Bruce Wright, Chairman, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
October 25, 2011

Good evening. My name is Bruce Wright, Chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Six Year Plan on behalf of FABB. First I want to say that we're pleased that VDOT recently filled the bicycle coordinator position, and published the State Bicycle Policy Plan. Both actions will greatly benefit Virginia bicyclists. We're also thankful that Northern Virginia District VDOT staff are doing a good job of including bike facilities in many repaving and new road projects.

I'm here to discuss the importance of creating transportation solutions that also improve our safety and quality of life. Today, because of technological advances, more employees can work remotely and choose where to live based on quality of life criteria such as access to transit and whether their community is walkable and bikeable. This trend will only increase in the future. Virginia may not need to worry about rapid population growth if our communities are not attractive to these new residents.

Maintenance of our transportation system continues to be a problem. The number one priority should be to repair and maintain our existing system, not building sprawl-inducing outer beltways. Bicyclist's safety is greatly affected by poor road conditions. And besides, we're spending millions on Route 28 to create an outer beltway serving Dulles Airport.

Funds are needed to implement multi-modal access improvements in the Tysons area (Tysons Metrorail Access Improvement project (UPC 100469). Motor vehicle parking is not planned for the four Tysons Metro stations. In order for Metro be successful, safe , direct access to the stations should be improved for all other modes. Fairfax County recently completed a bicycle master plan for Tysons, and the recommendations in the plan should be funded before the stations open.

The county recently completed a study of access to the Tysons stations. As part of the study the county asked residents what modes they planned to use when traveling to the stations. 45% planned to walk and 37% planned to bike. Survey respondents also wanted more bike lanes, adequate, covered bike parking at the stations, and lighted paths.

In Northern Virginia many of our neighborhood streets don't connect. Due to safety concerns, cyclists prefer to use these quiet, neighborhood streets to get around. Most of the time we can't because these streets don't connect to major destinations. We're forced onto collector and arterial roads, most of which have no bike facilities. Residents must make a choice when taking short trips; use bicycles on dangerous arterials or drive; most decide to drive.

We were encouraged when in 2009 you approved the Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements that mandated that new developments must include multiple connections to surrounding neighborhoods. We were equally disappointed when you recently weakened those requirements. Without this connectivity, new communities will be in the same position as we are in Northern Virginia, with disconnected neighborhoods streets, which is why it is so important that our major roads be designed to properly accommodate bicyclists.

Finally, both VDOT and DRPT are creating our future ground transportation system, which has a tremendous impact on our quality of life. One could argue that their solutions should be more integrated and that we should have a true Virginia Department of Transportation that includes transit instead of having two separate agencies, with two separate processes for working with localities. They should be working toward the same goals using integrated solutions, not working separately.

Thank you for your time.

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