Drivers in Westover and East Falls Church can expect traffic delays and detours in the coming weeks as the state and county repave and add bike lanes to Washington Blvd.
The project by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which owns and operates the street, is set to begin in the next couple of weeks with repaving between Lee Highway and N. McKinley Road.
After that repaving is complete, staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services will install green bicycle lanes, bollards and way-finding signs for bicyclists. At some points, the lanes will have a buffer as wide as two or three feet from traffic. The county and VDOT coordinated on a design plan for the new striping earlier this year.
(1/2) In the next two weeks, VDOT plans to mill and pave Washington Blvd (from Lee Hwy to N McKinley Rd) b/w 9:30a-3p (subject to change).
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 25, 2017
(2/2) Cars can't be parked on the street & traffic detours will be in place. Restriping after paving will include a redesign w/ bike lanes.
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 25, 2017
At one stage, the plan had been for continuous bike lanes along Washington Blvd. But those plans were nixed earlier this year and revised.
Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to shorter stretches. Westbound the lane will run between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets. Eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.
Staff said they anticipate between 16 and 19 parking spaces on the street will be lost out of around 150 in total. In turn, Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church (6201 Washington Blvd) is expected to increase its parking capacity to 15 spaces.
DES staff said the project has a number of benefits for those in the area:
- Enhance bicycle infrastructure where it does not currently exist
- Help stitch together the expanding Capital Bikeshare system (a new station was installed at the East Falls Church metro station in 2016 and two new stations will be installed in Westover in 2017 and 2018).
- Connect to existing bicycle lanes on Washington Boulevard between Westover and Lacy Woods Park.
- Create a nearly two-mile stretch of bicycle lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.
- Narrow unnecessarily wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.
- Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.
- Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bicycle lanes.
- Pedestrian safety improvements at key intersections with highly visible markings for crosswalks (pending VDOT approval). Center line “Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk” signs may also be installed.
During the work, DES says parking will be prohibited on Washington Blvd and detours will be in place.
Next year, staff will collect additional usage data to track cars, bicycles, pedestrians and parking.
Designs for the project to improve 12th Street S. in Crystal City are coming together, and now the public can take a look themselves.
The “Ask the Project Team” event for the Complete Street project between Clark and Eads streets is scheduled to take place on Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. at The Connection pop-up library at 2100 Crystal Drive. The designs are 30 percent complete, so this event means residents can provide feedback on any major concerns in the plans.
The project will help create dedicated bus lanes for the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway in that section of 12th Street S. — the same stretch in which a commuter bus crashed into an apartment building last week — as well as provide pedestrian improvements.
It will add two-way bicycle lanes under the Route 1 bridge, which will link a future two-way bicycle track on Army Navy Drive to a planned two-way bike lane along S. Bell Street heading toward the Crystal City Metro station. Those new bicycle facilities will then link to Long Bridge Drive.
The design will also include improved landscaping, sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and streetlights, as well as new north/south crosswalks at Army Navy Drive. It is adjacent to the 12th Street S. extension project from S. Eads Street to S. Fern Street in Pentagon City.
After the meeting, the project display boards will remain at the library for public viewing until April 15.
New, protected bike lanes are now in place on S. Eads Street in Crystal City.
Crews were painting the new markings early this afternoon (Thursday) and there is no parking for stretches between 15th and 23rd Streets today or tomorrow. The road is now down to three lanes — two through lanes and a center left-turn lane — and there are bike lanes on each side of the road.
Parking has been removed on the northbound side, and the parking lane has been moved away from the curb on the southbound side of the road, to protect cyclists from traffic. The lanes are being referred to as a pilot program by the county, and county staff will study traffic patterns once the lanes are fully implemented.
“The idea for the Eads Street plan is that ultimately we’d rebuild the road with new curb and gutter and new geometry,” Arlington’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Manager David Goodman said. “We’re testing it, certainly, to confirm that Eads Street will work okay as a protected bike lane, moving the parking out and the way it interacts with transit. Making sure that it is in fact a good idea to do that there. When funding opportunities come around, we can look at making more permanent changes.”
Goodman said the “flexi-posts” in place on the S. Hayes Street protected bike lanes should be installed this month.
The posts are helpful to motorists confused about where to park their car. Cars were reportedly ticketed earlier this week for parking in the bike lane before parking was prohibited entirely. There are no signs on the stretch of road to indicate to drivers where they are allowed to park, and one Twitter commenter said “1 painted bike per block clearly not sufficient guidance.”
