Thursday, June 13, 2013
Bike facilities on Route 50: Beltway to ArlingtonOn Tuesday three of us took a brief tour of bike facilities along the south side of Route 50 from Providence District Park just inside the Beltway to Fort Meyer where Route 50 makes a sharp turn north in Arlington. The Route 50 corridor is a major commuter route. The road is located in the center of the county and leads from the suburbs into the city. What would it take to create a first class bike facility along Route 50 along the lines of the recently created "cycle superhighways" in Copenhagen?
The Beltway/Route 50 interchange is a major barrier for bicycle travel in Fairfax. At the interchange Route 50 contains 4 lanes in each direction with high speed exit and entrance ramps to the Beltway.
|Route 50 at I-495/Beltway|
We left the rec center and entered Route 50 at Jaguar Dr adjacent to Falls Church High School. We followed a narrow sidewalk along 50 to reach the first segment of service road to the east. Service roads are the best option for traveling by bike along Route 50 in this area.
|Closed service road at|
We continued on the service road to the Graham Road intersection, which in the past has been one of the most dangerous locations for pedestrians in the county.
Just east of Graham Road the service road turns into Woodley Lane that we followed back to the service road. Just before the Annandale Road intersection the service road is closed with no accommodations for bicyclists or pedestrians. A lane is being added, the median was shifted, and it looks like the service is going away which is
The other side of the intersection was also under construction. You can see from the second photo that orange cones and barrels are blocking the curb ramp and there are no accommodations for pedestrians or bicyclists.
|Castle Rd/Rt 7 at Seven Corners|
Note bike route sign on the right
At Glebe Road we encountered one of the worst sections of the route, a narrow stretch of unmaintained sidewalk immediately adjacent to the Glebe Rd exit ramp. Another cyclist was riding in the opposite direction so we bailed out to let him pass. This section needs to be fixed soon. The sidewalk should be expanded into a paved trail, with better separation from adjacent traffic.
We followed the paved trail just east of Glebe Rd and continued to our turnaround point at S. Washington Blvd and Arlington National Cemetery.
|Sidewalk just west of|
According to the NoVa Bikeway study, "Arlington Boulevard is recommended as a key regional commuter route. As such, bicycle facilities along Arlington Boulevard should provide a high quality, direct, and safe connection for bicycle users – in effect, serving as a principal arterial for bicycle travel. As such, improvements along this corridor should provide a coherent and clear path of travel for bicyclists, using a combination of trails, pathways, and service roads."
The NoVa Bikeway study does not go into detail regarding needed improvements. Instead it suggests that a new study be undertaken to determine specific recommendations. We hope to work with our colleagues in Arlington County to begin to address the need for better bike facilities along Route 50 by advocating that VDOT conduct a detailed study of the corridor to determine the best solution for bike access. Is it possible to create a cycling superhighway parallel to Route 50? How much would it cost? We'd like to know.
this would be fantastic! every time I pass that pedestrian bridge in Seven Corners I dream about having one crossing the Beltway next to hwy 50. also need one on Little River Turnpike across the Beltway to link to NOVA community college.
I've been leading the BTWD commuter convoy from Providence Rec Center for the past four years. Getting to Providence from the W&OD and leading inexperienced riders down route 50 to cherry is one of my least favorite experiences. I would love to see another viable route in to Arlington and DC but this is definitely not it now.
It would be hard to build a bikeway through the Beltway/Route 50/Gallows interchange itself without a full rebuild of the interchange. And, to be honest, 50 west of the Beltway isn't very bike-friendly in the stretch between Gallows and Fairfax Circle. Maybe a ped/bike crossing could be built between Gatehouse Rd. and Fairview Park a little further north -- too bad that couldn't have been arranged as part of the 495 Express construction.