Showing posts with label Arlington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arlington. Show all posts

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Another Odd Parked Bike in Neighborhood

Trek 750 in neighborhood
Bicycle parked like this near my house for more than a week

This bike appeared in my neighborhood more than a week ago, locked up to a cable that runs from a phone pole. It isn't doing it much good, sitting out in the weather. It's a Trek 750 "MultiTrack" from around 1995 I would guess.

Bike in neighborhood
Dog checking it out - yes, it seems to be a bike

This bike is probably about 20 years old - I have a Trek mountain bike of similar vintage, which I like quite a bit. With a little effort a bike like this could be a really good commuter bike. Yet here it is, with its mirror that is falling off, rusting.

1995 Trek with Michelin Run'r tires installed
My 1995 Trek 930, which is sort of similar

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What One Sees While Commuting

Crew training on Four Mile Run
Unusually warm February day brings crew team to Four Mile Run for training

Not much room for crew on this stream, really
I guess they came up from the Potomac

There were in fact two racing shell and a motorboat

Normally my commute is on the other side of Four Mile Run, where the Arlington water treatment plant is, but at the moment cyclists are supposed to use a detour while some work is done along the north bank.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

To the Women's March on Washington by Bike

Bike Valet at Women's March on Washington
Bike valet parking at L'Enfant Plaza SW & Independence Avenue

It is about nine miles from my house to where the bike valet parking was set up for the Women's March on Washington - I decided to take my ancient 1973 three-speed Raleigh Sports bike that is indestructible and also not a bike that would be a loss if something bad did happen to it (like it disappeared).

According to the Women's March on Washington web site, there were 1,500 parking spots at this bike valet service for bicycles, which they seemed to suggest would not be enough, but alas the bike valet service was not much used. The above photo was taken at around 9:30, about 30 minutes before the rally started, and there were maybe a few dozen bikes parked total. Hmm. When I left the area around 2:15, heavy crowds extended down Independence Avenue further than this - far too crowded to try to walk a bicycle in that direction - I was able to leave the area by going south, away from Independence, crossing over the railroad tracks and SW freeway on L'Enfant Plaza, then down to Maine Ave and the usual bike route from the Jefferson Memorial area onward across the 14th St Bridge and into Arlington. So for me at least the bike valet parking was well situated.

Given the huge number of people who attended and the stories of how Metro was overwhelmed, it appears bicycle was a good solution, but apparently not an obvious one, although I understand many people came in groups and a group bike ride to something like this probably isn't the first idea one has. Still, the bike valet must have been one of the more over-provided (or under-utilized) resources connected with this event.

Both on the way to the March and on the ride home, I saw more attendees riding Capital Bikeshare bikes than their own bikes.

Women's March on Washington
Listening to speakers at the March

It was an uplifting experience in many ways, even if the historical fact that drove the organizers to create it isn't a positive one in my view. I was glad to be there. Who knows how many people were really there, but Lord that was a lot of people.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Moscow Extreme Weekend Cycling Event

It was a bit chilly for Washington today, but I wanted to test out some different cold weather gear and went for about a 7-8 mile ride in the middle of the day. It was around 18 F or about -8 C - my winter stuff worked OK to keep me warm, but riding back I was a little slowed by a steady cold wind. Ugh.

But this weekend in Moscow there was a winter "Velo-Parade" that was held despite unusually cold conditions there (even for Moscow) with a ride-time temperature of -27 C, or about -17 F. Yikes! I guess I have nothing to complain about.

Poster available to print and post from one of the event organizers,

There is this story in Russian, from the Russian News Agency TASS. There is a shorter version in English. It says in English, in an example of less than great translation, that the participants were "recommended to be accurate" which in Russian was really something like they were told be careful. Perhaps a machine translation. There were about 500 participants. The "Ministry of Extreme Situations" (which is a Russia national agency for emergency response; basically some EMTs) was at the start and finish, but apparently no one needed assistance. This was the second such "winter bicycle parade;" the first one in 2016 had about 3,000 riders but the weather was more seasonal (again, for Moscow) although of course still below freezing. More seasonally appropriate "bicycle parades" have been organized in May in Moscow for several years, as well as in a few other cities. These events are in support of (Russian) public awareness of cycling and advocacy for more cycling infrastructure. The events are not races but more of a fun ride, although in this case, in rather extreme (for most) conditions. This winter ride seems to have been about 6 kilometers each way, along the embankment of the Moscow river, or (coincidentally) about 7.5 miles, just about what I rode today in (by comparison) almost tropical conditions.

News video from (in Russian) of this winter event

Московский Велопарад 2016 from Let's bike it! on Vimeo.

Organizer produced video of the 2016 spring Velo-Parade in Moscow, in late May

The spring ride in 2016 claimed more than 30,000 participants.

Winter Riding

Lucky Run Trail Arlington VA
Lucky Run Trail in Arlington VA that was given advance treatment to slow development of ice

This is the bike trail near my house, which is treated to slow development of ice, largely for cyclists I suppose but also helpful for people on foot. (Alas, as a dog owner I am less enthusiastic about this.)

I took this while riding a bike with studded tires, however, so while it is nice, I prefer that extra insurance against falling down. Today is Sunday and I'm not riding, but I am thinking about whether to ride the bike with studded tires or my regular commuter bike tomorrow. The Mt Vernon Trail will almost certainly have some icy spots.

I don't much like falling down. I guess I said that.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Four Mile Run Trail Detour

Four Mile Run Detour
Sign posted along trail

There is (lots) more information on the Arlington County web site.
Construction at Four Mile Run will begin on Sept. 20, lasting through the Fall season. There is a detour associated with the project.
The signs may have appeared last Friday I guess but there were no signs Thursday last week; supposedly construction starts tomorrow? But maybe not the detour.
Here is a PDF of the map I have a photo of, above.

Not surprisingly I am not crazy about the detour. I get the need for the project I just don't like the route of the detour, and that there is no sensible alternative. This detour is two miles into a 9.5 mile commute, but there is no alternative route via trails. The trail network is great except it is not very dense as a network. Phooey.

It is amusing (or something) to see the tacit admission that the present trails are not very good when it says, "As part of the construction, the Arlington trail will be completely rebuilt to current standards, including a new sub-base and asphalt surface." Of course they are just referring to the less than half mile of trail to be upgraded with this project; the remainder of this trail (and others) will remain sub-standard.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bait Bikes?

Bait bike?
Bike locked to bench for about ten days

Bait bike?
Bike locked to pole for about a week

I see these often along my commute - I sometimes imagine that the police lock these up as theft bait - that only seems a logical explanation because otherwise, why would bikes like these be locked up for so long? Just odd.

They are almost always oddly unattractive bikes - the first bike above is rideable - someone has updated an old cruiser bike as a fixie; the wheels and tires were reasonably new. The frame, however, was amazing for its rust - almost perfectly distributed across the entire thing. (This I would say however is not very attractive in a conventional sense.)

The second bike is even stranger. It's a Cannondale, discernible by the "handmade in the USA" on the chainstay. The components (brake levers, in particular) suggest it is almost twenty years old, but then it appears to carbon fiber? Or maybe it is aluminum. Someone has covered up the various branding. The funniest part is the chain used here, which looks like a chain you would use to lock up a motor scooter, not a bicycle.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thanks National Park Service! New Water Fountain on Mt Vernon Trail

New drinking fountain on Mt Vernon Trail
New water fountain along the Mount Vernon Trail near National Airport

There has been some construction work ongoing since (it seems) the end of last summer to improve small parts of the Mount Vernon Trail where it was routed down right next to the parkway (roadway). These improvements took longer than one would have imagined - part of it took longer than six months - but are good improvements.

At the same time, this new water fountain was installed. For a long time it was surrounded by yellow construction tape, but it didn't matter much since it was cooler weather. Now that hot hot weather has really arrived, it is great for this to be there.

