County Board member Libby Garvey and other cyclists will brave the heat on Saturday, riding up to 100 miles as part of the second Annual Kennan Garvey Memorial Ride.
The cyclists will bike on the W&OD Trail from Arlington to Purcellville and back, a 90-mile trek. For riders wanting to do a true century, they can continue to cycle to Roosevelt Memorial Bridge after returning to Arlington.
Cyclists can also shorten the ride by turning around in Reston at the 15-mile mark to make it a 30-mile ride, or in Leesburg, Virginia, at the 30-mile mark to make it a 60-mile ride.
It’s an easy ride, making it a great ride for a family, Garvey said.
“This ride is the perfect way to remember Kennan and to continue the good influence he had on so many people during his life,” Garvey said.
Garvey, herself, is planning to ride out to Purcellville, but is not planning to turn around and head back to Arlington. She and her husband previously rode to Purcellville on a tandem bike, she said.
The ride is also known as the Sizzling Suburban Century because of August’s heat, Garvey said, while promoting the event at County Board meetings. National Weather Service is predicting a high of 91 degrees on Saturday.
Garvey started the bike ride last year in honor of her husband, Kennan, who died of a heart attack in 2008. He was 56 years old.
“The ride means a lot to me and Kennan’s family and friends,” Garvey said. “Kennan commuted by bike to his job at EPA since the early ’80’s. He loved cycling, loved to help people and loved to get young people interested in bicycles.”
The ride has an entry fee of $25, and participants are encouraged to raise $500 for the Kennan Garvey Memorial Fund. All participants will get a boxed lunch and t-shirt as part of the ride. Those who meet the fundraising goal of $500 will also receive a Phoenix Bikes jersey.
The ride benefits Phoenix Bikes’ Capital Campaign, with proceeds going toward helping the nonprofit fund a new building, now possibly in the area of Columbia Pike. The shop had previously looked at a spot at Walter Reed Drive and W&OD Trail, but that faced some community opposition.
Kennan had wanted to volunteer with Phoenix Bikes after retiring.
“Phoenix Bikes is a wonderful little organization,” Garvey said. ” They just do incredible things. And once they get a building, they’ll be able to take off.”
Photo courtesy of Libby Garvey
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Independent candidate for County Board Audrey Clement is continuing to criticize Arlington for hosting a bike race last month.
On Saturday, Clement, a self-described avid cyclist, said the Air Force Association’s Cycling Classic, a two-day racing event in Clarendon and Crystal City, was dangerous to the public.
“No mention made by the Air Force Association of the danger to participants and pedestrians of conducting high speed races in the heart of a densely populated business district or the nuisance value of blocking major throughways to vehicular traffic for half of the day,” Clement said.
Clement previously spoke against the race at a last month’s Board meeting, while the race was happening, because the road closures prevented her from biking to the meeting on the route she usually takes. During that meeting, she told Board members that closing roads for the race was “reckless endangerment.”
“I risked my life to bike to this meeting,” she asserted.
Clement noted on Saturday that she was “ridiculed” for her remarks in June.
“At the June 13 County Board meeting I was ridiculed by County Board members for characterizing the bicycle races in progress that day in Clarendon as ‘reckless endangerment,'” she said.
Board members responded to Clement’s latest complaints by saying the barriers lining the cycling course ensured spectator safety, but Clement disagreed.
“Other Board members agreed with Mr. Fisette that the barricades put in place were sufficient to prevent accident or injury, I wish that were true. Yet on Thursday, July 2, one cyclist was killed and two were critically injured when one of the cyclist’s had a tire blowout on a downhill race sponsored by the World Police and Fire Games in Prince William Forest Park,” Clement said during the July 18 Board meeting.
Clement went on to say that the sport of cycling has more deaths than the Indianapolis 500, which had its last death in 1973. While there were some crashes at this year’s Clarendon and Crystal Cup races, no deaths were reported. During the race, barriers kept spectators away from the speeding cyclists and event staff were positioned at every crossing area to help people get from one side of the course to the other.
