Elections Matter. This June, Arlington voters can choose between 6 candidates for two open seats on the Arlington County Board. We asked them all six questions about Sustainable Mobility. Here are their unedited answers. Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County endorses Maureen Coffey, Jonathan Dromgoole, and JD Spain as your three ranked choices for Arlington County Board. Read our full endorsement write-up here.
To make the page easier to skim, each candidate's answer is in a collapsed panel. Simply click or tap on the candidate's heading under each question to see their response.
How do you get around Arlington? In a typical week how often do you walk, bike, scoot, take MetroRail, take the bus, take ridershare, and drive alone? In your personal experience, what needs to change in Arlington to make you more likely to take sustainable transportation modes like walking, biking, and transit?
I live a truly multi-modal life. I rely primarily on walking and public transportation, and only drive when other options are not sufficiently reliable. I take the metro (Orange/Silver) to work a minimum of twice per week, the other days I work from home. I walk to the grocery store. I walk, bike, or take public transit to socialize with my friends. I use scooters and bikeshares to fill in the gaps, such as if I cannot wait for the next bus or service has already stopped for the evening. Overall, I prioritize walking when reasonable, followed by using MetroRail, biking, and any of the buses that are available. When none of those options are available/reliable, I use Uber/Lyft or I drive. Most of the time that I drive alone, I am leaving Arlington - such as to visit my parents and grandparents in Fairfax and Prince William.
For me personally, the two things that would make me take more public transit is better alignment of the routes with where I need to go (in particular, north-south bus routes) and improved frequency and hours of operation. I choose public transit as often as I’m able. I ultimately choose to drive when using public transportation will double or triple my time in transit, when I can’t trust that I’ll get there on-time, or when there is simply no service at all at my destination.
I enjoy biking and am a lifelong user of public transportation. When I worked downtown I would typically ride the 3Y bus or ART bus to metro, or occasionally bike to the office. We biked our two daughters to daycare down Quincy Street to Clarendon. We have both a 2007 and 2017 prius, which are primarily used for kid sports carpools and groceries. I do not use rideshare much, except for trips to the airport.
A typical week is ~ 3 walking trips to coffee, a meal or church. 5 solo car trips for groceries or work events, 10 carpool runs for teenage sports and jobs. Campaign season has been a bit atypical, with more car trips - I typically check if anyone needs a ride so at least I can carpool.
While biking is a wonderful option in parts of Arlington, we need to continue to support e-Bike availability and safer bike routes in order to attract more riders and usage. The best way to support my use of sustainable mobility is a more interconnected bus system with more frequent buses that are reliable and run where people need them, when they need them, people will use them.
I normally get around Arlington via the metro or by walking to where I need to go. My husband and I have made a conscious effort to try and live in walkable neighborhoods with access to most things we need limiting our use of public transportation or our shared car. The one car we do have is an electric vehicle so on the rare occasion that I need to drive I do so without adding to the greenhouse gas emissions. On my one in-office day I commute to D.C. on the metro and walk.
We need to improve the reliability and efficiency of our public transportation system if we expect more residents to utilize it rather than a gas-powered car. It is unreasonable that we have residents who are waiting 40+ minutes for a bus that never shows up causing them to be late for work and other obligations and potentially forcing them to pay an increased fee on a rideshare app. The bus stops and shelters also need to be improved across the county and we should prioritize building or enhancing our bus shelters in areas of the county with high ridership.
Our crosswalks across the county could also be improved. Far too many crosswalks, especially on Glebe and across South Arlington simply rely on drivers to come to a stop for a pedestrian. Compare this to the crosswalks in the metro corridors and areas such as Ballston that light up when a pedestrian is present and we see ways to improve our streets for both drivers and pedestrians. There are far too many accidents occurring at or near our crosswalks and part of the solutions comes from increased infrastructure, but we can also do a public awareness campaign to highlight the importance of looking out for each other.
I regularly bike or walk to my office, which is approx. 2 miles away. Those are my two preferred methods of transportation. I also bike for errands, grocery shopping, touring homes (I am a real estate professional), and for recreational purposes. When I worked in DC, during the time I worked on environmental issues, I commuted by bike or took the metro. I drive an electric vehicle when biking or walking is not feasible.
