Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Innovation Station Community Meeting on June 29

Supervisor John Foust and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will hold a community meeting regarding the Innovation Center Station North-Side Shared-Use Path Feasibility study on Thursday, June 29, 2017, in the cafeteria of Herndon Middle School, 901 Locust Street, Herndon, at 6:30 p.m. The proposed path will connect the future Innovation Station Metrorail Station kiss-and-ride on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road to Apgar Place and Farougi Court. The meeting will begin with time to review boards showing three different conceptual alternatives for the path alignment, followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m. The meeting will conclude with a questions and answers session. FABB encourages local members to attend and share their knowledge about what makes for successful shared-use paths. 

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Friday, June 23, 2017

What You Missed

FABB’s June Monthly Meeting, held at the Braddock District Government Center on June 21, focused on the Springfield and Braddock Districts. We had a great turnout with three excellent presentations by Ann Sharp of Supervisor Cook’s office, Nancy-Jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Nicole Wynand of the FCDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Office. Here are some of the highlights: 

Ann Sharp updated the group on a number of recent and planned improvements in Braddock District, including multimodal paths on both sides of Braddock Road from Rt. 286 to I-495 and paths connecting the Burke VRE Station to nearby neighborhoods. 

Photo by Mike Salmon, Courtesy of The Connection.
Nancy-Jo Manney shared some of the Greater Springfield Chamber’s bike and pedestrian achievements that have made central Springfield more bikeable. The Chamber has identified and gotten improvements made to a bike route that connects central Springfield, Springfield Plaza, and Springfield Town Center. In addition bike lanes are being added to Commerce Street along with minor improvements on signage, turn lanes, and signal timing in the area.  The Chamber also arranged for the installation of branded bike parking at Springfield Plaza and elsewhere with the help of a TransUrban grant that was matched by private property owners. The rack’s logo and design can be used by other communities.  

Nicole Wynand's FCDOT updates included: 
  • A new bicycle and pedestrian Ambassador program has started with three volunteers. The ambassadors will do outreach at public meetings and events to spread a safety message. 
  • The VDOT summer repaving program in the Braddock and Springfield districts will add or extend bike lanes on Commerce Street and Braeburn Road. Overall, the county will add 26 miles of new bike lanes this summer.  
  • Fairfax County Parkway Trail signage is being designed along with mile markers for the trail between Rt.1 and Rt. 7. Currently, there are 150 bicycle-related signs in the county and this project will add another 300. 
  • The Bicycle/Pedestrian Program plans to hire two more staffers this fall. 
  • An Annandale to Springfield wayfinding project is underway. 
  • A Little River Turnpike Corridor study is ready and soon will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Funding is available for the most important and needed projects in the study. 

Each of the three presentations included questions and discussions on a variety of issues. One important update shared with the group was the news that VDOT has plans to repave the entire Fairfax County Parkway Trai, in the coming year.  Also, VDOT is conducting an inventory of all of the trails in the county to update its database on which trails it owns and is responsible for maintaining. 

FABB’s monthly meeting are very informative. There is always good discussion, good energy, and good company. Please plan on joining us for a monthly meeting in the coming months. Our next meeting is July 19 at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna and our August meeting on the 16th at the Mosaic Community Center will be focusing on the Providence and Mason Districts. 

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Braddock Road Study Community Meeting, June 26

Burke area FABB members and supporters are encouraged to attend a community meeting on Fairfax County Department of Transportation’s Braddock Road Multimodal Study next Monday. The meeting will be held on June 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Braddock Secondary School, 9200 Burke Lake Road.  The first hour will be an open house with FCDOT staff available for questions. At 7:30 p.m., there will be a presentation on the Braddock Road Study. This is great opportunity to provide your insights on ways to make the planned multimodal paths on both sides of Braddock Road as safe and beneficial as possible. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Comment on I-66 Parallel Trail by June 30th

FABB produced simulation of I-66 Trail.
VDOT has been very open to public input on improving the proposed parallel bicycling/pedestrian trail for the Transform the I-66 Outside the Beltway project. So, FABB is asking everyone to take a few minutes and send an email to VDOT with comments and ideas on how to make the trail better. The deadline for submitting comments is Friday, June 30, 2017. 

To help you with this, FABB is providing the following contact information and details about the proposed parallel trail for your use.  
Comments that will have the most impact are those that are specific to a particular segment of the trail, especially if near your home or where you ride. Please use the material below as needed and try to keep comments constructive. Don't hesitate to share ideas about potential fixes. The engineers and designers have said that they welcome other's thoughts. Also, be sure to mention how you might use the trail and where you live (city or neighborhood).

