Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup 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.

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) What do you get when you take a patent lawyer with a background in mechanical engineering and you add a passion for cycling?

It turns out you get AirLock, the world’s first all-in-one bike pump and lock brainstormed by Arlington local Joe Edell.

Together with his sister, Joe founded the startup Edellocks in March with the goal of eliminating the hassle of carrying a separate air pump along with a bike lock.

“It’s a patented idea I came up with in 2015, and we’re confident that our current version is that best we’re gonna get,” said Edell, who manufactured the design utilizing 3D-printing technology.

It took Edell 20-plus prototypes to get the design right, resulting in an ultra-lightweight product that weighs a little over a pound. The final product will be manufactured in Taiwan, while Edell and his sister will work on marketing, packaging, and shipping from a home in Pentagon City.

Customers have the option of selecting an AirLock with either of the common Schrader or Presta air valves.

It took a bit of trial and error to find the right customer base for the AirLock, because uber-passionate cyclists often have high-end bikes that require specialty pump valves. However, Edell hopes the product will end up in stores like REI and local bike shops.

“A lot of people who would be interested in this we would call ‘casual cyclists,’ so we need to work hard to make sure the price and the product is right,” said Edell.

Currently, the product is in its Kickstarter stage, with less than two weeks to go. As of today (Friday), AirLock has earned $7,791 with a goal of $20,000.

Those interested can either pledge any minimum to support the startup, or $58 or more, which gets you the finished product.

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(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A portion of the Custis Trail in Arlington will be soon detoured for the next year as crews continue to work on the widening of Interstate 66.

Starting Monday, September 16, trail riders and walkers will not be able to follow the Custis under I-66 where the trail now passes near Bon Air Park until fall 2020, per the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Instead, the department will detour people over the highway via an existing pedestrian bridge about 750 feet from the underpass.

“Extensive work will occur on the I-66 bridge that runs above the trail, which requires the underpass to be closed for safety,” VDOT officials wrote in a statement yesterday (Wednesday.) “As part of the construction, the Custis Trail alignment will be modified to improve safety for trail users.”

The pedestrian bridge travelers will be re-routed to is paved and connects the Custis Trail to Fairfax Drive near Kensington Street.

The trail closure itself was previously expected to start this past May.

“Construction schedules can be fluid with design built projects, but overall we are still on track and schedule,” VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Holland told ARLnow today (Thursday.)

The $85.7 million highway widening project also closed a section of the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway. That trail section will remain closed until next fall as crews build a new bridge over Lee Highway.

Holland said while construction crews work on widening the I-66 overpass near Bon Air Park, crews will also add a rotary to the south side of the Custis passage underneath. The new roundabout is designed to eliminate the sharp right turn into the tunnel that currently causes conflicts between those entering versus exiting the passageway. She added that current plans call for no trees to be cut down in the park.

As part of the I-66 project, officials have pledged to make several improvements to county’s trails, including new park benches, bike shelters, fencing, and trail signage.

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(Updated at 2 p.m.) Police and firefighters are on scene of a cyclist struck by a driver in the Pentagon City area.

The incident happened around 1 p.m. at the intersection of 15th Street S. and S. Fern Street, across from the Costco parking lot.

The cyclist could be seen lying on the sidewalk next to the bike, while a passerby stood nearby and called for help. A Jeep could also be seen nearby, but it is unclear if that was the striking vehicle.

Initial reports suggest that the victim’s injuries are non-life threatening. Fern Street and a lane of 15th Street were temporarily closed at the scene.

A local bicycling advocacy group has called for a protected bike lane along 15th Street S.

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Cyclists can now ride e-bikes around national parks, including the Mt. Vernon Trail along the GW Parkway, thanks to a recent policy change from the National Park Service.

“We think this is a very positive development, and we are hopeful that this serves as a push for Arlington’s parks department to allow e-bikes everywhere,” said Henry Dunbar, director of active transportation for Bike Arlington.

According to the NPS e-bike policy, bike speeds of up to 28 mph will be allowed in all national parks. However, similar to traditional bicycles, e-bikes will not be permitted in designated wilderness areas.

“They make bicycle travel easier and more efficient, and they provide an option for people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience, especially at high altitudes or in hilly or strenuous terrain,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith in a statement from NPS.

The scenic trail is now the second bike trail in Arlington where people can ride the motor-assisted bicycle, after the W&OD Trail go-ahead from NOVA Parks in March.

“The only downside would be managing trail safety and congestion, which we already have issues with,” Dunbar said.

Recently officials have discussed plans to widen the W&OD Trail to ease bike-pedestrian conflicts, along with improving lighting, crossings, and signage.

The news pleased actor William Shatner, of Star Trek fame, who has since become an e-bike enthusiast (and the face of Pedego Electric Bikes, albeit not available in Arlington). Shatner butted heads with Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services in November for its “barbaric” e-bike ban.

“A regular bicyclist can easily travel 25mph!” Shatner tweeted Tuesday. “So if they allow bikes what would be the additional impact of an e-bike?”

 

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The school year for Arlington Public Schools starts up again on Tuesday (Sept. 3), and there are a variety of traffic changes around the county for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to be aware of.

There are several new traffic patterns around new and newly-repurposed schools. At Dorothy Hamm Middle School in Cherrydale, there are new traffic signals and signs, crosswalks and crossing guards near the school at 4100 Vacation Lane. At The Heights Building on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, students will be arriving at buses on 18th Street N., which will be closed to the public The Montessori Public School of Arlington on S. Highland Street is now a countywide school, meaning more buses will be at the school.

Drew Elementary School and the new Dorothy Hamm Middle School are both neighborhood schools now, meaning pedestrians and cyclists to the school are more likely.

According to the press release, drivers across the county should remember to:

  • Obey speed limits which may change during school zone times.
  • Avoid distracted driving and keep your attention on the road.
  • Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school.
  • Don’t pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers. Violations could result in a fine of $250.
  • On a two-lane road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
  • On a multi-lane paved road, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
  • On a divided highway, vehicles behind the bust must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction may proceed with caution.
  • Have all vehicle occupants wear their seatbelts.
  • Pick-up and drop-off students in designated kiss and ride locations.

Pedestrians are reminded to only cross the street at the crosswalk and follow the instructions of crossing guards.

Bicyclists ages 14 and under are required to wear helmets, while helmets are recommended for everyone. Cyclists should keep to the right and ride with traffic, then to lock up the bicycle when not in use.

File photo

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The widened stretch of the Custis Trail through Rosslyn finally opened to pedestrian and cyclist traffic late yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon.

The new improvements widen the Custis Trail along westbound Lee Highway from N. Lynn and N. Oak streets, a popular stretch of the trail that connects the Metro corridor to the Key Bridge and the Mount Vernon Trail.

After months of passing each other in the narrow confines of the slimmed-down path along Lee Highway, cyclists and pedestrians both immediately took to the new trail. The former travel lane has now been blocked off with orange barriers.

Even with the widening wrapped up, the project website said work will still continue on installing permanent signs along the trail, but with a minimal impact on trail traffic.

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Advocates want Amazon to help build a protected bike lane in Pentagon City as part of the development of its second headquarters.

Advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County wants Amazon pay for the new protected bike lane in exchange for added density for the two office towers the company is planning for the Metropolitan Park site along S. Eads Street. The group is asking the county to consider the request as part of the site plan process for this first phase of HQ2.

“The thought is that we expect major development to mitigate its impacts to the extent possible,” said the organization’s founder and Arlington Transportation Commission chair Chris Slatt.

“They are going to be doing construction there anyway, and doing additional construction is much cheaper than mobilizing a contractor from scratch,” he said. “As long as they are pouring concrete and moving dirt and making changes to the streetscape anyway, we think part of it should be upgrading that bike lane to a protected bike lane.”

Currently, the stretch of 15th Street S. bordering the future headquarters features an unprotected bike lane, meaning there are no buffers between vehicles and bikes except the line of paint demarking the lane. Slatt said this is especially dangerous on 15th Street considering Virginia Department of Transportation estimates that an average of 16,000 cars drive along the street every weekday.

Sustainable Mobility is also calling for upgrades to the existing protected bike lane on S. Eads Street, and for the county to install floating bus stop “islands” on 15th Street to prevent buses from pulling into the bike lane to pick up riders.

“What we mean by protected is something that will slow down or stop a car… and eliminate bus-bike conflict,” said Slatt.

Last month, the Arlington County Board approved a street safety resolution to end bicycle and pedestrian deaths — although some criticized the measure for lacking a specific plan.

Eric Balliet, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Services, declined to comment on the bike lane proposal, citing the ongoing review of the site plan. A spokeswoman for Amazon also declined to comment.

“Members of the community who are interested in the Met Park proposal should continue to provide comments as part of the upcoming Site Plan Review Committee meetings on Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, or submit them to Mr. Schulz,” Balliet said, referring to county planner Peter Schulz.

Amazon is expected to eventually hire some 25,000 employees for HQ2, prompting some fears of Arlington experiencing Seattle’s traffic woes. Virginia and Arlington wooed Amazon with the promise of millions in nearby transportation updates, but Slatt says a protected bike lane outside HQ2 could also encourage bike commuting, thus reducing the number of car trips and helping to ease traffic.

“It will help,” he said. “The tough thing about building a network is the impact of each little piece is often small, but without each little piece the overall [bike] network isn’t enticing.”

Earlier this year, the county called for 75 miles of bike infrastructure to be added to Arlington over the next 20 years, however only 2.5 miles of that is currently slated to become protected bike lanes.

“I think the new bike plan is very clear that our goal for every part of our bike network is that it be low stress and for all ages and abilities,” Slatt said, “and that the new bike plan is very clear that we look for an opportunity to make that happen with every new development.”

Images via Google Maps

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A new Capital Bikeshare station is slated to arrive at Reagan National Airport sometime next year, officials say.

County and airport officials say they’ve agreed on a site adjacent to a parking garage, near Terminal B, for the Bikeshare station. The plan is now awaiting final approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Officials scouted the location for its proximity to the Mt. Vernon Trail, which they hope will make connecting to the airport easier for cyclists.

“I know it’s been on the books since 2014 when I joined BikeArlington,” said Henry Dunbar, who heads the organization in charge of local Capital Bikeshare stations. “So it’s always been on the back burner, but we’re now really committed to it.”

Dunbar said Arlington is currently home to 92 Capital Bikeshare stations. The new station is part of Bike Arlington’s plan to add six more stations countywide, as well as a few dozen new bikes.

Funding for all the new stations comes from a 2014 grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Federal Lands Access Program. Dunbar says VDOT needs to approve the final equipment purchases this year, which he hopes will allow construction to begin in 2020.

“The approvals for this project’s award are being worked through this month,” said VDOT spokeswoman Jenni McCord, who added that the state agency is working with eh county to ensure that the station complies with federal standards like environmental requirements.

The project already has the greenlight from the airport itself.

“We have been pursuing the establishment of a bike facility for quite some time,” said MWAA spokesman Robert Yingling. “The only thing left to do is establish an agreement on how the site is constructed.”

The airport has several racks for people to park privately-owned bikes. But some racks are currently inaccessible due to the on-going construction replacing the dreaded 35X gate and adding a new security screening area.

It’s not clear how many people would use the future Bikeshare station. Yingling pointed out many travelers have luggage which wouldn’t fit on a bike. But Dunbar is optimistic that light-packing travelers will want take advantage of a cheap commute that avoids the area’s frequent traffic headaches.

