Arlington, VA

Arlington could finally make progress on a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Four Mile Run near Shirlington that’s been under discussion for nearly two decades, according to county staff.

Staff told the Transportation Commission at a Jan. 9 meeting that the current bridge, which carries two lanes of vehicular traffic in each direction on Shirlington Road, has inadequate bicycle-pedestrian facilities, with only a 3-5 foot sidewalk available.

Pedestrian access on Shirlington Road has been a thorn in the county’s side for years, with efforts made in the past to widen nearby sidewalks and make them more pedestrian-friendly — while the bridge bottleneck remained.

The bridge itself is still in good condition, staff said, so rather than reconstruct the bridge staff said a new bicycle and pedestrian-only bridge constructed 20 feet to the west would provide an alternative transit route without cutting into traffic on the Shirlington bridge.

The project, staff noted, has already been fully funded in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, but not plans have moved forward.

An open house for the pedestrian bridge project is scheduled for Feb. 11 from 6-8 p.m., in which nearby civic associations will be invited, though the location of the open house was not announced. Staff said renderings for the bridge will be available at the open house.

“We are starting to implement what came out of the Four Mile Run area plan,” staff said.

The Four Mile Run plan also considered a, underpass running beneath the bridge, negating the need for cyclists and other trail users to cross busy Shirlington Road, though that was not discussed at the Transportation Commission meeting. Arlington County is currently working on a $15.5 million renovation project for Jennie Dean Park, adjacent to the future bridge.

Photo via Google Maps

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Wakefield High School students will soon have a new way of getting to and from school: Capital Bikeshare.

A new CaBi station with eleven bike docks was approved unanimously at the Jan. 9 School Board meeting. The station will be placed near the other bicycle racks on the southern side of the school, along S. Dinwiddie Street.

The agreement between Arlington Public Schools and Capital Bikeshare is effective for five years, with an automatic renewal thereafter. The agreement specifies that the Capital Bikeshare is responsible for the costs of setting up the station and maintenance.

There are nearly 100 Capital Bikeshare stations in Arlington, with a number of other stations in the works across the county. There are several stations not far from Wakefield, along Four Mile Run Drive, Columbia Pike, and around Shirlington.

The plans did not include a timeframe for when the new station will be implemented. A school spokesman said the timeline will be determined by the Capital Bikeshare.

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

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Morning Notes

Rail Project Will Include New Pedestrian Bridge — “As part of the Long Bridge project, a stand-alone bike and pedestrian bridge would be built upstream from the new rail bridge, allowing people to walk or bike across the Potomac River between the D.C. waterfront and Crystal City in Arlington. Virginia officials said the state plans to build that pedestrian and bike bridge.” [Washington Post]

Weekend Propane Leak in Ballston — Per the Arlington County Fire Department: “FD and Haz-Mat units are on scene in the 4000 blk of Fairfax Dr investigating a report of a large propane [tank] leaking… Crews located a large propane tank leaking at a building under construction. The leak has been controlled and units are remaining on scene to [perform] air monitoring.” [Twitter]

ACPD Increasing Bike Lane Enforcement — “The county… says that Arlington police are stepping up their enforcement of bike lane violations. Cycling advocate Gillian Burgess says that she has seen evidence of more police presence, though she believes that the problem will ultimately be solved by better street design, not enforcement.” [WAMU]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Big Investment — “Arlington-based Advantia Health, a growing national provider of women’s healthcare, announced a $45 million investment by BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC (BlueMountain), a subsidiary of Assured Guaranty Ltd. This funding comes after a year of rapid growth.” [Advantia Health via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Arlington has been again named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community.”

Arlington is among 102 U.S. communities to achieve the designation from the League of American Bicyclists as of late 2019. The League also recognized 347 communities at the Bronze level, 34 at the Gold level and 5 at the Platinum level.

(The Platinum-level communities are Davis, California; Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Madison, Wisconsin.)

“The program considers five main criteria and three key outcomes in its evaluation, including the current state of local bicycle networks, evaluation and planning efforts for the future and the availability of education and encouragement programs for adults and youth,” Arlington County noted in a press release.

The county says it’s working to improve safety for cyclists by creating a Vision Zero Action Plan that will help “prevent serious injuries and deaths from traffic crashes.”

In the press release below, Arlington officials tout some of the bike amenities that helped the county achieve Silver-level status.

