A Safe Route to the New Arlington Traditional School

Level of Effort: 10 minutes, at home in your PJs
Deadline: Sun 6/6 11:59pm

At the end of next month, Arlington Traditional School - a county-wide choice school - will move from its current location to McKinley Road on the southwest edge of the County.  To ensure that students from across the county have a safe, low-stress and convenient non-driving option to get to school, it is important that we link the new ATS building via safe bike infrastructure to the County's trail network as well as getting students safely across I-66, a major barrier to walking & biking in the neighborhood.

Thankfully, the county has already installed buffered bike lanes along McKinley Road to link ATS to the vicinity of the W&OD Trail, but an additional capital project in the area offers an opportunity to finish this link as well as extend the safe bike facilities across I-66.

The N Ohio Street Safety Improvements project would make some changes to the intersection of N Ohio St / McKinley Rd and 12th Rd North.  In addition to these streets, a W&OD access trail from the west spits out, as well as a W&OD access trail from the east.

The west access trail currently shares pavement with a private driveway access, this project would separate the two and add additional landscaping along the realigned trail.  It would upgrade the curb ramps at the intersection to ADA-standard, add pedestrian islands in the middle of the street to aid crossing and add curb extensions to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians.

However, this project would make access from the east more difficult for people on bikes, by removing the ability for people to connect directly from the trail to the street and instead requiring trail users to make tight right-angle turns onto the sidewalk along Ohio Street. These turns would require expert bike-handling skills and may not be possible for cargo bikes or bikes with trailers. This section of sidewalk would also see increased conflicts between people walking and people on wheels.

We applaud the realignment of the west access trail and the ADA upgrades, but have concerns about the design of the curb extensions and pedestrian islands and think this project should also improve the safey and connectivity of the east access trail rather than make it worse, and the project should extend the buffered bike lanes across I-66 to 14th St N.

Suggested Feedback

The realignment of the west access trail is a huge safety improvement and much-needed.  The ADA-accessiblity upgrades are great.

However, the project seems to make everything along the east side of Ohio Street worse. The project should maintain the ability of people using the east access trail to immediately connect to the street in a way that accommodates all users (including those using longer bikes) and not force people on bikes onto the sidewalk. The east access trail is critically important for those traveling to and from points east.  Using the west access trail is a significant detour.  The east access trail should be brought up to current trail standards as part of this project - realigned to meet the new crosswalk location, widened, the dangerous hard bollard removed and the bottom entrance de-conflicted with the driveway.

This project should extend the McKinley Rd/Ohio St buffered bike lanes across the I-66 bridge to 14th St N as the community was originally promised.  There are few opportunities to cross I-66, we should take this opportunity to make this one safe to do so on a bike, there is plenty of width along this stretch.  Furthermore, the car lanes on the I-66 bridge are extremely wide - upgrading the existing bike lanes on the bridge to buffered, or even better, protected bike lanes, would help slow speeding traffic on this stretch improving comfort and safety for both cyclists along Ohio Street and those trying to safely cross Ohio Street at either end of the bridge.

The pedestrian islands and curb extensions as currently proposed would prevent the extension of the McKinley Rd/Ohio St buffered bike lanes across I-66.  Instead of a center pedestrian island, two concrete protected intersection elements should be provided as an extension of the buffered bike lanes, so that pedestrians can cross the bike lane, wait at the concrete protected interesection elements for a break in traffic and then cross the 2 lanes of Ohio Street at once.

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