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
Starting this week, construction to improve the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn will significantly narrow a portion of the Custis Trail.
The Custis Trail will be restricted to six feet wide for the section between N. Fort Meyer Drive and Lynn Street, as crews work to transform one lane of Lee Highway into additional trail width and buffer space.
The trail narrowing will last for nine to 10 months while construction takes place on the south side of the trail.
Workers will add wider sidewalks, on-street bike lanes and improved curb ramps as the northbound and southbound sections of Lee Highway meet Lynn Street.
The project will also include improvements to the Custis Trail as it runs alongside Lee Highway, including bicycle and pedestrian facility upgrades, lane reconfiguration and widening of the trail.
For street beautification efforts, the “Corridor of Light” public art installation will get added to each of the four corners of the Interstate 66 bridge.
The county is helping to fund the construction. The project, expected to wrap up in spring 2020, will require some lane and sidewalk closures.
Photo via VDOT and rendering via Arlington County
County officials are planning some improvements along Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. as the roads run from Ballston to Clarendon, with a special focus on ways to make the corridor safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike.
Arlington transportation planners are circulating a survey seeking feedback on how the roads should change, as the county weighs a series of modest improvements over the next few months. In all, the study area stretches from Fairfax Drive’s intersection with N. Glebe Road in Ballston to 10th Street N.’s intersection with N. Barton Street in Lyon Park.
The county is envisioning changes along the 1.5-mile-long stretch of road as “short-term, quick-build projects to enhance safety and mobility on the corridor.” Officials hope to eventually commission more expansive changes, after it took over management of the roads from the state this summer, but the county’s budget crunch means that options are limited, for now.
But, in the near term, the county plans to examine “multimodal traffic volume data, curbspace use, crash data, and transit service data” in addition to the community’s feedback to chart out small-scale changes, according to a project webpage.
The advocates with the group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County certainly have some suggestions for the corridor. The group sent an email to its members urging them to advocate for the transformation of Fairfax Drive into a “low-stress biking corridor, even if it requires re-purposing space from motor vehicles,” in addition to other cycling improvements.
“The existing Fairfax Drive bike lanes are narrow, frequently blocked, and fail to be low-stress due to fast-moving traffic,” the advocates wrote. “The existing, short two-way protected bike lane should be extended all the way from Glebe Road to Clarendon Circle.”
The group also argues that 10th Street N. and Fairfax Drive both lack safe road crossings, particularly as the corridor runs from N. Barton Street in Lyon Park to N. Monroe Street in Virginia Square.
“This makes the corridor a barrier,” they wrote. “Additional safe crossings should be provided and these crossings must be simple and easy to use for cyclists as well as pedestrians.”
The county survey on road improvements will be open for submissions through Dec. 16. Officials hope to have short-term recommendations ready by sometime early next year, then install those by the spring or summer of 2019.
Photo via Arlington County
Plans to make Rosslyn a bit easier to navigate for pedestrians and bicyclists are coming together, though county officials are concerned that some of the proposed changes might further snarl traffic in the area.
The county unveiled its latest designs for future of the “Core of Rosslyn” at a public meeting last Tuesday (Oct. 2), which includes plans to convert several streets around the Rosslyn Metro station into two-way roads, remove the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd and add a host of new connections for cyclists and walkers.
However, transportation planners worry that these alterations will produce “significant increases in gridlock” over the next decade or so, according to meeting documents.
In all, they’re projecting that the proposals will increase wait times at intersections in the neighborhood by a total of 19 minutes during the morning rush hour (with especially acute problems at the already jammed intersection of the Key Bridge, G.W. Parkway and Lee Highway) and a total of six minutes during the evening rush. They’re hoping to refine these designs in the coming months to address those issues, while maintaining the positive parts of the plan.
Certainly, planners expect the changes will result in substantial improvements in Rosslyn’s offerings for people who aren’t relying on cars to get around. The designs included 14 new or improved crosswalks for pedestrians, and more than 1.3 miles of new protected bike lanes included in the design. The lanes, largely set to run along Fort Myer Drive, N. Moore Street and N. Nash Street, are designed to ease bike connections to the Key Bridge and Mt. Vernon and Custis Trails.
The plans also keep alive the county’s long-considered possibility of building a car-free, “pedestrian corridor” running from 18th Street N.’s intersection with N. Oak Street to N. Kent Street, a change that would replace the Rosslyn skywalk system to make the Metro station more accessible.
Yet the county expects that this design would create some new challenges for walkers and cyclists as well. In particular, allowing two-way access on roads like N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Kent Street will create a host of new “conflict points,” where cars are turning across crosswalks, prompting further delays for all involved.
That’s why Arlington officials are still accepting feedback on tweaks to the design.
Among the questions they want answered is whether people actually want to see the Fort Myer Drive tunnel filled in and transformed into a regular, signalized intersection with Wilson Blvd. The change would prompt additional delays at the intersections, and would involve “extensive construction costs and [a] long timeframe,” but could make it substantially easier for people to access the Rosslyn Metro station.
Similarly, planners want to know if making N. Lynn Street a two-way road is worth the extra traffic headaches it might entail. The county projects that the change “reduces confusion and allows for more direct routing” if it’s put in place, but it would also force officials to find new access points to the G.W. Parkway, I-66 and the Key Bridge.
The county plans to finish collecting feedback by Friday (Oct. 12), then unveil revised designs in the coming months. Officials hope to have final study recommendations for the area ready by sometime this winter.
Pentagon Declares War on Scooters — “The Pentagon hates your little scooters, too. In fact, DoD would like you and your ride-sharing company to know that if you leave your rental scooters or shared-bicycles anywhere on Pentagon property, they will be impounded, right quick.” [Defense One]
ACPD Ticketing Bike Lane Blockers — Arlington County police have been ticketing delivery truck drivers who block protected bike lanes — including the new bike lanes on N. Quincy Street in Ballston — as part of an “enforcement and education” effort. [Twitter]
Ballston Farmers Market to Extend Season — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 22 are expected to vote to permit the Ballston Farmers’ Market to operate through the end of November each year, an extension of one month from earlier years.” [InsideNova]
Stuck Window Washer Rescues Self — A large fire department response to a report of a window washer trapped outside the sixth floor of a high-rise building in Rosslyn turned out to be for naught; the worker was able to “self-extricate” before the technical rescue team arrived. [Twitter]
Reminder: Free ART Bus Rides Today — “In celebration of ART’s 20th Anniversary, we’re letting everyone ride ART for free on Thursday, September 20! It’s our way of saying thank you to our loyal customers for riding ART and also an invitation for those who have never been on ART to give it a try.” [Arlington Transit]
Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick
Arlington’s opened up another protected bike lane, this time connecting Rosslyn and Courthouse.
This newest lane runs along Wilson Blvd, between N. Quinn Street and N. Courthouse Road near the post office in the area. The county previously built a protected lane between N. Oak and N. Quinn Streets back in 2016.
Today's #betterbikelane update:
Wilson Boulevard has a brand new protected bike lane!
It starts at N Quinn Street in Rosslyn and travels up the hill, ending just before the post office in Courthouse.@ArlingtonDES is on a roll!#protectedbikelanes #rosslynva #bikedc pic.twitter.com/0xoB6t1ApE
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) August 21, 2018
In the early going, at least, the new lane seems to be a hit for cyclists and scooter fans alike.
— Claudia Pors (@claudiapors_atp) August 23, 2018
Photo via @juddlumberjack
Bicycling advocates are blasting newly revealed plans to simultaneously expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike, arguing that the proposed changes could make cycling along the roadway more dangerous.
The advocacy group “Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County” claims the cemetery’s current expansion plans, designed to someday add 70 acres to the burial ground, “will squander a major opportunity to improve the bike connection between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City and arguably make cycling less pleasant and less safe.”
