JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2010 FABB NewsA periodic publication of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
FUNDING FOR FAIRFAX BIKE PROGRAM COULD BE CUT
February has not been a good month for bicycling in Fairfax. First Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity (R) said the bike coordinator position should be cut. Then Braddock District Supervisor Cook (R) made the astonishing statement that "a bicycle is not a transportation device." Finally, County Executive Griffin proposed permanently cutting operating funding for the bicycle program. It makes no sense to cut the bike program at a time when other communities are expanding bike transportation options.
The county has made a number of improvements for bicyclists in the past several years. All Connector buses now have bike racks, cyclists can find bike routes using the county Bicycle Route Map, and there are new bike lanes on Lawyers Rd, Gallows Rd, Old Courthouse Rd, and Westmoreland St. The county should be expanding the program, beginning with development of their first bicycle master plan, a critical step toward becoming a bicycle-friendly community.
Many cyclists have contacted the Board of Supervisors in support of the bike program. Over the next several weeks County supervisors will hold public meetings on the budget and cyclists are urged to attend meetings in their districts to speak out for funding of the bike program. See the Supervisor web pages for more info: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/.
MAKING TYSONS BICYCLE-FRIENDLY
As we've reported in earlier newsletters, over the past five years Fairfax County has been studying ways to make Tysons a livable, mixed-use urban community. Converting an area of mostly tall buildings surrounded by large parking lots into a livable place, with mixed use development centered around planned Metro stations, where people can walk and bike to reach local destinations is a huge challenge.
The Planning Commission is seeking public input on the proposed plans, which include new guidelines for bicycle parking and bike lanes along many of the major streets through Tysons, although no bike facilities are planned for Routes 7 & 123. For more information and a schedule of public hearings visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/tysonscorner/
2010 VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE SESSION - THREE FOOT PASSING BILL
The major piece of legislation supported by cyclists in this year's Virginia legislative session was the bill that would require motorists to allow three feet when passing bicyclists. The Senate version of the bill, SB566, passed by a vote of 40-0. The House version, HB1068, made it out of the Transportation Committee, but in the full House it was defeated on a partisan vote, with all Republican delegates voting against the bill, including Del. Rust (R-Herndon) who had earlier voted for the bill in committee. (I voted for it before I voted against it.)
See the Virginia Bicycle Federation analysis of the issues involved and some of the reasons for the bill's failure this year: http://www.vabike.org/three-feet-to-pass-resistance/.
BICYCLE MASTER PLAN AND DISTRICT REPS
Fairfax County requested funds for the county bicycle master plan in a grant to the Centers for Disease Control. The grants were to be awarded on Feb. 26, however at press time there was no word on who received funding. Check the FABB blog for updates. http://www.fabb-bikes.org/blog/blog.html.
Our current top priority is development of a Bicycle Master Plan. Every successful bicycle program around the country has been preceded by the drafting of such a plan. In seeking broad-based support for a bicycle master plan we need a committed bicyclist from each of the nine supervisory districts in the county to serve as a point person. We are currently seeking representatives from the following districts: Braddock, Lee, Mason, Mt. Vernon. For a map of districts see http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/maps/county/.
Those agreeing to serve in this role need only commit about a dozen hours per year. Specifically, we need cyclists who could meet periodically with their elected representative, their district planning representative, or district transportation staff member. You might also be asked to write an occasional letter on a specific issue. In addition, your name would be posted on our Web site as someone who is knowledgeable about safe bike routes within your district and could respond to occasional e-mail queries. If you are willing to serve as a district rep, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES FOR THE WORLD OPENS OFFICE IN VIENNA
On March 1st Bikes for the World plans to open an office adjacent to bikes@vienna, in Vienna VA. Bikes for the World is North America's largest used bicycle donation program for foreign countries. In 2009 they held 86 collection events in the Metro DC area. Approximately 9,000 bikes were collected and shipped abroad. In Ghana, Uganda, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Barbados these bicycles will enable access to jobs, education, and health care. Another 100 bicycles were donated to Alexandria's Bikes for Teens and Tots, Arlington's Phoenix Bikes, and Bikes for the World's own Rockville Youth Bike Project. For further info, visit www.bikesfortheworld.org.
PLOWING THE W&OD TRAIL
After this winter's major snow storms, the Washington & Old Dominion Trail was impassable for several weeks. Since the Dec. 18 storm there have only been a handful of days when it was possible to ride the trail. At one point some volunteers cleared a short path from Maple Ave. to Church St. in Vienna, a mostly symbolic gesture to express frustration over the lack of plowing.
On February 21, Paul McCray, NVRPA Operations Director, announced they would begin plowing. We can only hope that this will occur more frequently in the future:
"The W&OD Trail staff will begin clearing snow during the week of February 22 to speed up the melting process. This is in line with our policies of the past which included leaving snow for cross country skiers and then clearing intersections and plowing deeper accumulations.
"When we plow, we won't put the blades right on the pavement but will leave an inch or so which will melt off fairly quickly. If we were to scrape right down to the asphalt, we'd do just as much damage as road plows do on the streets and then the W&OD would have rough, patched sections throughout the year. We don't have the funds to pave the trail more often than every 15 years so it's important to preserve the surface any way we can."
THE BIKE VILLAGE AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Cyclists at GMU have set up The Bike Village to encourage more students to use bikes for transportation. From their Facebook page: "The purpose of this group is to make bikes, as an alternative form of transportation, more accessible to the George Mason Community through recycling old bikes and volunteering our time, energy and creativity. We hope you will join us! "Specifically, we will provide bikes to students for use during the school year as an alternative to automobiles. We are starting with 40 bikes with the possibility of expanding in the future. The idea is to charge $15 dollars per bike per semester, plus a $50 refundable deposit. We will also keep up to 10 bikes on-hand for daily rentals.
"We will also have a small repair shop where members of the Mason community can use our tools to build their own bikes or repair a bike that they already have. Additionally, we hope to offer regular workshops to teach people the skills that they need to maintain their bikes."
- March 9-11, Tuesday-Thursday - National Bike Summit 2010M sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org).
- March-April, District Budget Hearings - Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/ for District schedules.
- March 9-11, Tuesday-Thursday - National Bike Summit 2010 sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org).
- March 17, Wednesday - FABB monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m., Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East Vienna, VA near the W&OD Trail. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at email@example.com.
- March 25 & 27, Thurs. evening, Saturday all day - Traffic Skills 101, Vienna, VA. Course #333031-A1. http://www.viennava.gov/Town_Departments/webtrac_rules.htm (Sign in as "Guest", under "Advanced Search" use the term "traffic" as the Keyword search term)
- April 3 & 10, Saturday afternoons - Cycling Skills 101, Reston, VA. Course #807657. https://www.restoncommunitycenter.com/vsiwebtrac.shtml (To view, sign in as "Guest" and Under "Choose An Activity Type:" select "Fitness and Exercise")
- April 21, Wednesday, 8:15 pm, Planning Commission Public Hearing on Tysons Plan and Zoning Ordinance Amendments, Board of Supervisors auditorium.
- April 21, Wednesday, - FABB monthly meeting at 8:00 p.m. (note time change), Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East Vienna, VA (note new location) near the W&OD Trail. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- April 22 & 24, Thurs. evening, Saturday all day - Cycling with Confidence (LAB Traffic Skills 101), Herndon, VA. Course # TI05302. http://www.aceclasses.org/ (Search for "cycling")
For more details on above events, see the FABB Events page.
Also check out the WABA events page.
For other news and articles of interest, visit the FABB blog.
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is a grassroots initiative, affiliated with 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. 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.