Sunday, August 9, 2009

New bike lanes in Reston

The planned road diet on Lawyers Road is finally a reality. The road was recently repaved and converted from a dangerous four-lane road with fast traffic to a three-lane road with five foot bike lanes. The bike symbols are not yet painted in the bike lanes but they should be in place soon. The road is a much different road than before the restriping.

Traffic was flowing well today as I rode up and down the approximately two mile stretch of new bike lanes from Reston Parkway to Myrtle Lane. The lanes end at Myrtle, just before the older, narrow two-lane section. Most cyclists headed east will turn left on Soapstone Dr to head to Glade Dr instead of continuing on Lawyers.

Traffic was much calmer than before the new bike lanes were striped. Instead of having the fastest motorists setting the pace in one of the two 45 mph lanes in each direction, the slowest cars now set the pace in the single through lane. Those who will dislike the results are the fastest motorists, the ones who likely cause the most crashes.

After riding along Lawyers for a while I turned south on Myrtle Lane to explore the roads south of Lawyers. The new bike-friendly Lawyers is a revelation; there is so much more territory to explore safely by bike now. I turned onto Running Cedar Rd, back to Soapstone, then to Foxclove Rd. I had forgotten that Foxclove continues south to Stuart Mill Rd with a jog past a chain across the road where motorists are not allowed to pass. One can take Stuart Mill Rd left to head to Birdfoot Ln and back to Lawyers Rd; a route often used by the Reston Bike Club.

Other options are to head west on Lawyers to Reston Parkway and the Reston South Park and Ride lot, Fox Mill Shopping Center, and the sidepath along West Ox Road that heads south to Route 50 and the Fair Oaks area.

I encourage everyone to check out the new, traffic-calmed Lawyers Rd and the new bike lanes. While it's a relatively short stretch of road, it could be a sign of things to come. There are many mean streets like Lawyers that could be tamed by adding bike lanes. While all lanes are bike lanes, some are better than others.

Update: There is one problem with the new lane configuration; the speed limit is still 45 mph. We think it should be reduced to 35 mph, which is likely the new 85 percentile speed. Traffic will move slower and safer, and a new speed limit would be a recognition of that reality.

There also need to be turn arrows for left turning vehicles at Steeplechase and Soapstone. Both of these changes can be made relatively easily in the future.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post covers Lawyers Road bike lanes

While we were out of town riding GRABAAWR (the Great Annual Bicycle Adventure Along the Wisconsin River) Dr. Gridlock wrote about the creation of bike lanes on Lawyers Road, Northern Virginia Getting 'Road Diet'. As we've discussed before, the plan is to turn the four lanes just east of Reston Parkway into two travel lanes, a center turn lane, and bike lanes:
When drivers first see such redesigns, "win-win" is not the first thing on their minds. It's more like, "Where did my road go?" And they often say that the narrower road looks more dangerous to them. That's what happened on Arcola Avenue and on the uppermost portion of Connecticut Avenue just after Montgomery County slimmed down the roads to improve safety.

Drivers get used to it. The technique of road narrowing has been used thousands of times across the country in various ways to protect drivers from each other or to protect pedestrians from drivers.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reston Association Board supports Lawyers Road bike lanes

At tonight's meeting of the Reston Association Board, they voted 8-1 in support of the restriping of Lawyers Road to change the profile from 2 lanes in each direction with no shoulder or left turn lanes to 1 lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and 5-foot bike lanes (know as a "road diet"). The Board chairman noted that many cyclists had contacted Board members to explain their support for the project. We read a statement of support and two other cyclists who live in Reston spoke out very effectively in favor of the project.

Not only did the RA Board support the project, they requested that VDOT consider lowering the speed from 45 mph to 35 mph after the restriping, which should help make the road safer. Thanks to everyone who wrote to the Board supporting the project. The restriping should begin in the near future.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lawyers Road bike lane discussion

The Hunter Mill Transportation Advisory Committee met yesterday to discuss various transportation projects in the Hunter Mill District. Among the projects discussed was the Lawyers Road resurfacing project scheduled to start soon. See our summary of the first and second public meetings on the project.