In a message to its mailing list, the group urged concerned cyclists to speak in opposition to the cemetery’s plans at a public meeting on the subject in Pentagon City tonight (Wednesday).
The organization, founded by county transportation commission chair Chris Slatt, is primarily concerned that the cemetery only plans to add a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the pike’s north side when it realigns the road. Army officials are currently hoping to add space for as many as 60,000 new interments to the cemetery’s south, absorbing the former Navy annex site and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd, prompting some changes to the pike in the area.
The project also calls for the removal of Southgate Road in its entirety as it runs through area, which Slatt’s group describes as “a relatively quiet street that cyclists currently use to avoid that stretch of Columbia Pike.” The organization has made improving conditions for cyclists on the pike a central part of its mission, and it’s warning that eliminating an alternative to biking along the road would be a major step backward for the area.
“By replacing Southgate Road with just a sidewalk, this project is arguably a downgrade in cycling infrastructure,” the group wrote. “This portion of Columbia Pike has no reasonable nearby alternative. It needs great bike infrastructure.”
Spokespeople for the cemetery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the organization’s criticisms. But a draft environmental assessment of the project prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests that the changes represent “the upgrade of Columbia Pike into a multimodal facility.”
“The alignment for the future Columbia Pike has the necessary geometry for a high capacity regional multimodal transportation corridor,” the corps wrote.
The corps wrote that planners also considered building the “wall trail” along the cemetery’s eastern boundary as part of this work, a bit of cycling infrastructure long hoped for by county officials to link the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to Memorial Avenue. Yet the corps said it determined that it “appears to have severe space constraints due to aboveground utilities along the proposed route,” and didn’t consider it any further.
Instead, Slatt’s group would rather see the Army build a “bidirectional bike lane” on the north side of the pike to connect with additional improvements to the west of the area. If that’s not feasible, the organization would also accept a widening of the planned sidewalk into a trail “providing demarcated areas for pedestrians and cyclists marked with paint, signage or differentiated materials.”
Tonight’s meeting on the project is scheduled for the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m. The Army expects roadway construction associated with the expansion could start as soon as 2021.
Workers recently put the finishing touches on a new protected bike lane through Ballston.
The new lane runs along N. Quincy Street, stretching from N. Glebe Road to 9th Street N. The lane was installed as the county’s embarked on some summer paving work, and workers took the opportunity to add protected lanes in several spots around the county.
Protected bike lanes contribute to making our streets calmer, easier to understand, and more useable for people from ages eight to 80,” Erin Potter of Bike Arlington explained in a March blog post. “Well-designed protected bike lanes establish more order and predictability on the streets. Cyclists tend to behave themselves and do a better job of following the rules when they are using properly designed and separated facilities. Drivers also appreciate a sense of order and clarity that the separation provides.”
We would like to draw your attention to Arlington's newest protected bike lane!
Check it out yourself: Quincy Street between 9th St. N and Glebe Rd in Ballston.
*Please note: This video was taken while construction was still in progress. pic.twitter.com/EIGrv5KMnm
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) August 10, 2018
However, the change has taken some getting used to for some Ballston drivers.
— Jim Collier (@Jimcollierjr) August 10, 2018
The paving work has also involved some parking changes along 5th Road N. between N. Quincy Street and N. Pollard Street, adjacent to Mosaic Park, changing the parking there to back-in spots on an angle.
Photo via @Blacknell
Arlington is kicking off a new phase of construction along the Custis Trail near Rosslyn, as workers add a bevy of safety improvements to the area.
The county’s contractor plans to kick off work at the intersection of N. Scott Street and Lee Highway on Monday (Aug. 13), so long as the weather cooperates.
Anyone using the trail will need to follow a short detour onto N. Scott Street as it meets 21st Street N., but the county hopes the detour will only last about a week.
Earlier this year, the county kicked off bike safety improvements along Lee Highway, widening the trail itself, improving some trail crosses and crosswalks and adding curb extensions. County contractors are also reconfiguring the bike lanes on both N. Scott and N. Quinn Streets as part of the construction, resulting in some road closures in the area.
The county also plans to add new traffic signals at Lee Highway’s intersection with N. Scott Street, but planners predict they’ll only be installed “after completion of major construction activities”, likely “in the latter half of 2018.”
Workers are also busy repairing the trail as it runs alongside I-66 between N. Adams Street and McCoy Park, necessitating another detour in the area set to last through the end of the month.
Arlington is gearing up to test some protected bike lanes and pedestrian safety features along a heavily trafficked stretch of N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park.
The county plans to install the new “safety and accessibility improvements” on the road between Washington Blvd and N. Barton Street in the coming weeks, as part of some previously scheduled summer paving work in the area. Mainly, the construction will focus on adding protected bike lanes alongside some new landscaping designed to better separate cars from pedestrians.
Transportation planners have been studying the road for potential improvements since last summer, over concerns that Pershing can be challenging for cyclists and pedestrians alike along the road as it leads up to Route 50. While the county hopes to eventually make the changes permanent, Arlington’s gloomy financial picture means that officials will merely be testing out the new features over the next few years as “a cost-effective opportunity to implement improvements early,” according to the county’s website.
Workers also plan to relocate the Capital Bikeshare station in the area once the paving work gets going. The station currently sits along 7th Street N., but the county is planning to move it up the block a bit to where the road intersects with Washington Blvd, adjacent to a gas station in the area.
County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says that work will likely start sometime in September, noting “we don’t have an exact timeframe yet.”
Someday, the county plans to add pedestrian safety and bus stop accessibility improvements at intersections all along Pershing as it runs to meet N. Glebe Road. However, those projects are on hold until the county can come up with a bit more funding.
A new protected bike lane is on the way for Courthouse this month.
Construction on the protected lane is set to move in conjunction with the county’s paving work starting this month, and will require some adjustments for the area’s on-street parking. Workers have also temporarily relocated the Capital Bikeshare station along N. Veitch Street to the road’s intersection with Key Blvd in preparation for the construction.
The station at Veitch St & Key Blvd is now up and running! pic.twitter.com/oZCQepzwSO
— Capital Bikeshare (@bikeshare) July 26, 2018
Soon afterward, the county also hopes to retool parking along N. Troy Street as part of the repaving work, set to take place sometime in “late summer.”
In subsequent phases of this project, the county plans to extend a previously built protected bike lane between N. Oak Street and N. Quinn Street in Rosslyn, linking the neighborhood to Courthouse. Some paving work on that effort could start as soon as this month.
Some new bike lanes and other road improvements could soon be on the way for N. Woodstock Street as it runs between Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.
County officials are circulating some new designs for the road, which primarily runs through the Waverly Hills neighborhood, ahead of some paving work kicking off later this summer.
The county currently has a community survey open on possible designs for the retooled street, including the addition of bike lanes in each direction and some new traffic calming measures to bring down speeds on the road.
Officials also plan to add new, high-visibility crosswalks where the road meets both 20th Road N. and N. Glebe Road, as the county embarks on the wholesale replacement of brick crosswalks in favor of reflective plastic markings.
The work also calls for the removal of several “outdated medians” to help facilitate the construction of the bike lanes, without requiring any change in on-street parking or traffic patterns.
“Adding bike lane markings rather than having un-utilized pavement (previously occupied by medians) will also serve as a traffic calming measure to keep vehicle speeds low and encourage safer movements,” the county wrote in the survey.
The survey is set to close to respondents tomorrow (July 31).
Photo 1 via Google Maps
More than 100 bicyclists hit Columbia Pike on Saturday (June 23) to draw attention to a new push to improve bike routes along the road.
The newly-formed advocacy group Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County organized the roughly two-mile-long “Bike for the Pike” protest ride, which ran down Columbia Pike from the Penrose Square Park to the intersection with with S. Four Mile Run Drive.
The group is lobbying county leaders to consider a slew of improvements to make the Pike corridor easier on cyclists, arguing that large sections of the road remain unsafe. County Board members Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall attended Saturday to lend their support to the effort.
“Despite budgeting over $100 million in the current adopted capital plan to make Columbia Pike a complete street, the county’s current plans wouldn’t even provide a complete bike facility that runs the full length of the Pike, let alone one that is safe, direct and low-stress,” Chris Slatt, the group’s founder and a transit-focused blogger, wrote in a statement. “#Bike4ThePike was a chance to say ‘We’re here, we ride, we pay taxes, we deserve safe, direct, low-stress routes.'”
The county has indeed made efforts to improving transit options along the Pike, with long-awaited changes to Metrobus service along the corridor starting yesterday (June 24). But Slatt’s organization is pressing for a variety of new roadway improvements and policy revisions to make the Pike even more hospitable to cyclists.
In the near term, Slatt wants to see the county conduct a “comprehensive safety review” of the Pike’s intersection with Washington Blvd. In a news release, the group notes that the area “has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes” since VDOT finished a major overhaul of the interchange a few years ago, and Slatt wants to see the county commission a study of the area within the next year.
His group is also advocating for the construction of a parallel bike and pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run in the next three years, arguing that the current bridge is “dangerously narrow and lacks any sort of buffer from speeding traffic.”
They’re also pushing for traffic signal changes to make 9th Street S. friendlier for bicyclists as it intersects with both S. Glebe Road and S. Walter Reed Drive, as well as the construction of an access road connecting the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive within the next five years — the county likely won’t start work on the latter project until 2027.
Slatt’s group plans to hold additional advocacy events focused on bicycling, walking and public transit around the county in the coming weeks.
A protected bike lane has been proposed as part of a repaving project this summer
The parking on N. Veitch Street between Lee Highway and Wilson Boulevard would be reconfigured to create space for a protected bike lane connecting the Custis Trail and Courthouse.
“This protected bike lane will create a more bike-friendly connection between the Wilson/Clarendon Corridor and the Custis Trail,” says the county’s project page. “This will be considered the second of four phases of construction to create the protected bike lane connection on the Rosslyn-Courthouse corridor.”
The first phase of the “Courthouse-Rosslyn Multimodal Connectivity Improvements” project built protected bike lanes on Wilson Blvd between N. Oak Street and N. Pierce Street in Rosslyn. Additional phases would extend the protected bike lane from Rosslyn to Courthouse.
The second phase of the project this summer would also reconfigure parking on N. Troy Street in Courthouse, between Key and Wilson boulevards, to create additional spaces.
A public design workshop and discussion is planned for Wednesday (April 4) from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).
Photos via Arlington County
A section of Army Navy Drive could go down to one lane for cars in each direction under a Complete Streets plan being considered by the county.
County staff wrote that the project would rebuild Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City as a street “featuring enhanced bicycle, transit, environmental and pedestrian facilities.”
The lane reduction would take place between S. Eads Street and 12th Street S., and staff said it would help connect various local neighborhoods and landmarks.
“The goal of the project is to improve the local connections between the Pentagon and the commercial, residential and retail services of Pentagon City and Crystal City,” staff wrote.
Other changes include planted medians instead of raised concrete medians, and new bike lanes.
“The reconstruction will provide a physically separated two-way protected bicycle lane facility along the south side of Army Navy Drive, in addition to shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, and will accommodate future high-capacity transit,” said the county’s website. “Motor vehicle travel lanes will be reduced in number where appropriate and will be narrowed to dimensions appropriate for a slower urban context.”
The project would also extend the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway into Pentagon City by adding a dedicated bus lane on Army Navy Drive, and link to the bike lanes planned for S. Clark Street between 12th Street S. and 15th Street S.
Staff will host an Army Navy Drive Complete Streets Workshop on Wednesday, January 31 from 4-7 p.m. at the Aurora Hills Branch Library (735 18th Street S.). The meeting will be an open forum to discuss the project.
Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020, and be complete in spring 2022.
Image No. 1 via county staff. Image No. 2 via Google Maps.