Monday, December 31, 2012

Is There Any Good Singletrack in the #BikeDC Area??

Why yes there is!  Wakefield is just outside the beltway off Braddock Road.  It consists of trails that wind through woods, streams, and open fields (under power lines). This park is along the Virginia CCT and for added points there is an excellent skate park there.

Another excellent local for mountain biking is Fountainhead Regional Park.

COVET: The Movie (The Story of the Bicycle) #bikedc

COVET: The Movie (The Story of the Bicycle)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Status of Arlington Bike Projects - Spreadsheet and Google Map

In December, Arlington County provided an updated to the Arlington BAC on the status of bike projects.  I have turned the ArlCo update into a spreadsheet - and unpacked it a little (with a lot of guesses).  It is helpful to know, for instance, not just the status of a project, but what jurisdictions are involved.  If... oh just for example.... there is no movement on the Intersection of Doom (Custis Trail and Lynn St)... it is helpful to know that one of the reasons there is no movement is that improving the Intersection of Doom involves Arlco, NPS, VDOT, DC, and apparently a private property owner (geeze!).  In fact, if you sort the spreadsheet for the different authorities, you can see a trend of which authorities get things done and which seem to be dragging their feet.  Also, while Arlco lists multiple projects of "completed," that doesnt appear to be wholly accurate - and that information is revised. 

I also plotted the projects on a Google Map so that we can see the projects around the county - what has been done and what is coming.

Link to the Spreadsheet.

View Bicycle Arlington Virginia (Windy Run Blog) in a larger map

Friday, December 21, 2012

December Status Update to Bicycle Projects in the Arlington Master Transportation Plan

Arlington County has provided this Dec. 2012 update for Bicycle projects listed in the Arlington Master Transportation Plan.  This is not an exhaustive list of every Arlington project - just an update of those projects listed in the Master Transportation Plan.  If you are interested in these type of things, consider getting involved in the Arlington Bike Advisory Committee.

Photo by Kevin H. (cc)
For the record, improvements to Lynn Street and Custis Trail (AKA Intersection of Doom, AKA Circle of Doom) are listed as
Currently at 60% design. Undergoing VDOT review.
I moved to Arlington in 1989 and that intersection was a problem then.  Glad to see we have made such progress.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Improvements to the WOD

NVRPA just sent out a newsletter summarizing upcoming improvements to the WOD.  Hey, NVRPA... Santa Claus isnt suppose to come to next week!  (that's for a great trail and helping to improve its condition).

Changes Coming at Key W&OD Trail Intersections

With over two million uses a year, and more than 70 at-grade road crossings, the W&OD Trail is the backbone of cycling, pedestrian, and other non-motorized recreation and transportation modes in Northern Virginia. Considering the Trail's size (45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville) and volume, safety and safety improvements are always of the utmost importance to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) which owns and operates the trail.
Over the years, NVRPA has had a number of engineering studies and analyses conducted, with the safety of its trail users specifically in mind. In March of 2011, NVRPA commissioned an evaluation of the existing physical and operational conditions at six of the busiest individual roadway crossings across the region. Now, the recommendations created by these evaluations are beginning to be implemented. NVRPA has worked extensively to engage its jurisdictional partners such as Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington Counties and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and appreciates their efforts to assist in making this truly regional asset safe. The crossings identified for evaluation are as follows: Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn, Sterling Boulevard in Sterling, Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Hunter Mill Road in Vienna, Lee Highway in Arlingon, and Columbia Pike in Arlington. Some of the highlights of the recommendations include: Belmont Ridge Road
  • Relocate/eliminate parking area on the northwest and northeast corners (completed late November).
  • Add actuated rectangular rapid flash beacons to alert motorists to the presence of a trail user.
  • Trim vegetation to improve sight lines (completed late October).
Sterling Boulevard
  • NVRPA and VDOT working together to consider reducing the length of the northbound deceleration/left turn lane on Sterling Boulevard to expand median refuge.
  • Expand the sidewalk network along Sterling Boulevard.
  • Consider the addition of actuated rectangular rapid flash beacons based on results from Belmont Ridge Road.
Wiehle Avenue
  • Consideration to widen the median refuge.
  • NVRPA and Fairfax County to work together to identify short term improvements to include additional signage, improved roadway markings, and potential lane width improvements.
  • Consideration of alternate signal timing to reduce conflict with trail crossing.
Hunter Mill Road
  • Consider replacing advanced trail crossing flashing beacon with Actuated Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons.
  • NVRPA and VDOT to address vegetation and terrain issues affecting sight lines.
Lee Highway (Route 29)
  • NVRPA to realign trail approaches to orient better to the crossing for trail users and motorists.
  • NVRPA to work with Arlington County to consider adjusting signal timing, turn lane options, and additional signage.
Columbia Pike
  • The trail approaches will be realinged to intersect at a better angle to the roadway.
  • NVRPA to work with Arlington County to consider adjusting signal timing and phasing.
The physical condition of the Trail and the intersections is vitally important, but far more important is the behavior of those on the Trail and those on the roads. NVRPA is proud to also be a partner with Street Smart, an annual public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign in the Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia area. Since its beginning in 2002, the campaign has used radio, newspaper, and transit advertising, public awareness efforts and added law enforcement to respond to the challenges of pedestrian and cyclist safety. Please feel free to contact the trail office at (703) 729-0596 or via email at if you have questions concerning these changes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

[Vid] Retrofitting Suburbia - TEDTalk

Not specifically about cycling, but as Ellen Dunham-Jones states, transportation is core to the new urban movement - and we know cycling is core to urban transportation. Starts with the proposition that the average urban dweller has 1/3 the carbon footprint as the average suburban dweller. 