Arlington County is happy to work with event organizers to plan road closures and public safety measures, Board member Jay Fisette said.
“Our special events [are] one of the things that makes Arlington special. We have a special events policy, we have our block parties, we have bike events, we have neighborhood events, and events sponsored by the BIDs that happen in our denser corridors and each of those require work and require staff time to make sure the road network still works and they’re safe,” Fisette said.
In her remarks, Clement also called for a multi-modal system of enforcing traffic laws, with police officers monitoring activity from bikes. Board Chair Mary Hynes said a system called “PAL” is already in place to encourage cyclists and motorists to be careful on the road.
Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
Arlington County might have a tech-driven answer for commuters looking to save money and help the environment.
Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS) and D.C.-based tech firm Conveyal have developed CarFreeAtoZ, a new website that help commuters plan their trip to areas around Northern Virginia and the D.C. area by looking at the different transit options available including Metro, buses, driving, Capital Bikeshare and personal cycling.
CarFreeAtoZ plans trips in a manner similar to Google Maps or Mapquest, but it combines different transit options, such as walking, using the Metro and biking. The website is mobile friendly, so users can pull it up on their phones while on the go.
“It’s got more modes than any brand of app,” Mackie said.
Users plug in their current location’s address, the address of where they want to go and the time they’re planning to leave, and then the website calculates the different travel methods. At the moment, the users need to have the exact address as the website cannot find places such as the U.S. Capitol or a specific Metro station.
Commuters can sort the different travel methods by total time, total cost, calories and walking distance. They can also see the cumulative estimated benefits of making the trip via a non-car method on a yearly basis.
For instance, CarFreeAtoZ recommends biking from Fairlington to Rosslyn, estimating that it would save $3,242 plus result in 21 lbs of potential weight loss and a gain of 138 hours of “productive time.” The bike trip takes 36 minutes during the morning rush hour, compared to 18 minutes via car or 43 minutes via transit.
“It actually ranks what would be best for you,” Mackie said.
Labor Protests in Rosslyn — Two labor unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, held separate protests near the Central Place development in Rosslyn yesterday. The unions were protesting the use of non-union labor, and used an inflatable rat and an inflatable “fat cat” to underscore their complaints. [Twitter, Twitter]
Boundary Channel Bike Path Plans — Conceptual plans for a new bike trail from Long Bridge Drive to the Mount Vernon Trail have been revealed. The trail is set to be built as part of the reconfiguration of the I-395 and Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [The Wash Cycle]
The Life and Times of Preston Caruthers — A brief biography of Preston Caruthers, the Arlington developer who built Dominion Towers, among others, and who at 88 still shows up daily at his Ballston office of his firm, Caruthers Properties LLC. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
First Week of Summer — This is the first full week of summer and the first full week of summer break for Arlington public school students. High schools, middle schools and elementary schools let out for the summer on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, respectively. School will begin again on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. [Arlington Public Schools]
Realtors: Presidential Election Will Have Little Impact — The upcoming 2016 presidential election won’t have much of an impact on the real estate market, most local realtors interviewed by the Sun Gazette said. According to one: “It affects the market some because we have turnover, but nobody leaves Washington. Those who leave office become lobbyists and buy bigger houses. If there is a change in parties, those coming to town rent.” [InsideNova]
Arlington to Reach Out to the ‘Casual’ Cyclist — Arlington County is working with a Vancouver-based communication firm on a video documentary project that will reach out to and encourage casual cycling as a means of transportation. The idea seems to be to deemphasize the Lycra-clad image of “Capital ‘C'” cycling in favor of more casual, fashionable and lower-speed cycling. However, in the comments of the linked article on the county’s Mobility Lab blog, some “lifestyle” cyclists don’t seem to like the idea of dividing cyclists into two different groups. [Mobility Lab]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
In a somewhat unexpected move, the County Board has voted 4-1 against the creation of a connector path from the Washington and Old Dominion trail to N. Carlin Springs Road.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan and her staff had recommended the Board approve the connection, which would link N. Carlin Springs Road with the W&OD rail trail.