Thursday afternoon it was up around 95 degrees (Fahrenheit, or around 35 Celcius) during ~ten mile (16 km) commute home. I have my bottle of water filled before I leave work, but getting through the DC traffic out of the city was hot work it seemed so when I got to this water fountain, I was glad to be able to stop and get a little refreshed.

The photo was taken Friday morning on the way in, around 6:30 - Fridays are a day a lot of people telework so not too much traffic, bikes or cars.

The fountain post has a metal bowl at the bottom that can be filled with water for dogs. Nice touch.

Thanks National Park Service! Happy 100th birthday!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Predictable-Alert-Lawful on Your Trail, in Your Neighborhood

The "be a PAL" bike trailer of Arlington VA
The PAL campaign mobile unit-the bike trailer has a 20 inch wheel on each side

On my way home Thursday, it was surprisingly windy given that suggested a SSW wind of 10 mph. I was surprised to find the young woman above walking her bike that has a PAL - predictable, alert, lawful - billboard-trailer. Apparently despite the holes cut in the fabric to let the wind through, it doesn't do well in a crosswind. If the thing blows over, she would get pulled over too, so she was walking. I guess she does this as a volunteer? Or someone pays her to ride around Arlington trails with this thing? This isn't the first time I have seen her, just the first time I have seen her walking. One odd aspect is that when riding along and seeing her coming the other way, or passing her, there is no time as a cyclist to read her trailer-billboard. So I sort of don't understand it.

I don't know if other jurisdictions have this PAL slogan and campaign or not. Somehow to me it comes across as a little too focused on illegal cyclist behavior or that assumption that if only cyclists would clean up their act everything would be fine. They endorse the following PSAs.

Makes the point that cyclists are the ones who die so they should avoid breaking laws

The problem I have with this logic is that the parallel would be that since motorists have pretty good protective metal boxes around them, it's OK to be a little free and easy with the obeying the traffic code.

Illustrates the classic "right hook" threat to cyclists from motorists

It's interesting that even the demonstration of how it should be done, turning behind the cyclist, results in the car rushing up directly behind the cyclist in a way that would not be great to experience. Better than being cut in front of, yes, but not great.

Motorists in cars should look before opening the driver's side door

These PSAs make good points, but for me there is usually something off about them. In the last one about avoiding getting doored, the third scenario suggests that in the end you should ride in a bike lane well away from the parked cars, presumably because the motorists may well not check before opening a door. In other words, in the end it is all on you Mr. or Ms. Cyclist.

And for whatever reason I end up grinding my teeth a bit whenever I see reference to this PAL campaign (which fortunately isn't often - they seem to have taken the ads for it off the County transit buses). "Predictable" is fine as advice, although it is clearly more about cyclists than motorists. (In fact, most of the predictable motorist behaviors are the ones we don't want, like opening doors without looking or cutting off cyclists with right turns.) "Alert" seems to be because they needed a vowel. Because otherwise, duh. Alert. Yeah. But it is the "lawful" that annoys me most, but I suppose as much as anything because it makes no grammatical sense. What they mean is "law abiding" but I guess that is two words.


ADDENDUM: BikeArlington read this and says: I also saw your latest post on the PAL trailer. While [the PAL trailer-bike and rider] does ride on the trails, her primary focus is to connect with motorists. She’s frequently camped out along the Mount Vernon trail to interface with traffic moving slowly on the GW Parkway.

The idea behind the PAL campaign is that it’s designed to be targeted towards all mode of travel. We recognize that pedestrians jaywalk, that people on bikes will run red lights, and that motorists will speed and text. We don’t assign blame to anyone in particular, but rather just point out that if everyone travels in a manner that is predictable, alert and lawful, that we would have much less conflict on the streets.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Arlington Makes the Trails Smoooooth

Looking towards the south end of National Airport along Four Mile Run

Concrete trail areas and where such trails meet asphalt can have problems - a typical quick response is to fill in with asphalt. Often the results do not make the situation better and may make it worse. In this area where several bridges cross over the concrete trail along Four Mile Run, there were several such asphalt repairs that were not very well executed. There were also several places where concrete blocks did not meet evenly (but were not filled in with asphalt). Today Arlington County had these problem repaired by grinding down the concrete to create smooth concrete! Yay! Well done!

