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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kidical Mass Arlington Bike-or-Treat: Nov. 1, 5:15pm

It's that time of year again: time to put on your costume, light up your bike, and prepare to eat copious amounts of candy! Last year's Halloween Ride was a huge success, and this year, the generous support of FreshBikes Arlington and BikeArlington, Kidical Mass Arlington is going bigger and better with an Ashton-Heights-based Bike-or-Treat party. Don't let the calendar fool you: we're extending the Halloween fun to Saturday, November 1st!
We'll meet at FreshBikes Arlington, in Ballston, where families can come early to stock up on everything they need for their bikes and make sure they are adequately lit for the night's festivities. Then we will bike off through the Virginia Square and Ashton Heights neighborhoods, stopping to pick up candy on our first-ever Bike or Treat! We'll see some of the spookiest decorated houses in Arlington, and return to FreshBikes, where we'll be treated to a family-friendly party with costume contests, hot beverages and more candy!
When: Saturday, November 1, 2014
Meet: 5:15pm - FreshBikes Arlington - Wilson Blvd & Quincy Street North (roll out 5:30pm)
Parking: Plenty in the FreshBikes parking lot
The route is fairly flat and easy, though a little longer than last year. We will be riding during dusk and it will be dark by the time you're riding home: be sure you're adequately lit and reflective!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride #2: In Which We Recount the Wholy #FCC Wars While on a Stolen Bike #Coffeeneuring

Photo by Chasing Mailboxes
Before the great schism was a time of harmony. In the ante-bellum era was unity. The was but one coffee. It was a time when if a cyclist wanted a simple cup of jo, you went to FCC.

But as with such things, doctrinal disputes brought accusations of heresy. The Coffbeterians read the sacred books and declared that coffee must be served in brown flip flops. The Hipstertaians declared that coffee must be served by some riding a Brompton.

And so the sides quibbled. And as the days grew long, the Coffbeterians nailed 10 public service announcements to the bulletin board and broke from FCC, establishing FCCII at the Java Shack. And to ensure that all cyclists chose sides, the Coffbeterians scheduled FCCII at exactly the same time as FCCI.

But as it goes, the schizm became unbearable to some. Having disdain for their fellow cyclists who could not get along, this tribe concluded it could no longer put up with the intolerant, and setup FCCIII at the Green Lizard.

Finally there arose a messianic group that believed in thr trinity. This group sojourned to drink a coffee at each of the three FCCs in one morning. This wholy sacrament is practiced only rarely, but when it does, there is much joy among the people. 



Today I Coffeeneured at the Java Shack, telling tales of religious woe and division. I drank a Mocha and had Pie guy pie while stealing The Kid's toy bike for a quick run thru Bluemont. Better get it home before he discovers I stole it.