From 23rd Street S. to Eads Street’s terminus at S. Glebe Road, the road has also been reduced from four lanes to three to accommodate a new bike lane, but the lane will be in the traditional place between parking and traffic, Goodman said, similar to the configuration along Wilson Blvd in Clarendon.
Two new Capital Bikeshare stations became available for public use yesterday in Arlington, and a new bicycle path shouldn’t be too far behind.
Capital Bikeshare announced on Twitter yesterday that it had installed a 15-dock station at Lee Highway and N. Cleveland Street in Lyon Village and an 11-dock station at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive at the edge of the Buckingham neighborhood. The two stations are the fourth and the fifth to have opened in Arlington this year, according to Paul DeMaio, Arlington’s program manager for Capital Bikeshare.
“This makes 72 stations in Arlington and 323 in the region,” DeMaio told ARLnow.com in an email. “Thirteen stations are in planning with another 17 stations recently funded with the start of fiscal year 2015 this past July.”
DeMaio said Capital Bikeshare is on track to have 133 stations around Arlington by 2020.
In other bicycle-related news, the shared-use path being constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of the Route 50/N. Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is projected to open next month, according to David Goodman, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.
The trail will run along the highway’s eastbound side from the intersection with N. Pershing Drive, at the Fort Myer gate, to the N. Rolfe Street offramp.
On the other side of Route 50, the shared use path has been realigned and extended under the 10th Street bridge. These paths are expected to open when the construction on the project is complete, projected to be the end of August.
Photos via @bikeshare
Next County Manager To Be Arlington Resident? — A majority of County Board members would like the next county manager to be from Arlington. “Residing in the locality would make someone aware, in a more personal way,” County Board Walter Tejada told the Sun Gazette. But, “our first priority has to be [getting] the best-quality person.” Current county manager Barbara Donnellan lives in Fairfax County. [Sun Gazette]
Hard Times To Get Exclusive Starr Hill Brew — Hard Times Cafe will soon be serving a new brew — Hard Times Craft Lager. The beer is is the result of an exclusive partnership between the restaurant and the Virginia-based brewery. Hard Times’ 17 D.C.-area locations, including its spot in Clarendon, will all offer the beer, starting around the end of the month. [Washington Business Journal]
Video Laments Union Jack’s Closing — Some enterprising local videomaker has created a YouTube video to mourn the closing of Union Jack’s in Ballston. The video is done in the style of the “Hitler Reacts To…” meme. Note that the video contains explicit subtitles and is not safe for work. [YouTube – NSFW]
Bike Lane Boxes Suggested For Arlington — A cyclist who commutes from Washington, D.C., to Arlington every day took note of a bike-friendly feature that can be found on roads in New York City: bike boxes that allow cyclists to stop closer to an intersection on red than cars. Bike boxes could work here in Arlington, writes Brendan Casey, a business development manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.”If Arlington could implement bike boxes, cyclists could get a safe and legal head start on car traffic and build up momentum before cars are on their tails,” Casey writes. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Blog Points Out Bike Lane Blockers — Frustrated with supposed inaction by Arlington County Police, a local resident has created a Tumblr site to publicly “shame” the owners of vehicles that illegally park or idle in bike lanes in Arlington. [Arlington Bike Lane Blockers]
Clarendon Farmers Market Starts Tonight — The Clarendon Farmers Market is back for the season, starting tonight. The market will run from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., in the newly renovated Clarendon Central Park, next to the Metro entrance. The market will run every Wednesday through Dec. 18 before taking a break for the winter. Another seasonal farmers market, the Crystal City Freshfarm Market, is set to start the season on Tuesday, April 30. [Clarendon Alliance, Freshfarm Markets]
District Taco to Open Third Location — District Taco, which opened its first location on Lee Highway, is getting ready to open its third location. The new District Taco restaurant, like the second location, will be located in D.C. [Prince of Petworth]
Tejada Talks Immigration Reform — County Board Chair Walter Tejada spoke to a group of pro-immigration supporters at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Clarendon Tuesday morning. Tejada told the crowth that “it is our duty” to “work and fight together for comprehensive immigration reform.” The group is planning a rally at the Capitol next week. [WJLA]
Fire Weather Watch — The region is under a Fire Weather Watch. Gusty winds and low humidity are creating ideal conditions for brush fires. [Capital Weather Gang]
The two page list shows proposed station locations, broken down by area. Among the areas that might get new Bikeshare stations are Shirlington, Arlington Cemetery and numerous neighborhoods along Columbia Pike.
