The Cyclist's Wish List for Arlington
These things can't be found in any catalog, but it sure would be great to see Arlington get them.
In the modern spirit of the season, I present my holiday wish list for Arlington cyclists:
5. End the subpar cutting and "repairing" of our streets. Yes, frequent pavement cuts and covers are an inherent part of growth and redevelopment. While Arlington manages most aspects of its growth fairly well, the pavement repair quality has taken a serious nosedive in the past year. The jagged edges, unfilled cuts, and unexpected lumps routinely result in dangerous situations for cyclists and pedestrians. Arlington County needs to do a far better job than it does of holding contractors accountable for the damage they're doing to our streets.
4. It’s time for the National Park Service to become bike friendly. It's a rare Arlington cyclist that stays in Arlington. To get to any point east of here, most cyclists regularly pass through National Park Service controlled areas (e.g., the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the National Mall, etc.). Yet the NPS has historically placed bike and pedestrian access to these spaces a distant second behind motor vehicle access. In fact, it still maintains crossings that are undeniably dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Having recently met with some NPS staff about these issues, I get the impression that change will come, but it can't get here soon enough.
3. Arlington needs better intra-county north-south connections. Time for a pop quiz! Question: How do you quickly and safely ride from your Rosslyn apartment to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse on Columbia Pike? Or from Crystal City to Clarendon? Answer: There is no good answer. While projects like the not-quite-completed trail along the north/west side of Arlington Boulevard are steps in the right direction, we're a long way from the kind of north-south connectivity we need. Glebe Road just isn't doing it.
2. Arlington County must start treating our trails like the transportation corridors they are. I've gone on about this before, and I'll do it again. Even in the coldest, darkest, wettest days of winter, hundreds of cyclists use our trails to commute to work. In the bright days of summer, it rises to thousands. Arlington should – at a minimum – keep our main trails plowed in the winter and smoothly paved year round.
1. Everyone deserves safe streets. World peace might be a bit of a stretch, but safe streets are entirely within our reach. While better street designs, improved light timing, and other infrastructure approaches cost time and money, it costs us nothing to slow down and share our roads. Give him some extra space when you pass, stop when you see her in the cross walk - it's easy to do, and doesn't require anyone to spend money or change the law. It just asks that we give a little.
Happy holidays, everyone. Ride, drive, and walk safely.
Mark Blacknell is chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, president of the board of directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.