On the Road Ahead in Arlington

On the Road Ahead in Arlington

Transportation Commission looks at top issues for 2018

Parking meter in Clarendon with current parking hours listed.

Parking meter in Clarendon with current parking hours listed. Photo by Connor Ortman/The Connection

The final plans for Arlington are approved in the County Board meetings, but they start at the commissions. At its first meeting of the year, on Jan. 11, the Transportation Commission laid out some priorities and transit goals for 2018.

Commission Member Kristin Caulkins said this year’s update to the Capital Improvement Plan, which happens every two years, is a chance for the commission to assess one of the county’s longstanding transportation issues. Briefings on CIP issues will start to take place in Arlington County’s boards and commissions starting next month.

“This is a good opportunity to look at on street parking across the county as a whole,” said Caulkins. “There’s about eight different categories for parking restrictions with hours all over the place. We need to think about when our metered parking stops; six o’clock is very early. It’s a big bite of the apple to take, but it’s becoming decisive enough that it’s probably worth it to talk about.”

Commission Chairman Chris Slatt echoed Caulkins’ call for a comprehensive review of the the county’s on-street parking policy.

“[We need to] look at on street parking more holistically,” said Slatt.

One of the other topics raised as a priority for 2018 was beginning work on a vision zero plan. Vision Zero is a public safety strategy that pursues a goal of zero traffic crashes. The program began in Sweden in 1997 and emphasizes that no deaths caused by a road transportation system are acceptable. Alexandria adopted a Vision Zero policy in 2016, and approved an action plan in December, 2017. Slatt says the topic of Vision Zero first came up in Arlington through the bicycle work group. However, Slatt says the members of the work group said that a Vision Zero plan was larger than the scope of their work, particularly since the majority of the lives saved are those of drivers. Slatt said there had been some interest from the County Board and that staff was currently at work on a plan. The topic is scheduled for future hearings at the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

The commission also briefly touched on the need to begin looking at policies with regard to self-driving cars. While the prospect isn’t a pivotal one for 2018, it was still agreed that the issue would likely begin to gain traction in the near future.

Finally, Slatt briefly noted that the Transportation Commission would have to look at car sharing in 2018, a type of program that has been in a state of limbo in terms of County policy.

“We have to look at car sharing,” said Slatt, “whether companies want to come in and do point-to-point or fixed space. But to my knowledge, we’re still in a weird extended pilot with Car2Go and there’s nothing official yet, so I want to get back on that.”

The Transportation Commission’s next meeting will be held on Feb. 8.