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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Friday, May 8, 2009

Citizens of bike-friendly communities most satisfied

In a survey recently commissioned by Greater Washington 2050, area citizens were asked: "In general, how would you rate the Washington region as a place to live? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?" The highest rankings went to the only bike-friendly communities in this area, Arlington (97% Excellent or Good), Alexandria (91%), and D.C. (86%). The community with the highest satisfaction ranking, Arlington, also has the highest bike-friendly ranking (Silver).

It should be no surprise that people want options for getting around their communities. Bike-friendly communities are more likely to provide those choices. Bike facilities are not expensive when compared to mega-road projects. It's not a matter of spending more on transportation, it's a matter of spending smarter, putting funds where they make the most difference. We obviously need some road improvements, but those roads should be bike-friendly, complete streets.

For Fairfax County to be more competitive in the future, we need better, more mature transportation choices. As more people have options regarding how and where they work, they will have more flexibility in deciding where to live. Bikeable, walkable communities with a good quality of life will be much more attractive than spread-out communities having wide, high speed roads to move cars.

See the full results of the report: Priorities for a Growing Region: A Comprehensive Survey of Residents Conducted for the Greater Washington 2050 Coalition

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