Hundreds of cyclists will descend on Crystal City and Clarendon this weekend for the 25th annual Armed Forces Cycling Classic.
There will be several races over the course of the weekend. Spectators can watch participants race through Arlington on three separate routes: one in Crystal City, another in Clarendon, and a third spanning Crystal City to Rosslyn. A schedule lists the start times for every race.
From 7 a.m. on Saturday, spectators can watch the Crystal City Challenge Ride, which starts and finishes on 12th Street S. east of S. Eads Street, according to a route map.
The route extends past the Pentagon and continues all the way to Rosslyn before circling back. Competitors must complete as many laps as possible before the race ends at 10 a.m.
Attendees may also observe the competitive pro races through Crystal City, along a rectangular route that starts and ends on 12th Street S., then loops onto S. East Street, 15th Street S. and Crystal Drive. The first heat takes off at 10:25 a.m.
Then, on Sunday, spectators can watch pro and amateur cyclists race through Clarendon from the start and finish line at the intersection of N. Herndon Street and Wilson Blvd, beginning at 10:05 a.m.
The course circles through Washington Blvd, N. Highland Street, and Clarendon Blvd.
In a traffic advisory, Arlington County Police Department suggests attendees and spectators ditch their cars when heading to the weekend’s races.
The Crystal City Metro station (Blue and Yellow lines) is located near the Challenge Ride/Crystal Cup racecourse at the corner of 18th Street and Clark Street and will be accessible on Saturday, June 3. The Clarendon Metro Station (Orange and Silver lines) is located within the Clarendon Cup racecourse at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Highland Street. Vehicular traffic (to include buses) will not be able to access the Clarendon Metro Station after 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 4.
For those who are not able to watch in person, the races will be live-streamed on Saturday from 11 a.m.-2:15 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:45 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
Arlington County is looking to make a three-block stretch in Courthouse safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
Specifically, it is looking for ways to improve conditions along a three-block stretch of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd between N. Uhle Street and N. Adams Street.
The county says the overall project goal is to “create a safe and consistent travel experience for people walking, taking transit, biking, and driving through the Courthouse section of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor,” which has a lot of pedestrian, transit and micro-mobility activity.
Through this Sunday, the county is asking people to share their current experiences as road users and what upgrades matter to them.
When it comes to government priorities, safety is a top concern. The county says Clarendon and Wilson Blvd have seen a higher concentration of critical crashes in recent years.
They are included in a “High Injury Network,” a designation the county uses to prioritize adding transportation safety features to its least-safe roads. This is part of Arlington’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate fatal and severe-injury crashes by 2030.
Within the project’s boundaries, there was a pedestrian crash with severe injuries on Clarendon Blvd in 2015, per a dashboard of crashes with severe and fatal injuries. One block east of the intersection with N. Uhle Street, there was a fatal pedestrian crash in 2014.
Another aim is to fill a “missing link” in bicycling facilities. Clarendon and Wilson Blvd are identified as “primary bicycling corridors” in the county’s Master Transportation Plan, as is N. Veitch Street, which connects cyclists to Langston Blvd, the Custis Trail and the Arlington Blvd Trail.
The county says it aims to realize community visions for better walking, cycling and transit experiences in Courthouse with new curbs and ramps for people with disabilities and improved bus stops and facilities near the Courthouse Metro station.
To encourage (proper) use of shared e-bikes and scooters, the county will review and provide “adequate end of trip facilities.” That could look like the corrals it has installed elsewhere in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and in Crystal City and Pentagon City.
Whatever improvements are selected would link to upcoming road resurfacing work. The county previously incorporated small upgrades when it resurfaced Clarendon Blvd from Courthouse Road and N. Scott Street and from N. Garfield Street to N. Adams Street.
The improvements would also link to street upgrades developer Greystar is delivering via its under-construction Landmark development (2050 Wilson Blvd), set to wrap up this fall, and its redevelopment on the former Wendy’s site (2025 Clarendon Blvd).
Those projects will bring about:
- A “bike island” at the intersection of 15th Street N. and Clarendon Blvd, as well as more and wider protected and dedicated bike lanes
- Wider sidewalks
- Improving pedestrian crossings of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd
- Two new “floating” bus stops
- A pedestrian promenade along N. Uhle Street from Clarendon Blvd and 15th Street N.
