Wednesday, March 3, 2010
 

Supervisor Cook responds

We just received this message in response to our letter to Supervisor Cook. It's encouraging to see he believes in bicycling as a mode of transportation, despite his earlier comments. He even thinks that "Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life." Unfortunately he doesn't think they are a very high priority, even near Metro stations, since so few people currently go by bike.

We agree that the number of people who commute to work by bike in Fairfax County is relatively small, but commuting trips comprise only about 20% of all trips. As Supervisor Hudgins states in Region Forward 2050, "'We know that trips are taken for more than just going to and from work,' said Catherine Hudgins, Fairfax County Supervisor. 'People need transportation options for their everyday needs.'" According to that same report, 9% of DC area commuters go by foot or bike. Forty percent of all trips made are 2 miles or less and many could easily be taken by bike if we had better facilities.

Here is Supervisor Cook's response:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding my comments at the recent Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' Transportation Committee meeting. I want to assure you that I am not opposed to cycling or to using bicycles as a mode of transportation for either recreation or commuting. To be clear, I support bicycling for both of these uses. In fact, my family owns several bicycles.

However, I do believe that the county needs to carefully consider its priorities for the use of limited transportation funding. According to the Washington Area Council of Governments, only 0.7% of D.C. area commuters bike to work even once a week, most of them residing outside of Fairfax County.

At the meeting where my comments were made, the Board was receiving a briefing on a study by the Reston Metrorail Access Group. That study was recommending $27.4 million for 33 pedestrian/bike improvements, including $12.7 million for projects associated with the Whiele Avenue Station on the Dulles Rail line. The Board had also just been briefed on a $15.6 million reduction in anticipated revenues from its locally imposed Commercial and Industrial Tax, which is the primary source of county funds for Transportation projects (most transportation projects are funded by the state, but that funding has been reduced significantly over the last couple of years). We do not have the funds to accomplish all our transportation goals. My comments were in the spirit of setting priorities for how to spend the shrinking available funding for a growing list of projects. Reasonable individuals may always disagree on how to spend limited public resources.

Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life. I believe we should continue to build and maintain bike trails and create on-road bike lanes. However, we need to carefully weigh the costs of these investments in light of difficult fiscal realities and determine their appropriate priority along with other transportation projects.

Thank you for reaching out and please keep in touch.

Best regards,

John C. Cook
Braddock District Supervisor
We have scheduled a meeting with the supervisor to discuss the importance of a transportation system that serves everyone.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009
 

Road lobby hates Region Forward 2050

See the excellent post at Greater Greater Washington entitled Plan for bikes, peds, transit as well as cars? Heresy! to read about why it is important to weigh in on the MWCOG report on the future of the region, Region Forward 2050 (also known as the Greater Washington 2050 report). The road lobby is aghast that MWCOG would have the audacity to suggest the DC regional grow smarter, with more public transit, with compact development where residents can easily walk and bike.

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and AAA Mid-Atlantic are fighting those recommendations because it doesn't support their vision of more and wider roads covering the region. It's important that the rest of us provide comments supporting the MWCOG vision for the future.

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Monday, November 23, 2009
 

Region Forward 2050 Comments

If you haven't made comments on the Region Forward 2050 report, the deadline is November 30. The report contains many goals that will advance the use of bicycles for transportation in the future, and the report needs your support. Provide comments online. We made the following comments:
We strongly support the goal to "Increase the share of walk, bike, and transit trips." As noted in the report, "Walking & biking account for 9% of all trips in the region." In places like Fairfax County that number is much lower and there needs to be a concerted effort to increase that mode share by providing better, safer bicycle and pedestrian facilities. This should include providing funding commensurate with the desired more share.

We also support the goal of concentrated development in Regional Activity Centers. Dense development around transit will allow residents to access services, work, and recreation locations more easily by using bicycles and walking.

The goal to "Increase the rate of construction of bike and pedestrian facilities from the Transportation Planning Board's plan" is worthy but not nearly enough. That plan is much too general; many more facilities are needed. The region needs a more up-to-date and comprehensive plan for development of bicycle facilities. These should include on-road bicycle routes that are safer and provide more direct access than trails. While both are needed, on-road access can be provided sooner and more cost-effectively than building trails.

Bicycle support infrastructure is needed to support an increase in bicycling. End-of-trip facilities such as covered, secure long- and short-term parking and changing and shower facilities are needed in the Regional Centers.

There needs to be better transit/bicycle connectivity. Bicycles should be allowed on all transit systems. There should be adequate bicycle parking at all major transit stations. We strongly support the notion that bike sharing stations will facilitate taking short neighborhood trips by bicycle.
See our earlier blog entry about the report.

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Friday, November 20, 2009
 

Region Forward 2050

Subtitled Greater Washington 2050: COG's Vision for the National Capital Region in the Twenty-First Century, Region Forward 2050 contains goals for future development of the Metro area, including
  • Increase the rate of construction of bike and pedestrian facilities from the Transportation Planning Board's plan
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita
  • Increase the share of walk, bike, and transit trips
To encourage implementation of these goals, regional leaders will sign the Greater Washington 2050 Compact, which is Appendix B of the report:
The Compact is the first agreement on a comprehensive vision for the National Capital Region and will serve as a guide to help regional leaders make decisions and create a framework for future policy.
You can comment on the report online. The deadline is November 30.

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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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