What needs to change? The County has made huge strides by creating more protected bike lanes and safer pedestrian routes across the county. It is great to see the changes, but we can still do better. We need a more detailed census and evaluation of the county’s network of bike lanes, to better understand what we have and what we are missing. Then we need to develop a comprehensive plan with robust public engagement, to establish goals and a roadmap for going forward. The purpose would be to develop an action plan and corresponding budget for establishing and connecting additional protected bike routes throughout the county. We need to be fully connected. I want it to be as easy and safe to ride from my home in Lyon Park to Shirlington or Lee Heights, as it is to get on the Rt. 50 bike path to travel to DC.
On the pedestrian side, we need to break down the silos in the County. The Arlington Neighborhoods Program (formerly the Neighborhood Conservation program), where residents can get funding for individual street improvements such as sidewalks, is separate from other departments including traffic calming. We need to stop compartmentalizing. The County needs to study the whole situation, to make better, more holistic decisions when awarding funding for neighborhood pedestrian and street projects.
Where I live, we have a newer sidewalk that runs for two blocks. It was funded via the Neighborhood Conservation program. The idea originally was for the sidewalk to go all the way to Pershing Drive and beyond to the Metro, which would have made sense, safety wise. Our street with random patches of old sidewalks is unsafe to walk down. Unfortunately, numerous residents north of our 2 blocks protested building a sidewalk on their properties and as a result, we have a beautiful sidewalk that essentially takes us nowhere. We need to be smarter about launching projects like these. Comprehensive planning is needed to create county-wide connected pedestrian friendly routes.
Regarding transit, we need to ensure that the bus system and the Metro are well-maintained, safe, and operate in a timely fashion. On the bus system, the iRide system that provides free transportation for students to get to schools is a terrific program we should expand upon. It not only provides free transportation but provides Arlington students with useful information to help make riding the bus and taking Metro easier.
Sustainability efforts should also include exploring urban cooling tools to help reduce the risk and impact of extreme heat from climate change. This is critical for everyone but especially so for bikers, pedestrians, and joggers. Strategies could include everything from adding more shade trees to creating eco-roads, that are painted a color that promotes cooling, such as blue.
I typically drive my car around Arlington, a mode I acknowledge is not the most sustainable but necessary for my current lifestyle and limited knee mobility. I do, however, periodically walk, bike, or take MetroRail. I fully support these options continuing to exist and becoming more accessible for people of all lifestyles and needs. I use environmentally friendly rideshare regularly and see that as a good option for decreasing individuals’ reliance on privately owned vehicles. As an endorsed candidate of the Sierra Club, I fully support the Blueprint for Better Transportation in Northern Virginia, which serves as a “vision of change over the next decade and a recommendation for local transportation planners.” I intend to prioritize transit-oriented development.
I get around Arlington in a variety of ways including on foot, scooter, rideshare, bus, & car. In a typical week I use a combination of scootering and driving to get around. I use my electric scooter to do grocery shopping, visit friends and family and run general errands that are within 8 miles. For work I often meet clients at there homes in single family neighborhoods, so I typically drive in these instances. I have been experimenting with using the bus on specific occasions such as going from Shirlington to my brother’s house on North George Mason Drive. I also use the W & OD Trail, 4-Mile Run Trail, & Mount Vernon Trail for running.
George Mason Drive, Carlin Springs Road & Fairfax Drive are all dangerous corridors on Arlington County’s High Injury Network that lack basic facilities for sustainable transportation modes like transit, biking & walking. Admirably, the County plans to study these corridors for improvements in the coming years, but improving safety and supporting sustainable mobility will require making trade-offs within the right of-way; there will have to be less space devoted to parking, driving, or planted medians to have sufficient space for dedicated transit lanes, low-stress bike facilities, and safe sidewalks.
Do you support the reallocation of existing street space to support speedy transit, a comprehensive all-ages and abilities bike network, and safe and complete sidewalks and trails? How do you think about and decide on appropriate trade-offs in these situations?