Features of the concept plans that are praiseworthy include:
  • The project significantly benefits northern Virginia by connecting adjoining neighborhoods and future transit facilities. This not only facilitates daily multimodal commutes to work but also can help reduce congestion by allowing citizens to use bikes for short trips for local errands and shopping. 
  • The proposed trail expands Fairfax County's bike network, providing an extensive new east-west bike/pedestrian route plus connections to the W&OD trail, the Cross County Trail, and others. 
  • The creativity in developing many of the underpasses, grade separated, and other crossings to help cyclists and pedestrians on the trail safely traverse intersections. Hope that this and the creativity applied to the Route 7 trail bridge will continue to be applied to all of the segments of the I-66 trail.
  • The proposed installation of bike counters to gather data on usage will be very welcomed, especially if improvements to the trail are made to insure that it is an appealing, safe, and healthy transportation option.
  • 11 access points to the trail are a good start to increasing connectivity and encouraging use. 
Features of the concept plans that raise concerns include:
  • The potential noise impacts on trail users could be high on those sections between the sound wall and the highway. Beyond exposing the users to the dangers of high decibel noise, cyclists and pedestrians may have difficulty hearing the bells, horns, and shouts of other users passing them. The noise impact on users inside the sound wall should be analyzed before construction begins and the results should be used by VDOT in selecting the safest and healthiest location for placement of the multiuse trail.  
  • The exposure of trail users to pollution when the trail is between the sound wall and highway not only may have negative health impacts on regular users but may discourage many from using the trail. At a minimum, the pollution levels and health effects should be analyzed and made available to potential users.  EPA research concludes placing a shared use path outside of the sound wall will improve air quality by 50%.   .
  • The current plans have the trail on the same grade as the highway.  With only a concrete and fence barrier and a 12-foot shoulder separating trail users from I-66 traffic, the proximity to traffic may discourage some people because of perceived dangers from the nearby motor vehicles.
  • The trail inside the wall is very exposed and with no natural buffers to protect users from weather and noise. During the summer when heat is radiating off the highway and the trail’s pavement, the absence of shady sections to provide some relief could discourage trail use.
  • The trail would benefit from additional access points through the sound wall.  This will improve accessibility and provide users a sense of security knowing that they have more options to get off the trail if needed.  While access will be provided at many of the overpasses, Jermantown Road, near Yoenas Park and Dunn Loring at Gallows Road should be provided for connectivity to transit, recreation locations and shopping destinations.
  • Our understanding is that in many areas the trail will only be ​8-feet to 10-feet wide ​with 2-foot shoulders. We hope that, with grade separation and other improvements that the trail can be widened where possible to accommodate users, especially when utility vehicles using the trail as a service road are present.
  • A major concern is that if the trail is not improved it will be so unappealing that it will not be used. An underutilized trail could then be used by opponents of trails and similar multimodal transportation options to then argue against them, seriously undermining VDOT goals for reducing congestion. 
A well-designed shared use path will provide a safe, healthy, and enjoyable experience for trail users of all ages. Comments by FABB members will go a long way to insuring that VDOT places the trail as far from the traffic lanes as possible and makes this goal a reality.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reminder: FABB's June Meeting in Burke On Wednesday

Please join FABB this Wednesday, 21 June, at 7:30 pm at the Braddock District Government Center, 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke, for our next monthly meeting.  We have a great program this month featuring Ann Sharp from Supervisor Cook’s office, Nancy-Jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and Nichole Wynands from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. 

See you there. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Bike Lawyer Bruce Deming Competes in 24 Hour Solo World Championships

Bike Lawyer Bruce Deming
We were talking to bike lawyer Bruce Deming recently and he casually mentioned that he had just returned from participating in the 24 Hour Solo World Championships in Italy June 2 & 3. Bruce placed 2nd in his age category, Mens 60-64. Congratulations Bruce!

You will recall that the former program manager for Bike Arlington, Chris Eatough, holds the record for winning six 24-hour solo world championships, an amazing accomplishment. Chris also won two 24-hour solo NORBA national championships. It's hard to imagine what it must take to compete in such a race.

In 2013 Bruce attended a monthly FABB meeting to discuss his work and his book Surviving the Crash: Your Rights in a Bike Accident. See our other coverage of Bruce in previous blog posts.

Recently Bruce worked with WABA to support their contributory negligence campaign, providing pro-bono legal assistance. For that work he received WABA's Vision Zero Award in 2015. Virginia is now only one of four states with contributory negligence laws. We think it's time for a change.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Chance to Provide Feedback on myVDOT Application

VDOT provides a very useful service for reporting problems. myVDOT is an online form that users fill out noting the problem and the location, using an interactive map. Photos of the problem can be uploaded. See our previous blog entries about myVDOT. In my experience, problems are addressed quickly and feedback on a request is provided in a timely manner.

While the service works very well, there is no direct way to report a problem with a trail, sidewalk, or bike lane. These are the initial options for reporting:

How can we help you?

 I need a road repaired
 I need something removed from a road
 I need signs, signals, or guardrail repaired
 I need new signs or traffic devices installed
 I have a question or need information
 I want to submit a claim (includes mailbox damage)

We've asked VDOT to add a way for reporting bike-related problems. We've been told that the system is being modified and that our request is under consideration. VDOT is currently asking users of the system to take a survey on the user experience. This is a great opportunity to let VDOT know that some small modifications of the text will allow cyclists to more easily report problems.

If you have a couple of minutes, please take the myVDOT Survey.

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