- Relocated and newly installed traffic signals
Conte’s Bike Shop could open later this month in Pentagon City, perhaps making it the first business to open at Amazon’s new HQ2.
The nearly seven-decade-old, Virginia-based bike shop is planning to open its newest location inside of the still-under-construction office complex at 1350 S. Eads Street late this month or in early May, manager of strategy and operations George Lee told ARLnow. It will be situated adjacent to Good Company Doughnuts, which is set to start serving later in the summer.
If Conte’s Bike Shop meets that timeline, it will be the first business to open within the first phase of Amazon’s second headquarters, also known as “Metropolitan Park.”
The 4,000-square-foot store will be a bit different than other Conte’s locations, including the one in Virginia Square, in that it will feature a small cafe with complimentary coffee and will be focused “on being a start/stop/mid-ride point for cyclists with [Mt. Vernon Trail] access just a few blocks away,” per Lee.
It will also host “inclusive beginner-friendly group rides” and provide retail sales, repair services, and rentals like its other stores.
“It is a big deal for us as we are now the bike shop in the DC area with the best coverage of locations so customers are able to utilize services that come with bike purchases in any of our locations; we have a lot of customers in this area that used to travel 30-40 mins to get to a bike shop and now there will be one on their door stop,” Lee said.
This new location will be Conte’s second Arlington shop. The company also has stores in Alexandria, Vienna, and Falls Church. In total, the company has 21 locations in five states plus D.C.
Last May, Amazon announced that Conte’s and several other businesses were set to move into HQ2. Two months later, it announced that Peruvian Brothers, Good Company Doughnuts, and others would be joining them there as well.
“We are also humbled to have been selected by Amazon as a local… family business with deep history in the market as one of the most professional and approachable bike shops,” Lee said.
Conte’s hoped-for spring opening comes a bit sooner than Amazon’s planned summer debut of HQ2. Last month it was reported that the company was delaying construction of the second HQ2 phase — with the distinctive “Helix” tower — due to economic conditions and post-pandemic work patterns.
The County Board is set to vote this weekend on a contract to build a long-awaited pedestrian bridge.
On Saturday, it is expected that the Arlington County Board will approve a $1.6 million contract to construct the Shirlington Road Pedestrian Bridge. The 15-foot-wide prefabricated steel bridge will run the length of Four Mile Run and parallel to the road with the purpose of providing safer bicycle and pedestrian access.
It will connect Shirlington and S. Arlington Mill Drive to Jennie Dean Park and the Green Valley neighborhood. It will also serve local users of the heavily-used Four Mile Run and W&OD trails nearby.
Work on the bridge could begin in the second half of this year if the contract is approved over the weekend, Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesperson Claudia Pors told ARLnow. That would mean a completion date in mid to late 2024.
“The existing Shirlington Road vehicular bridge primarily funnels vehicles to/from I-395 and lacks safe, comprehensive accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling through this area,” the report to the Board says.
“This project will provide a key missing link in the County’s bicycle network by providing a north-south protected bicycle facility that will link up with the existing Four Mile Run Trail along South Arlington Mill Drive to the west and along Four Mile Run in the City of Alexandria to the east of the bridge,” the report adds.
The bridge has been under discussion for two decades and has been the topic of conversation among county staff and the public for years.
It will be constructed in two parts, per Pors. First, the span will be built offsite, a process that will take about nine months, while abutments will be added at S. Arlington Mill Drive and Jennie Dean Park where each end of the bridge will go. Around this time, the bridge’s walls will be built and the sidewalk and crosswalk at S. Arlington Mill Drive will be shuttered. Bike and pedestrian traffic will be detoured.
The bridge, then, will be lifted by a crane and installed.
“It’s possible that lanes on the existing bridge will close to accommodate this installation, and the public would be given notice of any detours,” Pors noted.
New street lighting on each end of the bridge will be installed as well, plus median, sidewalk and crosswalk retrofits. A new Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon will be installed in the median as well.
The work is set to be done by D.C.-based Milani Construction, whose $1.38 million bid (plus $277,000 in contingency costs) actually came in under the county engineer’s estimated construction cost.
Last year, work was completed on the parallel vehicle bridge on Shirlington Road. That included resurfacing, routine maintenance, widening the sidewalk by several feet on the west side of the bridge, widening curb ramps, and adding a median at the mid-block crosswalk near 27th Street S.
A number of these improvements came as a result of public feedback.
Additionally, the county is set to study the feasibility of adding another crossing at the intersection of S. Arlington Mill Drive and Shirlington Road.
“County staff have begun study efforts and anticipate reaching out to the public for input this fall,” Pors said.
The Old Bike Shop closed earlier this year in Lyon Park, after a decade in business, but a new bike shop is moving in.
Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative, based at 2111 Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, announced today that it plans to open at the 2647 N. Pershing Drive storefront — down the road from Clarendon — in the next couple of weeks.
“Thanks to Larry Behery and the Old Bike Shop for providing a home for quality used bike service and sales,” Vélocity co-founder Christian Myers said in a statement. “Vélocity will build on this legacy and make safe, reliable bicycles more affordable to everyone.”
“Vélocity plans to open the Arlington shop in early April,” a post on the nonprofit organization’s website says. “Until then, come see us at our location in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, where you can find a refurbished used bike for the spring season!”
More from the organization’s post, below.
Vélocity Bicycle Cooperative is expanding efforts to build a strong biking community by opening a second location at 2647 North Pershing Drive, in the Lyon Park neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, the same location where the Old Bike Shop operated for more than 10 years.
Vélocity is a non-profit cycling shop, run by volunteers. Since 2009, Velocity has empowered kids, beginners, and cycle enthusiasts in acquiring, building, and maintaining bicycles. Vélocity fosters a diverse cycling community, offers cycling education, and provides free bicycles and related equipment to those in need (in 2022, Vélocity refurbished 459 bikes and got 64 bikes to kids and scholarship recipients).
Joe Davison, Board Chair and long-serving volunteer, is excited about the days ahead: “Opening our second location provides a unique opportunity to realize our mission to grow and empower an inclusive biking community through education and affordability. We are honored to carry on and serve the local biking community at this location while seeking continued synergy among the area’s cycling organizations, including Phoenix Bikes.”
Arlington-based Phoenix Bikes, located just off of Columbia Pike, has a similar education and bike refurbishment mission.
We’re Expanding! This April, the Vélocity Bicycle Coop will open a second shop in Arlington, VA, where the Old Bike Shop operated for ten years: 2647 North Pershing Drive. Stay tuned for the opening date and celebration plans! For details, click the link. https://t.co/9sWmRgPlyV pic.twitter.com/P1eEQmrwcb
— Vélocity Bicycle Co-op (@velocitycoop) March 22, 2023
More signs preventing right turns at red lights are going up around Arlington County to reduce crashes.
They were added to long stretches of major arterial streets, including Columbia Pike and Wilson Blvd. The county has concurrently reprogrammed walk signals to give pedestrians a head start crossing the street.
These changes are being made to eliminate crashes that are fatal or result in serious injuries, the aim of its two-year-old traffic safety initiative known as Vision Zero.
“This is a win for pedestrian safety benefit,” said Chris Slatt, a member of Sustainable Mobility for Arlington, which has advocated for more of no-turn-on-red signs in areas with many pedestrians. “You would want to be safe to walk and not have to worry about driving through crosswalk.”
Some drivers have anecdotally reported congestion and longer idling times to ARLnow.
“Seems like these signs cause a lot of cars to sit and idle at intersections longer than they used to,” notes one tipster. “They also generally gum up traffic.”
County documents note there have been safety benefits seen in areas with high pedestrian volumes. Additionally, a focus group of elderly adults appreciated the red light restrictions.
The county’s view is that any reasonable trade-off is worth it.
“Although traffic may slightly increase at times due these safety interventions, the trade-off is a safer environment for our most vulnerable users — pedestrians and bicyclists,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien said.
During Vision Zero’s second year, per a report, the county has been adding no turn on red signs on:
- Columbia Pike from the county line to Washington Blvd
- Fairfax Drive from N. Glebe Road to N. Kirkwood Dr
- Clarendon Blvd from N. Highland Street to Ft. Myer Drive and Wilson Blvd
- Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to Fort Myer Drive
Year 2 of Arlington’s Vision Zero plan wraps up this spring.
The county says it has also grown the number of signalized intersections with a 3-7 second head start for pedestrians from 31 to 77 during Year 2. Studies show this change can reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions by up to 60%.
As of March 2022, the county had no-turn-on-red signs at 147 approaches — each point of an intersection — after adding signs at 35 approaches in Year 1 of Vision Zero, per a May report.
