Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are Electric Bikes Illegal in Arlington? @arlingtonva @bikearlington #bikedc

Are electric bicycles illegal in Arlington?  

Electric bicycles are cool hybrids between the human engine and an electric booster.  An electric motor goes in the hub of your bike, a rechargeable battery goes on the back rack, and a throttle goes on the handle bar.  Need a little boost to make it up the hill, or want to make it to work without getting completely sweaty?  Just press the throttle and while you are pedalling, the electric motor will kick in and motivate that bike forward with you. Dont need any help at all? The electric motor will kick off and you can enjoy the ride.

At the last Bike to Work Day, electric bicycles were on display at the Rosslyn station.  Every now and again I see a cyclist with that tell-tale extra large hub.  They all say they love the bikes (as they buzz past me quickly up the Custis Trail hill).  I am seriously considering the electric bike alternative.

But according to this Arlington Parks and Recreation Sign, they are illegal. 

That's a mistake, right!?!  Right??!!  Arlington County Parks and Recreation, can you please clarify that electric bicycles are not in fact prohibited on Arlington trails.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tip of the Hat to @ArlingtonDES

This week someone dropped a window or something on Lee Hwy just west of the I-66 overpass, near Lyon Village.  There was glass everywhere, clearly creating a hazardous material situation.

I contacted one Arlington office and was told "It's probably the responsibility of the landlord to clean up the sidewalk."

Ok.  Whatever. Not helpful. This is a hazardous situation.  Clean it up and bill them.

I tried to contact Arlington Office of Transportation.  Not finding an appropriate point of contact, I just hit the "Contact Us" button.  I was told "Your inquiry has been referred to the appropriate office for response."  None came.

Same day I contacted VDOT.  Same lack of response.

Lacking a response after three attempts, the next day I blogged about the situation with "@arlingtonva" in the title - that mean a twitter message got sent to the @arlingtonva account.   That must have been forwarded to @arlingtonDES (Dept of Environmental Services) or maybe they actually follow my twitter account.  Dont know.  

Soon I received the tweet from @ArlingtonDES "Where's the glass?"

I tweeted back "~3301 Lee Hwy"

@ArlingtonDES: "Street cleaner is on its way!"

And then, even better,

@ArlingtonDES: "The glass has been cleaned up!"

Tip of the hat to @ArlingtonDES for excellent use of new media and excellent local government response.  This was a hazardous material situation, dangerous to every car, bike, pedestrian and dog that came anywhere near the glass.  These are not times you ponder "well, whose responsibility is it."  These are times when you get it done, and you get the danger removed. @ArlingtonDES did that!

Tip of the hat to @ArlingtonDES.  YOU DA MAN! er WOMAN! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Broken Glass on Lee Hwy @arlingtonva

UPDATE:  Arlington DES says a street cleaner has been dispatched!

Broken glass on Lee Hwy, just west of I-66 and Lyon Village.  Glass is all over sidewalk and in road.  That pretty much constitutes a hazardous material in my book. Arlco contacted.  VDOT contacted.  Tonite, the glass and the danger still persisted. 

Very frustrating that such a dangerous situation can continue - and just no response from local governments.

Really Virginia??

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Phoenix Bikes Used Bike Sale Mar 3

One of the great non profits in Arlington is Phoenix Bikes over in Barcroft Park.  They will be having a used Bike Sale on March 3

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Underground Cherrydale :: Bury the Line

Get ready for some major traffic disruptions in Cherrydale along Lee Hwy as the power goes underground.  Hopefully this will lead to widening some of the awesomely narrow sidewalks in the heart of Cherrydale.

Arlington County Board Awards $1.2 Million Contract for Last Phase of Lee Highway Utility Undergrounding Project
  • Last phase of undergrounding overhead utilities along Lee Highway
  • Continues revitalizing Cherrydale neighborhood & commercial area
  • Makes Lee Highway safer, more walkable and vibrant
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Arlington County Board today approved the award of a $1.2 million contract to Trafford Corporation for construction of last phase of the Lee Highway Cherrydale Electrical Utility Undergrounding Improvements project.
When complete, the project will underground utility lines along the south side of Lee Highway from the I-66 ramp west of Spout Run to North Quincy Street. The first phase, now in its final stages of construction, will remove the overhead utility lines from the I-66 ramp to N. Monroe St. This last phase, expected to be completed late in 2013, will remove the overhead lines from N. Monroe St. to N. Quincy St.
“Working together with the community and our partners, we’ve been able to overcome some very significant design and real-life challenges that come with undergrounding in a dense, heavily travelled corridor like Lee Highway,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “Arlington County is committed to completing this project and fulfilling the community’s vision for a safer, more walkable and vibrant Cherrydale.”