1. 50 miles of shared-use trails and 40 miles of dedicated bike lanes, including a growing number of protected and buffered bike lanes

We know – it’s winter. But they’re out there, right now, waiting for you and your favorite sweater! Arlington County clears snow from a number of the most popular commuter trails so you can bike, or run, on them all year round. You can always explore them digitally and make plans for spring, if that’s more your thing.

2. Meet some new friends on a bike ride

No matter what you are into, someone in Arlington is organizing a bike ride to do it. You can try BikeArlington’s easy social rides to fun destinations, a community-led family bike ride with Kidical Mass, an Arlington Parks and Recreation’s 55+ group ride or even introductory rides lead by local bike shops.

3. Learn to ride (or learn to ride more confidently)

If you’re one of the many adults in the region interested in learning to ride a bike, you can join BikeArlington and WABA for a class next spring. They also have classes for riders looking to understand how to ride safely and confidently on the local roads or trails. Arlington Public Schools has kiddos covered with their bike education unit for second graders.

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A cyclist was struck by a driver at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., near Clarendon., Friday morning.

Initial reports suggest the cyclist had severe injuries, including head trauma. The crash was first radioed in around 10:30 a.m. by a police officer who was on a traffic stop nearby.

The bicycle could be seen under a black Jeep on the west side of the intersection, in front of the Speedway gas station. A bike rack with a PeopleForBikes sticker could be seen on the back of the Jeep.

The victim was rushed via ambulance to a local trauma center.

“The cyclist was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The investigation is ongoing.”

The intersection was partially closed by police but reopened as of 11:30 a.m., after detectives documented the scene.

Police said later Friday afternoon that the driver will face a traffic charge in the crash.

“[The driver] was cited with failure to yield,” said Savage. “The cyclist’s injuries are considered non-life threatening.”

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A $2.6 million project to renovate Benjamin Banneker Park will close the park and a portion of the W&OD Trail starting the week after Thanksgiving.

The project, which was given the green light in September, will widen the trails from 8 to 12 feet and upgrade the athletic field, playground, picnic area, dog park and more.

The park closure and trail detour were originally advertised as starting this week, but everything is still open, for now.

“We are giving people a two week notice to make adjustments,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “The trail and park will close December 3. We’ve provided detour recommendations on sandwich boards around the park as well as online. We are putting up a banner at the dog park directing people to the web to find an alternative dog park.”

Not everyone is happy about the trail detour, which will redirect pedestrian and bike traffic from the park — near the East Falls Church Metro station — to the busy intersection of N. Sycamore Street and 19th Street N., which has traffic lights and pedestrian crossing signals.

“Many of us are caught off guard with the total closure of the trail between the creek and the soccer field for the duration of the project,” said Kelly Alexis, a local resident, in an email to county staff that she also sent to ARLnow and other concerned residents.

“Arlington County has provided only one re-route option — funneling all pedestrian and bicycle traffic to the most congested possible intersection; passing across the entry and exit to the EFC Metro Kiss-and-ride lot,” Alexis continued. “This was not part of the plan that was presented to us at the open meetings and has a major impact on bicycle and pedestrian traffic.”

In response to a request to complete trail construction first, before the other park changes, a county staffer said that was not a viable option for a number of reasons. Among them: the need to fence off the trail from the rest of the under-construction park — thus creating “a safety concern for users who would then have very limited egress through a long confined corridor in the park if they were endangered or injured.”

Kalish said she is not aware of any plans to make changes to the detour.

Construction is currently expected to wrap up between July and September of 2020, according to the county website.

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The Arlington County Board has signed off for NOVA Parks to apply for a $5.6 million grant that would widen a portion of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

If approved, the project will widen two miles of the W&OD Trail between N. Roosevelt Street and N. Carlin Springs Road by eight feet. In addition, the trail will incorporate a “dual path” to divide walkers and cyclists.

“When I talk to trail users I hear the same complaint, which I will attribute to Yogi Berra, ‘No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded,'” said chairman of NOVA Parks Michael Nardolilli during Tuesday’s recessed County Board meeting.

Officials are expected to know if the grant, submitted to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), has been approved by June 2020. If it is, the County Board will review the project plans before giving an official vote on whether to begin construction.

Nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition the project during Tuesday’s meeting. Many stressed that the project it could destroy a large number of trees and damage storm water management, while others expressed disappointment in what they describe as NOVA Park’s lack of public outreach.

Among the groups opposed to the widening is Arlington Tree Action Group, which called it — perhaps a bit hyperbolically — “the most environmentally destructive project that has ever occurred in Arlington’s public spaces.”

The Arlington County Board has moved consideration of a resolution that will allow NOVA Parks (formerly known as the…

Posted by Arlington Tree Action Group on Sunday, November 17, 2019

“My commission learned of this a week ago with no information about what was being planned,” said Phil Klingelhofer, chair of the Arlington Urban Forestry Commission, a county commission that is also concerned about the project. “[This] is in fact putting a multi-lane highway for bikes through the middle of the park.”

Arlington Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said widening the trail would be great for the area’s bike community — citing recommendations from the county’s Master Transportation Plan — but also stressed the need for public engagement and environmental analysis.

“This whole conversation tonight has been one big, giant paradox,” said County Board member Eric Gutshall. “I can’t wrap my head around folks who are concerned about preserving nature and trees, allies to those interested in cycling and using alternative modes of transportation to be a part of larger, sustainable society — somehow, you’re against bicycling and trails.”

The County Board unanimously signed off on the application, with two recommendations for County Manager Mark Schwartz:

(1) Determine the data and analyses that NOVA Parks must submit to substantiate the safety and levels of service concerns along the subject street of the W&OD trail, and (2) initiate a process with NOVA Parks to determine the appropriate level of public engagement for the project along with the information that must be developed and presented…[including] plans to address environmental stewardship including impact on vegetation, flood risk management, erosion, and natural habitats.

“Our support for the seeking of funding, so those plans can be drafted, does not mean endorsement of the final design,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Nearby in Falls Church, NOVA Parks has begun a $3.7 million project to widen 1.2 miles of the W&OD Trail in Falls Church, funded mostly through a similar NVTA grant.

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Arlington could be extending a protected bike lane in Crystal City, a block from Amazon’s future home.

The county posted on its website that intends to “rebuild 18th Street South between Fern and Eads Streets in order to continue the existing South Hayes Street protected bike lane further east.”

Designs on the website show the current unprotected bike lanes being converted to protected lanes without a loss of vehicle travel lanes. Additional pedestrian-safety upgrades are also planned.

A group of residents advocating for eliminating single occupant car commuting at Amazon’s future headquarters celebrated the news. On Twitter, the group thanked DES and wrote the planned infrastructure was “GOOD NEWS!”

https://twitter.com/CarFreeHQ2/status/1191824320194060288?s=20

“The project will improve the safety of the South Fern Street and 18th Street South intersection by removing the southbound right turn slip lane and building curb extensions on all four corners of the intersection to reduce pedestrian crossing distances,” said Department of Environmental Services (DES) spokesman Eric Balliet.

“It will also extend the existing protected bike lanes on South Hayes Street (west of the Fern St/18th St intersection) along 18th Street from South Fern to South Eads Street,” he added.

The project will include features for pedestrians, like high visibility crosswalks. Per the county website:

Additionally, the intersection of 18th Street South and South Fern Street will be rebuilt to decrease crossing distances and decrease the existing impervious area. This will improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle safety at the intersection.

The project will also add stormwater retention, replace a water main and upgrade the streetscape, helping improve the connection between the core of Pentagon City and Crystal City.

The work is part of the 18th Street S. Complete Streets project and is expected to cost the county $5.3 million, which will be paid for by funds earmarked in the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2017-2026 and a Crystal City transportation infrastructure fund.

Near Amazon’s HQ2, cycling advocates have also successfully pushed for more protected bike lanes.

Arlington first added plastic bollards and moved out the parking area along S. Hayes Street in 2014 to physically protect cyclists from cars. Since then, DES has tested out more protected bike lanes, adding two in Ballston and Courthouse.

However, transit advocates have pushed for the county to pick up the pace, citing the dangers of cars blocking unprotected lanes which forces cyclists into dangerous, busy roads. In addition to cyclists, bike lanes are also used by e-scooter riders.

Balliet said the department expects construction on the 18th Street S. project to begin next fall.

Images via Arlington County & Google Maps 

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An Arlington bicycling group will host its first annual “Cranksgiving” charity ride to help the homeless.

Cosponsored by the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, the choose-your-own-adventure scavenger hunt ride will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 10 a.m. and will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).

The ride starts and ends at Ireland’s Four Courts at 2051 Wilson Blvd. in Courthouse The event is free with advanced registration required, with teams of 4-5 members are encouraged.

Once the ride begins, cyclists will design their own route based on a map of participating stores. During their stops, they’ll purchase a food, clothing, or hygiene item to donate to A-SPAN, to benefit those in need during the winter season.

Everything purchased must be hauled by bicycle, in a bag, pannier, rack, or trailer.

At the end of the event, cyclists will gather back at Ireland’s Four Courts to tally who gathered the most items, with prizes awarded to the winners.

“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Judd Isbell in a press release. “We are thrilled with the number businesses and organizations who are enthusiastically supporting this event.”

Cranksgiving is held annual across over fifty cities throughout the United States around Thanksgiving. This year is the first time the free event has come to Arlington.

Participating organizations include:

  • Casual Adventure
  • Phoenix Bikes
  • Bike Arlington
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Los Tios Crystal City
  • Ireland’s Four Courts
  • Crystal City BID

Photo courtesy Chris Rief

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Morning Notes

Congrats to the Nats — Fireworks could be heard in parts of Arlington as the Nationals won the World Series in Game 7 just before midnight. [Twitter, Twitter]

Nats World Series Run Helps Local Startup — “BreakingT’s business is very much staying in the fight. The Arlington T-shirt retailer had already seen a significant boost from the Nationals’ playoff run… Until last week, BreakingT’s biggest revenue day was during the All-Star Game hosted at Nationals Park last July. But each of the three home World Series matchups have now exceeded that.” [Washington Business Journal]

Severe Storms Expected Tonight — “Hazardous Halloween weather is possible in the Washington area and many parts of the Mid-Atlantic, where a line of storms, some of which may be severe, will sweep through during the evening. ‘A potentially dangerous weather event is unfolding for Thursday,’ wrote the National Weather Service serving the Washington region.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Chick-fil-A Customers Cause Crystal City Cycling Consternation — “Diving deeper geographically from streets to blocks and overlaying vehicle type, a story starts to emerge from the data. We already knew the majority of bike lane blockages were on Crystal Drive, but now we can see that the 2100 block of Crystal Drive is where all the action is, why? Chick-fil-a!” [Greater Greater Washington]

Kudos for Hot Lola’s in Ballston — “Got a hankering for a fried chicken sandwich? Forget Popeyes — go for Hot Lola’s’s version in Arlington, says a new report. Washingtonian says Hot Lola’s hot-chicken sandwich are the best in the D.C. area, tied with Wooboi in Herndon for the No. 1 spot in their list of the top five in our region.” [Washingtonian, Patch]

Paul Rudd’s Pentagon Ice Cream Connection — “While searching for the quickest route to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City from my apartment, I went down a weird internet black hole and discovered that the Google Maps photo for the Baskin-Robbins at the Pentagon features Paul Rudd dressed as a Baskin-Robbins employee. What’s the deal with that?” [Washingtonian]

Tomorrow: Horticultural Event at Arlington National — “Friday Nov 1: Join ANC’s Horticulturist for a walking tour of the cemetery’s Memorial Arboretum. We’ll look at trees, shrubs and perennials that survived the wet spring and hot, dry summer of 2019.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

New Trail Bridge Work Progressing — “Bridge girder installation is occurring this week during daytime hours for the new Washington & Old Dominion Trail Bridge over Route 29 (Lee Highway) in Arlington. This work is taking place west of Lee Highway, and will not impact roadway or trail users. Work will continue the week of Oct. 28, and will require nighttime hours and an additional trail detour.” [Press Release]

Chick-fil-A to Blame for Blocked Bike Lane? — Delivery drivers picking up orders from Chick-fil-A in Crystal City may be at least partially to blame for frequent bike lane blockages along Crystal Drive. [Twitter]

Netherlands Carillon to Get ‘Grand’ Upgrade — “The National Park Service (NPS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands today celebrated the start of a project to restore the Netherlands Carillon and add three bells to elevate its status to ‘grand carillon.'” [Press Release]

E-CARE Sets New Record — This past Saturday’s E-CARE recycling event recorded record turnout, as Arlington residents showed up en masse to drop of tons of old bikes, scrap metal and household hazardous materials. [Twitter]

Yorktown Golfer Wins State Championship — “He was the last player to tee off in the round, then at the end of the 18-hole competition, Benjamin Newfield was standing No. 1 on the leaderboard. The Yorktown High School freshman carded a 4-under-par 35-33-68 on Oct. 14 to win the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 individual state golf championship by one stroke.” [InsideNova]

Ceremony for New Elementary School — “This past weekend, the APS and [Fleet Elementary] communities celebrated the opening of the new school with ribbon cutting and fall festival.” [Twitter]

Woodbridge Development Claims HQ2 Proximity — “The radius of Northern Virginia buyers citing Amazon HQ2 in their plans continues to expand, with a developer in Woodbridge now citing the tech giant as a catalyst for a large-scale shopping center redevelopment.” [Bisnow]

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