Despite being an early leader in bicycle friendliness, Arlington has been slow to join the growing trend of building cycletracks (not counting a tiny 30-foot fragment in Rosslyn). While there are plans for cycletracks on Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City and a re-aligned Clark/Bell street in Crystal City, a new pilot project on Eads Street will likely precede both.

South Eads Street today. Image from Google Maps.

Arlington needs to repave several sections of Eads, and multiple development projects are in the works along the corridor.  The time is ripe to re-imagine how Eads Street can function to serve pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses, and the county is kicking off a South Eads Street Corridor Study

Right now, Eads functions primarily to move cars, with roomy lanes that encourage speeding (some as wide as 19 feet), more lanes than necessary for the volume of traffic, few street trees, and limited bike facilities.  Technically, there are bike lanes on the southern end, but the markings have faded to almost nothing.

Next Wednesday, Arlington will host a workshop to get feedback on options for various segments of Eads, which parallels Route 1 from I-395 to the border with Alexandria.  The options vary quite a bit based on the shifting width of the street. They include buffered bike lanes, a street-level cycletrack, and a raised cycletrack at sidewalk level. All would provide continuous bike facilities from the Four Mile Run Trail connection in the south all the way to a connection with the future Army Navy Drive cycletrack in the north.

Options for one section of Eads Street. Image from Arlington County. Click for larger version including cross-sections.

The visioning process and corridor study will set out the long-term plan for Eads, but officials plan to build a short-term pilot project this fall between 23rd Street and 15th Street. This section of Eads is on the paving list for this year, and Arlington is going to take advantage of that to do a cheap pilot. 

The roadway will be re-striped from its existing four lanes to become two lanes and a center turn lane. A two-way cycletrack of some sort will be added, pedestrian crossings upgraded, and parking lanes reconfigured. 

Arlington will be gathering significant data on how people travel along this section of Eads both before the changes and after, including bicycle, pedestrian and traffic counts, as well as travel time measurements.  Analysis of these metrics from the pilot program will inform the ultimate design of Eads Street as well as future cycletrack projects in the county.

South Eads Street has the potential to be a vital cycling connection in Arlington.  North-South travel by bicycle in Arlington is notoriously challenging, with few good options.  This project will connect the planned Army Navy Drive cycletrack to the Four Mile Run trail and, from there, the Mt Vernon Trail.  Someday it may connect to the planned bike/ped bridge over Four Mile Run, taking cyclists to one of Alexandria’s main cycling corridors, Commonwealth Avenue.

If you’re free, come out the workshop on Wednesday evening, May 21, 7 pm at the Aurora Hills Community Center and provide your feedback.  If you can’t make the meeting, the county has an online survey you can take instead.