Friday, April 17, 2009

Gallows and Lawyers Road bike lane meetings

Two bike lane-related meetings were held this week. VDOT will be repaving Gallows Road from the Dunn Loring Metro station north to Old Courthouse Road in Tysons. Fairfax County has requested that bike lanes be added when the road is restriped. Money has been available for many years.

The Gallows Road meeting on Tuesday was a chance for the community to hear about the proposal, see the plans, and comment on the project. About 25 people attended the meeting hosted by Supervisor Smyth, who introduced the VDOT and Fairfax County DOT team who presented the plans. The first phase of the project will consist of bike lanes from just north of the I-66 bridge to Idylwood Drive. There will be a short section of wide curb lanes between the W&OD Trail and Idylwood. Construction is expected to occur this summer.

The second phase will include bike lanes and wide curb lanes from Idylwood to Old Courthouse. This phase involves more extensive median and pavement work and will not happen until 2010. VDOT presented details of the project at an earlier FABB meeting.

Several bicyclists spoke out in favor of the project. FABB supports the project and sent a letter of support to VDOT earlier in the year. A representative from an adjacent homeowners association submitted a list of comments. Most comments were positive and we look forward to the completion of the first phase later this year.

The Lawyers Road bike lane meeting was more contentious. VDOT proposes to reduce the travel lanes from 4 to 3 lanes with 5-foot bike lanes and a center turn lane between Fox Mill Rd and Myrtle Lane, about 2 miles in length. See notes from the first Lawyers Road meeting. While the majority of attendees supported the project, a few people were strongly opposed. One person started off on the wrong foot by joking about getting points for hitting a cyclist; sorry, that's not a laughing matter.

Most of the concerns were based on a belief that a road can't be reduced from 4 to 2 travel lanes and still function properly. Randy Dittberner of VDOT was very good about explaining the benefits, related to slower speeds and fewer crashes. It's hard to argue against a road plan that will potentially reduce crashes by 20% and have almost no reduction in travel times. And by the way, will create the first ever bike lanes in Reston.

This could be one of the first road diets in Northern Virginia and could be looked upon in the future as a starting point for many more to come if it works. Road diets are not uncommon. According to the Wikipedia entry on road diets, "There are perhaps over 20,000 road diets in the United States, with another 500-1,000 being conducted each year." Dan Burden, a nationally known ped/bike advocate, has written a good article on road diets.

If you haven't written to Mr. Dittberner or Supervisor Hudgins about the project, please do. Just a few words of support helps. Many cyclists use the route for commuting to work or to reach the nearby Fox Mill Shopping Center and the new paved trail on Reston Parkway. Many participants in the Reston Triathlon train on this section which is part of the official triathlon bike course. The Reston Bike Club uses this section as well. It's time for a dedicated bike facility for cyclists in Reston.

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