In Arlington, Virginia, a steady evolutionary change in biking policy during the last three decades has yielded some of the nation's best biking assets. It has a comprehensive, well-connected, highly integrated, well-mapped, and well-signed system of shared-use paved trails, bike lanes, bike routes, and other biking assets, such as workplace showers. Understanding the conditions that led to Arlington's current biking system can provide lessons in the strategy and tactics of active-living politics.
One potentially effective political strategy that was successful in Arlington is for activists to pressure elected officials to select professional managers who see bikeways as crucial to the overall transportation system. Then it is important to formalize the government-citizen relationship through an advisory panel. Also, in Arlington, the incremental creation of biking assets helped create demand for more and better facilities. In turn, this created political support for expanding and upgrading. Finally, Arlington used potentially negative circumstances (e.g., the building of highway corridors, the introduction of the Metro) as opportunities to change the built environment in ways that have encouraged more active living.