Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reflecting on the Election, Responding to @pikespotter

@pikespotter has an excellent write up of the election.  I think it is well articulated.  Probably the point that jumps out to me the most is Zimmerman and Tejada's endorsement of Bondi.... the only candidate who still endorsed the over priced Columbia Pike Streetcar plan (even the Green Party is opposed to it), who also reportedly had tax issues. As Pike Spotter said, Garvey ran as an outsider to the current board's hand picked succession machine.... and won.  That should sound an alarm bell to the sitting board.

One thing I disagree with Pike Spotter on is his statement
Fourth, for advocates of better bicycle infrastructure, we remain a fringe movement in Arlington: none of the candidates mentioned this in their platforms.  Without electoral change, unfortunately, the future of cycling as a viable means to get around the County will remain a dream, especially for bike riders along Columbia Pike.
Every single democratic candidate for the caucus was queried about their positions on cycling.  All responded.  Some were strong; one was lame.  All responses were posted on this blog and on the Bike Arlington Forum. Garvey indicated strong support for cycling, is (or was) a member of Phoenix Bikes Board, and has a picture of herself on her bike on her campaign website. While there were a few democrats that indicated strength in this area, Garvey was the strongest and was the bike vote.  I queried Clement; she did not respond.  I thought Kelly's position on these type of issues was self evident. 

As for the future of cycling in Arlington, Arlington County is currently in the process of applying for Gold Level certification from the League of American Cyclists Bike Friendly Community program.  Arlington has been a Bike Friendly Community for years.  The Custis Trail in Arlington, the cue at the red light for bikes is as deep as the cue at the red light for cars.  This is a TREMENDOUS place for cyclists (yes, I am the first to grouse; many things need to be better - and I would agree with Pike Spotter that the Pike seems to be almost forgotten in this regard.... um, how about a couple CABI stations on the Pike guys.  Really?  CABI is only for the rich in Arlington??).

Here is something else to think about.  The Arlington Way is changing. I will not say its everything.  I will not say its the Arab Spring.  But I would argue that social media - the new wave of Arlington Blogs (look at the right hand column) made a tremendous influence in this election.  We have had better coverage of local news and the election than we ever had before.  One of my favorites was AIM video recording a candidate debate that could be streamed online.  Old Street Tribute did the same.  A number of other blogs tracked Bondi's tax problems.  Donaldson Run highlighted candidates positions on cycling. This was an Arlington election where the candidates were MUCH more accessible.  This is an election where the candidate that won had a strong website, facebook presence and twitter presence.  Going forward, Arlington candidates need to figure out that the old "Arlington Way" - the way of the old Civic Associations where 10 people, who can afford to spare an evening because they dont have family, or work, or volunteer, or youth activity commitments - physically meet together for several hours - is transforming.  The new Arlington Way involves an Arlington community that is online and actively engaged in a never ending, always accessible discourse about Arlington.

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