Each of the 40 entries is accompanied by an aerial and a ground level photo of the location. Public comments about the proposed stations are being accepted via the online map, or by emailing [email protected]
BikeArlington’s Chris Eatough stresses that the locations listed are still preliminary, but the public feedback will help to devise the final list, which should be released sometime in the fall.
Although some residents have offered suggestions for stations in outlying areas, organizers say that doesn’t work with how the system is set up. The overall plan involves adding more docking stations in areas that already have Bikeshare, then gradually expanding outward. Because users need to dock bikes frequently, new stations wouldn’t be useful if they’re positioned far from existing stations.
“If you don’t have alternatives close by, people can get stranded, basically,” Eatough said. “We have to connect to the existing network.”
Eatough says devising the list is just part of the extensive transportation planning process that’s been ongoing since early this year. While continuously collecting public comments, there have also been numerous meetings and work sessions to come up with a longer term comprehensive plan for Bikeshare in Arlington.
“We do feel like we’ve done our due diligence and outreach, and continue to do it,” said Eatough. “For a bike sharing program, this is pretty groundbreaking stuff. Nobody has a long range plan for bike sharing in the country right now.”
The program has only been around for about two years, but much effort is spent on helping the public to consider it a legitimate mode of public transportation. In becoming more recognized and validated, the hope is to bring in additional funding sources.
Even though expansion of the program has been explosive and the stations are well used, the newness of Capital Bikeshare means there’s still some confusion about how it works. For example, Eatough says some people initially think it might be a good idea to rent a bike for a few hours to get some exercise or see the sights. However, the program is actually intended to be a point-to-point option for short trips and commuting. Regular users quickly learn that keeping trips to 30 minutes or less is the most cost-effective way to do bike sharing, based on the current pricing system.
“If you want exercise or to go on the trails, those kind of longer trips are really not the purpose of Capital Bikeshare. Users can make a series of trips all day long and if each one is 30 minutes or less, then you’ve got several useful trips and that’s of no additional cost. That’s why we put docking stations all over the place,” Eatough said. “It’s kind of a new way of getting around, so there is a learning curve for people.”
The long term plan for Capital Bikeshare is just one of the several biking improvements getting praise in Arlington. Eatough also pointed out the county’s recent widening of certain bike lanes and painting portions of bike lanes green.
“They’re all just a sign that our streets are evolving little bit. Whether you’re driving or biking or walking, everyone has interactions and has their role to play in these interactions,” Eatough said. “We have to help each other. It’s really about people rather than mode.”
Right now, it’s unclear when the dozens of new Bikeshare docking stations will be installed. Once the list of proposed stations is finalized, there’s a permitting process, and the County Board has to give approval. After that, the stations can typically be installed at a rate of three per day, and only take about two hours to get up and running.
So far, five areas feature the green markings including Veitch Street at Clarendon and Wilson Blvds, Military Road at Nelly Custis Drive and S. Joyce Street near Pentagon Row. Two others should be finished soon, and an additional five are expected by the end of the year.
According to Wayne Wentz, Chief of Arlington’s Transportation and Engineering Bureau, the markings draw extra attention to areas where cars may have to cross into bike lanes, particularly to make a right turn.
“The primary intent is safety improvement to help give both drivers and bicyclists more awareness of locations where their paths cross each other,” said Wentz. “In none of these locations is there an easy option to eliminate the right turn or the mixing. The green bike lane has become one of the solutions in the engineers’ toolbox to do this.”
The project has been in the works for years, and was recently approved based on nationwide research. As part of its local research several years ago, Arlington had experimented with blue paint during a test run along Military Road near Nelly Custis Drive. That marking was eventually allowed to fade until a permanent solution was approved.
“We certainly will, as with any traffic control improvement we make, monitor it and see if there’s some confusion caused to motorists and bicyclists. But the research says there shouldn’t be,” said Wentz.
Part of what makes the program effective, according to Chris Eatough of BikeArlington, is that painting only selected bike lanes draws particular attention to them. Eatough said similar plans have been successfully executed in cities throughout Europe.
“It’s not green paint all over the county, it’s where it’s most helpful,” said Eatough. “It’s a very striking visual and quite an innovative and new approach.”
Most of the green markings are expected to last five years, although touch-ups may be necessary on those experiencing particularly heavy traffic.
Wentz said the green lanes are just the latest of several upgrades underway to increase safety for bicyclists. The county is also working on signal improvements, better ramps and re-timing certain traffic lights. But most importantly, Wentz stresses, is the push for additional education for drivers and cyclists alike.
“We are trying to emphasize that both user types need to share the road.”