Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Save the world by cycling more

The recently released climate change report that warned governments that they need to do more to counteract the effects of global climate change, recommends that one solution is for people to bike more. One of the key recommendations discusses the need to shift to transportation modes that rely less on burning carbon:
For all economies, especially those with high rates of urban growth, investment in public transport systems and low‐carbon infrastructure can avoid lockin to carbon‐intensive modes. Prioritizing infrastructure for pedestrians and integrating non motorized and transit services can create economic and social co‐benefits in all regions.
I continue to be surprised at how lightly most people treat climate change. Will taking a few trips by bike make a big difference? Maybe not, but it will make a difference, and it is an example to the next generation that shows them we care about their future.

Hat tip to BikePortland for pointing out this article in their Monday roundup. Also in the roundup it was mentioned that Bike Delaware lobbied the state to remove "Share the Road" signs from their roads: "For many motorists, 'Share The Road' is often interpreted as a sign primarily directed at cyclists and meant something more like 'Bicyclists: don’t slow me down.' But we finally realized (after years of pointless yelling back and forth between cyclists and motorists, both yelling 'Share The Road' at each other!), that 'Share The Road not only doesn’t help, it actually contributes to conflict and confusion." They prefer "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" signs.

The roundup also mentioned the very interesting interactive graph depicting various transportation data, including the decline of vehicle miles traveled in recent years.

Finally, as a former golfer, I really like their link to the article on a new option at a Vail, Colorado golf course; renting a bicycle-powered golf carrier.

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April FABB meeting on Wed. April 16

The FABB monthly meeting is tomorrow, Wed. April 16 at 7:30pm at Patrick Henry Library. This is a busy time for cyclists in Fairfax and the region. Tour de Fat is returning to Yards Park in DC on May 31 and FABB needs volunteers to help at the ID/Wristband station. Volunteers will receive a free t-shirt and two beverage coupons. The event is a major fundraiser for FABB and other local bike groups.

The FABB meeting is open to all interested cyclists.

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Patrick Henry Library, Vienna
1. Introductions
2. Review of March meeting minutes
3. County report - Charlie Strunk
4. Winning Campaigns Training report - Sonya
5. Open Streets Summit/CiLAvia report - Alan
6. Update on FABB Goals for 2014
7. Other business
   a. Volunteer opportunities
      i. Bike to Work Day
      ii. Tour de Fat
      iii. Tour de Tysons rides
b. W&OD Trail survey & workshop report

Upcoming events (for details see the FABB Events page)

• April 22, Tuesday - Freddie Mac Earth Day event
• April 26, Saturday - Paul’s Ride for Life
• May 3, Saturday - Vienna Bike Rodeo
• May 6, Tuesday - Bicycle Master Plan presentation at BOS Transportation Committee
• Healthy Community Design Summit
• May 7, Wednesday - Bike to School Day
• May 8, Thursday - Bicycle Master Plan public hearing at Planning Commission
• May 10, Saturday - Reston Bike Rodeo
• May 16, Friday - Bike to Work Day
• May 21, Wednesday - FABB Monthly Meeting
• May 31, Saturday - Tour de Fat
• June 17, Tuesday - Bicycle Master Plan public hearing at Board of Supervisors
• June 29, Sunday - Tour de Tysons


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tour de Cul de Sacs and flowering trees

Along North Shore Dr in Reston
Today we took an afternoon ride to check out the local flowering trees. There are thousands of trees in bloom throughout the county and this is the perfect time to check them out. We decided to head to north Reston on the trails and neighborhood streets. Since we're replacing some shrubs in our front yard we also wanted to get some landscaping ideas.

In order to get to north Reston we rode a short distance on the W&OD Trail, then to Old Reston Ave and on to North Shore Drive. We then crossed Baron Cameron Dr and wandered through several neighborhoods. We used the very good Reston Map that shows all of their paved trails.

Most of the time we just wandered along neighborhood streets. We realized that we'd never traveled on many of the short cul de sac streets off of Wiehle Ave and Reston Parkway. Even in Reston, known for it's great trails, there are many cul de sacs with no connecting trails, so there's usually no reason to ride there unless you're on the Tour de Cul de Sacs. Many of the trees along those streets were in bloom.

It was a very pleasant ride, wandering at about 7 or 8 mph checking out yards and trees. That was when we decided to call it the "Tour de Cul de Sacs." It makes for an interesting route map.

Why not get out and take a casual tour of your neighborhood and discover places where you normally don't travel. It beats doing the same old routes that everyone else is using. Use the Fairfax Bike Route Map and smartphone app to find your way.

Reston Parkway
Water Pointe Lane
Business park south of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station

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FABB testimony at county budget hearings

Last week the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors held their public hearings on the budget for the coming year (FY 2015). Below is testimony I gave on Thursday evening. I asked that the bike coordinator position be funded and that the bike program be expanded to include dedicated funds and additional staff.

