Monday, April 28, 2008
 

HOT lanes plans available for public review

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the Beltway HOT lanes project public hearings will be held on May 20 & 21. One month before the hearings the current plans for the project must be available to the public for review. We recently rode to the VDOT headquarters, a not very bike-friendly location, to look at the plans. FABB's position has been that VDOT and the HOT lanes contractors Fluor and Transurban should follow the guidelines in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Trails Plan for all reconstructed bridges over the HOT lanes.

We've posted copies of some of the plans online. From our initial review, it appears that most of the Trails Plan facilities are included in the project plans. A summary table of the VDOT and Fairfax Co DOT agreement on bike/ped facilities lists the Trails Plan requirements, the HOT lane team proposals, and the County recommendations, most of which match the Trails Plan. The key text in the document is the last entry, footnote 4: “VDOT concurs with the FCDOT Staff Recommendation.”

There are still some outstanding issues:
  • Leesburg Pike - Route 7—While we are quite sure that multiuse trails will be included on both sides of the bridge, we do not have a copy of those plans.
  • Gallows Road—The planned bike lanes on Gallows Rd do not appear to be included in the plans. Gallows Rd is a major bike commuter route. It is one of the few roads in the county for which funds are available for building bike lanes. It's critical that bike lanes be included on this road.
  • Wakefield bike/ped bridges—This bridge near Wakefield Park is currently 8 feet wide. The new bridge will not be any wider. It should be the same width as the W&OD Trail bridge, 16 feet. At a minimum it needs to be 10 feet, VDOTs standard for a multiuse trail.
Overall we are very encouraged by the inclusion of bike facilities in the plans. All cyclists who are interested in being able to safely cross the Beltway by bicycle should either attend the public hearings and speak out in support of the proposed plans, or send comments by June 5 to Meeting_Comments@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

See the FABB HOT Lanes Summary Page for more in formation.
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Monday, April 21, 2008
 

Support bike facilities on Beltway HOT Lanes bridges

Now is the time to speak out for bike facilities on the Beltway HOT Lanes bridges. The Beltway has been a barrier to bicycle travel in Northern Virginia for over 40 years and now is the time to overcome that barrier. Public hearings on the proposed Beltway/I-495 High Occupancy Toll (HOT) project were just announced.

There will be hearings on two evenings, Tues. May 20 & Wed. May 21. An open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. After a brief presentation at 7 p.m. there will be a public comment period. Arrive early to sign up for the speaker's list at the door.

While we have worked with VDOT and County Transportation staff and have been told that bike facilities are included in the current plans for the reconstructed bridges and overpasses over the Beltway, it is critical that cyclists attend the public hearings and speak out in support of these facilities:

  1. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide bicycle connections across the Beltway which has been a barrier to bicycle travel for 40 years.

  2. The bicycle facilities on the Fairfax County Trails Plan need to be on the plans for all bridges and overpasses, including bike lanes and multi-use trails where appropriate. See the McLean Citizens Association resolution for more info.
If you cannot attend either of the public hearings, please submit comments by June 5, 2008, to Roger Boothe, Project Manager, VDOT, 6400 Commerce Street, Springfield, VA 22150. You may also e-mail your comments to: Meeting_Comments@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

Other resources:
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Bike to Mason Day on Earth Day

If you've ever ridden a bike on the GMU campus you will have noticed that unlike almost other campuses in the U.S., very few people ride bikes. Most people drive and park in one of the many parking lots spread throughout the campus. Many of those people, including faculty, staff, and students, are within easy riding distance of campus and could bike commute.

GMU transportation staff want to promote bicycling to the campus this year. Since the regional Bike to Work Day event is held when George Mason University students are on break, on May 16, 2008, GMU staff wanted to hold their event on another day. Tomorrow is Earth Day, an appropriate date for the first annual Bike to Mason Day, held in conjunction with other Earth Day activities. FABB has been working with a small committee to plan the event and we will be there handing out literature and signing up cyclists for our e-newsletter.

As of late last week, over 225 people have singed up to participate. Read about some of the incentives being used to sign up cyclists in this Fairfax Times article about the event.
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Monday, April 14, 2008
 

Cycling techniques video

As was mentioned in an earlier post, we recently attended Allen Muchnick's LAB Road I course. (For information about his classes check the Virginia Bicycling Federation website.) The basic premise of the class is that “cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles”. This short video entitled Rights and Duties of Cyclists, referenced on David Moulton's blog, is a good intro to the subject.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008
 

Tysons Task Force Chairman is a bicyclist

Clark Tyler, chairman of the Tysons Land Use Task Force, has a difficult job. Over the course of three years he has chaired the group that is developing recommendations for the future of Tysons Corner in light of the proposed four Tysons Metro stations. We strongly support this effort to make Tysons a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly place. We sit on the task force and know the amount of hard work that Clark and other task force members have done over the years.

Clark recently sent a letter to the editor of the Fairfax Times entitled “Just who is the Tysons Task Force?”. Last year Clark joined the tour of Tysons sponsored by FABB and had such a good time that he bought a bike and has been riding with his wife along some of the trails in the county.

We were pleased to see Clark say in the article that among other things, he's a bicyclist. The chairman, for instance, is semi-retired, president of an adjoining HOA, an employee of a Tysons business, and a bicyclist, and has a background in transit and economic development.

Maybe there is hope for Tysons after all.
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Responses to Route 1 speed limit letter

We recently wrote letters to both Supervisors McKay and Hyland regarding the proposed speed limit change on Route 1. We received responses from both supervisors. Their main concerns were the lack of notice from VDOT regarding the proposed speed limit change from 45 mph to 35 mph between the City of Alexandria south and Old Mill Road. The reduction is on hold pending public meetings, and consultation with Fairfax County Police, and others.

Of greatest concern to us is this comment from Supervisor Hyland: “I am also concerned about the conclusions and subsequent recommendations made by this study. Both the local communities and the Mount Vernon District Police Station are not convinced that a reduction in speed limit necessarily correlates to increase pedestrian safety. This study needs to be reviewed by all affected groups before a final decision is made by VDOT.”

According to VDOT, both Fairfax County DOT and Fairfax County Police were consulted during the course of the speed limit study. The transportation consulting firm VHB was contracted in 2005 to conduct an extensive safety study in the Route 1 corridor. In summary they found that “the crash rate, injury rate and death rate are well above the statewide averages for this type of primary roadway. Additionally, there are a large number of closely spaced commercial entrances adjacent to this road, many without adequate provision for safe ingress and egress, which gives added support for the recommended speed limit reduction.”

We continue to urge cyclists to contact the Board of Supervisors to ask them to support lowering the speed limit on Route 1 from 45 mph to 35 mph and that they implement traffic calming measures such as bike lanes on a redesigned Route 1. How many more pedestrians and bicyclists must be killed on Route 1 before the speed is lowered?
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