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A Silver-Level Playbook in Arlington, VA
Arlington, Va., Offers Tours of Its Bike-Friendly Community to Summit Attendees
In an effort to highlight its Bicycle Friendly America program, the League of American Bicyclists staff asked if BikeArlington could arrange a tour for the National Bike Summit & Women’s Forum to allow attendees to see and experience some of the infrastructure and programming that makes us a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Community. We couldn’t have been happier, and using new Capital Bikeshare bikes, we led roughly 75 attendees over three separate tours to bike lanes, protected bike parking, fixit stations and real-time bike counters among other features in Arlington and Washington, D.C. Along the 10-mile route that included a variety of bike lane styles, BikeArlington staff also posted county transportation planners and engineers to answer more detailed questions about how Arlington planned and implemented many of the following features.
1. Upgrading Bike lanes
Protected Bike Lanes
Protected bike lanes provide physical separation between people on bikes and motor vehicles, and are relatively new in Arlington. We traveled through a few protected bike lanes in D.C., including a two-way lane.
Green lanes help increase bike lane visibility in places where the street markings might not get noticed by drivers, and Arlington County has started using them at specific, critical locations where bike lanes and drive lanes cross each other in unusual configurations, such as at "Y" intersections or at the start of some dedicated right turn lanes.
Buffered bicycle lanes have a marked buffer space on one or both sides of the lane. Depending on the location there may be buffers provided between the bicycle lane and the travel lane, between the bicycle lane and on-street parking, or both. They help to eliminate the “door zone” problem that can exist with traditional bike lanes and can make riding next to car traffic feel safer.
2. Developing Low Stress Bike Networks
Signed On-Street Routes
Arlington has installed over 850 sign assemblies to help people on bikes locate themselves and their destinations. These are very handy when you don’t have a map.
While many people already ride their bicycles in bike lanes or on roads with motor vehicles, not everyone is comfortable doing so. This map highlights lower-stress routes to get around Arlington. Rather than highlighting where bike infrastructure exists, streets are coded based on how comfortable they feel on which to ride a bike. www.BikeArlington.com/maps
3. Considering Bikeshare
Started in 2010, Capital Bikeshare now has more than 3,500 bicycles and 370 stations across Arlington and Alexandria, VA; Montgomery County, MD; and Washington, DC. The system has been instrumental in encouraging short trips for transportation: 64% of members reported starting or ending a trip at a Metro station and 55% of respondents drove less (on average, 158 miles per user). And it’s done wonders for “normalizing” biking throughout the region, and Capital Bikeshare was a big help on our tour.
4. Improving Bike Parking
Good bike parking helps “interested, but concerned” potential riders get moving by bike. In fact, according to a 2012 Virginia Tech study of commuters in the Washington, DC, region, those with access to bicycle parking at work were more than 1.5 times more likely to commute by bike than those without.
Bike Parking Guides
As part of the site plan process, Arlington requires new office, residential and retail developments to provide sufficient bike parking, shower and locker facilities and has created one of the most comprehensive bike parking guides for developers. Find a link to it under the “Bicycle Parking Standards” section at www.bikearlington.com/parking
Covered Parking and Fix-it Stands
Many people use bikes as a way to connect to the public transit system, so bike amenities near transit stations are key. Covered bike parking, bike lockers and Fix-it stands with air pumps and tools for basic repairs and adjustments are examples Arlington has used to create an interest in the bike-to-transit option.
RackSpotter is a free, crowdsourced tool available to identify bike parking locations. You can access it from a mobile device or a web browser. If your community would like to inventory bike parking, you can use this tool right now, as there are no boundaries on where a rack can be placed.
5. Making sure stoplights and signs make sense for people on bikes and on foot
Signs and signals along some trail sections in Arlington reflect that the trail carries higher volumes of traffic than the residential streets it crosses. Rather than just poorly thought out stop signs, you’ll see yield signs, bike-specific traffic signals and others, depending on the intersection. The benefits are impressive — priority can be given to bicycle movements and people on bikes are protected by having them stop only at high-conflict areas.
6. Counting everyone’s ride!
Arlington County maintains a system of continuous automatic counters to detect and record bicycle and pedestrian volumes 24 hours a day at selected locations. Collecting better active transportation data is essential to building long-term support for walking and cycling, and for improving conditions for those who choose to walk and ride bikes. The County currently has 32 permanent installations, and six portable counters to gauge and monitor usage and demand. All the data is available online via our Counter Dashboard at: www.bikearlington.com/dashboard.
The Rosslyn Bikeometer is the first of its kind on the East Coast. It provides a highly visible, engaging and fun view of the volume of bike usage on the Custis Trail. And people love it—from taking selfies to following the daily count tweet from the BikeArlington Twitter account!
More about everything bike-related in Arlington at www.bikearlington.com