Friday, August 14, 2009

Gallows Road bike lanes almost completed

August is turning out to be bike lane month in Fairfax County. Not only was Lawyers Road recently repaved and restriped with bike lanes, but Gallows Road now has wide curb lanes with bike lanes soon to be striped, for a short stretch from Cottage St to the W&OD Trail. Because of width limitations, from the Trail to Idylwood Rd there will be a wide curb lane.

You can just make out the old lane strip in the photo. The bike lanes have not yet been striped nor are there bicycle symbols, but the wide curb lane is already a vast improvement over the former road profile. The second phase, from Idylwood Rd to Old Courthouse Rd is not scheduled for another year or so. More work is required to make room for the bike lanes and so the process is much longer. Read more about the Gallows Rd project.

It's surprising that the bike lanes couldn't be extended almost to Idylwood. The center "turn lane" from the Trail to Idylwood is an unused lane. There are no places to turn in either direction and the lane is not needed. There's plenty of asphalt for creating a bike lane there. The second photo is looking from Idylwood toward the Trail. As an aside, that utility cover looks a bit intimidating and we hope it is filled in. It's located right where a cyclist would be riding in the wide curb lane. I wouldn't want to hit it at night on a bike.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Gallows and Lawyers Road bike lane meetings

Two bike lane-related meetings were held this week. VDOT will be repaving Gallows Road from the Dunn Loring Metro station north to Old Courthouse Road in Tysons. Fairfax County has requested that bike lanes be added when the road is restriped. Money has been available for many years.

The Gallows Road meeting on Tuesday was a chance for the community to hear about the proposal, see the plans, and comment on the project. About 25 people attended the meeting hosted by Supervisor Smyth, who introduced the VDOT and Fairfax County DOT team who presented the plans. The first phase of the project will consist of bike lanes from just north of the I-66 bridge to Idylwood Drive. There will be a short section of wide curb lanes between the W&OD Trail and Idylwood. Construction is expected to occur this summer.

The second phase will include bike lanes and wide curb lanes from Idylwood to Old Courthouse. This phase involves more extensive median and pavement work and will not happen until 2010. VDOT presented details of the project at an earlier FABB meeting.

Several bicyclists spoke out in favor of the project. FABB supports the project and sent a letter of support to VDOT earlier in the year. A representative from an adjacent homeowners association submitted a list of comments. Most comments were positive and we look forward to the completion of the first phase later this year.

The Lawyers Road bike lane meeting was more contentious. VDOT proposes to reduce the travel lanes from 4 to 3 lanes with 5-foot bike lanes and a center turn lane between Fox Mill Rd and Myrtle Lane, about 2 miles in length. See notes from the first Lawyers Road meeting. While the majority of attendees supported the project, a few people were strongly opposed. One person started off on the wrong foot by joking about getting points for hitting a cyclist; sorry, that's not a laughing matter.

Most of the concerns were based on a belief that a road can't be reduced from 4 to 2 travel lanes and still function properly. Randy Dittberner of VDOT was very good about explaining the benefits, related to slower speeds and fewer crashes. It's hard to argue against a road plan that will potentially reduce crashes by 20% and have almost no reduction in travel times. And by the way, will create the first ever bike lanes in Reston.

This could be one of the first road diets in Northern Virginia and could be looked upon in the future as a starting point for many more to come if it works. Road diets are not uncommon. According to the Wikipedia entry on road diets, "There are perhaps over 20,000 road diets in the United States, with another 500-1,000 being conducted each year." Dan Burden, a nationally known ped/bike advocate, has written a good article on road diets.

If you haven't written to Mr. Dittberner or Supervisor Hudgins about the project, please do. Just a few words of support helps. Many cyclists use the route for commuting to work or to reach the nearby Fox Mill Shopping Center and the new paved trail on Reston Parkway. Many participants in the Reston Triathlon train on this section which is part of the official triathlon bike course. The Reston Bike Club uses this section as well. It's time for a dedicated bike facility for cyclists in Reston.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Progress on Gallows Road bike lanes

At last night's FABB meeting representatives from VDOT and Fairfax Co DOT discussed plans for bike lanes on Gallows Road. The road is currently used by many bicyclists traveling between the Merrifield/Dunn Loring Metro Station area, the W&OD Trail, and Tysons Corner.

The project will be done in two phases. Phase I is planned for September 2009 and will be done in conjunction with re-striping of the section of road between Stenhouse Place (just north of the Dunn Loring Metro Station) and Idylwood Road (just north of the W&OD Trail). The second phase, between Idylwood Road and Old Courthouse Road in Tysons, will require several changes to the road and will take much longer, from April 2009 to April 2011.

The sections of these two phases are shown above (green is Phase I, orange is Phase II) and on this map of the proposed bike lanes. In some sections where there is not enough road width, the bike lanes will become wide curb lanes with Share the Road signs. We hope that by the time Phase II is built that shared lane markings, or sharrows, will be approved for use.

This project has been in the works for a long time. Money was available for several years and the county and VDOT have finally been able to work out solutions to the many problems involved. We're excited about the progress and look forward to riding on the first section this Fall.

As with most bike projects, it's not perfect. We would prefer that the entire section be either bike lanes or wide curb lanes, not both. Also, just south of the project across the I-66 bridge is the Dunn Loring Metro Station. The bridge is too narrow for a bike facility and there are no plans to widen the bridge in the near future. There is a paved multiuse trail on the west side.

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