Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fairfax not among CDC grant finalists

We are sad to report that Fairfax County did not receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control anti-obesity grant program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work. We had hoped there would be funds for the Bicycle Master Plan, which were included in the county grant application. The results were announced a while back; we were too depressed to mention it. No Virginia applications were accepted.

Applications that included bicycle projects were:
  • Boston Public Health Commission—Increased active transit through a new bike share program and implementation of Complete Streets policies.
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health—A citywide pedestrian and bike plan will be completed.
  • Miami-Dade County Health Department—The department plans to enhance signage for bike lanes, boulevards, and walkable neighborhoods to encourage physical activity such as biking and walking.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government—Creating an initiative to enhance infrastructure to support bicycling and walking.
  • Multnomah County Health Department, Oregon—To promote physical activity, CDPP will work to increase the proportion of bike, pedestrian, public transit, and other active transportation projects rather than road-widening and expansion projects.
  • Healthy Portland, Maine—Increasing physical activity opportunities and signage in walkable/mixed-use neighborhoods and public transportation (e.g., through bike lanes/boulevards).
Perhaps the CDC got wind of the anti-bicycling comments of some Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Portland Bicycle Master Plan approved

Not only was the new Portland Bicycle Master Plan unanimously approved recently by the City Council, Mayor Sam Adams, a cyclist, has committed $20 million over 10 years to kick start implementation. That money will come from their Green Streets program, used in part for implementing bicycle boulevards.

The plan has been in the works since 2007. Bike Portland has been covering the process since the beginning:
For anyone interested in going back down the road, browse the 66 articles of Bike Plan coverage in my archives dating back to February '07. From the rides Roger Geller led to gather public input, to the policies in the plan, to the infamous funding cut by Mayor Potter and much more.
We'll know on Feb. 26 whether Fairfax County receives funding for their Bicycle Master Plan. That's when the CDC will award funds to successful applications for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grants.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Possible funding for county Bicycle Master Plan

Fairfax County recently submitted an application for a grant from the Centers for Disease Control under the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to reduce obesity and tobacco use. Fairfax County decided to request funds for obesity reduction.

Programs will focus on prevention using a holistic approach: "Our common philosophy is based on the belief that preventing rather than solving problems improves the lives of children, youth, families and the entire community. We see children and youth in the context of their families, and we see families in the context of their neighborhoods and communities. Therefore, our systems approach to prevention includes strategies that build on the strengths of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities."

Prevention efforts will include programs to encourage better nutrition and increased physical activity. Bicycling is an obvious, lifelong physical activity that can solve many problems related to obesity. However, it's difficult to encourage more people to use bicycles for transportation without a well-planned, connected network of bicycle routes. Fairfax County does not have a bicycle master plan, which is the first step in creating a bicycle-friendly Fairfax. The Board of Supervisors agreed by endorsing the concept of a bicycle master plan at their October 5, 2009 Board meeting.

Recognizing this grant as an excellent opportunity to improve bicycling in Fairfax, the county is requesting funds for a countywide bicycle master plan as part of the CDC application.
The bicycle master plan for Fairfax will outline policy directives, goals, objectives, and recommendations to make bicycling an integral part of the multi-modal transportation system in the county. License plate information recently collected of parked automobiles at several park and ride lots and transit stations throughout the county indicated that over 40% of the vehicles at these facilities were registered to homes within two miles of the transit facility. If these trips were converted to bicycling and walking, significant improvements to the environment and personal health could be realized.

The bicycle master plan will build upon the existing countywide trails Plan (large PDF) and recently completed Fairfax Bicycle Route Map by identifying network deficiencies/opportunities, identifying connectivity barriers to park and ride lots and metro/transit stations, establishing standards for public and private developments, providing guidance on land use decisions in order to make bicycling an integral part of all new and redeveloped sites and defining actions that will encourage the use of bicycles for all trips less than three miles.
We are excited about the possibility of the county finally having funding to create the plan. This is the number one goal of FABB and it will be a milestone for the county bicycle community. Thanks to the county for included this component in the grant application. The anticipated award date is February 2010.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fairfax County Board supports bicycle master plan

At yesterday's Board of Supervisor's meeting Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay presented the following Board Matter:
Support for a Bicycle Master Plan for Fairfax County

Madam Chairman—Use of the bicycle as a mode of transportation in Fairfax County has grown in recent years. Reasons include the spike in gas prices, environmental and health concerns, and the desire for transportation choices. The opportunity for bicycling to have a significant impact in these areas can be seen in the simple fact that nearly 40% of all vehicle trips are less than 2 miles and could be taken by bicycle.

The County has taken important first steps in fostering bicycle transportation by installing bike racks on all Connector buses, creating the Fairfax County Bicycle Map which shows cyclists the best routes through our communities, and funding the position of bicycle coordinator. The next phase, as proven by other large jurisdictions around the country, is the creation of a bicycle master plan that would serve as a blueprint for integrating bicycling into our transportation infrastructure.

This blueprint for bicycle accommodations must include goals and objectives, analysis of the existing network, a prioritized list of needed improvements which includes bicycle parking and other end-of-trip facilities, and an implementation strategy. A Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan would build on the information in the Trails Plan and the County Bike Map and create a coordinated, simple strategy for the County.

Therefore I move that the Board endorse the concept only at this stage of a bicycle master plan. I fully understand the county's current fiscal situation and therefore ask that the Department of Transportation staff investigate the cost of such a plan and provide a longer term recommendation to the Board for the possible funding and development of a plan.
This is a major first step toward development of a bicycle master plan for the county, the number one goal of FABB. As mentioned in the Board Matter, the plan would include a comprehensive assessment of current bicycling conditions in the county and development of a prioritized list of on-road and off-road bicycle projects, with specific goals for the future, something that is missing in the current Trails Plan. Recommendations for development of other bicycle infrastructure would also be included.

Thanks to Supervisor McKay and the Board for their support for a bicycle master plan. The next step will be to find funding for the plan and FABB is looking at several options.

[Update 6Oct09: Post article references Board action, Fairfax Co. Tackles Bond Sale, Bicycle Plan, Other Business.] According to the article, Supervisor Herrity has reservations about providing bike facilities:
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) asked for a county estimate on the number of average daily bicyclers, saying that the additional 40 feet of horizontal right-of-way needed on some paved roads for bicycle lanes was a "pretty expensive investment."

"In an era of precious few resources, we need to spend them in the way that gives us the most benefit," Herrity said.
I don't know where he came up with the 40 foot right-of-way figure. Adding 3 feet to a 12 foot lane for a wide curb lane or 5 feet for bike lanes would only add a total of 6 or 10 feet of right-of-way to a road. In Reston, on Lawyers Road, no right-of-way was needed for the bike lanes created by reducing the road from 4 to 2 lanes with bike lanes.

Even with 5-foot bike lanes and a 10 foot multi-use trail added to a road project, we're talking about 24-26 additional feet maximum. We plan to contact Supervisory Herrity's office to clarify his position. After all, he is known to ride his bike to work and he did support bike facilities on Rolling Road when we met with him in June 2008.

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