Sunday, October 23, 2016

The More You Know - Biking is Better

What a surprise to see Al Roker of the Today Show promoting biking in a short 14-second TV ad during Meet the Press this morning. "[Drawing of a car] This costs you money and runs on gas. [Drawing of a bike] This saves you money and runs on calories. Save the car for rainy days and long road trips. Biking is better for your body and your budget."

The ad is part of The More You Know campaign sponsored by NBC Universal "focused on education, diversity, health, civic engagement and the environment." Kudos to Al and NBC Universal for airing the ad.

From The More You Know TV Spot, 'Biking is Better' Featuring Al Roker

"America's favorite meteorologist Al Roker and The More You Know campaign want to remind you that biking is better. Biking instead of driving can help improve your body and your budget. Leave cars for road trips and rainy days and opt for a bike to burn calories, not gas."
I googled Al Roker Biking and discovered that Al is a bike commuter. He rides a Brompton folding bike 4 miles to work each day. He even ignores his advice about above about saving the car for rainy days; in this Youtube video from a Weather Channel interview it looks like he is biking in the rain. You go Al!

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

What New Bicycle Facilities Are Needed at Lake Accotink?

The Fairfax County Park Authority is revising the Lake Accotink Master Plan. There is considerable discussion about the condition of the lake with an option of allowing the lake to "disappear" with nature taking its course. The CCT crosses through the park and the park literature states they rent

This is your opportunity to provide the park authority with comments and suggestion about what bicycle facility improvements you would like to see added to the park. Some possible suggestions would be a tire air station, adding bicycle signs and safety markings to the access road, and designating an area for a bicycle safety "school".

Proposing bicycle needs and improvements at informational meetings is the first step in getting items included in a park master plan.

If you have suggestion for bicycle improvements at Lake Accotink, please attend a Fairfax County Park Authority hosted community workshop on Thursday, October 27, 2016, to help determine the kinds of facilities and programming the community finds most valuable.

Members of the public are invited to stop by Kings Park Elementary School between 7 and 8:30 p.m. Participants can move at their own pace through a series of workshop stations that will help to clarify the types of facilities and programs they feel are most important. Participants should allow about 30 minutes to answer the workshop questions. Park Authority staff will provide a brief update on the overall project at 7 p.m.

Kings Park Elementary School is located at 5400 Harrow Way, Springfield, Va.

For more information, visit the Lake Accotink Park Master Plan Revision page.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Capital Bikeshare Launched in Fairfax County - Update Oct. 22

From L-R: Tom Biesiadny, head of Fairfax DOT, Del. Plum
Chairman Bulova, Congressman Connolly, Supervisor
Hudgins, Charlie Strunk, former bike coordinator, and
Adam Lind, current bike coordinator
Today marks a milestone for biking in Fairfax County with the launch of Capital Bikeshare in Reston and Tysons. The system was officially opened at 5 a.m. today. At 2 p.m. dignitaries gathered at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station to cut the ribbon on the system. Congressman Connolly, Delegate Plum, Chairman Bulova and Supervisor Hudgins all talked about the importance of bike share as an integral part of the county's transportation infrastructure. County bike coordinator Adam Lind gave some background on the development of the system.

Active stations in Reston
The weather didn't cooperate very well but the system is now in service. This morning we took a tour of the system, checking out bikes from each of the 9 Reston stations.

Several stations have not been installed yet. All 15 Reston stations should be in place by the end of November. Half of the 14 Tysons stations are in place. See the Capital Bikeshare Station Map for details.

Update Oct. 22: See the Fairfax County news release about the ribbon-cutting ceremony:
"Capital Bikeshare is a terrific and innovative transportation program," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. "I am pleased Fairfax County has officially joined the Capital Bikeshare network to support a fun, healthy and sustainable way of getting around the region. Capital Bikeshare will also give residents and visitors a new opportunity to explore Fairfax County's bicycle trail network."

Fairfax County becomes the fifth jurisdiction in the National Capital Region to join the Capital Bikeshare system, bringing the total number of stations to 435 across the District of Columbia, Arlington County, City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Montgomery County. There currently are 9 stations in Reston and 8 stations in Tysons with several more to be installed this November and December.

