Archive for the ‘Rockin’ the Suburbs’ Category

Get on your bikes and ride! Vol. 1 – W&OD

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As we enter our first spring like week of the year I am starting a series of profiles of area bike trails. I begin with my personal favorite, the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Park trail. In 2005 I rode the length of the trail from west to east in one afternoon.

An early example of the “rail-to-trail” phenomenon, W&OD was simply known as the “bike trail” to me and my friends when I was growing up. Now forty-five miles long, the flat, straight trail starts in Arlington, near Shirlington, and extends all the way past Leesburg to Purcellville. In actuality, the trail is part of W&OD Regional Park, which is the old railroad and current Virginia Power right-of-way (hence the high tension power lines), giving it dimensions of about 45 miles by 100 feet. Those 100 feet provide a buffer of nature through the most populated region of the commonwealth. Much of the Arlington portion traverses Four Mile Run Park while it parallels the windier Four Mile Run trail. Think of W&OD as I-95 to Four Mile’s US 1 and you get the idea of how the two trails exist together.
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Hang ’em if you got ’em

To follow up on Mr. Whiteside’s post from the other day regarding stupid things on the road and the government’s reaction. It seems that when the Maryland legislature said they dedicate more time on transportation issues, the voting populous had no idea what they would actually do. Well, it seems the Washington Post has covered one of the more, appealing/apalling extras rednecks and truckers add to their vehicles. But really, do politicians have nothing else better to concentrate on?

Yes, we’re talking about novelty testicles for your trailer hitch. I prefer the old classic lady recline art on the mud flaps, but, obviously, the kind of folks that utilized them wanted to move up from the Ugly Kid Joe/Calvin peeing on said “brand” stickers, and go directly to anthropomorphizing their vehicles. I’ve seen these on just about most vehicles… except for low-riders, which, well…you get the picture. I just wished somebody would add fake hooters to the “headlights” on cars… at least they’d stick with the nickname.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, a plane, the fuzz!

Yes Virginia drivers, Smokey is back in the air. Virginia police are expanding aerial enforcement of traffic laws after a multi-year lull.

And while we all can agree that aggressive drivers should get tickets, they cause the most accidents and give us all rashes of road rage, how do you feel about an eye in the sky?

Would flying cops be the newest red light cameras? Or more akin to DC MPD CCTV and neighbourhood spy cams?

They are engaging in generic surveillance of the general public, indiscriminately check out your driving habits. Yet, as the Wash Post article points out, they can catch crazy drivers better than land-based police.

And no word yet if they will be looking for Dulles Tool Road toll dodgers too.

Gannett Reinventing Bloggers?

Gannett Newspapers have begun to hire “Mobile Journalists” that they have nicknamed “mojos” are part of their desire to have an ever increasing number of “hyper-local” stories for their websites and print mediums. These mojos are covering local events and doing local human interest stories with their laptops, digital cameras and audio recorders.

Now. Let’s replace some words with their synonyms and see how this reads.

Metroblogging has begun to recruit writers that they have nicknamed “bloggers” as part of their desire to have an ever increasing number of “hyper-local” stories for their websites. These bloggers are covering local events and doing local human interest stories with their laptops, digital cameras and audio recorders.

Reads pretty much the same, don’t you think? Gannett is using bloggers, essentially, to write their local news, which is fairly sweet. They’re also using community involvement to “crowdsource” their investigative reporting, which is fairly standard for modern online media, but certainly something new for the print media. Perhaps Wayan’s elegy for Marc Fisher is far more true than ever we imagined?

Tysons Lego Store: Why couldn’t we have had this 20 years ago?


One of the reasons Tysons Corner Center is one of the premier malls in the country is because it often has specialty stores before other malls. An excellent example of this the Lego Store, which I recently stopped by during my semi-annual mall trip. That place is cool and by cool, I mean totally sweet. Had it existed when I was a kid my parents might have gone broke. In addition to having lots of Lego sets and grabbags of random Legos, the store has an entire wall of Legos bins from which you can select individual pieces like brown chairs. Who knew there was such a need for brown chairs?

While the grumpy old man in me thinks that increasing the Lego specialization (i.e. spectrum beyond the classic blue-red-yellow-white-gray-black facial expressions other than smiles, ornamental grass?!) that started with Blacktron is a bit much, I make an exeption for coolest toy team-up ever — Lego Star Wars.

Messy vitality?

Yesterday, Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein compared an emerging Reston Town Center with Tysons Corner and comes down on the side of Tysons.

I am not a big fan of Reston, even as a kid it seemed a little odd; a planned community that makes my hometown of Vienna look like a Norman Rockwell painting in comparison. I have been critical of Reston Town Center too, because I always thought of it as four square city blocks in the middle of a field. That is changing though, the immediate area has filled in and it is fairly vibrant, even with nothing but chain stores and restaurants. Pearlstein notes, there are some impressive buildings there too. In short, Reston Town Center has matured into a pretty good location, especially for Fairfax County.

Tysons, on the other hand, is a disaster of epic proportions. There is more office space there than Denver or Pittsburgh and yet the only shared experience is sitting in traffic trying to get on Route 7 or 123. Messy vitality? No, just messy. Tysons makes a place like Rosslyn look like like midtown Manhattan.

I hope that Metro, whether under or above ground, can focus redevelopment of Tysons into a more urban setting the takes of advantage of the masses of people to become something more like a city. Reston Town Center, is ready for that already. Nobody is going to confuse either location with Connecticut and K, but they don’t need to be, just be walkable is probably enough.

Tysons Tunnel: Too little, too late?

The newly created TysonsTunnel.org has launched a campaign to have the Metro extension to Loudoun County go underground in the Tysons Corner vicinity.

TysonsTunnel.org is a coalition of the McLean Chamber of Commerce, community and business leaders, and concerned citizens recently formed with the goal of creating a fair and competitive bidding process for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport and reopening consideration of the tunnel under Tysons.

That is wonderful and all, but the Times Community Newspapers wonders if “things would have gone differently if the future of Tysons Corner as a walkable urban environment had been part of the discussion all along” and not just in the last few months.

Lost cause or not, the organization has been done well rallying the public to get involved. The Vienna/Oakton Connection notes that over 300 people showed up for a Tysons Tunnel Town Hall meeting at McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre.

If you feel strongly about the issue the next TysonsTunnel.org Town Hall is December 3 at The Barnes of Wolf Trap. The history of WMATA shows that citizens have had an impact on where the lines go and how it gets there.

Previously: Gov: No Tysons Metro tunnel

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