Some work to repair stream erosion will prompt a weeks-long closure of two trails in the Dominion Hills neighborhood starting next week.
The W&OD trail and Four Mile Run trail will both be impacted by the construction, aimed at reversing the impacts of erosion along Four Mile Run as it nears I-66. Construction is set to kick off on Monday (Feb. 18).
The work will force the closure of the W&OD trail for about a month, the county says, shuttering a section between N. Ohio Street and its intersection with the Custis Trail.
The section of the Four Mile Run trail in the area, between N. Madison Street and Patrick Henry Drive, will be closed for about six weeks.
“Tree impacts will be avoided to extent feasible,” the county wrote on its website. “Some trees will be pruned along the Four Mile Run trail in the vicinity of the staging/access area.”
Workers will post detour signs near the closed sections of the trails. Cyclists and pedestrians will be directed onto N. Manchester Street, then 10th Road N. to avoid the construction.
Arlington now has its sixth dockless electric scooter company: Skip.
The San Francisco-based firm was just approved to start operating its vehicles in the county under Arlington’s pilot program this week, county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow.
Skip CEO Sanjay Dastoor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his plans for the county, but Balliet says the company has been cleared to deploy 350 scooters around Arlington — that’s the minimum number of vehicles the county is allowing firms to operate in the area upon first joining the pilot, which the County Board crafted this fall as a way to test out the best methods for managing dockless devices.
The company also told county officials it was planning to offer scooters in both Arlington and D.C. this fall, and it now joins Bird, Lime, Lyft, Spin and Jump in renting out dockless vehicles around the county.
Spin just started offering its scooters around Arlington, while Jump will do so sometime in the next few weeks.
The county’s pilot is set to run through this summer. Once it wraps up, officials will have to consider the best way to craft permanent regulations for the scooters, and will likely be helped along by a new state bill making its way through the General Assembly.
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There’s an ongoing war being fought on the streets of Arlington.
The skirmishes are fought amongst us daily, for turf, for respect, for safety — and, some would say, for outright survival. The combatants are cars and bicycles, jockeying to safely share a common infrastructure.
Arlington has long prided itself as a “bike friendly” locale. Every bicycle on an Arlington street is potentially one less car on the road, thus reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Cycling also meshes nicely with Arlington’s reputation as one of the fittest communities in the nation.
Consequently, the county has taken numerous steps toward encouraging bike ridership. Recent years have seen the addition of many miles of dedicated bike lanes, including protected lanes, a move supported by a majority of Arlingtonians. Further, Arlington’s enviable network of interconnected bike paths provides a safe and efficient venue for pedal-powered transportation.
But it’s not always possible to physically separate bikes and automobiles. The problem arises from the fact that two modes of transportation, consisting of vehicles of differing size and weight, traveling at different speeds, with different degrees of visibility, often must share the same physical space.
Far too often, the two sides view each other as adversaries. One Arlington cyclist cited his top complaints against motorists as “parking/standing totally or partially in the bike lanes, and not allowing the Virginia state three-foot minimum of clearance when passing a cyclist.”
Drivers find their share of faults in cyclists, as well. “They act as if traffic laws don’t apply to them,” said one motorist. “So many times I’ve waited to safely pass a bicyclist on the road, only to have them zoom by me when I stop at a red light. They then blow through the light, and I have to wait to pass them all over again.”
Undoubtedly, there is bad behavior on both sides. And while these actors may represent only a small portion of each group, they are the ones that tend to stick out, not the majority of thoughtful, law abiding Arlingtonians.
Arlington County law enforcement officials monitor all modes of transportation for potential safety infractions, not merely automobiles.
“The police department’s overall vision for transportation safety in Arlington County focuses on the safety of all travelers. We encourage all who use our roadways to comply with the law and proceed with care and caution to ensure their safety and the safety of others who may be sharing the roads,” said county police spokeswoman Kirby Clark. “Officers observing traffic violations issue citations, based upon their discretion, to travelers, regardless of their mode of transportation.”
The stakes for cyclists are high — according to ACPD’s 2017 Annual Report, there were 80 bicycle-related crashes in Arlington County in 2017, ending a multi-year downward trend. There were 32 such crashes reported in 2016 and 46 in 2015.
It doesn’t require a degree in physics to understand that in a direct encounter between the two, bicyclists are at a far greater safety risk than are drivers. As one cyclist put it, “Any generally bad driving behavior and/or willful ignorance of traffic laws is exacerbated when you are cycling since one doesn’t have the protection of sheet metal and the bulk of a car.”
Arlington County has taken a number of steps in working toward a negotiated truce between the two sides.
The Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) advises the County Manager on issues that affect cycling in Arlington, including safety, education, community involvement, awareness and promotion, and the development, operation and maintenance of on- and off-street bicycle transportation and recreation facilities. Elsewhere, county staff and members of a citizens working group are in the final stages of developing a draft update to the Bicycle Element of Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan.
Education is a critical element of the solution, as well. The county’s PAL program — encouraging drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to be Polite, Alert and Predictable — seeks to educate all Arlingtonians about ways that they can remain safe regardless of their selected mode of transportation.
The Safe Bicycling Initiative (SBI), a cooperative venture between ACPD and BikeArlington, utilizes education and enforcement to make Arlington’s roads safer for bicycles. SBI’s targeted enforcement throughout the county resulted in numerous citations of both bicyclists and motorists, all of which served as an opportunity for police to increase awareness of the SBI and related traffic laws.
In the end, however, the solution lies out on the roads. The “us versus them” mentality adds to the problem, not the solution. It is critical to respect all users of shared spaces, and to look out for their safety needs. Both sides need to be well educated, and need to be willing and able to put that knowledge into practice.
And when somebody, somewhere, does something wrong — as they inevitably will — it’s important to realize that they are merely an individual behaving badly, and not representative of an entire group.
While such efforts will not be easy, they will make Arlington’s roads safer, and less stressful, for all.
Photo courtesy Sal Ferro
Two more companies are planning to bring their dockless scooters and e-bikes to Arlington in the coming days.
Ariella Steinhorn, a Spin spokeswoman, told ARLnow that the company’s scooters will be available for Arlingtonians to rent starting Friday (Feb. 8).
Jump has told local officials that they will follow suit “within the next few weeks,” according to county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.
The companies will become the fourth and fifth firms to offer dockless vehicles in the county when they arrive, joining Bird, Lime and Lyft. All of the companies are participating in a pilot program set up by the County Board last fall, allowing firms to deploy hundreds of the devices around Arlington through the end of the tentative test period this summer.
The county generally hasn’t recorded too many problems with the suddenly ubiquitous scooters thus far, outside of some scattered accidents and concerns about younger riders using the devices when they shouldn’t be.
State lawmakers are also currently hard at work crafting legislation to allow localities to set additional regulations for the vehicles once similar pilot programs end.
New legislation working its way through the General Assembly could set new state standards around dockless scooters and e-bikes, giving localities like Arlington full authority to ban the vehicles on sidewalks and regulate where they’re parked.
A bill from Del. Todd Pillion (R-4th District) unanimously cleared the House of Delegates Monday (Feb. 4), setting the stage for state lawmakers to pass their first regulations governing the devices since they began popping up in Arlington and other urban communities around the state last summer.
The legislation shouldn’t change much about the county’s current dockless vehicle pilot program, which the County Board created last fall to set new standards guiding the use of the suddenly ubiquitous scooters. But the bill would codify into state law many of the regulations the county has already created as part of the program.
Perhaps most notably, the legislation would allow people to ride scooters and e-bikes on sidewalks, unless a local ordinance specifically bans the practice. The county has barred scooters from both sidewalks and trails as part of the pilot, and this bill would allow Arlington to take the next step and pass its own law doing so once the program wraps up.
“Under this, we can have the ability to adopt an ordinance that takes care of all of our specific issues,” said Pat Carroll, the county’s main lobbyist in Richmond, during a Jan. 29 House committee hearing on the bill.
