Sunday, October 26, 2014

Alan Howze Update ~ Target Zero Safer Streets Initiative #bikedc #arlingtonva

Arlington County Board Candidate Alan Howze sent me the following additional information about his views of cycling in Arlington



In his Press Release, Alan Howze states

HOWZE CALLS FOR ARLINGTON TO ADOPT “TARGET ZERO” SAFER STREETS INITIATIVE-ZERO pedestrian and cyclist injuries from vehicle accidents to make Arlington safer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alan Howze – 703-258-2608

Today, Alan Howze, the Democratic Nominee for the Arlington County Board, called for Arlington to adopt a goal of ZERO pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths from vehicle accidents. This can be achieved through a comprehensive safe streets approach.

Said Howze, “more and more Arlington residents are choosing to move in our community on foot and on bicycles. We must continue to create safe infrastructure that promotes walking and cycling and protects residents from preventable injury and death. Communities across the Country are setting targets of ZERO pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries caused by vehicle accidents and so should Arlington.”

Howze continued, “from the Intersection of Doom to safe routes to all Arlington schools, we must take action to make our streets safer. I want walking and biking to be a safe, attractive transportation option for all Arlingtonians: young or old, single riders or families, commuters or for recreation. We should enable people to walk and bike when they want – on short trips on safe neighborhood streets to school or the store or to the park, and on longer trips to work or across the County on a connected network of trails.”

Concluded Howze, “Today, I am issuing the challenge for Arlington to become a community with ZERO pedestrian and cyclist traffic injuries. I am laying out specific actions that we can take to make our community safer and healthier through walking and cycling.”

Howze Safer Streets Plan
1)Make Streets Safer for All Users
2)Complete Safe routes to ALL Arlington schools
3)Expand trail and route network
4)Enhance Community Involvement

Detailed Action Plan
1)Make Streets Safer for All Users
a. Identify safety hot-spots in neighborhoods and resolve these within 12 months
I. Accelerate safety improvements at the “Intersection of Doom” in Rosslyn (Lynn and westbound Lee Highway) – see plan here
b. Collect detailed incident information on all bike and pedestrian accidents
c. Expanded sidewalks for pedestrian accessibility
d. Expand broken links program to improve connectivity
e. Implement street designs and configurations that enhance safety
f. Incorporate bike and pedestrian safety in all road and bridge projects
g. Expand the use of low-cost tools such as stop-signs at dangerous intersections
h. Increased traffic enforcement of actions that endanger pedestrians and cyclists
I. Adjust traffic signaling to minimize vehicle and pedestrians interactions in intersections

2)Complete Safe routes to ALL Arlington schools
a. Work with APS to ensure that children, parents, staff and visitors can safely access the school by bus, car, bike, and walking
b. Create Transportation Demand Management plans for each school, including crossing guards and traffic calming
c. Create a coordinated County and APS plan to clear sidewalks and provide safe routes to schools within 24 hours after inclement weather (snow/ice)
d. Design safe bike infrastructure and policies that accommodates all bikes, especially those used to transport children
e. Respond to input from local civic associations in safe street designs – such as the Rock Spring Civic Association request on crossing design and traffic lights

3)Expand trail and route network
a. Enhance maintenance and repaving of trail network
b. Work with the National Park Service to widen the Mt Vernon Trail and separate cyclists and runners and pedestrians
c. Create 20 miles of protected bike lanes by 2020
d. Support continued expansion of Capital Bikeshare
e. Complete Route 50 bike route connectivity
f. Enhance I-395 and North-South trail connectivity
I. Work with Ft Myer on commuter access
II. Support Army Navy Country Club connector
g. Complete bike boulevards along Columbia Pike
h. Create network of bike boulevards and safe bike routes that connect the county
i. Improve Crystal City and Long Bridge Park trail connectivity
j. Work with regional partners to improve connectivity including the Roosevelt Bridge; Chain Bridge; Memorial Bridge; and Mt Vernon Trail
k. Design bike-ped facilities into commercial construction and County buildings
l. Ensure that designs – such as the Pedestrian bridge over Rt 50 at Irving – can accommodate bikes effectively

4)Enhance Community Involvement
a. Improve opportunities for input by residents on street and safety improvements
b. Improve County outreach and response processes on street safety issues
c. Accelerate implementation of neighborhood traffic safety solutions
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Trick or Treat for #Coffeeneuring #4: In Which the SAG Driver Gets Out of Hand

Today marks the festival of the Great Pumpkin, in which the Great Pumpkin spirit rises from the pumpkin patch to gives pumpkin pie to good little cyclists.

Good little cyclists celebrate by gathering on the morning of the Great Pumpkin Ride to sing Pumpkin carols around the Yule pumpkin caboose in Warrenton.  The cyclists then go cycling from pit spot to pit stop, saying "trick or treat!" and finding out what the host has in store for them.  And when they arrived at the first pit stop today, the answer they received was:

Host: Well, there's pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread; pumpkin soup and pumpkin cake; pumpkin pie and spam; pumpkin cake and spam; pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup and spam; spam, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake and spam......


To which some guy working the SAG car started signing: Pie Pie Pie Pie Pie

Host: spam, spam, spam, pumpkin bread and spam; spam spam spam spam candy corn and spam

SAG guy: Pie! Pumpkin Pie!

Host: or Lobstor Thermidor a Crevette with a pumpkin sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with a truffle pate, brandy and with pumpkin pie and spam.

I: Have you got anything without spam?


Host: Well, there's pumpkin pie, spam, pumpkin bread and spam.  That's not got much spam in it.

I: I dont want any spam!


My buddy: Why cant he have pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin beer, and spam?

I: THAT's got spam in it!

Buddy: Hasnt got as much spam in it as pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, spam, pumpkin soup, and spam, has it?

SAG Driver: Pie Pie Pie Pie

I:  Look, could you do the pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin soup without spam then?

Host: Urggh!

I: What do you mean 'Urgghh'!?!  I dont like Spam!

SAG Driver: Lovely Pie! Pumpkin Pie!

Host: Shut Up!

Buddy: Dont worry.  I'll have your spam.  I love it.  I'm having spam spam spam spam spam spam spam baked pumpkin and spam!

SAG driver: Pie Pie Pie Pie

Host: Shut! UP! Baked pumpkin is off.

Buddy:  Well could I have his spam instead of the baked pumpkin?

Host: You mean spam spam spam spam spam......

SAG driver (who by this time who had too much pumpkin beer): Pie Pie Pie Pie Pumpkin Pie.
I gave up.  I biked on, despondent.  Upon Rootchoppers recommendation, after completing the Great Pumpkin Ride (well not really completed - more like cheatedly cutting lots of corners and turned a 47 mile ride into a 32 mile ride so technically I wasnt even on the Great Pumpkin ride...), I went to the Great Harvest Bread Company and had a fantastic sandwich, black coffee, and BLUEBERRY COBBLER!  

Never saw Rootchopper.  I think the SAG driver must have gotten him and taken him to the viking boat.  

Coffeeneuring Vitals:
  • Where I went for coffee: Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Date: Today
  • What I drankCoffee: Black.
  • Details About Coffee Ride: Above, some of its true 
  • Bike Friendliness: The Great Pumpkin would approve
  • Mileage: 32 miles on the Great Pumpkin Ride except about half were not on the Great Pumpkin Ride cause I cheated.  More miles getting coffee and goofing around.





Saturday, October 18, 2014

Coffeeneuring #3: Look Mom: No Brains! #coffeeneuring

This weekend I had to rely on one of my lifelines.  No coffee truck was available at DC||CX today so I had to rely on my "Coffee Without Walls" option.

First, the coffee.  The coffee was its finest.  You know that you are drinking the best when you are drinking Jo out of a cup that says Black and Decker.  I believe the brand was Whatever Was Cheapest at the Grocery Store.  It was barely tolerable and managed to keep me awake for a few hours.  The picture was taken during the ELITE race, featuring the #1, #2, and #3 racers.  I believe #2 won.


As for the ride,  after the day had ended, most of the spandex-kings had left and the course officials were drinking beer, I once again stole The Kid's bike to try my hand.  I must say... I dont think I look like a cyclocrosser.  I managed to do the course 1.5 times (more than 2 miles but who knows how much) without crashing so I consider that an outstanding achievement.  Dont tell The Kid but tomorrow I have entered The Geezer's race.  I do believe I have lost my brain.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

John Vihstadt, Candidate for Arlco Board, on Cycling and Arlington #bikedc #arlingtonva

John Vihstadt for
Arlington County Board

Reposting from the last election.  Candidates are invited to revise or update.  I will post if you do
 
Do you bike to work? If so, how often? Do you cycle otherwise?

While I do not bike to my downtown DC job, I support a multi-modal transportation approach that includes cycling. I carpool in the morning, and take a combination of Metro rail, Metro bus or ART bus, and walk home from the East Falls Church metro station at night.

My family does enjoy recreational cycling, especially on the Custis and W&OD Trails. I’m also happy to note that our own stretch of Jefferson Street between North 16th Street and Patrick Henry Drive is marked on Arlington County’s Bike Map as a “recommended on-street route,” and we enjoy the neighborhood bike traffic.

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, my first job was delivering a neighborhood newspaper on my Red Schwinn. As a youth, it was always a challenge to cruise around town tossing rolled up newspapers onto front porches while balancing the paper-heavy canvas bags on my back or draped over the handlebars.

Arlington County is going for a Gold Certification as a Bike Friendly Community. Do you support this effort? What do you feel Arlington could do in order to obtain that Gold certification? How should cycling fit within Arlington's transportation plan? How does Capital Bikeshare fit within that plan?

I support the County’s reaching for Gold certification, continuing to build on the cycling element that has been a key to Arlington’s Transportation Master Plan since trails were first included in 1974. Recent County initiatives to improve both bicycle and pedestrian safety such as the High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) traffic signals, additional green-painted bike lanes, the South Joyce Street project, improved bike parking and the expansion and strengthening of Capital Bikeshare to nearly 80 stations around the County all provide forward momentum towards this goal. And, while cycling to school may not work for many students due to diverse considerations ranging from dangerous intersections and distance to topography and heavy backpacks, I am also pleased to see recent Arlington Public Schools initiatives to foster cycling.

Arlington County supports bike commuters as part of its transportation plan. And yet the bike paths - the arteries of bike commuters - are under Parks and Recreation jurisdiction. Parks and Recreation regularly closes the trails down during rush hour, fails to clear the trails of snow after storms, and drives its vehicles down the trails. Should the bike trails be considered vital transportation arteries? Should they be placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment Services? Should the trails be clear of snow after storms? Should Parks and Recreation be able to close down the trails during rush hour in order to prune trees?

It is essential that we do everything possible to minimize weather-related impact on our bike trails and ensure that they are maintained and cleared in a timely manner. We need to avoid intergovernmental “turf” issues that might impede this goal. At the same time, we may need to consider reviewing current jurisdictional responsibilities within County government to be certain that we have the most coordinated approach possible to maximize use and effectiveness of our award-winning Bike Arlington system.

A notorious problem in Arlington is known as the Intersection of Doom. This is the intersection of N Lynn Street and the Custis Trail (Lee Hwy) near I-66 and Key Bridge. It is a dangerous intersection where cars regularly run red lights, and there is rarely police enforcement. What can be done to make the Intersection of Doom safer?

This spot is one of several “Difficult Crossings” along Lee Highway in close proximity with each other, starting at the Key Bridge and moving west to Scott Street, as designated on the County’s Bike Map. A comprehensive, integrated approach must be taken to ensure greater access and safety along this stretch, which is made more challenging since Lee Highway is a State road and I-66 is a Federal highway. This might include a combination of driver, cyclist and pedestrian education, beefed up enforcement, and certain re-engineering.

Our Bicycle Advisory Committee held a site visit at Rosslyn Circle in 2011 with top County officials and staff, who advised at the time that discussions were underway with VDOT. Yet, from what I can tell, no work has yet been announced, much less done.

Phoenix Bikes is proposing moving its youth program to a new location along Four Mile Run and Walter Reed Drive. This will give Phoenix Bikes more room to expand its programs and greater access to potential cycling customers. Do you support the new location for Phoenix Bikes?

In December, I visited the current location of Phoenix Bikes in an old storage shed in Barcroft Park and chatted with CEO Henry Dunbar. This is a wonderful community program that deserves support. The proposed new location at Walter Reed near the W&OD Trail will provide Phoenix a more accessible location and allow them to better fulfill their mission to empower youth to become social entrepreneurs through this sustainable nonprofit community bicycle shop. I am confident that we can all work with the adjacent community up the hill to mitigate parking, traffic and green space concerns as the project moves forward.

Additional Question: "I would ask the candidates to explain their position on the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar and whether they support including the construction of a CONTINUOUS cross-county parallel bikeway as an INTEGRAL part of the Pike Streetcar project."

I oppose the not yet fully funded Columbia Pike streetcar, the projected cost of which has mushroomed from about $120 million to at least $310 million before a single spade of dirt has been turned. But I am committed to a comprehensive transit upgrade along the Pike, including some form of enhanced bus rapid transit, or BRT. BRT may be implemented at a fraction of the streetcar cost, much more quickly and with comparable benefits, and with much less impact and disruption to small businesses, Pike residents and commuters alike—including cyclists. Congestion, flexibility, capacity, ride quality and regional compatibility are additional reasons to implement bus rapid transit I will also note that streetcar tracks are hazardous to cyclists.

