The other night, as we scarfed lentil soup (and a crazy carrot and buttermilk salad that may warrant its own blogpost sometime), my friend Jeff looked across the dinner table at me with a sad face and confessed to a fear that I was going to abandon DC for Arlington. Let me assure you, friends and readers, that while I have been spending quite a bit of time wandering around Clarendon with my paramour in recent months, I am still A DC Girl. I will admit that I have come to love a few Courthouse-area coffeehouses and eating establishments, and maybe I even checked out the "hoppy hour" at the hip but unassuming Rabbit once or twice in the past week, but that's not enough to make me want to move there.
I am not cool with the rationale that instigated the separation of the former southwest corner from DC proper back in the 19th Century, but "separate but equal" ain't such a bad thing when it comes to car and bicycle lanes. Yes, this town could show the District a few things.
It's a solid street ride with aggressive traffic, narrow lanes, parked cars galore, and rarely a bike lane to be found the whole way West through my beloved city, but the instant I cross the Key Bridge into Virginia -- bam! -- instant, dedicated bike trails and bike lanes the whole way. Aside from the hills, this place is a cyclist's dream! God bless the Custis Trail, which avoids the mile and a half straight of uphill riding through Rosslyn. (The time a few weeks ago when we cut through Rosslyn was, I believe, the night Kenton vowed he would give up smoking. It is entirely possible that I will have to make a follow-up music video purely about biking up those hills.) After trying out a few different routes in recent weeks, it now takes Ollie and me less
than 45 minutes door to door from my apartment to get to my gentleman
friend's place in Arlington.
THANK YOU, whomever had the foresight to design such a bike-friendly town. For sure the DDOT could take a page or three out of Arlington's city planning book. Okay, fine, it's not that there's no progress to make DC more bikeable. I mean, there are Share the Road signs... that motorists patently ignore. And the 14th Street bike lanes are more continuous than they used to be a few years ago... not that the delivery trucks parked in them have changed in the interim. There's a dedicated bike boulevard along the iconic stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to The Capitol... clogged with tourists on Segways. Okay, um, let's see... Well, we are getting a much-needed cycle-track tomorrow -- finally -- after many months of foot dragging and stops and starts. Ah, a nice 12-block, East-West stretch of protected riding in the heart of the business district. So help me, I'd better not see yet more SUVs parked in this dedicated bike lane.
Don't worry, Jeff: Ollie's not moving to Arlington. But with farmers' market season wrapping up for the winter, she will soon be exploring more of the bike trails around there on the weekends.