Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Speak out for bike funding at budget meetings

The last three budget meetings will be held on Wednesday night. Please consider attending and speaking out for funding for the Fairfax County bike program:
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:00 pm, Hunter Mill District, James Madison High School, Warhawk Hall, 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna, VA 22181
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Braddock District, Little Run Elementary School Cafeteria, 4511 Olley Lane, Fairfax, VA 22032
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Lee District Association, Lee District Community Room, 6121 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Co Exec recommends Fairfax bicycle program cuts

The Fairfax County executive is recommending that all operating funds for the bicycle program will be cut:
Elimination of Operational Funding for the Bicycle Program $213,641—A previous FY 2010 reduction eliminated almost half of the annual program, allowing sufficient funds to meet the requirements of only the Tysons Corner area, therefore the FY 2011 reduction of $213,641 completely eliminates County operating support. As a result, there will be no funding for capital improvements and signage or bike maps and outreach materials. One position will remain to serve as the point of contact for bicycle-related issues, work on acquiring grant funding for bicycle programming, provide input on how to incorporate bicycles when planning capital roadway projects, and oversee approximately $5 million in commercial and industrial tax funds for bicycle-related improvements.
It's not clear whether the remaining position will be that of bicycle coordinator or as a staff person in one of the other programs. We're trying to find more info to pass on.

First Supervisor Cook states that bicycles are not a form of transportation, and now the bicycle program is being cut. It seems that the county executive agrees with Supervisor Cook, otherwise, why would he single out the bicycle program for elimination. The real question is what does the Board of Supervisors think.

Cyclists can sign up to speak at budget hearings to be held on April 6-8, although the April 6 date is full. FABB will speak on April 7. Individual supervisors will also hold community budget meetings and we'll put info about them on the FABB website. You can also submit comments online or contact your county supervisor. We'll provide more info shortly.

Update: Visit the WABA action center to write a letter to the Board of Supervisors.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fairfax secondary road funds decrease from $11M to $250K

Transportation funds in Fairfax County have just about disappeared. According to the Connection newspaper article Fairfax Out of Road Money, this year the county received $250,000 in secondary road funds compared to $11,000,000 received last year. $11M is about half what it received in years past. Nearly all roads in the county are considered secondary roads.
So the county's secondary road construction funding pool is expected to cover a wide range projects. New speed bumps, crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes, bus stops, no-parking signs, stop signs, interchanges and the widening of existing roads are just some of the types of transportation enhancements that are supposed to be funded out of this pot of money, now at $240,000.

The shortage of funds has resulted in several transportation projects being dropped or permanently put on hold.

Officials halted plans to widen parts of Rolling Road, Telegraph Road, Richmond Highway and Route 7 outside over the new few years. No money is available for interchange construction at Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Neuman Street, Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Interstate 95 or Franconia Road and South Van Dorn Street, according to Ichter.

"There are roads that have been included in the secondary program since 1986 and now there is no hope of getting them built in the short term," she said.

Lack of "secondary road" construction funding could also impact much of the plans to redevelop Tysons Corner and other parts of northern Fairfax County around the new Metrorail extension. According to Ichter, there will be no state money to expand the number of bus routes or increase service on existing bus lines, even if passengers at the new Metro stations demand it.

There will also be no state money available to assist with developing a grid of streets or installing more pedestrian and bicycle paths in Tysons Corner, where the county hopes to create a more urban landscape, said Ichter.
In a related article Fairfax Executive Suggests Dropping 'County', Tony Griffin, the Fairfax County Executive, "suggested yesterday that it might be time for his urbanizing community to become a full-fledged city."
Griffin told the Board of Supervisors that city status would allow Fairfax greater autonomy over taxes and transportation. But it would also turn the tables on the nearby capital city: With 1 million residents, a new Fairfax City would dwarf the District of Columbia, which has fewer than 600,000. (Set aside for a moment that the county already surrounds a smaller Fairfax City.)

"In reality, we do everything a city does aside from maintain the roads," Griffin said. "I think there are substantial arguments to be made for conversion."

Attaining city status, Griffin said, would require a referendum and approval by the state legislature.
The past and current Board chairmen disagree on the wisdom of this idea:
The county explored the possibility of taking over roads in 1990 but rejected it partly on concerns about cost to taxpayers. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), former chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said it would be unwise to revisit the issue during a recession.

"I think it would be a grave fiscal mistake at this time," Connolly said. "It will cost potentially hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Here's the county executive telling the board that there's another $300 [million] to $350 million hole in the projected budget. This is not the time to be talking about taking on new responsibilities."

But Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said it was worth another look. And she said perhaps it is time for Fairfax to lose the "county" label.

"Fifty, 60 years ago...we were one of the largest producers of dairy products," she said. "Now we are a mostly suburban community with some urbanizing areas. The city label more accurately describes what Fairfax is."

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Fairfax County drops aggressive driver report form

Due to budget cuts, Fairfax County has stopped collecting Aggressive Driver reports on the web. In the past we have frequently reported aggressive drivers using the form. If a motorist passes too close, yells at me, or otherwise harasses me in a non-life threatening manner, they got reported.

Today a motorist passed me on the left just before an intersection, then turned right directly in front of me. I had to make an evasive quick turn; otherwise I would have collided with the truck (it's a good think I took the LAB Road 1 course (now called Traffic Skills 101) not long ago and practiced that maneuver). I noticed the tag number and later tried to report the incident online. The link was broken.

When I reported the broken link I was told that because of budget cuts, the service is no longer provided. I can't imagine it cost much to collect the reports and send letters to owners of the vehicles, but there most have been some small cost that is no longer incurred. I was told that people who want to report aggressive drivers should either call 911 or call the non-emergency number, 703-691-2131. I called the non-emergency number and someone courteously took my information and said they would see what could be done.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rack n' Ride on Bike to Work Day

On Bike to Work Day this year, Friday, May 15, if you decide to use a Fairfax Connector bus as part of your bike commute, you can ride for free. The promotion is being sponsored by Fairfax County Department of Transportation and applies to all Fairfax Connector buses. From the County Bike to Work Day news release:
If a commute is too long or too challenging, riders are invited to "rack n’ ride"—load their bikes onto a Connector bus's bicycle rack that day—and ride for free. See information on how to use the front-mount bike racks.
Using the bus is a good way to overcome some of the major obstacles to bike commuting in the county. The best way to find out which bus to ride and when is the WMATA Trip Planner. Enter your origin, destination, and time of travel and it will provide info about available public transportation options. The promotion does not apply to Metro buses, only Fairfax Connector buses (Trip Planner includes Connector bus routes and schedules in their application).

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Fairfax County Board Chairman candidate positions

Fairfax County residents will select their new Chairman of the Board of Supervisors tomorrow, Tues., Feb. 3, to replace Congressman Gerry Connolly. When he was chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Congressman Connolly was a strong supporter of bicyclists. He initiated the Comprehensive Bicycle Initiative that provided funding for a full-time bike coordinator, the new bike map, and funds for bike lane pilot projects. We hope his replacement will be as supportive of bicycling as a viable mode of transportation.

We sent a questionnaire to the two major candidates for the Chairman seat, Supervisor Bulova and Supervisor Herrity. You can read Supervisor Bulova's responses from the 2007 Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Candidate Survey. We have not heard from Supervisor Herrity.

As you can see from the survey, Supervisor Bulova supports "bicycling as an alternate mode of transportation and will seek explicit funding for bicycle facilities (bike lanes, paved shoulders, wider outside lanes, bike parking, better enforcement of traffic laws protecting bicyclists, etc.)" She supports "sponsoring a motion that puts Fairfax County on a track to be recognized as a Bicycle-Friendly Community" and she supports "the creation of general plan for bicycle accommodations."

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Walk and Bike to School Day

Walk to School Day is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 8. Kids are encouraged to walk and bike to school on that day and many schools around the country sponsor events. Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna is holding an event that day as well as a Safe Routes To School Walk and Bike to School Challenge from October 8-17. During the challenge students participating in walking or biking to school will receive small prizes as encouragement.

One wonders why in a county of over 1 million people there is only one school participating in this program, despite Federal funds available through the Safe Routes to School program administered by VDOT. If you have children in Fairfax County schools, why not ask the school administration why they are not participating in the program and why more kids don't walk and bike to school.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fairfax County 2007 Transportation Bond

Fairfax County is asking voters for the authority to borrow money for the Transportation Bond on November 6. The county is proposing to borrow up to $110 million for transportation projects. $55 million will go toward roadway improvements, $16 million toward transit, $15 million toward pedestrian improvements. Included in the $7.75 million for spot improvement projects are on-road bike lanes on Gallows Rd. Find out more about the projects being funded by the bond.

Charlie Strunk, the county bicycle coordinator, has put together a list of improvements in the bond that will enhance bicycling in Fairfax County.


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