Priority Action 2.1. Expand Arlington’s network of connected multi-use trails.
Arlington has an extensive trail network that is easily accessible and creates connections among different public spaces and other destinations. Trail users have more opportunities to stop and use public space amenities, and public space users have protected routes that allow them to discover what amenities are available in other public spaces across the County. Facilities such as multi-use trails and protected bike lanes separate bicyclists and pedestrians from motor vehicle traffic, increase safety and encourage more novice users to participate. Many of the strategies listed below tie into recommendations in the Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan. Enhancing pedestrian and bicycle access is especially important along the County’s urban corridors. Expansion of the trail network should be carefully planned to minimize impact on existing natural resources.
2.1.1. Complete an “inner loop” of protected routes that connects the Custis, Four Mile Run, Arlington Boulevard, and Mount Vernon Trails.
One way to expand the network of multi-use trails is to build upon the existing resources and create inner and outer loops that will be an extension of the existing Arlington Loop. The Arlington Loop is a local precedent for a connected loop trail. Via portions of the Custis, W&OD, Four Mile Run, and Mount Vernon Trails, users can travel off-street continuously for 16 miles. Upgrading and completing the existing trail along the entire length of Arlington Boulevard would extend trail access to one of the densest parts of Arlington and create shorter loops, inviting new users who may prefer shorter distances while increasing connectivity.
2.1.2. Complete an “outer loop” of protected routes that connects the Four Mile Run, Mount Vernon and Custis Trails.
The Arlington Loop is not easily accessible from the northern part of Arlington. A new “outer loop” that takes advantage of the existing trails and incorporates new trail segments along with enhanced bike routes would extend access to the north and provide additional loop options, including a longer, 19-mile loop.
2.1.3. Evaluate opportunities to create better connections across or around current barriers, including the George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Arlington National Cemetery and the Army Navy Country Club.
Comprehensive coordination with NPS, VDOT and other partners is needed in order to achieve these improved connections.
2.1.4. Connect Long Bridge Park to the District of Columbia via the Mount Vernon Trail and Long Bridge Esplanade.
Only about a quarter mile separates Long Bridge Park from the locally and regionally significant Mount Vernon Trail. The Long Bridge Park Master Plan includes developing a regional trailhead for the Mount Vernon Trail at Long Bridge Park. This connection between the two trails was also included in the National Park Service’s 2016 Paved Trails Study. A direct connection to the Mount Vernon Trail, with a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Potomac River, would further integrate Long Bridge Park into the regional trail system.
2.1.5. Create safe routes to parks and other public spaces by filling gaps in sidewalks and trails that connect public spaces to neighborhoods, schools, transit stations and other County facilities.
Completing sidewalks and trails is key to increasing access to public spaces. With facilities designed specifically to enable pedestrians and cyclists to reach public spaces from homes and other neighborhood anchors, public spaces become more desirable to visit. Coordination with the Safe Routes to School, Neighborhood Complete Streets and Neighborhood Conservation programs will be critical to closing sidewalk gaps.
2.1.6. Improve and add connections to adjacent trail systems beyond the County, and show connections on signage and in communication materials.
Surrounding jurisdictions are home to a number of unique recreational experiences that cannot be replicated within Arlington. For example, Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC has hiking trails—one of the most desired amenities in Arlington — that cannot be replicated within the County. Connecting to adjacent trail systems will expand the range of opportunities available to Arlington residents and visitors from the region.
2.1.7. Explore opportunities to provide a space for pump tracks and cyclocross on a temporary or permanent basis, while balancing potential impacts on natural resources and trees.
Arlington does not currently provide opportunities for pump tracks or cyclocross. As part of the PSMP Update process, the community expressed interest in this type of amenity as that can provide additional experience for cyclists to recreate and practice their riding skills. Interest was also expressed in mountain biking, however, prior to exploring potential locations for mountain biking, the community would need to have a more robust and broad conversation to understand the needs of the users and impacts on the natural environment.