Arlington Named a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists

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After more than a decade at Silver, Arlington rises in the ranks of bike friendly communities nationwide

Our Active Transportation team is energized this week after receiving word that Arlington has been named a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. As of fall 2023, there were 480 Bicycle Friendly Communities at the Honorable Mention, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum level in the United States. Just 34 were Gold. In this round of awards, Arlington was the only Silver community to move up to the Gold level.

Why did Arlington advance in the rankings this year?

The League’s standards for granting a community a Gold award are rigorous. Arlington had been at the Silver level since 2007. In August 2023, the County reapplied to maintain or raise our level, which we must do every four years. You can learn more about the Bicycle Friendly Community application on the League of American Bicyclists’ website.

Reflecting on the progress we’ve made toward becoming a more accessible, bikeable community over the past four years, I think these are the key reasons why Arlington moved up from Silver to Gold:

    1. Expansion of Arlington’s Bicycle Network: Over the past several years, Arlington’s network of paved trails and on-street bike lanes has grown, making it easier and safer to travel by bike throughout the County. Vision Zero’s Quick-Build Safety Improvements program continues to strengthen the County’s bicycle network, adding temporary, protected infrastructure when needed and more bike parking. Major projects, such as the Crystal City Bike Network, have added bike lanes and a two-way cycle track to a vibrant, multimodal neighborhood, expanding and enhancing infrastructure that was already in place. Other important projects are being planned, such as the Army Navy Country Club Trail, which will eliminate gaps in the bicycle network and connect schools, parks, and neighborhoods.
    2. Emphasis on Increasing Equity and Accessibility in Bicycling: In this year’s application, the League placed greater emphasis on understanding and evaluating how a community prioritizes equity and accessibility in bicycling. In this regard, Arlington continues to make strides. Capital Bikeshare’s equity-focused Community Partners Program provides $5 annual memberships to qualified applicants. Arlington is now partnering with more than 20 nonprofits and government entities to reach people who would benefit from these memberships. All who join through the Community Partners Program receive a free helmet, skill-building sessions, and any other encouragement needed.

    BikeArlington continues to offer adult bicycle education through our partnerships with certified League Cycling Instructors from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. These classes, which include Adult Learn-to-Ride, are just $10 for Arlington residents.

    In addition, Arlington Public Schools’ elementary school bike curriculum ensures that all students participate in on-bike education as part of their physical education curriculum.

    3. A Strong Bike Culture and an Engaged Community of Advocates: Bike culture in Arlington is alive and well. The increasing availability of affordable e-bikes may be one reason more people are adopting bicycles as their active transportation mode. The bike valet at the County Fair this year was crowded, with every type of standard bike and e-bike imaginable parked there. New bike groups and clubs are popping up all the time, and group rides led by local shops like Conte’s and Trek are consistently full. The Escuela Key Elementary School “Bicibus” bike bus continues to grow and inspire other Arlington schools to organize similar groups of bike-commuting students. And strong participation in Bike to Work Day and Bike to School Day provide more evidence of Arlington’s commitment to bicycling.

    In addition, engaged Arlington residents advocate forcefully for bike-ability through groups like the all-volunteer Bicycle Advisory Committee, Sustainable Mobility for Arlington, and Arlington Families for Safe Streets. Their knowledge, dedication, and collaboration with the County has helped Arlington become a better place for people who ride a bike or walk. Not every community is fortunate to have citizens who care as much about these issues.

Arlington’s recognition as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community is a testament to our commitment to supporting and encouraging bicycling as a safe and healthy mode of transportation. Here at BikeArlington, we are proud of our Gold award and eager to strengthen and grow our program to live up to this honor for the next four years.

To learn more about the Bicycle Friendly Community program and other communities recognized this year, read the full press release from the League of American Bicyclists.

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