My number one priority with these projects is safety and there is significant evidence that changing the structure of our streets increases the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. I think it is worth trading space for improved safety. As we study these corridors our focus should be on what meets the most needs - environmentally, for safety, and for speed/ease of transit. Though re-designing these corridors may create disruption and change, the most important factor is that we get the designs right for long-term success.
As a County Board member, I would focus on our need to plan for the long-term needs of our community. This means breaking down the silos of our planning process and expanding transportation, housing, county services and infrastructure in intentional and proactive ways to meet the needs of the community. If we get it right, this should mean that our infrastructure investments last for generations and continue to serve us well.
In looking at tradeoffs, it’s important to look at different routes. The routes for bikes may be different than the routes for cars (for example, it is often safer to ride on 26th St N than on Langston Blvd, or on 9th St S bike boulevard than on Columbia Pike). Making safe routes doesn’t necessarily mean making George Mason or Carlin Springs more bike friendly where space is constrained and road geometry/visibility are challenging. Instead ensuring that there is a nearby bike-safe route that connects the same neighborhoods and destinations.
On the other hand, for pedestrians, sidewalks need to be continuous along these main thoroughfares (ideally with a vegetated buffer to slow traffic, provide shade and break up heat islands) because they are also major bus routes. People walking to and from bus stops or schools should have a sidewalk. So, in summary - prioritize sidewalks over bike lanes on major arteries if they are bus routes; add signage or bike lanes or whatever to have good bike routes that parallel major arteries rather than squeezing those arteries narrower to add bike lanes. And, ensure that utility poles, curb cuts and scooter/bike parking do not obstruct pedestrian traffic. I hear this concern very often when knocking doors.
Yes. We need to reemphasize the fact that we are a transit-oriented community and make sure that we are incorporating the full range of multimodal transportation options into our transit-oriented thinking. This means that we need to see where tradeoffs need to be made between street parking, protected bike lanes, and expanded sidewalks. For example, right across the river, we have seen out the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C. and particularly M Street and Wisconsin Ave have maintained their expanded sidewalk approach to appeal to tourists, residents, and businesses. There are many parts of our metro corridors where this could be an opportunity to increase the vibrancy of our commercial sector. In these metro corridors, we can also explore the creation of public parking garages as new developments come in that move the cars off the streets while making it easier for those driving to actually find parking.
As we continue to grow these types of tradeoffs will happen more often. Our guidance should be the adopted Vision Zero which strives to eliminate all traffic fatalities and injuries while increasing equitable mobility for all. If the tradeoff will lead to reduced injuries, then that is the way we should go. While we want to keep many of the characteristics of a “suburb” of D.C. we need to come to terms with the fact that we are a growing urban center and should be looking at other urban centers for how they have protected both pedestrians and drivers.
Removing the medians to redesign the roads to add a dedicated bike lane could be an opportunity to address the issue. With only 26 square miles we should be innovative about our limited space. Some medians are more than just cement blocks and have trees or grass. I would want us to compensate for the increased nonpermeable space by increasing greenspace elsewhere in the county.
I would work diligently with all stakeholders to support a balanced approach that creates an improved and better-connected bike network, safer sidewalks and dedicated safe transit lanes. There are trade-offs. I have plenty of friends with older relatives or children with disabilities who have no choice but to travel by car. I also know of plenty of small business owners who rely on shipments and on customers traveling to their shop. We can make huge improvements and be smart and balanced on how we implement it.
I support the reallocation of existing street space to support speedy transit, a comprehensive all-ages and abilities bike network, and safe and complete sidewalks and trails. While there are trade-offs, prioritizing what we need to do to create a safe and sustainable transit system is critical for meeting our 2050 carbon neutrality goals and building the type of community we want and need for a safe, prosperous future.
I support increasing the volume and safety of bike lanes and reallocating existing roadway for bike lanes in certain situations. I think we should prioritize high volume routes (such as many of the above-mentioned routes) and ensure continuity of these routes reducing the number of instances in which lanes end, then restart. In addition, I think we should rethink free effectively publicly subsidized parking particularly on high traffic streets such as George Mason, Glebe, Walter Reed, Etc where bike lanes may provide a greater societal benefit.
