Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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Police and local bar owners are teaming up to talk about alcohol and nightlife safety this week.

The two groups are co-hosting “A Conversation About Nightlife Safety” on Wednesday, May 1 from  7-9 p.m.

The free event will be held at the Hazel conference center at Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive). Attendees are asked to RSVP online.

“Patrons, restaurant staff, and those interested in maintaining Arlington County as a safe destination for entertainment are encouraged to attend a community conversation on nightlife safety,” a county press release reads.

Speakers include Freddie Lutz of Freddie’s Beach Bar, John Williams of Whitlow’s on Wilson, and Chris Lefbom of Ragtime, Rhodeside Bar and Grill, and William Jeffery’s Tavern

A panel line-up include officials from the county’s zoning, human services, economic development and fire departments.

Arlington County Police will be sending a member of its Restaurant Liaison Unit to the event, which is a part of the “Arlington Restaurant Initiative” to train bar employees to serve alcohol responsibly and help reduce nightlife crime.

Officials made the restaurant initiative a permanent fixture of Arlington’s nightlife scene back in October after piloting it earlier in 2018.

Last year, ACPD said that increased police presence around bars due to the initiative may have contributed to a jump in reported alcohol-related offenses, even though overall county crime rate dropped by 7.7%. The 2018 report noted  a 73% increase in liquor law violations and a 17% increase in “drunkenness” charges, in addition to police catching 703 fake IDs.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

Recently, Arlington has been featured in the news for its collaborative approach to innovative alcohol safety measures.

The Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI) was developed as a voluntary accreditation program to increase the overall safety of customers, businesses and neighborhood residents in areas with nightlife and entertainment.

Through a collaborative approach between government agencies and businesses that serve alcohol, Arlington County has improved the strategies and standards of establishments serving alcohol while building positive community relations, reducing crime and recognizing responsible businesses.

Restaurants, many of those that are small local businesses earn accreditation in ARI by writing and adopting employee policies that meet the ARI standards to reduce alcohol-related harm and increase safety. Restaurants that display the ARI Accredited Restaurant decal on their door demonstrate their commitment to the safety of their patrons and the community.

Event Details

Patrons, restaurant staff, and those interested in maintaining Arlington as a safe destination for entertainment are encouraged to attend a community conversation on nightlife safety. The event will feature panelists from various Arlington County departments speaking about how they collaborated to build trusting relationships with restaurant staff and improve safety.

‘A Conversation about Nightlife Safety’ will take place on Wednesday, May 1 from 7-9 p.m. at the  John T. Hazel, MD Conference Center, 1701 N. George Mason Drive Arlington, Virginia 22205.

To learn more about ARI or to register for our conversation about Nightlife Safety visit here. We hope you can join us to learn more about Nightlife Safety.

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Arlington County Police this week launched the 2019 version of the regional spring “Street Smart” safety campaign.

The campaign “aims to reduce the number of traffic related crashes and injuries on our roadways by identifying and changing unsafe behavior patterns among travelers.”

Two “high-visibility traffic enforcement” events are planned — one from 4-6 p.m. next Friday (April 26) along the 3200 block of Washington Blvd, near Clarendon, and another from 7-9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 7  on the 3100 block of Clarendon Blvd, next to the Clarendon Metro station.

More from an ACPD press release:

Spring is here, and more people are taking advantage of the warmer weather by walking, biking and operating shared mobility devices. To ensure all travelers safely share our roadways, law enforcement throughout the region will participate in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Spring Street Smart campaign from April 15 – May 10. The campaign aims to reduce the number of traffic related crashes and injuries on our roadways by identifying and changing unsafe behavior patterns among travelers.

Street Smart Activation

As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement at the following locations:

  • May 7th from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard
  • April 26th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – 3200 block of Washington Boulevard

Members of the media are invited to attend the activation events.

Traffic Safety Tips

Whether you’re on two feet, two wheels or four wheels, make our roadways safer by being a PAL – predicable, alert and lawful.Drivers are reminded to:

  • Obey posted speed limits, traffic signs and signals
  • Have all vehicle occupants wear their seat belts
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and use caution when passing stopped vehicles
  • Look before opening your door
  • Allow 3 feet when passing bicyclists

Pedestrians are reminded to:

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks and never against a red light
  • Look both ways before crossing the street
  • Walk on designated sidewalks or paths, never along the side of the road
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with light-colored clothing, reflective gear and lights

Shared Mobility Device operators are reminded to:

  • Obey posted traffic signs and signals
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic
  • Communicate your intentions by using hand signals
  • Keep your eyes on the road and avoid the use of devices that may distract you
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with light-colored clothing, reflective gear and lights

For additional safety tips, visit the Street Smart website.

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Capital Bikeshare is currently removing electric bikes after concerns about the brakes.

The bikeshare provider announced on Sunday it had “received a small number of reports from riders who experienced stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel” and decided to remove the black bikes from its fleets “out of an abundance of caution.”

