Friday, April 9, 2010

Another improperly installed bike rack

I needed to ride to the county courthouse yesterday. It was a beautiful day and a nice ride from Reston to Fairfax City. When I arrived I didn't notice the rack in front of the main entrance, so I parked near the front door. As I was leaving I noticed the rack on the right.

I'm not fond of the wave rack since there's only one contact point with the bike compared to the U rack, which is the standard in most places. Bikes are supposed to be parked perpendicular to the rack. As you can see, when used properly bikes end up in the flower bed. What many people do is park parallel to the rack, which turns a 5-bike rack into a 1- or 2-bike rack. In this case, the 10-bike rack becomes a 2-bike rack.

Why is it so common to see improperly installed bike racks? One reason is that Fairfax County has no bike parking guidelines. In November of 2007, nearly two and a half years ago, Supervisor Smyth
moved that the Board direct staff to investigate and report within three months how other jurisdictions are addressing these issues and develop specific standards for the County to use as part of the land development process, and to further examine how these standards could best be introduced whether through adoption of a Board Policy, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, or incorporation into the Public Facilities Manual.
The guidelines are still under development. We continue to ask about the status but have never seen draft guidelines although we've been assured they are due any day now.

Staff do work with new developments to request racks and provide guidance regarding placement, but almost every new rack that I've seen in the past couple of years is incorrectly placed and of the wrong type. The county bike program needs more resources for this type of work, and yet the county executive has proposed cutting all operating funds from the program.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Green inverted-U racks in Vienna

The Town of Vienna recently received a number of green inverted U racks that were provided by the Fairfax County bike program. The racks were purchased with CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) funds and there are several other locations around the county where they will be installed.

There is a critical need for more and better bike parking in the county. Lack of bike parking is a major factor in preventing people from biking. During the past year I've had meetings at several county offices, and most don't have visitor bike parking. The locations include the county Health Department headquarters at 10777 Main Street, Fairfax, the Department of Transportation headquarters offices at 4050 Legato Road, and Fairfax County Public School headquarters offices at 8115 Gatehouse Road.

At places where there is bike parking, racks are often incorrectly installed, like those at the City of Fairfax library and Vienna Community Center. While we're thrilled to see new racks in Vienna, from looking at the photo it appears the rack was installed incorrectly [see Update below]. There should be 36" on the curb side to allow a second bike to be parked (according to Arlington Co specs).

The sooner Fairfax has bike parking guidelines, the better off we will all be.

Thanks to John Brunow of bikes@vienna for the photo and for working with Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator, to help get the racks for the Town.

[Update Jan 1, 2010] We had a chance today to see the new green racks in Vienna, and from this photo, you can see that the rack is installed correctly. The concrete to the left of the rack in this picture is not the curb but part of the sidewalk, which extends to the edge of the snow. Other new racks along Maple Ave were also installed correctly. We should have verified our earlier assumption by checking out the rack ourselves. Our apologies to the Town.]

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Monday, July 6, 2009

New bike racks in Vienna

Thanks to John Brunow and the Rotary Club of Vienna, there are several attractive new bike racks scattered around town. They are in the shape of a bicycle, with the words Rotary International embedded into the front wheel. John worked with the Rotary and the Town of Vienna to purchase the racks and their determine locations. I've also seen one adjacent to the Patrick Henry Library on Maple Street.

John is also responsible for the nice inverted U-racks on the Vienna Town Green which is adjacent to the W&OD Trail, and as you can see from the photo on the left, got a lot of use during ViVa! Vienna! (which is also sponsored by the Rotary Club of Vienna).

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