May is National Biking Month, and to celebrate, let’s take a look at Arlington’s decades-long history of bicycle enthusiasm!
The County Sheriff’s department and a local chapter of the VFW team up to form a bicycle safety club for youth in Arlington. According to a February 24, 1939 news article, the “bicycle rage of the 90s” was on the upswing, and conditions for cycling were hazardous on the local roads.
The County issues a set of rules for regulating bicycle use.
Cyclists were required to carry a license and tag, and bicycles were not to be ridden “faster than is reasonable and proper.”
Notice about bicycle laws from the October 17, 1941 issue of the Northern Virginia Sun. Image courtesy of Virginia Chronicle.
Bicycling remains a popular recreational activity in Arlington, though largely regulated to neighborhood street cycling alongside pedestrians.
Arlington paves its first bicycle facility: a multi-use trail made of crushed limestone of about three miles along Four Mile Run. The trail opening included a ceremony at Bluemont Park, a performance by the Navy band, and cycling exhibitions.
This was also the first bicycle trail in the nation to be built with federal funds.
Program from the opening of Arlington’s first bike trail. Image courtesy of the VA State Department of Conservation and Recreation via BikeArlington.
The Washington Area Bicyclists Association is formed, drawing members from the DMV region and advocating for improved bicycle facilities.
The County completes its first commuter bikeway, connecting to the Spout Run Parkway and providing access to Rosslyn. Additionally, an eleven-member Bicycle Advisory Committee is established to advise on cycling-related issues and development.
Children line up for bicycle safety inspection, run by the Arlington County Police Department, 1969.
Arlington’s Master Bikeway plan is released, which calls for an 80-mile network of trails for commuter and recreational use.
Metro stations debut in Arlington, which shapes the County’s transportation plan to include a bike trail along the route of I-66 and bicycle parking at the new stations.
Custis Trail is completed, adding 8.5 miles of trail to the area.
Map of County bike trails, 1977.
Bike underpass at Wilson Boulevard and Four Mile Run. Date unknown. (210-0103)
The Arlington Bicycle Transportation plan is adopted, and $7.3 million is eventually allocated to develop new bike trails, bicycle lanes, and bicycle parking.
The County adopts the Bicycle Element, a new planning document focused on continuing bicycle development.
Arlington launches Capital Bikeshare in partnership with the District of Columbia.
First generation Capital Bikeshare bicycles, February 2012 at Central Library.
Active Living and Biking: Tracing the Evolution of a Biking System in Arlington, Virginia, by Royce Hanson and Garry Young
Baseline Report – The State of Bicycling in Arlington, County publication
To learn more about Arlington's history, visit the Center for Local History on the first floor of the Central Library.
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