Friday, May 30, 2008

Bicycling and the Post

Two days, two more articles about cycling in the Washington Post. Probably one reason that bicycle racing has not received coverage recently was due to pervasive drug doping that has plagued the sport for many years. The problem reached a peak last year when top riders Vinokourov, Rasmussen, and Moreni were all implicated in doping schemes. The sport is trying to clean up it's image and the article in yesterday's paper, Cycling's Drug Test: After Years of Doping Controversies, the Tarnished Sport Knows It Has to Come Clean or Become Obsolete, summarized efforts underway to rid the sport of illegal drugs.

Today's article on Mayor Fenty and his passion for cycling, Fenty's Fitness for Office: The Discipline That D.C. Mayor Brings to Cycling, Running Also Marks Politics, Some Say, is much more upbeat. The mayor understands the sport and has first hand experience cycling on the city's streets, which is one reason why the city has the nation's first bike sharing program and has been adding bike lanes and bike racks throughout the city.
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Vienna Town Green bike parking

The Vienna Town Green is the new park located adjacent to the W&OD Trail on Maple Ave (Route 123) in downtown Vienna. The plan for the park called for a bike rack, likely one known as a grill rack that doesn't allow the use of a U lock and is not recommended in most local juridictions. John Brunow, owner of bikes@vienna, FABB member, and member of the town Planning Commission had a better idea. He donated several inverted U racks that are now located in the park next to the fountain. The rack was full of bikes during the Viva! Vienna! festival. Thanks John for the rack and for setting an example for others in Vienna and Fairfax County.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Transportation cycling blog

EcoVelo is a new blog devoted to transportation and utility cycling.

“In these times of global warming, declining oil reserves, and an exploding world population, those of us with the means need to take whatever steps we can to improve the situation, one of which is to seriously consider alternatives to fossil-fuel-based personal transport. Given the right circumstances and sufficient motivation (>$4 a gallon gas maybe?), I believe bicycles can be an important part of the solution for many people.”

So far there are posts on folding bikes, a trip to buy groceries, recumbents, and crank forward bikes. The author formerly maintained The Recumbent Blog.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another bike article in the Post

Today's Post contains another article on bicycling, An Easier Way Up: Hills Are Good for the Heart, but Many Hate The Effort. Here Are Some Tips to Ease the Pain. We especially liked the comments about avoiding the crowded trails at this time of year. With the new Fairfax Bike Map, “road” cyclists can begin to explore the many bikeable roads in the county.

“You could shrug off the challenge and stick to the flats -- Washington's bike trails, connecting outposts as diverse as Purcellville, Mount Vernon and downtown Bethesda, are as free of elevation changes as they are of motorized traffic. But at this time of year, when cyclists, skaters, dog-walkers and others mix it up on these narrow stretches of pavement, you might be sorry. And you'd be missing out -- on health benefits as well as thrills.”
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bike commuting in New York City

Bike commuting has increased by 75 percent in New York City since 2000, in part due to the support from city government, which has created many new bike lanes and is encouraging more people to commute by bike. As reported by the Post in the article N.Y. Hopes to Ensure Smooth Pedaling for Bike Commuters, the city plans to have 400 miles of bike lanes by next summer, out of 6,000 miles of streets. By contrast, Fairfax County has around 4,000 miles of roads and about 20 miles of bike lanes.

"We've run out of room for driving in the city. We have to make it easier for people to get around by bikes." said Janette Sadik-Kahn, the city's transportation commissioner, who herself bikes to work.

With gasoline prices nearing $4 a gallon, obesity rates rising and gridlock tightening, New York is one of the many cities planning to promote the bicycle and move the perception of cyclists from Lycra-clad thrill-seekers to responsible citizens.

DC's SmartBike program is mentioned as are the efforts by Chicago, Portland, and event Flint, Michigan, to encourage more bicycling.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cyclists speak out for bike facilities at HOT lanes hearings

Over half of the speakers at last night's public hearing on the Beltway HOT lanes project spoke out for including bicycle facilities on the HOT lanes bridges that will be reconstructed as part of the project. Dranesville Supervisor Foust noted that the project is a once in a generation opportunity to provide bicycle and pedestrian access across the Beltway, which has been a barrier to bicycle travel since the late 1960's.

WABA president Douglas Stewart and I both noted the importance of including on-road facilities on the bridges. Others pointed out that Route 7 has no on-road facilities and the off-road sidepaths, while providing access over the bridge, will be dangerous given the high speed traffic entering and exiting the HOT lanes and the Beltway. We think the message was clear; citizens demand transportation alternatives, including bicycle facilities on all our roads.

VDOT and Fairfax County have agreed to a number of bicycle accommodations (see Exhibit N, Attachment 3-1A), and displays showing these facilities were posted at the open house before the public hearing. We will continue to monitor this project to ensure that the bike facilities remain a part of the project.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

House Concurrent Resolution 305

Congressman Earl Bluemenauer announced at the National Bike Summit that he had introduced a resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 305, “Recognizing the importance of bicycling in transportation and recreation”. As he stated at the time, “Bicyclists are an indicator species of a livable community, a place where our families are safe, healthy and economically secure. It's time for the Federal Government to step up and do its part”.

From what I can tell from today's Floor Summary, the resolution passed the House. While it contains no funds or direct mandates, it could have major implications for funding of bike initiatives in the future. The “Whereas” text contains some good info about various aspects of bicycling such as “Whereas surveys show that a majority of people want to ride and walk more but are dissuaded by concern over traffic danger and other barriers, and case studies have shown that when those barriers to bicycling are removed, people start riding;” Here's the resolution part of the text:

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress--
  1. recognizes that increased and safe bicycle use for transportation and recreation is in the national interest;
  2. supports policies that--
    1. establish national target levels for increased bicycle use, reduce the number of motor vehicle miles traveled (VMT), improve bicycle safety to be achieved within a specific timeframe, and collect data needed to monitor progress;
    2. increase intermodal travel between public transportation and bicycles;
    3. provide incentives for State and local governments to adopt and implement complete street policies designed to accommodate all users, including motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and people of all ages and abilities;
    4. encourage bicycle use in communities where significant segments of the population do not drive and where short trips are most common;
    5. expand funding for core Federal transportation programs that support non-motorized infrastructure, education, and encouragement programs by--
      1. safeguarding existing funding sources for nonmotorized transportation from inequitable treatment in the Federal transportation funds rescission process;
      2. supporting funding for core Federal transportation programs that support nonmotorized travel, including transportation enhancements, safe routes to school, and recreational trails; and
      3. ensuring that highway safety improvement program funds are spent in proportion to the percentage of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in each State;
    6. facilitate the development of a coordinated system of United States bicycle routes across the country that cross state borders and connect metropolitan regions;
    7. create bicycle-friendly Federal land protection legislation, such as national recreation areas, to encourage regulations and management practices for mountain biking as an environmentally friendly nonmotorized use of natural surface trails;
    8. provide flexibility in Federal transportation law that would speed up the delivery of nonmotorized infrastructure without sacrificing necessary environmental protections;
    9. provide Federal tax or funding incentives to--
      1. States that adopt motor vehicle laws that protect the rights of bicyclists to share the road;
      2. businesses that expand bicycle-friendly programs for their employees;
      3. the health care industry to develop more member discount programs, that target increased physical activity such as bicycling and walking; and
      4. provide bicycle commuters the transportation fringe benefits currently provided to people who commute by car or mass transit; and
    10. build upon the `Green the Capitol Initiative' as a model, create and provide an environmentally sustainable and healthy working environment for employees that includes the promotion of bicycling as a transportation alternative;
  3. encourages the Department of Transportation to provide leadership and coordination by reestablishing the Federal bicycle task force to include representatives from all relevant Federal agencies.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Bike to Work Day 2008

Check out the Bike to Work Day video blog on WTOP by Markette Smith.

Here are some Reston Bike to Work Day photos.

Fox 5 news interviewed cyclists at the Vienna pit stop.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Wet but enthusiastic Bike to Work Day

Despite the occasional showers, many of the people who registered for Bike to Work Day rode to the six Fairfax County pit stops today. We helped organize the Reston event and we had a good turnout. 274 of the nearly 500 who registered attended, eating the Great Harvest bread and other food from Whole Foods Market, drinking coffee from Starbucks, and picking up the first copies of the Fairfax County Bike Map.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins led by example by riding her bike to the event. She has a folding bike that she uses for rides around Reston. The USGS won the Employer Challenge once again, having won or tied for first every year, with 25 people receiving a free lunch from Whole Foods Market.

It was great to see so many cyclists our riding in the not-so-great weather. It was wet but mild and everyone seemed to enjoy the event.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Fairfax County Bike Map

At Bike to Work Day tomorrow, May 16, the new Fairfax County Bike Map will be released. There's a good article in today's Washington Post by Amy Gardner, The Road Best Traveled.

Wright and Strunk emphasized that the map is a beginning for Fairfax for identifying where bike lanes, signs and other facilities are needed.

“We really have very few,” Wright said. We need to make the ‘less preferred’ routes ‘preferred.’ Where there are missing links or dangerous links, we need to concentrate on those first.”
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Princeton by bicycle

There's an article in today's Washington Post about touring Princeton by bike, Princeton Review: For Those Majoring in Sightseeing, Admission Is a Two-Wheel Breeze:
In front of a half-timbered Tudor storefront, Mimi Omiecinski is parking her bike. The blond Southern transplant, who lives upstairs, is launching a bike tour business this summer and happily suggests a few favorite destinations in town.

“I'm not a granola type,” she laughs. “But around here, I get everywhere I need to go without a car. To me, life is just lovelier on a bike.” Can't disagree with that.
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Bicycling on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

Today Kojo discussed the new DC bike sharing program and Bike to Work Day with Jim Sebastian, DC Bicycle Coordinator, Paul DeMaio, Owner, MetroBike LLC, and Eric Gilliland, Executive Director, Washington Area Bicyclist Association. Listen to the segment.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2 Mile Challenge

We've linked to it before, but now seems like a good time to take another look at the Cliff Bar 2 Mile Challenge video. It lists most of the reasons for biking to work.

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Driving is sooo boring

As everyone knows, Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 16. Most of the FABB board are involved in one of the Fairfax pit stops. We are organizers of the Reston event, and as a result we spend a lot of time gathering t-shirts, the new Fairfax bike maps, raffle prizes, food, etc. for the big day. Today was one of those rare days when I spent several hours behind the wheel.

I usually spend very little time in a car. I'm able to use my bike to commute to work on a daily basis, and with the help of my BOB trailer, go grocery shopping. We often run errands on the weekend by bike, planning out our route to the farmer's market, bread store, bagel shop, and other places, and we can usually carry everything in our panniers.

Anyway, while driving around today picking up Bike to Work Day supplies it struck how boring it is to drive around here. It seems that most of the time is spent sitting at red traffic signals. Of course we also have to sit at stop lights on a bike, but it's often a welcome short break. We've worked to get to that stop light, we're outside, not cooped up in an enclosed vehicle. I can't think of anything more boring than sitting in traffic. That's one of the reasons bike commuting is so appealing.

I hope everyone is participating in Bike to Work Day. It's a chance to celebrate biking and mingle with other like-minded people. FABB reps should be at most events; stop by and say hi.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Governor Kaine's transportation plan meetings

Governor Kaine released details about his transportation plan today. I found no references to bicycles, bike lanes, or non-motorized transportation:

“Governor Timothy M. Kaine today released details of his transportation plan and called for a special session of the General Assembly to address transportation on June 23. The Governor's plan fills our growing road and bridge maintenance deficit to promote safety, provides relief for regional transportation needs, and invests in innovative approaches to Virginia's transportation challenges. The plan raises over $1 billion annually by fiscal year 2012 and contains no gas tax increase.”

“The Governor's Transportation Change Fund will increase investment in transit, rail, and innovative solutions to reduce traffic congestion like teleworking and ridesharing. Three-quarters of the Transportation Change fund will be dedicated to transit and rail projects, increasing transit and rail investment by over 30%. The fund also makes dollars available for transportation projects to support economic development through aviation, port, and innovative highway investments.”

Why not attend one of his Town Hall meetings and tell him that you want funds dedicated to bicycle projects. And why not ask that a gas tax be implemented with dedicated funds going to bike projects. There is a meeting on Tuesday:

Tuesday, May 13 — Woodbridge

When: 7:00 P.M — 8:30 P.M.
Where: Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building Auditorium
15941 Donald Curtis Drive
Woodbridge, Virginia
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bicycle racing coverage

A letter we wrote to the Washington Post regarding their lack of coverage of bicycle racing was recently published. While FABB is primarily concerned with advocating for better bicycle facilities for transportation cyclists I do enjoy the sport of cycling. Whenever possible I watch the latest racing news on the Versus channel on Sundays. Professional cyclists are some of the best athletes in the world, and yet there is rarely a mention of the sport in the major newspapers. Currently the Giro d'Italia is underway, with an American team, Slipstream, in first place after the team time trial.

We'll have to continue to rely on Velonews and other cycling sites for our bicycle racing fix, since the letter seems to have done little to influence the coverage in the Post's sports pages.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roll the presses

The Fairfax County Bike Map is being printed today. Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator and Jeff Hermann, bike planner, traveled to the printer this morning to review proofs and to check the quality as the final maps roll off the presses. The maps will then be dried, cut to size, and folded.

The entire county is depicted on a single map, front and back, with the north half on one side and south on the reverse side. The FABB route map formed the basis for the initial route network. The contractor, Toole Design Group, modified the routes to form an interconnected network of roads and trails. After field work to asses road and trail conditions, each segment was rated from A-F. The higher-ranked routes, A-C, were coded as Preferred. D-F routes were listed as Less Preferred.

FABB was involved in the advisory group although only a few meetings were held. While we were able to comment on the route network, several of our comments were not included in the printed map due to lack of time given the Bike to Work Day deadline. The first version of the map will be limited to 3,000 copies and will be handed out at Bike to Work Day.

During the next 90 days additional comments will be gathered to further refine the map and route network and I encourage everyone to obtain a copy of the map for review. FABB will work with the county to help figure out the best method for receiving comments and incorporating them into the final version of the map. Once the map is final 25,000 copies will be printed.

To obtain a map, attend a Fairfax Bike to Work Day event. After Bike to Work Day copies of the map will be available at local bike shops. They can be ordered by calling (703) 324-BIKE (2453) or contacting the Fairfax County bike program.
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Monday, May 5, 2008

Keeping bike lanes car-free

The New York Times article on the fight to keep cars out of bike lanes: “Bike Lanes, Intended for Safety, Become Traffic Battlegrounds” We don't have that problem in Fairfax County since we have so few bike lanes.
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