Arlington takes next step on bike lane plan

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by CHRIS HAWES

WFAA

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 29 at 4:28 PM

ARLINGTON — The Arlington City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a plan to create new bike lanes. The decision came after members heard testimony from nearly 100 people.

Zac Ford knows you may view him as a radical. He sold his car six years ago. "I actually rode my bicycle cross-country last summer," he said.

Ford has depended on his bicycle ever since. "I go to the coffee shop, whereever I go, I go by bike," he said.

Ford helped found Bike Friendly Arlington. The group wants more bike lanes created for the city. The proposal passed by the City Council in a first reading Tuesday night creates 16 miles of new bike lines, as well as 43 new miles of designated bicycle routes.

Ford says the lanes are key to convincing people to attempt to ride their bikes on city streets. "Bike lanes are designed  to help people get into the street and ride their bike on the street," he said.

But that, opponents say could be catastrophic for Arlington, claiming the lanes would cause everything from lower property values to traffic congestion.

"We're a suburb," said long-time Arlington resident Jim Harris. "Why spend millions striping our streets when you can ride a bicycle anytime, anywhere you want?"

Two weeks ago, opponents showed up to try to stop a larger thoroughfare plan and became incensed when the mayor turned the microphone off after 20 minutes of opposition comments.

Angered, some critics continued to shout comments, and were escorted out by police.

A YouTube video rallied more of them to Tuesday night's meeting. A few came convinced the lanes are part of an international movement.

"They want to push people out of the countryside, into cities," said Rich Martin.

There's no conspriracy, say pedal power advocates. But there is a deeper agenda.

"I think it would bring the community closer together," Ford said.

E-mail chawes@wfaa.com

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