I would prefer to see a continuous, cross-county parallel bikeway constructed regardless of the streetcar’s future, as neither 7th Street, 9th Street nor 12th Street South, as they stand now, work to do this. The County should explore allocating some of its new regional and local transportation funds under HB 2313 to advance key bike projects throughout the County.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the Arlington cyclist community?

While in New York over the holidays, my family visited the Museum of the City of New York. I was struck by an exhibit on social activism in New York from the 17th Century through the present day. The final component was a fascinating portrayal of the cycling movement’s remarkably successful efforts to make even the City of New York, with more than 8 million citizens, a bicycle-friendly city. At the same time, the exhibit struck a cautionary note, observing that many businesses, vehicle users, parents with strollers and senior citizens believe that the City may be going too far in trying to accommodate cyclists at the expense of commerce, convenience, traffic considerations, and driver and pedestrian safety concerns. Here in Arlington, though we will surely never approach New York City’s overall density, we need to be continually mindful to involve all stakeholders at all times so that any potential community strife and tension may be appropriately resolved. We need to fully utilize existing citizen-oriented bodies such as Arlington’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and take a holistic approach to all cycling issues.

Many thanks,

JOHN VIHSTADT
www.VoteForVihstadt.com
Facebook: Voters for Vihstadt


Alan Howze, Candidate for Arlington County Board, Answers Questions on Cycling and Arlington #arlingtonva #bikedc @alanhowze

Reposting from the last election.  Candidates are invited to revise or update.  I will post if you do.

Do you bike to work? If so, how often? Do you cycle otherwise?
 

Yes, I am a bike commuter. I cycle as often as can, which varies by season, work location, etc. I know that on the days I cycle, I will arrive at work more alert and happier and will arrive back home that evening more relaxed.
 

I work at IBM, and have bike commuted to sites in downtown DC, the DC Waterfront, Courthouse, the Pentagon, and Herndon. In each case, I found that the accessibility and cost of locations to shower and change – and to securely store my bike – directly affected my own bike commuting patterns and how widespread bike commuting is among employees.  My own experiences have shaped my understanding of the importance of designing bike commuting into facilities in order to promote wider adoption of bike commuting.  The easier and more convenient it is to bike commute, the more people will do it. 
 

I cycle for fun, too. With my children I frequently ride sections of the C&O canal, and the Arlington loop. When my children are older, I have plans to ride the C&O from Pittsburgh to D.C. with them.

When I was younger, I completed a self-contained bike trip across the country on the Transamerica trail. I have been a member of Adventure Cycling for nearly 20 years, and in the future, I have a personal goal to ride the Great Divide trail.
 

Cycling has been an important part of my life, and there is much that we can do as a community to make it safer and more accessible to everyone.
 

Arlington County is going for a Gold Certification as a Bike Friendly Business. Do you support this effort? What do you feel Arlington could do in order to obtain that Gold certification? How should cycling fit within Arlington's transportation plan? How does Capital Bikeshare fit within that plan?
 

Everywhere I look I see the red Capital Bikeshare bikes being ridden in our community.  Capital Bikeshare has surpassed all expectations. It is a cost-effective, healthful form of public transit and Arlington should continue to support its expansion.
 

As President of the Highland Park Overlee Knolls Civic Association I have worked with Capital Bikeshare and Bike Arlington on the siting of bikeshare locations in my own neighborhood.

I support Arlington’s efforts to achieve Gold Certification. I am disappointed but not surprised that the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) has held Arlington at Silver level. While we continue to make improvements, American Community Survey data highlighted by LAB indicate that cyclists who use their bike as their primary method of commuting has been static, and may have even declined from 2011 to 2012.  Although my own observation is that the popularity of cycling in Arlington continues to rapidly accelerate.
 

Arlington residents desire choice in transportation options. Cycling that is safe and accessible needs to be part of the available transportation options. When my wife and I chose our current neighborhood, accessibility to both the Metro and the trail system were key considerations. Cycling has a role in Arlington’s transportation plan, both as a main transportation option for some people and as a “last mile” solution for others.
 

I am supportive of continuing to expand on-street bike lanes and sharrows, and to examine options for additional separated facilities.

Arlington County supports bike commuters as part of its transportation plan.  And yet the bike paths - the arteries of bike commuters - are under Parks and Recreation jurisdiction. Parks and Recreation regularly closes the trails down during rush hour, fails to clear the trails of snow after storms, and drives its vehicles down the trails. Should the bike trails be considered vital transportation arteries? Should they be placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment Services? Should the trails be clear of snow after storms? Should Parks and Recreation be able to close down the trails during rush hour in order to prune trees?
 

