Everyday Bicycling Is Creeping into the Mainstream

Riding a bike for everyday transportation often makes me feel like I’m on the fringe of society. Unless you live in Davis, California, bike commuting puts you in a tiny slice of the commuter pie chart. Things are starting to change.

I work in Rosslyn, which is a pretty unniviting place. Tall buildings, lots of construction, car traffic combine to make it a rather harsh streetscape. There are a few bike commuters who work here and quite a few more who pass through on their way to DC. Some of them use Capital Bikeshare.

There are two flat screen TVs in the lobby of my office building. One shows CNN. The other has information on transit. On the bottom right of the screen is a listing of the CaBi bikes available nearby. I think this is pretty cool.

Bikeshare goes mainstream.


Tonight I went to a public meeting in which plans for the US 1 corridor from the Beltway to the Occoquan River were discussed. US 1 is a mess of bike big box stores and car congestion. And it is getting worse by the month. The plans are to put some sort of enhanced transit down the length of the corridor. This will be combined with a redesign of the land use with an emphasis on mixed use development. Bicycling and pedestrian facilities are an integral part of the thinking. (Frankly, some versions of the plans look a lot like the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor of present day Arlington. I (and most of the attendees) will be long gone (either living in a home or six feet under) by the time these plans are fully implemented. It’s refreshing to see Fairfax County openly admit it has a big problem in my area of the county. I predict that as the corridor gets more congested, local politicians are going to see some mighty angry constituents.

A packed house at the US1 meeting. Lots of gray hair and bald spots. (I can say that because I fit right in!)

I had to drive to the meeting (I was running late) but another attendee came in style on a Sun EZ3 delta trike. His Bike E 2-wheeled recumbent was in need of repair, he said.

Sun EZ3 recumbent. It’s a delta, meaning two wheels in back.


4 thoughts on “Everyday Bicycling Is Creeping into the Mainstream

  1. I think you meant to say “big box” stores and not “bike box.” I did like the visual it conjured up, though. Can’t imagine Route 1 being bike friendly in the areas you note. I mean, I want that, but it is difficult to actually see given the current car congestion.

    1. Thanks for the edit. I changed it.
      The idea is to transform the corridor in a fundamental way. I should have taken pictures of some of the displays that show wide bike lanes, some physically separated along the road. One of my comments was that it is essential that these lanes be separated otherwise no one will use them.

  2. Baby steps are better than no steps, which is where we’ve been for decades, I’m afraid.

    Statistically, I would argue that you ARE on the fringe of society. Only 3.15% of Washingtonians ride bikes to work and even in the bicycle commuting capital of Davis, the number is just 16%. I’ve also read that only slight more than 25% of Americans even ride a bike at all for any reason. By way comparison, 40% of the population of Amsterdam cycles to work.

    On the plus side, cities that have invested in cycling infrastructure have seen their numbers improve (and despite its low rate, DC has been noted as one of those improving cities). What we’re dealing with is decades of habit and entire cities built to support automobiles. Until these habits are disincentivized (using a “stick”) the improvements in cycling infrastructure (“carrots”) will only go so far.


  3. There is so much potential, yet I have so little faith in SHA fixing it. Just connecting the sidewalks to nowhere and ensuring they have curbcuts would be an amazing first start. Imagine a Rt 1 that’s actually got a variation of pedestrian access that doesn’t involve people having to try to skip on rocks over a creek because a small bridge has a 6″ shoulder. I’ve ridden down Rt 1 in short spurts before and it’s not fun. I would rather be on almost any other local road than there.

    Long-term, I hope they consider extending the Yellow Line. It makes the most sense. Connect to Ft. Belvoir, run buses to Mt. Vernon from there, and connect somewhat to new Army Museum. Then your stops along the way can feature modest mixed use development on par with say the Beacon at Groveton. They could also fix the horrible intersection of Rt 1/Kings/whatever that other little short road is.

    Alas, I expect nothing.

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