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Protected bike lane in Clarendon (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria announced last week that four existing bike lanes will be getting new protection, including physical barriers, this summer.

Alexandria Transportation & Environmental Services announced the change last week — but it turned into a pretty busy news week after that.

The city will add four buffers to bike lanes on:

  • King Street (Janneys Lane to Radford Street)
  • North Van Dorn Street (Braddock Road to Menokin Drive)
  • Pegram Street (Polk Avenue to North Pickett Street)
  • Seminary Road (North Howard Street to Quaker Lane)

The City of Alexandria website said each of the streets currently has painted buffer zones but no physical barriers. While many of the physical barriers on bike lanes are obviously not strong enough to stop a car, it still provides a physical demarcation that helps keep drivers out of the bike lane.

While the Seminary Road bike lane conjures to mind heated discussion over traffic impacts, the city said the new barriers will have no impact on traffic.

The bike lanes are expected to be installed sometime this spring or summer.

Cyclists along the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River near Belle Haven (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Plans to narrow the George Washington Parkway and widen the Mount Vernon Trail cleared another hurdle this week.

The changes could be coming to the Mount Vernon Trail just south of Alexandria. The National Park Service issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for an Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluating the impacts of the proposed changes, according to a release.

From where the trail leaves Old Town down to the eponymous Mount Vernon it will be widened from 8 or 9 feet wide to 10 or 12 feet wide in some areas. Four trail bridges will also be replaced.

Safety and operational improvements are planned for the GW Parkway’s southern segment and Mount Vernon Trail improvements project scope (via National Park Service)

According to the release:

The EA analyzed several alternatives, including a no-action alternative and multiple action alternatives for improvements. After a period of public review and carefully considering the public comments received, the NPS selected a specific alternative that will not significantly affect the environment and encompasses a series of vital enhancements:

  • Upgraded pedestrian and cycling paths to improve user safety and enjoyment.
  • Enhanced road safety features, such as improved signage and lane adjustments to ensure smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents.
  • Maintenance upgrades to preserve the historic and scenic integrity of the parkway and trail, including repairs to existing infrastructure and scenic overlooks.

For the road diet, the plan is to bring the parkway down to one southbound travel lane and one northbound travel lane for much of the route with a striped median or center turn lane.

Design work and planning is scheduled to start later this year.

Matt Neumann with Capital Bikeshare checks bikes on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Reports of high ridership last fall held steady through the end of the year and made it official: Capital Bikeshare had its best year yet in Alexandria.

A report to the Traffic and Parking Board ahead of a meeting tonight said the bikeshare system ridership grew steadily post-Covid to a high of 109,487 trips starting or ending in Alexandria last year.

According to the report:

The Capital Bikeshare system hit record ridership numbers systemwide and in the City of Alexandria in 2023. The Capital Bikeshare system rebounded from the decline in ridership seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of trips taken by bikeshare has grown steadily since 2021 and 2023 was the highest ridership year for Capital Bikeshare in Alexandria to date. In 2023, 109,487 Capital Bikeshare trips started and/or ended in the City. Additionally, Capital Bikeshare had the highest average number of trips taken per day in 2023 with an average of 300 trips per day.

The bikeshare data is accessible online. The average trip time last year was 30 minutes and most trips start and end in Alexandria, though more end in the city than begin there.

Helbiz bike in Alexandria (photo via Helbiz/Twitter)

Alexandria is urging the state to fund an e-bike rebate program.

The Virginia Mercury first reported that a city report looked into using grant funding and developer contributions to pay into an e-bike rebate program as early as this coming summer.

As part of the legislative package, the city is requesting that the state legislature fund a state-wide e-bike rebate program.

According to the city’s legislative package:

The City supports State investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, including funding for a State E-Bike rebate program and funding for the existing state electric vehicle rebate program to complement the federal rebate program.

Last year, five states — Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington — announced e-bike incentive programs. In Colorado, the program offered a $500 tax credit to those who purchased an e-bike. Minnesota offered a point-of-sale rebate covering $1,500 of an e-bike purchase, or 50-75%.

The goal of the programs is to encourage people to use e-bikes rather than cars and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. E-bikes are faster and less physically demanding than traditional bicycles and, as this reporter’s colleagues can attest, less likely to leave the rider ostracized by showing up at a newsroom drenched in sweat.

Photo via Helbiz/Twitter

Capital Bikeshare station added to Potomac Yard Metro station (image via Capital Bikeshare/Twitter)

It’s getting easier to bike to and from Alexandria’s new Potomac Yard Metro station.

Alexandria Transportation and Environmental Services said a new Capital Bikeshare station is now open just north of the station.

A report (page 11) to the Traffic and Parking Board for its meeting on Monday, Oct. 23, said the station has 15 docks.

“In October 2023, a new 15 dock Capital Bikeshare station was installed just north of the Potomac Yard Metro South Pavilion, along the Potomac Yard trail,” the report said. “This gives Metro riders a new, convenient transportation option to access the Potomac Yard Metro station.”

The report also said the city worked with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to get ten new bike racks installed at the station, split between the north and south pavilions.

