Pershing Drive: next steps

This is borrowed/stolen from a post I made on the Bike Arlington forums (and has been edited for this format).

Not too long ago, county staff released some revised plans detailing proposed improvements to the Pershing Drive Complete Streets Project. While the county is citing right-of-way issues (i.e., we don’t want to take away the free parking) with expanding safe bike facilities to include Pershing Drive west of Washington Boulevard, their revised concept includes Wilson Boulevard-esque protected bike lanes for the stretch of Pershing from Barton up to Danville Street, ending in a configuration that looks like this when you reach the Danville-Wash block:
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Because VDOT is performing a micro-sealing treatment on Pershing this summer, it will give the county an opportunity to almost immediately re-stripe and begin a test pilot project.

As someone who lives on that end of Lyon Park, and who bikes this stretch on his way to 5th St. to get around and about in an east-west fashion, I wish this plan did more. At the same time, I’m happy to see even a small, three-block PBL stretch within walking/riding distance of not only where we live, but almost immediately in the backyard of three large apartment complexes, at least one of which contains a non-trivial number of committed-affordable units. Further, when the Lyon Park Citizens Association (LPCA) held its monthly meeting Wednesday, there was loud and strong support for bringing PBLs to this part of Pershing Drive…

…but, there were also a small (~3 people out of 25-30 attending) group of naysayers, whose arguments came down to:

  • This doesn’t exactly match the original plan, which called for a large planted median down this stretch of Pershing Drive
  • I don’t want to see “those plastic posts” when I look out my window (yup)

I understand some of the concerns with regards to the first point, but I have no doubt this project will make this stretch of Pershing not only safer for folks on bikes, but for pedestrians, drivers, and the neighborhood as a whole.

The LPCA had originally planned to draft and vote on a response to send to the county; however, since it couldn’t reach a unanimous consensus, despite what felt to be strong support for PBLs, it decided to hold off. What the LPCA is deciding to do next seems a bit vague, but if you live in Lyon Park, or you frequent this stretch of Pershing Drive, and want to see expanded bike infrastructure — even if it’s only a few blocks worth — continued to be build throughout the county, please take some time to contact the project manager working on this, Valerie Mosley. If you do so, please remember to be polite, emphasize that you appreciate the work being done, and, if you live in Lyon Park, double down on emphasizing that, too  Also, feel free to contact the LPCA itself, and offer up your support for improving this street.

My understanding, based on the BAC Google Group, is that the county was planning on receiving final comments by 6/30 — so, please, take a few minutes, and let them and the LPCA hear from you.

Arlington County to test protected bike lanes on Pershing Drive

Some great, midnight-worthy news, folks: Arlington County recently released its revised plans for the Pershing Drive Complete Streets Project, and those plans now include for the installation of protected bike lanes (PBLs) for the entire stretch east of Washington Boulevard, up to North Barton. Because Pershing Drive is scheduled for micro-sealing (some exciting reading, right there) this summer, this will give the county the opportunity to re-stripe this stretch of Pershing, and begin a PBL pilot project almost immediately. I have been on the county since I started blogging here — to the point of filing a FOIA request to dig into how project planners arrived at the final Washington Boulevard re-striping design — so, thank you to the planners who sat down, thought this through, and made safety a priority.

The county presented its plan to the Lyon Park and Ashton Heights civic associations back on May 31st, but only recently posted revised plans to the project website.

On Wednesday, June 14th at 7:30 p.m., the Lyon Park Citizens Association will meet at the Lyon Park Community Center to form and vote on a response. I will be there as a dues-paying member, and I’m working to get Crystal to come out in support, too. If you live in Lyon Park and are a member of the civic association, please do the same — this plan will involve the removal of up to eight parking spaces along Pershing Drive, and, just like with Washington Boulevard, I suspect that will not happen quietly. If you are not a member of the civic association, but you live in Lyon Park — you can signup via a form and a mailed-in check, or (IIRC) pay dues and join at the meeting.

These lanes represent a great opportunity for everyone living along Pershing east of Washington Blvd — and the rest of the project provides for some significant upgrades to pedestrian safety along the entire stretch, up to N. Oxford Street. Don’t let it go to waste.

Meeting reminder: Pershing Drive Complete Streets presentation

Just a reminder: next Wednesday, 5/31, Arlington County staff are presenting their plan encompassing the Complete Streets improvements to Pershing Drive. Meeting starts at 7:30pm, and is at the Lyon Park Community Center. Sad to say I won’t be there, since my family is in town and we’ll be out of the area all week, but sending good thoughts and looking forward to seeing what the county has come up with.

The old-ish plan had some promising features to it — a built-up traffic-calming median from Barton to Danville, crosswalks, and several bump-outs that should do a good job of improving pedestrian safety. On the bike infrastructure side of it… well, looks like sharrows from Fillmore on down. I understand the right-of-way issues become challenging past Washington Boulevard, but there are still several sections of Pershing being left at 12-feet wide, which is not great! There are also existing issues with the lanes on Pershing either being too narrow, or completely ignored by traffic — especially on the stretch from Arlington Boulevard up to Barton.

To close, if you’re at all interested in the future of Pershing Drive as a safer street that provides a better experience for folks not ensconced within a car, you should attend, and provide feedback!