Friday, February 29, 2008
 

Workshop participants want bike-friendly Tysons

Approximately 200 people attended the three Tysons land use workshops held on February 27 & 28. Participants were divided into small groups and asked to comment on two land use and transportation alternatives. Nearly every group reported that they wanted Tysons to become a bike- and pedestrian-friendly place, with bike lanes, bike trails, bike parking and other accommodations.

The task force will now select a final land use and transportation alternative that will be presented to the Planning Commmission and Board of Supervisors. See the Tysons task force website for more information.

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Monday, February 25, 2008
 

Upcoming meetings

Fairfax cyclists should be aware of some upcoming meetings that have important implications for bicycle facilities in the area. It is important that cyclists attend these meetings and speak out for better bicycle facilities. The Tysons Task Force will hold three public meetings at various locations in the Tysons area to discuss future transportation and development in the Tysons. The meetings are identical and will be held on Feb. 27-28.

Also on February 28 there will be a Public Information Meeting on proposed construction at Fort Belvoir on Thursday, February 28, 2008 starting at 6:30 p.m., at Forestdale Elementary School (6530 Elder Avenue, Springfield, VA 22150). Transportation projects will be discussed during the meeting.

The Dranesville District will host a meeting on the HOT lanes project on Tuesday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. FABB has been working with Fairfax County and VDOT to ensure that bicycle facilities will be included on the reconstructed bridges across the Beltway.

See the FABB Events page for details.
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Monday, February 18, 2008
 

Bike to Work Day 2008

Supervisor Hudgins with cyclists
at Reston Bike to Work Day 2007
This year Bike to Work Day in Fairfax County and the Washington DC area is on Friday, May 16, 2008. The Washington Area Bicyclists Association, WABA, just posted their Bike to Work Day 2008 page. We expect registration to be open soon. This is a great regional event. Many people who bike for the first time on this day learn the many benefits of riding to work and realize that it takes very little extra effort.

This year there are 6 Fairfax County locations. FABB members plan to be at most of the events with our e-newsletter sign up sheet and bike commuting handouts. There will be free food, drinks, and bike-related raffle items during the morning events. Good resources for information on bike commuting are the Commuter Connections Bicycling Guide for Employees and the Bicycling Guide for Employers, and the League of American Bicyclists Tips for Commuters.

See more photos from the Bike to Work Day 2007 in Reston taken by Reston Bike Club member Peter Klosky.
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Friday, February 15, 2008
 

Mellow Johnny's

Lance is opening a commuter-oriented bike shop in downtown Austin, TX called Mellow Johnny's, Lance's nickname after his many Tour de France wins in which he wore the "maillot jaune" or yellow jersey. It's great to see that he is actively supporting bike commuters.
“This city [Austin] is exploding downtown. Are all these people in high rises going to drive everywhere? We have to promote [bike] commuting,” Armstrong said. “This can be a hub for that.”

Mellow Johnny's will also provide bike storage, showers and locker rooms for bike commuters who need a place to wash off and change before work.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008
 

Madison's Triple-Win Biking Project

Scientists generally agree that the rapid increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) due to human sources is contributing to global warming. One of the major contributors to CO2 in the atmosphere is from burning of fossil fuels for transportation. There are many ways to reduce the amount of CO2 used for transportation such as driving less, car pools, public transportation, and riding a bicycle. Of all of these options, the most carbon neutral form of transportation is bicycling.

Fairfax County has two efforts underway to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county, the Cool Counties workgroup and the Cool Hunter Mill District Committee. Both groups are developing suggestions for residents to reduce their carbon footprint, including biking more.

Most other communities are doing the same. A major thread that runs through these efforts is understanding the linkage between the causes of greenhouse gas emissions and human health. According to Jonathan Patz, UW-Madison professor of environmental studies:
“Lifestyle changes to reduce energy and fossil fuel dependency in the United States will not only help to decrease greenhouse gas emissions but can also help improve the health of a country plagued with a variety of diseases caused by the largely sedentary lifestyle of Americans.

“The biggest problem with public health in the U.S. is obesity and the repercussions of obesity,” Patz said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than two-thirds of all Americans and 15 percent of children are overweight, 7 percent of the population has diabetes and 60 percent of Americans do not meet the recommended levels of exercise.

“Yet, get this: More than 40 percent of trips made by car are less than two miles,” Patz said. “Couldn’t that be bike-able or walk-able?”

“We have an obesity problem because we’ve replaced human labor with fossil fuel energy,” said UW-Madison nutritionist Pete Anderson. “We’ve produced two problems: global warming and obesity through the same act.”

“The 10 leading causes of death in the United States are related to sedentary lifestyle, air pollution, or motor vehicle crashes,” Patz said. “So, if we can redesign our cities to get cars off of the roads and replace that with walking and biking, [imagine] the disease burden we would reduce.”

Patz and others are working to promote the “Triple-Win Biking Project,” motivating community members to use biking for personal fitness, and help to reduce local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Patz said early calculations show that if 20 percent of commuters were to travel by bike each year, Madison would see a reduction in ozone, nitrogen oxide and particulates, thus decreasing respiratory problems and saving money from respiratory health issues and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 16 tons.
From the article Snapshots of global climate change from the University of Madison The Daily Cardinal. See also Ecology and Public Health: Global Environmental Crises Yield Dangerous New Health Challenges.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008
 

Crosswalk bill defeated by 1 vote in VA House

According to the Virginia Bicycling Federation and BikeWalk Virginia, HB 1270, the House bill to require motorists to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, was defeated along party lines by a vote of 48-47. Why this is a partisan issue is beyond me. An identical bill, SB 644, passed in the Senate and now goes to the House Transportation Committee, so there is still some hope. See the above links for contact info for the Republicans on the committee, including Del. Rust (Herndon), who was not present when the House bill was voted out of the committee earlier.
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London to become more bicycle-friendly

London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, recently announced a billion dollar (£500) bicycle program for the city. It will include a bicycle rental scheme similar to Vélib in Paris, a network of long-distance bike routes, and a $50 SUV charge in the downtown area. In the article about the program in The Independent, it's great to see the two mayoral candidates arguing about who is more bike-friendly.
But Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, said that Mr Livingstone had been “stampeded” into his announcement and insisted that the proposed London bike hire scheme was only a fraction of the size of the operation in Paris.