The proposed connector would have been an eight-foot-wide, 220-foot-long trail that could be used by pedestrians and cyclists to reach the W&OD from N. Carlin Springs Road. The county was seeking the permit as part of a partnership with Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority.
The path is currently what County Board member Jay Fisette called a “cow path,” meaning it is a dirt path stomped down by trail users going to and from Carlin Springs Road.
However, Fisette, who is an avid cyclist, said that paving the path would be unnecessary and encourage cyclists to cross Carlin Springs Road, he said is more dangerous than using an already-established path that’s not too far away.
“I’m going to argue, unless you tell me I’m missing something, that this proposed connector is essentially unnecessary to be paved,” Fisette said.
People can still use the path as a walking path, Fisette said, but he did not see the need to pave it for cyclists.
Board members were not the only Arlington residents against by the potential paved trail. Residents attended the meeting to speak out against paving the path due to environmental concerns.
Buckingham Community Civic Association President Bernie Berne told the Board that paving the proposed path would harm the plant life that existed in the meadow where the pavement would go.
The county had placed chains around the meadow where the footpath was created to block residents from cutting across it and harming the native plants as well as to prevent the county from mowing it too often. If the county had approved the trail, it would have been undoing the county’s efforts to restore the meadow, Berne said.
“The proposed connector trail is a waste of county money,” Berne said.
Instead, the county could use the money to place signs to encourage people away from the meadow and to the existing path, Board Vice Chairman Walter Tejada said.
Tejada, a self-described bicycle fanatic, also failed to see the reason to pave the path because it was so close to the already established connection from Four Mile Run.
“If we are looking for access for both the east and west side of Carlin Springs, we already have it,” Tejada said, calling the proposed path “redundant.”
The distance between the already-established connection from Four Mile Run under Carlin Springs Road and the proposed trail is a short distance, especially for someone on a bike, Tejada said. Cyclists can easily go a little longer to use the established connection.
“If it’s a matter of convenience, I don’t buy it,” Tejada said. “Because it’s just a matter of going around and you are already there.”
Via Twitter, however, former Arlington County Commuter Services Bureau Chief Chris Hamilton criticized the decision, suggesting that the County Board gave in too easily to a few vocal opponents.
Board votes against W&OD Trail Connector, saves "Meadow" http://t.co/JvccbqTQU6 Elected leaders must back up their DOTs and resist NIMBYS!
— Chris Hamilton (@ChrisRHamilton) June 17, 2015
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Hundreds of cyclists took to Clarendon and Crystal City streets as part of the Air Force Association Cycling Classic this past weekend.
The two-day event saw professional, amateur and youth cyclists speed up and down Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards and Crystal Drive. The course also featured several tight turns for participants to whip around. The Clarendon Cup had five of these turns, which makes it one of the more difficult courses of its kind in the United States.
“It’s a really fun, local race. It’s one of the best in the area,” said Mattison Brady, a Washington, D.C. resident who placed second in the Amateur race.
The course’s technical challenges only add to the fun, Brady said.
But for some the two courses proved to be anything but fun. The Clarendon Cup’s challenges turned the race into a “race of attrition,” said Christopher Hair, a local cyclist with the United Healthcare/National Capital Velo Club Amateur team.
“It’s about an hour of excruciating pain,” Hair said. “Most people are smiling because it’s over.”
Riders also fell prey to the courses with multiple crashes throughout the two days. Multiple women hit the pavement during an early crash in the Clarendon Cup and at least two riders hit the ground during the men’s professional Crystal Cup causing a small slowdown.
The event was also apparently hazardous to a County Board candidate. Independent Board candidate Audrey Clement said the road closures from the Clarendon Cup hindered her ability to safely bike to Saturday’s Board meeting.
