Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reston Association Board supports Lawyers Road bike lanes

At tonight's meeting of the Reston Association Board, they voted 8-1 in support of the restriping of Lawyers Road to change the profile from 2 lanes in each direction with no shoulder or left turn lanes to 1 lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and 5-foot bike lanes (know as a "road diet"). The Board chairman noted that many cyclists had contacted Board members to explain their support for the project. We read a statement of support and two other cyclists who live in Reston spoke out very effectively in favor of the project.

Not only did the RA Board support the project, they requested that VDOT consider lowering the speed from 45 mph to 35 mph after the restriping, which should help make the road safer. Thanks to everyone who wrote to the Board supporting the project. The restriping should begin in the near future.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mulligan Road/Telegraph Road public hearing

Detailed road profiles of Mulligan and Telegraph Roads were available for review at the VDOT public hearing held last night. Mulligan Road is the replacement for Woodlawn Road between Route 1 and Telegraph Road. The subject of the hearing was the southerly section of Mulligan Road now known as Old Mill Road, between Pole Road and Route 1 and Telegraph Road between Beulah St and Broadmoor St.

Bike lanes are planned for Telegraph Road. There will be two 12-foot travel lanes and 4-foot bike lanes in each direction, along with a multi-use trail on the north side. These bike lanes will connect to existing bike lanes on Beulah St and on Telegraph Road west of Beulah.

Mulligan Road will have an inside 11-foot travel lane, a 13-foot outside lane and 2-foot gutter plan and 5-foot sidewalk on the west side [See UPDATE below]. On the east side the outside lane will be 15 feet with curb and no gutter plan.

VDOT has developed plans that provide good bicycle accommodations on Telegraph Rd and the east side of Mulligan Rd that has the 15-foot wide curb lane. While we support the plan, we are concerned about the 13-foot wide curb lane planned for the west side of Mulligan Rd. This does not provide sufficient width for bicyclists and motorists to safely share the road. The 2-foot gutter pan will help provide some space, but the seam between the concrete gutter pan and the asphalt road can be a hazard.

When this was discussed during the Q&A, we were told that the west side will have 15-foot lanes plus the 2-foot gutter pan. However, the plans show 13-foot lanes. We submitted comments at the meeting supporting the project and asking that the 13-foot lane be widened to at least 14 feet. [See UPDATE below]

One person questioned the need for bike lanes and a multi-use trail on Telegraph Road stating that the existing bike lanes on Telegraph aren't used much. Jan Vaughn of VDOT explained that the facilities are for different types of cyclists, and that most cyclists fare best in bike lanes when they are part of traffic, with fewer conflicts with motorists. Another audience member said that he lived on Telegraph Road and sees many people using the bike lanes and he thinks it's a good design. It was also encouraging to hear a woman behind me say to a friend "shouldn't we be providing more facilities so that people can use their bikes to get around?"

The public comment period is open until June 9. Cyclists are encouraged to write to VDOT to support the project and to ask for a slightly wider outside lane on Mulligan Road or for a seamless edge between the gutter pan and the road surface. Send comments to with subject of Telegraph Road Widening Project.

[UPDATE May 28] We just learned that the drawings at the public hearing were incorrect; both outside lanes on Mulligan Road are 15 feet wide not including the gutter pan. See the revised Mulligan Road profile [PDF].

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mulligan Road/Telegraph Road Widening Public Hearing

Before it was closed after Sept. 11, 2001 many cyclists used Woodlawn Road to travel through Fort Belvoir between Telegraph Road and the Route 1 area. Mulligan Road is a new road that will replace Woodlawn Road from Route 1 to Telegraph Road. As part of the project, Telegraph Road will be widened. See the vicinity map.

This Tuesday, May 26, VDOT is holding a public hearing on the project from 5:00-8:00 p.m. with a presentation at 6:00 p.m. It will be held at Hayfield Secondary School cafeteria 7630 Telegraph Road Alexandria. Cyclists are encouraged to attend to speak out for on-road bike facilities on both roads. FHWA Mulligan Road project website. Earlier FABB blog post on Mulligan Road.

[Update: May 25] If you cannot attend the meeting, please send comments supporting the project or fill out and send in the project questionnaire. Visit the Telegraph Road/Mulligan Road project website for more info.

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Bike commuting article in Post

Today's Post contains a good, short article on bike commuting, Latest Savings Vehicle Comes on Two Wheels
Bike to work, save money, get fit, help the environment. It seems like a no-brainer, yet you still drive to the office every day.
It includes answers to common concerns about bike commuting.


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Commuters Using Alternative Means to Reach Metro Stations

According to the article in today's Post Fairfax section, For More Riders, 'the Bus Is Beautiful': Commuters Leaving Cars at Home To Save the Cost of Parking at Metro, people are increasingly walking, biking and taking the bus to Metro stations instead of driving.

40% of all trips in the U.S. are 2 miles or less. Most of the people driving to Metro parking garages live within a short distance of the station. When the price of parking reached $5, bus, bike and walking became increasingly more attractive:
Robert Allen, 18, a senior at Oakton High School, walks to the Metro station nearly every day from his home in the Circle Woods neighborhood of Fairfax County, on his way to his part-time, after-school bank teller job in Ballston. It's not so much fun in the winter or the rain, he said. But it beats the daily parking charge.

"The parking's, like, five bucks," he said recently. "And anyway, at this time of day, you're not going to get a spot anyway. It's really rare."


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vienna Safe Routes to School challenge a success

The Safe Routes to School challenge in Vienna appears to have been a great success. At the four participating elementary schools there were 2823 trips taken on foot or bike; Wolftrap - 864, Louise Archer - 561, Vienna - 622, and Marshall Road - 776. Of those trips, 254 were by bike (Wolftrap - 107, Louise Archer - 46, Vienna - 101, and Marshall Road - 0).

Instead of sitting an a motor vehicle that generates greenhouse gases and burns fossil fuels, these kids are getting exercise and learning that there are other ways to get to around. I'll bet that had fun too. Congratulations to the kids and parents at these schools. Let's hope that Fairfax County supports their efforts to make their community more walkable and bikeable.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lawyers Road bike lane discussion

The Hunter Mill Transportation Advisory Committee met yesterday to discuss various transportation projects in the Hunter Mill District. Among the projects discussed was the Lawyers Road resurfacing project scheduled to start soon. See our summary of the first and second public meetings on the project.

A few vocal opponents are trying to stop the project. They have attended the public meetings and spoken out against the bike lanes using arguments we've heard in the past: there are plenty of alternatives (winding paths through the woods, parallel roads that lead to different destinations) it's too dangerous (yes, without the bike lanes it can be dangerous. With them cars will go slower and there should be fewer crashes), and there will be too much congestion (estimated delay times are 1-3 seconds at intersections).

The Reston Association Transportation Advisory Committee, one of whose members joked about getting points for hitting cyclists, recently voted to oppose the project. The committee "advises the Board of Directors on transportation issues as they relate to promoting the peace, health, comfort, safety and general welfare of the Association’s Members." We think this project does just that. The full Reston Association Board will meet on Thursday May 28 and will likely take a position on the project. Milton Matthews, CEO of the Reston Association, said that the Board is not necessarily opposed to the project but they want more information.

Randy Dittberner of VDOT noted that comments VDOT has received about the project are 3-1 in favor of redesigning the road to make it safer for motorists and bicyclists. VDOT also noted that since Federal funds are involved, it's their responsibility to address any safety issues during the design of the project.

We're asking anyone who can attend the May 28 Reston Association Board of Supervisors Meeting to speak out in support of the project. The meeting is from 7-10pm at the Reston Association offices, 1930 Isaac Newton Square, Reston, VA. You can also ask RA President Robin Smyers to support the project when you see her at Bike to Work Day tomorrow at the Reston Town Center Pavilion.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Citizens of bike-friendly communities most satisfied

In a survey recently commissioned by Greater Washington 2050, area citizens were asked: "In general, how would you rate the Washington region as a place to live? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?" The highest rankings went to the only bike-friendly communities in this area, Arlington (97% Excellent or Good), Alexandria (91%), and D.C. (86%). The community with the highest satisfaction ranking, Arlington, also has the highest bike-friendly ranking (Silver).

It should be no surprise that people want options for getting around their communities. Bike-friendly communities are more likely to provide those choices. Bike facilities are not expensive when compared to mega-road projects. It's not a matter of spending more on transportation, it's a matter of spending smarter, putting funds where they make the most difference. We obviously need some road improvements, but those roads should be bike-friendly, complete streets.

For Fairfax County to be more competitive in the future, we need better, more mature transportation choices. As more people have options regarding how and where they work, they will have more flexibility in deciding where to live. Bikeable, walkable communities with a good quality of life will be much more attractive than spread-out communities having wide, high speed roads to move cars.

See the full results of the report: Priorities for a Growing Region: A Comprehensive Survey of Residents Conducted for the Greater Washington 2050 Coalition

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dellinger loses Vienna council seat

Vienna Town Councilman Dellinger, who voiced opposition to trails leading to Tysons, saying that while providing trails will allow residents to walk to the future Metro stations, "unfortunately what it's going to do is bring the other undesirables into our neighborhood" (see the earlier FABB blog post), lost to Howard Springsteen by 2 votes in the recent election. It's another example of the old dictum, "Every vote counts".

Springsteen is a bicyclist as is the other newly elected Council representative Laurie DiRocco. Incumbent Councilman George Lovelace voiced his strong support for improved bike/walk access in Vienna at a recent candidate forum. With the proposal to form a new Vienna bicycle advisory committee, and the newly elected council, we're optimistic that bicycle facilities will improve in Vienna in the near future.

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Congressman Connolly introduces trails bill

The Complete America's Great Trails Act, H.R. 1912, recently introduced by Congressman Connolly, will provide landowners with a tax credit to grant conservation easements and public access easements in 1/2 mile corridors of National Scenic Trails. This will help complete the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, providing bike access south and east of the DC Metro area.

Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have introduced Complete America’s Great Trails Act to help close missing links and protect the scenic vistas of America’s eight National Scenic Trails.

Connolly said the bill will help connect America's greatest historic and scenic places, including trails in Fairfax and Prince William Counties connecting Mount Vernon with Pope’s Creek, George Washington's birthplace, and Pope's Creek with the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

"The Complete America's Great Trails Act will protect trails that protect America's most treasured places, from Mt. Vernon to Mount St Helens, by providing landowners with incentives to protect public access and natural landscapes along America’s National Scenic Trails," Connolly said.

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Vienna parents organize Safe Routes to School challenge

Several parents in Vienna are helping to organize Safe Routes to School programs in their schools. Louise Archer Elementary School has held Safe Routes events for the past several years, lead by the efforts of John Sweeney. They received a grant for SRTS plan development and implementation in 2007, to our knowledge, the only time a Fairfax County school has received such funding.

This year several other Vienna schools will participate in walk/bike events:
Louise Archer Elementary, Marshall Road Elementary, Vienna Elementary, and Wolftrap Elementary schools will be participating in the 2009 Walk and Bike to School Challenge (scheduled for May 11 through May 15). In the future, we hope to expand this event to include all Vienna elementary schools.

During the week of the Challenge, we encourage all students (and their parents) to walk or bike to school. In addition to the obvious benefits of walking and biking – improved health and reduced traffic congestion – parents and children often get a chance to socialize with friends and neighbors.

Safe Routes to School is an international movement to create safe, convenient, and fun opportunities for children to bicycle and walk to school. Safe Routes to School provides a variety of important benefits to kids and their communities, including improved health, reduced traffic congestion, better air quality, and enhanced neighborhood safety. Finally, this movement is part of the solution for the alarming nationwide trend toward child obesity and inactivity.

