It’s been a while since I’ve written a Comfort Biking blog post, because I haven’t done much biking beyond back and forth to work. But over the weekend, I needed to run by JoAnn Fabrics, in Seven Corners. The weather was nice and I needed the exercise, so I biked.
There is an official “bike route” for most of the trip. If The Mechanic hadn’t shown the route to me, I might not have found it. Well, I might have, but not as easily. The route runs parallel-ish to Route 50/Arlington Blvd. Because Route 50 is a major road, the bike route wiggles through the neighborhoods. Parts of it really aren’t all that bad, but the signage is lousy. There are a few awkward/potentially dangerous intersections, two in Arlington and two in Fairfax. And of course, once you arrive in Seven Corners, well, it’s a car-centric retail-haven of too many intersecting roads. Bad, bad, bad pedestrian design.
Bicycle advocates, bike-friendly urban planners, and savvy government employees talk all the time about getting the “interested but concerned” people out on bikes. I’m pretty sure this bike route is not the way to do that. It’s a shame, because it’s the closest shopping area, with a Target, Petsmart, Safeway, Home Depot, Barnes & Nobles, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s Crafts Store, Sears, and more – but they are all trapped in a maze of streets. The Mechanic lived right smack in the middle of this area before we got our current apartment, and he’s spent hours walking through questionably safe intersections to get to Target and Safeway. Try getting someone new to biking through this! Um, probably not. As short of a distance as it is, even I prefer to take the bus sometimes.
Arlington County has no control over Route 50, so there isn’t much they can do. However, I think better signage would be a good start. Perhaps Arlington would prefer people *not* go to Seven Corners to shop, since it’s outside of the County – maybe that’s the real reason why it’s uncomfortable to get there by bike!
(Also, I don’t think I’ve ever made it to Seven Corners and back without working up a sweat, regardless of temperature. It seems like it’s truly uphill both ways!)