"As Hunter Mill District Supervisor, I am really excited to be part of the Capital Bikeshare network," said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. "Fairfax County has worked very hard to shape a network for all modes of transportation in Fairfax County and this is a substantial step in the right direction. Specifically in Reston, the community has always been on the leading edge for transportation and the expansion of Bikeshare in our community will continue this tradition," she continued. "Adding Capital Bikeshare to Reston's transportation alternatives makes us a complete community," summarized Delegate Ken Plum.

While reducing congestion and improving air quality, the county's Bikeshare network serves work, recreation, retail, residential and transit destinations, with stations located within close proximity to the Silver Line Metrorail stations in Reston and Tysons.

"Today's ceremony is further proof that the type of development we built the Silver Line to spur is coming to fruition," said Congressman Gerry Connolly. "Both in Reston and in Tysons we are seeing the emergence of a new, sustainable urban landscape. I am very pleased that Capital Bikeshare is expanding further into Northern Virginia and look forward to more announcements to come!"
Other news reports include:

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Jermantown Road Widening Over I-66

When I-66 is widened outside the Beltway, most of the bridges crossing I-66 will be rebuilt. When VDOT designs the new bridges, they use Fairfax  County plans to determine number of lanes and what type of bicycle and pedestrian facilities to include. The current Transportation Plan does not include widening of the existing two-lane bridge. The county would like the bridge widened so they have initiated the process of updating the plan under Plan Amendment 2016-II-T2. For details see Staff Report for 2016-II-T2. Fortunately the Bicycle Master Plan (SW section map) does call for bike lanes on the bridge.
Proposed plans for the rebuilt bridge from the
Fairfax County Staff Report
From the Staff Report:
"Currently, the Jermantown Road Bridge is constructed as a two-lane facility. The bridge, and the segment of the road extending north of the bridge, is located within Fairfax County; the segment of the road extending south from the bridge is located within the City of Fairfax. The jurisdictional line is located directly south of the bridge. The adopted Comprehensive Plan for Jermantown Road (Route 655) does not indicate an improvement for Jermantown Road or the bridge.

"The City of Fairfax has expressed interest in improving the segment of Jermantown Road between I-66 and Route 50 to four lanes. The City has initiated the process of amending its Plan to include this recommendation."

"The [county] adopted Plan does not currently indicate a transportation improvement for Jermantown Road or the Jermantown Road Bridge over I-66 in Fairfax County. PA 2016-II-T2 considers amending the Comprehensive Plan to show the Jermantown Road Bridge as a four-lane facility."

"The Jermantown Road Bridge over I-66 should be planned for a four-lane bridge in order to improve future mobility along the north-south corridor. The bridge improvement should be completed as part of the Transform 66 project. To facilitate the improvement, the bridge should be shown as a four-lane improvement on the Countywide Transportation Plan Map, on the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Plan Map, and in the Area II Plan volume."
We are encouraged that the proposed plan for the widened bridge includes 5' bike lanes, a 10' sidewalk/shared use path, and a 6' sidewalk. However we were disappointed with the staff analysis of the bridge. The staff report does not mention current or future bicycle or pedestrian access. This is the extent of the Transportation Analysis:
"Major intersections within the same corridor operate at poor levels of service (LOS), especially in the afternoon (PM) peak hour. The intersections of Route 50 at Waples Mill Road, Route 50 at Jermantown Road, and Route 123 at Jermantown Road all operate at a LOS F in the PM peak hour. Jermantown Road traffic volumes are 17,000 vehicles per day south of the existing I-66 bridge, and 19,000 vehicles per day north of the I-66 Bridge, both warranting four lanes of capacity for the bridge."
The Bicycle Master Plan indicates a new bridge crossing and bike lanes on the bridge and there was no mention of the Plan in the staff report. Jermantown Road is a key bicycle access road. A paved trail on the north side of the bridge ends at the bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians are forced onto the road to cross the bridge on a very narrow shoulder. There is likely little or no pedestrian traffic due to the dangerous conditions. Providence Elementary School and Lanier Middle School are both located south of the bridge. The school boundaries extend north of I-66 and most of those students live well within the 1 and 1.5 mile walking distance and could walk to school and avoid having to be bussed.

