Friday, September 19, 2008

Car free celebrations

Two upcoming events celebrate getting around by bicycle. Celebrate Metro DC Car Free Day on Monday September 22, 2008 by using alternative transportation modes for the entire day. Many bike commuters people do so already, so Pledging to be Car Free should be easy.

If you have school-age children, International Walk and Bike to School Day on Wednesday October 8, 2008 is a great opportunity to show kids that there are ways to get to school that don't involve sitting in a car or riding in a bus. If your school doesn't celebrate this day, why not suggest that they do. You can also encourage them to implement the Safe Routes to School program.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Final Tyson Plan to Board of Supervisors

The Tysons Task force, on which I served for 3 1/2 years, has finalized their report and will present it to the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 22. The draft plan (PDF) is available on the County website. The plan contains many references to the need for making Tysons more bicycle-friendly:

"Pedestrian and Bicycle Network: Specific guidelines for the treatment of the pedestrian and bicycle amenities should be developed. Many of these elements (e.g., designated bike lanes and sidewalks, buffers from the automobile, etc) are addressed in the urban design guidelines section related to streets and streetscape in Chapter 8. As the grid of streets is refined, careful thought should be given to how pedestrians and bicycles are integrated into the street grid. The pedestrian and bicycle network should be more detailed closer to the transit stations, with routes separated from automobile traffic."

"In addition to an easily accessible bicycle and pedestrian network, a number of facility improvements will encourage people to walk or cycle more. A number of these improvements are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Some are policy-driven and others are simply providing facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists such as bicycle racks at appropriate locations and pedestrian countdown signals at specific intersections to encourage nonmotorized travel and to make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists."

The plan will be accompanied by a second document which is an overview of the task for recommendations:

"Use 'complete streets' design principles. Complete streets will be designed to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities will safely move along and across a complete street."

"Create extensive bicycle lanes and facilities. Residents and workers will be able to travel by bicycle on dedicated on-road facilities, making use of bike racks, bike lockers and other facilities at residential, retail, and commercial areas."

Public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will be held on the plan recommendations and when those dates are announced we will post them here.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Portland sharing the road video

Buses, Trains & Bikes: Sharing the Road is a video produced by TriMet, the public transportation agency in the greater Portland area. The purpose of the video is to give guidance to cyclists when they ride near buses and trails and over the train tracks.

There are good shots of the excellent bike facilities in Portland. You'll also find some good advice for riding in traffic with or without buses nearby: "Take the middle of the traffic lane if it is narrow so that drivers behind you will know to move into the left lane to pass."

Check out all the cyclists during some of the clips. It reminds me of a trip to Seattle when we were watching out our motel window and were amazed at all the bike commuters on a cold windy late Fall day.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Eisenhower Connector to be closed

The following announcement was just released by the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project:

Eisenhower Connector to be closed nightly to bicycles and pedestrians Sept. 29 - Oct. 5

"As part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project construction, the Eisenhower Connector and Cleremont Drive will be closed to bicycles and pedestrians nightly from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. September 29 through October 5 for work on the I-95/I-495 Capital Beltway bridge that crosses above the area. Please note that weather limitations or other unforeseen conditions may cause the time to extend beyond the anticipated one week. There will be no posted detour. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Community Relations Manager Bryon Johnston via email at or by phone at 703-329-3424."

See earlier FABB blog posts about the closure, including an earlier proposed "detour" using existing roads, trails and sidewalks.
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Be a Cyclist for the Bay

Besides being the most efficient form of transportation, the bicycle is one of the cleanest. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District:

"Bikes are a very environmentally friendly means of transportation - no tailpipe emissions, no evaporative emissions, no emissions from gasoline pumping or oil refining, and zero carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Bicycling also means less water pollution (many people don't realize that motor vehicles are a significant source of water pollution as well as air pollution)."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation would like more people to ride bikes to help save the Bay. The more people who ride bikes, the less pollution finds it's way into the Bay. Why not become a Cyclist for the Bay?
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FABB supports a sustainable Tysons

The Tysons Task Force will present their final recommendations to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Monday, September 22.

During the public meetings held to discuss the future of Tysons, many cyclists said they wanted a more bike-friendly Tysons. The Task Force agrees. According to the draft final recommendations [55MB pdf file]: "A fundamental transformation of Tysons transportation is required with a network of walkable streets, bike lanes, and a robust transit system."

