Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bicycle programs at Fairfax schools

There are a few schools in Fairfax where students are encouraged to ride bikes. At Herndon Middle School bike racks are provided for kids who ride to school. Under the direction of three teachers, approximately 20 students are members of an after school club where they refurbish old bikes to give away. Articles in the Washington Post (From fixer-upper to someone's dream) and the Herndon Observer (Herndon Middle Gives Back, One Wheel at a Time) describe the program.
Each Wednesday, about 20 middle school students meet in the school's Bike Shop to repair, repaint, and spruce up donated bicycles for needy children within the local community.

Hersh said the Bike Shop partners with A-1 Cycling, in Herndon, who help students obtain things like cables and tires in order to replace the bikes. A-1 Cycling also donates bike stands and other tools that are needed throughout the year, he said.
There are at least two other schools with bike programs. At Lanier Middle School in Fairfax, PE teacher Pam Clingenpeel sponsors an after school bicycle club where kids learn about basic bike maintenance, bicycle safety, street/trail bike etiquette, shifting techniques and basic skills of riding. Five after school sessions are being held this Fall.

Candy Brown, Physical Education teacher at Centreville High School leads a mountain bike PE class. Students learn the ABC Quick Check (video), basic bike maintenance, bicycle safety, street/trail bike etiquette, shifting techniques and basic skills of riding. Ms. Brown is featured in a video about the Centreville program. Both schools received funds form the Virginia Dept. of Education to purchase new bikes.

We've previously mentioned successful Safe Routes to School efforts at four Vienna schools. And finally, Lynbrook Elementary School is one of only two schools in Fairfax to receive Safe Routes to School funds (Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna is the other). If you know of other schools with bike programs, please let us know.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Trail Voice

A good resource for information about local trails and parks is Trail Voice: "In a bi-weekly (sometimes weekly) website update and email newsletter, we profile DC area parks, trails, organizations, businesses, and events." Ian Edlind has been publishing Trail Voice updates since March of this year. Each issue usually highlights an area park or trail. Check out the inaugural Thanksgiving edition.


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Guilt Reduction Ride

We couldn't have had a better Thanksgiving morning than to ride to Vienna for bikes@vienna's Guilt Reduction Ride. People brought cans of food for Community Helping Others (guilt reduction 1) and rode on the W&OD Trail to Herndon (guilt reduction 2), and otherwise had a great time. bikes@vienna has been a longtime FABB sponsor and a very community spirtied bike shop, not to mention this year's Adventure Cycling Sam Braxton Bicycle Shop Award winner. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Who really pays for our roads?

Some motorists think that bicyclists should be taxed because they don't pay road user fees. They think that user fees pay for construction of our roads. Beside the fact that most cyclists own cars and buy gas, it's a fallacy that motorist user fees pay the full cost of our roads. According to a recent report from the PEW Charitable Trusts on trends in highway funding, only "51 percent of the nation's $193 billion set aside for highway construction and maintenance was generated through user fees." (via Greater Greater Washington)

As reported by DC.Streetsblog, "In Texas, he said that, on average, it cost the state 20-30 cents per person per mile to build and maintain a road to the suburbs, yet drivers only pay on average 2-3 cents per mile through the gas tax, vehicles fees, etc. 'What we found was that no road that we built in Texas paid for itself,' said Krusee. 'None.'"

We think we'll be referring to this information in the future so we've included links in our Cyclist Resources page under References, Road Taxes 1 and 2.

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Road lobby hates Region Forward 2050

See the excellent post at Greater Greater Washington entitled Plan for bikes, peds, transit as well as cars? Heresy! to read about why it is important to weigh in on the MWCOG report on the future of the region, Region Forward 2050 (also known as the Greater Washington 2050 report). The road lobby is aghast that MWCOG would have the audacity to suggest the DC regional grow smarter, with more public transit, with compact development where residents can easily walk and bike.

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and AAA Mid-Atlantic are fighting those recommendations because it doesn't support their vision of more and wider roads covering the region. It's important that the rest of us provide comments supporting the MWCOG vision for the future.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Walking and biking to school

Today the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County School Board met to discuss walking and biking to school. As we reported earlier, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) has discussed this issue at recent Board meetings and is looking for ways to encourage more kids to walk and bike to school, in part to help reduce costs of busing kids.

Supervisor McKay noted that the county was not taking advantage of grant opportunities such as CDC health grants or the Safe Routes to School Program to educate the public and to help build infrastructure. There was a consensus that the School Board and the BOS need to work together to change the culture of driving kids to school who could easily walk.

Supervisor McKay noted that all schools should have bike racks. Dean Tistadt of Facilities & Transportation Services (I think that's who it was; there were no introductions) said that any principal who wanted a bike rack could "get one instantly." He also said that while poor infrastructure and lack of facilities was a problem, the main problem was that parents don't want their kids walking and biking because of perceived safety concerns. We think that attitude is changing as we hear from more and more parents who want their kids to be able to safely walk and bike to school.

It was agreed that providing Kiss & Ride areas was not the best use of school resources; facilitating parents driving kids to school makes walking and biking less safe, and contributes to air pollution and congestion around schools. As Mr. Tistadt said "This is lunacy. What we should be doing is putting up barriers for those who drive kids to school."

The group agreed to 1. Find examples of successful programs for getting more kids to walk and bike to school, and use those as examples for the rest of the county and 2. Determine where there are gaps in the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and provide funds to fill in those gaps.

Supervisor McKay will lead this effort. FABB will work his office to do what we can to help. One thing we can do is point to the Vienna Safe Routes to School Challenge as a successful example of parents leading the way for the rest of the county.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Region Forward 2050 Comments

If you haven't made comments on the Region Forward 2050 report, the deadline is November 30. The report contains many goals that will advance the use of bicycles for transportation in the future, and the report needs your support. Provide comments online. We made the following comments:
We strongly support the goal to "Increase the share of walk, bike, and transit trips." As noted in the report, "Walking & biking account for 9% of all trips in the region." In places like Fairfax County that number is much lower and there needs to be a concerted effort to increase that mode share by providing better, safer bicycle and pedestrian facilities. This should include providing funding commensurate with the desired more share.

We also support the goal of concentrated development in Regional Activity Centers. Dense development around transit will allow residents to access services, work, and recreation locations more easily by using bicycles and walking.

The goal to "Increase the rate of construction of bike and pedestrian facilities from the Transportation Planning Board's plan" is worthy but not nearly enough. That plan is much too general; many more facilities are needed. The region needs a more up-to-date and comprehensive plan for development of bicycle facilities. These should include on-road bicycle routes that are safer and provide more direct access than trails. While both are needed, on-road access can be provided sooner and more cost-effectively than building trails.

Bicycle support infrastructure is needed to support an increase in bicycling. End-of-trip facilities such as covered, secure long- and short-term parking and changing and shower facilities are needed in the Regional Centers.

There needs to be better transit/bicycle connectivity. Bicycles should be allowed on all transit systems. There should be adequate bicycle parking at all major transit stations. We strongly support the notion that bike sharing stations will facilitate taking short neighborhood trips by bicycle.
See our earlier blog entry about the report.

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David Byrne coming to DC

The Brookings Institute is sponsoring Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around, "a conversation about practical and imaginative ways to promote alternative forms of transportation. The event will launch Cities for Cycling, a National Association of City Transportation Officials project to break down barriers to bicycle-friendly street design in municipalities around the United States." The event will be held at the Newseum on December 8 fro 5-7 p.m.

David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads and author of Bicycle Diaries will be one of the panelists. When on tour, Byrne travels with a folding bike and explores and writes about his adventures. Those writings formed the basis of Bicycle Diaries, a book about travel more than about bikes.

Other panelists include Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Should be a lively discussion.


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Region Forward 2050

Subtitled Greater Washington 2050: COG's Vision for the National Capital Region in the Twenty-First Century, Region Forward 2050 contains goals for future development of the Metro area, including
  • Increase the rate of construction of bike and pedestrian facilities from the Transportation Planning Board's plan
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita
  • Increase the share of walk, bike, and transit trips
To encourage implementation of these goals, regional leaders will sign the Greater Washington 2050 Compact, which is Appendix B of the report:
The Compact is the first agreement on a comprehensive vision for the National Capital Region and will serve as a guide to help regional leaders make decisions and create a framework for future policy.
You can comment on the report online. The deadline is November 30.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Statewide Bicycle Policy Plan

VDOT is developing a Statewide Bicycle Policy Plan with help from Toole Design Group. The moribund state Bicycle Advisory Committee has been revived to provide guidance and comment on the plan. The BAC convened today in Richmond to discuss and comment on the latest draft of the plan. While the state has a Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations, implementation is sometimes lacking. A goal of the plan is to provide guidance on better implementation.

We hope to have more information in the near future. The plan is not available for review outside of the BAC. A final draft is expected in mid-February.

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CTB approves Transportation Enhancement policy change

At their meeting today the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved proposed changes to the Transportation Enhancement Program policy that will provide more funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Starting in FY2013, VDOT will:
Apply any funding for new projects to those that promote core transportation function:
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Education
  • Landscaping and Scenic Beautification along Transportation Corridors (including streetscape improvements)
  • Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors and Conversion to Trails (traditional rails-to-trails and rails-with-trails projects)
An additional category was added to the list, Acquisition of Scenic or Historic Easements and Sites. The change will reduce the number of possible project categories from 12 to 5 and should significantly increase the funds available for bicycle projects.

Later in the meeting the CTB approved a major portion of the Virginia Capital Trail, that will stretch from Richmond to Williamsburg.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fairfax finally discussing walking and biking to school

The Safe Routes to School program has been in place since 2005. During that time, over $13 million has been allocated to Virginia for the program, of which about $7 million has been designated for projects. Fairfax County has requested, and received, $17,000, less than 1%. Fairfax is the largest school district in the state, 12th largest in the country, and many kids don't walk to school in part because it isn't safe. In a time of reduced budgets, the county is leaving a great deal of money on the table that could be used to improve biking and walking routes to school.

Bus transportation is provided to all kids living greater than a mile from an elementary school or 1.5 miles from a middle or high school. "Regardless of the distance, transportation will be provided if the transportation office determines that there is no walking route available that does not subject students to unusual hazards." As a result, many children living close to schools are provided bus transportation, some living across the street, because of a lack of safe routes to school.

It seems to have taken a budget crisis for the schools to consider the costs of having to bus so many kids to school. According to today's Post, Students may face an uphill climb: To help cut busing costs, Fairfax officials suggest getting more kids to walk to school:
"The schools do nothing to teach the benefits of walking and biking to school," McKay said. "Somehow we got away from that, because when I went through the schools, they had presentations by police and others talking about the importance of walking and biking to school."

McKay's suggestion that more kids walk also reflects the growing financial tensions between the School Board, which sets school policies and answers mostly to parents, and the Board of Supervisors, which controls school funding and answers mostly to taxpayers. McKay said that one of the biggest complaints he hears from constituents is about the number of half-full school buses they see.
The county needs to get serious about this issue. There are opportunities to obtain funding through the CDC grant program Communities Putting Prevention to Work which encourages communities to fight childhood obesity by implementing Safe Routes to School and other measures to help them develop active lifestyles. The SRTS program needs the support of the county Board of Supervisors and School Board.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Traffic notes, part 2

Earlier we posted some quotes from the book Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us). It's an excellent book with many insights into what happens when people get behind the wheel. Here are a few more quotes from the book:
Car companies would rightly be castigated if they advertised the joys of drinking and driving. But as a survey of North American car commercials by a group of Canadian researchers showed, it is quite acceptable to show cars being driven, soberly, in ways that a panel of viewers labeled "hazardours." Nearly half of the more than two hundred ads screened (always carrying careful, if duplicitous, disclaimers) were considered by the majority of the panel to contain an "unsafe driving sequence," usually marked by high speeds. pp. 66, 67

"Baker's law," named after crash reconstructionist J. Stannard Baker, notes that drivers "tend to explain their traffic accidents by reporting circumstances of lowest culpability with credibility" —that is, the most believable story they can get away with. p. 72

"If you're limited in how many things you can pay attention to, and attention is a gateway to consciousness, then you can only be aware of a limited subset of what's out there." Inattention blindness, it has been suggested, is behind an entire category of crashes in traffic, those known as "looked but did not see accidents." p. 83

This attention disorder could also help explain the "safety in numbers" phenomenon of traffic, as described by Peter Lyndon Jacobsen, a public-health consultant in California. You might think that as there are more pedestrians or cyclists on a street, the more chances there are for them to be hit. You are right. More pedestrians are killed by cars in New York, City than anywhere else in the United States. But as Jacobsen found, these relationships are not linear. In other words, as the number of pedestrians or cyclists increases, the fatality rates per capita begin to drop.