As a member of Arlington’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, I have raised the issue of whether the Department of Environmental Services should assume management of the trail network in order to better maintain them as transportation assets. However, the Department assignment is less important than ensuring that our trails are managed as the transportation and recreation assets they are. We need to maximize the use of the trail network – for cyclists and for other trail users.
 

A notorious problem in Arlington is known as the Intersection of Doom. This is the intersection of N Lynn Street and the Custis Trail (Lee Hwy) near I-66 and Key Bridge. It is a dangerous intersection where cars regularly run red lights, and there is rarely police enforcement. What can be done to make the Intersection of Doom safer?
 

I have traversed this junction many times over the years, and I know how dangerous it can be. It is an important intersection, heavily used by commuter cyclists, pedestrians, and cars alike.
 

I am open to consideration of options to make the intersection; better enforcement and new dedicated bike/ped signals are two examples. I would like to see more permanent improvements to make this gateway point safer.
 

Phoenix Bikes is proposing moving its youth program to a new location along Four Mile Run and Walter Reed Drive. This will give Phoenix bikes more room to expand its programs and greater access to potential cycling customers. Do you support the new location for Phoenix Bikes?
 

Phoenix Bikes is a great program, and I am supportive of its efforts to reach more customers. In knocking on doors in the community around the proposed expansion site, I have heard concerns about the expansion proposal that I believe need to be addressed through a vetting process with Arlington residents.

Additional Question: "I would ask the candidates to explain their position on the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar and whether they support including the construction of a CONTINUOUS cross-county parallel bikeway as an INTEGRAL part of the Pike Streetcar project."
 

I did not start out in support of the streetcar.  After examining the project and the alternatives, I do believe that the streetcar is an investment which - managed correctly - will benefit all of Arlington and will help us address our crowded schools. We cannot give the streetcar project a blank check, but done right, the streetcar will improve transportation through the Pike corridor, and provide broad-based community benefits. 
 

I am supportive of creation of a continuous cross-county parallel bikeway route to ensure that the Pike is navigable by cyclists.  A parallel bikeway would make it safer for cyclists by reducing the interactions between bikes and all types of vehicles - busses, cars, trucks, and streetcars.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the Arlington cyclist community?
 

In addition to making cycling safer and more accessible for adults, we also need to look at cycling accessibility for children. For example, encouraging children to ride to and from school is a great way to increase physical activity and have kids arrive at school better prepared to learn. But this means having safe routes for our children to use that are protected from vehicular traffic.
 

In addition, we in the cycling community have a responsibility to continue to educate and enforce trail and road safety and mixed trail use places. Given the heavy use of Arlington’s trails by cyclists of all ages and skills levels, as well as runners and pedestrians, cyclists have a responsibility to look out for the safety of all trail users.
 

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about cycling in our community, and I welcome your ideas and feedback. There is much that we can do together to make cycling safer and more accessible to everyone.
 

Keep riding – and please stop and say hi when we cross paths!
Alan
www.alanhowze.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bike Lights ~ Not Just a Good Idea ~ It's the Law

Actually didnt realize this was the law. I just thought the rule was as follows: the number of lights you need on your bike is one more than you have!

§ 46.2-1015. Lights on bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.


A. Every bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, and moped when in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a headlight on the front emitting a white light visible in clear weather from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a red reflector visible from a distance of at least 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle. Such lights and reflector shall be of types approved by the Superintendent.

In addition to the foregoing provisions of this section, a bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors. These lights may be steady burning or blinking.

B. Every bicycle, or its rider, shall be equipped with a taillight on the rear emitting a red light plainly visible in clear weather from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear when in use between sunset and sunrise and operating on any highway with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater. Any such taillight shall be of a type approved by the Superintendent.

And just a reminder... be kind to oncoming cyclings.  Those powerful little lights shining into oncoming traffic - not only does it totally suck but it also blinds the oncoming cyclist who is bound to crash into you.  And dont get me started about strobe lights [ALL BRIGHT!!!  all dark  ALL BRIGHTS!!!!  all dark]]  Strobe lights on the trails are only used by Freds.

DCCX Preview

DCCX is this weekend in NE Washington DC.  A preview of this year's course is now available.




Online registration for DCCX closes today. It is a two day event (Saturday and Sunday) with a CX clinic friday afternoon. It is a grand opportunity to try out CX on a turf not to far afield.