(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) The number of Arlington residents commuting via bicycle is on the rise, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, contrary to the national trend.
The survey showed that in 2016, 2.4 percent of Arlington commuters cycled to work, up from 1.9 percent in 2015. That number is an average of men and women, but slightly more men commute by bicycle. “We think it’s great, of course, and part of a longer trend,” said BikeArlington program director Henry Dunbar. “The bike mode share has tripled since 2009 (0.8 percent), and will keep climbing as Arlington continues to improve its bike infrastructure and more people learn that biking is often the quickest and cheapest way to get around.”
Arlington’s bike commuting growth is in line with Washington, DC, where 4.6 percent of all commuters now cycle, up from 4.1 percent the previous year. But the region’s commuting habits are not indicative of those in the rest of the country. The Census Bureau shows that last year bike commuting was down nationwide for the second year in a row, falling from 0.59 percent to 0.57 percent of all commuters.
The survey offered data but no possible causation for the numbers. However, a number of factors likely contribute to the nationwide bike commuting slump, including low gas prices and more people working from home. Arlington, however, has been designated a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, due in part to its bike-friendly infrastructure and the volume of cyclists.
Other data revealed by the latest census figures include:
- 26 percent of Arlington commuters take public transit
- 5.7 percent of Arlington’s workforce works from home
- 34 percent of Arlington workers work in Arlington, while another 24.1 percent work elsewhere in Virginia and 41.8 percent work outside the state
ACPD Sending Supplies to Houston — The Arlington County Police Department is sending relief supplies to Houston Police, “who have been tirelessly serving those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” the department announced yesterday in a tweet. [Twitter]
More on County Board Debate — At Tuesday night’s Arlington Civic Federation debate, the two independent candidates blasted the County Board for supposedly being too pro cozy with business interests. Charles McCullough “several times ripped the county government for extending millions of dollars in ‘payola and corporate welfare’ in an effort to win economic-development successes,” while Audrey Clement “portrayed Arlington leaders as sharing a matrimonial bed with the development community, rubber-stamping new projects to reap the tax revenue they generate.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Encouraging Vanpools — Arlington County, via its Arlington Transportation Partners program, is encouraging commuters to join a vanpool, touting savings of up to $10,000 a year compared to solo commuting. [Arlington Transportation Partners]
Arlington Free Clinic Women’s Health Program — Grants from the Susan G. Komen foundation are funding a women’s health program at the Arlington Free Clinic and in turn saving the lives of breast cancer patients who otherwise could not afford their healthcare costs. Among those who beat breast cancer with the clinic’s help is one of its employees, a mother of three who found a lump while attending a breast health event in 2003. [WJLA]
Nearby: Rabid Raccoon Found — A raccoon found in an Alexandria park has tested positive for rabies. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by Vandiik
Local Senior Completes Alcatraz Swim — Arlington resident Mary Schade, 71, completed the 1.5-mile Alcatraz Escape from the Rock swim in San Francisco, placing first in her age group. She was the second-oldest swimmer in the race, which featured choppy, 59-degree water and a stiff wind. [InsideNova]
Arlington History Books — “Our Man in Arlington” Charlie Clark has found a number of “out-of-the-mainstream histories of our fair county,” including one book, first published in 1957, that “summarizes two centuries of legal boundary changes” involving Arlington County or its geographic predecessors. [Falls Church News-Press]
Shirlington Apartment Building Bought, Rebranded — Waterton, a real estate investment firm, has acquired the 404-unit Windsor at Shirlington Village apartment complex and rebranded it as “The Citizen at Shirlington Village.” The purchase price for the apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street was a reported $144 million. The new Chicago-based owners plan to upgrade the apartment units, outdoor spaces and the fitness center. [Washington Business Journal, BusinessWire]
Teachers Explore New Commuting Options — With the encouragement of Arlington Public Schools, some teachers are switching from a solo driving commute to carpooling or biking, as seen in a new video from Arlington County’s Mobility Lab. [YouTube, Mobility Lab]
Arlington Taking Roadwork Suggestions — “Arlington’s Neighborhood Complete Streets Program is asking residents to nominate neighborhood streets they believe could be made safer and more comfortable for all users for potential improvement projects. If you know a neighborhood street that is missing a section of sidewalk, needs an accessible curb ramp or better street lighting, consider nominating it. The County is accepting submissions through Friday, June 16.” [Arlington County]
Commuting Habits in Arlington — Arlington County’s new “Profile 2017” data packet has a surprising statistic on community habits: more Fairfax County residents commute into Arlington each day than Arlington residents commute into D.C. [Twitter]
Candidates Dither on Exotic Pet Ban — Three out of four of the Democratic candidates for County Board would not give a straight answer to the question of whether they support a proposed ban on wild and exotic pets. [InsideNova]
Metro 29 Named Best Diner in Va. — A new list of the best diner in all 50 states lists Metro 29 diner on Lee Highway as the best in Virginia. [Mental Floss]
Beyer on House Healthcare Bill — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says yesterday’s narrow passage of the GOP healthcare bill is “a dark stain on the history of the House of Representatives.” [Rep. Don Beyer]
Comment Ads Turned Off — To improve the user experience, we’ve turned off those semi-trashy tile ads below the comments. They’re prevalent on lots of websites, especially news websites, and they generate decent revenue, but we could not longer stand having them associated with our site. Replacing the ads are links to previous ARLnow.com articles.
Dems Choose Caucus for County Board Race — If there are multiple contenders for this year’s Arlington County Board race, Democrats will hold a party caucus, rather than a primary, to choose the nominee. Incumbent County Board member Jay Fisette has not yet announced whether he will seek reelection. [InsideNova]
Arlington Has Region’s Shortest Commute — Arlington residents have the D.C. region’s shortest average commute: 28.1 minutes. That’s even shorter than the commute of those who live in the District. Driving, meanwhile, is declining regionwide as a commuting method; in Arlington, 60.2 percent of commuters drive, down from 61.3 percent six years prior. [WTOP]
WHS Students Learning to Spot ‘Fake News’ — Wakefield High School is “using the expertise of journalists from mainstream news organizations” to teach students “how to recognize the red flags of inaccurate information.” The methods, taught via an online tool, are supposed to help students differentiate real news from sponsored content and “fake news.” [WJLA]
Del. Lopez Figures into Tall Tale Told on House Floor — Last week Del. Matt Fariss, a Republican from Campbell County, Va., gave an epic speech on the floor of the House of Delegates. The story told by Fariss was intended to colorfully illustrate why a bill that would fine the owner of a dog found running loose on someone’s property, if the landowner had previously asked that the dog stay off the property, would not be in the best interests of rural Virginians. The tale involved a number of Virginia officials of note, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Arlington’s own Del. Alfonso Lopez. [Facebook]
Metro’s next round of SafeTrack “surge” work begins Monday and it’s expected to have a major impact on Arlington commuters.
Surge #11 is scheduled from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. The 24-day project will involve track work and single-tracking between the West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations, on the Orange and Silver lines.
The first 14 days of the work are expected to be especially disruptive as Metro will be unable to run additional trains to make up for the reduction in service. That’s due to the location of the track work and Metro’s rail signaling service, officials said.
“There will be a severe reduction in train service,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer. “The first two weeks of this surge will be the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far since we started Safetrack.”
Riders should expect “very crowded trains and platforms.” Trains running through Arlington may be so crowded that riders will be unable to board during rush hour.
Additional ART buses and Metrobus shuttles will run along Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to help provide additional capacity during the surge. Arlington County is also encouraging commuters to telecommute during the project.
Ultimately, the track work is expected to result in a smoother ride and more reliable service along the Orange and Silver lines.
“It’s going to be intense for the first two weeks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, during a press conference at the West Falls Church Metro station. “It’s short term pain for a lot of gain and it’s something that we’ve got to do.”
ACPD Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The Arlington County Police Department will be holding an interactive anti-drunk driving event from noon to 5 p.m. during Saturday’s Halloween bar crawl in Clarendon. Part of N. Hudson Street will be closed as a result of the anti-DUI event. [Arlington County]
Dems Hoping for 100,000 Clinton Votes — Arlington Democrats are hoping their get-out-the-vote efforts result in 100,000 votes for Hillary Clinton in the county. Arlington could be the difference-maker in the race, determining whether Clinton wins or loses the key swing state of Virginia. In 2008 Barack Obama won 82,119 votes in Arlington. [InsideNova]
Live Election Broadcast — For the first time in our history, ARLnow is planning live video coverage of Tuesday’s election results. From about 7:30-9:30 p.m., assuming no technical difficulties, we will be broadcasting live from the local Democratic victory party at Sehkraft Brewing in Clarendon. Expect analysis of the local election results and interviews with elected officials, candidates and civic figures from all sides of the political spectrum. The live video feed will be included in our election results post that evening.
Arlington Alert Charity Promotion — Thanks to a sponsorship from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, during the month of November a donation will be made to one’s local charity of choice when you sign up for emergency alerts via Arlington Alert. [Arlington County]
Fort Myer Commuter Fair — About 88 percent of those who work at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall travel to their jobs by themselves. To try to encourage more carpooling and transit use, the county-run Arlington Transportation Partners recently held a Commuter Fair at the base. [Pentagram]
James B. Hunter Award Winners — The winners of this year’s James B. Hunter human rights awards were just announced. The winners were: Tiffany Joslyn (posthumously); Joan Ritter, MD; Bridges to Independence; Edu Futuro; the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington; and Busboys and Poets in Shirlington. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Valerie
(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) held a special ceremony this morning announcing the construction of equipment that would allow for new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-66.