“Staff is evaluating the feasibility of installing more racks on the south side of the station closer to Potomac Greens Drive,” the report said.

Photo via Capital Bikeshare/Twitter

Seminary Road (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

While it won’t have the fierce competition of its French forebearer, Le Tour d’Alexandria is being hosted by the Alexandria Library later this month.

The 13-mile, 2.5-hour bike ride will run in a loop around Alexandria, hitting all of the library locations along the way.

“This leisurely ride begins at 10 a.m. at Beatley Central Library, is approximately 13 miles long, and ends back where it began,” the Alexandria Library event listing said. “Bring your bike and join library staff for this 2.5-hour ride.”

Le Tour d’Alexandria map (image via Alexandria Library)

The check-in starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Beatley Central Library and the tour starts at 10 a.m., finishing roughly around 12:30 p.m. back in the same location.

Space on the tour is limited and riders must be at least 13 years old to participate. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Helmets are required.

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After a dip in 2020, Capital Bikeshare use in Alexandria has been on a rapid rebound and this year surpassed pre-Covid ridership.

The network overall hit ridership records this summer. Capital Bikeshare hit an all-time ridership record in Alexandria this July, with 10,652 total trips, according to a new report to the Traffic and Parking Board. There was an average of 343.6 trips per day in July.

“The Capital Bikeshare system has hit record ridership numbers systemwide and in the City of Alexandria in 2023,” the report said. “Four of the highest performing months of all time have been in 2023 so far.”

The report credited some of that success to a new e-bike model.

“High ridership has been aided by a new e-bike model that was introduced to the Capital Bikeshare system in March 2023,” the report said.

Average daily Capital Bikeshare trips in Alexandria (image via City of Alexandria)

A 14-year-old boy on an electric bike suffered non-life threatening injuries after a crash involving a car in Arlandria on Wednesday night, according to scanner traffic.

The crash occurred at around 7:30 p.m. in a parking lot in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. The teen was transported to a hospital in an ambulance.

The driver of the vehicle was pulling out of the parking lot and was about to turn onto Mount Vernon Avenue when the crash occurred, though ALXnow could not independently verify which vehicle struck the other.

The driver stayed at the scene and was not charged.

“I was just pulling out of the parking lot and this kid came flying down Mount Vernon Avenue on his bike and bam, hit the car,” the driver told ALXnow. “I stayed here. I had to help the kid.”

East Abingdon Drive currently vs with a bike lane (image via City of Alexandria)

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail is rallying support to get a section of roadway into Old Town North converted into a bike lane.

The plan would be to take the right lane of East Abingdon Drive — which runs parallel to the George Washington Memorial Parkway — and convert it into a two-way buffered cycletrack connected to the Mount Vernon Trail, Patch first reported.

The Mount Vernon Trail branches just north of Old Town, with one part continuing along the waterfront and the other leading onto E. Abingdon Drive. The section on East Abingdon Drive, however, requires cyclists to either ride in the street or on a narrow sidewalk.

Map of proposed East Abingdon Drive changes (image via City of Alexandria)

“Currently, trail users are advised to use the narrow 4-foot wide sidewalk,” Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail wrote. “On one side, is two lanes of automobile traffic, on the other is a row of cedar trees. Two trail users can not comfortably pass each other in such a narrow space. While northbound cyclists can legally use the street, southbound cyclists would be going against traffic.”

Bike lanes are also being considered at King Street near the Bradlee Shopping Center, on Eisenhower Avenue, and on Holland Lane.

Feedback on the proposal can be submitted online by Sunday, Sept. 17. The project is headed to the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board on Oct. 23.

Changes planned for the Mount Vernon Trail in Old Town North (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria could be prioritizing the Mount Vernon Trail at crossings where, currently, trail users are expected to stop for car traffic.

At a Traffic and Parking Board meeting last week, civil engineer Dan Scolese presented plans to change the stop signs from making pedestrians and cyclists stop for street traffic to having cars stop for trail users.

“The unusual nature is because it’s a trail and a street crossing, but the trail is considered a road,” Scolese said. “We gathered volumes during the fall. In all conditions, the trail was always more [used] than the crossing street. The split is usually more than 70%. On weekends there’s a vast difference in terms of volume on the trail.”

Scolese said trail usage at the intersections is usually pretty evenly balanced between pedestrians and cyclists.

The recommendation, supported unanimously by the Traffic and Parking Board, is to change the stop signs to face street traffic where the trail intersects at Canal Center Plaza, Montgomery Street and Madison Street, allowing trail users to continue through that part of Alexandria without stopping. The Traffic and Parking Board members did say, however, that city staff should reach out to nearby civic associations, who were not consulted ahead of the meeting.

Some on the Board said this could be the start of a broader look at how stopping is prioritized at other places where trails intersect with Alexandria streets, depending on how this goes.

“I’m curious to see how this works,” said Traffic and Parking Board chair James Lewis. “Not asking you guys for a report, but once stuff is in, if you don’t mind sharing how it’s working because this is the first time we’ve done something like this.”


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