During SafeTrack, “bike trains” for new riders will supplement Metro’s Orange and Silver lines through Arlington, Va.
When SafeTrack maintenance surges first kick in on June 4, there’s no denying that Arlington and Northern Virginia will be uniquely affected for the first two months of the year-long program.
Single-tracking and station closures on the Orange, Silver, and Blue lines will create significant delays and require crowded bus bridges to shuttle commuters. But for those looking to substitute a messy Metro commute with a breezy bike one, commuters now have the option of boarding a “bike train” along the Orange/Silver Metro corridor.
Beginning on June 6, as Orange and Silver Line trains single-track between East Falls Church and Ballston and slow the rest of those lines, BikeArlington is organizing groups of bike commuters through that affected area.
While thousands already ride along the Custis trail each morning and evening, the train configuration is designed to make it easier for interested new commuters to switch from rail to two wheels.
Led by experienced volunteers, each train group leaves from a Metro station, working eastward from East Falls Church, to Ballston, and onward to the next station. Just as with Metro, riders can hop on to the train at any point along the line. In the evening, an outbound bike train leaves from Rosslyn and makes all the same stops on its way to East Falls Church.
“Bike trains will allow a wider range of people to consider biking as a reliable, comfortable and fun way to get around,” said Henry Dunbar, BikeArlington’s program director. “Joining a bike train means you’ve got an experienced rider showing you how to navigate the streets and trails—and you don’t need to be fast or consult a map—we’ll be leading the way. Plus, riding in a group is always more fun.”
Riding with a bike train removes any potential anxiety for newcomers about navigating the route – all they have to do is follow the group and split off when they reach their destination. And the concept should be familiar to to newer bicyclists who joined a commuting convoy on Bike to Work Day last month.
For those not commuting, or perhaps making off-peak trips, BikeArlington is also posting additional wayfinding signage to clarify routes for new bicyclists. These turn-by-turn signs will complement the existing wayfinding system, and will employ the same “OR” and “SV” with which Metro riders are already familiar. Keeping with the transit theme, BikeArlington has noted a number of SafeTrack-specific routes as “Express” and “Local” paths in the single-tracking area. The former largely follow the Custis Trail along Route 66, while the Local routes go along Fairfax Drive and Wilson Boulevard, allowing for easier neighborhood stops.
For more information, including route maps and bike train schedules, visit BikeArlington’s SafeTrack page.
Photo: Bicyclists on a trail in Arlington County (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com).