Throughout the report there is an emphasis on the need for transportation choices in Tysons: "The creation of a multi-modal transportation system within Tysons will provide diverse and accessible transportation choices. The choices will encourage people to walk, bike or take transit to destinations within Tysons."

FABB supports the work of the Task Force. We have also endorsed the Petition for a Sustainable Tysons sponsored by the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Their goals include the need for extensive bicycle improvements in Tysons:
  • All streets should have either designated bike lanes or have low speed limits and wide curb lanes to accommodate cyclists. While bike lanes are preferable they must be designed properly to avoid biker conflicts with traffic such as turning vehicles and the opening doors from parked cars.
  • Safe, well-marked bike routes link McLean, Great Falls, Vienna, Pimmit Hills, and Merrifield to Tysons, including on Route 123, Spring Hill Road, Old Courthouse Road, Gallows Road, from the W&OD trail via Clarks Crossing and the Town of Vienna, and other radial roadways such as Braddock Road and Little River Turnpike.
  • Secure covered facilities are provided wherever bikes are parked.
  • Showers and changing facilities are provided in commercial developments.
  • Incentives are in place to encourage people to walk and to bike to work.
  • Bike-Share is provided throughout Tysons and bike stations are located at transit hubs
  • Minimize left-turn and right-turn lanes to minimize road widths and crossing distances and use right in/right out turns
  • Turn Routes 7 and 123 into boulevards by using features like:
    • no dual left-turns on Route 7, and
    • limit Routes 7 and 123 to 6 lanes, and other streets to 4 lanes.


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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Herndon creates bicycle committee

Thanks to the many cyclists who contacted the Town of Herndon regarding a proposed policy to confiscate bicycles parked in the public right-of-way. As a response to the controversy, the following email message was sent by Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis regarding the formation of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Ad Hoc committee. We commend the Mayor for starting the process of making Herndon more bicycle-friendly:
Email on behalf of
Steve DeBenedittis

Date: September 10, 2008

The Council and I received your email concerning bicycle parking in the Town of Herndon. We appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with us.

At recent meetings, we discussed the concerns we have been receiving and you may be assured that we are pursuing avenues to make the town more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

As a result of the excellent feedback the town has received, I am creating, with the Council's concurrence, a "Pedestrian and Bicycle Ad Hoc committee." The composition and role of the ad hoc committee will be drafted for Council’s review at a future meeting.

The Town Manager also has been asked to obtain additional funding for the bicycle racks for convenient locations in town to accommodate bicyclists who live, work and frequent our town. As a cyclist myself, I bike to work at every possible opportunity and fully understand the need for well-located bike racks.

The town will post updated information on the town's website as it becomes available.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to share your comments with us. Please feel free to contact me regarding any other matters in our town.


Steve DeBenedittis
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Friday, September 5, 2008

Bicycle trip planning application

At the April 28, 2008 Fairfax County Board of Supervisor's meeting (pdf), Chairman Connolly directed staff to create:
  • An online cycling route finder to be located on the County's website under both the "Environment" and "Transportation" subject headings.
  • A route finder that allows users to either include or exclude on road routes that do not have bike lanes, if technically feasible.
As far as we know, little has been done to accomplish this task.

We did find some worthy examples. Ride the City is a bicycle route finding application for New York City that is simple and intuitive. Click on a map for the start and end locations and whether you want the safest route, a safe route, or the most direct route. The route is color-coded by facility type. You can then rate the route that is shown. Very nice.

Thanks to Adventure Cycling Bike Bits we just learned about another bike routing application in Atlanta, GA. The A-TRAIN trip planner includes options for trips by bicycle, walking, walk to transit, and bike to transit. You can adjust the route for terrain and facility type.

Before such a system will work well in Fairfax, we need better bike routes, which is the primary goal of FABB.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Beauty of Bikes -- Even Ugly Ones

In today's Post John Kelly provides an update on the story about the woman's bike confiscated at Union Station because it was ugly (that was the answer she was given when asked why it was taken), The Beauty of Bikes - Even Ugly Ones. The "ugly" bike owner is an architect who continues to commute by bike to Union Station every day. And John Kelly knows what this area needs: "It seems to me that every new road that's built around here - and plenty of old ones - should include dedicated bike lanes."
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