Multi-year effort with VDOT, utilities

Today’s contract award furthers the County’s multi-year effort, in partnership with VDOT, Dominion Virginia Power, Verizon, and Comcast, to underground utilities as part of the Lee Highway/Cherrydale Revitalization Plan adopted in 1994. It also meets the timelines associated with the resumption of the Lee Highway Bromptons project in 2009. Transferring electrical utilities from overhead poles to underground will create a more pedestrian-friendly space along the busy Lee Highway corridor and will make aesthetic improvements that will help revitalize the Cherrydale neighborhood. Undergrounding also will increase reliability of the power supply by eliminating potential disruptions from weather or traffic accidents.
Upon completion of this contract, Dominion Virginia Power will install the new underground cables and related infrastructure and remove the existing overhead electrical cables and poles. Removal of the poles and completion of the project is slated for late 2013.  Once the undergrounding is complete, the County will be able to complete streetscape improvements along Lee Highway from N. Oakland St to N. Quincy St.
The Board voted unanimously as part of the consent agenda to approve the contract.
Visit the project webpage for a detailed timeline and information on upcoming community meetings.
For more information on the contract, read the staff report from the County Board’s February 11, 2012 Regular Meeting Agenda  (Item #16).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Congress' War on Public Transportation; Dumb Growth for a Dumb Congress

One of those situations where you just want to sputter... Where the Champions of Dumb Growth are waging war on the Champions of Smart Growth.  Arlington has been the beneficiary of decades of good urban planning by its government.  Decades ago, not only did Arlington support the new subways system, it decided to be the only WDC suburb that would finance and acquire multiple subway stations walking distance from one another.  It was a gutsy, brilliant and expensive decision.

It worked. It took decades of foresight and growth, and that decision became Arlington's highly successful urban-style walking community, with a high population density, great stores and restaurants, and new businesses, offices and schools.  Decades of Arlington smart growth government planning, with its foundation in the public transportation system, led to highly successful community with property values growing and businesses booming.  It has led to fewer cars, people living closer to work, people getting to work faster, and healthier lifestyles.

Arlington chose wisely.  Congress wants to choose poorly - by defunding public transportation.

This is dumb.  This a dumb decision by a dumb growth congress that cannot get its head around the fact that suburban sprawl, cas-guzzling car dependent, neighborhoods, are just no longer viable.  Guaranteed funding for public transportation, taken from the gas tax, builds better and healthier communities, and helps get us off our dependency on foreign oil. 

This is what Arlington had to say....

Arlington Sees Threat to Metro in U.S. House Transportation Bill
  • House moves to end guaranteed mass- transit funding
  • Legislation would de-link federal transit investments from dedicated funding stream
ARLINGTON, Va. – A vote by the House Ways and Means committee to end guaranteed transit funding poses a threat to Metro, a key component of Arlington County’s transit system, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes said today.
The House measure would de-link federal transit investments from a dedicating funding stream for the first time in decades, by ending the policy of devoting 2.86 cents of the 18.4-cent gasoline tax paid by U.S. motorists to public transportation.
“Arlington relies on transit,” Hynes said. “Our whole region relies on transit to move hundreds of thousands of people off our already clogged roads. The gasoline tax supports Metro, the backbone of mass transit in our County and the region. If the House proposal were to become law, it would make budgeting and capital funding for Metro, and for transit systems across our nation, nearly impossible.” 
For nearly 30 years, the guaranteed fuel-tax revenue has supplied crucial funding for building light-rail, bus and metro systems – alternatives to driving that are experiencing record ridership across the nation. The Committee’s proposal would remove the guaranteed funding, replacing it with a one-time sum taken from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund for a new “alternative transportation account” that could lack crucial, committed, on-going funding.
Federal transit funding currently accounts for 20 percent of overall federal transportation funding. In the current fiscal year, WMATA received $150 million in dedicated federal funds. With the federal annual formula allocations, grant funding for Metro’s FY12 capital program will approach $400 million, more than half the total budget for the Capital Improvement Program. Federal funds also are used to support operational security enhancements.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee is responsible for setting the revenue levels for the five-year highway and transit bill being considered by the House. Before any of the provisions of the $260 billion bill can take effect, it must be reconciled with a Senate committee’s $109 billion two-year bill. More than 500 organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Society of Civil Engineers, The American Public Transportation System and many others, have signed a letter opposing the elimination of guaranteed fuel-tax revenue for transit funding.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.

Photo by Chriswatkins