Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Senator Warner gets around Virginia by bike

According to newsleader.com, Senator Mark Warner recently decided to ride from Lexington to Staunton to meet "with democratic supporters at a last-minute ice cream social at the Belle Grae Inn."

Senator Warner is an avid cyclist who has participated in Bike Virginia in the past. This ride was not part of Bike Virginia, which took place June 19-24. Sounds like the Senator just wanted an excuse to get out and enjoy bicycling in the Virginia countryside.


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Clermont Connector to Eisenhower Ave closed July 6

We just learned that the Eisenhower Avenue Connector will be closed on July 6 through September. As part of the deck replacement work on the Beltway, the bicycle connection from Clermont Dr to Eisenhower Avenue will also be closed to cyclists. We are trying to find out more information about the closing and any proposed detours for cyclists. Read the Eisenhower Avenue Connector closure press release. See our blog entry about an earlier closing last September.

Last year we met with Woodrow Wilson Bridge staff to discuss the closing, originally planned for last year. We did not think the detour that was proposed for cyclists was adequate. It used a 4-foot sidewalk along Franconia Road that was overgrown with weeds and crossed many driveway entrances. There has been no discussion about the proposed detour since that time.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interview with Transportation Secretary LaHood

The New York Times recently interviewed Secretary LaHood:
President Obama has talked about his desire to wean Americans off automobiles.What we've talked about is getting to a concept that we call livable communities, where people don't have to get in a car every day. You can use light rail, you can use buses, you can use walking paths, you can use your bike.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cyclists riding MS 150 ticketed for running stop signs

According to the Post article A Safety Issue to Officers, Poor Form to Cyclists, eight cyclists were ticketed for not coming to a complete stop at stop signs in the Purcellville/Lovettsville area:
To several who took part in the annual event - which is estimated to have raised more than $700,000 for research and assistance for those with the incurable illness - the tickets were poor form, even if cyclists had rolled through the signs. To authorities, who said they received numerous complaints from motorists about cyclists crowding the roads and running stop signs, the citations were necessary to ensure safety on the roads.

"After I picked my jaw up off the ground, my feeling was, 'You've got nothing better to do at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning than sit there and wait for people to run a stop sign?'" said David Jennings, 47, of Vienna, a cyclist who did not ride for charity but was ticketed in Lovettsville while out with his biking club.

Jennings said he and another cyclist, a charity participant, slowed to about 1 mph before proceeding through a stop sign in Lovettsville, only to find a sheriff's deputy nearby, who flagged them down.

"What was amazing to me was it seemed to me they were there because of the MS ride," Jennings said. "They've donated their time and all their money, and they've donated to a charity, and you've got the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office just sitting there waiting to hand them a ticket. It didn't seem right."
The comments on the article contain most of the stereotypes about renegade cyclists who don't obey the law; motorists who do the same; cyclists who shouldn't be riding in the road, etc.

Capt. Thom Shaw of the Loudoun County Sheriff's office was online Friday "to discuss the incident and to answer questions about safety and rules of the road when bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians meet."

One question regarded the street corssings on the W&OD Trail and how few motorists stop for cyclists in the crosswalks. Capt. Shaw doesn't see a problem, completely ignoring the fact that motorists are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists in a crosswalk:
Mclean, Va.: I bicycle regularly on the W&OD trail (and obey the law). I have witnessed far more cars who fail to yield to stopped cyclists at a crosswalk (or moving cyclists in a crosswalk) than bicyclists who blow through stop signs without regard to traffic. Aren't drivers required to yield at a crosswalk in Virginia (assuming, of course, that the bicycle has stopped at the crosswalk)?

Capt. Thom Shaw: All intersections with state roadways are governed by a stop sign for the cyclists. If the rider stops and yields correctly this should not be an issue.
In two subsequent comments, Capt. Shaw states that cyclists on the W&OD Trail stop signs must wait until all traffic clears before cyclists proceed:
Cyclists must stop and yield at these intersections, whether or not they have dismounted. A rider should allow themselves enough time and space to cross the roadway safely, as they would if they were driving a vehicle.

Yes, in cases where the trail crosses the roadway and a stop sign is only present for the cyclist, the motorist has the right-of-way.
This interpretation completely ignores the presence of the crosswalk and explains why police often accuse cyclists of not yield to motorists, which is contrary to state law, which states that "46.2-92, A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway: 1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;"

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Governor Kaine encourages government employees to drive less

Yesterday Governor Kaine issued Executive Order 82, Greening of State Government to encourage state employees to reduce the environmental impact of government operations. One way to reduce their impact is to drive less:
Every day we each make choices that result in impacts to the environment; opportunities to lessen these impacts abound. For instance, we can reduce automobile emissions by holding videoconferences or conference calls rather than face-to-face meetings and by walking, bicycling, carpooling, or taking transit to work.
Another way is to promote smart growth by locating government buildings near transit and in bike/ped-friendly places:
When a Commonwealth agency or institution is to lease space or build a new building in a metropolitan area where public transportation is available, it shall seek to lease or build within a quarter mile of a transit or commuter rail stop. The Commonwealth also shall, when leasing and building facilities, seek locations that are pedestrian and bicycle accessible. The Commonwealth shall encourage the private sector to adopt green building standards by striving to lease facilities that meet the same standards as those required for new state construction as outlined above. The Division of Real Estate Services of the Department of General Services shall consider these preferences in approving new leases or extensions of current leases.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Congressional Bike Caucus letter on Transportation Bill

As reported by Bike Portland, Congressman Earl Blumenauer on behalf of the Congressional Bike Caucus recently wrote to Congressman Oberstar and Congressman Mica, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to "express our support for establishing a truly multi-modal national transportation policy that better integrates bicycling and walking into our nation's transportation system."

He went on to write that "Bicycling and walking currently accounts for 10% of all trips made by Americans yet our current Federal investment is closer to 2% of transportation funds. Investing in these modes of transportation creates jobs, saves taxpayers money and helps raise our overall quality of life."

He then asks for committee support to:
  1. Reauthorize the Safe Routes to School Program at a substantially higher level
  2. Include a Complete Streets policy requirement to ensure that roads built using federal transportation dollars are available to all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians
  3. Create a new Active Transportation Investment Fund
  4. Require data collection of comparable frequency and scope for all modes of transportation
See a copy of the Congressional Bike Caucus letter.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Beater bikes in NYT

Beater bike is a term for an inexpensive bike that can be used for local transportation. The worse it looks, the better, so that it is a less appealing target for bike thieves. I have a beater bike I bought for $15 and converted from a road bike to an upright and I use it to run to the store, to Metro, or other short, local trips. If I forget my lock, I don't worry too much.

The New York Times has a good article about beater bikes in the city, Beater Bikes, the Cheap Workhorses of Cycling. Local places to pick up a beater bike are Phoenix Bikes in Arlington, the Bike Club in Falls Church, and bikes@vienna.


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Monday, June 8, 2009

Mayor and Council part of Tour de Fairfax City

The Mayor and two members of the Fairfax City Council joined the Fairfax City chapter of FABB for the Tour de Fairfax City on Saturday June 6. Mayor Robert Lederer along with City Council members David Meyer and Dan Drummond participated in the 10-mile loop that traversed the city's extensive trail network and connecting neighborhood streets. Fairfax City has no on-road bike lanes.

FABB members are focusing on a priority bike route between George Mason University, which lies just outside the city boundary, and the nearby Vienna Metrorail station. A lack of bicycle parking is also a major issue in the city. The tour included stops along the way at the historic Ford Building in Old Town Fairfax (pictured here) and at the recently restored Blenheim property on Old Lee Highway. A big thanks to Chan Mohney (pictured above at the Ford Building) and Andrea Loewenwarter for sharing their knowledge of Fairfax City's history.

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Fairfax County drops aggressive driver report form

Due to budget cuts, Fairfax County has stopped collecting Aggressive Driver reports on the web. In the past we have frequently reported aggressive drivers using the form. If a motorist passes too close, yells at me, or otherwise harasses me in a non-life threatening manner, they got reported.

Today a motorist passed me on the left just before an intersection, then turned right directly in front of me. I had to make an evasive quick turn; otherwise I would have collided with the truck (it's a good think I took the LAB Road 1 course (now called Traffic Skills 101) not long ago and practiced that maneuver). I noticed the tag number and later tried to report the incident online. The link was broken.

When I reported the broken link I was told that because of budget cuts, the service is no longer provided. I can't imagine it cost much to collect the reports and send letters to owners of the vehicles, but there most have been some small cost that is no longer incurred. I was told that people who want to report aggressive drivers should either call 911 or call the non-emergency number, 703-691-2131. I called the non-emergency number and someone courteously took my information and said they would see what could be done.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor bicycles

According to the Christian Science Monitor article Sotomayor navigates Senate corridors on her way to confirmation hearing, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a cyclist. She discussed her favorite bike routes with Senator Schumer, also a cyclist:
"She's a bicycle rider. I'm a bicycle rider. We talked a little bit about our favorite routes," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York. "She's a very human person of great legal mind. And I think that's the right person to be on the Supreme Court."


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Friday, June 5, 2009

Bike lanes proposed on Boone Blvd and Greensboro Dr

As part of the redesign of the Tysons Corner area, Fairfax County is developing street profiles for a future grid of streets. A major part of that grid will be to provide alternatives to driving on Route 7. Boone Blvd runs parallel to Route 7 on the south and Greensboro Dr runs parallel to Route 7 on the north. In the current cross section, bike lanes are proposed for both roads. Since there are no bike facilities on Route 7, it's important that these parallel roads provide good bicycle alternatives.

Fairfax County is soliciting comments on the road designs:
The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is accepting public comments on conceptual designs for the extensions of Boone Boulevard and Greensboro Drive. See the presentation from a June 2 meeting on the project's status.
Cyclists should send comments to Richard.Stevens@fairfaxcounty.gov expressing support for the proposed design:
  1. Bike lanes on Boone and Greensboro will provide safe, convenient bicycle alternatives to riding on Route 7.
  2. The proposed bike lanes are part of an integrated bicycle network for Tysons. They are needed to allow residents and visitors to use bikes for short trips within Tysons.
  3. The bike lanes will help reduce congestion and air pollution and will help create a liveable Tysons.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reston Bike to Work Day

We are finally getting around to posting info about Bike to Work Day. Once again a record number of cyclists, more than 8,000, signed up to participate in the DC area. At least three Fairfax County Board of Supervisors rode to events around the county: Lee District Supervisor McKay, Springfield District Supervisor Herrity and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Hudgins.

FABB helped organize the Reston event that attracted a record 411 cyclists this year. Supervisor Hudgins presented the U.S. Geological Survey with a commemorative plaque for having the most Reston Bike to Work Day participants every year since 2002. Matt Larsen, Associate Director for Water, and Kerie Hitt, hydrologist, bike commuter, and FABB secretary received the award on behalf of the USGS.

The Reston office of SoftwareAG located near the W&OD Trail received the Bike-Friendly Business award for promoting bike commuting by providing a changing facility, showers, lockers, and a special indoor bike room for storing bicycles.

Professional photographer Peter Klosky of the Reston Bike Club took some great photos of the event.

Reston Bike to Work Day is organized by the Reston Town Center Association, Reston Association, Reston Bike Club, Friends of the W&OD Trail, and Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling with the help of many local sponsors including Great Harvest Bread Co., Whole Foods Market, A-1 Cycling, Starbucks Coffee, Mon Ami Gabi, VDOT, and The Bike Lane.

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House Republicans want to cut Safe Routes to School Program

Once again Republicans in Congress are speaking out against spending funds for bike and pedestrian projects. Not only do they want to kill the Safe Routes to School Program, which has been successful in encouraging thousands of kids to bike and walk to school, but they also want to get ride of the main source of bike and ped funding, Transportation Enhancements:
Rather than proposing, for example, the elimination of the Education Department, as they have in the past, Republicans are suggesting killing a program that pays for building sidewalks, bike paths and crossing guards as part of the Safe Routes to Schools program. That would save $183 million a year.

Other proposals include: Saving $833 million a year by eliminating federally funded transportation "enhancements" like landscaping, preservation of historic facilities, and pedestrian and bike facilities.

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FABB receives grant from Alliance for Biking and Walking

The Alliance for Biking and Walking announced today that FABB was awarded a grant of $9,600. FABB will develop an easy-to-follow handbook for non-engineer bicycle advocates to help them identify issues, make informed comments, and play a constructive role during the design of new bicycle facilities. As VDOT and Fairfax County develop more bicycle facilities in the coming years, it's important that bicycle advocates play a role in ensuring these facilities meet the needs of cyclists. This work often requires reviewing detailed engineering plans, interacting with engineers and technical staff, and being able to speak the language of bicycle facility design. The brochure, in paper and electronic form, will help cyclists and others through this process.

According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking press release:
Washington, DC - June 4, 2009 The Alliance for Biking & Walking is awarding seven grants totaling over $125,000 to grassroots biking and walking advocacy organizations. The Advocacy Advance Grants will be used to jump-start emerging advocacy organizations and to fund innovative campaigns with the potential to dramatically increase biking and walking. These grants are a key part of the Advocacy Advance Partnership with the League of American Bicyclists. Launched this year, the grants are made possible with generous funding by SRAM, Planet Bike, Bikes Belong, and Cannondale. Nearly 100 proposals totaling over $2 million were received in this first round. Awards include:

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (a local chapter of the DC regional WABA) will receive $9,600 to develop a handbook to help bicycling advocates understand how to best influence and play a constructive role during the design of new facilities. This resource will help bridge the gap between advocates, successful advocacy, and design engineers and will be available online for reference by advocates across North America. FABB is a working group of the Washington (DC) Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). The FABB mission is to make bicycling an integral part of the transportation network of Fairfax County, Virginia, part of the Washington metro area.

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David Byrne reviews "Pedaling Revolution"

Bike Messenger is the title of David Byrne's New York Times book review of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes. David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads, is currently on tour and will roll into Wolf Trap on Saturday. He usually travels with his bike so look out for him on the W&OD Trail this weekend. As he states in his review:
I've ridden a bike around New York as my principal means of transport for 30 years, so I'm inclined to sympathize with the idea that a cycling revolution is upon us, and that it;s a good thing. Like Jeff Mapes, the author of "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities," I've watched the streets fill over the years with more and varied bike riders. It's no longer just me, some food delivery guys and a posse of reckless messengers. Far from it."
He goes on to note that Mapes
"details how cities from Amsterdam to Paris to New York to Davis, Calif., have developed policies encouraging cycling in recent decades, and how other towns are just beginning to make way for bikes. He lays out in an easily digestible way a fair amount of material on trip patterns, traffic safety and air pollution. He quotes the relevant studies and shows how those studies have been either heeded or ignored."
The book sounds like a solid additional to your bike book collection.

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