April 15 is the deadline for commenting on the budget:
Fairfax County FY 2015 Budget Testimony
Bruce Wright
Chairman, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
April 10, 2014

Chairman Bulova and members of the Board. Thank you for this opportunity to speak tonight. I am chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling and am speaking on behalf of Fairfax cyclists. I'm here to urge you to fund the bike coordinator position. While the position is included in the FY 2015 budget, we were disappointed to see that it appeared on the list of possible budget reductions submitted by County Executive Long.

I had planned to speak tonight about the need to expand the bike program by increasing staff and having an operating budget, which would include funding for Bike Fairfax, which is envisioned to be a program for encouraging employees and residents to use bikes for short trips, similar to Bike Arlington.

The Bike Coordinator currently doesn't have the resources to have an effective bike program, with no operating funds and limited staff.

That being said, you allocated extensive resources to bicycle and pedestrian capital projects in January, and we're very thankful for those funds. The bike coordinator is essential to ensuring that the bike projects succeed.

The Fairfax County Bicycle Master Plan was completed in July 2012 and will come before you later this spring. The DRAFT Plan recommended that the county have an active bicycle program with dedicated funding and " a minimum staff of three full-time employees."

Think about how many resources are devoted to moving people by bus in the county. Fairfax Connector has a $90 million budget with 25 county staff and I estimate over 200 Connector staff. The schools spend $144 million on busing kids using approximately 1200 bus drivers. We think it makes sense to have more than one person devoted to encouraging residents to travel by bike and ensuring they can do so safely.

Bicycling as a mode of transportation continues to grow each year. Participation in Bike to Work Day has gone from around 300 cyclists at 2 events in 2002 to 1800 cyclists at 10 events last year with two events being added this year in McLean and Fair Lakes. More people are looking for ways to get around using active transportation and relying less on cars.

You're focusing growth around activity and transit centers, including Tysons, and bicycling is a critical component to the success of those places.

A major priority of yours is for the county to have an  "Efficient Transportation Network" that includes "comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian initiatives." Without a bike coordinator that goal is not possible. In fact, bicycling touches on at least 5 of your 8 priorities including Safe Streets, Sustainable Environment, Livable Communities, and Recreational Opportunities.

Arlington County, with 1/5 our population, has 6 full time people devoted to building bike facilities, encouraging people to bike, and educating cyclists and motorists.

I was pleased to hear that at their monthly meeting last night the Trails and Sidewalks Committee approved a memo to Chairman Bulova in support of the bike coordinator position.

It will be difficult to attract bright, ambitious professionals for the bike program if the coordinator position keeps appearing on the budget reductions list. Please fund the position and the bike program so you can continue the good work being done to promote bicycling in the county.

And I hope you all can attend the Bike to Work Day events in your districts on Friday May 16.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Legislators receive Bicycling Friendly Awards

Virginia Bicycling Federation recently presented their Bicycling Friendly Awards to three Virginia legislators, honoring them for their support for Virginia bicyclists. Two of the legislators are from Northern Virginia, Senator Chap Petersen and Delegate Barbara Comstock. Thanks to both of them for their efforts.

From the VBF website:
Senator Bryce Reeves, (R-Spotsylvania) was the Chief Patron of SB 97, the Three Foot Passing bill, which was recently signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe. The law goes into effect on July 1.

Also recognized for their support of pro-bike legislation were Delegate Barbara Comstock (R-Fairfax/ Loudoun) who sponsored the following too closely legislation, HB 82 and Senator Chap Petersen (D- Fairfax) who sponsored the anti-dooring bill (SB 225).

Despite great efforts to get Petersen and Comstock’s legislation through, both bills were defeated. A big thanks to these legislators who supported our efforts to make Virginia a more friendly place to ride bikes.

Senator Reeves with VBF's Bud Vye

Champ Burnley and Bud Vye of VBF
and Delegate Comstock

Senator Peterson and Champe Burnley

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bikeyface - If I Owned the Road

Another good series of drawings from Bikeyface: If I Owned the Road. To see the series click on the first drawing.


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Three foot passing bill goes into effect July 1

On July 1 Virginia will too!
Senate Bill 97, Minimum Clearance for Passing, was signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on March 27. The bill requires that "Any driver of any vehicle overtaking a bicycle...shall pass at a reasonable speed at least three feet to the left of the overtaken bicycle..." The new law goes into effect on July 1.

This is a major victory for Virginia Bicycling Federation, WABA, and everyone else who worked to get this bill passed, including FABB supporters who contacted their legislators during the session (see the FABB three feet to pass coverage). Thanks to everyone for their hard work.

Dangerous pass. Note bike wheel
in lower left corner of photo.
The next step is an educational campaign alerting everyone to the new requirement. It's a good opportunity to spread the message that bicyclists belong on the road and that motorists must treat bicyclists with respect when passing them. When Georgia passed their three foot passing bill, bike groups held "3 Feet 2 Pass" rides to celebrate. Austin police produced a video on their vulnerable road users bill that includes a requirement that motorists allow three feet to pass and commercial vehicles allow six feet. Austin police also were out on bikes actively enforcing the bill.

Why not celebrate early and encourage everyone to allow three feet or more to pass bicyclists (unlike the driver of the truck and trailer seen in the photo at the right taken today in Reston).

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