View Full Version : Arlington's Public Spaces Master Plan Update: Comment on Trails!

07-05-2017, 02:09 PM
Arlington has come out with their draft Updated Public Spaces Master Plan, found here (http://arlingtonparks.us/docs/POPS-Preliminary%20DRAFT-06-30-17.pdf).

The planning process webpage is here (https://projects.arlingtonva.us/public-spaces-master-plan-psmp-update/).

The document is REALLY long. The trails stuff starts on page 107, though there may be bike-related comments throughout.

Please add any thoughts you have to this thread, and I'll try to compile. (and send to DPR).

07-05-2017, 02:55 PM
I had a couple to start off:

- I continue to be disappointed that DPR's "at a glance" (pages 42-43 in the attached, but used in many of their public presentations) ignores trails.

- They should talk more about partnering with APS/SRTS in the trails section. E.g. It's great that they mention the need for learn to ride areas (2.26 page 113), but they should explicitly coordinate with APS to make sure the learn to ride areas serve the APS needs.

- I didn't see anything in there about the need for space for cyclocross and mountain biking.

- The graphic on the left on page 49 seems to say that PBLs (the picture is Fairfax Dr in front of the Blue Goose, I believe) are trails under DPR's purview. I sure hope not. It also says that "secondary multi-use trails" are solely recreation, when they are described in the write-up as partly connecting.

- I appreciate the language on page 51 on "streets" being public spaces. Did anyone see if they did a breakdown of land in Arlington County? When I've seen this in the past (e.g. JFAC reports) they just ignore "right of way" (i.e. roads). So if there 150 acres in Arlington, 50 acres of roads, 25 acres of public spaces (parks, schools, publicly owned buildings) and 75 acres of privately owned land, the reports say that it's 75% private, and 25% public (when in reality, it's 50% private and 50% public (33% roads + 17% public ppty) (** These numbers are made up to illustrate the point **) I didn't see that here, but if someone does, please point that out.

- 2.1 should include maintaining the current stock of trails. The action plan should also include developing plans for maintenance, and working to develop a system to report problems such that they get addresses quickly (addressing all problems - downed trees, potholes, failing subsurface, and workers blocking trails)

- 2.1 should address the massive delays in getting trails built -- we need a process that gets trails that are needed and funded built quickly, with expedited review.

- The "outer loop" and "inner loop" trails are a good idea, but we should also provide connections in north, north Arlington, making the Potomac Heritage Trail (along the river) at least a safe gravel trail (~C&O) with connections to Chain Bridge and the Wilson Bridge.

- Under 2.2.8, they should include amenities like bike repair stands, places to stop in the shade, restrooms and water fountains along with Wi-Fi

2.2.8. Use Wi-Fi to provide public internet access at trailheads where feasible.

On the action plan:
-2.1 should include develop way to use permeable pavers for trails, and develop standards for planting appropriate trees and plants beside trails (i.e. ones with roots that won't damage the trail)
-why are so many of these primarily DES (particularly trail design - 2.2.1-4 - which was billed as DPR responsibility in the Trail Modernization program; wayfinding)?

- BikeArlington should be a partner for most of these things, but especially 2.2.5 (trail etiquette, p 183); all of 2.4 (wayfinding and trail naming)

- APS and SRTS should be a partner on 2.2.6 (develop learn to ride areas); 2.2 should include Safe Routes to Schools (or maybe 2.1 to go with 2.1.5)

- Otherwise I think the trails section (strategic direction 2, pages 108-117) is pretty great.

07-05-2017, 03:23 PM

1. I really like the discussion of trail standards. I am motivated to see if Alexandria has a set of trail standards, and if we don't if we can adopt some, and if we do, if we need to improve them to match Arlington's. With a couple of new trails apparently on the way in the City, this would be timely.
2. Signage. It explicitly mentioned regional cooperation, so I assume we in the City will be participating in this process?
3. I am interested in the commitment to finishing the Rte 50 trail, which I know is a WABA priority. I have less interest in what happens north of the Custis.
4. Interesting that the map of the 4MR Valley shows the proposed underpass under Shirlington Road, but no mention of it in the text, even though it would be a major improvement to the Arlington Loop. I assume because the 4MRV plan is still evolving?

