Arlington, VA

Arlington County is planning to test residents on how they might survive and take care of their families after a natural disaster — using bicycles.

Arlington’s second “Disaster Relief Trials” will simulate traversing the county by bike after a disaster wipes out crucial infrastructure. Participants on bicycles will compete for points by ferrying messages and medicine between checkpoints, filtering water, applying a tourniquet, and evacuating (fake) pets.

This year’s competition will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 and will start and end at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway) in Rosslyn.

“2018 was the costliest year on record for the US in terms of disasters,” the event page notes. “When roads became gridlocked or damaged during disasters, people turned to their bicycles to flee from danger, assist in the response, or to return to normal.”

Along the way, cyclists will have to cross high barriers that simulate downed trees over paths, dismount for rough terrain, and brave areas flooded up to 6 inches.

Despite the event helping the county’s emergency preparedness, participation requires paying a fee. Participants can register online for $90 for families until Aug. 11, after which the group price will jump to $125. Individuals can register for $40 until Aug. 11, and $55 after. Discounts are available for those receiving certain types of government assistance.

Participants are required to bring their own bikes, helmets, water bottles, and any racks, panniers, or backpacks they’d like to use. Cargo bikes with electric assists are allowed in the competition.

Disaster Relief Trials have been held for years in Portland and San Francisco.

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A set of traffic lights near Columbia Pike isn’t working for bicycles, officials say.

The Department of Environmental Services (DES) confirmed that traffic signal at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and 11th Street S. is not detecting bicycles.

DES crews discovered this week that an underground conduit collapsed, effectively disabling the sensors that detect bicycles waiting to cross Walter Reed Drive and trigger a green light.

“There’s currently no bike lane detection because we weren’t able to get the cable from the controller to this side of the intersection due to the collapsed conduit,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet tells ARLnow.

“Staff are working on how to address the issue, but we don’t have an estimate at this time for when a fix can be implemented,” he said.

In the meantime, the department reconfigured the intersection to give a green light to the contraflow bike lane on 11th Street during each light cycle. In a contraflow bike lane, bicyclists ride against the flow of traffic.

The department found the problem after cyclists — including Arlington County official Henry Dunbar — noted on social media earlier this month that some intersections hadn’t turned green for them.

Balliet said crews inspected N. Veitch Street and Lee Highway on Wednesday after the online complaints and found no issues.

No other intersections have known issues either, but Bailliet said in an emailed statement that some intersections use a new vehicle detection technology and it can be finicky:

The newer detection cameras the County uses for vehicular detection can also detect bicycles, but the system requires the bicycle to approach the intersection in a vehicular or bicycle lane in order to be detected. If the bicycle doesn’t adhere to the stop bar area or rides in an atypical pattern, the cameras will likely not detect the bicycle as the zones are set up with the stop bar as a reference and can only be triggered from travel in a single general direction.

He added that cameras will also fail to detect bicycles on sidewalks and riders need to continue pushing walk buttons to cross safety.

DES asks travelers to report intersection problems to the county’s online system so crews can investigate.

Images via Google Maps

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Proposed changes could help transform a major street in the Pentagon City and Crystal City area into a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly corridor, though it might make traffic a little more congested.

The Army Navy Drive Complete Street project would provide a physically-separated, two-way protected bicycle lane along the south side of Army Navy Drive from S. Joyce Street to 12th Street S. Changes would also make pedestrian crossings shorter and safer, with options to build dedicated transit lanes in the future.

According to the project website:

The project will rebuild Army Navy Drive within the existing right-of-way as a multimodal complete street featuring enhanced bicycle, transit, environmental and pedestrian facilities. The goal of the project is to improve the local connections between the Pentagon and the commercial, residential and retail services in Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The tradeoff for keeping all of this within the right of way is reduced motor vehicle lanes, with slowing traffic through the area billed as a feature rather than a detriment. For most of the route, traffic in each direction is at least two lanes wide, though east of S. Eads Street the plans call for it to narrow from two lanes to one in each direction.

At an open house yesterday (Tuesday) at the Aurora Hills Branch Library (735 18th Street S.), most of those in attendance were local cyclists expressing enthusiasm for the project.

“This is an unspeakably huge improvement for cycling,” said Chris Slatt, chair of the Transportation Commission. “This is a critical piece for connecting bicycle infrastructure.”

Cyclists at the meeting also took the opportunity to note that the improvements planned here were still a stark contrast to plans to realign Columbia Pike near the Air Force Memorial. Cycling advocates at the open house said the Pike plans would turn the nearby intersection of S. Joyce Street and Columbia Pike, which feeds into Army Navy Drive and is already not ideal for bicycling, into a “death trap.”

Photo (3) via Google Maps, project map via Arlington County Department of Environmental Services

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Arlington County Board members are scheduled to consider paving a connection between the W&OD Trail and 9th Street S. in Barcroft by the Buchanan Community Garden.

The proposal is to put an asphalt connection and a stop sign between 9th Street and the trail, crossing an area on the side of the trail currently used by Dominion subsidiary Virginia Electric Power Company.

County staff wrote in a report to the Board that they hope paving and providing signage to formalize the path will “improve mobility for pedestrians and cyclists between nearby neighborhoods and the W&OD Trail.”

The W&OD Trail was recently designated as a “primary route” for cyclists during this year’s update to the county’s Master Transportation Plan, while 9th Street S. is a key bicycle route that runs parallel to Columbia Pike.

The Board is scheduled to discuss the 9th Street S. connection during its meeting this Saturday, June 15. The proposal is currently on the meeting’s consent agenda, a place members usually reserve for items expected to pass without debate.

If members OK the proposal, County Manager Mark Schwartz will sign a letter with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, which owns and operates the W&OD Trail, giving the county permission to build and maintain the connection.

Arlington has recently been working on adding new connections to the W&OD Trail.

In April, the county opened a new connection between the W&OD Trail and 7th Street S., and last month the county secured a $680,000 grant to study ways to better connect the W&OD and the East Falls Church Metro station.

Images via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Arlington GOP Not As Interested in Local — “The Arlington County Republican Committee’s efforts to regain a toehold in local governance may continue to suffer from a general disinterest in local affairs from many within the party’s rank and file.” [InsideNova]

Housing Initiative Getting Underway — “Arlington County has a shortage of homes, and with Amazon moving in, that pressure is only increasing. Now the county is asking residents about their housing needs and their ideas to address the crunch as part of its Housing Arlington initiative announced earlier this year.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Women of Vision Winners — Arlington County has named the three honorees of its 2019 Arlington County Women of Vision awards: long-time Arlington County housing staffer Melodee Melin, Clarendon Childcare Center director Sandra Redmore, and Virginia Equal Rights Coalition founder Julia Tanner. [Arlington County]

Bike Theft Reminder — On Friday, two men were taken into custody after a foot pursuit and search on suspicion of stealing bicycles in the Clarendon area, according to Arlington County Police. It serves as a reminder for Arlington residents to register bikes for free with the police department. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Wardian Now Racing Horses — “Michael Wardian has finished the Boston Marathon 18 times. He holds the world record for fastest 50-kilometre run on a treadmill. This year he raced 631 miles across Israel in barely 10 days’ time… The Arlington, Virginia, runner will be one of 650 or so humans and five dozen horses racing against each other in the annual Man Versus Horse Marathon on Saturday.” [National Post]

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Update at 1 p.m. on 6/2/19 — The live feed has ended. 

Above is a live webcam from the rooftop of Don Tito in Clarendon.

Crews are are getting ready for the 22nd Annual Armed Forces Cycling Classic and its Clarendon Cup Pro/Am Races, which will kick off at 8 a.m. Sunday (June 2) and run through the streets of Clarendon.

If you’re unable to make it to watch the excitement in person, you can see a live broadcast on the Monumental Sports Network, airing from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m Sunday.

Additional rides and races will take place in Crystal City on Saturday.

Note: the Armed Forces Cycling Classic is an ARLnow advertiser

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VDOT has officially kicked off construction on the new Washington & Old Dominion Trail bridge over Lee Highway.

A new county video, above, shows renderings of the white bridge with decorative safety walls over the highway. The bridge is expected to accommodate the approximately 2,000 daily trail users.

The construction is part of the project to widen I-66 eastbound between Exits 67 and 71, which began last year. As part of the construction, some disruptions are expected for trail users and drivers in the area.

Per Arlington County:

Bicyclists and pedestrians should expect a temporary trail realignment and detours during construction. The first trail detour has closed the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway (near mile marker 5.5) and for a short portion on the east side of Lee Highway. In addition, Fairfax Drive will be closed to traffic, Lee Highway will have short traffic stoppages at night, and there may be lane closures on side streets.

“Once the project is complete, cyclists and pedestrians can expect a much-improved experience on this portion of the W&OD Trail,” the county said in a press release.

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(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) The Armed Forces Cycling Classic is returning to Arlington this weekend, prompting several road closures.

Teams will compete in a series of races sponsored by the the Boeing Company on Saturday, June 1, to win the “Crystal Cup.” The teams will then return on Sunday, June 2, for a chance to win the “Clarendon Cup.” This series marks the 22nd year for the annual event.

