Saturday, June 13, 2015

News-Press "Bicycling: 7 cities"--Arlington, VA

NP feature 6/14/15--Chapter 1--Arlington
 Link to Overview article: Bicycling: 7 cities that will make Florida riders jealous

Arlington became the first city not on the West Coast to install a Bikeometer. It’s a visible and engaging view of the volume of bike usage on a popular trail connecting to Washington D.C. Arlington has 18 bicycle and pedestrian counters throughout the city to compile reliable data for planning.
(Photo: BikeArlington.)
Arlington, Virginia, put in its first automated bike and pedestrian counters in 2009. There are now at least 18 permanent counters throughout the county, including the first real-time bicycle counter on the east coast, according to BikeArlington, a program of the county's commuter services. It's dubbed the Bikeometer and it's on an off-road bike trail that connects to Washington, D.C. So far this year, it's clocked more than 127,000 bicyclists.

"There's an old adage, what counts, gets counted," said Henry Dunbar, program manager for BikeArlington and WalkArlington. "Arlington values our bike and pedestrian infrastructure and this public real-time count is a way to raise visibility of all our counting."

The data is invaluable in planning and allocating money, he said.

"It no longer becomes a subjective thing that nobody uses this. We can say, 'Actually they do.'"

Data has shown people are using Arlington's bike trails for commuting, not just recreation, he said, which helped to get money set aside for the first time last winter to plow them of snow.

Another focus of BikeArlington is increasing civility on the roads. They're started a campaign aimed at walkers, bicyclists and drivers. It's called PAL and its message is for all three of those road users to be predictable, alert and lawful. They're trying to engage residents with the message through bike billboards, block parties and pizza nights.

"This is all about waving and smiling while handing out candy bars," Dunbar said. "If we were all just friendlier, it would help alleviate all of the tension we all feel when we commute."

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