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

Category: Cycling Page 1 of 34

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

Thank You, Scott Scudamore

Reading through Scott Scudamore‘s Facebook wall right now is an exercise in deep swings of emotion. Until you’ve experienced Scud in person, it’s not only hard to grasp just how outgoing and friendly he was, but to truly understand  how genuine his connections with other people were. The evidence, though, is in each and every one of those posts.

The first time I met Scott (2004?), I think he started off with a “Hey, I don’t mean to be a busybody, but . . . ” (and he totally did). It was at Wakefield, and he was coming over to dissuade me from riding the muddy trails. Since I’d actually just loaded my bike on the car because I’d *seen* the muddy trails, I was a little irritated at first. But Scott was waving me off of riding in such a friendly and positive way, I couldn’t help but finishing the encounter liking him.

Fast forward from there. Over the years the friendship developed, from chatting with him at MORE work days, to riding with him in Stokesville most Memorial Days, and – in the last couple of years – enjoying much longer conversations about community, aging, and making the time for important things.

While I (very much) regret not seeing him since his crash, I couldn’t ask for a better last conversation than the one we had over (many) beers at Stokesville this year. We talked about giving back instead of trying to take it with you, providing for those close to you, and the importance of making the best connections we can with other people while we’re alive.

Scud managed all of that in ways we should all aspire to, and he inspires me to live up to that.

He did that for me and many many many other people.  Well done, Scud.  Well done.


More about Scott Scudamore here.  Scott’s influence ranged well beyond his home in Virginia.  Since his injury I’ve seen heartfelt testimony about and appreciation of the man from the East Coast to Hawai’i.  From lifelong friends to people who he really connected with in the span of a race.

Cycling Advocacy’s Highest Goal, in 30 Seconds

I would raise money to air this during the Super Bowl:



Share the Road from AAA Public Affairs on Vimeo.

Louisville 2013

Traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, for the UCI World Cyclocross Championships.   Wasn’t expecting anything in particular,m including the fantastic time everyone had.  Here it is, in pictures.  Make sure you turn the captions on.

Ask Del. Comstock to Stop Blocking Road Safety In Virginia

It’s almost time for the Virginia legislature to start a new session.  And once again, they’ll have an opportunity to help make Virginia’s roads safer by bringing its laws into line with the rest of the country.  For reasons I can’t fathom, this has somehow turned into a partisan question.  Fairfax’s Delegate Barbara Comstock has repeatedly stood in the way of laws that would lead to safer roads.  As WABA’s Greg Billing explains it:

Tonight, McLean Citizens Association will host a Town Hall meeting with several local legislators, including Delegate Barbara Comstock. Delegate Comstock cast the deciding votes last year to kill two bills that would help protect bicyclists: 1) A bill that would prevent motorists from following a bicyclist more closely than is reasonable. Virginia appears to be the only state where bicyclists are excluded from “following too close” provisions; 2) A bill that “Requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or the operator of a human-powered vehicle.” Virginia is one of only four states without this provision.

Both bills will be introduced again this year by Delegate Alfonso Lopez. Support from Delegate Comstock is key to their passage. Why not attend this meeting and ask Delegate Comstock to support these bills? The meeting is 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean.

For more information on these bills, see the talking points developed by Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation:

Meeting Details
McLean Community Center
1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean VA
Google Map Directions
Time: 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Can’t make tonight’s meeting? Please consider sending your comments to Delegate Comstock at bcomstock@delegatecomstock.com

I hope you’ll let her know what you think of this.

Blame It On My ADD

The action on this starts a couple of minutes in, but what makes it really special is the background that the first few minutes gives you. Check it out:


I suggest a full screening of this.

Clarendon Cycles: Thanks

This week’s piece tracks the theme of the season.  Zero snark or irony here – I’m genuinely thankful for all of these things.

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