The legislation also bars scooter and e-bike riders from parking the vehicles “in a manner that impedes the normal movement of pedestrian or other traffic or 456 where such parking is prohibited by official traffic control devices,” another key headache for county officials. Arlington staff have set up some “scooter corrals” around Metro stations to encourage the orderly parking of the devices, but otherwise don’t have the ability to enforce where the vehicles are parked beyond bringing complaints to each company individually.
The legislation also caps all scooters at a top speed of 20 miles per hour — Arlington currently mandates a speed cap of 10 miles per hour, which initially irked some owners of the vehicles who’d hoped to use a 15-miles-per-hour cap instead.
Finally, the bill gives other localities until Jan. 1, 2020 to set up their own pilot programs for the dockless devices — once that date passes, companies will be able to deploy the scooters and bikes without abiding by any sort of pilot, much as Bird did when it dropped its scooters in Arlington back in June.
In general, the scooter companies seemed broadly pleased with the legislation. Lobbyists for several dockless vehicle companies spoke in support of it at the Jan. 29 committee hearing, and the firms were certainly well represented in Richmond — state records show that Bird has hired five lobbyists on its behalf, while Lime has three, Lyft has two and Uber (which owns Jump scooters) has six.
“We know for a lot of folks it’s a complicated issue around a new and emerging technology and we look forward to continuing to work with all legislators and stakeholders,” said Ryan O’Toole, a lobbyist representing Lime.
The legislation now heads to the state Senate, where lawmakers have until the end of session on Feb. 23 to take action on the bill.
Should it clear that hurdle and head to the governor’s desk, it’s anyone’s guess who will be waiting to sign it — Gov. Ralph Northam is still facing an overwhelming chorus of voices calling on him to resign over revelations that a racist photo appeared on his medical school yearbook page, while new allegations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax complicate any designs he might have on the governorship.
Longtime Election Director Retiring — “Linda Lindberg, who has served for 16 years as elections chief in Arlington, on Feb. 2 formally announced she would not seek re-appointment and would retire over the summer. The move had been expected, and Lindberg’s service drew praise from members of the Arlington Electoral Board.” [InsideNova]
Northam Signs HQ2 Bill — “Amid fallout over a racist photo, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation which would carry out the state’s promise to Amazon for up to $750 million in incentives if it creates almost 38,000 jobs at its new Arlington County headquarters.” [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]
Board Wants Project Labor Agreement for HQ2 — “[Arlington County Board member Katie] Cristol says that Northern Virginia is working on protecting labor during Amazon’s forthcoming development of Crystal City through what’s called a project labor agreement, which is a legal document that establishes the terms and conditions for employment on a construction project before it solicits bids.” [DCist]
Cycling Bill Advances in State Senate — A bill that would “classify cyclists as vulnerable road users deserving special protection under the law” has passed the Virginia State Senate. [Twitter, Virginia LIS]
Road Closures for 5K Race — “The annual Love the Run You’re With 5K will take place in the area of Pentagon City on Sunday, February 10, 2019. The Arlington County Police Department will implement [a number of] road closures to accommodate the race.” [Arlington County]
DC Bike Ride is back on May 18 and we promise you don’t want to miss it!
The DC Bike Ride is the region’s only car-free, closed-road, recreational bike ride event. It’s the only time of the year you’ll be able to cruise through the streets of DC completely car-free and at your own pace while enjoying music, food and fun along the way.
Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons to register for the DC Bike Ride:
- You’ll see some of DC’s most iconic buildings from an entirely new perspective and completely car-free.
- One-up your Instagram followers and snap epic photos with the DC skyline as a backdrop.
- It’s not a race. Enjoy the scenery and course at your own speed. All riding abilities are welcome and you don’t need to own a bike to join the fun — we’ve got you and your whole squad covered with plenty of bike rentals available.
- Enjoy a perfect spring day outdoors with your friends and family.
- After the ride, dance to some live music, munch on some amazing food from your favorite food trucks and enjoy free giveaways and fun at the Finish Festival.
Register now before the price increases on March 1.
Kids ages 3 to 7 are ALWAYS FREE and youth ages 8 to 17 are ALWAYS 50% OFF. Join us on Saturday May 18 and let the fun times roll!
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Anyone planning on hitting the Four Mile Run bike trail should watch out for a detour near the county’s Water Pollution Control Plant these next few days.
The county announced a “limited, partial detour” on the trail starting today (Wednesday) as it runs past 3304 S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood along the county’s border with Alexandria.
A tweet from the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the work should last for a “few weeks,” and that it stems from construction at the sewage plant. A subsequent tweet described the primary disruption for trail users to be “a 200-yard one-lane merge.”
The County Board approved a series of repairs at the plant in 2017, with work planned on some aging water tanks at the treatment facility.
Anyone biking or running on the trail should follow posted detours.
Update 1/30: A 200-yard one-lane merge is established on Four Mile Run trail near water plant Gate 12A (3330 S Glebe Rd). Look for signs and cones. Contractor may have to create temporary detour only for half a day next week. Stay tuned. @ARLnowDOTcom @JuddLumberjack
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 30, 2019
Photo via Google Maps
Wind Chill Advisory in Effect — A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect this morning due to a combination of gusty winds and bitterly cold temperatures. [Weather.gov]
MLK Day of Service — As of Friday, more than 850 people were signed up to volunteer for Arlington County’s MLK Day of Service today.
Rosslyn Building Sold — “Rosslyn’s Oakwood Arlington extended-stay apartments has changed hands for $70 million. Mapletree Investments, a Singapore real estate investment firm, has acquired the 184-unit property at 1550 Clarendon Blvd. from AvalonBay Communities Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Nonprofit Gets TV Donation — “Patricia Funegra founded La Cocina VA in Arlington as a way to create change through feeding, educating and empowering the community… FOX 5 and Easterns Automotive Group teamed up to help Funegra… with a $1,000 donation and all her students received new cast-ironed pots, recipe books and $50 gift cards.” [Fox 5]
Local Nonprofit Helping Puerto Rico — Wheels to Africa, which was founded by a 10-year-old Arlington boy in 2005 to send used bikes to Africa, is now sending used bikes to Puerto Rico to help residents still recovering from Hurricane Maria. The nonprofit’s founder has since gone to graduate from college and is now working in Arlington. [Washington Post]
County: Get a Flu Shot — “Flu season is officially underway. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu activity is ‘elevated’ as flu viruses circulate nationwide. Arlington healthcare officials are urging residents to take precautions and get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Kitten Lounge Coming to Georgetown — “What’s being called the first-in-America kitten-only place to rest, relax and interact with kittens between the ages of three-to-six months will open in early March, at 3109 M(eow) Street NW.” [WTOP]
Reduced Publishing Schedule Today — Due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday, ARLnow will be publishing on a limited schedule today. We’ll return with a full slate of local coverage tomorrow.
Photo courtesy Tom Mockler
WMATA announced this week that Metro riders will be able to bring their bikes with them on trains regardless of the time.
The new policy “ends a longstanding restriction that prohibited bicycles during rush hours.” On social media, some celebrated the decision as a win for carless commuters, while others lamented the idea of having to compete for space with bulky bicycles on crowded Metro trains.
More from a WMATA press release:
The policy change, which takes effect Monday, is expected to make Metrorail a more attractive travel option for reverse commuters (i.e. customers traveling outbound in the morning and inbound in the evening) who want to take their bike to travel between the rail station and their workplace.
Metro reviewed its policy and determined that it could respond to requests from the bicycling community by ending the rush-hour bike restriction without significant negative effects. The review took into account that the majority of rush-hour trains are 8 cars in length (the longest possible), and that new 7000-series trains provide more open space.
“We received requests from Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and others in the bicycle community asking us to take a fresh look at our policy,” said Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader. “We believe this change supports ridership growth by Metro and a commuting option for those who want to have a bike with them.”