Priority intersections for these changes include those with many pedestrians and bicyclists, restricted sight distance and a history of turn-related crashes, according to a “Vision Zero toolkit” of traffic safety treatments.
Arlington joins other states and municipalities, including D.C., phasing out the right-on-red at busy intersections. A number of studies have shown right on red decreases safety and restrictions improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
"Washington, D.C., will end most right-on-red turns by 2025. Already, the state of Hawaii has prohibited them on a tourist-dense stretch of road in Honolulu. The city of Berkeley in California is considering banning right on red at all intersections." https://t.co/zF0etmTtTr
— The War on Cars (@TheWarOnCars) March 10, 2023
Right on red was legalized 50 years ago to prevent idling and save gas during an oil embargo proclaimed by oil-exporting Arab countries, according to the county. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 required states to allow right turns on red to receive certain federal funds.
“Unfortunately, the country has been experiencing the trade-offs of right on red turns ever since,” the county said in the Vision Zero toolkit.
A high-traffic intersection one block north of Columbia Pike could get some safety upgrades, including a traffic signal.
Arlington County is embarking on a project to develop plans to upgrade the intersection of S. Glebe Road and 9th Street S., located between the Alcova Heights and Arlington Heights neighborhoods.
In addition to replacing a rapid-flash beacon with a traffic signal, the county says changes, in collaboration with the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, could include extending the curbs, updating the crosswalks and refuge medians, and fixing deteriorating ramps that do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The forthcoming project responds to community feedback, a 2022 safety audit of Glebe Road — a VDOT-maintained artery — and a 2020 analysis of “crash hot spots,” according to a county webpage. The latter two reports include data, photos and community comments describing unsafe conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers.
“Glebe Road from 14th Street N. to Columbia Pike is part of Arlington County’s High Injury Network,” the county says. “These corridors experience high concentrations of critical crashes compared to other corridors in Arlington.”
Per the safety audit, the intersection saw two pedestrian crashes and five left-turn vehicle crashes between January 2018 and February 2021. It also found that many people drive over the speed limit by at least 5 mph between 8th Street S. and 9th Street S., going an average of 38 mph.
“Community feedback received as part of the Vision Zero Action Plan development identified Glebe Road and 9th Street S. as an unsafe crossing,” the county said.
Arlington is working toward eliminating traffic-related serious injuries and deaths by 2030 as part of its initiative known as Vision Zero. Transportation advocates and the Arlington County Board called for swift action to realize plan goals and make roads safer after a rash of crashes involving pedestrians last year.
Some residents heralded the project on Twitter as sorely needed and a long time in coming.
Back in 2018, cyclists who participated in a “protest ride” to advocate for better cycling conditions, called specifically for improvements to 9th Street S., which is part of the Columbia Pike Bike Boulevards, a bicycle route parallel to the Pike.
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) March 8, 2023
This spring, there will be a public engagement opportunity in which the county will solicit feedback on existing conditions, including site constraints such as utility poles that block parts of the sidewalk.
County staff are preparing engagement materials, and “when that’s ready, the engagement will open,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors said.
The engagement will first ask people to share how they currently use these streets as well as any ideas or concerns they have.
“This input will be used to refine to goals and develop concept options,” the webpage says.
This spring and summer, county staff will again request feedback on a concept plan, which will be incorporated into a final design plan that the county anticipates can be prepared this fall.
Arlington County has completed, started or has planned other transportation upgrades along Glebe Road, per the 2022 audit, including new or re-programmed traffic signals and new ramps.
The third time could be the charm for Arlington County, which is applying for federal funding to improve cycling and walking connections around Arlington National Cemetery.
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to review the county’s third application for funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Program.
The money would partially fund the construction of a long-proposed Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Wall Trail along Washington Blvd, which would connect Columbia Pike and the Pentagon City area with Memorial Avenue and the Arlington Memorial Bridge into D.C.
“Connectivity for bike-ped users across this part of the County is complicated by the combined barrier effects of secured federal facilities such as ANC, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, and the Pentagon Reservation” and “a high-volume roadway network” comprised of Arlington Boulevard, Washington Blvd, Route 1 as it runs through Pentagon City, I-395 and the GW Parkway, the county notes in a report.
The new trail would run along the western side of Washington Blvd. An existing trail on the opposite side gets dicey near Memorial Circle for pedestrians and cyclists looking to connect to the Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C.