McAuliffe hosted the event at Washington-Lee High School — which overlooks the highway — and was joined by Va. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and Arlington County Board chair Libby Garvey.
“Since the beginning of our administration, we made it our top transportation priority to improve Virginia’s infrastructure and unclog the bottlenecks on our most congested highways,” McAuliffe said during the ceremony. “This initiative, coupled with Virginia’s new SMARTSCALE transportation prioritization process, will unlock Northern Virginia from the traffic congestion that was strangling this region’s economic potential.”
— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 1, 2016
Workers will soon begin the $60 million project to install tolling equipment along the interstate from the Beltway to the Lee Highway exit in Rosslyn, according to a press release from McAuliffe’s office.
The new equipment will allow drivers to pay a toll of about $5-6 on average to bypass traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours, according to VDOT. Vehicles with two or more occupants, buses and motorcycles will be exempt from paying the toll.
Toll revenues will go toward funding alternative forms of transportation, McAuliffe said.
“The toll revenues will now fund travel options like ridesharing and enhanced commuter bus service, making those choices more attractive and much more user friendly so more people will leave their cars in the garage to get to work,” McAuliffe explained in his remarks. “We are committed to creating a carpool culture for I-66 travelers.”
Additionally, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will commit nearly $10 million toward projects such as improving commuter buses from Loudoun, Prince William County and Fairfax, local buses in Arlington and Fairfax, new carpool incentives and new bikeshare programs, according to McAuliffe’s office.
Along with the new tolling equipment, I-66 will also be partially widened. The plan calls for an extra lane to be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.
The new HOT lanes are expected to open some time next summer.
The second round of closures related to Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan is slated to take effect today, with big impacts to Blue Line service in Arlington.
Maintenance crews will work on portions of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines until July 3, according to a service advisory.
On the Orange Line, trains will not run between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road. Orange and Silver line trains will run every 10 minutes between Vienna/Wiehle-Reston and Eastern Market.
On the Blue Line, trains will not run between between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Trains will, however, run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery each weekday until 10 p.m. Yellow Line trains will run on a Rush+ schedule all day on weekdays to compensate for the loss of Blue Line service.
Metro will provide shuttle service for riders traveling to and from affected stations. Arlington County has also expanded ART 43 service, which runs between Rosslyn and Crystal City, on middays, evenings and weekends until Aug. 20.
Trains may be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour, Metro officials said. Regular riders are encouraged to use commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting.
Video Courtesy WMATA
Today is the first weekday of Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance surge.
Via Twitter there are reports of crowded trains and long waits at stations, although Metro says early indications were that everything was going according to plan. Via Google Maps, traffic appears to be heavier than usual, with lots of red on the traffic map.
Whether you commute via Metro, car or otherwise, we want to know: was your commute slower than usual today?
With Metro’s SafeTrack plan beginning June 4, Arlington County has released its response to the planned service cuts.
The first stage of SafeTrack involves single tracking on the Orange and Silver lines between Ballston and East Falls Church. Trains will run every 18 minutes, with additional Orange Line trains running from Ballston to New Carrolton.
In response, Arlington County will supplement WMATA’s efforts to assist travelers with its own. ART routes 55 (Rosslyn-East Falls Church) and 52 (Virginia Hospital-Ballston-East Falls Church) will use 40-foot buses instead of the usual 35-foot buses to add capacity during the surge. The county is also considering adding a bus lane on Lee Highway to speed up 55 buses during rush hour.
Capital Bikeshare will also be expanded, with capacity increases at the Ballston and Rosslyn stations along with a new Bikeshare station being installed at the East Falls Church station. For new or inexperienced riders, “bike trains” — bicyclists riding as a group — will be run between Rosslyn and East Falls Church, stopping at each Metro station along the route.
Along with the transportation additions, the county will make changes on the streets around the main Metro hubs, removing some street parking and converting streets to bus-only during rush hours.
Metro has released the following YouTube video to explain the SafeTrack surge.
Using census data Arlington County was able to determine which parts of the county have a higher percentage of bike commuters.
So where do bike commuters live?
“In some neighborhoods, especially those near the county’s trail system, at least one in 10 people bike to work,” writes Stephen Crim, research director for Arlington’s Mobility Lab. “Certain tracts along the Custis Trail in North Arlington and near the Mt. Vernon Trail in South Arlington had biking rates much greater than the county’s average over that time period, 1.3 percent.”
The census data used to create the map is from 2009-2013. With Metro’s recent woes and Arlington’s continued efforts to promote bicycle use and make it safer and more convenient, it’s possible that the 1.3 percent bike commuting average has increased by now.
Bike to Work Day 2016, meanwhile, is scheduled for two months from now, on Friday, May 20.
In a press release, VDOT says that motorists should “use extreme caution” tonight.
Snow showers are expected to begin as early at 5 p.m. and accumulation is likely given the frigid temperatures.
Although a three-day weekend is on the horizon, motorists are asked to finish trips in northern Virginia by early afternoon today, says the Virginia Department of Transportation, or plan to use extreme caution during the evening rush hour. With below-freezing temperatures in place and snow showers expected to begin as early as 5 p.m., VDOT will have 1,150 trucks deployed to continually treat roads by early afternoon. Crews began treating roads in advance yesterday and are finishing mid-day today.
What drivers should know
- Snow showers are expected to begin as early as 5 p.m., with temperatures well below freezing through the night.
- Drivers are asked to leave early today if possible to be off the road prior to the storm, to avoid icy conditions and give crews room to work.
- If driving is necessary, be alert possible icy conditions. Reduce speeds, increase following distance, and brake gently. Plan now to allow extra time for a slow and extremely cautious trip.
- Icy conditions are possible through the rush hour and overnight; with icy patches possible through the weekend given the low temperatures forecasted.
Check www.511virginia.org or the mobile app before leaving for road conditions.
Arlington County is also encouraging “caution” on the roads tonight.
#ArlWX We'll have crews out this afternoon into the night treating roads. Please exercise caution as you head out for your evening commute.
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) February 12, 2016
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) February 12, 2016
If you were commuting from Arlington to D.C. today, or vice versa, chances seem pretty good that your commute was awful.
Major delays were reported on Metro’s Orange, Blue and Silver lines, after service was suspended through much of downtown D.C. due to a derailed non-passenger train.
As if the Metro chaos wasn’t bad enough, a couple of crashes and perhaps an influx of would-be Metrorail riders has turned the length of I-395 into a virtual parking lot, with slow-moving traffic from the District to Springfield.
Also, Route 50 is reported to be backed up to Pershing Drive.
So, if you commute to or from D.C., just how bad was it this morning?
(Updated at 10:55 p.m.) Arlington County is under a Wind Chill Advisory throughout the day Thursday and much of Friday morning.
Wind chills are expected to fall below zero tonight, creating dangerous conditions for anybody spending time outside without proper clothing.
From the National Weather Service:
… WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 10 AM EST FRIDAY…
* WIND CHILL… 0 TO 10 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT INTO THURSDAY. WIND CHILLS ON THURSDAY NIGHT ARE EXPECTED TO DROP INTO THE 5 TO 15 BELOW ZERO RANGE.
* TEMPERATURES… LOWS TONIGHT IN THE SINGLE DIGITS. HIGHS THURSDAY IN THE MID TO UPPER TEENS. LOWS THURSDAY NIGHT WILL DROP INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS AND SUB-ZERO VALUES.
* WINDS… WEST 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 35 MPH… WITH GUSTS SUBSIDING TO 15 TO 25 MPH THURSDAY NIGHT.
* IMPACTS… THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY WINDS AND COLD TEMPERATURES TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY MAY RESULT IN DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS THAT CAN QUICKLY CAUSE HYPOTHERMIA AND FROST BITE.
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MEANS THAT VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL COMBINE TO GENERATE LOW WIND CHILLS. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN. IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS… MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES.
Forecasters are also warning of icy conditions on local roadways.
… PATCHES OF ICE POSSIBLE ON ROADS OVERNIGHT…
WHERE WIND IS NOT ABLE TO DRY OUT ROADWAYS WHERE SNOW FELL EARLIER… PATCHES OF ICE WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT ON UNTREATED ROADS AS TEMPERATURES FALL WELL BELOW FREEZING. IN ADDITION… THE GUSTY WINDS MAY BLOW THE FLUFFY SNOW THAT FELL TODAY BACK ACROSS ROADWAYS.
PLEASE USE EXTRA CAUTION IF TRAVELING. REDUCE SPEED AND STAY ALERT FOR PATCHES OF ICE AND SLICK ROAD CONDITIONS.
Earlier tonight, a snow squall threatened to cause problems for commuters during the evening rush hour. The squall weakened as it approached the area, and only resulted in a brief period of snow in Arlington that produced little or no delays.
Our original coverage of that, after the jump.