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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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

MWCOG Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee meeting

We attended the September 15 meeting of the MWCOG bike ped subcommittee. Toole Design gave an overview of current work on the Metro Station Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements Study. They are in the process of organizing stations by various characteristics into typologies. The Vienna Station is in the "Mixed-Use in a 'Pod' Layout". Toole will then further refine the typologies by conducting stakeholder meetings and field work. Recommendations for each typology will then be developed.

A Bikestation rep discussed their module parking system, an enclosed bike parking station with keyed access that installs in a day on a concrete pad with electrical access. Security concerns are reduced with the large windows. The module appears to be very competitive with individual bike lockers, allowing more bikes to parked on a smaller footprint. Bikestation helped develop the Union Station Bike-Transit Facility that is scheduled to open on Friday, Oct. 2 according to DDOT.

Maryland is conducting a study of school district policies on walking and biking to determine why some schools prohibit biking and walking to school. Toole Design will conduct the study. See the Maryland Bike Ped Advisory Committee June minutes for a few more details.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Project Database is being updated. The database has not been updated in many years. Local jurisdictions can now edit the database. Here is the list of projects in Fairfax County. We could find no on-road projects such as bike lanes, wide curb lanes or paved shoulders. Arlington County's list has a single line that could accomplish a great deal in Fairfax County, "Add bike lanes Countywide." We will suggest that Fairfax County modify this a bit "Add wide curb lanes, bike lanes, and paved shoulders Countywide."

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Friday, April 3, 2009

2007/2008 Regional Household Travel Survey released

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recently released the results of a survey of 11,000 households (pdf) in the Washington metro region to gather updated information on area-wide travel patterns. As the Commuter Page Blog pointed out, the percentage of people who walked or bike doubled in both Arlington County (3.8% to 7.6%) and the City of Alexandria (4.5% to 9.0%). There was no change in Fairfax County (1.7%). In both Arlington and Alexandria the percentage of people driving decreased while in Fairfax it increased from 77% to 79%.

What do Arlington and Alexandria have in common? They are relatively densely populated areas with a dense street network, often consisting of a grid of streets. Both jurisdictions have invested heavily in creating bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities.

Fairfax County on the other hand has a different street network. As we noted earlier, Fairfax is cul-de-sac heaven, with few connecting streets and a population that is relatively spread out. Even so, from my observations, many more people are commuting by bike in Fairfax than in the past, and many more want to do so. The survey was conducted between January 2007 and March 2008, just before the price of gas spiked to nearly $4/gallon. From March to October, when the price of gas dropped to below $3/gallon, many people started using bikes for transportation.

With very few bike facilities available in Fairfax, it shouldn't be any surprise that few people travel by bike. If given a choice, we think many more people would use bikes for transportation. Now is the time to provide that choice.

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