Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday May 21st is Bike to Work Day

Friday May 21st is Bike to Work Day, organized by the Washington Area Bike Association. Have been doing this for years and it is an incredibly festive day. The suburbs have "pit stops" which have become mini fairs with music and food and giveaways - and then there is a big rally downtown at Freedom plaza. The Rosslyn pit stop has become a huge gathering of bikers from Norther Virgina. It's wonderful to see streams and streams of bikers pouring down the bike paths and across the bridges to the rivers. And it creates a powerfully visible statement of the important of bike commuting to our transportation system. Register today, and come out and show us your wheels!

From WABA:

Join thousands of area commuters for a celebration of bicycling as a clean,fun and healthy way to get to work! Meet up with your neighbors at one of 35 regional pit stops, ride into the city with experienced commuter convoys and meet your fellow cyclists at Freedom Plaza. Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Commuter Connections invite you to try bicycling to work as an alternative to solo driving. Help the Washington region become a better place to ride. Bike to Work Day is a FREE event and open to all area commuters. There will be a raffle, prizes, food, drink and more at all pit stops throughout the region.

Free T-shirts will available for the first 8.500 registrants who are in attendance at the pit stop they registered for.

Geocaching in Arlington

Reposting: This weekend Geocaching is marking its 10th Anniversary. There are now over 1 million active geocaches worldwide!

Arlington has 100s of geocaches that abound in its parks, urban settings, and sometimes hidden right in front of you.

Today, on the way home from dropping the kid off at school, I found "Death of a Nazi." The cache marks the spot of the 1967 killing of
George Lincoln Rockwell, up near Upton Hill Regional Park. The cache itself is a small hidden container. It's GPS coordinates are loaded into the website - where participants can download them to their GPS devices. Along with the coordinates, the person who creates the cache frequently tells a story of why the location is significant. In this case, it was Mr. Rockwell's death. The description for this cache describes the events of that day:
At noon on Friday, August 25th 1967, Rockwell drove from his headquarters to the laundromat in the Dominion Hills shopping center across the street (now a shoe repair store)....
Follow the link above to read the rest of the story.

Geocaching is an excellent opportunity to be outdoors, get to know neighborhoods, or go for a hike. The Boy Scouts added a new merit badge for Geocaching this year. And Northern Virginia has its own
Geocaching club. Members of the club regularly volunteer to give classes for those interested in starting this hobby.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

East Falls Church Development Plan - Two Thumbs Up

Tonite Arlington is holding a hearing on the future development of East Falls Church - a far western corner of Arlington - and amazing for Arlington's size - it is also one of Arlington's 11 subways stops (did I count that right?). At most other subway stations, the station has resulted in economic development. This corner of Arlington, however, was the home of a farm stand for many years - and was only recently developed into townhouses.

Well now Arlington has a plan for this little corner, and its quite impressive. I have looked over this plan and two things jump out at me.

First, Arlington is filled with wonderful local parks where the community congregates and mingles. This is where community is built and celebrated. There are soccer fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, a mega cool skate park - and of course there are the wonderful dog parks! Next to East Falls Church Metro is one of our favorites, Benjamin Banneker Park. We have conducted a extensive survey of dogs entering their park, and their unanimous opinion is "Howwwwwlllllllll!" They love this park. And not only do the canines get to frolic in a fenced in environment safe for others in the park - but it also builds community. Citizens come with coffee and gab. Better than any franchise coffee house, this is the place to be on a Saturday morning. In reviewing the plan, I am glad to see that the Benjamin Banneker Dog Park remains unchanged and continues as part of our community.

Second, a gem of Arlington is the bike paths, with three major paths cutting through the county: W&OD, George Washington Parkway, and Custis. These are wonderful and well used by commuters and recreaters. A favorite weekend adventure is to bike from Bluemont Park to Falls Church on the W&OD stopping at Lazy Sundae Ice Cream just off the path. The only place the bike path clear degrades is East Falls Church. And in the bike plan is the articulated goal of improving bike transportation around East Falls Church, and linking what is currently broken parks of the trail.

Arlington has worked hard at promoting alternatives to car commuting, and is currently engaged in the Car Free Diet Challenge. We have buses and subways. And we have excellent highly used bike paths. Currently the Custis Trail going across in to town is experiencing traffic jams during rush hour due to its high use. It's wonderful! Fixing this part of the W&OD will help commuters moving from Arlington and Falls Church. Bike Paths also meet the counties goals of encouraging exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Two thumbs up for these two excellent aspects of the East Falls Church Plan!

They Asked for a Rant: Bikes and Cars

The Washington Post asks

Traffic-choked streets are a part of daily life in the Washington region. In recent years, bicycles have become an ever-more present part of life on those streets too, as more adults turn to bikes for transportation, fitness and pleasure. How well are cyclists and drivers sharing the road? Send us your thoughts and observations. E-mail

You want thoughts? Here's a thought: DONT KILL ME!

When a bike and a car get into a collision - the biker ALWAYS loses. Period. End of Story. End of Life.

Any car driver who thinks a biker is on a suicide mission to kill themselves is NUTS.