“As you know, I am an avid biker. I’ve biked to work every day for the past 25 years and I’ve biked to virtually every County Board meeting for the past three years,” Clement said in the meeting’s public comment period. “Yet today, I risked my life to bike to this meeting because the bike race… had blocked off all the streets in Clarendon. This represents not just an inconvenience to pedestrians, motorists and other bikers in the county, it constitutes reckless endangerment.”
For Hilton Clarke, a professional cyclist with United Healthcare, the two-day event was something to celebrate. The 35-year-old Australian cyclist won both the Clarendon and Crystal Cups and the Omnium.
“Well, I’ve been here a few times, and I’ve won now yesterdays race three times, and this race I’ve come in second three times, so it’s nice, even though my teammates normally beat me in this race, it’s nice to get a win here in this event so I’m really happy,” Clarke said.
For the women, Lauren Stephens took the Clarendon Cup after a long breakaway, and Coryn Rivera, a nationally-known cyclist, took the Crystal Cup and the Omnium.
Changes to the Boundary Channel Drive interchange with Interstate 395 and a new bike trail near Long Bridge Park are on the way.
Arlington residents will have a chance to offer feedback on new designs for the Boundary Channel Drive interchange project on Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.).
The project is primarily intended to improve safety at the interchange, which is located on I-395 between Crystal City and the Pentagon, said David Kirschner, an Arlington County project manager.
“In this area, Interstate 395 is the most congested roadway in our region,” Kirschner said in an email. “The goals of this project are to improve the operations of the interchange at Boundary Channel Drive and improve safety for all road users.”
The project is also seeking to expand pedestrian and cycling access to and from Washington, D.C., Crystal City, the Pentagon and Long Bridge Park through a new bike trail.
The trail is planned to connect Humpback Bridge to Long Bridge Park but has not been designed yet, Kirschner said. The proposed trail will go from the existing Mount Vernon Trail that connects to the underpass under Humpback Bridge and would extend to Boundary Channel Drive through the interchange that already exists.
“We’re definitely always trying to be more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.
The new connection will make it easier to get to and from D.C. and the Pentagon, Kirschner said, adding that pedestrians currently have to do a lot of backtracking — via Crystal City or the LBJ Memorial Grove — to get into D.C.
As the project is still in its planning stages, the new trail has not yet been designed and which department will oversee the maintenance has not been determined. The trail’s planned path falls under multiple jurisdictions, as the National Park Service oversees the Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Park is run by Arlington County.
“The need to keep the trail clean and safe will be an ongoing concern as we move forward in the design and construction of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange,” Kirschner said in an email.
In addition to the proposed bike trail, the project will look at a complete revamp of the interchange between I-395 and Boundary Channel Drive.
“Based on our analysis so far, the current four-lane roadway is overbuilt for current traffic. The traffic analysis we are performing will determine what lanes and ramps are needed for the final interchange in the future analysis year of 2036,” Kirschner said in the email.
Changes to the access policy at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has some cyclists changing their routes and at least one abandoning bicycling to work altogether.
The new security policy, which started in February, affects cyclists who bike through base, which has been fairly common practice, especially for those along Columbia Pike and Route 50 seeking a safer route to D.C.
Previously, cyclists and other members of the public could enter the base through any of three gates just by going through a security check. Now, only the Hatfield Gate at Washington Blvd and 2nd Street N. remains accessible to non-Department of Defense visitors, and cyclists seeking a round trip route (mostly via the Wright Gate near the Iwo Jima memorial) to have to apply for a special 60-day pass.
The Automated Installation Entry (AIE) pass requires a a criminal records check and pass holders must reapply for it every 60 days in order to access the base.
Arlington County has made encouraging bicycling instead of driving a key transportation priority and has JBMHH routes listed on its bicycle maps. Given the significant inconvenience, however, some are reconsidering.
“At least one person I’ve spoken with is no longer biking into D.C. because the process of constantly renewing an AIE pass is too onerous and he feels the alternative routes are too dangerous or too long,” said Chris Slatt, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association and a cycling advocate. “With this alternative off the table for non-federal employees, the County needs to make the Pike safe for cycling ASAP.”
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is updating its website to reflect changes for cyclists, said Sharon Walker, who works in the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall public affairs department.
Application for the AIE pass must be delivered in person to the Visitor Control Center (Building 415) at the base and cannot be submitted online. Cyclists can also apply for a sponsored one-year pass, which requires a signature from someone who has a Department of Defense ID.
Lyon Park cyclist Jeff Hopp frequently bikes through the base and uses Wright Gate. When he went to turn his application for a sponsored pass in, there was a sign posted to the door saying the computer system was currently down and applications would not be processed until a new system was installed, he said.
Previously Hopp would only have to show his ID to enter through Wright Gate. Now when he bikes into D.C., he uses the recently-installed Route 50 trail, which he says is poorly marked and maintained.
“The problem with that trail is that there are no marked bike lanes on the side access road you have to ride on before/after you use that new trail… and the trail isn’t maintained at all it seems. There are small limbs, gravel, glass and overgrown vegetation on the edges,” Hopp said in an email.
His new route adds about five to 10 minutes to his total travel time, he said, adding that overall he was more confused than upset with the base access changes. Other Arlington residents say they’re displeased with the base’s new policy.
Gillian Burgess, chairman of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, said the lack of communication between the base and Arlington residents about the changes is disappointing.
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) An Arlington resident will take off on a 3,000-mile cycling race from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis next week.
Frank Fumich will ride more that 250 miles a day, since the Race Across America (RAAM), one of the most grueling athletic events around even for an endurance athlete like Fumich, must be completed in 12 days.
He is doing it in the hopes of raising thousands for a local man he does not know that well, but can really use his help.
Ryan Diviney, who was born in Reston, is cared for full-time by his father, Ken, in their Ashburn home. That care costs about $2 million annually, Ken Diviney said. Much of it is paid for by the family’s insurance, but there are still tens of thousands of dollars left uncovered.
Fumich, who also attended WVU, said he heard of the Diviney’s story a little over a year ago — shortly after he raised more than $75,000 to aid victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Fumich ran 78 miles in 19 hours — representing three marathons for the three spectators who were killed on April 15, 2003. He then ran the money up to Boston.
“My plan was to run to Morgantown (W.Va.) from Northern Virginia,” said Fumich. “But it was too close to another race. But I knew I wanted to do something to help. I told Ken I was going to to the RAAM. I thought he would think I am crazy.”
Said Ken Diviney: “I did [think he was crazy].”
But he is also already very grateful.
“This helps enormously,” he said. “[The money] is a substantial amount that can help us in two ways. We put away money for Ryan’s longterm comfort and care and also help us in the short term with something he needs, like a therapeutic massaging chair.”
Fumich said Ken Diviney “has not left Ryan’s side since that day in 2009.”
In November of 2009, Ryan was a 20-year-old sophomore who had earned an academic scholarship at WVU. Ken Diviney said his son was attacked by two other men (who later served jail time for the incident), suffering a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and bleeding of the brain.
Ryan had a third of skull removed in surgery to control the brain swelling and has suffered numerous complications. He has been a vegetative state since.
Ken works with Ryan, now 25, every day to keep his body and muscles moving. he also cares for his hygiene needs and feeds him via feeding tube.
“It’s relentless,” says Ken Diviney. “It never really ends. I try to keep his body in motion six to eight hours a day.”
Fumich, a father of 5-year-old twins, says being a dad has made him more empathetic. He said taking on an athletic feat like the RAAM for a worthy cause will make the miles worthwhile.
“It feels good to help someone,” he said. “When I was reintroduced to [the Diviney’s] story from a friend, I couldn’t help but be struck hard by the difference in our lives and how just a few seconds sent our destinies in completely different directions.”
