Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, stress, grief, trauma or anger? Are
you ready to make a change?

Lauren K. Nickum, LCSW, CSAC from Peaceful Mind Solutions is now taking new
clients for psychotherapy. Lauren has over 10 years of experience treating
mental health disorders and general life stress in adults and adolescents. For
more information visit
peacefulmindsolutions.com.

Submit your own Community Post here.

(This Community Post was written by Signature Theatre and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts.)

Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.

“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Azure Dream Day Spa Grand Opening

Azure Dream Day Spa is hosting their Grand Opening Celebration at their beautiful new spa located at 901 N. Quincy St. on Friday, August 12 from 5-9 p.m.

All are invited to come tour the new spa and to take

Running & Strength Training Group Workout #1

Join our first workout of Coach Kate’s fall Running & Strength Training Program on Tuesday, August 30 at 6:30 a.m. at Oak Grove Park.

First/trial session is Free Of Charge. If you would like to join the program — which

×

Subscribe to our mailing list