Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bicycle Program funds cut from final Fairfax budget

Despite pleas from cyclists, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors went ahead with the proposed $170,456 cut to the Bicycle Program, a reduction of 45% from their budget. Prior to the final decision, the Board modified the proposed budget cuts but did not restore funding for the bike program. Instead, they decided reject the proposal to add $825,848 to the budget by charging for parking at certain county parks. The final budget was approved by the entire Board.

The funds cut from the bicycle program would have gone toward implementing the comprehensive bicycle initiative spearheaded by the former Chairman of the Board, Gerry Connolly. This included "establishing a pilot program for an interconnected bicycling network."

This means that at a time when more people are using bicycles for transportation, there will be less money for bike lanes, a bike master plan, bike lockers and racks at transit centers, and a lack of funds for the many other needed bike improvements. According to Department of Transportation staff, "Further field work on the Bicycle Route Map will be eliminated and only one reprinting will be funded, while bicycle lockers and outreach materials/expenses will be minimally funded."

At the same time, the Board decided NOT to implement parking fees at certain county parks, as recommended by the County Executive that could have raised over $800,000. We think this is the wrong decision and sends the wrong message to county residents. While we understand that these are very difficult financial times, we think cutting the bicycle program is not appropriate.

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