Changes to the Boundary Channel Drive interchange with Interstate 395 and a new bike trail near Long Bridge Park are on the way.
Arlington residents will have a chance to offer feedback on new designs for the Boundary Channel Drive interchange project on Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.).
The project is primarily intended to improve safety at the interchange, which is located on I-395 between Crystal City and the Pentagon, said David Kirschner, an Arlington County project manager.
“In this area, Interstate 395 is the most congested roadway in our region,” Kirschner said in an email. “The goals of this project are to improve the operations of the interchange at Boundary Channel Drive and improve safety for all road users.”
The project is also seeking to expand pedestrian and cycling access to and from Washington, D.C., Crystal City, the Pentagon and Long Bridge Park through a new bike trail.
The trail is planned to connect Humpback Bridge to Long Bridge Park but has not been designed yet, Kirschner said. The proposed trail will go from the existing Mount Vernon Trail that connects to the underpass under Humpback Bridge and would extend to Boundary Channel Drive through the interchange that already exists.
“We’re definitely always trying to be more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.
The new connection will make it easier to get to and from D.C. and the Pentagon, Kirschner said, adding that pedestrians currently have to do a lot of backtracking — via Crystal City or the LBJ Memorial Grove — to get into D.C.
As the project is still in its planning stages, the new trail has not yet been designed and which department will oversee the maintenance has not been determined. The trail’s planned path falls under multiple jurisdictions, as the National Park Service oversees the Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Park is run by Arlington County.
“The need to keep the trail clean and safe will be an ongoing concern as we move forward in the design and construction of the Boundary Channel Drive interchange,” Kirschner said in an email.
In addition to the proposed bike trail, the project will look at a complete revamp of the interchange between I-395 and Boundary Channel Drive.
“Based on our analysis so far, the current four-lane roadway is overbuilt for current traffic. The traffic analysis we are performing will determine what lanes and ramps are needed for the final interchange in the future analysis year of 2036,” Kirschner said in the email.
Changes to the access policy at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has some cyclists changing their routes and at least one abandoning bicycling to work altogether.
The new security policy, which started in February, affects cyclists who bike through base, which has been fairly common practice, especially for those along Columbia Pike and Route 50 seeking a safer route to D.C.
Previously, cyclists and other members of the public could enter the base through any of three gates just by going through a security check. Now, only the Hatfield Gate at Washington Blvd and 2nd Street N. remains accessible to non-Department of Defense visitors, and cyclists seeking a round trip route (mostly via the Wright Gate near the Iwo Jima memorial) to have to apply for a special 60-day pass.
The Automated Installation Entry (AIE) pass requires a a criminal records check and pass holders must reapply for it every 60 days in order to access the base.
Arlington County has made encouraging bicycling instead of driving a key transportation priority and has JBMHH routes listed on its bicycle maps. Given the significant inconvenience, however, some are reconsidering.
“At least one person I’ve spoken with is no longer biking into D.C. because the process of constantly renewing an AIE pass is too onerous and he feels the alternative routes are too dangerous or too long,” said Chris Slatt, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association and a cycling advocate. “With this alternative off the table for non-federal employees, the County needs to make the Pike safe for cycling ASAP.”
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is updating its website to reflect changes for cyclists, said Sharon Walker, who works in the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall public affairs department.
Application for the AIE pass must be delivered in person to the Visitor Control Center (Building 415) at the base and cannot be submitted online. Cyclists can also apply for a sponsored one-year pass, which requires a signature from someone who has a Department of Defense ID.
Lyon Park cyclist Jeff Hopp frequently bikes through the base and uses Wright Gate. When he went to turn his application for a sponsored pass in, there was a sign posted to the door saying the computer system was currently down and applications would not be processed until a new system was installed, he said.
Previously Hopp would only have to show his ID to enter through Wright Gate. Now when he bikes into D.C., he uses the recently-installed Route 50 trail, which he says is poorly marked and maintained.
“The problem with that trail is that there are no marked bike lanes on the side access road you have to ride on before/after you use that new trail… and the trail isn’t maintained at all it seems. There are small limbs, gravel, glass and overgrown vegetation on the edges,” Hopp said in an email.
His new route adds about five to 10 minutes to his total travel time, he said, adding that overall he was more confused than upset with the base access changes. Other Arlington residents say they’re displeased with the base’s new policy.
Gillian Burgess, chairman of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, said the lack of communication between the base and Arlington residents about the changes is disappointing.
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) An Arlington resident will take off on a 3,000-mile cycling race from Oceanside, Calif., to Annapolis next week.
Frank Fumich will ride more that 250 miles a day, since the Race Across America (RAAM), one of the most grueling athletic events around even for an endurance athlete like Fumich, must be completed in 12 days.
He is doing it in the hopes of raising thousands for a local man he does not know that well, but can really use his help.
Ryan Diviney, who was born in Reston, is cared for full-time by his father, Ken, in their Ashburn home. That care costs about $2 million annually, Ken Diviney said. Much of it is paid for by the family’s insurance, but there are still tens of thousands of dollars left uncovered.
Fumich, who also attended WVU, said he heard of the Diviney’s story a little over a year ago — shortly after he raised more than $75,000 to aid victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Fumich ran 78 miles in 19 hours — representing three marathons for the three spectators who were killed on April 15, 2003. He then ran the money up to Boston.
“My plan was to run to Morgantown (W.Va.) from Northern Virginia,” said Fumich. “But it was too close to another race. But I knew I wanted to do something to help. I told Ken I was going to to the RAAM. I thought he would think I am crazy.”
Said Ken Diviney: “I did [think he was crazy].”
But he is also already very grateful.
“This helps enormously,” he said. “[The money] is a substantial amount that can help us in two ways. We put away money for Ryan’s longterm comfort and care and also help us in the short term with something he needs, like a therapeutic massaging chair.”
Fumich said Ken Diviney “has not left Ryan’s side since that day in 2009.”
In November of 2009, Ryan was a 20-year-old sophomore who had earned an academic scholarship at WVU. Ken Diviney said his son was attacked by two other men (who later served jail time for the incident), suffering a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and bleeding of the brain.
Ryan had a third of skull removed in surgery to control the brain swelling and has suffered numerous complications. He has been a vegetative state since.
Ken works with Ryan, now 25, every day to keep his body and muscles moving. he also cares for his hygiene needs and feeds him via feeding tube.
“It’s relentless,” says Ken Diviney. “It never really ends. I try to keep his body in motion six to eight hours a day.”
Fumich, a father of 5-year-old twins, says being a dad has made him more empathetic. He said taking on an athletic feat like the RAAM for a worthy cause will make the miles worthwhile.
“It feels good to help someone,” he said. “When I was reintroduced to [the Diviney’s] story from a friend, I couldn’t help but be struck hard by the difference in our lives and how just a few seconds sent our destinies in completely different directions.”
“I knew I was going to do something to help Ryan and his family, and this is it. Every time I hit “the wall” and feel the urge to quit, I’m going to think of how hard Ryan has continued to fight, and how hard his dad Ken and family continue to push onward.”
The summer bike rides, featuring hundreds of cyclists who ride from the store to hilly Military Road and back with an Arlington County Police escort, will return tonight (June 2). Cyclists will meet at Mosaic Park, just behind the store, and depart at 6:30 p.m.
After originally blaming county staff and a few resident complaints for the ride’s cancellation, Freshbikes is now effusive with praise for the county and the cycling community that rallied around the rides.
“A heartfelt Thank You to the great folks at the Arlington County Special Events Committee for working with us, helping ensure the ride will be safer than ever and speeding our permit through after Freshbikes admittedly submitted paperwork late,” Freshbikes said in an email to riders. “Also, I would be remiss not to give a huge shout out to the cycling community for your passion!”
(The county said that while there have been complaints from residents about the ride, the delay in issuing the ride’s special event permit was due to Freshbikes submitting its paperwork late.)
New this year, Freshbikes has codified a code of rider responsibility for the event. The rules and regulations include “stop at all stop signs and obey traffic signals without exceptions,” “ride no more than two rides abreast,” “never, ever, ever pass the police motorcycles” and “do not swarm cars that may be on the route.”
“After this hard winter, we want to ride!” the email said. “Freshbikes really wants to eliminate as many complaints from the community at large as possible, and keep this community ride viable and supported.”
The announcement is timed to coincide with Bike to Work Day and will be made at a Bike to Work Day pit stop in D.C.
“To encourage bicycle commuting, which is growing exponentially across the region, AAA Mid-Atlantic will debut the addition of its new roadside assistance service for bicyclists,” the organization said in a media advisory Thursday.
“Starting on Bike To Work Day, the AAA bicycle service will be immediately available to nearly four million AAA Mid-Atlantic members within the club’s Mid-Atlantic footprint, which includes the entire Washington Metro Area, and it applies to all bicycles and bicycle rentals.”
The service is already being advertised on the organization’s website.
A number of other regional AAA branches across the country, including in the Pacific Northwest and New England, already offer the service.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association says there are 79 pit stops for cyclists around the region, including six in Arlington. Arlington’s pit stops will be, rain or shine, at:
- Crystal City: Crystal City Water Park, 1750 Crystal Drive, 7:00-9:00 a.m.
- Shirlington: Village at Shirlington, 4200 Campbell Ave., 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Columbia Pike: Penrose Square, 2503 Columbia Pike, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- East Falls Church: East Falls Church Metro, 2001 N. Sycamore Street, 6:30-9:30 a.m.
- Ballston: FreshBikes, 3924 Wilson Blvd, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
- Rosslyn: Rosslyn Gateway Park, Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, 6:30-9:00 a.m.
At each pit stop, there will be free food, beverages and giveaways. Those who want to be entered in raffles for a free bicycle — or be one of 14,000 people to receive a T-shirt — can do so at the official event website. If you’re one of the first 14,000 people registered, your T-shirt will be waiting at the pit stop you choose.
At the Ballston and Rosslyn locations, bike specialists will be on hand to give tuneups. Those who haven’t biked to work before are encouraged to check out BikeArlington’s route map and practice the route before the trails are mobbed with event participants. Arlington’s Car-Free Diet organization put together an intro video to commemorate the day.
The popular Tuesday Night Rides that take hundreds of cyclists from Ballston to N. Military Road during the summer will not be canceled and were only postponed because the organizer applied for the permit too late, county officials say.
The rides have been organized by FreshBikes owner Scott McAhren for eight years, growing from a few dozen people to as many as 500, and in recent years they have been accompanied by a police escort. The first ride was scheduled for this week, but it was cancelled after McAhren didn’t secure a permit.
On Tuesday, McAhren told ARLnow.com that he reached out to the county “earlier this year” when a special events staffer told him “there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again.”
Now, on FreshBikes’ website, McAhren wrote he applied for a permit April 22, less than three weeks before the first ride was scheduled. Special events permits typically take 90 days to process.
“The May 5 ride was canceled because the County got the Special Event Permit on April 22, which was too short notice to process the event with all the appropriate County departments,” he wrote on the website.
Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said county staff was surprised to read ARLnow.com’s story on Tuesday, considering their most recent conversations with McAhren.
“He said to us that he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he forgot to file the permit application,” Curtius said. “This is not about if we were thinking about killing the bike program.”
McAhren and the county are planning on holding a permit hearing on May 19, when representatives from the parks department, police, fire and rescue and other counties will weigh in on what support the event will require and how much compensation the county would need from the organizer. The county anticipates approval, with the rides starting up again next month.
“We approve virtually every permit for a special event,” Curtius said. “It has to go through the process, it goes through fire, police, water and streets. That has to all be assessed and then they issue the permit. Almost always permits get issued.
“It is true that there have been complaints about this event, there have been complaints about other events too,” she continued. “But what happens in that case is we work with the event organizer. The whole emphasis and the whole bias is toward finding a way to making these events happen, and that’s certainly true when it comes to bicycling events, because we’re a very bike-friendly community.”
Update: Tuesday Night Rides are expected to resume in June after organizer Scott McAhren admitted he submitted the special events permit less than two weeks before May 5.
(Earlier) Driver complaints have pushed Arlington County to reconsider the future of Tuesday Night Rides, the weekly mass-cycling event in Ballston Tuesday evenings during the summer, according to the ride’s organizer.
Steve McAhren, the owner of Fresh Bikes on Wilson Blvd between N. Pollard and Quincy Streets, has organized the weekly rides since May 2006. When they started, he said, there were just 15-20 cyclists participating.
By 2010, as many as 500 people would come to ride up and down their route, primarily along Military Road, and McAhren had a weekly permit with the county and paid for the expense of a police escort.
McAhren told ARLnow.com this afternoon that he reached out to the county earlier this year to make sure the permit would be renewed again, and the county staff told him the permit was unlikely to be renewed.
“[Special events staff] said there’s almost a zero percent chance we’re going to approve it every week again,” McAhren said. “In the past, they just kind of rubber-stamped it because the county was so pro-cycling.”
