Meet the Team Lead Creating Change on Arlington Streets
By designing and implementing short term pilot projects, Arlington County staff work to make streets better for everyone, no matter how they get around.
When a car is parked in the bike lane or blocks our driveway, we grumble that there ought to be a sign letting people know it’s wrong. Or we complain to our friends and bemoan the lack of enforcement by police. Enforcement and signage are important, but what if we can stop the problem before it happens by changing the way a street is designed?
The Design Team Creating Change
Dan Nabors, resident, dad, and Design Team Supervisor for Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES), oversees the design team who can quickly improve safety and operations for all modes of transportation by changing how the street is designed and laid out. Some examples of changes include shortening crossing distances for people walking, improving visibility for people driving, and giving people additional protection while biking, often with tools as simple as a few painted lines and plastic posts.
These particular improvements tend to be low cost and are quickly implemented, which then allows the team to “collect data and observe conditions to understand how we can approach addressing needs of people who drive, walk, ride a bike, or take transit in the most effective manner possible,” says Dan. The information is then used to recommend certain changes to improve long range transportation projects.
Recent Projects in Arlington
- What’s new? A variety of intersection enhancements for pedestrian safety, including additional marked crosswalks and median islands.
- Why is this important? While people walking and biking can cross at any street intersection, marked or not, marked crosswalks help make these movements more obvious to people driving. The addition of median islands reduce crossing distances for people walking and biking and allows for them to cross multiple lanes of traffic in stages.
Army Navy Drive
- What’s new? Buffered bike lanes, which are wider than a normal bike lane, were added in one direction. The uphill direction now has a parking protected bike lane.
- Why is this important? Buffered bike lanes and protected bike lanes mean there is more space between the person biking and the person driving. Parking protected bike lanes retain vehicle parking, which helps people driving and provides a more solid barrier to protect people biking. Bike lanes also help modify traffic speed which creates safe streets safe for motorists and bike riders.
Ft. Myer Drive
- What’s new? A lot! Improvements include intersection enhancements for pedestrian safety, improved markings for cyclists, and even markings to help guide motorists.
- Why is this important? Many of the designs were suggested during a public workshop held in March by DES and the Rosslyn BID, which has allowed for changes to spaces being underutilized by motor vehicles to be changed to serve everyone better. And this is just the start Dan says, “We hope to be able to implement additional measures this year based on ideas from the workshop and enhance the locations already improved.”
Benefits of Changing and Evolving Street Design
Dan sheds more light on the importance of this program, “Arlington embraces a multi-modal approach to transportation to provide options for residents, commuters, and visitors. By balancing the needs of people who choose to drive, walk, bike, or take the bus, we are able to create a community where people thrive. We are focused on finding opportunities to make improvements rapidly through pilots, then evaluating their effectiveness and making adjustments before longer-range projects are able to be implemented. This is not necessarily unique, but some of the improvements we are piloting, as well as how much we are transforming the streets may be the unique quality of our program.”
Streets are an important part of Arlington’s public space, and a very thoughtful team of people are working to make sure the streets work well for all residents, whether someone is driving, biking, walking, or taking the bus. Stay up to date on the projects happenings around Arlington.
Feature photo: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com.
Project photos: Arlington County Department of Environmental Services