“I knew I was going to do something to help Ryan and his family, and this is it. Every time I hit “the wall” and feel the urge to quit, I’m going to think of how hard Ryan has continued to fight, and how hard his dad Ken and family continue to push onward.”
The summer bike rides, featuring hundreds of cyclists who ride from the store to hilly Military Road and back with an Arlington County Police escort, will return tonight (June 2). Cyclists will meet at Mosaic Park, just behind the store, and depart at 6:30 p.m.
After originally blaming county staff and a few resident complaints for the ride’s cancellation, Freshbikes is now effusive with praise for the county and the cycling community that rallied around the rides.
“A heartfelt Thank You to the great folks at the Arlington County Special Events Committee for working with us, helping ensure the ride will be safer than ever and speeding our permit through after Freshbikes admittedly submitted paperwork late,” Freshbikes said in an email to riders. “Also, I would be remiss not to give a huge shout out to the cycling community for your passion!”
(The county said that while there have been complaints from residents about the ride, the delay in issuing the ride’s special event permit was due to Freshbikes submitting its paperwork late.)
New this year, Freshbikes has codified a code of rider responsibility for the event. The rules and regulations include “stop at all stop signs and obey traffic signals without exceptions,” “ride no more than two rides abreast,” “never, ever, ever pass the police motorcycles” and “do not swarm cars that may be on the route.”
“After this hard winter, we want to ride!” the email said. “Freshbikes really wants to eliminate as many complaints from the community at large as possible, and keep this community ride viable and supported.”
The announcement is timed to coincide with Bike to Work Day and will be made at a Bike to Work Day pit stop in D.C.
“To encourage bicycle commuting, which is growing exponentially across the region, AAA Mid-Atlantic will debut the addition of its new roadside assistance service for bicyclists,” the organization said in a media advisory Thursday.
“Starting on Bike To Work Day, the AAA bicycle service will be immediately available to nearly four million AAA Mid-Atlantic members within the club’s Mid-Atlantic footprint, which includes the entire Washington Metro Area, and it applies to all bicycles and bicycle rentals.”
The service is already being advertised on the organization’s website.
A number of other regional AAA branches across the country, including in the Pacific Northwest and New England, already offer the service.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association says there are 79 pit stops for cyclists around the region, including six in Arlington. Arlington’s pit stops will be, rain or shine, at:
- Crystal City: Crystal City Water Park, 1750 Crystal Drive, 7:00-9:00 a.m.
- Shirlington: Village at Shirlington, 4200 Campbell Ave., 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Columbia Pike: Penrose Square, 2503 Columbia Pike, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- East Falls Church: East Falls Church Metro, 2001 N. Sycamore Street, 6:30-9:30 a.m.
- Ballston: FreshBikes, 3924 Wilson Blvd, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Rosslyn: Rosslyn Gateway Park, Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
At each pit stop, there will be free food, beverages and giveaways. Those who want to be entered in raffles for a free bicycle — or be one of 14,000 people to receive a T-shirt — can do so at the official event website. If you’re one of the first 14,000 people registered, your T-shirt will be waiting at the pit stop you choose.
At the Ballston and Rosslyn locations, bike specialists will be on hand to give tuneups. Those who haven’t biked to work before are encouraged to check out BikeArlington’s route map and practice the route before the trails are mobbed with event participants. Arlington’s Car-Free Diet organization put together an intro video to commemorate the day.
The popular Tuesday Night Rides that take hundreds of cyclists from Ballston to N. Military Road during the summer will not be canceled and were only postponed because the organizer applied for the permit too late, county officials say.
The rides have been organized by FreshBikes owner Scott McAhren for eight years, growing from a few dozen people to as many as 500, and in recent years they have been accompanied by a police escort. The first ride was scheduled for this week, but it was cancelled after McAhren didn’t secure a permit.
On Tuesday, McAhren told ARLnow.com that he reached out to the county “earlier this year” when a special events staffer told him “there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again.”