A few vocal opponents are trying to stop the project. They have attended the public meetings and spoken out against the bike lanes using arguments we've heard in the past: there are plenty of alternatives (winding paths through the woods, parallel roads that lead to different destinations) it's too dangerous (yes, without the bike lanes it can be dangerous. With them cars will go slower and there should be fewer crashes), and there will be too much congestion (estimated delay times are 1-3 seconds at intersections).

The Reston Association Transportation Advisory Committee, one of whose members joked about getting points for hitting cyclists, recently voted to oppose the project. The committee "advises the Board of Directors on transportation issues as they relate to promoting the peace, health, comfort, safety and general welfare of the Association’s Members." We think this project does just that. The full Reston Association Board will meet on Thursday May 28 and will likely take a position on the project. Milton Matthews, CEO of the Reston Association, said that the Board is not necessarily opposed to the project but they want more information.

Randy Dittberner of VDOT noted that comments VDOT has received about the project are 3-1 in favor of redesigning the road to make it safer for motorists and bicyclists. VDOT also noted that since Federal funds are involved, it's their responsibility to address any safety issues during the design of the project.

We're asking anyone who can attend the May 28 Reston Association Board of Supervisors Meeting to speak out in support of the project. The meeting is from 7-10pm at the Reston Association offices, 1930 Isaac Newton Square, Reston, VA. You can also ask RA President Robin Smyers to support the project when you see her at Bike to Work Day tomorrow at the Reston Town Center Pavilion.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lawyers Road bike lane letter to the editor

In response to an earlier article about the latest Lawyers Road bike lane meeting in the Reston Observer, we submitted a letter to the editor that was recently published entitled Lawyers Plan is Good for Drivers, Riders:
It would be difficult to argue against a project that could reduce crashes by 20 percent, slow traffic, and provide bike lanes. Many bicyclists use this road for commuting and recreation. Participants in the Reston Triathlon often train on this section, which is part of the official triathlon bike course.

VDOT has proposed an excellent solution to dangerous conditions on Lawyers Road that should be widely supported by the community. In fact, I would be concerned if VDOT didn't take advantage of this opportunity to improve the safety of the road.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

News article on Lawyers Road bike lanes

As we noted earlier, VDOT recently held a meeting to discuss a proposal to restripe Lawyers Rd from 4 to 3 lanes. A few people who attended the meeting were opposed to the plan. Try to follow the reasoning of one of those opponents. Because there are many blind spots (that will be reduced with the project), and the road is very dangerous (VDOT says that a crash reduction of 20% is possible with the project and traffic will be slowed), VDOT should not implement the project.

According to an article in the Reston Observer, VDOT Considers Lane Changes to Lawyers Rd., this person (who earlier in the meeting made a joke about getting points for hitting a cyclist):
is concerned that the bike lanes would result in more cyclists and cause further danger. He said cyclists could choose to use the pathways that are located throughout the area. However many cyclists who attended the meeting were in favor of the plan.
The cyclists are in favor because there are no pathways along Lawyers Rd. There is a nice path that meanders along the stream valley nearby, but it is not appropriate for most bicycle trips. The majority of the people who attended the meeting were in favor of the project including a couple who live adjacent to the road:
Others at the meeting thought the plan could make driving on Lawyers Road safer. One homeowner said in the four years she has lived off the road there have been multiple times where she has had to clean accident debris from her back yard.

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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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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lawyers Road bike lane meeting tonight

VDOT is proposing to restripe Layers Road from 4 to 3 lanes with 5-foot bike lanes (or paved shoulders) between Fox Mill Rd and Myrtle Lane in Reston. They are holding a public meeting tonight, March 4 from 7-9:00 p.m. at Langston Hughes Middle School, 11401 Ridge Heights Road, Reston (map). Cyclists are encouraged to attend the meeting and speak our in support of the proposed bike lanes. See the bike lanes flier. If you cannot attend and wish to send comments, send them to the Hunter Mill District office with the Subject: "Lawyers Road bike lanes".

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