The Federal Highway Administration is designing this multi-use trail in conjunction with the realignment of Columbia Pike. This work is being done to accommodate the 50-acre southern expansion of the ANC, which will add about 80,000 burial sites, allowing burials through the 2050s.
Arlington County has unsuccessfully applied for RAISE funding in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years. This fiscal year, the federal program has nearly $2.3 billion to dole out “for investments in surface transportation that will have a significant local or regional impact,” per the notice of funding opportunity.
“RAISE is a cost reimbursement program and not a lump sum grant award,” the county report notes. “Previous programs have been highly competitive.”
The Arlington Memorial Trail will run west along Washington Blvd and Richmond Hwy, starting at the eastern end of a realigned Columbia Pike to Memorial Avenue, immediately adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro station.
It will link up to an existing trail along the west side of Richmond Hwy, which provides a connection to the Iwo Jima Memorial, to Rosslyn and to the larger network of bicycle and pedestrian trails along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The estimated cost of the Arlington Memorial Trail in the approved 10-year capital improvement plan is $25 million. If the federal government green lights the full $15 million, the county would cover the remaining $10 million through a mix of the commercial and industrial tax and funding it receives from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for local projects.
Projects can receive $5 million to $25 million. A single state cannot receive more than $225 million and awards must be split evenly between urban and rural areas.
Selected projects will be announced by the end of June.
The Old Bike Shop in Lyon Park is closing next month after a decade in business.
Owner Lawrence Behery told ARLnow that he’s shuttering the used bike repair and sales shop on N. Pershing Drive because of a decline in business and family health challenges.
While Behery said he doesn’t know the exact date of the closure yet, he expects it to happen at the end of February. Additionally, the shop is now only open three days a week from Friday through Sunday. The Old Bike Shop first opened in 2013.
It’s been a bumpy road for Behery and the Old Bike Shop over the last two years.
The pandemic was “crazy” for the bike business and sales were good at first, Behery said, but then his mom was diagnosed with cancer and business began to decline. Last year was particularly tough with sales dropping to the point where the shop “cost me money.” Then, his mom suffered a stroke and Behery became her caretaker.
“Learning to do that with the business not doing so well… it was really tough,” he said. “I really love serving the community, but it’s a delicate balance. I’m trying to fight the fight, but I have both hands tied behind my back and I’m just a little guy.”
Another reason for the closure is the soaring costs related to warehousing and storage. Behery said that storage unit prices have “skyrocketed” leaving him making tough decisions about what parts and inventory to have on hand.
Rent at 2647 N. Pershing Drive, however, has stayed consistent, something that has allowed the shop to survive as long as it has. Behery called his landlord “fair” and a “very decent human being.”
Over the last several days, ARLnow has received notes from readers and loyal customers, asking about how the community could help to keep the shop around. Behery said while that’s a very kind sentiment, he needs to take a step back to help his loved one.
“This is hard for me because I love it, but can’t digest it all… running a business and taking care of mom,” he said. “I just want one hand free. I can’t concentrate on everything.”
He does hope that someday he’ll be able to return to selling and repairing bikes for the Arlington community. As Behery put it, now is the time to take care of his family so that he can come back stronger in the future.
But he’ll always have the memories and is thankful for the community support.
“It feels like that little shop is sorta like a neighborhood bar… I’ve seen kids grow up, from their first bike to the one they take to college,” Behery said. “I have had gratitude to this community since day one.”
Drivers have been blocking a new PBL in search of the perfect PSL.
Last November, as part of a 2022 Complete Streets project, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services replaced two parking spots with a protected bike lane, or “PBL,” on the east side of Clarendon Blvd. It also added new free, 15-minute parking spots at N. Danville Street, to accommodate those who would have used the two former spots when picking up their coffee order from the nearby Starbucks.
“All those legally parked automobiles are actually protecting bikers who are using the bike lane to the right,” noted DES spokesman Peter Golkin.
But illegally parked vehicles caused a different problem. Flouting a no-parking sign, cars — and even a county pickup truck — parked where the spots used to be, partially or completely blocking the bike lane. Local cyclist Jeff Hopp said he saw cars blocking the bike lane “all day, every day,” to access the Starbucks location across the street from the Whole Foods.
