This past February, an article by WTOP compared commuting statistics around the Washington area between 2009 and 2015, and basically, Arlington residents have it pretty good. People here drive less, have shorter commutes and take advantage of more transportation options. The proximity to jobs might have a lot to do with this, but the people with these commutes chose to live in Arlington and to have more compact lives.
Another similar Arlingtonian behavior is active transportation – getting around by bike or on foot for travel. But why is active transportation so special in Arlington? To answer that question, let’s look at what could happen if active transportation didn’t even exist here.
Life Would Be More Insular
One of Arlington’s best characteristics is the tight-knit community and civic involvement by its residents. The walkability of even the busiest areas create a small town feeling that make the County ideal for farmers markets, neighborhood yard sales, cultural fairs and more. But if driving were the only option, people here would be less connected with their neighbors, parks and nature centers would be visited less and no one would know about all the great public art throughout the County.
Traffic and Metro Would Be More Crowded
In 2016, it was reported that 10.3% of Arlington residents commute by bike or foot. Given the prevalence of trails, lanes, shared bikes and fix-it stands in Arlington, this is not surprising. But if these options went away, people would most likely join the masses throughout the region who drive and take transit.
Arlington residents are savvy to their commuting options when things look bleak. Biking and walking give people the independence to go where they want, when they want - especially when other options are experiencing issues. (Remember SafeTrack?)
Consider this – every person who commutes by bike or foot means an open seat on the bus or one less car in traffic with you.
Treadmill Sales Would Increase (Maybe)
This may be a stretch, but indulge me. For the past few years, the Washington area has been named the most fit region in the country, due to the abundance of fitness facilities, good sidewalks and an active culture. (Ok, now we’re in second place but I’m sure this is just temporary.) Trails and bike lanes make it possible for Arlington residents to integrate exercise into travel, but if all that went away, more people would probably work out indoors, on a treadmill in front of a TV at home.
This Really is an Arlington Thing
A lot of people in other parts of the country rely heavily on cars to get around, so it’s not terribly hard to imagine what life without active transportation would look like. But what makes Arlington so unique in this region is the understanding that streets are best used when all people can share them no matter how they get around.
The simplicity of being able to step out the front door and go on trails or streets is a special part of Arlington life. Whether you are a family wanting to make active transportation a new tradition, or an employer interested in facilitating bike commuting at your company, welcome home.
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners