Maybe you've heard that Arlington County is a good place to get out and explore on your bike, but something inside of you still isn't sure. As a team of avid bikers and bike novices, we understand your concerns, so that's why we wanted to share four amazing reasons why you should give biking a try in Arlington County.
Reason #1: The 2015 Bike Map
The BikeArlington bike map isn’t the best map of Arlington just because it says so on the cover! The hugely popular bike map is extremely detailed, with every Arlington street named, parks and community centers labeled, bike lanes and trails shown as well as the famous Arlington Loop, restrooms, drinking fountains, steep hills, bike shops, Capital Bikeshare stations and more. The map also features trail connections from Fairfax County and Washington DC, because although biking in Arlington is fun, who wants to be limited?
The back side is full of useful information, so be sure to turn it over and check out the bike tips. Whether you keep it for bike trip planning, figuring out where Gulf Branch Nature Center is, or wanting to find the closest Metro station to a Capital Bikeshare station, this map has you covered. Keep one where you work and at home, then you are always prepared in case of an emergency, too.
Reason #2: Capital Bikeshare
Speaking of Capital Bikeshare, the stations with the big red bikes keep popping up all over! If you aren’t familiar with Capital Bikeshare yet, it is a Bikeshare system designed to get you from Point A to Point B, just like the bus or Metro. It’s an easy way to add some activity and fresh air to your day. Stations are being added all the time, which means accessibility is constantly expanding.
You can use the map to find stations, as well as the Spotcycle app, which will give you tell you how many bikes are available at each station. This is especially important when you are trying to go somewhere – find the closest bike, then identify one or two stations near your destination with empty docks. Knowing before you go will make your ride even smoother!
Reason #3: Bike Trails
Arlington County is fortunate because its location puts it in the middle of five major trails: the W&OD Trail, the Custis Trail, the C&O Canal Towpath, the Four Mile Run Trail and the Mt. Vernon Trail. In fact, all but the C&O Canal connect, creating the Arlington Loop, a 17-mile loop that showcases the best of Arlington County, with stunning views of Washington DC monuments, Reagan National Airport and the park space all along the W&OD Trail. Health experts encourage us all to get some daily exercise in nature for improved mental and physical health, and Arlington County trails are an ideal way to do it!
Reason #4: Protected Bike Lanes
Arlington County has about 160 total miles of bike lanes, with about 100 of those miles considered “on street” lanes. While most of the lanes are traditional bike lanes, some are more advanced. Buffered bike lanes are bike lanes with painted buffers to put a bit more space between the bike and car lanes. These are prevalent in Clarendon, along Clarendon Blvd. You will also see the occasional green bike lane. These are hard to miss, because the bike lane itself has been filled in with bright green paint; this helps all street users understand where bikes will be traveling.
The newest addition to bike lane vocabulary is the new protected bike lane in Pentagon City, a first in Arlington County. A protected bike lane is one of the best possible scenarios – the bike lane is next to the sidewalk, bollards and painted buffers are to the left of the lane, and in many cases, as with the one on S Eads Street, car parking is further to the left.
This means that people riding bikes here will not have to worry about car movement in and out of the bike lane, and drivers of cars will not have to intersect bike lanes to get to their parking. This new protected bike lane will not be the only one for long! Once you have a chance to ride on it, you will understand and appreciate the difference.
Arlington takes its Bicycle Friendly Community designation seriously because it knows the health, economic and environmental reasons for biking are worth the effort. Once you get out and explore Arlington by bike, you will start to see the benefits yourself, too!
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com