Now, on FreshBikes’ website, McAhren wrote he applied for a permit April 22, less than three weeks before the first ride was scheduled. Special events permits typically take 90 days to process.
“The May 5 ride was canceled because the County got the Special Event Permit on April 22, which was too short notice to process the event with all the appropriate County departments,” he wrote on the website.
Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said county staff was surprised to read ARLnow.com’s story on Tuesday, considering their most recent conversations with McAhren.
“He said to us that he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he forgot to file the permit application,” Curtius said. “This is not about if we were thinking about killing the bike program.”
McAhren and the county are planning on holding a permit hearing on May 19, when representatives from the parks department, police, fire and rescue and other counties will weigh in on what support the event will require and how much compensation the county would need from the organizer. The county anticipates approval, with the rides starting up again next month.
“We approve virtually every permit for a special event,” Curtius said. “It has to go through the process, it goes through fire, police, water and streets. That has to all be assessed and then they issue the permit. Almost always permits get issued.
“It is true that there have been complaints about this event, there have been complaints about other events too,” she continued. “But what happens in that case is we work with the event organizer. The whole emphasis and the whole bias is toward finding a way to making these events happen, and that’s certainly true when it comes to bicycling events, because we’re a very bike-friendly community.”
Update: Tuesday Night Rides are expected to resume in June after organizer Scott McAhren admitted he submitted the special events permit less than two weeks before May 5.
(Earlier) Driver complaints have pushed Arlington County to reconsider the future of Tuesday Night Rides, the weekly mass-cycling event in Ballston Tuesday evenings during the summer, according to the ride’s organizer.
Steve McAhren, the owner of Fresh Bikes on Wilson Blvd between N. Pollard and Quincy Streets, has organized the weekly rides since May 2006. When they started, he said, there were just 15-20 cyclists participating.
By 2010, as many as 500 people would come to ride up and down their route, primarily along Military Road, and McAhren had a weekly permit with the county and paid for the expense of a police escort.
McAhren told ARLnow.com this afternoon that he reached out to the county earlier this year to make sure the permit would be renewed again, and the county staff told him the permit was unlikely to be renewed.
“[Special events staff] said there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again,” McAhren said. “In the past, they just kind of rubber-stamped it because the county was so pro-cycling.”
McAhren said he agreed to reduce the rides to once a month, but he said the county was planning to still put the permit’s renewal before the County Board, and asked him if he could move the time to the weekends to reduce traffic impacts.
“It became kind of a critical mass thing,” McAhren said. “Long story short, they got a few complaints last season and I think they got six complaints over the last month from people who remember the ride from last year. It’s the kind of stuff I can’t really believe would affect their decision.”
County staff did not immediately return requests for comment this afternoon.
McAhren sent an email to the Tuesday Night Rides group at about 1:00 p.m. and told them to contact the county and post on this website advocating for the county to approve its permit renewal.
“If we can get 1,000 people saying that they like the ride and want to keep it,” he said, “hopefully that will outweigh the handful of complaints.”
The rides have run at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday from the first Tuesday in May — which would be tonight — to about mid-September. Since they’ve grown, Fresh Bikes has continued to offer them for free and has served burritos and played music outside their shop, where the ride begins and ends.
Once the rides started to get police support — and the police were very supportive of the rides back in 2010, McAhren pointed out — they grew in popularity.
“Word got out around the Beltway and we had people come all the way from Maryland for the ride,” McAhren said.
Two cyclists were sent to the hospital during a ride last May, he said, the only major injury they’ve had since the rides began eight years ago.
Just because the ride has been officially postponed doesn’t mean Ballston drivers have no more cyclists to navigate around this evening — while the police escort and official store support will not be in place tonight, McAhren said he believes hundreds of cyclists will continue the ride on their own.
“The ride’s going to happen anyways, all that’s really going to happen is it’s not going to be sanctioned by me or a police escort,” he said. “Unless lightning strikes right at 6:30 p.m. there are going to be 200 cyclists in Ballston, and it will be even more unsafe.”