Arlington’s trail network is one of its greatest assets but much of it was built decades ago as a purely recreational facility, at a time when the impact of impervious surfaces and the need for stormwater management were not yet recognized. Given their age, these trails will soon need not just repaving, but a full overhaul which is a critical opportunity to modernize the dated recreational designs and ensure that these critical arteries capture and filter their runoff and support safe, conflict-free travel not just for white-collar workers heading downtown at 9 am, but also for blue-collar workers heading home from their shift after last call and for families just out for a walk. Do you support modernizing Arlington’s trail network to fix unsafe designs like hairpin turns & steep drop-offs, give pedestrians dedicated space (separate from bikes & scooters), capture and filter trail run-off, and add dark-sky friendly lighting for safe travel after sundown?
Do you support significant capital investments to fill gaps in the trail network, for example, by filling the gap in the W&OD Trail in East Falls Church, connecting the W&OD to the Four Mile Run Trail at Shirlington Road, and connecting the Arlington Boulevard Trail to the Teddy Roosevelt/I 66 Bridge near the Iwo Jima Memorial?
I am definitely interested in seeing safety and environmental upgrades to our trail system. I often bike on the Custis and W&OD trails and have seen collisions and near-misses as a result of not having enough room or visibility on the trail. Additionally, the trail gaps/lack of connection create confusion for riders and pedestrians. It can be intimidating if you are not a confident rider or new to the area.
Fixing these issues is a key element of what we could accomplish with a long-term planning process. As we’ve developed more and as biking/multimodal transit has gained popularity, we have not thoroughly integrated that infrastructure with our other needs. If we better understand the relationship of the trail network to the street network in a systematic and holistic way, it will help us to see where we need changes, where we need to fill in trail gaps, and more.
Yes, continued investment in our bike trail safety and accessibility is crucial for all users and to manage growing demand. These routes are a critical path for commuters who want or need to be car-free, particularly low-income, young, and older residents with limited access to a car. That was part of the original thesis of Phoenix Bikes, which my husband Philip Eliot helped establish in the mid 2000s.
In addition, continued upgrades of surface, stormwater management, snow removal, and lighting will extend the use of the safe trails to more hours and users. It strikes me that the gaps in the W&OD trail are a lower priority, except where stormwater erosion or potential flooding is a concern. It is not difficult or unsafe to navigate the connections through the neighborhoods. The connection near Iwo Jima would be helpful. And, I would prioritize safe bike routes along and across Arlington Boulevard.
Yes – I support the modernization of our trails and ensure that they are connected to the rest of the network. I want to not only protect, but enhance our green space. We have learned just how important it can be as a result of the pandemic. I have also spoken to many who are concerned about the aging infrastructure of our trails. This presents us with the perfect opportunity not only to fix our trails, but modernize and enhance the design in a sustainable way that increases their use by both pedestrians and cyclists. I want to make sure our trails are safe, enjoyable, and accessible to all of our residents whether walking your dog, getting to and from work, or just finding time for yourself in our community.
I wholeheartedly support these improvements and the capital investments you outline here. The question is always the budget. Trails are used and enjoyed by everyone in our community. They are critical to the well-being of every resident. We should commit the funds needed and we need to be financially responsible on how we do so. One avenue I would pursue is to explore private-public partnerships to make these critical improvements reality.
Yes and yes! I support addressing safety concerns, but I note that some of these turns and bottlenecks act as a natural speed limit for bicycle traffic, which helps create a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians, especially with small children. So there is a balance that we want to strike, but there are also known danger points, especially under slick conditions, that need to be addressed. I would like to work with Nova Parks and NVTA on their identified needs for the W&OD Trail, and I would like to make sure that County staff have considered all the options for upgrading trails and filling these gaps, instead of accepting a fallback position that trails come at the expense of natural resources, or stormwater and erosion mitigation. I would also like to think about promoting appropriate businesses to be located adjacent or close to trails so that our trails can link up to destinations, which can attract more users to them. We could take some inspiration from the Atlanta Beltline.
