Thankful for Cycling in Arlington
In advance of the holidays, a reflection on the many things that make Arlington a great place for cyclists.
Arlington has much to be proud of when it comes to making cycling a good choice for transportation and recreation. This isn’t some happy accident, but the result of the work of a lot of dedicated people, well-planned infrastructure and Arlingtonians themselves.
While this column often focuses on what needs to be improved to make Arlington a better place for cyclists, I thought it was a good time to focus on what Arlington has already accomplished.
Let’s start with the efforts of the Arlington County government. We’ve got County Board members who not only support the idea of cycling, but often get on a bike themselves. Similarly, many of the county staff who are involved in planning development and designing infrastructure are also regular riders who understand the practical impact of design choices. On top of all that, Arlington County actively solicits monthly public feedback from residents through the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Bike Arlington – supported by the county to help promote cycling as a safe and efficient transportation alternative – does a great job of exactly that. Nearly omnipresent at Arlington events, they have a dedicated staff always ready and able to answer the questions of anyone who’s interested in cycling. They offer cycling safety classes and help for local businesses interested in making bike commuting easier for their employees.
Capital Bikeshare, of course, is the envy of many a city. Arlington actually led the way in bringing Capital Bikeshare to the Washington metro region, and by this time next year, we’ll likely see triple the number of the existing stations in Arlington.
Arlington’s infrastructure, as challenging as it can sometimes be, is still leagues ahead of most other jurisdictions in the region. This year alone, we’ve seen miles of new bike lanes, installation of dozens of new bike racks, and even some repaving of the much-neglected-but-heavily-used Custis Trail.
When it comes to local bike retailers, Arlington’s got a fantastic range of choices. Revolution Cycles, in Clarendon, covers the recreational market pretty well, and is active in local advocacy efforts. Those looking for basic entry-level transportation (as well as help in fixing older bikes that most other shops won’t touch) can head over to Papillion Cycles on Columbia Pike. Interested in performance machines, or seeing what a $14,000 bike looks like? Freshbikes (previously Conte’s) in Ballston has you covered. Finally, Phoenix Bikes, down in Barcroft Park, not only sells second-hand bikes, but benefits local kids while doing so.
Finally, the very best thing about cycling in Arlington? The cyclists. Riders here are generally well-behaved on our streets and trails. Volunteers show up in droves to help distribute lights to those without. They help develop our bike culture by packing the house for bike movies and giving feedback at county public input meetings.
Most importantly, they’re out there, in growing numbers. Arlington cyclists of all stripes are in the streets, showing the rest of us that it can be done safely, comfortably and conveniently.
So thanks for all of that.
On Tuesday, two more Capital Bikeshare stations were installed in Clarendon. The first is in front of Orvis, at the corner of Clarendon Boulevard and Fillmore Street. The second is on the northeast corner of the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Highland Street, and is pictured in the photo above. After this, we're only likely to see the stations near Northside Social and Java Shack installed before taking something of a break until the spring.
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.