MAY-JUNE 2010 FABB NewsA periodic publication of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
VDOT SIX-YEAR IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM PUBLIC HEARINGS
The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will hold a public hearing on the proposed Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP or Six-Year Plan) at the Fairfax City Town Hall, 10455 Armstrong St. Fairfax, VA 22030. The public hearing starts at 7 p.m. This is a chance for cyclists to ask for better bicycle facilities in Northern Virginia, such as.
- HOT lanes bridges: The existing bridges over the Beltway that are being replaced as part of the HOT project will contain new bike facilities. These facilities need to be connected to the existing trail and street network.
- Route 28 interchanges: Interchanges being built along the Route 28 corridor need well-planned bike facilities.
- Dedicated funding for bicycle facilities: Bike lanes need regular sweeping to clear them of sand, gravel, and other debris. The Fairfax County Parkway needs to be repaved. The Route 123 trail is also deteriorating and needs repair. Unless dedicated funding is set aside, these repairs will not occur.
- Virginia should adopt the new MUTCD standards as soon as possible to allow the use of shared lane markings and other new bicycle control devices.
FAIRFAX COUNTY BEGINS TYSONS BIKE PLANNING PROCESS
Fairfax County has begun the process of developing a bicycle master plan for the greater Tysons area. A request for work was recently issued and work could begin in the coming months.
The county has been working with citizens for the past 5 years to update the Comprehensive Plan for Tysons. They hope to encourage future mixed-use, transit-oriented development around the new Metro stations. Plans call for adding 80,000 more residents, high-density commercial and residential development, a new grid of streets, and bike facilities on many of the major streets.
FABB and others produced an interim bike plan that was presented to the Planning Commission in February 2009. Now is the time for a concentrated effort to properly plan bicycle access in Tyson and the surrounding communities, up to 3 miles from Tysons. This includes McLean, Pimmit Hills, and Vienna. Look for information about upcoming community meetings to solicit input from area bicyclists.
FUNDING FOR BIKE PROGRAM CUT BY FAIRFAX BOARD
At their April 27 meeting the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to cut all operating funding for the bicycle program for FY2011. While the bike coordinator position remains, there will be no money for encouragement and outreach activities, small projects such as placing wayfinding signs on the Fairfax County Parkway Trail, repaving of the Fairfax Co Parkway Trail, placement of shared lane markings on narrow roads used by cyclists, support for Bike to Work Day, and other activities.
Now that the coordinator has no operating funds, some have argued that we don't need a bike program. We think it makes no sense to cut the bike program at a time when other communities are expanding their efforts to get more people on bikes. Not only does Arlington County have a strong bike program, they spend much more than Fairfax to encourage more people to bike through the work of Bike Arlington, participation in BikeDC, and building better bike infrastructure.
WOMEN IN BICYCLING
FABB member Fionnuala Quinn has been working since the start of the year with the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals (APBP) to raise awareness on why fewer women than men cycle for transportation in the U.S. The project has several elements: a survey, a webinar and a photo contest.
So far, 12,300 people have participated in the 15-minute survey. The survey remains open until May 15th so feel free to pass the link to those who might be interested (both cyclists and non-cyclists).
In March, to coincide with Women's History Month, Fionnuala participated as a panelist in a webinar on women and cycling. She spoke about the history of women and bicycling including the instrumental role bicycling played in women's emancipation. She also reported on the preliminary survey results. The webinar is available for re-listening on the APBP website.
The photo contest is currently open. APBP is seeking images and videos that inspire, educate, and challenge others to better understand issues related to women bicycling for transportation. Prizes include a year's free professional bicycling design webinars. The webinars would make a great donation to our local county bike coordinator's office. If anyone would like to get in touch with Fionnuala about the women's cycling project her address is finnbike [at] gmail.com.
FAIRFAX CITY BIKE RODEO
On Saturday June 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the City of Fairfax is holding a bike rodeo for children ages 6-10 at Daniels Run Elementary School located at 3705 Old Lee Highway. The rodeo is one of many events being offered as part of Trails Day. Volunteers are needed to help at the registration table, provide a quick bike safety talk and fit kids' helmets. If you are interested in volunteering, or in more information about the event, contact douglas_stewart [at] verizon.net.
WOLFTRAP ROAD BRIDGE IN TYSONS
A new bridge that connects two sections of Wolftrap Road in the Tysons area near Gallows Rd was recently built. This is a great connection for cyclists commuting in this area. It provides children who attend Kilmer Middle School another way to get to school by bike or on foot. Thanks to Fairfax County for their work on this project.
NEW U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BIKE/PED POLICY
Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized" according to Secretary LaHood. The policy recommends that "bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on non-motorized transportation facilities."
It's about time that bicycle and pedestrian facilities are given proper consideration. All too often in the past transportation agencies gave priority to projects for motorized travel, with inadequate consideration given to safe, convenient facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians. In the DC area ped/bike trips comprise about 9% of all trips and yet receive a much smaller percentage of transportation dollars spent. We hope the county Department of Transportation received the memo in light of their 100% cut of bicycle program operating funds.
BIKE ROUTING APPLICATIONS
At the National Bike Summit held in DC in March, Google announced they will add directions for bicyclists along with directions by car, by Transit and Walking. In certain areas, mostly larger cities, many bicycle facilities are included in the bicycle map layer and directions. However, in Fairfax County only a few bike facilities are included, mainly the W&OD Trail. The algorithm used for finding routes includes bike trails and other bike facilities (where data has been included), recommended routes (where available), and terrain. It also attempts to avoid high traffic volume roads and complex intersections.
The software is available for beta testing. Users can "report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren't suited for cycling, and other problems." Given the vast resources of Google, this is great news for cyclists. We expect the application to improve rapidly, especially if cyclists provide feedback about routes and available data.
A better option, at least in Fairfax, continues to be the very good bike routing software Ride the City - DC. Most of the major trails and bike lanes are included in the application. From our brief testing it provides much better directions using low volume neighborhood streets, paved trails, and bike lanes where available.
BIKE TO WORK DAY
With the increase in people using bikes for transportation, Bike to Work Day has grown each year. This year there will be three new events in Fairfax: Burke at the VRE station, Herndon at the Town Hall Green adjacent to the W&OD Trail, and Merrifield at the Merrifield Town Center just south of Dunn Loring Metro station. Celebrate riding to work, get free food, drinks, and raffle prizes, and show the county that we don't need no stinking bike program operating funds to still enjoy riding to work. Register at waba.org.
- May 3, Monday - FABB 5-year Anniversary - join members of FABB to celebrate our 5th anniversary; 5:30 pm at Auld Shabeen in Fairfax City.
- May 19, Wednesday - FABB Monthly meeting - 7:30 p.m., Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, VA near the W&OD Trail. Our guest will be Virginia Delegate Kaye Kory (38th District). All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- May 21, Friday - Bike to Work Day - Join one of 9 Fairfax events for food, drinks and raffle prizes. Register at waba.org.
- May 23, Sunday - Bike DC - The 19-mile Bike DC ride starts on Pennsylvania Avenue and winds through DC to Arlington County. Register at bikedc.net
- May 26, Wednesday - VDOT Six-Year Improvement Program Public Hearing - at the Fairfax City Town Hall, 10455 Armstrong St. Fairfax, VA 22030. The public meeting starts at 7 p.m. See the public hearing schedule.
- June 5, Saturday - Bike rodeo in Fairfax City - sponsored by FABB and the City of Fairfax, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Daniels Run Elementary School, 3705 Old Lee Highway.
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.