Friday, August 14, 2009

Gallows Road bike lanes almost completed

August is turning out to be bike lane month in Fairfax County. Not only was Lawyers Road recently repaved and restriped with bike lanes, but Gallows Road now has wide curb lanes with bike lanes soon to be striped, for a short stretch from Cottage St to the W&OD Trail. Because of width limitations, from the Trail to Idylwood Rd there will be a wide curb lane.

You can just make out the old lane strip in the photo. The bike lanes have not yet been striped nor are there bicycle symbols, but the wide curb lane is already a vast improvement over the former road profile. The second phase, from Idylwood Rd to Old Courthouse Rd is not scheduled for another year or so. More work is required to make room for the bike lanes and so the process is much longer. Read more about the Gallows Rd project.

It's surprising that the bike lanes couldn't be extended almost to Idylwood. The center "turn lane" from the Trail to Idylwood is an unused lane. There are no places to turn in either direction and the lane is not needed. There's plenty of asphalt for creating a bike lane there. The second photo is looking from Idylwood toward the Trail. As an aside, that utility cover looks a bit intimidating and we hope it is filled in. It's located right where a cyclist would be riding in the wide curb lane. I wouldn't want to hit it at night on a bike.

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I have now ridden on Gallows between Cottage and the W&OD (it's my usual commute route) twice this week. The striping is now there on both sides (I think there is still a small section remaining on southbound Gallows right before Cottage). It seemed a little narrower than I had hoped, and there are the usual stray bits of asphalt present, but for the most part, it's a huge help to me. My observations from waiting at the lights at Gallows have been that the cars are actually staying within their lanes and out of the bike lane. Now if they could just extend them to Dunn Loring metro: I noticed several bikers still using the asphalt sidewalk to head to and from Dunn Loring.
The lane is great but I'm surprised they haven't painted a bicycle emblem on it to make it clear what its use is. I hope they get around to that.
Re: Extending the lanes to Dunn Loring: That would involve widening the bridge over I-66 which won't happen for a while.

Re: bicycle symbols in the bike lanes: I believe VDOT ran out of money and now it's up to the county to come up with the funds needed. Symbols are missing from some sections of the Lawyers Rd bike lanes too.
They don't have money to paint bike symbols? I'm having a hard time with this. I know VDOT is crunched but it can't cost that much money to complete the project.
I hope that FFX county is not too broke and extends the Bike lane to Fairfax Hospital(that would also cover many commuters to Hospital /Exxon/Red Cross, etc). There are many Offices/Apartments on the other side of the Dunn Loring Metro station that would benefit and it would ease out congestion.

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