We tried to pass a three foot rule in VA and failed. 3 FEET. That's all I ask - enough room for your bumper or review view not to knock me over. But no - cars WILL NOT give bikes enough room on the road.

I sit at traffic lights in DC now and watch the light turn. Green. Yellow. Red. And then count the two cars that run the red light. Red light runners kill people.

Any while I am ranting, why does EVERY story about a bike and car accident end with these two lines: (1) "No charges are pending." and (2) "An investigation is taking place as to why the bike hit the car." When cars kill car drivers - when cars kill pedestrians, there is an investigation. There is a presumption that something went wrong. But when a car kills a biker - the biker must have run into the car.

Okay, here are my thoughts

* Law and culture has to change so that bikes are given enough room to navigate safely on the road.

* Implement the Idaho stop rule for bikes.

* Rules designed for cars should not apply to bikes. I AM NOT SAYING RULES SHOULD NOT APPLY TO BIKES. I am saying car rules should not apply. In Arlington as traffic calming planning, there are stop signs everywhere. On a bike, I come to a stop sign designed to slow cars down - I can see all ways, I can see that it is safe, I proceed. The policy behind the signs - to slow down cars - makes no sense and is even counter productive when applied to bikes. We need BIKE rules for bikes - not CAR rules for bikes. Yes, bikes must move safely. Absolutely. But dont apply rules for a 1 ton, 60 MPH hunk of steel to a small footprint, much slower moving, much safer vehicle.

* Share the road means "share the road." It does not mean that bikes are aliens that are tolerated and then shoved off when the single person in a car driver is late for their tennis match.

* Bike lanes right next to park cars are a stupid idea. It is an invitation to be doored.

* Major bike paths need to be wide enough to support major traffic. Single lanes under bridges is an invitation for an accident.

* Develop a culture of responsible bikers. Sounds when passing. Lights. Day gloo colors. Safe biking. WABA does a great job.

Being on the road is a clear "US" against "THEM" experience. The cars view themselves as US and the bikers as THEM. The bikers are not tolerated. They are honked at, pushed off the road, and killed. This has to change.

Bikers are paying taxes just like everyone else. The same or similar level of those tax dollars should go to support bike commuting as car commuting. Bike commuting has got to be a great bang for the tax dollar buck - given the amount of maintenance and repair car roads and bridges need as opposed to bike paths and sidewalks.

Transportation by single occupancy 1 ton hunks of gas guzzling steel is no longer viable. As was said about the Valdez accident, and now the oil spill in the Gulf, "It was not the Captain of Valdez's driving that caused that oil spill - it was our driving that caused it." The era of gasoline based single occupancy 20 MPG commuting is over. Biking is part of the solution. Infrastructure, law, and culture has to change to support this - and to end the unquestioned killing of bikers by motor vehicles.

Robert Cannon
Arlington, VA

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Community Energy Plan Town Hall - April 17th

I was asked to pass along the following.... Sounds like a good opportunity!

Don't miss the county's first Community Energy Town Hall meeting on April 17th! Mark you calender now and plan to attend this historic event. Do you have an opinion on energy intensity of local food, how your condo can go green, how sustainable redevelopment can occur in Crystal City or Columbia Pike, or maybe you have other opinions to share.

WE WANT YOUR INPUT and plan to facilitate the discussion at the upcoming April 17th meeting.

The Community Energy Plan project will establish energy goals and strategies for the entire County. This project will ultimately result in an energy plan that addresses the places where we use energy in our community – in homes, shops, offices, public buildings and other institutions – and offer strategies to:

  • Enhance Arlington’s economic competitiveness
  • Ensure reliable and affordable energy supplies
  • Demonstrate the County’s long-term commitment to environmental responsibility

The process for developing the Community Energy Plan includes two equally important elements:

  • Community Dialogue: Arlington will host two Community Town Hall Meetings in 2010 to give Arlingtonians a chance to share their thoughts on energy challenges and opportunities in our community.
  • Community Energy and Sustainability (CES) Task Force: County Board Chairman Jay Fisette convened a group of local energy and business leaders to form this task force. Together, with the input of the community, County staff and a consulting partner, Task Force leaders will recommend short and long term energy goals and identify actions needed to meet these goals. The Task Force meets every other month and each meeting is open to the public.

For more information please visit the following resources:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

50 Most Bike Friendly Cities - #30 Arlington VA

Frankly I would have expected Arlington to score higher. Not sure why it doesnt score higher than Wash DC. See 50 Most Bike Friendly Cities. Certainly a huge number of the folk biking into DC bike from Arlington. But maybe it as simple as that - the number of bikers as a raw number is bigger in WDC than in Arlington.

When I moved to Arlington 20 years ago, the W&OD and the Curtis Trails were primary features. Back then I commuted regularly by bike. Now I bike commute at least once a week. In those 20 years, the number of bike commuters has grown and grown. Arlington is a great bike community to live in (oh, and for fun, circumnavigate Arlington on bike: Curtis Trail, to GW Parkway Trail, to W&OD trail - with necessary break in Shirlington for refreshments!!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Phoenix Bike Show - This Week in Arlington

Come out and support one of Arlington's truly great youth organizations!