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ACPD Warns of Bike Thefts

Nearly 400 bicycles have been stolen so far this year in Arlington County. According to police, many of those thefts were preventable.

To help residents protect their bikes, the police department is asking cyclists to use a U-lock rather than chains or cables.

Police are also reminding bike owners that they present thieves with an easy target anytime they leave their bike unlocked on a front porch, in a shed or in an open garage.

ACPD issued the following additional tips for protecting oneself from bike theft.

Be prepared:

  • Register your bicycle with the Arlington County Police Department. You will receive a decal that may be a visible deterrent to theft. Your bicycle information will also be on file in case it is stolen.
  • Keep a photograph of the bike and a record of your bicycle’s serial number and distinguishing features.
  • Make a note of the brand and the style.
  • Note the identification number (located underneath the bike, between the cranks).
  • Most importantly, take a moment to consider what makes your bike unusual. What will make it stand out from the crowd? Photograph any distinguishing characteristics (unusual seat or pedals, scratches, racks, bags – the things that make your bike yours).
  • If it is generic, personalize it.

The most effective counter strategy for a cyclist is to use two types of locks; a U-lock combined with a cable or chain. As with most cycling skills, technique is everything.

  • Open the front quick-release, remove the wheel and place it next to the rear wheel. Rest the fork on the ground.
  • Put the U-lock around a fixed object (guard rail, bike rack, etc.), the rims of both wheels, and some part of the bike frame (either the seat tube, chainstay, or seatstay.) Make sure the lock goes around the rims and not just the spokes, or a thief with wire cutters can walk away with your nice set of wheels.
  • Thread the cable lock through the frame, the front wheel (if it is bolted on), and around a fixed object. Because different tools are needed to break each lock, you will have a backup if one lock is defeated.
  • Do not forget the saddle. If your seat-post has a quick-release, pull the whole thing out and run the cable through the saddle rails.

If you observe someone with a backpack, spending time around the bike racks at the Metro or in your condo garage or taking too long to unlock a bike, it may be suspicious. Call the Arlington County Police Department Non-emergency Line at 703-558-2222.

The Arlington County Police Department also has an Abandoned Bicycle Hotline. If a bicycle remains in place (unlocked) at a parking meter, lamp pole, or bike rack for longer than five days please call 703-228-4057. Leave a description, location and a contact number because the bicycle may have been stolen and left behind.

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Bike Commuting in the Heat and Other Hot Weather Tips

On this, the 50th 90+ degree day of the year, you’re probably already a pro at beating the heat. But just in case you need a refresher on hot weather best practices, here are a few resources that may come in handy.

For bike commuters, Bike Arlington’s Chris Eatough has a number of important tips for staying cool and hydrated on the road and non-smelly in the office. Among them: leave earlier in the morning, don’t wear a backpack and freeze your water bottles before heading out.

For pet owners, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has advice for keeping your pets safe in hot weather. Limiting exercise for older dogs and dogs with thicker coats is recommended. Put sunscreen on your pet’s nose and ear tips if he or she is going to be out in the sun for awhile. And, of course, never, ever leave your pet in the car while running errands.

For people of all ages, Arlington County’s Hot Tips for Keeping Cool includes classic, common-sense hot weather advice that sometimes we can lose sight of in the midst of our busy schedules. For instance, if you’re going to be outside drink plenty of fluids, even if you’re not thirsty. Exercise in the morning or evening hours. And, again: never, ever leave kids or pets in the car unattended.

For local parents, the county’s spraygrounds are a great place for younger children to have fun and cool off. Check out the list of sprayground parks and their hours.

Finally, the county also has a page with tips for reducing your electricity usage during times of high power demand, such as hot and humid days like today.

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

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The Best Places To Get Married in Arlington

We are in the midst of the “peak” season for weddings. Something about spring — the warmer temperatures, the flowers and plants blooming, the absence of pro and college football games — seems to make it a perfect time for nuptials.

It also seems that there are quite a few engagements this time of year. All those happy couples need some place to get married, so we started to wonder if there were any wedding-worthy locations in Arlington. For the answer, we turned to Arlington-based professional photographer Jan Graves, of Jan Michele Photography.

Location-wise, it’s natural that most couples would immediately think D.C., with the monuments and the history and whatnot. But Graves says there are some worthy wedding venues to consider in Arlington. Here are her top six.

Ft. Myer Old Post Chapel (article)

Pro: “Light, bright and beautiful chapel, seats 200.  And you can’t beat a Saber Arch upon leaving the church.”

Con: “Must be military to use.  Can’t decorate the chapel.”

Top of the Town (website)

Pro: “Best views of DC you’ll find.  Outdoor patio space — if the weather is nice.”

Con: “It’s at the top of a condo building so there are restrictions on music/noise. The ceiling is a bit low and it’s a long elevator ride plus a long hallway to get to the space, so it can feel a bit claustrophobic.”

Clarendon Ballroom (website)

Pro: “In the heart of Arlington, a unique venue with a rooftop patio for the cocktail hour — if the weather is nice.”

Con: “If the weather isn’t nice everything is in one room with curtain dividing the cocktail hour from the reception.  It’s a very dark space and a blank space that requires lots of decorating to make it special.”

Crystal Gateway Marriott (website)

Pro: “Nice atrium type area for cocktail hour. Very close to airport.”

Con: “It’s a hotel”

Key Bridge Marriott (website)

Pro: “Amazing views of Georgetown and DC.  Recently renovated in 2007.  The food is great.  Nice space for a hotel.”

Con: “It still has a bit of a hotel feel.”

Hilton Arlington (website)

Pro: “Metro accessible. Modern décor in hotel.”

Con: “As with a hotel, it requires extra decorating to personalize the ballroom.”

Graves says that Arlington is a fine place for a wedding, but it has its shortcomings.

“All of these Arlington locations are close enough to go into D.C. for pictures in between the ceremony and reception,” Graves noted. However, “none of these locations have a historical or personal feel, like the character of an old historic home or building would.  None of them have nice places for pictures so traveling to another location for pictures should be built into the timeline.”

Graves says that couples considering a hotel should be prepared for some unique challenges.

“A hotel is convenient for out-of-town guests, particularly if there is lag time between the ceremony and reception,” she said. It “reduces the amount of transportation that needs to be provided for guests.”

On the down side, it “requires decorating to make the space unique.”

“With hotels there tends to be a lot of staff turnover so your contact person may change before the wedding.  It’s often assumed that the event manager at the hotel will serve as a wedding coordinator, but they are only responsible for the elements the hotel provides (primarily food) and often will not help with the other details like decorating and coordinating other vendors and the schedule.”

All photos are courtesy Jan Graves / Jan Michele Photography.

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