The example shown in the photograph above was dangerous for inexperienced riders - the raised concrete running in the direction a rider was heading could easily result in a crash if someone tried to go across the imperfection when passing someone, for example. This is a lot safer and better. There were about a dozen spots along here where such fixes were made today. Really nice.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Bicycles Are Prohibited Off the Mount Vernon Trail"

Bicycles are prohibited off the Mount Vernon Trail
This sign, and another pointing the opposite direction, appeared Friday

In the past year or so, it has become popular for cyclocross type cyclists to ride along near the trail, but not on the trail, near Gravelly Point. (This sign is stuck in the ground right next to it.) The regular riders have created a kind of dedicated rut-trail that winds around under the railway bridge away from the asphalt trail. The people look like they are having fun. Apparently with the onset of better cycling weather, the National Park Service has decided to put a stop to it. I am not going to look up the Code of Federal Regulations 4.30, but really? It covers this situation? Hmmm.

What surprised me most today was that the two signs were still there! No one pulled them out of the ground and tossed them into the Potomac (or elsewhere).

I would be a little more sympathetic if the Park Service had done even a little trail maintenance in the last five years or so. Or did anything during snow.

BikeArlington read this and wrote me: . . . last fall, a group of cyclocross racers met with NPS who were concerned about the trail sections that came dangerously close to the GW Parkway (literally cornering at speed just a few feet from traffic). And while NPS is open to the idea of using that space, because it is federal parkland, an environmental study needs to be conducted before the NPS can officially condone such use. Unfortunately, that study . . . takes quite some time. . .

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pre-treating Trails in Arlington VA

Trail along Four Mile Run near where I live

Tonight snowy weather of some sort is promised and Arlington has pre-treated the trails with some sort of fluid. That is what the parallel dark lines are. Pretty nice!

I confess I am not sure how much this pre-treatment helps. I live down the street from a high school in Arlington and they do it on our street assiduously before every storm, but once the snow starts to fall - hmm. Still, it is great to see the county government providing good service for trail users (including but not only cyclists), and they have done a good job with plowing trails too.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Starting Up Bicycle Commute After 2 Feet of Snow

Snow, Washington D.C., car
Snow in Washington DC, January 1922 (from the Library of Congress)

Last weekend two feet of snow (give or take) fell from the sky, closing the government completely for several days, then various kinds of delayed arrival and the like through Friday. I teleworked through Thursday, returning to work on Friday - using Metro.

I am not crazy about using Metro, but I didn't feel like experimenting with the snow on the trails that day.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went about a third of the way to work, to see what conditions are like on the bike trails between my house and the Potomac river where I cross the 14th street bridge into DC.

Plowed trail Arlington County VA
Bicycle trail plowed by Arlington County

The trail for about a half mile from my house to the Four Mile Run Trail was not plowed, but it was mostly clear anyway. The Four Mile Run trail near Shirlington was plowed, continuing on in all the way to the Potomac near the south end of National Airport. Arlington County uses a Gator or something similar; it is difficult for them to stay on the trail consistently, as you can see by the tread marks in the grass where the small plow was off the trail for a while.

Mt Vernon Trail near south end National Airport
Mt Vernon trail near south end of National Airport

Once the trail leaves Arlington County and runs into the Mt Vernon trail, the plowing stops, and the conditions are much more mixed - that is, there is more snow and ice. I can route myself through Crystal City to avoid some of this; I'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

1896 Bicycle Map for DC and Area

Roberts' [bicycle] road map of the District of Columbia and adjoining portions of Maryland and Virginia.

