JULY-AUGUST 2011 FABB NEWS

A periodic publication of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
Contents

Bike to Work Day recap

Fairfax staged nine Bike to Work Day events on May 20, and FABB members were stationed at each event to greet the riders and tell them about our efforts to make the area more bike friendly. Our volunteers collected contact info for many more people interested in getting the FABB newsletter. If this is your inaugural issue of the newsletter - welcome! According to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the Reston Bike to Work Day event had the most registered riders in Fairfax County with 459; Vienna had 307, and Herndon had 241. (Proximity to the W&OD Trail definitely has advantages for bicycle transportation.) Fairfax Corner and Merrifield each had about 150 people. County supervisors popped in at several of the locations. We congratulate everyone for a great showing.

Bicyclists win bike/car/bus challenge

As a promotion for Bike to Work Day, we engaged two community leaders in a bike/car/bus challenge from a neighborhood near South Lakes High School to Reston Town Center, a distance of about 3 miles.

FABB members Bruce Wright and Kerie Hitt rode their bikes to the Town Center in 13 and 16 minutes, respectively. They took advantage of short cuts on neighborhood streets, several Reston connecting paths, and the W&OD Trail to bypass some of the traffic congestion on major roads. Delegate Ken Plum's trip in his hybrid car took 19 minutes. Reston Association President Kathleen Driscoll McKee had a leisurely trip of 50 minutes aboard the RIBS 2 bus, as it took an indirect route through Hunter's Woods Village Center on the way to the Town Center.

"This was a good simulation that demonstrates real alternatives to the automobile for short trips in Reston and the rest of our community" noted Delegate Plum. He also said that short car trips are the least efficient, even for his hybrid car, which only averaged 30 mpg on the 3 mile trip.

County Bicycle Master Plan underway

A key piece of FABB advocacy for many years has been for the County to prepare a master plan for improving bike conditions in Fairfax. Such a plan would build on existing information and create a coordinated long-term strategy for the County for developing bicycling facilities and other components of a bicycling culture. We are very pleased to report that the kickoff meeting for the county bicycle master plan was held on June 28. Fairfax County has contracted with Cambridge Systematics/Toole Design Group to create the plan. The bicycle master plan advisory committee (BAC) is comprised of representatives from the Board of Supervisors, the county Trails and Sidewalks Committee and Transportation Advisory Commission, Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE), VDOT, and county staff. FABB has two representatives on the committee. Five BAC meetings are planned during the yearlong process.

The plan team has divided the County into eight planning areas. Public workshops will be held in each planning area. Two countywide public meetings will be held and there will likely be five formal public hearings before adoption of the final plan. A final draft is anticipated in March 2012. A project website will be online soon with all pertinent documents, meeting dates, etc. People will have many opportunities to participate in the process, and we greatly encourage everyone to give input. Stay tuned as we will provide alerts and guidance as the project proceeds. Kudos to county bike program staff for getting this project started.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) update

On an ongoing basis FABB has been part of a wider group effort to encourage more students to walk and bike to school in Fairfax. Many policy and cultural barriers as well as a lack of infrastructure hinder children who want to walk or bike to school. We have presented information about the issues to many groups and boards over the last year. Most recently, FABB met with the head of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) transportation office to ask that more be done to encourage students to walk and bike to school. We also asked that better guidance be provided to school principals regarding kids biking to school.

FCPS is forming a SRTS working group to help streamline the process for applying for SRTS funding and to develop innovative ways to educate parents on the costs of driving kids to school and the benefits of walking and biking. Based on our request, FCPS is also revisiting the policy that allows principals to ban biking at some schools. For more SRTS info visit the Safe Routes to School - Fairfax County Facebook page.

VDOT bicycle advisory group

VDOT controls most of the roads in Fairfax County and plays a very important role in bicycling infrastructure matters. FABB has worked hard over the years to develop a relationship and understanding with VDOT about the issues. Recently we met with Garrett Moore, VDOT's new Northern Virginia District Chief, to discuss bicycle concerns in Fairfax. We asked VDOT to establish a district bicycle advisory committee to enhance communication between VDOT and the local bicycling community, and VDOT is considering the idea.

We also discussed the poor bicycle parking at VDOT's new LEED-certified headquarters building located on West Ox Rd. First, wave racks were used instead of more standard U-racks. Wave racks are discouraged under guidelines of most local jurisdictions (for example, Arlington, Alexandria and DC). Second, the wave racks were placed nearly 200 feet from the building entrance and were not protected from the elements. As a result of our discussion, at Mr. Moore's direction, several inverted U-racks for visitors and staff will be installed at two building entrances. So far, we have been encouraged by our conversations with the new district chief on bicycling issues as we continue our ongoing work.

New VDOT bike coordinator

After a year and a half, VDOT recently hired a new state bicycle coordinator. John Bolecek, formerly with the U.S. Department of Transportation, will begin work in mid-July. While at USDOT John was a representative on Michelle Obama's Let's Move childhood obesity taskforce. He's a University of Virginia graduate, a cross country cyclist, and author of Local Planning and Promotion of Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations: A Review and Analysis of Virginia Government Efforts. We're excited that John will be working to make Virginia a more bicycle-friendly place. We're hoping the Draft State Bicycling Policy Plan and the State Bicycle Advisory Committeewill soon be revived. We plan to invite John for a bike tour of Fairfax County.

New W&OD bridge over Beltway completed

Due to construction of HOT lanes on the Beltway in Virginia, all bridges over the Beltway needed to be lengthened to span the additional lanes. An early FABB campaign was to ensure that these new bridges accommodated bicyclists and pedestrians. Most of the new bridges are complete, many with new bike facilities. The W&OD Trail bridge over the Beltway was replaced, and the new bridge is now open. It is several feet wider than the old one and is slightly offset from the existing trail.

FABB FACT

Did you know that 20-25% of morning rush hour traffic is caused by children being driven to school? If more kids rode their bikes to school we'd have less traffic congestion, less pollution, and healthier kids. If they don't have safe routes to school we need to create them. Visit the Safe Routes to School - Fairfax County Facebook page for more info.

Events

July 20, Wednesday - FABB monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue E., Vienna, VA near the W&OD Trail. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at chairman@fabb-bikes.org.

FABB BLOG

For other news and articles of interest, visit theFABB blog.


Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, aiming to make bicycling an integral part of Fairfax County's transportation network. Visit us on the web at www.fabb-bikes.org, on Facebook and on Twitter. FABB News provides periodic updates on Fairfax County bicycling issues, along with occasional updates and action alerts on breaking news. We encourage all FABB supporters to join WABA at www.waba.org. Donations to FABB are tax deductible. If you would like to support our advocacy work in Fairfax, you can donate by sending a check made out to WABA/FABB to WABA, 2599 Ontario Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009 or donate online