Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bike to School Day, Part 3: Vienna Schools Bike/Walk Challenge

 The 9th Vienna Schools Bike/Walk Challenge culminated on the Friday before Bike to Work day.  For nine years various Vienna elementary schools have participated in a week-long challenge encouraging more students to bike or walk to school. The participating schools were Wolftrap, Westbriar, Cunningham Park, Marshall Road, Flint Hill, Louise Archer, and Vienna. 

These schools actually had a Bike to School Day before Bike to School was a “thing.” Over the years they have expanded the event by challenging schools in Reston to a community contest. The Vienna schools also have teamed up with local businesses to promote the day. In 2016 this resulted in a large check being given to Committee For Helping Others to purchase bikes for less fortunate children. It's great to see schools team up yet compete in such a fun week of exercise.

The Challenge Cup is awarded to the school with the largest percentage increase in participants over last year's challenge. The 2017 contest was a nail biter with the Overall Challenge Cup lead shifting all week.The fourth day of the challenge this year was a massively rainy day, which resulted in a large drop off in numbers of riders despite experiments showing that kids don't melt in the rain. By a narrow 0.14% margin Vienna took the Challenge Cup over Cunningham Park. Westbriar was third while Wolftrap was fourth just 2.5% behind Westbriar. 

The Bike Cup, which is based on the percentage of bike riders relative to the total number of participants, was again won by Vienna which had two days with 100+ riders. It's their fourth year of winning the Bike Cup with Wolftrap recapturing second place after an awesome 100+ day on Wednesday and a solid Friday. Marshall Road had a nice surge to take third overall.  

Cup Challenge (ranking based on comparison with previous year's participation)
Vienna 102.12%
Cunningham Park         101.98%
Westbriar                      98.12 %
Wolftrap                        95.75%
Marshall Road               84.25%
Flint Hill                         81.67%

Bike Challenge (percentage of bikes over walkers)
Vienna                              40.39%
Wolftrap                            23.89%
Marshall Road                  15.22%
Cunningham Park             13.84%
Flint Hill                             10.61%
Westbriar                            5.74%

Congratulations to all the schools for getting out there and continuing to show the rest of FCPS how to get it done.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Successful Bike to School Day Ride at Stenwood Elementary

Joel's bike train and FCPD escort.
Stenwood Elementary in Vienna was the scene last week of a great Bike to School Day event. As on of the 78 FCPS schools participating, parents and students, with some help from Fairfax County Police Department officers, set up a bike train to safely bring a record number of student riders to school. 

Joel Guzman, who has been running a weekly bike train to Stenwood for the past two months, reports that on Bike to School Day he had 24 kids and 7 adults participate. The FCPD provided 2 bike patrol officers to ride with the students and another officer in a patrol car to assist with traffic control for the ride. 

A safe route to school. 
Stenwood's population is split by Gallows Road. A good number of students bike from the same side as the school but Joel lives on the other side where all the students are bused. He hasn't let that stop him from giving kids the chance to bike. The school is off Gallows Road near the busy intersection of I-66 and I-495 and just a stone’s throw from the Dunn Loring Metro. Thanks to careful planning, the bike train used a safe route that ran through and picked up riders from several communities in the Dunn Loring area. 

Many thanks to Joel, the other parents, the FCPD, and everyone else who supports bicycling as a safe and healthy mode of transportation and recreation for children.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 National Bike to School Day Wrap Up: Fairfax County Overview

This is the first of three reports.

North Springfield riders.
One week ago students across Fairfax County hopped out of the Kiss & Ride or left their buses empty. Instead, they put on a helmet or walking shoes and joined in the 2017 National Bike to School Day. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) had 78 registered events. Was your school one of them

This year saw the most Fairfax County schools that have ever registered. About 40% of all Fairfax County schools held Bike to School Day events while the 78 registered events represented one-third of all such activities in Virginia.  

Bike Patrol officers helping out in Reston.
Bike trains were rolling all over the county last Wednesday. Some had Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) Bike Patrol escorts while others were assisted by FCPD patrol cars stopping traffic at busy intersections.   

It was only five years ago that many local schools had no bike racks and did little to encourage students to bike. Unanimous support from both the FCPS School Board and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors changed the tide. This ongoing support is now helping to encourage transportation choices that build healthy minds and bodies for our children.   

A great turnout at Chesterbrook Elementary. 
In the next reports FABB will profile a new bike train that sprang up this year near the Dunn Loring Metro station as well as the Town of Vienna's Bike/Walk Challenge for schools, which is now in it's 9th year.

Submitted by Jeff Anderson. 

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

DC Ride 2017 - Liberating and Organized

Guest blogger: Jenifer Joy Madden
Liberating and organized. My two best words to describe DC Ride 2017. 
It was a cloudless cool morning as we headed from Arlington across the Memorial Bridge. We could hear the music at the starting point well before we saw the huge crowd across the river. 
People were smiling and upbeat as we formed into groups according to ability and were slowly released one by one, starting with the least experienced. The ride started along the river and then did a number of long switchbacks including around Hains Point and alongside Georgetown via the Whitehurst Freeway. 
There’s something wonderful about occupying a space always dominated by cars. Even when we reached a pinch point entering the 14th street bridge, I felt triumphant walking slowly through a traffic jam of bikes. 
There were two main rest stops along the route with light snacks, water, port-a-potties, medical help, and friendly Velocity volunteer mechanics. 
As for the organized part, it was very different from the time I rode on the open streets in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on a Sunday afternoon, when everyone was going every which way. In the DC ride, you have identification numbers affixed to your helmet, chest, and bike. The ride is closely monitored at all points and traffic flows one way. You can’t veer from the route, although there were several official places to bail out.
You had to plan ahead because the ride was not a loop. It started in West Potomac Park and ended up on Pennsylvania down near the Capitol. 
But the orderliness only added to the enjoyment. As the ride rolled on and space opened up between riders, if you didn’t look behind you, you could imagine you were rolling on your own through the open streets—an almost indescribable feeling of liberation. 
From right to left: Jenifer Joy Madden, Shannon Madden, Reilly Madden, and Matt Lyden

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Beulah Road Trail Ribbon Cutting

he Beulah Road trail was officially opened on Friday. The project is a culmination of many years of dedicated effort led by Jenifer Joy Madden. Jenifer wanted a safe way to walk and bike to Meadowlark Gardens Botanical Park located a short distance from her house. There was no sidewalk or trail and walking along Beulah Road was dangerous.

Jenifer convinced Supervisor Hudgins that many people in her community wanted safe bike and pedestrian access to the numerous nearby parks, including The Barns at Wolf Trap and The Filene Center. Jenifer then worked with residents, including FABB's president Jeff Anderson, and county staff to obtain Federal funding for trail construction, and with then Congressman Moran's support, funding for a new ped/bike bridge over the Dulles Toll Road parallel to Trap Road. See the project website.

Congratulations to Jenifer and her team and to the county for completing this work. These new facilities have made it much easier to me and others who visit Wolf Trap and Meadowlark Gardens and the other parks in that area to more safely access these great resources.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Reminder: Monthly Meeting Next Week Features Fundraiser and VDOT Briefing

Please plan on joining us at the Mosaic Community Space on Wednesday, 17 May, for our May FABB Meeting. It should be a great evening that can start with a visit to Choolaah Indian BBQ, which is graciously donating a portion of the proceeds from each meal sold to FABB.  Afterwards, in addition to our usual updates on bicycle improvements and events in Fairfax County, we will be given an advanced look from the Virginia Department of Transportation on the plans for the I-66 Outside the Beltway bike trail

The Mosaic Community Space is located around the corner from Brine Restaurant and District Dumplings on Merrifield Cinema Drive. Choolaah Indian BBQ is located at 2911 District Avenue next to the Angelika Film Center, and all you need to do is tell the cashier that you are there to support FABB. 

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fairfax County Receives Bike-Friendly Community Bronze Level

Congratulations to Fairfax County for becoming a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community. A special thank you to county bicycle program staff for their hard work and dedication. The county has been making great progress in becoming more bike-friendly over the past several years.

While we still have a long way to go before it's safe and convenient for all residents to bike, we now have a Bicycle Master Plan unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors, new bike lanes throughout the county as part of the summer repaving program, Bicycle Parking Guidelines, very successful Bike to Work Day and Bike to School Days, a new bicycle safety program implemented by the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, and many other accomplishments. FABB has been a strong advocate of all of this work so thanks to all the FABB volunteers who have worked hard over the years to foster this effort.

From Fairfax County's Bicycle Friendly Community news release:
Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Fairfax County with a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCSM) award. The Bronze level BFC award recognizes Fairfax County’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. The BFC program provides a benchmark for communities to evaluate these conditions and policies, while highlighting areas for improvement. The national scope of the program also promotes competition and comparison between communities - with 416 currently recognized BFC there is always a model for your community to be found.

“The Fairfax County Bicycle Program began just over 10 years ago and receiving this designation is a significant accomplishment," said Fairfax County Bicycle Program Coordinator Adam Lind. "The County has a growing network of off-road trails and on-road bike facilities, and we recently joined the Capital Bikeshare family. We also recently released the updated Fairfax County Bicycle Map just in time for the 2017 Bike to Work Day on May 19," continued Lind. "Receiving a Bronze designation is just the beginning as we continue to design and build safe streets for all, and strive to become a silver level Bicycle Friendly Community.”

Read Fairfax County BFC Report Card

With the announcement of six (6) communities moving from an Honorable Mention to Bronze, nine (9) communities receiving a Bronze award on their first application, and 22 renewing BFCs today, Fairfax County joins a group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming their neighborhoods. There are now 416 communities currently recognized with a BFC award for their efforts to make biking better.

“We applaud these communities for making improvements for people who bike in a ways that build upon their existing strengths and are based upon their particular needs, whether that is infrastructure, education, or encouragement,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the way that communities are using bicycling as a part of their solution to issues of health, job access, traffic safety, and the environment and using our program to make progress in those issues. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as part of our mission to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself.Since its inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award — diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze — provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. To learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.

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