Now.... if we could only figure out how to retrofit the Ballston Mall!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

So I'm Confused @ArlingtonVA, is Cycling "Transportation" or Not #bikedc

Photo by alykat (cc)
Now I love Arlington.  And Arlington DES is one of my favorites (not joking... DES has been highly responsive to inquiries and concerns).  But DES did something recently that caused a kerfuffle.  DES thought that it would be a good idea to talk to Arlington Citizens about snow removal.  Why would that cause a kerfuffle?  Well it resulted in this exchange:
Q by CS: Arlington often talks about how bicycling is an important part of our transportation network, and yet our bicycling infrastructure rarely if ever gets plowed, even major cycling thoroughfares like the Custis trail that continue to see hundreds of riders a day despite the weather. Minneapolis manages to keep their bike infrastructure plowed. When will Arlington?
A: Currently there are no immediate plans to plow or treat primary commuting bike trails, but our planners, Department of Parks and Recreation and DES operations staff continue to strategize how to improve the bike commute. The County will be looking to coordinate with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority for priority to treat the WO&D Trail, which is not maintained by Arlington.

Q by MB: I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed by DES' inaction on plowing our primary trails. As people within DES can tell you, thousands of Arlingtonians use those trails every day to get to work. By failing to plow the trails, DES puts more people onto the streets in cars. Is that really what you want, during a snow event?
A: As previously asked by Chris, our planners, Department of Parks and Recreation and DES operations staff continue to strategize how to improve the bike commute. There are many significant safety and environmental concerns for bikers and our trails that we have and are attempting to find the best solution.
Okay, once again: consternation.  Arlington talks a good talk.  Arlington talks about how cycling is a great way to commute. Arlington talks about the Car Free diet. Arlington talks about Smart Growth through Smart Transportation. 

The problem is Arlington actually convinces a few of us.  And a few (thousand) of us have come to rely on cycling as our mode of transportation.  It's how we get to work, or to school, or to the store, or to lunch.  We drank the kool-aid, we have become car-free, and we bike the solution.

But having converted us, Arlington goes sideways on us and doesnt follow through.  There are major cycling arteries in Arlington that see 1000s of cyclist get to work every day.  These are the Custis Trail, the W&OD trail, and the Mount Vernon Trail (NPS).  These trails are cyclists freeways that see levels of traffic during rush hour that rival the roads.  During rush hour on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn, the cue at a red light is as deep on the Custis trail as it is on Lee Hwy.  The flow of traffic on the Custis is constant and we saw essentially cyclist traffic jams this year.

Those cycling arteries are not treated as "transportation" arteries by Arlington:
  • There are no plans to clear snow from the trails, in the same way other transportation arteries are cleared.
  • Arlington police park their cruisers on the Custis Trail in Rosslyn, blocking the trail.
  • Arlington Parks and Rec trucks regularly drive on the W&OD during rush hour, creating dangerous situations.
  • Arlington Parks and Rec shut down the Custis Trail during rush hour so that they could prune trees - something VDOT would never do to Route 66.
  • After decades of complaints from cyclists, the Custis Trail / Lynn St intersection remains as dangerous as ever with almost no action taken.
Let's make this simple:
Arlington: Is cycling actually "transportation," or is that just some cute words you put on paper so that you have dazzling looking transportation strategic plans?  
If you are going to talk the talk, walk the walk.  1000s of cyclists rely on the trails as transportation arteries.  Arlington, please behave like they are transportation arteries.

How to Crash 101

A surprisingly informative video.  When I played Ultimate, I fell down a lot - and got very good at it. You fell down so much during Ultimate that you could perfect a tuck and roll, and end up right back on your feet.  One doesn't practice falling down on a bicycle so much... hopefully.   And it makes you think.... is there a right way to fall down?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Events #bikedc

The Bike Forum is talking about a Christmas Light ride on Thursday Dec. 27, meeting in Ballston.  As always, check the Windy Run Calendar.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wheels to Africa drop offs - this Saturday - Arlington #bikedc


Come donate old bikes for Wheels to Africa, a nonprofit 
started by a local high school student which
 sends donated bikes to Africa to help insure that people have
transportation to get needed materials for their families. 
The collection day is this

 Saturday, December 8th 
from 10am to 3pm 

at Yorktown High School, Swanson 
Middle School, and Washington-Lee High School. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Freezing Saddles: Winter Bike Challenge (sign up open)

Freezing Saddles: Winter Bike Challenge
Never Give an ELITE Cyclists an Even Break

Freezing Saddles! The Epic Adventure of a band of ELITE Cyclists, facing the challenges of the wild wild wild bike paths. Confronting the darkest of evenings, the coldest of mornings, and the stupidest of Ninja's - these brave cyclists challenge each other because, if they didnt, they might have to actually do some work during the day.