This Saturday, the race will open with an all ages “Challenge Ride” from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at 2100 Crystal Drive along a 10 kilometer track. Afterwards, the event will shift gear to line up the day’s professional and amateur races.

ACPD said police will close several streets in Crystal City and Rosslyn from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, including:

  • Crystal Drive, from S. 15th Street through S. 23rd Street
  • Wilson Boulevard, from N. Kent Street to the Route 110 ramp
  • Route 110, from Rosslyn to Crystal City
  • S. Clark Street, from S. 20th Street to S. 23rd Street
  • S. 20th Street, from Crystal Drive to S. Clark Street
  • S. 18th Street, from Crystal Drive to S. Bell Street
  • S. 23rd Street from Crystal Drive to S. Clark Street
  • Crystal Drive (West side), from S. 23rd St to the Central Center Parking Garage
  • S. 12th Street and Long Bridge Drive

Competitors will roll into the Clarendon Cup Cycling Classic on Sunday. Professional teams will race 100-laps around a 1 kilometer area. Police said they plan to close the following roads from 4:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accommodate the event:

  • Wilson Blvd, from N. Fillmore Street to Washington Blvd
  • Clarendon Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Fillmore Street
  • Washington Blvd, from Wilson Blvd to N. Highland Street
  • North Highland Street, from Wilson Blvd to Washington Blvd
  • North Garfield Street / N. Fillmore Street, from Wilson Blvd to Washington Blvd

Organizers recommend attendees park at the Crystal City underground at 1600 Crystal Drive but warn them to remove bicycle roof racks from vehicles before driving down into the parking garage.

The county said in a press release that parking near both races is limited, and is encouraging attendees to use Metro or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Metro-goers can access the Armed Forces Cycling Classic from the Crystal City Metro station, and the Clarendon Cup race via the Clarendon Metro station. Both stations are open during Metro’s summer shutdown south of Reagan National Airport.

For both events, police are warning drivers to keep on the lookout for additional road closures and “no parking” signs in around the events.

Flickr pool photos by Michael Coffman

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The 22nd annual Armed Forces Cycling Classic, proudly brought to you by the Boeing Company, is the regions premier cycling event with fun for the entire family all cycling interests and abilities!

The weekend kicks off with our Challenge Ride, a non-competitive and traffic-free ride, Saturday morning in Crystal City. Participants enjoy a 10 km course, traveling past the Pentagon, up to Rosslyn and back. The event begins at 7 a.m. and all riders must be off the course by 10 a.m.

Riders completing 3, 6 or 9 laps will receive bronze, silver or gold finishers medals.

This year, we also invite participants of the Challenge Ride to help support our official beneficiary, TAPS. Those that raise more than $200 receive a limited edition TAPS cycling jersey.

Following the Challenge Ride on Saturday, professional and elite amateur teams from the U.S. and abroad, begin the weekends racing with the Crystal Cup. Then, the prestigious Clarendon Cup, will take place on Sunday in Clarendon, and will crown the weekends champions.

2019 Armed Forces Cycling Classic Schedule of Events:

Saturday, June 1 — Crystal City

7 a.m. — Challenge Ride
10:20 a.m. — Amateur Race
11:15 a.m. — Women’s Pro/AM Race
12:35 p.m. — Kids Race (FREE)
12:45 p.m. — Men’s Pro/AM Race

Sunday, June 2 — Clarendon

8 a.m. — Amateur Races
10 a.m. — LIVE BROADCAST BEGINS (www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com/afcycling)
10:05 a.m. — Women’s Pro/AM Race
11:30 a.m. — Kids Race (FREE)
12 p.m. — Men’s Pro/AM Race

For more information on the event, the live broadcast and VIP Viewing, visit www.CyclingClassic.org.

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The Armed Forces Cycling Classic, proudly brought to you by The Boeing Company, includes two days of Men’s and Women’s Pro/AM races.

The BEST viewing is in our Rapha Breakaway Club! This space is located across from the main stage on both days, and includes food and beverages, as well as a live closed circuit feed of the races.

Catering the event will be Founding Farmers.

Tickets, normally $25 each day on site, are available here for just $15 per day!

Purchase Today’s Deal Now

Discount Code: ARLNOW

WHEN: Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2

WHERE: Crystal City and Clarendon

WHAT: The Rapha Breakaway Club is an exclusive viewing space, across from the main stage on both days. Food, catered by Founding Farmers, beer and soft drinks provide you with exceptional snacking while spectating!

Tented space with seating for your enjoyment, along with a live race feed.  Proceeds from ticket sales will help support TAPS, our official event beneficiary.

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Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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