Sunday, January 15, 2012

Arlington County Board Candidate Melissa Bondi on Cycling

Previously we asked the candidates where they stand on Bike Friendly Arlington, whether they support cycling, and whether they bike to work (the query was posted to the blog and sent direct to the candidates mail addresses).  Melissa Bondi was the first candidate to respond.
Yes -- absolutely, bikes belong throughout our community, and they are a critical part of my vision for Arlington.
As a County Board member, I will work with cyclists and all of Arlington to further improve the infrastructure, programs, and ridership levels that have earned us League of American Bicyclists recognition. I’m not satisfied with our Silver ranking. I believe our goal for Arlington should be to earn fully and begin to set new standards for the nation as the first Platinum-level Bike Friendly Community in the Eastern United States.
Bicycles are both an indicator and a creator of strong communities. Bicycling is an excellent activity for people’s health and well-being, a great and inexpensive transportation alternative for our natural environment, and an important contributor to our local economy. As our nation moves toward a clean energy economy, the bicycle is playing an increasingly central role.
It’s obvious that cycling should be fully integrated into Arlington’s vision for a multi-modal, environmentally sustainable transportation network. But we need a lot more work to make that vision a reality.
Arlington’s trail system and shared cycling facilities are an important base. Yet, cyclists continue to face undue risks on many of Arlington’s streets and intersections – particularly along and across arterial roads. A number of businesses, multi-family dwellings, and institutions have yet to embrace cycling. Educational and promotional programs have yet to be strengthened to the point that people throughout our community feel comfortable on a bike --- especially young people, older people, and people who are cycling novices. We also need to better educate drivers on how to share the road using predictable best practices, to make transportation safer for everyone.
And as Arlington cycling activists and national experts have pointed out, several key Arlington institutions would benefit from new and enhanced efforts on cycling -- including the Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington Police Department.
In my volunteer community roles, I served on the Arterial Transportation Management (ATM) task force, redesigning our major local streets to accommodate safer modes for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses. I also chaired the Transportation subcommittee of the Elder Readiness Task Force, which looked at cycling as one affordable, accessible means of transportation, recreation, and socialization for interested Arlington seniors.
As president of Lyon Park Citizens Association, I worked on the redesign for the Clarendon Sector Plan, which included efforts to more fully incorporate cycling facilities into our site plan development approvals, streets design, and other elements. As a member and chairman of our Housing Commission, I promoted additional cycling facilities on projects to recognize the affordability benefits of bicycling for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests.

As a County Board Member, I will work to bring together people from throughout our community to fully and rapidly implement the Bicycle Element of the Arlington Master Transportation Plan. I will focus on:
* Ensuring adequate cycling facilities on or adjacent to every arterial road, and through arterial road intersections. By making full use of the range of existing and emerging facility types, Arlington can make our “Main Streets” – and all of our streets -- accessible and welcoming to cyclists.
* Creating new and enhanced safety and education programs, targeting young people and other people who are cycling novices. By expanding the number of confident and capable cyclists, we can better serve our community – and create a virtuous circle of reduced traffic congestion, cleaner air, and a more healthy community.
* Promoting more bicycle facilities in and around our affordable housing projects
* Identifying additional and potentially dedicated sources of funding so that key projects won’t be held up by unpredictable or inadequate resources. Among the areas I’d like to investigate is how transportation modes that are pollution-intensive might assume a greater share of the cost of facilities for walking, biking, and other clean modes of transportation.
* Continuing to expand the Arlington-initiated Capital Bikeshare to increase stations and bikes in Arlington’s development corridors and additional areas of potential ridership, and work with public and private employers to market the benefits of Bikeshare participation. I'm a new member of CaBi, and looking forward to taking better advantage of the network myself.
* Working with appropriate state agencies, Federal agencies, and private organizations to improve access and reduce risks at key locations such as the Rosslyn “circle” west of Key Bridge and North and South Glebe Road, and to create new links where they’re needed – including to traverse I-395 in South Arlington and across the rail lines and roadways that inhibit access to the Mount Vernon Trail.
* Greatly expanding bicycle parking facilities on public property, and collaborating with, encouraging, and when appropriate requiring private property owners to provide parking facilities that accommodate and further encourage cycling.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to address such an important matter; I'd welcome your thoughts on cycling in our community. I look forward to working with you, other cyclists, and all of our neighbors to promote these important goals in Arlington.
Thanks again.

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