Two memorable events last week had me wondering whether the generally rather unassuming Arlington County, Va. that I ride through every day is catching up fast with Amsterdam. First, riding through the heart of Arlington in rush hour, I found myself behind an elegant young woman, dressed for success, on a real Dutch bike. Not one of the increasingly good versions of Dutch bikes that folks are making over here…but a bona fide, upright, Dutch city bike with fully enclosed chain, serious built-in lights, and a rear-wheel lock. The works. Must be great going downhill to the river…probably a bit harder work getting back home in the evening – but so styling.
A couple of days later, I’m a little deeper into the residential part of Arlington when a vision rides towards me: an adult with child on the rear rack and an even smaller child perched on the front of the bike inside the arms of their Dad. Am I imagining this? Have I been transported to Amsterdam or Amersfoort; did I pass through a time warp or some kind of cycling portal? What’s even more confounding is that I don’t know who these people are…most of the slightly eccentric bikes that I see around town are ridden by people I know well (yes, I’m talking about Arlingtonians Paul DeMaio on his Strida or Charlie Denney on his three-seater with twins out in front).
Arlington has been desperately seeking some bike culture for years. Now with Revolution’s City Hub generating all kinds of fun activity, bike sharing on the ground in Crystal City, and people riding Dutch bikes around town…Washington D.C. had better get its game on when it comes to street cred in the nation’s capital district.
Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.