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association welcomed today’s announcement. “Bicycling extends the reach of Metrorail for customers at the beginning and end of their trip. Members of the community have long wanted the option to bring a bicycle along with them on their rush hour trips, especially reverse commuters,” said Greg Billing, WABA Executive Director. “I have to say that we’re pleasantly surprised with how flexible and accommodating Metro has been in responding quickly to this request. We are grateful to leadership at Metro for this policy change to permit bicycles during all hours of Metrorail operations.”
When Metrorail first opened, bikes were not allowed in the system at all. Since then, Metro has incrementally loosened restrictions without significant problems. Bikes were first allowed in 1982, with a paid permit on weekends and holidays only. The days and hours when bikes were allowed gradually expanded over time. Permits were eliminated in 1998, and the current policy was established in 2001, allowing bikes at all hours except weekdays from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.
What do you think about the policy change?
Transportation planners are sketching out a vision to build out a fully connected regional bike trail network by 2045, linking a “Bike Beltway” around D.C. to the rest of the suburbs surrounding the capital.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Board voted late last month to endorse a vision for a “National Capital Regional Trail Network,” expanding its long-range plans for cycling infrastructure throughout the region. Though the actual funding and construction of the trails involved remains up to the individual localities, the map represents a potential path forward for the D.C. area’s elected officials to follow in the coming years.
The newly adopted trail network includes the 842 miles of bike paths identified by the Capital Trails Coalition, a group of both local government transportation agencies and a host of advocacy organizations, as ones that regional leaders should pursue to make cycling around the area a bit easier.
The group has been pushing the idea of a more interconnected region for years now, particularly the “Bike Beltway” circling the city. Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette was a key backer of the concept, envisioning a loop of trails from the county’s border with D.C. down to Alexandria, then running around the city into its Maryland suburbs.
But with that trail nearly finished, this latest move envisions connecting that “Beltway” with trails in more far-flung jurisdictions, like Prince William and Loudoun counties.
“The Capital Trails Coalition is pleased to see the coalition’s two years of research and mapping make its way into this important regional transportation plan,” Coalition Chair Jack Koczela wrote in a statement.
The National Park Service has embraced the plan as well, and regional planners hope this latest move can help all the jurisdictions involved in crafting the trail network secure funding to make it a reality.
“There has been great interest among the region’s jurisdictions, agencies, and advocacy groups to build on the National Capital Trail, as endorsed by the TPB and adopted by the NPS,” the Transportation Planning Board’s staff wrote in a blog post.
Arlington officials are currently working on their own update of the county’s guiding documents for future cycling infrastructure improvements, set to wrap up in the coming months. The county’s budget squeeze, however, will make it a challenge for the Board to find finding for many bike projects, at least in the near term.
Photo courtesy of the Capital Trails Coalition
Metro will now start allowing riders to bring bicycles on trains all day long, ending the rail service’s long-standing prohibition on bikes during rush hour.
WMATA announced today (Wednesday) that it will no longer prohibit cyclists from using its trains from 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. each weekday. The change will officially go into effect on Monday (Jan. 7).
Metro said in a news release that it was making the change in a bid to boost ridership, an increasingly challenging feat for the transit service these days, particularly for people hoping to commute via a combination of Metro and local bike trails.
“We believe this change supports ridership growth by Metro a commuting option for those who want to have a bike with them,” Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader wrote in a statement.
Officials added that they expect they’ll be able to make the change “without significant negative effects” on conditions for rush-hour riders. That’s because many trains at rush hour are eight cars long, the longest offering in the Metro fleet, and because the “new 7000-series trains provide more open space.”
Local cycling advocates have long sought such a change, dating back to when Metro first instituted the current rush-hour bike ban in 2001. WMATA initially banned all bikes on its trains, before instituting a permit system in 1982. Those were eliminated in 1998.
“Bicycling extends the reach of Metrorail for customers at the beginning and end of their trip. Members of the community have long wanted the option to bring a bicycle along with them on their rush hour trips, especially reverse commuters,” Greg Billing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, wrote in a statement. “I have to say that we’re pleasantly surprised with how flexible and accommodating Metro has been in responding quickly to this request.”
Of course, early reaction to the policy change has been anything but unanimously positive, over fears that the move will exacerbate crowded conditions on trains for commuters.
Because the commuters who stand in the doorway wasn’t enough of an impediment 😂😭😭
— Juanita Chen (@ChenChatter) January 2, 2019
I bike, and this is a bad idea. The trains are waaaaay too crowded for this to work. Also, bikes can really only fit in the open spaces by the doors, which coincidentally are really the only spaces customers in wheel chairs can maneuver. https://t.co/obvHSSTTPN
— Victoria Chamberlin (@VOBOE) January 2, 2019
Metro added in the release that officials plan to “monitor implementation of the new policy to determine whether any modifications are necessary,” and it could still ban bikes during “major events drawing high ridership” like Independence Day or Inauguration Day.
WMATA estimates that just .8 percent of its customers arrived at stations by bike as of 2016, and its governing Board of Directors is aiming to increase that figure to 2.1 percent by 2020.
Lime, which currently operates rental electric scooters in Arlington, is expanding its local service to include powered bicycles.
The company, which says it’s the “largest shared bike and scooter provider in the U.S.,” announced today that it’s bringing e-bike service to Arlington and northern Bethesda, Md.
“To make clear its commitment to each county, Lime is deploying 150 new electric bikes to Arlington County this week on top of 350 scooters that were already in operation locally,” the company said in a press release, below. “Lime is the only electric bike provider in both counties and these additions help ensure riders in both counties can ride safely and efficiently and find dependable transportation options to reach their destinations.”
Arlington County prohibits the use of e-bikes on local trails, a rule that Priceline pitchman and Star Trek star William Shatner called “barbaric” in a Twitter exchange with Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services.
More from Lime:
Lime, the largest shared bike and scooter provider in the U.S. plans, announced that it is expanding service by adding electric bikes this week to its fleets in Arlington County, VA and in North Bethesda, MD.
“We could not be more excited for the opportunity to expand our electric bike presence in Arlington and Montgomery Counties to provide riders in both counties with more accessible, affordable mobility options. Lime has relished integrating ourselves into both counties and the region and working with county, city, state and community leadership to best fill each county’s unique transportation needs,” said Sean Arroyo, General Manager for Lime.
To make clear its commitment to each county, Lime is deploying 150 new electric bikes to Arlington County this week on top of 350 scooters that were already in operation locally. Similarly, Lime is deploying 175 new additional electric bikes in North Bethesda, MD today on top of the 75 existing e-bikes already in the county in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD. Lime is the only electric bike provider in both counties and these additions help ensure riders in both counties can ride safely and efficiently and find dependable transportation options to reach their destinations.
As part of its effort to make bikes and scooters available to underserved communities, Lime also offers Lime Access, an affordability program, to improve transportation access for all Lime Access riders can unlock any Lime product without a smartphone or purchase Lime credit with cash in partnership with PayNearMe, and receive a 50 percent discount on every ride.
Lime is also investing more than $3 million to help empower people to exhibit safe and responsible riding behaviors as part of its “Respect the Ride” campaign. The campaign includes a community pledge and helmet distribution, product enhancement, safety brand ambassador program, ad campaign, and dedicated Trust, Education, and Safety team. Lime has already given away more than 50,000 free helmets, and over the next six months, Lime will be distributing a total of over 250,000 free helmets to riders across the globe.
Additionally, Lime is continuing to develop features that promote safe riding and encourage riders to use safe and responsible riding behavior. In-app, Lime added safety tutorials and ID scanning in select cities.
Lime also launched a “Lime Green” initiative to ensure all scooter and e-bike rides globally will be carbon neutral. As part of Lime Green, the company will purchase renewable energy credits from both new and existing projects for the electricity used to charge its fleet of bikes and electric scooters. The company will also buy carbon offsets to account for the local operations and management of its fleet.
Arlington transportation planners are weighing major revisions to the guiding document for the future of the county’s bike infrastructure, sketching out a wish list of new trails and bike lanes they want to see over the coming years.
County officials have recently begun circulating a draft version of an updated “bicycle element” to Arlington’s “Master Transportation Plan.” The document was last updated a decade ago, and a working group has spent more than a year crafting potential changes for the plan.
In all, it contains 26 new pieces of cycling infrastructure from the last time the plan was revised, including a bevy of new trail segments, additional on-street lanes and trail renovations. The county is now soliciting public feedback on the draft in the form of a community survey, with additional engagement efforts to come.
But the document also includes some broad goals for county officials to pursue to meet the needs of cyclists over the coming decades, with a special focus on how Arlington can make people feel safer while riding their bikes on local streets.
“Many residents have identified that they do not have suitable bicycle facilities within their neighborhoods or ones that connect to the local destinations that they want to travel to,” the draft document reads. “Other bicyclists do not feel comfortable riding with or amongst motor vehicle traffic and they feel that some on-street bikeways do not provide sufficient separation from motor vehicles. While the County has developed many on-street bikeways in recent years, their distribution and connectedness across the Arlington is currently uneven.”
To that end, the updated plan calls for plenty of infrastructure improvements to meet that goal. The county’s budget squeeze, however, will make it a challenge for the County Board to find finding for many of these projects, at least in the near term.
But the document does identify several improvements that have already been funded in the county’s long-term construction plans, including three additions from the plan’s last update. Those include:
McKinley Road Buffered Bicycle Lanes – Revise the roadway markings on McKinley Road between the Custis Trail and Wilson Boulevard to include buffered bicycle lanes. Undertake the roadway marking along with construction of crossing enhancement to provide for improved access to McKinley Elementary School and the Custis Trail.
S. Clark Street Cycle Track – Construct an off-street cycle track that connects the planned Army Navy Drive protected bicycle lane at 12th Street South to 18th Street S. and the Crystal City Metrorail station.
Shirlington Road Bridge – Reconstruct the Shirlington Road bridge, and adjacent sidewalks, to provide an enhanced, wide bicycle and pedestrian path along the west side of the roadway that links the W&OD and Four Mile Run trails.
As for the rest, some the new planned changes only impact small sections of trails or roadways, requiring only small funding commitments. Others are substantially more ambitious.
Among the bigger asks are requests for the renovation of the entirety of the W&OD Trail as it runs through Arlington, and the portion of the Four Mile Run Trail south of W. Glebe Road, totaling about 5.5 miles in all.
“Improvements may include: trail widening, minor realignments, new pavement markings, wayfinding signage and consideration of the addition of trail lighting,” the document reads.
When it comes to new and improved trails, other planned projects include upgrades for the entirety of the Bluemont Junction Trail and and the construction of a new, half-mile long bike and pedestrian trail connecting the site of the former Northern Virginia Community Hospital in Glencarlyn to the nearby Forest Hills neighborhood.
Some of the plan’s more substantial on-street projects include the construction of bike lanes and other improvements along “the entirety of S. George Mason Drive,” stretching about 2.1 miles in all. The document also envisions new bike lanes along N. Highland and N. Herndon streets, between Key Boulevard and 7th Street N., to allow for easier access to the Clarendon Metro station.
Additionally, the document recommends the creation of some new “bike boulevards,” or coordinated infrastructure improvements to give cyclists an alternative to bypass busy roads for quieter side streets.
The county’s previously constructed some off Columbia Pike, and the plan envisions one along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor (on Key Boulevard, N. Jackson Street and 13th Street N. between N. Rhodes and N. Quincy streets) and another connecting Ashton Heights and Lyon Park (on 5th, 6th, 7th and N. Fillmore streets to connect Henderson Road to Pershing Drive as it meets Washington Blvd).
The county is planning an open house to collect in-person feedback on the new bicycle element on Jan. 14 at Phoenix Bikes (909 S. Dinwiddie Street), set to run from 6-7:30 p.m.
Photo via Arlington County
Transportation officials are proposing a host of safety improvements for Memorial Circle, a confusing confluence of roads connecting Arlington National Cemetery to the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
The circle has long been the site of all manner of dangerous crashes, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians looking to access the nearby Mt. Vernon Trail or cross into D.C. But the National Park Service has drawn up a series of changes for the roads in the area designed to address the issue, including traffic pattern changes to transform the circle into something more like a traditional roundabout.
“The project area is at a major convergence of regional roadways and modes that interact through a complex series of roadway merges (on-ramps), weaves, diverges (off-ramps), and intersections, resulting in traffic congestion and crashes,” NPS planners wrote in a November environmental assessment. “The proposed action would change the way area users access and circulate through the area by car, bicycle, or foot.”
Officials estimate that the area saw approximately 600 crashes between 2006 and 2012. Lawmakers previously secured some safety improvements for the G.W. Parkway and the circle to try to address the issue. The new NPS proposal would address not only the circle itself, but also the roads approaching the area from both the north and south: S. Arlington Blvd and Washington Blvd.
Perhaps the most substantial change park officials are proposing would be cutting back on one lane of traffic in the circle, in order to “allow the circle to function more like a modern roundabout,” the NPS wrote. That means that drivers in the circle would have the right of way, and anyone entering the circle would need to yield to them.
The NPS also plans to split up an island on the east side of the circle, near where it meets the Memorial Bridge, allowing two westbound lanes coming from the bridge to “bypass the circle and head north onto S. Arlington Boulevard” and one lane of traffic to proceed and enter the circle.
For roads north of the circle, officials are proposing some improved signage at the various intersections, including “fluorescent yellow advance pedestrian crossing warning signs” at some and “rapid flashing beacon” signs at others.
But they’re also envisioning more dramatic improvements, like reducing Washington Blvd down to one lane, and removing both the “existing southern exit ramp connecting S. Arlington Blvd and S. Washington Blvd” and “the existing far left exit lane of S. Arlington Blvd.”
As S. Arlington Blvd exits the circle, the NPS also envisions reducing the road from three lanes down to two leading up to the crosswalk. The existing far left lane leading onto a ramp to S. Washington Blvd is slated to be removed, as is the exit ramp itself.
The NPS is planning similar pedestrian sign improvements for intersections south of the circle, as well as other lane reductions.
One major change would be the construction of a new concrete island where Washington Blvd enters the circle to its south, allowing two lanes of the road to bypass the circle and reach the Memorial Bridge, and one lane to enter the circle. That would require a slightly widening of the road in the area, the NPS wrote.
The plans also call for Washington Blvd to be reduced from four lanes to three south of the circle “in order to simplify merging patterns,” while the G.W. Parkway would be widened “to add an acceleration lane allowing traffic from Arlington Blvd to enter the parkway in its own dedicated lane before merging onto the two-lane parkway.”
Additionally, the NPS envisions relocating two bike and pedestrians crossings south of the circle. One, located as a trail crossing Washington Blvd, “would be relocated closer to the Circle, to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to cross where vehicle speeds are slower and where drivers are anticipating conflicts.” The other, designed to help people cross the parkway to the southeast of the circle, would be moved slightly further north of the parkway.
The NPS traffic analysis of these proposed changes suggest they’d generate “an overall improvement” in congestion on the roads, in addition to substantial safety upgrades.
People in the bicycling community are pretty skeptical of the latter assertion, however.
Surprise! @NPSGWMP has proposed a few half-assed safety improvements to Memorial Circle. Read about 'em here and decide if you think they'll keep you safe in the crosswalk: #bikedc #bikearlington https://t.co/MZAdUCONY4
— Chris Slatt (@alongthepike) November 29, 2018
Thought 2 – If this were implemented tomorrow, I'd still insist that nobody walk or bike anywhere near it because the crossings aren't safe
— Garrett Hennigan (@gwhennigan) November 29, 2018
The NPS is accepting comments on the plans through Dec. 29.