He said: “There is no doubt that the Mayor has been stampeded into this measure because he faces a cycling opponent. Some of the proposals sound like waffle. For example, why do Londoners deserve a bike-hire scheme that is a third the size of Paris?

“I have been in negotiation with London boroughs for many months to deliver a much more ambitious scheme. By his own admission, Mr Livingstone has yet to start this negotiation. What a feeble record for a man who has spent eight years in office.”
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Monday, February 11, 2008
 

Sheldon Brown interview and tribute

Sheldon Brown knew just about all there is to know about bicycles of all kinds. He maintained a website where much of that information resides. Cyclists who have questions about bicycles, bicycle parts, or how to repair a bicycle frequently consult Sheldon's website. As most bike-related sites have already reported, he died recently. Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bicycle Works recently wrote an article in honor of Sheldon, and he posted an interview with Sheldon from 2001 that appeared in the excellent bicycle magazine, the Rivendell Reader.
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Friday, February 8, 2008
 

House to vote on crosswalk bill soon

Now is the time to show your support for the bill in the Virginia House that requires motorists to stop for pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks. See Support HB 1270 Now on the VBF website for more info.
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Fines for endangering cyclists

Chicago's Bicycling Ambassadors
According to Biking Bis, Chicago's Mayor Daley has proposed fines of $150-$500 against motorists who open car doors in front of cyclists, turn in front of them or pass too close. As Biking Bis says, it helps to have elected officials who share your passion for riding a bike. Most cyclists have experienced many close calls with careless motorists, many of whom don't even think we belong on the road. Educating them on bicyclist's rights is useful, but serious enforcement helps too. All too often when I've complained about the above behavior of motorists, it's not treated seriously by police. Granted, it would be very difficult to enforce many of those minor infractions. But, merely creating the fines would send a message: to motorists and to the police.

Daley has also established the Bicycling Ambassadors, “a group of bicycle safety and education specialists who have been reaching out to all Chicagoans since 2001.”
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Tuesday, February 5, 2008
 

HB1270 Motorists to Stop for Pedestrians In Crosswalks

See the VBF website for the latest info on HB1270 Motorists to Stop for Pedestrians In Crosswalks. The bill was reported out of the House Transportation Sub-Committee to the full House Transportation Committee, the first time it has gotten out of the sub-committee in six years. There will be a vote later today or tomorrow. Now is the time to contact members of the Transportation Committee to ask for them to support this bill.
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Monday, February 4, 2008
 

FABB ride on Rolling Road

As was mentioned in an earlier blog entry, VDOT plans to widen Rolling Road between Old Keene Mill Rd and Viola Rd just north of the Fairfax County Parkway. There is information about the project at the VDOT Rolling Road project website along with a map of the project area.

Over the weekend several FABB members rode the section of road to be widened in order to prepare for a meeting with VDOT later this month. We met at University Mall across from the George Mason University campus at the intersection of Route 123 and Braddock Rd. From there we rode south along several sections identified on the draft FABB bike map and the proposed Fairfax County bike route map (large PDF): Braddock Rd to R on Sideburn Rd to L on Commonwealth Blvd, which turns into Guinea Rd. Guinea Rd is 4 lanes with no shoulder and an unpleasant ride. From there we planned to turn R on Olley Lane to L on Lake Braddock Dr which leads to Rolling Rd. We missed the turn on Olley and continued on Guinea back onto Braddock Rd for a short stretch to the start of Rolling Rd.

From Braddock Rd to Old Keene Mill Rd where the project starts, Rolling Rd is 4 lanes, with no shoulder. While the riding wasn't pleasant, with little traffic we had no problems. At the Old Keene Mill Rd/Rolling Rd intersection are several large shopping areas, including Cardinal Forest Plaza. According to the web page of the owner of the plaza, over 100,000 people live within 3 miles, an easy riding distance. It is a major destination for many people in the area and should be accessible by bike.


FABB riders near Springfield Village DrTwo lanes with on-street parking south of Springfield Village Dr.
Unpaved shoulderRoad narrows near downhill section just north of Barnack Dr.
At Old Keene Mill Rd. headed northNorth of Old Keene Mill Rd.

We stopped several times during the trip to take photos and talk about the road. We continued to the end of the project just north of the the Fairfax County Parkway/Franconia-Springfield Parkway overpass. This is a major interchange, similar to the Gallows Road/Route 50 fiasco, with no bicycle accommodations. After crossing the Parkway we turned around and headed back north on Rolling Road.

We didn't have time after the ride to discuss what facilities we thought VDOT should provide cyclists on the Rolling Road project. We will likely recommend that 5-foot bike lanes be provided. While there are no on-road bike facilities at the Rolling Rd/Fairfax Co Parkway intersection, cyclists will want to reach the Parkway trails that run parallel to the Parkway. The Franconia-Springfield Metro station and the Springfield Mall are both within easy cycling distance, about 3 miles to the east. The commercial area at the Old Keene Mill Rd/Rolling Rd intersection should be accessible by bike from the south along Rolling Rd. As this area continues to grow, bicycling should be an integral part of the transportation options available to residents.
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