Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Board of Supervisors Budget Hearings today

We're signed up to speak before the Board of Supervisors today to request that funding for the bicycle program be restored. After the WABA alert about the proposed budget cuts, hundreds of cyclists emailed Board members asking them not to cut operating funds from the bicycle program. This is an opportunity to speak to the Board directly to reinforce that message.

The hearings begin at 3 p.m. and we are listed as speaker number 38. Allowing about 4 minutes for each speaker, we'll likely speak at around 5:30 p.m. It looks like it will be another beautiful day for a bike ride; we plan to ride to the Government Center from Reston at around 4 p.m. It would be great if other cyclists could show up in silent support of our testimony (we'd hoped to get the word out earlier but...)

Our main point will be that "we understand that most programs will receive reduced funding this year. Singling out the bicycle program for a 100% cut in operating funds, on top of having cut over $100K from the program last year, sends the wrong message to county residents. When most local jurisdictions are expanding their bicycle programs, we should be too."

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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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Monday, March 1, 2010

Response to funding cuts from Supervisor McKay

Lee District Supervisor McKay is a cyclist who has supported bicycling in Fairfax by sponsoring the Tour de Lee, encouraging kids to walk and bike to school, and offering a motion for the Board of Supervisors to endorse the concept of the Bicycle Master Plan, which was passed unanimously by the Board. Below is his response to letters requesting that funds be restored to the bike program.

He notes that there will be funds from the Commercial & Industrial tax administered by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and passed to the county for funding transportation projects, including bike projects. He also notes that the bike coordinator position will remain. However, there will be no operating funds for the program to support activities like Bike to Work Day or to fund the countywide bicycle master plan. It will be difficult to have an effective bike program without those funds, which the county executive says will be permanently cut.

Supervisor McKay's response:
Thank you for letting me know your concerns about the future of the
County's bicycle program in light of the funding cuts in the County
Executive's proposed FY2011 budget.

As a longtime cyclist myself, I hate to see any cutbacks that would slow
the progress we've made in bicycle and pedestrian initiatives. I
believe the County Executive's proposed budget recognizes the Board's
commitment to bicycling as a transportation alternative and makes the
best of a difficult financial situation. While he proposes to remove
$213,641 in operational funding, he retains the staff position
associated with the program.

The staff person will continue to serve as the point of contact for
bicycle related issues, work on acquiring grant funding for bicycle
programming, provide input on incorporating bicycles into capital
roadway projects, and oversee the $5 million or so in commercial and
industrial (C&I) tax funds for bicycle-related improvements.

Given our severe budget situation, I believe that this is prudent. We
are keeping the infrastructure, institutional knowledge, and staff so
that once we come out of this economic slump we will be able to relaunch
our full bicycle initiative.

Jeffrey C. McKay
Lee District Supervisor

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Friday, February 26, 2010

WABA Alert: Save funding for Fairfax bicycle program

As we noted earlier, the Fairfax County executive is recommending permanently cutting all funding for the county bicycle program. I don't think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that bicycling is under attack in the county. Braddock District Supervisor Cook recently said "the bicycle is not a transportation device," and Springfield District Supervisor Herrity recommended elimination of the Bicycle Coordinator position. Now the county wants to cut all funding from the bike program.

Today WABA is sending out an alert to all area cyclists to encourage them to write to the Fairfax County Board to ask that funding be restored to the bicycle program. If you visit the WABA action center, you can send a message to the entire Board opposing the proposed cuts. Rather than cutting the program, we should be encouraging more people to go by bike.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

House Republicans want to cut Safe Routes to School Program

Once again Republicans in Congress are speaking out against spending funds for bike and pedestrian projects. Not only do they want to kill the Safe Routes to School Program, which has been successful in encouraging thousands of kids to bike and walk to school, but they also want to get ride of the main source of bike and ped funding, Transportation Enhancements:
Rather than proposing, for example, the elimination of the Education Department, as they have in the past, Republicans are suggesting killing a program that pays for building sidewalks, bike paths and crossing guards as part of the Safe Routes to Schools program. That would save $183 million a year.

Other proposals include: Saving $833 million a year by eliminating federally funded transportation "enhancements" like landscaping, preservation of historic facilities, and pedestrian and bike facilities.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bicycle Program funds cut from final Fairfax budget

Despite pleas from cyclists, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors went ahead with the proposed $170,456 cut to the Bicycle Program, a reduction of 45% from their budget. Prior to the final decision, the Board modified the proposed budget cuts but did not restore funding for the bike program. Instead, they decided reject the proposal to add $825,848 to the budget by charging for parking at certain county parks. The final budget was approved by the entire Board.

The funds cut from the bicycle program would have gone toward implementing the comprehensive bicycle initiative spearheaded by the former Chairman of the Board, Gerry Connolly. This included "establishing a pilot program for an interconnected bicycling network."

This means that at a time when more people are using bicycles for transportation, there will be less money for bike lanes, a bike master plan, bike lockers and racks at transit centers, and a lack of funds for the many other needed bike improvements. According to Department of Transportation staff, "Further field work on the Bicycle Route Map will be eliminated and only one reprinting will be funded, while bicycle lockers and outreach materials/expenses will be minimally funded."

At the same time, the Board decided NOT to implement parking fees at certain county parks, as recommended by the County Executive that could have raised over $800,000. We think this is the wrong decision and sends the wrong message to county residents. While we understand that these are very difficult financial times, we think cutting the bicycle program is not appropriate.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Proposed cuts to the Fairfax Bicycle Program

The Fairfax County Executive is proposing to cut the Bicycle Program operating budget by 45 percent or $170,456 (pdf, page 121). This is money that was supposed to go toward several bicycle pilot projects that would create bicycle facilities in targeted areas.

With the Comprehensive Bicycle Initiative passed in 2006, the county has made progress in providing funding for bicycle activities; now is not the time to cut what little funding is available, especially now that more people are being encouraged to use alternative forms of transportation.

Please write to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to ask them not to cut the bicycle program. Write to the entire Board or individual Board members. Below is text from a message FABB recently sent to the Board:
I am very concerned about the proposed reduction of $170,456 from the Bicycle Program budget, "001-40-137 Reduce Operating Expenses for Bicycle Program". At a time when Fairfax County is trying to reduce their carbon footprint and give transportation options to all of their citizens, these proposed cuts are very short-sighted. For many years the county had no bicycle program and almost no funds were dedicated to bicycle facilities.

The Comprehensive Bicycle Initiative that was begun in 2006 was a good start. The bicycle community is thankful for the recent accomplishments of the bicycle program. However, the momentum that is building for bicycling in the county will be greatly affected by the proposed budget cuts.

I urge you not to make the proposed cuts to the fledgling bicycle program. We should be spending more funds on providing safe facilities for bicyclists, funds that were not available for these facilities in the past.


Bruce Wright
Chairman, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling

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