Several D.C. riders shared experiences on social media of CaBi’s strong brakes causing their e-bikes to flip, or come close to doing so.

New York City’s bikeshare program “Citibike” also pulled its e-bikes from the streets on Sunday, citing the same braking problem.

The Arlington Department of Environment Services (DES) shared the news by continuing its repartee on social media with actor William Shatner of Star Trek fame.

DES retweeted CaBi’s weekend announcement, writing, “We’re bummed too, @WilliamShatner.”

Shatner, who is a brand rep for e-bike Pedego, responded by saying, “They should get Pedego bikes!”

Previously, the actor sparred with DES over the county banning e-bikes on trails — a policy he called “barbaric.” The e-bike ban was lifted on NOVA park trails last month. A DES spokesman told ARLnow at the time that officials were also considering lifting it on county trails.

CaBi first debuted 80 of the bikes in September as part of a pilot program with the District Department of Transportation.

Within two months, data showed that the electric-pedal assist bikes were twice as popular as the normal CaBi bikes, with the e-bikes making up only 2 percent of the total CaBi fleet, but generating 4 percent of total trips, according to data analysis by Greater Greater Washington.

The new recall is not affecting dockless bike providers, such as Lime which added 150 e-bikes to Arlington in December.

Read below for the full statement from CaBi:

Since Capital Bikeshare first deployed electric bikes last year, riders have taken thousands of rides and shared with us incredibly helpful and overwhelmingly positive feedback.

However, we recently received a small number of reports from riders who experienced stronger than expected braking force on the front wheel. Out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively removing the electric bikes from service for the time being. We know this is disappointing to the many people who love the current experience — but reliability and safety come first.

In the meantime, we will temporarily replace the electric bikes with pedal bikes.

Thank you for being a member of our community.

Image via CaBi website

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Rosslyn is set to see a few more pedestrian safety improvement over the course of the next year or so.

The neighborhood’s Business Improvement District, which advocates for Rosslyn businesses by collecting a small property tax, is planning a variety of short-term fixes to make the bustling streets a bit safer for walkers.

In plans delivered to the County Board Saturday (Feb. 23), the BID says it hopes to use some of its tax revenue to work with county police on the fixes, as part of a broader initiative to make the area more walkable. County officials have even contemplated the more drastic step of make certain roads in Rosslyn “car-free,” though they have yet to settle on a precise strategy for the neighborhood beyond some guiding principles.

In the short term, the BID plans to build new “crash-grade planters to help delineate safer pedestrian crossings” at several intersections. Many of the roads crossing Wilson Blvd are often the site of robust crowds in the morning and evening rush hours.

The BID also hopes to expand some of its “wayfinding” efforts “that will eventually encompass not only pedestrian signs, but also traffic signage” to better brand each section of Rosslyn. The BID has already done some work in that department, setting up area maps, and even rolling out efforts to improve green space in the area, including the county’s first “parklet.”

In the long term, the BID plans to continue to work on efforts to someday convert streets like N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Kent Street into two-way roads, though those changes are still a ways off.

Other, more ambitious efforts could someday remove the Fort Myer Drive tunnel under Wilson Blvd, or replace the existing Rosslyn skywalk system in favor of an all-pedestrian and cycling corridor leading up to the area’s Metro station. Some new developments in the area could help spur progress on the latter effort.

But all of these changes won’t be on the way until the new fiscal year, according to the BID’s proposal. The group is also asking the Board to hold its tax rate on local businesses level at $.078, though ever-rising real estate values will send the BID an extra $166,000 in revenue from a year ago.

Photo via Rosslyn BID

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E-scooters have been proliferating around Arlington over the past few months, but their growing ubiquity has brought with it some challenges.

A new public service announcement from Arlington County seeks to answer some key questions that can improve safety for scooter riders and those around them: Who can ride e-scooters? How can you ride safely? Where do you park after riding?

The video is above. The county has also set up its own website for dockless scooter safety and regulation information.

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Morning Notes

Murder Case Advances After Court Ruling — “The Maryland man charged with brutally killing his lover’s ex-boyfriend laid in wait at his Arlington town house before strangling, shooting and stabbing the man to death, prosecutors said.” On Monday, an Arlington judge “ruled there is probable cause [Jitesh] Patel killed 40-year-old John Giandoni in March 2018.” [WTOP]

Food Safety Tips for the Holidays — Arlington’s health department has compiled a list of safety tips for those cooking holiday meals at home. Regarding turkey, which has been blamed for a recent salmonella outbreak, the department notes that “food handling errors and inadequate cooking are the most common problems that lead to poultry-associated food-borne disease outbreaks in the United States.” [Arlington County]

Car Safety Tips for the Holidays — “This Thanksgiving season, the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to share an important lifesaving reminder: whether you’re traveling across the country, or across the County, Buckle Up–Every Trip. Every Time.” [Arlington County]