The saga runs January 1 until the last day of Winter, March 20. It will conclude with a March Madness Playoff that someone will probably design. There will be a Happy Hour at the end with many pointless trophies.

Tribes (teams):
  • Composed of ~5 riders or less
  • For riders from the #bikedc, Washington DC Bike Forum general community (Washington DC greater metropolitan area)
  • Volunteer Captains (captains will address any data problems, negotiate or cause confusion, and provide motivational seminars);
  • This is a ten-gallon hat tournament. Riders will be randomly assigned to tribes based on self declared average weekly mileage and days cycled. Tribes will be created so that each tribes's average weekly point score is roughly equal to everyone else's. To achieve this, tribes may be composed of differing numbers of riders.
  • No late sign ups.
  • Interested cyclists must sign up by December 25 Midnight - Tribes will be announced within a couple days.

Scoring: Riders will receive 10 points for each day and 1 point for each mile ridden. Minimum ride is 1 mile. The tribe's score will be the sum of the tribe members.

Backend: STRAVA (please sign up for an account, and join the "Bike Arlington" club on STRAVA - you should be able to enter data manually or automatically. Additional information will be posted here on the forum.)

This is a self organized group activity based on consensus. No one is in charge or running this thing. Participation is voluntary and entirely at your own risk.

Be Brave. Be Bold. Be.... questful! In the words of Hedley Lamarr:
Men, you are about to embark on a great crusade to stamp out runaway decency on the bike paths. Now you men will only be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Nighttime Visibility (or you are doing it wrong) #bikedc

Well this is somber data. According to this, my high viz fluorescent shell is worth jack.


Wood, Joanne M., Tyrrell, Richard A., Marszalek, Ralph P., Lacherez, Philippe F., Carberry, Trent P., Chu, Byoung Sun, & King, Mark J. (2010)
Cyclist visibility at night : perceptions of visibility do not necessarily match reality. Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 21(3), pp. 56-60.

Visibility limitations make cycling at night particularly dangerous. We previously reported cyclists’ perceptions of their own visibility at night and identified clothing configurations that made them feel visible. In this study we sought to determine whether these self-perceptions reflect actual visibility when wearing these clothing configurations. In a closed-road driving environment, cyclists wore black clothing, a fluorescent vest, a reflective vest, or a reflective vest plus ankle and knee reflectors. Drivers recognised more cyclists wearing the reflective vest plus reflectors (90%) than the reflective vest alone (50%), fluorescent vest (15%) or black clothing (2%). Older drivers recognised the cyclists less often than younger drivers (51% vs 27%). The findings suggest that reflective ankle and knee markings are particularly valuable at night, while fluorescent clothing is not. Cyclists wearing fluorescent clothing may be at particular risk if they incorrectly believe themselves to be conspicuous to drivers at night.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Phoenix Bikes Sale Saturday Dec. 8 Big Bear Cafe

Phoenix Bikes is announcing a sale just in time for the season:
Come get a sweet new ride at our final Big Bear Cafe sale of 2012!
Saturday, Dec. 8, 10am-2pm, at 1700 1st Street NW Washington, DC.
We’ll have road bike, mountain bikes, cruisers and possibly even a tandem. They’re piling up here and we’ll price them to move.

W&OD Strategic Plan 2012-2017 #bikedc

Actually its the Strategic Plan for Northern Virginia Regional Parks, for which the WOD is the crown jewel as far as cyclists go. 

Both the Plan and the video are typical of strategic plans: filled with vague statements and lofty goals, but not overly informative or surprising.  The plan calls for land acquisition, better care of trails, better use of volunteers, better use of partners, and better use of technology. One interesting data point is that NVRPA generates 83% of its budget through user fees (think swimming pools, cabins...).   NVRPA wants to diversify its offerings so that there are more things to do in the parks.  

NVRPA also wants to improve branding so that when people are in a NVRPA, they realize it is a NVPRA park and not something else.  That's actually not such a bad idea.  Using our favorite park as an example, is it immediately obvious that the WOD is a NVRPA, and not merely a trail that winds its way through different jurisdictions and different parks?

I noticed one shot in the video of the WOD and a cyclists.  You tell me.... was that a legal stop at the stop sign on the WOD?  This perpetuates the confusion of whether those WOD stop signs are merely signs in a park and constitute recommendations - or they are law enforceable stop signs.  Which ever it is, it would be nice if NVRPA reflected that view in their videos.

The plan also reflects why it is important for cyclists to take surveys.  The plan reflects the input it received from park patrons who took a NVRPA survey.
  • Park Facilities that respondent households have a need for: #1 Paved walking and biking trails
  • Most important park and recreation facilities: #1 Paved walking and biking trails

These survey results influence where the NVPRA will place its priorities.

I visit NVRPA parks several times a week (mainly the WOD and Potomac Overlook).  They are fantastic parks, and we cyclists are grateful for the fantastic bike trails.