Arlington just created the region’s first map for bicyclists to find the least stressful routes for commuting.
The Bicycle Comfort Level Map ranks routes by the volume and speed of vehicles, topography and whether cycling infrastructure — like bike lanes — is in place. It also includes locations where different amenities may be found, such as repair stations, drinking fountains and Capital Bikeshare stations.
Routes are color-coded based on those criteria from blue, which is easy, to orange, which is difficult. The map was developed over several months by county engineers with input from the local community.
“We know many new riders would like to ride to more places, but have commented they don’t feel comfortable on many streets, even those with designated bike lanes or sharrows,” Henry Dunbar, director of the county’s BikeArlington program, said in a press release. “There are many low-stress ways to get around Arlington’s busy corridors and this new map makes it easy for riders to find them.”
According to the press release, the new map is part of a strategy to encourage “everyday biking” in the community. Other efforts to encourage cycling include the production of the film Arlington Passages, which will premier in September.
After an initial distribution to all Arlington residents via The Citizen newspaper, the county will make the maps available at Commuter Stores, transit information kiosks and local bike shops. An electronic version is also available on the BikeArlington website.
If you have a suggestion about a new route or a ranking that should be changed, BikeArlington is accepting feedback at [email protected]
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
Snow Chance Today — Arlington may get some snow, sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, although forecasters think areas north and west of Arlington are at more of a risk of wintry weather and slippery roads. [Weather.com]
Two Dems Running for School Board — The deadline for candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for school board was last night and two candidates filed before the deadline: Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its school board caucus on May 14 and 16.
Opower Losing Money, Hiring — Courthouse-based Opower, a publicly-traded energy software company, reported its latest financial results yesterday. For 2014, the company reported $128.4 million in revenue, a 45 percent increase over 2013. Its operating loss was $40.8 million. The company is continuing its hiring spree, adding employees locally and at its offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. [DC Inno, Yahoo Finance]
Armed Bank Robbery in Falls Church — A Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church was robbed yesterday by two armed men known as the “Black Hat Bandits.” The men are suspected of robbing seven other banks around the D.C. area. Arlington County police assisted Falls Church police in looking for the suspects immediately after the robbery. [Falls Church News-Press]
Old Map of Arlington — An 18th century map of what is now Arlington County shows mills along Four Mile Run and the “Road To The Falls,” known now as Glebe Road. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Senior Citizens Tour Sewage Plant — A group of three dozen senior citizens toured Arlington’s recently-renovated Water Pollution Control Plant on Friday. The sold-out tour educated the seniors about the sewage treatment process and about the people who work at the plant, whose “informal motto” is “We’re No. 1 with your No. 2.” [Sun Gazette]
Technology and the Homeless — Contrary to a common image of the homeless, most homeless individuals in Arlington have a cell phone and some even have laptops. Such technology is described as a “lifeline” to family, job opportunities and education. [Patch]
Map of the ‘Arlington Loop’ — Arlington County’s Bike Arlington program has published an easy-to-use map of the “Arlington Loop” — the 50 miles of off-street bike trails in the county. The map includes approximate ride times for bicyclists. [Bike Arlington, Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy Chris Armstrong
A developer, Open Plans, is working with Arlington and Washington, D.C. to devise the free bike map web and smartphone app. When finished, it will provide point-to-point directions like other trip planning apps do, but will be specifically catered to bike routes instead of motor vehicle routes. The map will also include locations of Capital Bikeshare stations, along with real time availability of bikes at each station.
Right now, developers have a preliminary version running, but it’s not yet available to the public. On Thursday, June 21, representatives from all the involved groups will gather for a work session to further tweak the app. They’re trying to ensure the map shows all bike restrictions and hazards, to help users plan safe, legal trips.
One main goal for the work session is to fill in some of the bike-centric missing links. For example, developers want to add any special cut-throughs or one-way streets that bikers should know about.
“When you have a map that’s already designed, it often doesn’t capture all the little intricacies of getting around by bike,” said Chris Eatough of BikeArlington. “So to know those intricacies, it’s good to contact people who bike a lot.”
Once the app goes public, there will be a section for users to add their own suggestions for corrections or additions to the map.
BikeArlington has been instrumental in providing input for the bike route mapping project, due in large part to all the information it has gathered over the years for its paper maps. Eatough believes the new app will provide a convenient supplement to the paper maps, which are sent out twice per year. He noted that despite the convenience of being able to pull up the app while actually out biking, riders need to remember basic safety.
“Obviously, checking the app will be recommended when not actually rolling on a bike,” Eatough said. “To check a route, do pull over and then check.”
Another item that should be cleared up at the work session is what the final name for the site will be. There’s been talk about whether it should be cibi.me, like the version Open Plans developed for New York, or if this area should get its own name.
If all goes well at Thursday’s work session, developers believe the app could be operational as early as next week.
The county’s Planning Research and Analysis Team recently released a report summarizing residential and commercial development activity for the 2011 calendar year. Along with the report, the research team set up an interactive Development Tracking Map to show the locations of projects under construction, completed, demolished or approved by the County Board. Additional information accompanies each entry — some of which date back more than 50 years — and pictures are available for certain locations.
At the end of last year, most of Arlington’s ongoing commercial construction was located along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. In fact, according to the report, 90 percent occurred just in Ballston. In regards to ongoing construction of apartment and condo buildings, 43 percent was located in Rosslyn, and 33 percent could be found outside the Metro corridors.
The report shows that the County Board approved three site plans in 2011 for residential and commercial use — Virginia Square Towers, Wakefield Manor in Courthouse and Boeing in Crystal City. That makes 2010 and 2011 the years with the least number of approved projects since 2000.
A positive sign is the number of residential construction starts, with a net gain over 2010 of 975 units. The report notes this stops a trend that began in 2008, of net losses occurring in year-over-year construction starts.