The Vienna-wide effort was spearheaded by Jeff Anderson (Wolftrap), Amy Byrne (Marshall Road), Tara MacCall (Vienna Elementary), and John Sweeney (Louise Archer).
I recently passed by Louise Archer ES when school was letting out and it's impressive to see so many kids walking and biking to school. Shouldn't all Fairfax kids be able to safely walk and bike to school?

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Paul Dorn, Bike Commuter

Since May is Bike Month and next Friday is Bike to Work Day, I thought a bike commuting post was in order. A recent post features information about Paul Dorn, a bike commuter, author of The Bike to Work Guide: What You Need to Know to Save Gas, Go Green, Get Fit, and creator of a website devoted to bike commuting. There's also a link to a recent interview with Paul.

Bike to Work Day is a great time to celebrate bike commuting and for first time bike commuters to learn that it's an inexpensive, non-polluting, and (usually) fun way to get to work. Be sure to register for your local pit stop at WABA. This year, if you are multimodal and take your bike on the bus as part of your commute, you ride for free.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Oak Street bridge to close for a year

A popular bike route from the W&OD Trail to Gallows Road, which includes using the Oak Street bridge to cross the Beltway, will be closed for a year starting on Sunday, May 10 as part of the Beltway HOT lanes project. The route is also used by people coming from other areas to the east of the Beltway including Great Falls and the Pimmit Hills area. See a map of the bridge. According to Dr Gridlock, it will be close from May 10 until Spring 2010.

An alternative is to use Idylwood Road which is very bike-unfriendly or to continue west on the W&OD Trail to Gallows Road. To avoid a narrow section of Gallows Rd. when headed north, you could instead turn right on Sandburg St. before reaching Gallows Rd. There is low traffic but a climb to Idylwood Rd. Cross Idylwood Rd and then turn left on Elm Place to get to Gallows Rd.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Unlocking Gridlock: Transit and Other Solutions for Northern Virginia

Join FABB and other co-sponsors of a discussion on Tuesday, May 5 on the importance of the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill for Northern Virginia. Presentations will describe how residents can help influence the bill to provide quality transportation and housing options for all northern Virginia residents.

Location: Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School Cafeteria, 7134 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, (near West Falls Church Metro) (map)
Time: 6:30 p.m. light refreshments, 7:00 p.m. program begins

Stewart Schwartz, of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Andy Clarke, of the League of American Bicyclists are featured speakers. See the meeting flier.


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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vienna town council candidate bike positions

We attended the Vienna Town Council candidate forum this week. Our primary concern was a comment by candidate Dan Dellinger about not wanting trails into Tysons because they would bring in undesirables. At the forum he says the quote was taken out of context, that he supports trails but is concerned about people from outside the parking and walking to Metro.

Most of the candidates support better bicycle and pedestrian access, although there was almost no discussion of on-road bike access. In the mind of most candidates, and in the minds of many people in general, bike access means trails and sidewalks. Only one candidate, Howard Springsteen, discussed bike lanes but then he stated that where the roads are too narrow for bike lanes cyclists should ride on the sidewalk.

Here are some notes from the meeting regarding candidate positions on bicycle access in Vienna:
Laurie DiRocco: A cyclist who supports Vienna become a more walkable, bikeable community. Supports bike trails to improve bike access.

George Lovelace: Supports improved bike/walk access. We need more bicycle education to improve cyclists' behavior.

Mike Gadell: Supports trails into Tysons. Understands the popularity and importance of the W&OD Trail. Need more traffic calming to improve bike safety.

Howard Springsteen
: A cyclist who wants a bike- and pedestrian-friendly Maple Ave. Says the W&OD Trail is a major community asset. Supports trails into Tysons. Thinks that narrower streets cannot accomodate bike lanes, that cyclists should ride on the sidewalk in these areas.

Daniel Dellinger: Is concerned about undesirables coming into the community if there are trails into Tysons, although he says he's mostly concerned about people from outside the parking and walking to Metro. Supports Vienna being more walkable. Wants to step up enforcement against cyclists who disregard the law.

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