Meet a PAL Ambassador: Leeann

Throughout January, we’ve been asking bicyclists, walkers, and drivers alike to share their new year’s resolutions to #BEaPAL. Are you thinking about how to improve your own transportation behavior to make our roads, trails, and sidewalks safer? Consider becoming an ambassador like our friend, Leeann.

What’s it like to become a PAL Ambassador?

Meet Leeann Sinpatanasakul, whose amazing work and passion for her community make her a great PAL Ambassador. How did you get in involved as an Arlington PAL Ambassador? What do you like about being a part of this program? I became involved in the PAL ambassador program after meeting the coordinator, Ashley Blue, at a community event where she was tabling. What got me interested was that it wasn’t just for bicyclists—it was for drivers and pedestrians, too. I hope more residents will join our efforts and see PAL as something for more than just cyclists. After all, at some point we’re all pedestrians when we travel. I like everything about the program! I like being involved and making a difference with our events, and I like that the program has encouraged me to be more civically engaged. It’s because of the program that I’ve been involved in Arlington’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee. What does the PAL message mean to you? What do you think the program means to the community? To me, PAL, which stands for “predictable, alert, lawful,” means that we all have a role to play in making Arlington a safer, more enjoyable place to live. PAL tries to educate residents on how to be a safe driver, cyclist, or pedestrian. In the future, I hope that more members of the community will learn about the PAL message and take it to heart. What are your PAL resolutions for 2018? How will you be a more Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road and sidewalk user? My resolution for 2018 is to be kinder and more courteous to other bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. While driving, this means giving at least three feet of space between myself and a person cycling and slowing down when passing safely. While walking, this means being visible and predictable to drivers, especially at night with low visibility. We share Arlington’s transportation infrastructure with our neighbors. It’s important to remember to be courteous to them in the shared community space.

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution for 2018?

Join our Outreach Party next week to share yours and collect ideas from the public! Can’t make it to the party, don’t worry. Share your resolutions with us in other ways:

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution?

The Arlington PAL Ambassador program is looking forward to making Arlington a safer place to get around for all in 2018! That’s why, in January, we’ll be asking the community to share their New Year’s resolutions on how they will be a better PAL (Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road user) while walking, biking or driving in Arlington.   Keep an eye out for more information and outreach event updates in the new year, and if you’d like to participate online, share your resolutions with us:  
    • On Twitter, you can find us @arlingtonpal or just tweet with the hashtag #BEaPAL
    • On Instagram or post a picture of how you get around Arlington, and don’t forget to tag it with #BEaPAL.
  • Or you can post your resolution on our forum.
And now, here’s a year in review of the amazing work the Arlington PAL Ambassadors did this past year. Enjoy!

A rainy yet spectacular Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade!

The time we made some videos for Annmarie’s PALentines Day!


Lots of what we call “trailer-ing” with the PAL bike sign.

My first event as the PAL Coordinator (cry emoji) for Earth Day!

ALL the pizza parties…

Predictable, Alert, Lawful: The Musical!

PAL Popsicle Pop-up, in the heat of summer.

Being a PAL means….

A spooky, safety PALoween on Quincy Street!

Daylight Savings bike light distribution to restaurant employees!

Advocacy with art.

A cold, cold, (but super fun) coffee pop-up!

And finally….the PALiversary party!

Thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers for a wonderful 2017. Join us next year in changing road culture in Arlington!  

Tips for Being a PAL this Halloween

Happy PAL-oween from your friendly neighborhood Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, Lawful) Ambassadors! On October 31st, we’ll be out on N. Jackson Street near Virginia Square among trick-or-treaters to help everyone have fun and walk, bike, or drive safely during their night of spooky fun.

Join us, won’t you?

And keep reading for some tips that you can share for anyone going out on Halloween:

Drive and bike SLOWLY through your neighborhood and be extra aware of pedestrians.

Kids can be unpredictable humans, especially when they’re surrounded by the excitement of tricks and treats. There will be many more people of all ages walking around on Halloween than your typical weekday evening, so be sure to take extra care. Worst thing that can happen is that you’re delayed by an adorable parade of minions and goblins crossing the street. If you’re on your bike, make sure to let people walking and trick or treating know you’re around by calling your passes, ringing a bell or wishing them a Happy Halloween!

Walkers and bikers: lighten up!

Ashley and Annmarie sporting their #BEaPAL reflective vests during the Mardi Gras parade

While the onus is on drivers to take care around more vulnerable road users, like people walking, biking and trick or treating, there are things you can do to improve your visibility at night. Reflective accents can be added to costumes to help you be seen. Carrying glow sticks or flashlights can be helpful as they not only help others see you, but help you see in the dark as well. For bicyclists, Arlington County requires that bicycles ridden at night have one white light at the front and a red reflector at the rear. A blinking red rear light and bonus reflective goodies, like vests or small stickers, can be even more helpful. Luckily, the PAL Ambassadors will be there handing out bike lights, reflective vests and fun goodies that night to help keep your Halloween lit!




Everyone: be lawful at intersections

This goes for everyone! When walkers wait for the crosswalk signal, bikers stop at the stop sign or light and drivers always yield to pedestrians, we all get to the most important part of the night with less stress: Getting home to devour all of the candy!

Top 10 Secrets of Arlington

When non-Arlingtonians think of Arlington, many only think of the chrome high-rises across the Potomac River where people occasionally commute to, but most of the time commute from. They may also think of that one time their friends invited them to play cornhole at a rooftop bar in Clarendon, or the occasional trip to the Pentagon City Costco to buy bulk everything. There are so many unique pockets of the suburb that remain undiscovered by the masses–unlike some of the trendiest spots of DC. Here are my favorite hidden gems of Arlington.

#10 The Four Mile Run trail

Photo by Mrs. Gemstone

Want to escape from the city for a bit and get lost in the woods? Walk or bike along the Four Mile Run trail that runs adjacent to the Washington & Old Dominion trail (also an amazing trail that runs completely flat!)

#9 New District Brewing Co. & the Shirlington Dog Park

Right off of the W&OD trail is a hop-smelling bike-friendly brewery in an unassuming collection of warehouses. There’s even a sign for it on the trail! Just yards away is a dog park where tons of pups run and play, and in the warm months they frolic in the stream next to the park. It’s just a wonderful combination.

#8 The Fort Myer Thrift Shop

If you like to thrift, this is the place to go. It’s a massive building with endless clothing, home goods, fabrics, entertainment…you name it. There’s also a boutique next door for jewelry and finer things. The general public is allowed to shop here and bikers are sometimes allowed on base. However, hours are VERY limited, so check online before you go.

#7 Washington Boulevard near Pershing Drive

Photo by Alan Kotok

Just south of Clarendon is a special strip of small business and delicious international eats that includes an amazing BBQ joint, an adventure gear consignment store, a unique bike shop with a Penny-farthing in the window, a cozy Persian coffee shop, a locals’ favorite Salvadoran restaurant and more!

#6 Crystal City Spins (every Wednesday night during March)

© 2017 Bruce Buckley Photography

Nothing feels more underground than this underground event. A month full of bike races in a parking garage, including an “Anything Goes” race and a fixie race. You can also enjoy beer, coffee, pie and much more while you watch and/or participate.

#5 Columbia Pike & the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse

Known as one of America’s most diverse neighborhoods, the Pike is just authentic, down-to-earth awesomeness. There’s too much to list, but one place to check out is the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse, where they play second-run movies, local film series and host weekly comedy events.

#4 Eden Center (technically Falls Church)

While traces of what was known as Little Saigon still remain in the Clarendon neighborhood, Eden Center (located at the end of Wilson Blvd) is now where you can experience it.  You’ll find delicious Vietnamese restaurants, cafes and shops, as well as an enormous supermarket with an array of fresh produce, seafood and more.

#3 Phoenix Bikes

Phoenix is a well-known community and youth education bike shop amongst bicyclists in the area, but there are still folks that ask me “where can I buy a used bike?” or “where can I donate my bike?” Phoenix also offers monthly workshops, volunteer opportunities and, of course, youth education programs.

#2 Gravelly Point

Ever wonder what it’s like to stand underneath an airplane right before it lands on the tarmack? Travel down the Mount Vernon Trail towards Alexandria to Gravelly Point and you’ll find out!

#1 Bold, abstract art EVERYWHERE

Thanks to WABA and BikeArlington’s Taco’bout some Art community ride last season, I became aware of all of the really cool, often strange, art pieces around Arlington. There’s also the Arlington Arts Center that hosts classes and gallery events.

Popsicle Pop-up makes for happy Arlington residents

With the temperature rising and the humidity, well…being humid, it was certainly harder to leave the AC and get outside in June.  For their monthly block party, the Arlington PAL Ambassadors decided to provide a little motivation and encouragement to trail users with some delicious frozen treats! The PAL Popsicle Pop-up took place where the Custis Trail meets North Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School in Ballston.  It was also Father’s’ Day, which meant a lot of families spending time outside with their kids! It was great seeing how happy people were to stumble upon our party, especially with the heat in the high 80’s that day.  Some folks followed our chalk signage on the trail, while some PALs made it a point to stop by while on their Sunday adventure. The bike lanes on Quincy St serve as great connectors to not only the Custis Trail, but to Washington-Lee High School, downtown Ballston and several other Arlington connections, as well.  Quincy has been a central piece of the Bike Friendly Ballston campaign, which we hope to continue improving to enhance safety and comfort getting around town. With more and more people, including families, getting out on the trails in the summer months, it’s never a bad idea to remind cyclists and walkers to be predictable, alert and lawful!  It was a lovely afternoon connecting with friends and neighbors, as well as meeting some new PALs.  Want to become an Arlington PAL Ambassador?  Sign up

