New trail connections, more bike safety classes and improved bike parking in new developments: These aren’t happy accidents. Nor are they part of some secret plan to evict cars from the streets. Instead, they’re part of a rather public plan — Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan, or MTP.
The plan is a roadmap for Arlington’s transportation future, and it recognizes that cycling — along with public transportation, walking and, yes, even private vehicles — is going to help get us there.
Arlington’s future will be filled with more density and more people, with no room for more roads. Realizing this, Arlington County embarked on a very thorough and public examination of its transportation needs over the next 30 years. County staff, working with the Transportation Commission and several advisory boards, gathered public input. They worked to better understand what those needs would be and plan to meet them in a way that addressed Arlingtonians’ priorities.
The resulting plan has evolved over the years.
While it sets out general goals and policies for transportation as a whole, it also takes detailed looks at how the various modes of transportation — like cycling — fit into the larger picture. The bicycle element (see attached PDF above) of the plan provides clear guidance on how the county intends to make cycling an easy and useful choice for getting around Arlington.
The plan established broad principles to guide the county’s efforts to improve cycling. These include completing the trail network, increasing bicycle use, enhancing safety for all road users, managing and maintaining bike facilities, and integrating cycling with other modes of transportation.
The MTP’s broad principles, in turn, helped guide the county in identifying specific projects.
In the case of physical infrastructure projects like trail connections and bike parking, anyone’s who’s interested in seeing what Arlington is planning for the future should check out Appendix B. Curious about what the bike parking standards are for new developments? That's in Appendix D. There’s an incredible amount of detail in there for folks who want to understand where the county wants to take cycling.
While some of the projects listed in the plan have already been completed, a lot remain on the table. But the fact that the county has already identified them puts Arlington well ahead of most places. We have a plan. Now we just need to make sure that we continue to act on it.
Interested in more about the MTP? You can find the whole thing here.
Mark Blacknell is chair of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, president of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and a League Cycling Instructor.