Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vienna town council candidate bike positions

We attended the Vienna Town Council candidate forum this week. Our primary concern was a comment by candidate Dan Dellinger about not wanting trails into Tysons because they would bring in undesirables. At the forum he says the quote was taken out of context, that he supports trails but is concerned about people from outside the parking and walking to Metro.

Most of the candidates support better bicycle and pedestrian access, although there was almost no discussion of on-road bike access. In the mind of most candidates, and in the minds of many people in general, bike access means trails and sidewalks. Only one candidate, Howard Springsteen, discussed bike lanes but then he stated that where the roads are too narrow for bike lanes cyclists should ride on the sidewalk.

Here are some notes from the meeting regarding candidate positions on bicycle access in Vienna:
Laurie DiRocco: A cyclist who supports Vienna become a more walkable, bikeable community. Supports bike trails to improve bike access.

George Lovelace: Supports improved bike/walk access. We need more bicycle education to improve cyclists' behavior.

Mike Gadell: Supports trails into Tysons. Understands the popularity and importance of the W&OD Trail. Need more traffic calming to improve bike safety.

Howard Springsteen
: A cyclist who wants a bike- and pedestrian-friendly Maple Ave. Says the W&OD Trail is a major community asset. Supports trails into Tysons. Thinks that narrower streets cannot accomodate bike lanes, that cyclists should ride on the sidewalk in these areas.

Daniel Dellinger: Is concerned about undesirables coming into the community if there are trails into Tysons, although he says he's mostly concerned about people from outside the parking and walking to Metro. Supports Vienna being more walkable. Wants to step up enforcement against cyclists who disregard the law.

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Is it me or do most of these candidates still put think and/or want to treat cyclists as secondary citizens??
I don't think cycling is considered a serious transportation choice by most people in Fairfax County, including many politicians. There's a lot of verbal support for bicycling and bike facilities, but almost no money, and a great deal of opposition from citizens affected by individual projects.

What politicians need is a vision for a future in which people can actually get somewhere by bike, and they need the political will to get projects completed. They also need more bicyclists demanding better facilities. Bike lanes are not going to get built without more people demanding they be included in road projects.
Thanks for covering this, Bruce.

The thing that disappointed me in moving from Arlington County to Fairfax County about eight years ago was how badly I felt treated as a cyclist - and as a pedestrian, too - here. I think progress has been made, but when I see comments like the one Dan Dellinger made, I start to worry.

I am a white collar worker (a lawyer) who likes to ride her bike around for transportation - as well as for exercise. I don't drive if I can avoid it. I prefer to travel under my own steam, in a non-polluting way that also gets me exercise. I also take public transportation almost daily.

Okay, I must be some kind of "oddball" because I have never, ever driven my car to work (really!)... I'd accept that label. But "undesirable" really stings!

I am not anti-car. I drive, too. But it's not my first choice. We have to stop worshipping the almighty car as if it is the ONLY way.

It wasn't fun to drive around Arlington County. Walking and cycling were attractive. Part of it is because the traffic hit critical mass in some of our neighborhoods and sitting in a car became a very unattractive prospect with bike paths, sidewalks, and Metro stations. Arlington County actively encouraged walking and biking. Fairfax County isn't Arlington County that way. But it could be, someday, and it is getting better.

I have met people - in Vienna - who do not like marked bike routes through their neighborhood. I love being on an established bike route. I used the old ADC bike map to look for bike friendly neighborhoods. I suppose it takes all kinds, but I don't quite get the objection there. If anyone from the anti-bike route camp would enlighten me as to their objection beyond "we don't people to ride here," I'd appreciate it.
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