Plan “C” : Mind the Gap
This past week the Council Subcommittee (formed to analyze the proposed hike and bike plan) was presented with their third option – Plan C – which actually adds some additional on-street bike routes back in. Only some though.
While this is an improvement from Plan B, the amount of coverage and connectivity is still drastically less than what is proposed in Plan A and what is in the current 2002 bike plan. Plan C, with its focus on bike routes and not bike lanes, does little to bridge the experience gap between novice cyclists that only feel comfortable riding in parks on trails, and experienced cyclists who already feel comfortable riding in the street with traffic. As the original plan points out:
“Bicyclists typically have a wide range of skill levels from expert to novice. These skill levels are commonly designated as Type A, B, and C. Type A bicyclist is an experienced adult who is capable of riding in motorized traffic in a shared road situation. Type B bicyclist has less experience and is most comfortable riding in a separated bike facility such as a bike lane. Type C bicyclist is a recreational bicyclist who is most comfortable on a low-volume residential road or off-road greenway (often a child or senior adult). These groups are not always exclusive and are often mixed on a shared-use path. It is critical to ensure that safety and convenience of all users of a transportation system are accommodated in all project planning and development projects. At a minimum, the facilities will be designed for Type B bicyclist use, with the overall goal to meet the needs of Type C bicyclists to the greatest extent possible. In areas where specific needs have been identified (i.e., near schools), the needs of appropriate types of bicyclist will be accommodated.”
(Source: Arlington Hike & Bike Plan, Chapter 8: Design Guidelines, 8-4)
Bike routes (which are painted symbols on the street at distant intervals, not stripes) tend to serve already experienced cyclists and mostly function to raise awareness of a cyclists’ right to be on the road – a great thing, but they’re simply not enough to accommodate Arlington moving forward over the next thirty years. To make Arlington more bike friendly, Plan “C” needs to be updated with more bike lanes. The entire idea behind updating the Plan in the first place was to make Arlington more accessible, by more people, through bicycling and walking. Until the Plan reflects that with more bike lanes, Arlington is getting a raw deal.
Plan A: 163 miles of on-street facilities ($980,000), 118 miles of off-street trails ($71,700,000)
The original proposed Hike and Bike System Master Plan was developed by city staff and consultants over the course of almost two years with substantial public input. The plan is available for download here.
“The primary goal of this Master Plan is to create an integrated, seamless transportation and recreation framework to facilitate hiking and biking as viable transportation alternatives throughout Arlington. The Plan defines an important connection between public health and the diminishing access to outdoor landscapes and provides action-oriented guidance for the development of an interconnected system of greenways, on-road bicycle facilities, and sidewalks.”
[ from the executive summary of the plan, available here (PDF) ]
The 163 miles of on-street bike facilities in the original plan consists of:
- Bike Lanes (painted stripe on side of road lane, with symbol and signs): 108 miles
- Bike Routes (painted symbol on road lane at distant intervals, with signs): 33 miles
- Other On-street Bike facilities (e.g., bike boulevards): 22 miles
Plan B: 41 miles of on-street facilities ($200,000), 61 miles of off-street trails ($37,650,000)
Plan B was created in response to a vocal minority of opposition and their misinformation campaign. The original Hike & Bike Plan has been scaled back significantly, with input from the City Council subcommittee formed to further study the original plan (Councilmembers Shepard, Bennett, and Wilemon).
The 41 miles of on-street bike facilities is made up of the following different types of facilities:
- Bike Lanes: 17 miles
- Bike Routes: 24 miles
- Other On-street bike facilities: 0 miles
Plan “B” is a drastic step backward from not only Plan A, but also the 2002 bike plan already in place. Implementing Plan B will not produce the stated goals of providing connectivity and safety to a wider range of Arlington residents that choose to walk or ride their bikes.
Plan C: 61 miles of on-street facilities ($230,000), 61 miles of off-street trails ($37,650,000)
At the request of the subcommittee, staff has added back in approximately 20 miles of bike routes to Plan B.
The 61 miles of on-street bike facilities is estimated to be comprised as follows:
- Bike Lanes: 17 miles
- Bike Routes: 42 miles
- Other On-street bike facilities: 2 miles
What you can do
- Write council and tell them to “Mind the Gap” that exists for riders of different ability. Tell them about the Plan that YOU want.
- Attend the council worksession on Tuesday, May 24, at 3:00 pm where you can hear about the proposed plans and listen to council’s reaction
- Learn more about all three plans: