Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bike parking counts at Wiehle station

We live near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station and ride by the station most days. We've been stopping by the three bike parking locations at the station and counting bikes since the station opened, usually around 10am.

There are 10 U racks at the south station entrance, with a capacity of 20 bikes. On the north side there are 16 U racks outside the bike room that hold 32 bikes. Those racks are free and under cover. And then there is the secure bike room that can hold over 200 bikes.

Over time the number of bikes has gradually increased from a low of 61 on the second count to a high today of 107. If you compare the high number with the 2013 Metrorail bike parking census conducted by WMATA, the Wiehle station would rank 3rd in the category "Top Stations for Total Bikes Parked".

Here's a chart of the counts from July 31 to August 28:

The free bike room racks were over capacity 6 of the 10 days, at capacity 1 day, and under capacity 3 days. The south racks usually were in the 12-14 bike range (of 20 capacity), so there was usually place to park there. The bike room was at about 1/4 capacity with plenty of room for more bikes.

While it's great that people are using the existing racks and there is plenty of capacity in the bike room, the free bike parking at the Wiehle station needs to be expanded soon, especially on the north side nearest the W&OD Trail. We think many commuters are using the W&OD Trail to reach the station, many going to/from the Reston Town Center and other locations on the north side of the station. Ultimately there will be bike racks on the plaza outside the station entrance; those racks should be installed as soon as possible.

Information about the bike parking is located in several places online. If you visit the WMATA Wiehle-Reston East station page there are 10 lockers listed. Those are located on the south side of the station, next to the 10 U racks that are not listed. The bike parking on the north side is not listed either. If you visit the Silverline Metro Wiehle-Reston East page it incorrectly lists 15 racks on both the north and south sides. It also lists the 200 spaces in the bike room.

To rent the lockers you need to contact WMATA. To rent space in the bike room you need to contact Fairfax DOT. We were contacted recently by someone who tried to park their bike in the free racks outside the bike room but the racks were full. He checked the WMATA Bikes & Metro leaflet and there was no contact info about the bike room. He asked staff at the station but they didn't know how the system worked. Metro police told him to call the WMATA bike locker number, 202 962 1116, but they don't control the bike room. Not wanting to lock his bike to the fencing around the racks he gave up.

There is a sign next to the bike room that lists the Fairfax County DOT phone number (Information and  Lost & Found, 703-877-5600). There is also a sign on the door to the bike room with the county logo with the text County of Fairfax Virginia, Wiehle-Reston East Bike & Ride, not to be confused with WMATA's Bike & Ride, a completely different system.

People don't care who controls what at the stations; they just need clear information about how to use the facilities. Ideally there would be one point of contact for all bike facilities at the stations, but that will likely not happen for a while.

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New bike access through Ft Belvoir is now open

After September 11, 2001, Woodlawn Road through Ft. Belvoir, from Route 1 to Telegraph Road, was closed. Woodlawn Road was part of U.S. Bike Route 1 through Northern Virginia. Cyclists were forced to find an alternative route, which ended up being a dangerous, long stretch of Route 1. The new road, Jeff Todd Way/Mulligan Road, is a much needed alternative to Woodlawn Road.

Del. Scott Surovell recently filmed a bike ride on the road just before it was opened. It was my understanding that the outside lanes would be 14 feet wide but it's difficult to tell from the video. There is a wide shared use path on the west/south side of the road that was expected to be completed by the time the road opened on August 25.

For more information on the road see the Federal Highway Administration site and the VDOT site.

The new road connects to Telegraph Road that is being widened and will include bike facilities, either bike lanes or a multi-use trail. We were contacted by a cyclist who once tried to ride a long, 75-mile loop "from Herndon, down the W & OD to the Custis, along Mt. Vernon Trail to Mt. Vernon, then attempted to 'link' over to West Ox and the Parkway Trail back up to Herndon." He was not able to find a bike-friendly connection over to West Ox Road.

When the Telegraph Road widening is completed, the long loop he mentioned should work. A cyclist could ride from Mt Vernon Trail along Mt Vernon Memorial Hwy to Jeff Todd Way at Route 1, north to Telegraph Rd, west to Beulah Rd where there are bike lanes leading north to a trail parallel to Franconia Springfield Pkwy where they could head west to the ped/bike crossing of I-95 and continue west to the Fairfax Co Parkway.

The Fairfax County bike map now needs to be updated to include the new road and trail.

Here is Del. Surovell's video of his bike ride.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Sherwood Hall Lane bike lanes installed

VDOT is completing the installation of bike lanes on Sherwood Hall Lane as part of a repaving/pavement marking project to improve safety. See an earlier FABB blog post for details. We've already heard from cyclists in that area who welcome the new bike lanes. Thanks to Supervisor Hyland and Delegate Surovell for supporting the project and to Fairfax County and VDOT staff for their work on the project. The newly configured road will benefit all users by making it safer and providing a dedicated bike facility. Please send thank you notes to Supervisor Hyland and Del. Surovell.

Del. Surovell is a cyclist. Here are his comments on the project along with a video clip he recorded on a recent bike ride along Sherwood Hall Lane, posted on his blog, The Dixie Pig:
Multimodal improvements are critical to get more cars off the road. It is also hoped that by restricting lane size, this will help to lower speeds and illegal passing on Sherwood Hall Lane which has become a real problem with increased cut through traffic.

These improvements were the result of two public hearings and significant public input. These lanes will eventually link into to a multiuse path on U.S. 1 and other bike lanes as U.S. 1 is redone, properties are redeveloped and road repaved.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Post article on riding to the Wiehle station

Lucinda Shannon works downtown and lives two miles from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. Like many Reston residents, she started bike commuting when the station opened. Kelley, of FABB and the Reston ped bike committee, volunteered to help her find a good bike route and gave her some moral support. See Lucinda's story in the Post article, Meet the Silver Liners! We tagged along with a few new riders to see how it's going.
As soon as Shannon realized her house was just two miles from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, she decided to become a bike commuter. She could pedal to the Metro, and then ride downtown to her job with Easter Seals. Her first step was obvious: Buy a bike.

But how would she lug her stuff? Or ride with traffic? Or figure out what to wear?

Enter Kelley Westenhoff, chair of Reston’s Pedestrian & Bicycling Advisory Committee. Her group developed 10 route maps for residents looking to get from their neighborhoods to the new station. Committee members even offered to create individualized plans, meet people at their homes and lead them on a commute.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ashgrove Trail repairs completed

Ashgrove Trail looking toward
from Tysons
The Ashgrove Trail is a major entry point into Tysons near the Spring Hill Metro station. Fairfax County Park Authority recently completed major repairs to the trail and bridge. They also removed a barrier at one end and replaced it with bollards. The trail is now very smooth and in excellent condition. The only remaining work is installation of a guardrail along sections of the trail. Thanks to the Park Authority for maintaining this important trail connection and making the needed repairs.

Looking toward Tysons
The trail is the former roadbed of Ashgrove Lane. It connects the residential communities along Old Courthouse Road with Tysons. It is also an entry point from the W&OD Trail. There was an electronically controlled gate on the Tysons end of the road that was for the exclusive use of a couple living nearby based on a earlier agreement. The easement ended once that couple passed away.

We are not big fans of bollards but in this case something was needed to
Base of bollard that is
a hazard to trail users.
Located near Montmorency Dr.
prevent motorists from using the old roadbed. There is still a stub of a bollard on the trail from Montmorency Dr that needs to either be removed or repaired.


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VDOT survey on needed curb cuts

Cyclists often use curb cuts/ramps where trails intersect roads. Occasionally cyclists ride on the sidewalk which is very difficult without a curb cut. We all likely know locations where a curb cut is needed. The VDOT Curb Cut Survey is a chance for residents to identify missing curb cuts or curb cuts needing repairs.
Example of a poorly constructed and maintained curb cut.
In collaboration with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, VDOT is conducting a survey of non-compliant ADA curb-cuts, locations where curb-cuts need to be installed or locations that are damaged and need to be fixed. VDOT wants to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and needs your assistance to set priorities for both fixing problem areas and building new/additional curb-cuts.

 VDOT will concentrate, first, on the urbanized areas of Tidewater, Richmond and Northern Virginia. If you live in one of these areas, please assist us by identifying the issues and answering the following questions.

*Please note that some locations may be the responsibility of a City or County government instead of VDOT. If this is the case, your comments will be forwarded to the appropriate jurisdiction.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Fairfax Co Bike Coordinator position opening

Fairfax County is looking for a replacement for the current bike coordinator, Charlie Strunk. Charlie will be leaving the county the end of this year. The position is located in the Department of Transportation and pays $64,254 - $107,090 annually. The closing date for applications is September 5.

From the bike coordinator job announcement:
This Coordinator works in the Capital Projects and Operations Division and is directly responsible for managing and overseeing the county's comprehensive bicycle program, including both capital and non-capital program areas and projects. Serves as the senior technical resource on all Fairfax County bicycle issues, and supervises one Transportation Planner II.

Position responsibilities include: Coordinates with other staff, agencies, and departments involved in bicycle planning, design, and construction including both public and private sectors. Develops policies and procedures to enhance and support bicycling as part of the county's multi-modal transportation policy and complete streets efforts.

Responsible for bicycle project development including coordinating and reviewing projects assigned to others. Reviews development applications and plans including rezoning applications, special exceptions/special permits, and site plans assuring that bicycle issues are addressed. Coordinates with the Virginia Department of Transportation regarding state transportation improvement projects assuring bicycle issues are addressed.

Manages the county's growing bicycle parking infrastructure program including the bicycle locker rental program and the new network of secure, enclosed bicycle storage rooms Assists with identifying and securing funding for both capital and non-capital bicycle projects. Responsible for developing and prioritizing bicycle projects to be added to the county's transportation improvement program. Works with elected officials, agency representatives, design consultants, bicycle advocacy groups, and the general public on all county bicycle-related issues. This position will require attendance and participation at public meetings, public hearings, and workshops, as well as both local and regional bicycling events.
We'll write more later about Charlie's many accomplishments as bike coordinator.

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