Cover title: Bicycle road map : Roberts' road map of the District of Columbia and adjoining portions of Maryland and Virginia : with tables of distances ... character of roads.
Created / Published - Washington : W.F. Roberts, c1896
Library of Congress, Geography & Map Division

Roberts Bicycle Map Washington DC and area 1896
Click here for zoom view of this 1896 map

Roberts Bicycle Map Washington DC and area 1896 - detail
Detail showing Washington DC and then-Alexandria (not Arlington) County

Roberts Bicycle Map Washington DC and area 1896 - road quality
Indicators for quality of roads (for use by cyclists)

Roberts Bicycle Map Washington DC and area 1896 - Rides in VA
Runs (ie, rides) into Virginia from downtown Washington

Distances are from the U.S. Treasury Department building and not the U.S. Capitol.

I found a similar, but not the same, map from 1896 published in the Washington Times that I blogged about.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

"Charmless" Signage in Arlington (VA)

I was reading a story in the Washington Post about changes coming to Arlington County council in the new year.

There is this, with a quote from Council member Libby Garvey: Garvey warned that local government should not “overstep our role and risk stifling innovation,” particularly in regulations such as the sign ordinance, which took more than a year to revise. “Part of the charm of Arlington,” she said, “. . . is how not standard everything is.”

I am not sure what "sign ordinance" is being referred to, but I don't much care for non-standard, inconsistent application of signage to traffic control affecting cyclists - but I don't have to go far to find some, given a recent change to the trail near my house.

Down the street from my house on South Dinwiddie Street, there is a trail that is an offshoot of the WO&D trail, that is parallel to the Lucky Run (stream).


The trail is shown in the image above, with the red line. Somewhat unusual I would say, there is a standard sidewalk and crosswalk at the intersection, then 40 or so feet back on S Dinwiddie, there is the crossing for the trail. It is not painted as a crosswalk with zebra stripes, but there are some dashed lines to show it is there to drivers. There are yellow yield signs controlling pedestrians and cyclists on the trail who would cross S Dinwiddie St.

Meanwhile, just a quarter mile away, the trail crosses S Wakefield St in a similar way but the traffic control is completely different.


These stop sign appeared about a month ago - previously there was not signage here controlling pedestrians and cyclists on the trail where it crosses S Wakefield St. (Yes, the stop sign are not full size, but sort of toy size for some reason.) And the crosswalk is painted with full zebra stripes.


Here you can see the situation, much like at S Dinwiddie St, with the trail crossing set about 40 feet back of the crosswalk that is the intersection.

I don't understand how it is that Arlington County thinks these intersections are supposed to work successfully. In general, if a motorist sees me in the "not quite a crosswalk" for the trail crossing, they stop - but I can't count on it. And apparently at one of the intersections (Dinwiddie) I am merely to yield, but the other (with full zebra stripes!) requires a full stop! WTF, to use the vernacular (or vulgar - whichever).

Consistency in these matters could be a good thing, even in quaint Arlington County. This is a real safety issue, after all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Per Arlington VA Police, Cyclist=Scofflaw but Motorists are OK

Cyclists need to obey those darn laws

Motorists? They just need to be careful

This is of course absurd. It makes sense only if cyclists are presumed to be scofflaws and motorists are law abiding folks who probably would be well advised to be careful of those scofflaw cyclists. In fact there is no evidence at all that cyclists are more (or less) law abiding than people driving cars. There is considerable evidence of course that when cyclists or motorists do dumb things and have accidents involving cyclists and cars, the cyclist suffers much greater consequences.

This is particularly ironic given the location, which is right where a major bike trail crosses a busy street. Under VA law, if the cyclist is required at this location to walk his bike and not ride in the crosswalk then this needs to be specifically posted, otherwise the cyclist is free to cross the street on his bicycle in the crosswalk. The obvious for accidents with the bike trail+crosswalk across Walter Reed is with left-hook and right-hook turn accidents from cars turning from S Four Mile Run Drive where the driver doesn't see the cyclist in the crosswalk because the motorist failed to exercise due care.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Back to Bicycle Commuting

Mount Vernon Trail bridge near National Airport - solid ice

Last week Monday was a holiday and the government (and my job) were closed due to weather. The remainder of the week I went to work by Metro. It was the first week when I worked the "full week" (or as much as was available to work) and didn't ride one single day to work on my bicycle. Ugh.

Today I took my heavy yellow monster and rode to work. The trails in Arlington and roads in DC were fine, but the Mount Vernon Trail was not great. In the morning some of it was slushy, which presents traction issues if you slow down. The temperature fell during the day and most of the way was frozen solid on the way home. I ended up riding more than I would ever do otherwise using the small ring on the front of this old mountain bike, spinning very slowly in the lowest possible gear.

This bike has 1.95 inch wide mountain tires that have studs - amazingly it is possible to ride along at a slow steady pace on conditions like this bridge without difficulty - frozen ruts are the biggest problem.

Since I stopped to take some pictures and stopped somewhere else to talk to a guy and generally was riding pretty slowly, it took me close to an hour and a half to do what should take 45 minutes at most in regular weather.

An odd trade off with tire pressure - I ran with the tires at 50 pounds per square inch, which is somewhat too soft for the miles where the roads or asphalt trails are bare but is certainly too hard for conditions like what is in the photograph. A compromise, but not a great one.

Somewhat embarrassingly I will take Metro again tomorrow, because it will be colder and I think I am up for this every other day but not every day.

Where is spring?!?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Studded Tire Performance in Icy Weather

Photo from several years ago, but bike and tires look same now

I have a 15+ year old heavy ChroMoly Giant mountain bike with studded mountain bike tires - they were sold under the NashBar brand, but were made by Kenda (I think). 1.95 (or really 2) inches wide. There are two rows of studs, kind of alternating in position relative to one another looking across the tire. They are far enough out from the center of the tire that one can significantly influence how many studs may be in contact with the ground by changes in the tire pressure.

Three days ago it was snow, not ice, and I had the tires at 55 pounds per square inch. I made pretty good time but the studs were not really necessary. Two days ago the conditions were much more icy for about half the ride, in other words, the part that is NOT MAINTAINED BY THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (unlike Arlington County, which pretreats its bike trails, God help us). I rode to and from work with the tires inflated only to 40 pounds per square inch and clearly that improved the studly-stickiness of the tires - very little sliding around. On the other hand, on bare pavement, the road resistance is pretty noticeable (and unpleasant). A compromise.

Typical Mount Vernon Trail conditions - thanks for nothing, NPS

This morning I increased the pressure to 50 pounds per square inch since I was hopeful that the trails would be more clear today, but there were still significant areas that were covered from one side of the trail to the other. 50 pounds per square inch was too much to have the same kind of good traction that 40 provides, but I chose to ride along the edges of the trails where there was less bare ice or in a few cases off on the frozen ground along the trail. The improvement in rolling resistance by having more air in the tires made up for a small amount of slow riding in the few really bad spots.

I have now had these studded tires for something like eight years - maybe more. Of course there was at least one year where I didn't use them at all, but I don't ride them much. Originally I thought that if I rode what must be cheap metal studs on lots of bare pavement that I would pound them flat (ruin them) in no time, but in fact they seem to show little wear at all.

Last year I realized that I had lost several on each tire - they are kind of like short thick nails, with a head at the opposite end from what sticks out of the tire. Nashbar sells replacement studs with a tool for installing them and that works fine. I am now riding with a full complement of studs.

I see that there are road tires with studs - the rows of studs are of course much closer to each other. I assume that overall in most urban conditions these would be faster but for now I will stick with the mountain bike approach.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arlington Trail Snow Removal ROCKS

At long last, parity (if only in Arlington)

Clear roads and clear trails, on the same day. Thanks County government!!

Where Arlington County trail clearing ends

I stopped on my way home to take this photo. This is where Arlington County's trail clearing efforts came to an end - the Mount Vernon Trail maintained by the National Park Service has had nothing done and tomorrow will be an icy mess.

My photo doesn't show it clearly, but it is pretty funny (to me) how Arlington's mini-plow went in a nice little circle clearing the trail before heading back into Arlington.

I suppose the National Park Service will do something when hell freezes over.

Arlington County Plows Bike Trails Early

Arlington Country bike trail along Four Mile Run - plowed at 6:45 am

The DC streets I saw, however, were not plowed at all. Crazy.