Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Approved Bike Parking

Wolfgangsee, Austria


Riding through a dark tunnel into the sunlight during the Atlanta Beltgrind bicycle ride.

Arlington Deserves Action

Dear County Board Members –

    Today, you will consider an update to the Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan.  I’ll grant that it’s better than the last one we adopted (I was there, serving on the Bicycle Advisory Committee at the time).  But as I’m sure you’ve already heard from many, it could be better.  And you should act to make it better.  Without your action, it’s just another Arlington plan on a shelf, useless on its own.

    Arlington is very good at planning.  Not so much at acting and building and enforcing.  And over the past decade, Arlington County seems to have put less and less effort into action.  Some of that is due to a staff leadership that seems satisfied with where we got in 2012, and (I assume) feels like things are good enough now.  They’re not.  And it’s on *you*, as County Board members, to understand and change that.

   We need more of this:

Child riding on a bike in the Quincy Street protected bike lane in Arlington, Virginia
Enjoying the Quincy Street PBL.

and less of this:

Squeezing down a substandard sidewalk on Park Drive.
Tight squeeze on the best available facilities.

The first photo, as you hopefully know, is of the new protected bike lanes on Quincy.  They make it safe and enjoyable for my 8 year old to ride with me (and she’ll be taking them to school, when it’s time to go to Washington-Liberty).  The second?  That’s the substandard sidewalk on Park Dr. they’re forced to ride on to get to Barrett Elementary.  Instead of providing a safe space for kids biking to school, the street is used for the public storage of private cars (despite the always empty parking lot right there).  And with the sidewalk so narrow and encroached, I suppose it was only a matter of time until my son got knocked off his bike (by an adult, no less, who hurried away).  Her swinging purse straps grabbed his handlebars and it slammed him to the ground.  But at least we’ve got free on-street parking there, right?

    Arlington is full of the problems in the second photo.  And it’s that way because the County Board chooses that.  It’s an affirmative choice to do almost nothing, building very few projects, and then pointing to the rare accomplishment like the Quincy PBLs or BikeArlington’s advertising and saying – “Hey, we’re bicycle friendly!”

    It’s not a choice you have to make, though.  You have another.  You can improve the Bicycle Element and then tell the County Manager that you will hold him accountable for *acting* on it.  Mr. Schwartz does not appear to have his own interest in seeing the plan implemented, but I am certain he’s interested in being responsive to you.  So use that – use your authority as County Board members – to choose a better and safer Arlington.  Thank you.

Quite sincerely,

Mark Blacknell

Arlington Resident Since 1997, and on behalf of M. (since 2010), A. (since 2014), and B. (since 2016).

Erik Gutshall for Arlington

As originally posted at Chris Slatt’s site:

June 9, 2016

Dear Fellow Cyclists,

The Tuesday, June 14th Democratic Primary has almost arrived! On that day, Arlington voters will pick their Democratic Party candidate for the County Board.

We are residents of Arlington. We ride bikes. We support Erik Gutshall for County Board.

Erik has a vision for Arlington as a place where riding a bike is a safe and comfortable transportation choice for everyone who wants to bike. Erik supports adopting a Vision Zero plan for Arlington, which calls for Arlington to eliminate death and serious injury from our roads through efforts to improve road design, education and policing. Erik supports Safe Routes to Schools, the program that encourages students to bike and walk to school, and he wants to see it expanded. Erik wants to see our police officers more engaged with the cycling community and utilizing bike patrols. And Erik wants to see Arlington earn the status of Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community.

Arlington used to be a leader among local jurisdictions when it comes to supporting people who bicycle. Now neighboring jurisdictions are surpassing us in funding, facilities, maintenance and support. Erik wants to reestablish Arlington as a leader, and knows that we have the staff and resources to do it, if Arlington County’s political leadership has the will.

Erik recognizes that cycling is a fundamental part of our transportation network and should be treated as such. He recognizes that enabling more people to feel safe and comfortable biking is essential to moving more and more people as Arlington grows. You can read more about Erik’s position on cycling in Arlington here.

We ask you to join us in supporting Erik Gutshall for County Board in the Democratic primary on June 14th and again in November.Turnout in the primary is even more important than usual. There are two ways to vote in the primary: in person at your regular polling location from 6:00am – 7:00 pm on Tuesday, June 14th, or absentee in person at the Courthouse Plaza through Saturday, June 11th. Click here for more information on voting in the upcoming primary.

Working together we can help Erik win on June 14th!


Mark Blacknell
Gillian Burgess
Ed Fendley
Christopher Forinash
Eric Goodman
Megan Jones
Grant Mandsager
Steve Offutt
Chris Slatt

Now Now Now

That is not, as unsurprising as it will be to no one but me, a title based on Monkey #2’s most favorite phrase.  It’s actually a nod to Derek Sivers, and his Now Now Now project.

My online presence has been a long and storied one, with enormous reward (and not a little cost).  In the past couple/few years, I’ve drawn back, for both good and not so good reasons.  And I’ve recently realized that I’ve shortchanged the good.  So.  Trying to figure it out again.

So, with credit and appreciation to Sivers, here’s my now.

We’ll see how this goes.


Don’t even know where to start. As good a place as any.



A Worthy Cover

Some takes are perfection, and ought not be insulted with further efforts. And while I still think the original is perfect, this effort is no insult:


Nothing is Created or Destroyed - Everything is Transformed

Never Gets Old

Midweek Makeover: Moves Like . . . *Who*!?

This is a one track entry:

(Okay, can’t help it. Here, here, and here. This is brilliant.)

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