07-28-2017, 03:53 PM
Re: Section 2.2 Ensure Trails Function for a Range of Users

I don't know how to word this correctly but if mode separation is to be a stated aim with action taken to separate bicycle and pedestrian on high traffic trail routes and where conflicts commonly occur, could we also consider modifying the prohibition on motorized vehicles to permit electric power-assisted bicycles to ride on Arlington trails?

In 2015 California revised their vehicle code and adopted a new 3-tier classification system for ebikes at the same time they permitted Class 1 and 2 pedal assist and throttle ebikes with motors regulated to <20mph to ride off-street trails and bike paths - this California style ebike regulation has since been adopted by several other states.

Virginia permits ebikes in on-street bike lanes and protected bike lanes and on sidewalks, and allows localities to regulate use in off-street trails/paths. The current Virginia definition of an electric power-assisted bicycle limits power but not speed which is regulated by Arlington with the 15mph trail speed limit.

I would like for there to be official recognition of the reality of ebikes on Arlington trails, with the aim of legitimizing those that can be shown to meet both power and speed limits. I accept Virginia vehicle code may need to be changed first to introduce a California style ebike classification, as in California the law also requires ebikes to display a motor classification decal put on by a bike shop or distributor who electronically limit speed to comply with the classification. Having something in writing in the plan would indicate there is a need to do something to legitimize ebikes on Arlington trails whilst recognizing the need to regulate motor assisted speed.

08-08-2017, 10:52 AM
BUMP! Comments are due by August 11th (3 days from now). Here are my additional thoughts:

PAGE 49: The Trail classification definitions are going down entirely the wrong path. The existing trails don't fit the classifications they've been assigned - the Bluemont Junction trail, for instance, has been classified as a "Secondary" trail which primarily serves a "recreation" purpose - and yet according to Arlington's trail counters it generally sees more traffic on weekdays than weekends and there are clear traffic spikes during regular commute hours. The same holds true for the 110 Trail. Arlington is so starved for comfortable, low-stress bike infrastructure that any trail we build, if it connects two places that people want to go, is going to be used heavily for transportation purposes unless there is a parallel, equally good or better piece of infrastructure. This is why the Four Mile Run Trail west of Walter Reed is able to function as a "primarily recreational trail", because the W&OD is parallel and clearly superior for most transportation purposes.

PAGE 105: I strongly support the expansion of temporary road closures to create public spaces, especially the creation of a "open streets"-type event.

PAGE 108: 2.1 - this strategic action should have an associated timeline like the land acquisition action "X miles of trail in the next Y" years in the same way that 1.1 has a timeline.

PAGE 109: Given current status of Navy Annex land exchange, proposed Inner Loop should probably follow Columbia Pike east of where the Washington Blvd Trail connects.

Seems like inner loop should include the trail connection from TR bridge >> Iwo Jima called for in Rosslyn Sector Plan.

Page 111: 2.1.4. should call for connecting LBP not just to the MVT but also directly to DC via a rebuilt Long Bridge. This is being explored in the Long Bridge Environmental Assessment and would help address 2.1.6. (Improve and add connections to adjacent trail systems beyond the county).

Page 111: 2.1.6. The County (either as a whole, or DPR, or DES or both) should JOIN THE CAPITAL TRAILS COALITION http://capitaltrailscoalition.org/. This is the best way to ensure that trail planning is coordinated region-wide.

Page 114: 2.2.7. trail counters are currently being maintained by Transportation Planning, this should be transitioned to Operations which already maintains a large stable of in-the-field equipment like permanent traffic counters, traffic signals, signs, etc for efficiencies.

TRAILS: Plan should explicitly call for a new trail connection over the Potomac River to the C&O Canal Towpath and Capital Crescent Trail from the new Outer Loop Trail.

PAGE 141: 4.4.7. add "Adopt-a-Trail" to example "adopt a" programs.

PAGE 168: 8.4.3. strongly support this - my understanding is that subsurface and in-air leasing agreements for utilities have allowed the W&OD to be nearly revenue neutral.

08-08-2017, 12:35 PM
Seems like inner loop should include the trail connection from TR bridge >> Iwo Jima called for in Rosslyn Sector Plan.

TRAILS: Plan should explicitly call for a new trail connection over the Potomac River to the C&O Canal Towpath and Capital Crescent Trail from the new Outer Loop Trail.

Thanks. I'd add that the 50 Trail should continue West as well (right now it stops at the loop).

Also, that DPR should develop expertise in its Department and commit to the trails being an important part of its mission.