I am a firm believer in the benefits of our public trails in Arlington. I personally use the Four Mile Run and Mount Vernon Trail daily for running and scootering. By the numbers, these trails are incredibly popular and are one of the most used public spaces throughout the County. I strongly believe that the capital expense associated with trail improvements is justified by the level of use these trails receive, and the diversity of users.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic has reshaped our travel patterns and our transit system must adapt to these new challenges and opportunities. Many 9-to-5 workers have shifted to more, but not full-time, telework, and dealing with that loss of farebox revenue is challenging. With travel needs no longer so concentrated around 9-to-5 commute times, resources are available that could drastically improve service for people that have not been well served in the past, like those whose work schedule doesn’t fit the old standard, people taking non-work trips, and kids getting to school.
What is the role of public transit in Arlington? Is it a necessity or a nice-to-have? How, if at all, would you change transit service in Arlington to align with our new normal? Do you support adjusting transit service to better serve kids getting to and from school?
Public transit is a necessity. We need to invest in transportation infrastructure to make it safe, reliable, and accessible for all. The existing transit network is focused on commuting patterns and hours: primarily east-west routes with service concentrated around office work hours. We need to adjust both routes and times of service to better match what people need in today’s world. This means increasing north-south routes and routes that connect the places that people are to where they need to go, such as schools, community centers, sports fields, restaurants, and neighborhoods.
High schoolers (and younger students with their parent’s support) should be able to take public transit to and from school as well as to and from out of school activities. Whether it is soccer practice, Scouts, tutoring, or music lessons, being able to use transit would help decrease reliance on car rides and alleviate stress for parents.
Public transit in Arlington is absolutely a necessity. I will invest in Metro and premium bus networks to improve frequency and hours of service. Combining school bus and county bus routes could be one quick and cost-efficient way to enhance frequency. I strongly support tuning our transit system to ensure that our teenagers can travel to school, jobs, and recreation seamlessly. On-demand rideshare options can fill mobility gaps for disabled or elderly riders.
Transportation and climate resiliency infrastructure are all crucial not just to Arlington, but to the region and state. Funding these investments is a team effort, including local bonds, public-private partnerships, and state and federal grants to support the long-term economic outlook for the region.
Transit continues to be a necessity in our county especially if we want to combat climate change given that the majority of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our traffic. Having public transportation, especially one that is 100% electric and hopefully free for our residents drives forward the notion of equity in our community. This way we can make all parts of our county accessible to every single one of our residents, not just those who happen to live near the metro or have the privilege of owning a car.
Public transit should actually be enhanced and maintained as we serve as the gateway to D.C. and arguably the gateway to Virginia. We have two major airports, one being within the boundaries of the county. For many, our metro and public transportation network are the first impressions that they have of our region and the county regardless if their final destination is D.C. or another part of the Commonwealth. Likewise, many utilizing one of the airports connect to them through transit so I would argue it is more of a necessity than a luxury.
Since the shift in my own 9-5 schedule and given that I work from home 80% of the time, I actually use our public transportation network more now to connect me to other parts of the county when I want a change of scenery. We should look at ways to enhance our system to make sure we are getting the most use out of it and share some of these routes with our kids to and from school.
I agree the work landscape has dramatically changed. It is affecting our major transit corridors. Commercial buildings have alarmingly high vacancy rates, restaurants and stores are struggling and metro ridership is way down. I do believe there are innovative transit measures we can explore to adapt to this new landscape. As I mentioned before the iRider system is a great program that we should be expanding for everyone to make transportation more accessible and affordable. I also believe we should be investing more in e-bikes infrastructure across the county. Environmentally E-bikes could be a game changer when it comes to reducing our contribution to climate change.
Public transit has the role of getting Arlingtonians around our county and beyond and bringing our neighbors to us here in Arlington. It’s a necessary connector for culture, inclusion, and our economy. Plus, it’s a vital tool for reducing our emissions. With the increased use of public transit over single occupancy vehicles, we’ll also benefit from public transit, improving our air quality, reducing traffic, and helping us progress toward our 2050 carbon neutrality goal. Changing the transit service in Arlington to align with our new normal should include a system that makes sustainable transit choices safer and more accessible. I support adjusting transit services to serve kids better in getting to and from school.