McAhren said he agreed to reduce the rides to once a month, but he said the county was planning to still put the permit’s renewal before the County Board, and asked him if he could move the time to the weekends to reduce traffic impacts.
“It became kind of a critical mass thing,” McAhren said. “Long story short, they got a few complaints last season and I think they got six complaints over the last month from people who remember the ride from last year. It’s the kind of stuff I can’t really believe would affect their decision.”
County staff did not immediately return requests for comment this afternoon.
McAhren sent an email to the Tuesday Night Rides group at about 1:00 p.m. and told them to contact the county and post on this website advocating for the county to approve its permit renewal.
“If we can get 1,000 people saying that they like the ride and want to keep it,” he said, “hopefully that will outweigh the handful of complaints.”
The rides have run at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday from the first Tuesday in May — which would be tonight — to about mid-September. Since they’ve grown, Fresh Bikes has continued to offer them for free and has served burritos and played music outside their shop, where the ride begins and ends.
Once the rides started to get police support — and the police were very supportive of the rides back in 2010, McAhren pointed out — they grew in popularity.
“Word got out around the Beltway and we had people come all the way from Maryland for the ride,” McAhren said.
Two cyclists were sent to the hospital during a ride last May, he said, the only major injury they’ve had since the rides began eight years ago.
Just because the ride has been officially postponed doesn’t mean Ballston drivers have no more cyclists to navigate around this evening — while the police escort and official store support will not be in place tonight, McAhren said he believes hundreds of cyclists will continue the ride on their own.
“The ride’s going to happen anyways, all that’s really going to happen is it’s not going to be sanctioned by me or a police escort,” he said. “Unless lightning strikes right at 6:30 p.m. there are going to be 200 cyclists in Ballston, and it will be even more unsafe.”
The Air Force Association Cycling Classic will take place in Clarendon and Crystal City over the weekend of June 13 and. The event will have several races, inviting cyclists of all ages and skill levels to participate in the event most appropriate for them.
The premier race of the weekend is Saturday’s Clarendon Cup, a pro/am race that will take riders up and down Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards in the heart of the neighborhood. That race is part of the National Criterium Calendar, a 13-race tour organized by USA Cycling.
During the Challenge Ride, staffs from congressional representatives will be invited to compete as teams, racing for their party. There are also races for kids, competitive amateurs and opportunities to compete as corporate teams. The Challenge Ride costs $60 to participate, with a $10 discount for active, reserve and retired military members.
Sunday afternoon, the event will conclude with the Crystal Cup, another National Criterium Calendar race, that will take riders along Jefferson-Davis Highway and Crystal Drive in Crystal City.
Plaudits for Arlington’s Walkability — Arlington is being called “America’s most walkable suburb.” The nonprofit magazine YES! writes: “The best place to experience the future of suburban living is Arlington County, Virginia… It’s got great transit, plenty of sidewalks, and values people more than cars.” [YES! Magazine]
Arlington Cyclist Riding Cross Country — Madeline Templeton, a 23-year-old lifelong Arlingtonian, is riding her bike 4,200 miles across the country to raise money for affordable housing. On her last cross-country cycling attempt, Templeton was struck by a car and suffered a serious leg injury. [InsideNova]
Hillary Skips Arlington for HQ — During the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s presidential office was in Arlington. For the upcoming 2016 campaign, Clinton’s office will be in Brooklyn, N.Y. The office building in Brooklyn Heights offers a “Brooklyn cool” vibe, according to its website. [Politico]
A cyclist was hurt this morning in Rosslyn when the backseat passenger of an Uber car opened a door in his path.
The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on N. Lynn Street, just south of Wilson Blvd. Initial reports indicate that the white BMW was stopped next to the bike lane when the Uber rider opened the rear passenger-side door just as the cyclist was about to roll by on a Capital Bikeshare bike. The cyclist slammed into the door.
Police and paramedics were called and the cyclist was treated on scene. He refused treatment to a local hospital.
The BMW’s door was damaged and would not fully close. No damage was visible to the Bikeshare bike. The cyclist was visibly shaken but did not have any outward sign of injury. No other injuries were reported.
The cyclist declined to comment to ARLnow.com, except to confirm that the car was moved closer to the curb after the accident.
Police took statements from the driver, the passenger and the cyclist. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.
The incident happened as Arlington County Police officers were conducting a pedestrian safety detail just a couple of blocks down Lynn Street.
Advocates Decry Proposed Bike Cut — An optional budget cut floated by Arlington County Manger Barbara Donnellan in her proposed FY 2015-2016 budget is attracting some push back from cyclists. Donnellan said the County Board should consider a $800,000 cut in funds for the county’s BikeArlington program if it wants to make additional cuts beyond her base budget. Bike advocates say the cut “would be a huge mistake.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Condo Fence Mowed Down — A car ran through the fence of a condominium complex next to Long Branch Elementary School Sunday evening. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]
Resident Survey to Be Mailed — Arlington County is planning to mail its fourth resident survey to 3,600 randomly selected residents. “This survey will help us find out how we’re doing across many different service areas – and also pinpoint where we need to improve,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Custis Trail Added to Beer Guide — A guide intended to show D.C. area cyclists where they can grab craft brews near local trails has added Arlington’s Custis Trail to its directory. [Bikeable Brews]
A-SPAN To Help Meet Homeless Goals — Arlington County has signed on to a pair of ambitious goals: to house all homeless veterans in the community by the end of 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016. The Arlington Street People’s Network, the nonprofit organization that will be running Arlington’s soon-to-open year-round homeless shelter, is preparing to do its part to help achieve those goals. [InsideNova]
The enforcement detail will take place during the morning rush hour and around lunchtime, at intersections in Rosslyn, Courthouse and on Columbia Pike.
Among the intersections where officers will be stationed is the so-called Intersection of Doom at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street.
In addition to issuing citations, police personnel will be handing out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and again from noon to 1:00 pm, officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas. This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015. Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.
The detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year.
Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks. In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.
Chicken Restaurant’s Name Goes National — ARLnow.com’s story about Chingon Pollo, the new chicken restaurant in Buckingham with a potentially vulgar name, has gone national. Last night it was picked up by the Jezebel sub-blog Kitchenette. While our most likely translation of the name — there are a number of potential translations — was “f-ckload of chicken,” Kitchenette translated it as “top f-cker chicken.” Meanwhile, in order to not run “a fowl” of authorities, the restaurant has officially changed its name to “Charcoal Chicken.” [Kitchenette]
New Burial Sites at ANC to Open Next Year — Arlington National Cemetery will open more than 27,000 new burial sites next year, as part of its Millennium Project expansion initiative. Local environmentalists and preservationists protested the expansion. [U.S. Army]
Crowdsourced Bike Rack Map — Arlington County is launching a free crowdsourced map of places to park one’s bicycle. RackSpotter, as it’s called, will rely on users to contribute information on the location and size of bike racks. [Bike Arlington]
Marymount to Buy Portable Planetarium — Marymount University has completed fundraising for a new portable planetarium. The planetarium, which is set up in a tent, will be brought to schools in Arlington, Fairfax and a number of other local counties. [InsideNova]
Crystal House Renovations — Roseland, the owner of the Crystal House apartments in Crystal City, says it’s embarking on a multi-phase renovation of the 828-unit complex. The renovations will spruce up the main lobby, grounds, pool, community common areas and the apartments themselves. “New state-of-the-art washers and dryers are being added to each building’s studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments,” according to a press release. “Further, full renovations to approximately half of the community’s 828 apartments will include upgraded kitchens with new appliances, upgraded fixtures and finishes in the bathrooms, and new flooring throughout.” A PR rep declined to say how much the renovations will cost.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The electric bicycle shop has moved into the former PetMAC space at 822 N. Kenmore Street, and is planning to open on Saturday, April 4, at 11:00 a.m. Store owner Alan Levine told ARLnow.com that, in the meantime, he is selling bicycles at Big Wheel Bikes around the region, including its 3119 Lee Highway location.
When Hybrid Pedals does reopen, its new location will be bigger than its old shop at 925 N. Jackson Street, and have better visibility to Wilson Blvd.
“It’s going to allow us to display bikes much, much better, and we have a great test track along N. Kenmore Street” Levine said. “We kind of made lemonade out of a lemon.”
The bikes that were destroyed were about half of Hybrid Pedals’ inventory, but Levine said insurance was able to cover the cost. The other half of the inventory was already at the Big Wheel Bikes locations so “we didn’t skip a beat,” Levine said.
“The grand opening … gives everyone a chance to see and try our exciting products,” Levine said, especially encouraging veterans and the disabled to come try out the products that can go 20 mph without pedaling, and up to 35 mph with “pedal assist.” “People must try an e-bike to appreciate the fun factor, and we are the only company where someone can try them all before making an educated and informed decision.”