Saturday, December 19, 2009

NVTA bashes bicycles once again

The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (NVTA) claims to be "the only organization focused exclusively on working to make better transportation a reality for Northern Virginia citizens and businesses." However, according to NVTA, using a bicycle to get to work, to shop, or otherwise get around doesn't qualify as transportation.

In an earlier post we noted their disparaging comments about funding for bike sharing in DC. In their most recent alert entitled Pedal Power: Is Beijing's Past Washington's Future?, NVTA criticizes MWCOG for wanting to build bicycle facilities to reduce congestion in the region as part of their vision for 2050.

The alert references a recent Post article on the decline of the use of bicycles in China, stating that the only reason the Chinese used bikes was because they couldn't afford a car. The alert ends by stating: "Let's Promote Bicycling as a Quality of Life Benefit. Let's Also Recognize that Absent a Major Economic Implosion, it is Unlikely to Reduce Congestion."

What NVTA didn't mention was that the Post article went on to state that the Chinese are learning about the many downsides to relying too heavily on cars:
"some commuters are realizing that owning a car may bring a certain prestige as a sign of affluence but also comes with gasoline prices, parking fees, the odd traffic ticket and the notorious traffic jams.

"My family bought our first car in the 1990s, but we sold our car last year," said Bai Liping, 45, a saleswoman in an insurance company and an e-bike rider. "Having a car is not that convenient, compared with an e-bike."
Many of the very affluent citizens of Copenhagen have discovered that riding a bike is a great solution to congestion, air pollution, and for creating a livable community. They have a mature transportation system, not one that relies almost entirely on single-passenger autos.

MWCOG are to be commended for trying to create a mature transportation system in the DC Metro area, one that promotes the use of bicycles as a viable part of that transportation network. In places such as Portland, Oregon and Copenhagen, Denmark, where safe, convenient bicycle facilities are provided, people will choose to ride bikes. Even with as few as 5% of commuters on bicycles, our congestion levels would be greatly reduced.

One wonders why NVTA is so opposed to spending comparatively little of the area's transportation budget on bicycle infrastructure improvements. But then what do you expect from a transportation advocacy organization that spells the term "transporation."

If you know someone on the NVTA Board, why not ask them why they support an organization that doesn't recognize bicycles as an integral part of the N. Va. transportation system.


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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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Friday, August 7, 2009

NVTA supports gas tax increase

Wonders will never cease; the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, which claims to be "the only organization focused exclusively on working to make better transportation a reality for Northern Virginia citizens and businesses" (we beg to differ, that's FABB's mission as well), sent out an alert recently supporting a 10 cent gas tax increase: "No One is Suggesting Increasing the Gas Tax by $2.50 per gallon to Match Germany, but One Dime Doesn't Seem all that Unreasonable."

Support is building for an increased gas tax, which in Virginia is currently 17.5 cents per gallon and the Federal gas tax is 18.5 cents a gallon. The Federal tax hasn't been raised in 16 years. However, we can imagine how NVTA would like the funds to be spent, given their top priorities:
· I-66 to six lanes inside the Beltway.
· Route 28 to eight lanes with limited access between Route 7 and I-66.
· Right-of-way protection and construction of key segments of the Western Bypass.
· An Eastern Bypass.
· The Loudoun County and Tri-County Parkways.
· Expand Dulles Corridor transit/rail. (already funded)
· A Fourth I-95 lane Newington to Occoquan.
· I-66/Route 29 (Gainesville) Interchange.
· Improved I-66 express bus service west of Vienna.
· A limited access Maryland InterCounty Connector between I-270 and I-95 / Route 1.
· A new Northern Potomac River Crossing (Techway).

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NVTA bashes bikes

The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (not to be confused with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority) is a transportation advocacy group that supports building more road capacity throughout the DC region. Development of their top priority projects would result in increased suburban sprawl and air pollution. It's no surprise that the group is supported by major developers and their representatives. Their idea of "transportation" does not include bicycles and rarely includes transit. These are their top priority projects:
  • I-66 to six lanes inside the Beltway.
  • Route 28 to eight lanes with limited access between Route 7 and I-66.
  • Right-of-way protection and construction of key segments of the Western Bypass.
  • An Eastern Bypass.
  • The Loudoun County and Tri-County Parkways
They have a history of bashing funding for bicycles. Their representative, Robert Chase, is a regular proponent of road projects at public hearings around the region. His latest tirade (Millions for Bathrooms and Bicycles and Escalators (Oh My!)) is directed at the Transportation Planning Board's decision to increase funding for bike sharing (p. 6) in the region. According to NVTA's Chase, "Proposals to Use Scarce Transportation Dollars for Trivial Purposes Fuel Voter Skepticism at a Time When Voter Support for New Revenue for Well-Documented Needs Is More Important Than Ever."

Bike sharing is one of the most promising transportation ideas being used throughout Europe and is taking hold in North America. It is very popular in Paris and is helping residents replace many short motorized trips with bike trips, reducing congestion and air pollution. In the U.S. half of all trips are a 20 minute or less bike ride and nearly all are currently taken by car.

We think NVTA should stop bashing bikes and consider advocating for the most efficient and least polluting transportation mode ever invented, bicycling.

Read more about TPB's bike sharing decision on The Bike-sharing Blog and at Greater Greater Washington.

[Update July 27] Link to Transportation Planning Board Project Components for TIGER grant application that contains info on the bike sharing application, including a map of proposed coverage.

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