Around F.C.

An Unauthorized Bid to Rename W&OD Bridge?

Pedestrians and cyclists crossing Arlington’s /Falls Church’s two-year-old W&OD Bridge might notice two new green signs at each end of the bridge. Attached to a sign pole warning that the path becomes slippery when wet is a smaller sign reading: “Pete Beers Memorial Bridge: ‘We should go for a bike ride.’ ”

An online obituary shows that local computer programmer and cycling enthusiast Peter Andrew Beers (1964-2020) was killed on his bike by a falling tree near his home in August 2020. Active in the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, Beers worked in repairs at Bikenetic in Falls Church and advocated for safety protocols. Tributes and fundraising on Facebook included one from his friend, the world-famed cyclist and marathoner Rebecca Rusch.

  The problem is the sign was apparently mounted anonymously on the state-funded bridge without the permission of either the Virginia Transportation Department or NOVA Parks, which supervises the W&OD trail that crosses the bridge. A VDOT spokeswoman told the News-Press that they knew nothing of the sign and referred queries to NOVA Parks. The nonprofit’s board member Mike Nardolilli said, “The sign is not authorized by NOVA Parks or VDOT and will be coming down.”

The cycling association’s spokesman Jeremiah Lowery says his group did not erect the sign, and that this isn’t their type of activity.

On the back of the sign is a sticker reading “Sign Fabrication” for Interstate signways and VDOT’s name, printed in August 2022. 

A Washington area bicycling activist who spoke on condition of anonymity said the signs, which cost under $300, were mounted by a group of Beers’ friends and family who felt that going through the confused bureaucracy of VDOT and NoVA Parks would have taken years. Given how beloved and active Beers was in the bicycling community, the source said, “what good would it do now to take the signs down?”

UPDATE: By Friday, June 9, both signs had been removed. A NoVa Parks spokesperson cited state law on how bridges are to be named.