Getting Our Priorities Straight
Members of Arlington's cycling community gathered in Shirlington on Tuesday night to discuss advocacy priorities.
Arlington cyclists met Tuesday night to identify and discuss what they thought should happen to improve Arlington's cycling environment. Some focused on particular infrastructure challenges while others took aim at larger cultural issues like driver education, availability of resources for family biking, and better communication among the advocates themselves.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association, or WABA, hosted the discussion as part of a series of meetings around the D.C. region. WABA intends for these meetings to help shape their advocacy priorities for the coming years.
Any meeting of cyclists in the area will almost invariably produce a discussion of dangerous intersections and roads, and this one stayed true to form. The usual suspects – Lynn Street and Lee Highway, Shirlington Road and Arlington Mill Drive, and Memorial Circle – were all identified as problems that needed to be addressed.
Some less frequently aired concerns also came up for discussion. One mother was dismayed at the lack of area retailers stocking family-friendly bikes (like the Dutch Bakfiets bike). This dovetailed into desires by others for more family-friendly cycling facilities, such as those that are separated from the rest of foot and vehicular traffic.
The theme of improved coordination appeared many times. Retailers in attendance thought that coordinated campaigns between local bike friendly businesses would have a greater impact than existing individual efforts. Advocates facing largely unresponsive organizations (such as the National Park Service) hoped that better communication among the folks seeking change could help elicit more of a response.
The meeting didn't cover all of the important work that remains to be done in Arlington. For example, it only briefly touched on the importance of outreach to the laborer population that often commutes without lights in the dark. It did, however, help clarify the priorities of Arlington's local cyclists.
These local priorities will be reconciled with others in the region at a November summit of regional advocates. After that? Action.
Mark Blacknell is chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.