A New Vision for Bicycle Transportation

Published on April 23, 2019

  • Board adopts updated Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan

  • Provides long-term planning, future project concepts

  • Building a bicycle infrastructure for all

The County Board today approved a plan that provides a new vision, goals, policies and project concepts to encourage greater use of bicycles for transportation throughout Arlington. The plan reflects the increasing importance of providing safe and accessible travel options to serve diverse needs, while finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of local transportation systems and enhance community livability.

The first comprehensive update of the Master Transportation Plan's Bicycle Element since 2008 will guide bicycle transportation planning through 2030 and beyond, and includes project concepts to enhance Arlington's bicycle transportation infrastructure. The plan envisions making Arlington a place where all persons can feel safe and comfortable while bicycling for transportation.

Expanding,improving network of bikeways

The element proposes expanding and improving Arlington's on- and off-street network of bikeways to provide greater coverage of neighborhoods and destinations, adding new bikeway facilities within key corridors such as Columbia Pike, Glebe Road and Lee Highway, and improving many existing bikeways to create greater separation between bicyclists and motorists. Its implementation depends on the availability of capital funds.

"Arlington is all about providing transportation choices," Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. "This plan, developed through a lot of thoughtful work by our community and staff, provides a blueprint for upgrading our existing bicycle facilities so that people of all ages and abilities feel safe and comfortable riding bicycles in Arlington. As our population continues to grow, we will continue to look for ways to serve our residents', workers' and visitors' transportation needs while achieving community goals of improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The Board voted unanimously to approve the plan. To read the staff report, and the adopted plan, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 42 on the agenda for the April 23 Regular County Board Meeting.

[caption id="attachment_21137" align="alignright" width="300"] A protected bike lane in Arlington.[/caption]

Multi-faceted plan

The element calls for enhancing and renovating multi-use trails to improve traveling conditions, enable safe nighttime use and reduce conflicts between users. More than 100 proposed bicycle project concepts are depicted on the revised Master Transportation Plan Map's Bike and Trails Network Section. The proposed project concepts, combined with Arlington's existing bicycling infrastructure, are expected to create a network of bicycling facilities that will serve people of all ages and abilities, and connect Arlington with key destinations in adjacent jurisdictions.

The plan also establishes goals for improving bicycling safety; increasing bicycling's share of local travel; integrating bicycling with other transportation modes; properly managing exiting facilities, and enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of local travel. Policy recommendations and implementation actions to achieve the goals include educating travelers about traffic rules and responsibilities; enforcing traffic laws to enhance safety; providing enough secure bicycle parking in new developments and activities to encourage bicycling among students, families and adults.


Arlington's Master Transportation Plan is part of the County's Comprehensive Plan. The MTP includes eight elements, including the Bicycle Element and a map that depicts existing and planned transportation facilities. The updated element reflects changes such as Capital Bikeshare, which includes nearly 100 Arlington locations in a regional system of more than 500 docking stations and more than four million annual rides. The plan also addresses emerging options such as dockless bicycles and scooters.

For 50 years, Arlington has worked to develop a network of facilities to serve bicycle travel in Arlington. Today, the County has about 52 miles of shared-use trails and 36 miles of marked bicycle lanes. Recently, Arlington has enhanced some bicycle lanes with marked buffer strips or flexible barriers between the bicycle lanes and vehicle traffic. Trails and bicycle lanes are supplemented by streets where bicycling is encouraged through route signage, shared-lane markings and/or traffic calming devices.

Public engagement

Throughout the nearly two-year-long planning process, County staff consulted with a 10-person resident working group that helped to formulate the plan and guide outreach activities.

The County released a draft of the Bicycle Element to the public on Nov. 21, 2018. Staff made more than 30 presentations to advisory commissions, committees and community civic and business organizations and held a dozen "pop-up" meetings across Arlington to gain additional public input and opinions. More than 2,500 responses to three questionnaires were analyzed. The Board heard more comments at a public hearing on the request to advertise today's public hearing on the plan.