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How to bike from Arlington (Pentagon) to DC proper, without getting killed?

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How to bike from Arlington (Pentagon) to DC proper, without getting killed?

Old 06-15-13, 12:48 PM
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onehighlander
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How to bike from Arlington (Pentagon) to DC proper, without getting killed?

I travel for work quite often, currently in Crystal City (Arlington, VA...near the Pentagon) for a three-week assignment and decided to bring my bike. But I don't know anyone here, definitely don't know any cyclists, so I pose the above question.

First night here, I decided to try and bike to DC for dinner. (Apparently this part of town shuts down at about 9 p.m.) So I try Google Maps, to get walking directions to DC. 'Cause if you can walk, then you should be able to bike, right?

Anyway, 4 miles into the ride, I end up on Washington Blvd., which is unlike any boulevard I've encountered in any other city, in the sense that it really looks, acts and feels like a freeway. Also, there are no lights on this road. Something I usually only see when driving through the boonies, like the middle of Texas or Mississippi...not expected in the nation's capital.

I went about a mile on it, before I made the decision to turn around. And that part was even more fun, because this boulevard has no way to get to the other side, including a 3-foot tall center median that you can't cross -- like a freeway -- so I went back the way I came, against traffic, and was sure I was going to die.

Any DC cyclists have some advice? I know I could take the Metro, but they have restrictions on the bike hours. Also, as far as I can tell, they close at Midnight, and I'm a night owl who enjoys night riding (with a full arsenal of lights). Also I paid to ship the bike here with the goal of avoiding taxis and public transit if at all possible.

I don't mind a round-a-bout route either. I can see the Francis Scott Key Bridge on the map, along a street (I hope it's a street), but don't know if I should try that route.

Thanks!
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Old 06-16-13, 08:20 PM
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ks1g
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Welcome to the area! I'd join & check with the folks on Washington Area Bike Forums (aka BikeArlington). Many live or ride through that area and can advise on routes. Arlington has some excellent bike infrastructure, Washington Blvd, however, isn't! Closer to Crystal City, there is a large indoor/outdoor food court that may stay active later over by Pentagon City, and at least when I worked there (long time ago), there were signs of nightlife around 23rd St.
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Old 06-17-13, 09:33 AM
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I'll second the suggestion to check the Washington Area Bike Forums (I'm a regular user). I see you joined on Friday and already have some suggestions.

You should pick up a Bike Arlington Bike Map from the Crystal City Commuter Store in the Crystal City Shops North (best map of Arlington, bar none). There is a sidepath on Washington Blvd from the west side of the Pentagon that connects to the Mt Vernon Trail (MVT) near Memorial Bridge. Memorial Bridge comes out at the Lincoln Memorial. However, if you are in Crystal City it is much better to take the access trail from the Water Park on Crystal Dr at the intersection with 18th St S to the MVT near the north end of Reagan National Airport. From the MVT there is an access trail you can cross to DC on the 14th St (George Mason) Bridge. It comes out near the Jefferson Memorial.

In Crystal City, the strip of restaurants west across US 1 on 23rd St S are open later. Also the late night area in Arlington is Clarendon, but getting there from Crystal City by bike takes a round about route because there are few crossings of I-395, by bike, the MVT in the north, Joyce St just south of the Pentagon, and then on Four Mile Run near Shirlington on the south with Glebe Rd just a little north of that. The Joyce St crossing connects from Army Navy Dr, but you end up on Columbia Pike which a lot of people don't like for cycling.
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Old 06-17-13, 09:54 AM
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Thank you both. I did find BikeArlington, and some old posts did inform me about the Mount Vernon Trail. I found the water park entrance to the trail and have been taking that for the last two days.

It would be nice to have a lit (the trail is pitch black) path, as I am a night owl, and thus night rider. (I do have a monster NiteRider light, however, and I learned that people are more courteous on the trail out here. An approaching rider had a similar light, and shielded it as I approached, as not to blind me. I'm going to start doing that too. Nobody does that in Los Angeles...we all just like to pretend to have car headlights.)

Or one that doesn't have as much congestion from lollygaggers and sightseers (around the airport, mostly), but if that's what I have to do to arrive safely, then I will continue.

I'm even a bit motivated...I spoke to a cyclist near the Capitol yesterday with a collapsed fishing rod in his pannier. Next time I might try some angling as well.

I biked Columbia Pike on Sunday to the Blues Festival and it was a great ride, on beautiful, lit city streets, except where construction work has torn up the streets. There were some Bike Arlington folks who gave me some bike maps, which will be helpful in planning a trip to Tyson's Corner.
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