Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meeting with City of Fairfax Police

Members of FABB recently met with Fairfax City Police Chief Rick Rappoport and Sargent Pam Nevlud to discuss bicycling issues in the city. The City is developing a new web page, Cycling in the City, and we requested an opportunity to provide input. Rather than focusing on the dangers of cycling, we wanted more of an emphasis on education.

While many people think that bicycling is a very dangerous activity, when compared to other activities, it is relatively safe. It's safer than boating, swimming, and driving, and more dangerous than baseball and soccer. Most people receive almost no bicycle education, which would help reduce the number of crashes that do occur.

We hope to work with the City of Fairfax to possibly sponsor a bike rodeo for kids. Teaching kids how to drive their bikes at an early age will help everyone in the long run. Why wait until they are rebellious 15 and 16 year olds before teaching them basic traffic law and how to operate a vehicle in traffic. As John Allen notes in his article Bicyclist Education in Perspective:
By failing to teach our children at an early age, we give them the ten years between the ages of five and fifteen to develop bad habits which a few weeks of driver training at age 15 can not overturn, and which many carry with them for the rest of their lives. These bad attitudes apply between motorists, and they apply to the way motorists treat bicyclists and pedestrians. It is hard to regard bicyclists and pedestrians as equally important and legitimate participants in traffic if you have yourself never been taught any self-respecting or legitimate way to be a bicyclist or pedestrian.
As you can see from the photo above, the city still has a bike patrol and a fleet of police bicycles. That's Douglas Stewart of FABB and Sargent Nevlud in the photo.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

City of Fairfax Regional Library bike racks

We finally had a chance yesterday to visit the City of Fairfax Regional Library that opened in 2008. It's one of the best libraries in the county, with an open feel, lots of internet workstations, and plenty of places to just hang out. It's located in the center of the City of Fairfax and many people access it by bike.

We were pleased to see several bike racks very conveniently located near the entrance to the building. Unfortunately they were installed incorrectly. The racks are known as hitch, hoop, or post racks. Bikes should be parked parallel to the hoop so that there are two contact points and a U lock can be used. As you can see from the photo on the right (black racks), if parked correctly, the three racks shown could hold perhaps 2 bikes. They are oriented the wrong way and were installed too close to the wall.

It's not the first time bike racks have been installed incorrectly; in fact it happens often. A very similar example is located at the Southgate Community Center in Reston (left photo, red racks). These two situations are one result of not having county bicycle parking standards.

Most local jurisdictions do have standards and have information on their websites regarding recommended rack types and installation information. Arlington County also has some bad examples of bike parking, and the first photo shows a hoop rack improperly installed. See the FABB Cyclist Resources page for more bike parking links. We want more bike parking, but it needs to be the right type and it should be installed correctly.

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