Since widening of the Jermantown Road bridge is not included in the county Transportation Plan, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a Plan Amendment to consider planning a four-lane bridge. Public hearings are planned on this proposed Plan Amendment, 2016-II-T2, on Wednesday, November 2, and Tuesday, December 6. We plan to submit comments supporting the building of the bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the Jermantown Bridge.

Bicycle Master Plan - Jermantown Bridge

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Monday, October 17, 2016

People for Bikes Draft Meetup Tuesday

FABB wants to remind members that the People for Bikes Draft Meetup is tomorrow, 18 October, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at New District Brewing, 2709 South Oakland Street, Arlington, just off the W&OD Trail in the Shirlington area. This networking event, co-sponsored by The Bike Lane, is designed to bring passionate people from the local bike, business, and advocacy world together to share information on bike products, events, and other bicycling topics and creative ideas. And, don’t forget that there will be beer and some bike swag for attendees. You need to RSVP using the Eventbrite page here. More information about the meetup is at this Facebook Event page link.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Major Changes to DC Contributory Negligence Law Signed by Mayor Bowser

Mayor Bowser signs contributory negligence bill
as Greg Billing of WABA looks on.
Image: News4
Congratulations to WABA for working with the DC Council and Mayor Bowser to advocate for major changes to DC's contributory negligence law. Yesterday Mayor Bowser signed the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act which will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to sue for damages if they are less than 50% negligent.

Now only 4 states, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, and North Carolina have pure contributory negligence, which states that if a cyclist or pedestrian is struck by a motorist and the cyclist or pedestrian was only marginally negligent, then that person cannot sue for damages. For more background on contributory negligence see Fairness for Crash Victims or earlier FABB blog entries that mention the subject.

This is a great victory for cyclists and a possible model for Virginia to follow. Now is the time to change Virginia's antiquated contributory negligence law. For an excellent argument for overturning contributory negligence in Virginia, see Virginia Should Abolish The Archaic Tort Defense Of Contributory Negligence And Adopt A Comparative Negligence Defense In Its Place.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Oct. 21 for Capital Bikeshare in Fairfax

It's official: Capital Bikeshare will launch on Friday, October 21 in Reston and Tysons. As we mentioned earlier, bikeshare stations have been popping up in Reston lately. We didn't realize that the system would be open in less than two weeks. See maps of the Reston and Tysons station locations.

There will be two ribbon-cutting ceremonies, one in Reston at 2 p.m. at the Wiehe-Reston East station and another shortly afterwards at the Tysons Spring Hill station.

See the official bikeshare launch invitation. From Fairfax County:
On Friday, October 21, 2016, Fairfax County elected officials, community partners and county staff will host a two-part ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of Capital Bikeshare in Fairfax County. The Capital Bikeshare program will provide residents and visitors short-term, on-demand access to bicycles at 29 stations located in Reston and Tysons, and is part of a regional network of more than 400 stations in the District of Columbia, Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County and Montgomery County. The Fairfax County portion of the Bikeshare system officially opens to the public on Friday, October 21, 2016.

Who: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Catherine Hudgins
Tysons Partnership President Michael Caplin
Fairfax County Bicycle Program Manager Adam Lind

When: Friday, October 21, 2016
Reston: 2 p.m.; Tysons: Approximately 3:15 p.m.

Where: Reston Celebration - Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station
Capital Bikeshare station on the plaza at bus bay F
1862 Wiehle Avenue, Reston, VA 20190

After the conclusion of the Reston celebration, take Metrorail Silver Line (approximately between 2:36-2:58 p.m.) for an 8-minute trip to the Spring Hill Metrorail Station in Tysons.

Tysons Celebration - Spring Hill Metrorail Station
Capital Bikeshare station located just as you exit the station on the east side of route 7
1576 Spring Hill Road, Vienna, VA 22182
FABB has been working with the county for several years discussing possible bikehsare locations in Reston. Back in 2010, with support from FABB, the county applied for TIGER II funds to implement bikesharing in Reston. They didn't receive those funds but they did receive funds in 2013 to conduct a bikeshare feasibility study in Reston. FABB will be working with the county and with Tysons Partnership to spread the word about bikeshare and to advocate for better bike conditions in Reston and Tysons.

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