Airport Tips for the Holidays — Per Reagan National Airport on Twitter: “Peak holiday travel continues today. Roadway delays are likely. To avoid congested roadways, use Metrorail. Or use Terminal Garages A, B or C for pick-up/drop-off and park for up to 60 minutes.” [Twitter]

Commuters Still Angry About Veterans Day Mess — Many who were stuck in traffic or waiting in long shuttle lines on Veterans Day are still not buying “Metro’s explanation that the day’s rain, and not Metro’s own planning, was the main culprit for what the agency acknowledged on Twitter was ‘a disastrous commute.'” [Washington Post]

Amazon News Roundup — A local think tank argues that “when put in the context of the Metro region’s history, the ‘Amazon effect’ is an unimpressive flare in the region’s chronic housing crisis.” One local urban planner thinks “Amazon choosing a second-tier city could have been more destructive.” Alexandria leaders say Amazon will be an “economic boom, not traffic nightmare.” Finally, there’s more information on the Amazon-fueled deals to build a second entrance to the new Potomac Yard Metro station and open a new Virginia Tech campus in Alexandria.

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Morning Notes

Street Smart Campaign to Start Up Next Week — “As part of the Arlington County Police Department’s overall traffic safety program, the Special Operations Section is again participating in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Fall Street Smart campaign. This region-wide public safety campaign, which runs from November 5 – December 2, 2018, aims to educate drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and scooter operators about existing traffic laws and how to safely share our roadways.” [Arlington County]

County Board Lauds County Staff — In a video posted on YouTube, County Board Chair Katie Cristol and Vice Chair Christian Dorsey said “thank you” to Arlington County staff for the hard work that helped propel the county to high resident satisfaction ratings. “We are really proud of you… of your commitment to excellence and the role you play in making Arlington a terrific community.” [YouTube]

Bicycling Meetups This Fall — “Fall has arrived in Arlington, leaves have started to change colors, and temperatures are dipping overnight… If you’re looking for a good excuse to ride bikes and drink coffee this fall, like I do, there are plenty of local opportunities to make that happen.” [BikeArlington]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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The average warning time for a tornado is 13 minutes. Would you be able to get your family to safety in 13 minutes? Would more time help?

The National Weather Service issues weather Watches when the potential for a weather incident exists, but how would you find out?

Be informed by signing up for Arlington Alert, the emergency notification system in Arlington County. It’s more than just notifications during major emergencies; you can also choose to receive alerts for weather, traffic closures and severe transit delays.

Currently, there are 25,763 people signed up for Arlington Alert; that’s less than 10% of the Arlington County population. Of those people, only 4,769 opted in to receive Flash Flood Warnings. These types of floods happen quickly, and have been happening in our area recently.

Would you be ready if that happened right now?

By Staying Aware, You Are Better Prepared!

September is National Preparedness Month and we challenge you to do one thing each week to get you and your family prepared.

  • Week 1: Sept 1-8 Make and Practice Your Plan
  • Week 2: Sept 9-15 Learn Life Saving Skills
  • Week 3: Sept 16-22 Check Your Insurance Coverage
  • Week 4: Sept 23-29 Save For an Emergency

Make an emergency plan and talk to your kids about it.

Make sure they know how to contact you or where your meeting location is if there is a fire in your home.

Learn first aid or sign up for ‘Until Help Arrives’, our hands-on training with the Arlington County Fire Department that teaches participants how to help until first responders arrive. Get an insurance check-up and set aside funds for an emergency.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can. Prepare now!

Sign up for emergency notifications at ArlingtonAlert.com and follow us @ReadyArlington on Facebook and Twitter.

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Arlington County police are gearing up for a new traffic safety enforcement push.

As part of this year’s 2018 Spring Pedestrian & Bicyclist Safety Awareness Program, police officers will be out enforcing traffic laws in Virginia Square and along Columbia Pike this week.

Tomorrow (May 1), officers will be enforcing traffic laws at Fairfax Drive and N. Kenmore Street from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. On Thursday (May 3), officers will conduct the same enforcement at Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street from 1-2:30 p.m.

Anyone spotted violating traffic laws in those areas — motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — will be ticketed.

The bike safety campaign aims “to change pedestrian, driver and bicyclist behavior while reducing the number of traffic related crashes and injuries.”

The same campaign in 2016 targeted the Crystal City and Clarendon neighborhoods, and a similar campaign in the fall also took place on Columbia Pike.

More from the press release:

Each year, pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year. The Arlington County Police Department participates in numerous enforcement campaigns throughout the year in support of its commitment to improving transportation safety in the County. These campaigns combine public education and high-visibility enforcement to ensure that all travelers share the road safely.

Updated Columbia Pike enforcement timeline at 9:04 a.m. on May 2 due to updated press release sent from the ACPD that morning.

File photo

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