Streetcars & Bicycles

A note on the history of bicycling Columbia Pike

Long before the County began to make streetcar plans for Columbia Pike, the members of the Bicycle Advisory Committee recognized that the Pike was never going to be truly bicycle friendly due to the volume of traffic and the constrained right-of-way that precludes bike lanes. The BAC proposed a system of parallel bike routes on the north along 9th Street South and on the south along 12th Street South. Those routes are included in the Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan. In the intervening years the original concept has been upgraded to Bicycle Boulevards. Arlington's cyclists need them now, before the first track is laid.

Won't Streetcars be bad for cycling?  I thought Arlington was trying to be bike friendly?

Streetcar tracks can definitely be a hazard for cyclists, but Streetcars and bicycles are not wholly incompatible.  Copenhagen, where 36% of all citizens commute to work, school or university by bicycle also has an extensive streetcar system.  I can't really say it any better than this city planner from Toronto did:

"Despite the potential hazard that streetcar tracks can pose to cyclists the positive benefits for the City far outweigh the negatives. I can't imagine Toronto without the streetcar system. For lots of reasons most people, given a choice, prefer riding the rails than riding the bus. The busiest streetcar routes carry between 40,000 and 50,000 passengers per average week day, well exceeding all bus routes in the City.

The big picture goal is to reduce car use, plain and simple. Streetcars in Toronto make a huge contribution towards achieving that goal. One of the most important principles in getting people out of their cars is to provide several attractive travel options. In Toronto many cyclists choose transit on the days they don't cycle. Fewer streetcars on Toronto streets would mean more cars and ultimately, fewer bicycles." [source]

Other food for thought: