Friday, January 10, 2014

Cord Thomas, Candidate for ArlCo Bd, on Cycling in Arlington #bikedc #arlingtonva @cord4board

Cord Thomas for
Arlington County Board
Do you bike to work?   If so, how often?  Do you cycle otherwise?

I really enjoy biking to work and for recreation, especially during the summer months when it’s warm. Though I do consider myself a seasoned rider, I am definitely a seasonal rider and hibernate during the winter months. In recent months I haven’t been biking as much as I would want to. I used to bike 2-3 times a week, especially when I used to train for triathlons. But my work schedule has led to more traveling and thus limiting my opportunities to bike.

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?
Absolutely, besides congestion relief on our roadways, biking provides a health benefit and is a non-emission producing mode of transportation. I fully support Arlington’s goal to get gold status.  Arlington’s progressive program, Bike Arlington, is one of the many efforts that I currently see working towards this goal.  Their green bike lanes and bike parking are great efforts, along with the improvements they are making to the Pentagon City corridor.  Working to fill the gaps in the Arlington system with protected bike lanes, trail system and way finding signage are additional ways that Arlington can secure a gold status.  Arlington’s transportation plan identifies biking as a mode choice and using the complete streets practice helps ensure cyclists have a seat at the table.  Capital Bikeshare is also a great system that is a compliment to metro and our local transit structure to those who are unable to purchase or maintain their own bikes.  It helps connect more modes and with Arlington’s most recent additions, it continues to certify dedication to biking as a mode of transportation.

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?

I can understand your concern, but given that some paths go through Parks; I can also see why they are under that jurisdiction.   I completely agree that closing down a trail during rush hour is unacceptable, we would never do that to a car lane, or at least we always try to avoid it. I think a conversation needs to be had with Parks and Rec, Bike Arlington and the County Bike Coordinator to see if a better arrangement can be made to work around this issue.  There is always room for improvement and clearing snow for bike commuters in a more responsive way can be one.  I also understand capital constraints to clear all trails after a storm. One possible solution is to identify trails that have the most bike commuter benefit and work to on them first.

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?

As you described one fix is to provide police enforcement and looking at the signal timing, if cars a running the red light there must be a reason?  On that note we, as bikers and motorists need to be vigilant and look out for each other.  It always amazes me how we all forget how at one point we go from pedestrians to motorist to cyclists and are not patient for each other.

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 wonderful organization, not only does it teach our youth another skill, but it gives them a sense of accomplishment after every bike they repair.  I myself have donated three bikes to them.  I have heard some backlash from locals to the area of concerns with their new location.  I personally think the location is good and it makes sense, but we should ensure that the residents in the area are given the chance and notice to have the conversation of any concerns they may have.

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 want to start by saying I live in S. Arlington and drive the Pike every day. If I voted tomorrow on the Streetcar Project, I would say "No".  The county has lost my confidence in taking on these types of large scale projects. Over the past two years we have seen costly project after costly project. Between the Million Dollar Bus Stop and a planned aquatics center that is projected to double in operating costs and had to be placed on hold because of inadequate forecasting, I would need to take a hard look at how we can improve upon our investments and how we spend taxpayer money. I'm supportive of smart growth along the Columbia Pike Corridor, but with our current track record, I am not confident that the County can deliver this type of project on time and on budget. With that being said, biking infrastructure and future improvement whether it be on the Pike or any other location in Arlington should be an integral part of any proposed transit project. Arlington has made biking a transportation mode and we should uphold that commitment and work together to find an inclusive solution.

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

When I founded enviroCAB, I focused on the Toyota Prius as our main vehicle. Not only was the Prius the most environmentally friendly but it also was the only taxi that was able to easily and effectively transport bicycles. On a personal note, I am also not only supporter of cycling in my home, my fiancé has also served as a Bike & Ped Planner for Fairfax County to improve their infrastructure and facilitate conversations between the County and the cycling community.

I look forward to continuing Arlington’s push to becoming a Gold Certified Bike Friendly Community.

Thank you for your consideration,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your views on Bicycling in Arlington County. Two quick responses, I think Parks and Rec should plow the bike lanes so that commuting can go on uninterrupted after storms. I noticed they did plow the Custis trail this last storm, the first time I have seen that. I have an idea about the Intersection of Doom, which I have the unpleasant experience of crossing every day. That would be to have the intersection turn red for cars in all directions for 30 seconds (or whatever is feasible) and allow only peds and cyclists to cross at that time.