Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fairfax County 2007 Transportation Bond

Fairfax County is asking voters for the authority to borrow money for the Transportation Bond on November 6. The county is proposing to borrow up to $110 million for transportation projects. $55 million will go toward roadway improvements, $16 million toward transit, $15 million toward pedestrian improvements. Included in the $7.75 million for spot improvement projects are on-road bike lanes on Gallows Rd. Find out more about the projects being funded by the bond.

Charlie Strunk, the county bicycle coordinator, has put together a list of improvements in the bond that will enhance bicycling in Fairfax County.


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Saturday, October 27, 2007

With HOT Lanes Must Come Bike Lanes

We recently sent a letter to the editor of the Washington Post about an article they published on the I-495 HOT lanes project. The letter was expanded into an article published in the Sunday Outlook section on page B8, With HOT Lanes Must Come Bike Lanes. As we stated in the article, bicycle facilities as required by the Fairfax County Trails Plan [large pdf file] must be included in the project. For too long the Beltway has been a major barrier to bicycle travel. Now is the time to overcome that barrier by including bike lanes on some of the bridges, and on others, dual multi-use trails. These bridges over the Beltway will be rebuilt as part of the project, and we can't wait another 40 or 50 years for another chance for these facilities to be built.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FABB 2007 Board of Supervisors Candidate Survey

FABB recently sent a questionnaire to all candidates for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. 15 of 21 candidates responded, most expressed qualified or strong support for making bike lanes and wider shoulders a part of the transportation infrastructure in Fairfax County.

The focus of the survey was to gauge each candidate's commitment to the use of bicycles as a viable transportation alternative. An increasing number of cities and communities across the U.S. are finding that, given safe conditions and convenience, more commuters will choose biking as a transportation option.

We are very encouraged by the candidate responses. There was overwhelming support among the candidates for explicit funding for on-road bike facilities such as bike lanes and paved shoulders, and for Fairfax County becoming a Bicycle-Friendly Community.

You can view the results on the FABB website.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Board approves Stringfellow Road plan!

Today the Fairfax Co. Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the VDOT plan for Stringfellow Road which includes wide curb lanes for bicycle traffic. The 14-foot wide outside lanes will provide space for cyclists to travel on-road in a much safer manner than the originally proposed dual 12-foot travel lanes. Thanks to all the cyclists who contacted Board members to express your desire for on-road bicycle accommodations. This is a major victory for bicyclists in the county.

At a ceremony held before the meeting Chairman Connolly and several Board members celebrated the installation of bike racks on all Fairfax Connector buses as of today. The racks are easy to use and will help cyclists extend their rides and will provide many options for commuting and recreational cyclists in the future. As we mentioned earlier, we are thankful to Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator, for working with Connector staff to help make this happen.

During the Board meeting prototypes of the forthcoming Fairfax County Bike Map were handed out to all members of the Board. Chairman Connolly talked about the importance of the plan and how it fits into the overall Bicycle Initiative undertaken by the Board this year. FABB members serve on the Bike Map Advisory Committee.

The Board also was scheduled to vote today on the Tycon Tower mixed use rezoning in Tysons, next to the building commonly referred to as the "shopping bag building". FABB worked with the developer and the county to ensure that on-road bike lanes along the Tysons Ring Road are included in the plan. We also lobbied for bicycle parking at the residential and commercial/retail buildings, for residents, employees and visitors. The developer has proffered to use the U-type racks.

Finally, the Board was scheduled to vote on the Merrifield Mixed Use development. FABB members met with the developer to discuss the need for better bicycle access to and through the proposed development. We also discussed the need for adequate bicycle parking. While very little was ultimately proposed for access to the site, bicycle parking is being proposed, and bicycle access within the site is addressed. We hope that in the future county requirements will alleviate us of the need to monitor this type of development as closely as we do now.

It was a big day for Fairfax bicyclists.
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Friday, October 12, 2007

Fairfax bike map prototype

Monday is a big day for Fairfax County cyclists. In the previous blog entry it was noted that all Connector buses will have bike racks installed starting on Monday. Two other bike-related events will occur on that day as well. A prototype of the county bike map will be announced by Chairman Connolly during the regular Board meeting. While it will be an early prototype, it is an opportunity to kick start the process for creating a final, comprehensive map of existing bike routes in the county. Funding was secured last year for the map and a contract has been signed with a private firm to produce the final map by Bike to Work Day 2008. FABB is represented on the bike map advisory committee that was recently formed. For more information, contact chairman@fabb-bikes.org.

The other event of concern to cyclists on Monday is the Board's decision on a design for Stringfellow Road. We are confident that the Board will approve a design that includes wide curb lanes for bicycle access on the road. This will mark one of the few times that the county and VDOT have designed a Fairfax road to accommodate cyclists and we hope that many more such projects will be coming in the future. While the current design does not contain striped bike lanes, we hope that in the future shared bike markings such as "sharrows" will be used.
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Bike racks on Fairfax Connector buses

Fairfax Connector buses will have bike racks on all buses starting on Monday, Oct. 15, 2007. To celebrate this event, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a ceremony in front of the Government Center located at 12000 Government Center Parkway Fairfax, VA at 8:30am, before the regular Board meeting. Read the announcement of the event and visit the Fairfax Connector Bikes on Buses page.

Fairfax is a large county, and this will be one way to bridge the many gaps in the county bicycle network. It will also allow those who have extra long commutes to take part of their trip by bike and part by bus. Cyclists can also connect with Metro buses that already are equipped with racks. Thanks to Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator, for making this happen.
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Thursday, October 4, 2007

South county ride

Share the Road sign
on Sherwood Hall Lane
On Sunday, September 30, 2007, FABB held an advocacy ride in the southeast county area. A south county FABB member hosted the chairman and two other FABB members on a ride in the Lee and Mt. Vernon Districts. The goal was to observe some of the routes used by local cyclists and to discuss missing gaps in the bicycle network and other problems in the area.

We gathered at the Huntington Metro station. Our south county friend planned the route on mostly bike-friendly roads that would expose us to some of the more challenging sections in the area. Three of us rode our bikes to the Vienna Metro station and took Metro to the Huntington station. On weekends bikes are allowed at any time on Metro. Bikes can be brought on to cars using the front- or rear-most doors. Elevators are used to get the bikes to the train platforms.

From the Huntington station we rode along Huntington Ave. to Ft. Hunt Rd. Huntington Ave. is a 4 lane road with a painted median, space that could possibly be used to create a wider outside lane. We crossed busy Route 1 at the traffic signal and proceeded to Ft. Hunt Rd. where we turned south. Ft. Hunt Rd. is a two lane road with a shoulder in some sections. It is on the list of roads on which existing unpaved shoulders will be paved in 2008 making it a much better bike facility. Along the way we passed Belle View Blvd., a popular route to the Mt. Vernon Trail.

At Sherwood Hall Ln. we turned right where we took the above photo of a Share the Road sign. Shortly afterwards we stopped at an excellent deli/coffee shop on Sherwood Hall Ln. just before Route 1 (do we ride to eat or eat to ride?). We prepared ourselves for the next section along Route 1. After turning left on Route 1 we merged into the left turn lane ahead of most of the oncoming traffic where we turned onto Mt. Vernon Hwy. that leads to the Mt. Vernon estate. Traffic is fast and heavy and there is little room for cyclists on Route 1. Extensive pedestrian improvements are planned along the road, but bicycle access will always be a challenge until the road is redesigned to become a complete street, allowing cyclists and pedestrians safe access along and across the road.

We followed Mt. Vernon Hwy. south, passing several schools and parks. The traffic was light on the two lane road that seemed to be able to accommodate bike lanes by changing the lane widths. It's an important connecting street that needs better bike access. After checking out Mt. Vernon Hwy. we turned right on Woodley Dr. and made our way to Radford Ave., just south of the South County Government Center that appeared to have very poor pedestrian and bicycle access.

We turned left on Route 1 and then right on Frye Rd. We wanted to eventually make our way to Ft. Belvoir to review bicycle access issues on the military base. We turned left on Pole Rd., a good parallel alternative route to Route 1. Where Pole Rd., Meeres Rd., and Old Mill Rd. meet, there is now a barrier across Meeres Rd. Since we saw no “No Trespassing” signs, it was easy enough to skirt around the barrier and ride west along Meeres Rd. to Woodlawn Rd. We're told this was a common bike and auto commuter route before the barriers were put in place. We see no reason for cyclists to be banned from this section.

Pole Rd. near Ft. BelvoirMeere's Rd. barrierBeulah Rd. bike lanes
There is also a set of concrete barriers across Woodlawn at the Woodlawn Rd./Kingman Rd. intersection set wide enough apart to allow us to easily ride our bikes through to continue on Woodlawn to Beulah St. where we encountered our first official bike lane, a cause for much celebration once we figured out that we could easily pass through the second barrier on Woodlawn.

Bicycle access through Ft. Belvoir has been an ongoing problem since 9/11. FABB will try to monitor development as it occurs in this area over the next several years, and help is need from south county cyclists.

Beulah Rd. is configured much like the original VDOT plan for Stringfellow Rd., 4 or 5 foot bike lanes, two travel lanes in each direction, a multi-use trail on one side and a sidewalk on the other. The cross section does not seem overly wide. We enjoyed the relative safety of the bike lanes until we turned right on Manchester Blvd. to Kingstown Blvd. where we checked out the Kingstowne Towne Center. This is not a bike-friendly area, at least not along Kingstowne Blvd., and it should be. The town center was planned as an auto-dominated area which it is.

We then turned north on S. Van Dorn St., instead of riding along the parallel sidepath we choose instead to ride on the road, which felt like a much safer, more direct route. At Franconia Rd. we turned right and after a short stretch decided to avoid the heavy traffic and ride along the parallel roads north of Franconia. The planned Cleremont Dr. detour is located in this area and we followed most of the roads proposed for the detour, except for the narrow, overgrown sidewalk section that was in the original proposed detour route.

After winding through the pleasant, low traffic roads of the Cleremont area we turned left on Telegraph Rd. at Burgundy Rd., took a quick right onto Huntington Rd., then returned to the metro station. It was a good ride on relatively calm streets for most of the ride. There were some short sections on busy roads that could use dedicated bicycle facilities to connect the bike-friendly routes. We thank our south county colleague and look forward to future rides in that area. See the route.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

FABB chairman letter to Senator Cuccinelli

We recently wrote to Senator Cuccinelli to express our concerns about his desire to eliminate bike lanes on Stringfellow Road. He and other local politicians are holding a public meeting on Wed., Oct. 3 at Rocky Run Elementary School, 4400 Stringfellow Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151 (map) at 7 p.m.:
Dear Senator Cuccinelli,

I was very disappointed to hear that you are trying to eliminate on-road bike facilities on Stringfellow Road. As a year-round bike commuter who rides along Stringfellow Road on a regular basis, I strongly support this facility for safe cycling. Most of my cycling on Stringfellow is on the north section from Route 50 to the Fairfax County Parkway. The parkway has a wide shoulder and parellel paved trail. This northern section of Stringfellow is scheduled to be paved in the near future, with Fairfax County funding the paving of the now unpaved shoulder to allow room for cyclists. The proposed section along the southern portion of Stringfellow would connect to this newly paved section, would thus connect to the Fairfax Co Parkway which connects to Springfield in the south and the W&OD Trail and Route 7 in the north.

The state is encouraging more people to save energy. The recently released Virginia Energy Plan (http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/vaenergyplan.shtml) notes that one way to reduce vehicle miles traveled is to implement another major policy: "Virginia should continue to develop its transportation infrastructure to include facilities for no- or low-fuel methods such as walking, bicycling, and small scooters consistent with the Commonwealth Transportation Board's Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations." In another section, the report sums up reasons for promoting cycling:

"Alternative Modes - Using low-fuel methods such as bicycling, walking, or small electric vehicles for individual daily commutes. Walking and bicycling are the most fuel efficient forms of transportation. If more people regularly walked and cycled, fuel would be saved, air pollution would be reduced, and less energy would be needed..."

Cyclists will continue to use Stringfellow Road for commuting, going to the library, shopping center, schools, and other destinations because they know that they are safer riding on-road than on inadequate, discontinuous sidepaths where conflicts with motorists are more numerous and dangerous. Providing a mere 3 extra feet of roadway is the least we can do to provide for their safety. We prefer full 5 foot bike lanes but we understand neighborhood concerns and can live with the 3 foot wide curb lanes. I hope you can understand our position.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on this important matter.


Bruce Wright
Chairman, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Senator Cuccinelli actively opposes Stringfellow bicycle facility

FABB and others have been working with Fairfax County and VDOT to save the proposed on-road bike facility on Stringfellow Road. The original 5’ bike lanes have been reduced to 3’ wide curb lanes. We prefer the bike lanes but understand some neighborhood concerns about the amount of right of way needed for the road, bike facility, trail and sidewalk.

Now Senator Ken Cuccinelli has sent a letter to residents along Stringfellow Road telling them that he is working to "eliminate bike lanes on the road." He and other local politicians are holding a public meeting on Wed., Oct. 3 at Rocky Run Elementary School, 4400 Stringfellow Rd, Chantilly, VA 20151 (map) at 7 p.m. He is “interested in your continuing input so that we may be effective advocates for you.” Please contact Sen. Cuccinelli, Supervisory Frey, Supervisor Elaine McConnell, Chairman Connolly and your county supervisor to ask for their support for the Stringfellow on-road bike facility.

On International Bike and Walk to School Day, speak out at the public meeting to let Sen. Cuccinelli and others know that cyclists will ride on Stringfellow Road with our without the bike facility; now is the time to make their journey safer and to help make our streets complete streets, for everyone who uses the road.
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