It is the behavior of drivers that changes. They are suddenly seeing pedestrians everywhere. The more they see, typically, the slower they drive; and, in a neatly perpetuating cycle, the more slowly they drive, the more pedestrians they effectually see because those pedestrians stay within sight for a longer period. p. 85

Dutch cyclists are safer simply because there are more of them, and thus Dutch drivers are more used to seeing them. ...Gainesville, a college town with the highest cycling rate in the state, is in fact the safest place to be a cyclist. p. 86

Studies have shown that drivers seated at higher eye heights but not shown a speedometer will drive faster than those at lower heights. p. 94

We "overdrive" our headlights, moving at speeds that would not allow us to stop in time for something we saw in the range of our lights. p. 98

Studies have shown that pedestrians think drivers can see them up to twice as far away as drivers actually do. According to one expert, if we were to drive at night in a way that ensured we could see every potential hazard in time to stop-what is legally called the "assured clear distance"-we would have to drive 20 miles per hour. p. 99

The "slower is faster" idea shows up often in traffic. The classic example concerns roundabouts. Many people are under the mistaken impression that roundabouts cause congestion. But a properly designed roundabout can reduce delays by up to 65 percent over an intersection with traffic signals or stop signs. p. 124

One of the curious laws of traffic is that most people, the world over, spend roughly the same amount of time each day getting to where they need to go. Whether the setting is an African village or an American city, the daily round-trip commute clocks in at about 1.1 hours. p. 131

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McLean bicycle access recommendations

The final report of the McLean Pedestrian Task Force is now available online. Despite the name, the report includes recommendations for bicycle access in McLean. Their vision includes:
  • A bicycle-friendly downtown McLean that is complemented by safe bicycling routes from neighboring communities within a 3-mile radius
  • A McLean that bicycles to and from West Falls Church and the new Tysons Corner Metro Stations
  • A community in which motorists and bicyclists observe the rules of proper conduct
Recommendations include creating an uphill bike lane on Rt 123 from the North Glebe Road to George Washington Parkway, bike lanes on Route 123 from the George Washington Parkway to Tysons, signed bike routes on several local roads, and implementation of Safe Routes to School. See the complete list of bicycle recommendations.

As we noted earlier, several ped/bike projects identified in the report received funding, including signed bike routes.


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bikes and transit

Bicycle projects that connect to transit can receiving funding from the Federal Transit Administration if they have a "physical or functional relationship" to the transit center. According to Cyclelicious, this is generally interpreted to mean 1500 feet. "The FTA now acknowledges, however, that this 1,500 distance is too short. According to the FTA, research shows people are willing to travel about 15 minutes to their bus stop or station. That equates to about 1/2 mile for walking and three miles bicycling."

As a result, FTA is proposing a to clarify their policy on funding of pedestrian and bicycle facilities located near transit: "pedestrian improvements located within one-half mile and all bicycle improvements located within three miles of a public transportation stop or station shall have a de facto physical and functional relationship to public transportation."

The federal registry notice (pdf) for FTA–2009–0052 contains some good information and references about bicycling and transit:
With respect to bicycle facilities in particular, Secretary LaHood has committed the Department to "work toward an America where bikes are recognized to coexist with other modes and to safely share our roads and bridges." If we are to create livable communities, "the range of transportation choices available to all Americans-including transit, walking, bicycling, and improved connectivity for various modes-must be expanded.

The success of public transportation can be limited by the problem of the "first and last mile." One of "the best present options for solving the first and last mile dilemma are bicycles. Bicycles are the no-brainer of American mobility, one of our great underutilized resources. There are more bicycles in the United States than there are households but most of those bikes sit in garages except for an occasional recreational outing. And yet they are the perfect transportation choice for a short one- to three-mile trip to and from a transit station."
Comments on the policy are accepted until January 12, 2010.

See also The League of American Bicyclists post on this proposed policy change.

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Biking in New York, 1980-2009

Good transportation blog recently posted the article Biking Is Way Up in New York City. Again. that includes a good chart showing growth of cycling since 1980-2009. With better facilities, cycling has grown from about 2000 in 1980 to around 15,500 now. "According to the most recent data from the New York City Department of Transportation, biking in the city skyrocketed again this year. The colored bars represent the number of bikes counted at different commuter points over the course of a single day."

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Successful bike light giveaway

Despite the cold, wet weather there was a good turnout for the FABB bike light giveaway at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in the Culmore area. Many service workers and others who depend on bikes for transportation live in the area. The church provides many services for the community and they spread the word that lights would be available.

Fortunately the rain was light and the wind didn't blow our tent away. Thanks to all the FABB volunteers for coming out, to Nohemy Miranda of the county bike program, to Spokes Etc. of Alexandria for use of the tent and the services Ryan one of the shop bike mechanics. Thanks also to St. Anthony's Catholic Church for hosting the event, to bikes@vienna for use of the tables and chairs and for help with purchasing the lights, and to Transurban/Fluor for the grant that allowed us to purchase the lights.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

U. S. Dept. of Transportation bike commuters

U.S. DOT bike commuters are featured in a recent blog post by the Secretary of Transportation entitled DOT bike commuters leading by example: "Last week, on a walk through DOT headquarters, I met Thomas Dorset. Now, Tom is in his late-ish 60s, works for our Federal Railroad Administration, and commutes the 10 miles to work (and 10 back) by bicycle." We did not add the emphasis, and yes, it is possible to commute 10 miles by bike. It takes an average cyclists about 45-60 minutes, probably not much longer than driving in DC rush hour traffic, and parking is free, as is your workout.

The DOT Bicycle Commuters Group "consists of about 80 people who meet monthly to share information and come up with ways that DOT can provide more support for its bicycle commuters." I hope they are taking advantage of the Bicycle Commuter Act benefits of $20/month. As was pointed out back in August, the Government Accounting Office has authorized at least one federal agency to implement the benefits under the Transportation Fringe Benefit Program.

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Bike light giveway near Seven Corners today

FABB is doing our last scheduled bike light giveaway this afternoon, from 4-6pm at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in the Culmore area, just east of Seven Corners. Even though it will very likely be raining, we're hoping for a light rain. Bring your bike and get a free set of front and rear lights. Here's detailed info:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

St. Anthony's Catholic Church
3305 Glen Carlyn Road, Falls Church, VA 22041 (map)
Time: 4:00-6:00pm—Flier

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Proposed changes to Virginia Transportation Enhancement funding

At it's November 19 meeting the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will consider possible changes to the formula for funding Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects. One suggested change to be implemented in FY2013 would put more emphasis on transportation-oriented bicycle and pedestrian projects and less emphasis on historic preservation projects.

There are 12 categories of TE projects. Many people think that TE projects are primarily for building pedestrian and bicycle facilities. However, 9 of the 12 categories have nothing to do with non-motorized transportation. Among the 12 categories are: scenic or historic highway programs including tourist and welcome centers, purchase of historic properties or buildings in historic districts, rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities, and establishment of transportation museums.

The categories that would receive funding in FY2013 are those that promote core transportation functions: Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities, Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Education, Landscaping and Scenic Beautification along Transportation Corridors (including streetscape improvements), and Preservation of Abandoned Railway Corridors and Conversion to Trails (traditional rails-to-trails and rails-with-trails projects).

We support most of the proposed changes. We don't support the inclusion of landscaping and scenic beautification projects unless they include bicycle facilities. Some TE funds have been used on projects that in fact make conditions worse for bicyclists and pedestrians. Streetscape projects in Northern Virginia have included brick sidewalks and crosswalks and street designs that do not accommodate bicyclists.

To speak out in favor of the proposed changes, attend the November 19 CTB meeting at 9:00 a.m. at the VDOT Central Office Auditorium, 1221 E. Broad St., Richmond or send comments by email.


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Vienna bicycle safety

Vienna police appeared before the Town council last night to discuss bicycle safety once again. "Bicyclists plying sidewalks along heavily trafficked Maple Avenue are by far the likeliest to collide with vehicles, Vienna police officials told the Vienna Town Council at its Nov. 9 work session."

Similar information was presented to the council when changes to the Vienna Bikeway Plan were proposed. The solution then was to force bicyclists to yield to motorists, contrary to existing state law. Those changes were deferred until the Bicycle Advisory Committee could weigh in.

One good suggestion was received in the bicycle and pedestrian safety survey conducted by police: "Other residents suggested banning right turns on red along Maple Avenue. This would solve many of the bicycle crashes, but likely lead to sizable traffic backups, said Vienna Police Chief Robert Carlisle."

Most of the traffic in Vienna is along Maple Ave. While side street traffic is heavy, we don't feel it would be greatly affected by banning right on red, especially during rush hour when there is a continuous stream of traffic on Maple Ave. with few chances to turn right on red. We think this solution should be investigated further.

Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation made a good suggestion in his comment on the above news article. He noted that cyclists are "much safer when traveling on the roadway (even on Maple Ave and other busy roads) than on the adjacent sidewalk, and few roadway bicyclists know that, for their safety, they should control (i.e., ride near the center) of the right-most through travel lane, unless that lane is at least 14 feet wide and thus safely sharable laterally with a typical auto." He went on to state that "Town or VDOT should install shared-lane markings (aka "sharrows") in the center of both curb lanes to inform the public that these lanes are shared by bicyclists and motorists."

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Dangerous By Design

Transportation for America just released a report on pedestrian safety, Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods).
In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community. More than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.
While the report is mostly about pedestrian safety, bicycle funding was also addressed:
The 52 largest metro areas averaged annual spending of federal funds on bicycle and pedestrian projects of just $1.39 per person. The average metro area spends 2.2 percent of their federal transportation funds on projects to improve conditions for walking and bicycling. The average in Washington was $1.19.
The report was covered by the Post in the article Pedestrian safety study ranks D.C. in middle
Cheryl Cort, policy director for the Coalition for Smarter Growth, authored a study of the region's traffic fatalities last year.

"With pedestrians comprising over 21 percent of traffic fatalities in the region, we should be spending far more making our streets safer for pedestrians," she said.
With help from groups like Transportation for America, there will be an increased amount of funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects in the next Transportation bill passed by Congress.

[Update: Nov. 13, 2009] A sad fact in the report that we didn't mention, as pointed out by Douglas Stewart of Fairfax Suburbanista, is that Virginia ranks last in Federal spending on bicycle and pedestrian projects. There are actually two categories in which Virginia, during 2005-2008, is last, Percent of Total Federal Funding Spent on Pedestrian & Bicycle Projects (0.3%, national ave. is 1.5%) and Spending per Capita under SAFETEA-LU ($0.22, national ave. is $1.46). Virginia spent half as much SAFETEA-LU funds as the 49th state, and 15% of the national average.

To put it bluntly, that's pathetic. Remember those numbers the next time you testify in favor of funding for bicycle projects in Virginia. In fact, on December 1 VDOT will hold public hearings on the Six Year "Improvement" Program, and you can send comments today to

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Monday, November 9, 2009

More bike racks in Vienna

The Town of Vienna will be installing a new batch of bike racks throughout the town. Earlier we mentioned the new racks at the Vienna Community Center that were dedicated to Richard Black, the former head of Vienna Parks and Recreation Department. Those racks were appropriately painted black. The next set of racks are inverted U racks painted "Charlottesville Green." These will be placed in the public right of way at 21 locations around town. See the full list of possible rack locations.

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Annandale bike light giveaway

FABB installed over 40 sets of bike lights yesterday at the Annandale United Methodist Church on Columbia Pike at Gallows Road. It was a beautiful Fall day. The first two hours were very busy and we had several volunteers there to help install the lights, which can take a few minutes given the variety of sizes of handlebars and seatposts/seatstays. Several people came in response to the WABA email alert. A few service workers who use bikes for their main transportation came as well.

Thanks to the church for letting us set up on their parking lot. And thanks to the FABB volunteers for coming out and to Nohemy Miranda of the county bike program, who also took the photos. A special thanks to Dale Ruhter, a church member and bike commuter who helped us throughout the afternoon.

Our next event is on Thursday at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in the Culmore area. The church is located on 3305 Glen Carlyn Road at Route 7, just west of Columbia Pike. We'll be there from 4-6 p.m.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

New bike racks at Vienna Community Center

We were pleased to see 5 new inverted-U bike racks in front of the Vienna Community Center. We use that location for FABB meetings and the old grill rack there is not very good. Most people use the grill rack like a big U-rack, locking bikes on each end, which is about the only place for using a U-lock.

That's the good news. That bad news is that the racks were installed incorrectly. You can see from the photo above that the rack is placed too close to the wooden edging board. A properly parked bike will spill over into the landscaping bed. Why is it so difficult to install a bike rack? According to the Arlington County bike parking standards, there should be at least 24 inches of clearance.An earlier post includes photos of racks incorrectly installed at the City of Fairfax library and Southgate Community Center. The photo on the left shows the bike parking at the former office of the county bike coordinator. The new office has no visitor bike parking, although there is a new bike room for use by tenants.

One reason bike racks are installed incorrectly could be because the county has not implemented bicycle parking guidelines. The guidelines have been under development for two years; we expect to see the first draft any day now...

We're told that the Vienna Community Center racks can be moved without too much trouble. We hope so.