Arlington’s PAL Ambassadors put on a show for Bike Month

Sometimes asking people to be more predictable, alert, and lawful (or to be a PAL) for safer streets requires you to stand out and make a lot of noise to get their attention, especially if they’re whizzing by in a car or on a bike.  For the Arlington PAL Ambassador May block party, we decided to go all out with a broadway-inspired theme to make our voices heard! “Predictable, Alert, Lawful – The Musical!” was the name of our crosswalk show, which took place at a busy and confusing intersection in the Clarendon neighborhood.  It first started off with three of us – myself along with volunteers Autumn and Rheal – singing our own rendition of “Let it Go” while performing some light choreography in front of cars waiting for the light to turn green.  Were they confused? Probably. Did they enjoy it? Probably! When volunteers Leeann, Greg and Naomi arrived, we then began dancing across the crosswalk to funky tunes and thanking our fellow pedestrians and considerate drivers for being PALs. One walker even told us about the time that he was almost hit by a car at that very intersection.  Vehicles turning right often fail to yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk near the O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub. Our crosswalk musical was a hit with the Arlingtonians that interacted with us, and we had a blast ourselves!  While we’ll never know if people became more predictable, alert, and lawful that day, we know one thing for certain – they’ll almost always remember the PAL Ambassadors every time they approach that crosswalk! Want to become an Arlington PAL Ambassador?  Sign up

Meet a PAL Ambassador: Crash

All of the PAL Ambassadors call you Crash…what kind of name is that?! I once T-boned a police car on my bicycle in the rain. No one was seriously injured. That’s…not really an answer. What are your favorite things about Arlington? What do you like to do? I’ve lived here for about six years and it’s a vibrant community with so much diversity and things going on. As small as it is, each corner has a different feel and culture to it. Ballston, Crystal City, West Columbia Pike, Rosslyn. What makes Arlington really unique though is the “Arlington loop”. The 17-mile interconnected connected trail system for walking, bicycling, rollerblading, stroller-pushing, etc, whatever you want to use it for. I don’t imagine many other areas have such a well used and well maintained trail system.  There are also lots of outdoor events, but one of my favorites is the free outdoor movies. Lots of people come out to them. The Predictable, Alert and Lawful (PAL) message is aimed at everyone in the community: bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers.  Which do you see yourself as? I’m definitely all three. I own a car but I commute to and from work by bicycle. Being in all three roles definitely makes you better at all three. When I’m driving, pedestrians will illegally cross in the crosswalk when I’m going through the intersection! What are they thinking? When I’m bicycling, cars will change lanes or turn without using their turn signal! What are they thinking? When I’m walking, bicycles will pass me with little room to spare without notifying me with an audible signal! What are they thinking? Using each mode makes me understand what I can do better in the others. Describe your involvement as a PAL Ambassador and what you enjoy about volunteering. Not going to lie, I saw something in a bicycle newsletter about a pizza party and I can’t turn down food. That was many years ago and now the advocacy is more interesting than the pizza to me. Being a PAL Ambassador is pretty simple, the most important thing is to practice the PAL principles. The aspect I like the most is seeing people from the community being brought together. Volunteering at a big event like Bike To Work Day is amazing because you see how massive the bicycle community is. Volunteering at smaller events like our block parties is amazing because you get to meet families with young children who genuinely enjoy spending wholesome, quality time together outside. Why do you think the PAL program is important and relevant to the Arlington community? Arlington is a perfect intersection of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. Commuters going into DC by car go through Arlington. Arlington is dense enough that Arlingtonians can easily walk to restaurants and bars. We have fantastic bicycle infrastructure and services so that most of us can either bicycle the complete distance to where we want to go or use it for some of our journey. These three modes of transportation aren’t separate; cars share the lane with bicycles, bicycles may need to share the sidewalk with pedestrians, and pedestrians cross streets used by cars and bikes. Where there’s a feeling of disconnect between the modes is where problems can happen, and the PAL Ambassadors are out there to remind people to put more thought into their behavior. You can meet Crash and more PAL Ambassadors at our Block Party this Saturday!

Meet Ashley, the new Arlington PAL Ambassador Coordinator!

Ashley Blue Hello PALs! I’m so excited to be the new PAL Ambassador program coordinator. Spring is in the air and as we all know, Arlingtonians will be out and about. Let’s go remind them to be Predictable, Alert and Lawful! While I’ve been biking since I was a kid, I really embraced it as a new way to explore in Alexandria. Biking made me feel so much more connected to the world around me than I had before. I started biking everywhere – the grocery store, friend’s places…I couldn’t get enough! The most enriching part of my newfound love was becoming a part of such a fun, supportive community of cyclists. As I started attending Women & Bicycles events and local community rides, I really found a sense of belonging in my new city. I then moved to Arlington where I began getting involved with BikeArlington as a volunteer and regular community ride participant. I met the lovely Annmarie Hansen after a taco-themed ride where we bonded over our love of both biking and dancing. She then told me all about the PAL Ambassador program, and I soon became a regular PAL – attending pizza parties, block parties, and even pulling the trailer around town! As a year-long PAL volunteer, I experienced first-hand the positive impact that Annmarie and the PAL Ambassadors have had on the Arlington community. I’m thrilled to contribute my own enthusiasm to the program and continue to build on our message to help people stay safe on our sidewalks and streets. To become an Arlington PAL Ambassador, sign up here!