Re: SOS Update #57 TDP


We’re posting another letter we sent to the opposition’s leader, Mr. Buddy Saunders. We look forward to a response.


Dear Mr. Saunders,

On the eve of the Thoroughfare Development Plan public hearing our readership has forwarded us your SOS Update #57. We have read it and attached our analysis below. We request that you forward this analysis to your readership in the interest of giving them the most accurate information in regards to the TDP before tomorrow’s hearing.

Again, in the interest of transparency we have CC:ed City Council and will post a copy of this e-mail on our blog at Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Ride on,

Bike Friendly Arlington

SOS update #57 concerning the Thoroughfare Development Plan Update gives a false impression of the TDP Update when the rationale behind the TDP Update is common sense:

1. The latest TDP Update recognizes that Arlington is still growing, but it is now virtually land-locked by other cities and so that growth will be in particular areas, and it will occur in ways that are different from what was originally planned in the 1990s.

2. Over-building of roadways and over-wide streets cause speeding, and speeding through neighborhoods was listed as the number one concern among residents in the 2011 Citizen Survey.

3. Let’s be fiscally responsible, and increase our roadway capacity in those places where the expected population growth and land use require it. Don’t over-build in those neighborhoods and areas where it’s not needed. Why pay for miles of concrete and maintenance costs where it’s not needed? Focus on where it is needed.

4. That’s why the TDP Update plans for an increase of around 216 lane miles of roadway, instead of 348 lane miles in places where it’s not needed. This will save the community around $130 million.

5. Traffic is affected by population growth, density, and existing and FUTURE land use–what the land is being used for around those roads, as well as the socio-economic characteristics of the area. This researched update uses computer modeling that takes this into account.

6. The model projects that automobiles will still be the primary mode of transportation in the next 30 years. It also recognizes that people want other choices too, and that streets should be designed flexibly for this.

7. The model is cautious. It assumes “high intensity” future uses in areas that don’t have a current use.

Throughout SOS #57 there are mischaracterizations of the TDP that borrow the line of reasoning from an earlier post that “the TDP is a backdoor bike plan.” These mischaracterizations  rely on gut feelings (“Things we all know”) as a substitute for due-diligent research:

1. Roadways with Level of Service (LOS) A are “freeflowing.” Yes, the TDP says Level of Service A is “freeflowing,” but it also goes on to say this traffic flow is “at or above the speed limit.” In other words, SPEEDING. TDP Update, p. 5.

2. Myth: “…planners consider [Level of Service] C or D acceptable in order to make room for bicycles.” (SOS #57, 1).

TRUTH: While we appreciate that thought, really, C or D is desirable because at this level, “traffic moves along at an efficient rate and posted speeds are maintained.” (TDP Update, p. 5). In other words, NO SPEEDING, and traffic moves EFFICIENTLY. You don’t have to spend the extra money on unneeded road width and maintenance of the extra roadway.

3. Opponents have brought up “transit” as a bugaboo in the TDP Update (point 2), when in fact no transit is planned in the TDP Update. The TDP Update mentions transit when talking about the general concept of “Flexible Thoroughfare Design” that is being “embraced by municipalities across the country.” The concept simply recognizes that people across the country are requesting other ways to travel in addition to automobiles, and it makes the common sense conclusion that “increased use of alternate modes of transportation, such as transit or bicycling, could reduce vehicular demand on thoroughfare roadways over time.”

4. Myth: Heavy bike usage occurs only under “very dense population” and in places with a “very low standard of living.” (Paragraph 2)

Truth: Bicycling occurs where people feel safe bicycling and have good bicycling facilities. David Hembrow studied this and shows that Dutch cities with lower population densities had higher bicycling rates than higher density cities. Also, the Dutch do not suffer from a “low standard of living.”

5.Myth: Bike riding only occurs in Arlington in parks (Paragraph 3).

Truth: People in Arlington want to bike on city streets in Arlington to get to practical destinations, but they want to feel safe doing so, that’s why in the open house surveys, 94% said they’d bike more, and 88% said they’d walk more, if biking and pedestrian improvements were installed.

Also, bicyclists in parks that we’ve talked to say they like the idea of bike lanes on Arlington streets, and they don’t want to be limited to just the parks. People want to bike to practical destinations for running errands, shopping, entertainment, school and work, in addition to parks. One speaker at the 2nd P&Z meeting even brought up that they didn’t want to have to drive their car to a place so that they could ride their bike.

Furthermore, bicyclists are already on city streets, and we’re seeing more of them all the time. You notice them more when you bike yourself, or have friends or family who bike. You’re more sensitive to them.

  1. Bob Franklin

    It’s important to have credibility when trying to be persuasive. This means using correct grammar when writing. The audience, which includes the City Council in this case, will listen neither if the message includes yelling with all caps nor if it contains rudeness. Always take time to calm down to a peaceful mood before making such communications, and never write when angry. Its bad grammar and angry tone aside, this email communicates some ideas that could’ve been persuasive.

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