“There are also thousands of people who go to the airport every day who work there,” he said.

Yingling added that, “for most airports it’s not practical to have a bicycle station on campus.” But he noted DCA is special: the Arlington airport is located in an urban area, with connections to nearby trails.

“As far as I know, it’s the first one for a U.S. airport,” said Dunbar of the upcoming station.

Map via Google Maps/Bike Arlington

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A “block party” style event with a transportation theme is set for later this month along Columbia Pike.

Arlington County is hosting its third annualOur Shared Street Pop-Up” on Thursday, August 22, in the parking lot at the intersection of S. Four Mile Run Drive and the Pike. The event will run from 5-7 p.m. that night, and will feature booths from transportation organizations with activities and answers to transportation questions.

“Our Shared Street is a block party where you can get to know your neighbors and local transportation options,” says the event’s website. “There are also tons of great giveaways happening and fun activities.”‘

The goal of the event is to share information about commuting by bike, rail, bus, car, or feet in the county. The county-run Arlington Transportation Partners is organizing the event along with Capital Bikeshare, BikeArlington, and WalkArlington, and Arlington’s Car-Free Diet.

What’s not yet certain is whether ride-hailing or e-scooter companies like Uber and Lyft will be present during the late August event — as they were for last year’s event. (The county’s e-scooter program was recently extended, but has seen a slight uptick in crashes and injuries.)

Tickets to the pop-up event are free, but attendees are encouraged to register in advance online.

Image via Twitter/Arlington Transportation Partners

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Morning Notes

VDOT Repaving Planned This Month — “Upcoming @VaDOTNOVA night paving into August: Glebe Road, Spout Run Parkway, Washington Boulevard, Route 1 aka Richmond Highway aka the roadway formerly known as Jefferson Davis. Dates tentative, subject to change.” [Twitter]

ACPD Still Not Meeting Staffing Goal — The Arlington County Police Department has, on net, added a few new officers over the past year. But staffing challenges remain, echoing challenges for police departments across the region: ACPD currently has 352 officers despite a staffing goal of 374 officers. [NBC 4]

Arlington Hiring Public Safety Positions — Arlington County is currently hiring school crossing guards and 911 dispatchers.

Lee Highway Apartment Complex Sold — “A 50-year-old apartment complex along Route 29 in Arlington County has traded hands for the first time in 20 years. Connecticut-based Westport Capital Partners, through the entity WM MF Horizons Property LLC, acquired the Horizons Apartments from an entity connected to Dweck Properties to in a deal that closed June 26 for $71M, Arlington County property records show.” [Bisnow]

Rosslyn-Based Firm Buys Clyde’s — “It’s official: Clyde’s Restaurant Group, a 56-year-old institution in Greater Washington’s restaurant scene, is now a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Co. Graham, which is led by members of the Graham family that formerly owned The Washington Post, did not disclose a sale price.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: More People Biking in Alexandria — “More than halfway through this summer’s Blue and Yellow Line shutdown… bicycle volume [has] almost doubled on the Metro Linear Trail, a smaller, along-rail trail which connects the King Street and Braddock Road stations.” [DCist]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Rosslyn’s Dark Star Park is growing and recently swallowed a nearby slip lane.

The park is notable for the somewhat strange concrete orbs and poles, designed to cast perfectly aligned shadows every August 1. The expansion of the park was planned as part of the Core of Rosslyn study, a project aimed at making Rosslyn’s street network more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

The first stage of the expansion is the closure of a slip lane between Fort Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street. The lane was closed last week and will now be used as park space, furnished with tables, chairs, and artwork.

According to the project website, the county government is hopeful that the community will use the new open space as a daily activity spot.

The next stage of the project will involve the expansion of Dark Star Park’s green space and sidewalks into the unutilized street space, but that expansion is still in the early design stages.

Funding for the second stage of the project is expected to be determined as part of the next Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget update.

Images via Arlington County

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