Friday, April 3, 2009

2007/2008 Regional Household Travel Survey released

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recently released the results of a survey of 11,000 households (pdf) in the Washington metro region to gather updated information on area-wide travel patterns. As the Commuter Page Blog pointed out, the percentage of people who walked or bike doubled in both Arlington County (3.8% to 7.6%) and the City of Alexandria (4.5% to 9.0%). There was no change in Fairfax County (1.7%). In both Arlington and Alexandria the percentage of people driving decreased while in Fairfax it increased from 77% to 79%.

What do Arlington and Alexandria have in common? They are relatively densely populated areas with a dense street network, often consisting of a grid of streets. Both jurisdictions have invested heavily in creating bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities.

Fairfax County on the other hand has a different street network. As we noted earlier, Fairfax is cul-de-sac heaven, with few connecting streets and a population that is relatively spread out. Even so, from my observations, many more people are commuting by bike in Fairfax than in the past, and many more want to do so. The survey was conducted between January 2007 and March 2008, just before the price of gas spiked to nearly $4/gallon. From March to October, when the price of gas dropped to below $3/gallon, many people started using bikes for transportation.

With very few bike facilities available in Fairfax, it shouldn't be any surprise that few people travel by bike. If given a choice, we think many more people would use bikes for transportation. Now is the time to provide that choice.

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