We need to dramatically increase ridership on ART buses by reducing the cost of use. Currently the bus system is very expensive due to high upfront costs, opportunity costs, and psychological costs. The simple cost of round-trip fares for a family of 4 can amount to $16 a significant expense for a lower income family. Higher income earners are more able to pay the cost of fares but suffer from higher opportunity costs associated with lost time. In addition, many potential new users of buses are likely inhibited from doing so due to lack of knowledge of the system and navigating fares. Eliminating fares, and increasing the cost of public parking, combined with increased frequency of high-volume routes can dramatically increase ridership at a relatively modest expense, compared to our overall investment in bus transit. Furthermore, the County should leverage ART buses to assist in the transportation of students to schools. As we transition to electric buses, bus routes will need to be reevaluated. We should take advantage of this opportunity to optimize routes such that they can transport students to schools. By encouraging our students to use public transit in high school, we increase the odds of them using public transit later in life.
While the County is pushing developers to install more EV charging stations and rushing a transition to not-ready-for-prime-time battery electric buses, e-bikes are flying off the shelves, changing lives for the better, and offering a safer, more sustainable mobility option without any assistance from our local government.
What should Arlington be doing to harness and expand the e-bike revolution? Do you support secure bike parking options with charging capabilities in the public right of way?
We need to invest in bikes and e-bikes. I would love to explore e-bike rebates and continue to expand the Capital Bikeshare e-bike fleet. I think that the recent expansion of the Capital Bikeshare e-bike fleet is a really good first step since it will expose many residents in a low-pressure way. As more people are exposed to e-bikes in a casual way, they will likely continue to adopt them for more frequent uses. I have been able to use the CaBi e-bikes and was amazed at how much easier it is than normal biking - and after just the first ride, started contemplating whether I should invest in one for myself. The County can help to promote chances to try before you buy - demonstrations and info sessions, bikeshare opportunities, community organized events.
I support developing options for public charging alongside other public bike infrastructure (we need more publicly available tire pumps!!). Creating bike facilities will encourage people to ride and increase visibility within the community.
E-bikes are a terrific option, especially for our hilly neighborhoods and for our young families (love the bike school bus effort!) Arlington County should continue to encourage and support e-bike use. This includes continuing to encourage bike parking at office buildings and adequate bike parking in public is good. Since e-bike batteries can usually (always?) be removed and taken into a home or office to charge (and usually have way more range than a typical bike commuter or errand runner needs), I don’t yet see a need for a public charging infrastructure beyond the Capital Bikeshare fleet. But, of course, I am eager to learn more.
We should be exploring ways to enhance the availability and use of e-bikes across the county. This means that we should be building more public charging stations and making sure we have a network that allows you to get to where you are and have a charger if you need one. Given the range of these bikes, especially the new e-bikes that are going to become more readily available thanks to the expansion by Capital Bikeshare, it should be easier to get around the county on one charge.
As we push for greater expansion of EV charging stations, not just in private parking garages, but also increasing street and shared stations we can expand our e-bike charging stations at the same time. We can, and should, make e-bike parking and stations accessible and reliable across the county and can look at opportunities such as our community centers, government buildings, and schools as potential places for this growth that is also convenient to the community.
Natalie Roy failed to answer this question.
Arlington should continue providing people with safety information - for bikers and drivers - about e-bikes. Beyond that, the county may let the market do its thing and support the expansion of this transit mode. Arlington committing to more walkable and bikeable streets and trails will benefit e-bikes as well. Arlington could also ensure that its facilities have bike racks to accommodate people choosing to bike.
Yes, I support secure bike parking options and am open to discussing adding charging capabilities in the public right of way, though before spending County funds on charging, I would like more information. If fully home-charged e-bikes can go 20-100 miles (quite a long bike ride!) without recharging, chargers may not be the most effective way for the county to support the e-bike revolution. Nonetheless, I am open to discussing further options for supporting more sustainable mobility throughout Arlington.
I think e-bikes are a fantastic opportunity for many Arlington residents. Specifically, I would like to see expanded subsidized access to Capital Bike Share and other similar programs that provide reduced rates/free for low-income residents. By providing low-cost access to these resources, we open up opportunities for these residents to pursue employment and opportunities in ways that transportation previously inhibited. Currently other local governments are experimenting with partnerships with ride/bike share companies to provide reduced cost of use for lower income residents, and Arlington County should consider this as well.