FABB Comments on NVTA Six-Year Plan
Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA)
Public Hearing on Six Year Plan Projects
January 10, 2008
We're living in a different age than just a few years ago. Thanks to the Internet, people have more flexibility in choosing where to live, where to work, and where and how to shop. As the noted author Joel Garreau recently noted, the computer has become a transportation device. More people are using computers to telework and shop, leaving the driving to UPS and FedEx.
People are also demanding a better quality of life. They want more transportation options. Many people are choosing to live in compact, walkable communities where there are multiple transportation choices, places such as in Portland, Oregon and the Ballston/Rosslyn corridor where bicycling and walking are viable transportation alternatives. The need for transportation options was clear at the recent VDOT Six Year Plan public hearings. Most of the speakers requested that more funds be dedicated to bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects.
I commend the authority for ranking many transit projects high in priority. It's recognition that building more roads will not solve all our transportation problems. However, I question the high ranking of the number one project, widening of Prince William County Parkway. In my opinion the project ranks zero in the following ranking criteria: Multimodal Choice, Intermodal Connections, Mode Share, Reduce VMT, Land-Use Supports Transportation Investment, and Improved Non-Motorized Travel Options.
While there are some projects listed as Bicycle/Pedestrian, they are almost exclusively pedestrian-oriented. The only project listed that includes an on-road bicycle component is Bicycle Route Improvements in Falls Church, which is 0.06% of the total project funding. I found none in Fairfax County, which desperately needs new on-road bike routes.
The best bicycle facilities are on-road. They are safer and provide more convenient and direct access to activity centers. They also capitalize on the fact that there is already a connected road network. We need to provide true alternative mode choices, and on-road bike facilities are the best option for the bicycle mode.
Fairfax County is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below current levels by 2050; bicycling contributes nearly zero emissions and is the most efficient mode of transportation there is. We need more on-road bike routes in Fairfax. The longer we wait the harder it will be to adapt existing roads to accommodate bicycles.
One way to accomplish to create more on-road routes is to include on-road bicycle facilities in "Roadway" projects. This would also be a step toward fulfilling your mission of joining several modes into an interconnected network.
I also urge you to give a higher priority and more funding to bicycle projects.
Bruce Wright, Chairman
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling