Thursday, January 7, 2010

State of the County - Transportation

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova recently gave her annual State of the County address. With the continuing economic downturn, the county expects "a projected shortfall for Fiscal Year 2011 of $316 million dollars. Schools—which make up 53.8% of the County's Budget—project a shortfall of $176 million."

She also discussed the Board's recently adopted Goals and Priorities. We're pleased to see bicycling listed first:
No. 6—Efficient Transportation Network. Fairfax County makes it a priority to connect People and Places. We will continue to plan for and invest in transportation improvements to include comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian initiatives, bus and para transit, road and intersection improvements and expansion of Metrorail and VRE.


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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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