Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Written by Sonya Breehey. Sonya is an active member of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling. Jointly posted on the WABA Blog.
custis trail
The Custis Trail is one of Northern Virginia’s most popular trails. Let’s extend it to past the Beltway and beyond. Photo Credit: MV Jantzen
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently unveiled concept plans for an extension of the Custis Trail along I-66 outside the Beltway in Fairfax and Prince William Counties. Hundreds of Fairfax County trail users contacted VDOT asking for the trail extension as part of the I-66 project. While it is exciting to see the trail one step closer to reality, VDOT still has not included the trail as part of the I-66 project.  VDOT is asking for additional feedback on how the parallel trail will benefit you, your commute, and your neighborhood.
i66 trail at dunn loring
Proposed Custis Trail extension along I-66 in Dunn Loring. Source: VDOT (PDF)
The Custis Trail is one of the most successful bike trails in Northern Virginia, providing a popular recreation destination and critical bike-commuting route for thousands of commuters each year. In 2014, over 500,000 people rode a bike or walked along the Custis Trail. A similar trail outside the Beltway would be a major benefit to bicyclists in Northern Virginia.
A recent study showed that 25% of Fairfax County residents live within a mile of the proposed I-66 trail or within 1/2 mile of either the Fairfax Co Parkway or W&OD Trails, both of which would be connected by an extended Custis Trail.
I66 Trail Benefit Area
25% of Fairfax County residents would live within a mile of the proposed I-66 Trail or within 1/2 mile of the Fairfax Co. Parkway or W&OD Trails.
While there are right-of-way concerns and some backyards may be impacted, similar challenges were faced when building the Custis Trail. VDOT should seek to reduce the impacts by fitting as much of the trail within the existing project right-of-way and minimize impacts to neighbors.
Now is the time to take the long view.  Providing safe accessible connections for people to bike and walk to transit, and along and across I-66, will offer residents and commuters transportation options that enable us to shift more trips to biking and walking.
If you want the I-66 trail to be a reality, here is how you can help.
Speak Up at an Upcoming I-66 Public Hearings
Attend one of the I-66 Public Hearings and tell VDOT you support bicycle improvements, especially extending the Custis Trail, as part of the I-66 improvement project. Hearings are scheduled from 5:30 to 9:00 pm.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015VDOT Northern Virginia District Office
4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030
Thursday, May 28, 2015Oakton High School – Cafeteria
2900 Sutton Road, Vienna, VA 22181
Tuesday, June 2, 2015Battlefield High School – Cafeteria
15000 Graduation Drive, Haymarket, VA 20169
Wednesday, June 3, 2015Bull Run Elementary School – Cafeteria
15301 Lee Highway, Centreville, VA 20121
Send a Message to VDOT
Written comments may be submitted through June 18th by mail to Ms. Susan Shaw, Megaprojects Director, at the VDOT District Office address above, or by email  Reference “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” in the subject line.  Copy your public representatives on your email to make sure everyone gets your message for better bicycling! Don’t wait until June 18th, send your comments now.
Involve Your Neighborhood Association
Contact your neighborhood association to let them know how improving bicycling as part of the I-66 project will help your neighborhood, and urge them to get involved.
Visit FABB’s I-66 page for more information about efforts to include bicycling in the I-66 project.


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Tour de Fat is Saturday!

DC Metro's biggest bike party, Tour de Fat, is Saturday, May 30, at Yards Park next to Nats Stadium. FABB will be there checking IDs and helping to raise money to improve biking in Fairfax.

The free event begins at 11 a.m. with a costumed bike parade. Throughout the afternoon you can enjoy great entertainment on two stages, play games, ride trick bikes, and enjoy New Belgium beverages.

We still need a few volunteers for the afternoon shift, from 1:30-5pm. All volunteers receive two beverage tokens. Please consider helping FABB at Tour de Fat. Sign up via Volunteer Spot or contact me. Hope to see you there.


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Traffic myths by Tom Vanderbilt

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the excellent transportation book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), wrote about some common myths about traffic in today's Post. In light of the current plan to expand I-66 we especially liked his first myth:
1. More roads = less traffic. This is the granddaddy of all traffic myths, one still held dear by the average driver and certain precincts of state highway offices. More funding for more roads is on the way in Texas, where the governor declared that residents are “tired of being stuck in traffic.” On Memorial Day, it will assume the stature of an intuitive truth: If they just built more roads, we’d be home by now.

But that reasoning doesn’t stand. First, Memorial Day is one of a handful of peak travel days. “You don’t build a church for Easter Sunday,” as the saying goes (a lesson most shopping malls in America have not heeded, judging by their acres of empty parking lots). More broadly, whatever short-term gain that comes with capacity expansion is generally eaten up by longer-term behavioral shifts. As University of Toronto researchers Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner describe what has been called the “fundamental law” of traffic congestion: “People drive more when the stock of roads in their city increases.”

Aren’t planners simply keeping up with population growth? Perhaps. Except that growth in vehicle miles traveled has consistently outpaced population growth over the past few decades. And as transportation researcher David Levinson has noted, U.S. roads are already bristling with spare capacity and inefficient use is rampant (such as too-large single-occupant cars all traveling to work at the same time on too-wide lanes). He argues that we should focus time and resources on using the highways we already have more efficiently, rather than on building more.
His second myth greatly affects bicyclists and pedestrians:
2. Faster roads are more efficient roads. Speaking of efficiency, common sense says that when drivers are humming along at or even above the speed limit, highways are performing at their best. The German autobahn, with its (shrinking) speed-limit-free zones, is often offered as a shining example. It must be those slower drivers who are holding things up!

But as good as fast-moving roads might be for the individual driver, they are not the best for the most drivers. As data gleaned from in-pavement “loop detectors” on Washington state highways showed, those highways were able to achieve “maximum throughput” — pushing the most cars through one segment of road in a given time — at speeds that were roughly 80 percent of the posted speed limit of 60 mph. Why? At higher speeds, drivers need to allow more “headway” between vehicles, meaning more space is required per vehicle. And faster-moving traffic tends to break down more quickly, with more severe “shock waves”; it takes a lot longer to recover from a traffic jam than to get into one. I have been told, anecdotally, by traffic engineers that the left-hand “passing lane” can become congested first. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if karmic justice is at work there.)

In a “speed harmonization” experiment on Colorado’s I-70, the state highway patrol was able to improve traffic flow by enforcing, via phalanxes of patrol cars, 55 mph speeds — thus preventing the instability caused by people driving fast into packs of congested, slower-moving vehicles.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tour de Fat is next week!

DC Metro's biggest bike party, Tour de Fat, is next Saturday, May 30, at Yards Park next to Nats Stadium. The "Tour" is a celebration of all things bike sponsored by New Belgium Brewery, makers of Fat Tire Ale. The free event begins at 11 a.m. with a costumed bike parade. Throughout the afternoon attendees enjoy great entertainment on two stages, play games, ride trick bikes, and enjoy New Belgium beverages.

Proceeds go to bike advocacy organizations including FABB. In turn we supply volunteers to check IDs. We still need a few volunteers for the afternoon shift, from 1:30-5pm. All volunteers receive a 24 oz stainless steel water bottle only available for TdF volunteers. They also receive a $5 coupon for the merchandise tent, and beverage tokens. Please consider helping FABB at Tour de Fat. Sign up via Volunteer Spot or contact me. Hope to see you there.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New report on economic potential of bike commuting

Deloitte University Press recently published a report on modern transportation options: Smart mobility: Reducing congestion and fostering faster, greener, and cheaper transportation options.

The study showed that bike commuting could significantly alleviate congestion and save commuters money. What is needed are significant improvements to bike infrastructure and promotion of bike commuting. In an ideal scenario in which employees living within 5 miles of work commuted by bike 2-3 days a week, it's possible to reduce vehicle miles traveled by 13.1 billion and to achieve mobility savings of $27.6 billion.

Also included in the report is an interactive map of the U.S. showing bike commuting potential (1-5 miles), investments in bike infrastructure, and where bike sharing exists or is planned.

Bike Commuting Potential - 2 mile commutes
Bike Infrastructure
Existing or planned bike sharing system

We were interviewed by the authors, who featured Fairfax County in the report:
The areas with higher concentrations of potential bike commuters cluster around suburban “edge cities” containing commercial centers such as Reston, Tysons Corner, Herndon, Manassas, and Woodbridge. The identity of some of the “hot spots” may be counterintuitive, particularly Tysons Corner, which used to be a national symbol of car-friendly and congested development. But these areas are typical of what we found in our nationwide study, and “bikeability” now forms a major part of Tysons Corner’s long-term development plan.

Medium-density suburban neighborhoods located one to three miles away from thriving commercial developments offer surprisingly good opportunities for increasing bike ridership. Further down the I-267 Dulles Tollway is Reston Town Center, another car-friendly suburb that has begun planning for 13 bikeshare stations to sustain its economic growth and attract younger residents.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

AAA provides bicycle roadside assistance to members

AAA recently announced that it will provide bicycle roadside assistance to all members starting May 1. According to the Bicycle FAQ, recumbents, trikes, and other bikes that cannot be transported on a standard bike rack are not included. If you are towing a trailer, it is covered if it can fit into the service vehicle.

The service is available on a "normally traveled road." If you're riding on the W&OD Trail or some other major trail and you break down, you'll need to move the bike to the nearest road.

From AAA:

  • There is no additional charge to Members for bicycle coverage. Any of the Members roadside assistance calls can be used for bicycles
  • AAA Bicycle coverage is included in all membership levels - Basic, Plus, Premier & RV!
  • The bicycle towing mileage is the same as vehicle towing mileage - 3 miles for Basic, 100 miles for Plus/Premier and one 200 mile tow for a Premier household.
Coverage & Restrictions:
  • Member must be present at the time of service and have a valid AAA Mid-Atlantic card.
  • Bicycle service is not available to Members of other AAA clubs.
  • Bicycle service applies to all 2-wheeled bicycles, including rental bicycles & tandem/trailers pulled by bicycles.
  • Bicycle service is limited to transporting a bicycle (Back home, to bike repair shop etc.) due to breakdown disablement. Mechanical repairs not included, including bicycle lock service.
  • Service is provided only along a normally traveled road or street.
  • AAA Bicycle Service is provided to AAA Mid-Atlantic Members only within the AAA Mid-Atlantic territories.*
  • Bicycle service is provided for the rider whose bicycle is disabled and accompanying minors.
Better World Club has been providing bicycle roadside assistance for several years. The program includes Bike Discounts, information on traveling with your bike and more. You can also purchase just the bicycle only service.
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Fantastic Bike to Work Day

What a great day for Bike to Work Day! FABB reps were out in force signing up people for our newsletter and spreading the bike love. Here are some photos from the Reston event where over 500 people registered. Thanks to Reston Association for organizing the event and Comstock Partners for providing the venue, at the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station.


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