[Update Nov. 7, 12:50 p.m.] After speaking to Cathy Salgado, Vienna Parks Director, we've learned that the racks can easily be moved after a rack dedication ceremony later today. From the Town of Vienna News:
Memorial Will Honor Richard Black: The Town of Vienna will dedicate a bike rack and tree at the Vienna Community Center in honor of Richard Black, former Director of Parks and Recreation, at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 7. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

In addition, contributions are being accepted to help pay for the bike rack, which will have five loops with the custom Town of Vienna design on each end. It will be freestanding so it can be moved around as needed, much like the current rack on site. If you would like to donate, please make your check payable to the Town of Vienna and send to Cathy Salgado, c/o Town Hall, 127 Center St., S., Vienna, VA 22180.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

2009 Sam Braxton Bicycle Shop Award

Yesterday Adventure Cycling Association announced the 2009 Bicycle Travel Award Winners. Congratulations to bikes@vienna for being selected the winner of the Sam Braxton Bicycle Shop Award. John Brunow, owner of bikes@vienna, has been a supporter of FABB since the very beginning. We held our first organizational meeting in his shop and continued to meet there monthly for the next couple of years.

John is a great supporter of bicycling in Northern Virginia. He was sponsor of the Vienna Bike to Work Day pit stop for many years. bikes@vienna serves as a collection point for Bikes for the World. This is what Adventure Cycling had to say about bikes@vienna:
The Sam Braxton Bicycle Shop Award goes to Bikes@Vienna in Vienna, Virginia, recognizing their passion for sharing the local area with cyclists and the amazing services that they offer cyclists of all abilities traveling in the Washington D.C. area. As fierce proponents of full access, they offer cycling gear for all levels of rider and persons with physical disabilities. They are involved in the local community in a variety of ways, sponsoring several rides throughout the year. The owner, John Brunow, works hard to promote bicycle travel, and cycling in general, and to create positive change in his community by being an engaged, local leader.
John is an active member of the community, having served as past president of the Rotary Club of Vienna, and he is heavily involved in Viva! Vienna! each year. He's also a member of the Vienna Planning Commission.

Congratulations to John and the crew at bikes@vienna (full disclosure, I'm a former employee but am currently not working there). It's a well-deserved honor.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bike light giveaway on W&OD Trail today

We installed about 45 sets of lights on bikes that stopped by the FABB bike light giveaway at Gallows Road and the W&OD Trail. We were installing lights non-stop for an hour and a half. Since it's getting dark an hour earlier than last week, several people were rushing home so they wouldn't have to ride on the trail in the dark. They were thankful that we had lights for them.

Michelle Holland and Jennifer Aument of Transurban helped out along with several FABB volunteers. It was through the Transurban and Fluor Community Grant Program for the Capital Beltway Project that we had funds to purchase the lights. Our next event will be in Annandale on Sunday:
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Annandale United Methodist Church (map)
6935 Columbia Pike, Annandale, near Gallows Road
Time: 1:00-4:00pm
We've still got a lot of lights left to give away so stop by on Sunday with your bike and we'll install a front and rear Planet Bike Blinky Safety light.


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Congressman Blumenauer rides in New York City

Today Streetfilms released a short film about a visit to New York City by Congressman Earl Blumenauer:
Rep. Earl Blumenauer dropped by Transportation Alternatives' offices to take a quick excursion around mid-town with Executive Director, Paul Steely White, and Senior Policy Director, Noah Budnick. They checked out a few standard (painted) bike lanes and some of the newer (physically separated) facilities, of which the latter Mr. Blumenauer thought were superior. Along the way he offered much commentary about the state of biking and livable streets in the nation.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trading four wheels for two

That's the title of a guest column in Richmond BizSense about bike commuting in Richmond, VA. The author, an attorney in Richmond, discusses cyclist's legal rights to the road and reasons why some of us ride and why it's a good thing:
In fact, cyclists, serious cyclists, bike commuters like me, are the motorist's best friends. Think of it this way—you may get frustrated if you have to veer around me in your rush to the next stoplight (where I will probably catch up to you waiting for the green). But ask yourself—would you rather veer around my bike or be stuck behind my Grand Cherokee? When you are looking for a parking space, isn't it nice to know that there is at least one more out there—the one that I would have used if I had driven? And when you go to the gas pump, think of the 7.5 million gallons of gas that we bike commuters didn't buy last week. That has to help keep prices down for drivers.

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