I'm not much of a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving, but I do think it's good to stop and appreciate what we've got from time to time. A recent outside view of what makes Arlington good for cycling reminded me that we've got a lot to be thankful for here. I wrote a bit last year about some of the people making Arlington a great place to ride, and now's a good time to update that.
A lot has happened in the past year. Capital Bikeshare's long-anticipated expansion really took off, with stations now saturating the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Arlington also developed a very smart analysis and plan for Capital Bikeshare's future.
There was also progress on infrastructure. Some of it was standard bike lane striping, completing gaps in the network. But there were also new — to Arlington — efforts, such as painting bike lanes green at tricky intersections, or painting in a buffered bike lane on eastbound Clarendon Boulevard though Clarendon. There was also forward motion on the planning side of things, bringing us closer to the construction of the Washington Boulevard Trail and the implementation of the bicycle boulevards parallel to Columbia Pike.
Our local elected leaders continue to be great friends of cycling. On Friday's Politics Hour radio show, Arlington County Board member — and likely incoming chairman — Walter Tejada didn't just acknowledge the challenge of keeping cyclists safe along the Columbia Pike corridor, but also talked about one of the solutions: bike boulevards.
While Arlington doesn't have a regional lock on bike-friendly politicians, I think we've got the best. Jay Fisette deserves a lot of credit for our drive to become a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community, and state Del. Alfonso Lopez did his best to improve state law with respect to cyclists.
This past year also saw some fantastic new events of interest to a wide array of cyclists. I had absolutely no idea what a Crystal City Diamond Derby was going to be the first time I attended. It turned out to be so much fun that there was a second — and much bigger — one this year. The Arlington Fun Ride also reappeared this year, doubling participation from the previous year.
We also saw a big increase in self-organizing rides and events this past year, usually through the Washington Area Bike Forums. From cyclist happy hours to family rides, people are just making it happen.
While it's not at all new for this year, any list of thanks would be incomplete without a nod to the good folks on staff at Bike Arlington and in county government. When people from around Virginia ask me why Arlington has such great cycling, I point to lots of things. But an enormous portion of the credit goes to the fact that we're lucky enough to not only have professional and competent people on staff, but we've got people on staff who ride and truly believe they're making a positive impact on Arlington.
For them, and everything else here, I'm thankful.
Mark Blacknell is a member of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.