Please pardon a brief detour from my passion for Columbia Pike to my passion for cycling.
I wanted two highlight two questions and answers from today's DES Snow and Streets Chat on Facebook:
Q by Me: 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.
This is one of many reasons Arlington continues to languish at Silver as a Bicycle Friendly Community and it directly contradicts the policy laid out in the Master Transportation Plan:
Snow Removal – Snow stored on bike lanes or shared‐use paths impedes bicycling and walking. Program elements include:
• Remove all snow from bike lanes.
• Clear snow from primary shared‐use paths (including the I‐66/Custis Trail and the Route 110 Trail) and make sure that snow banks do not block paths where they cross plowed roads.
• Primarily recreational shared‐use paths, including Donaldson Run Trail and Lubber Run Trail, should be left unplowed for skiing and other winter use.
The Bicycle Advisory Commission has brought this up regularly with staff over the course of several years and seen no progress. If Arlington is truly serious about walking and cycling as legitimate forms of transportation in the County they need to start treating walking and cycling infrastructure as transportation infrastructure not recreational amenities. If you agree, please take a moment to let the County Board know.