“In the area near Starbucks, [the county] created a hazard to cyclists instead of a safe PBL,” he said. “The county removed two parking spaces in the area when creating the PBL but the design of the PBL at this spot allows for drivers to drive into and park in the PBL while they ‘run in’ to Starbucks to grab their drinks.”
Public feedback helped guide the designs, Golkin says, but in response to the reality on the ground, the county recently made it harder to park there.
“Extra bollards were added this month to make such an abuse less tempting and to encourage drivers to look for the free and pay spaces just a few feet down the road,” Golkin said.
Several free 15-minute parking spots can be found on Clarendon Blvd at Danville along the new protected bike lane. A few more PBL bollards can be found just to the west. https://t.co/WBOtOpfRPh pic.twitter.com/wEz2z32F8n
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 17, 2023
Hopp, who had notified the county about the issue, says he appreciates the changes.
“I feel the county was responsive to a conversation about a solution and, in the end, I feel they made the right decision to install additional bollards around the edges,” he said. “With these additional bollards, vehicles will not have enough room to pull into the PBL in this area — unless drivers just mow them down, which I’ll bet has happened before.”
While the pandemic prompted a well-documented exodus to, and development of, sleepy suburban and exurban towns, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District says it has identified a different Covid migration pattern.
About a quarter of Americans reported moving to cities where they could be within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of grocery stores, healthcare and parks, according to a national survey by the BID.
The survey also found 41% plan on moving to be within walking or biking distance of their preferred amenities — including coffee shops, schools and gyms — in the next one to three years. That’s in contrast with places that prioritize mobility by motor vehicle, with sidewalks and bike lanes as a relative afterthought.
The idea of being in a place within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from these amenities, dubbed a “15-minute city,” was developed by French-Colombian academic Carlos Moreno. He says his aim is to “rebalance” localities that have been designed to boost productivity rather than well-being. The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, popularized his idea when lockdowns kept people closer to home than usual, and efforts to realize Moreno’s idea took hold there and in other European cities.
Arlington County Planning Commission member Daniel Weir embraces the concept, saying it is better for people and the environment.
“Cities are for people, not cars, and we should be able to get our needs met within a 15-minute walk or bike ride,” he said. “Once upon a time, in living memory for our grandparents, every city in America — from Luray, Virginia to Manhattan — was a 15-minute city. Sometime after the war, we got the idea that cities were about highways and cars, and people had to make way. Now, we’re seeing auto-oriented infrastructure and development is one of the most flawed social experiments of all time.”
Arlington is now trying to at least partially unwind auto-oriented development along Langston Blvd and Richmond Highway, but has yet to tackle the suburban neighborhoods that fall outside its primary planning corridors. Still, the county, which has no singular city center, has had a number of “15-minute cities” spring up through transit-oriented development, which began in the 1960s.
Transit-oriented development created compact urban villages of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City and Crystal City along the Orange and Blue Metro lines, and is facilitating more development on the bus-connected Columbia Pike.
“The 15-minute city approach is consistent with many facets of the Arlington Comprehensive Plan and is more intrinsic in Arlington’s principles for compact and transit-oriented development,” says Erika Moore, a spokeswoman for Arlington County Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
Where the pandemic is helping advance the 15-minute city concept in Arlington is via an expansion of uses permitted in the county’s densest zoning districts.
“This is creating potential for expanded uses, including workshop spaces, breweries/distilleries, indoor agricultural such as hydroponics, and animal boarding,” she said. “This blending of retail, restaurants, entertainment, and destination uses, along with offices in smaller, non-traditional formats may prove beneficial to residents living in any of Arlington’s mixed-use corridors or in close proximity to them.”
No longer does a Rosslyn resident, for instance, need to drive to a lower-density part of Arlington to board their pet.
While Rosslyn has transformed from downtown district to 15-minute city, BID President Mary-Claire Burick says the county, property owners and the BID must keep “working together to keep our urban center active and accessible.”
Burick says her organization supports the mixed-use developments and the amenities they’re bringing.
“We support Arlington County’s planned investments in public green space and critical transportation infrastructure — such as the removal of the Fort Myer Tunnel,” she added, “and further building out Rosslyn’s network of pedestrian and bike facilities — which are essential in helping make our amenities even more accessible.”
The BID will focus on “economic resiliency efforts, as well as our community events, programming, and placemaking, all which help create an urban downtown where people want to be,” Burick said.