Public hearings on I-95/I-395 HOT lanes projectVDOT is holding public hearings on the proposed I-95/I-395 HOT lanes project at three locations in Northern Virginia Feb. 9-11:
(Snow Date: Thursday, February 12)
Potomac High School
3401 Panther Pride Drive, Dumfries, VA 22026
Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 5-9 p.m.
(Snow Date: Thursday, February 19)
Robert E. Lee High School
6540 Franconia Road, Springfield, VA 22150
Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 5-9 p.m.
(Snow Date: Wednesday, February 18)
Minnie Howard School
3801 W Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302
Find out how this project will affect bike projects along this corridor. The most critical bike crossing is the bike/ped bridge just south of Franconia-Springfield Parkway that leads to the Franconia-Springfield Metro and Springfield Mall. If you depend on this bridge across I-95, find out what is included in the current project plans, and speak out for retaining this bridge as part of the project.
WABA Inaugural bike valetAccording to The WashCycle, lots of people took advantage of WABA's free bike valet parking. The lines for pickup appeared to be long but it seems like overall it was a success. I'm sure the system was stressed to the max given the size of the crowd on the Mall and the lack of motorized access. Kudos to WABA for offering the service.
The Bicycle DiariesThe Bicycle Diaries is a three - part series that "illustrates how the bicycle is used today and what impact it has on people's lives."
"Programme one visits Paris, France where a new bicycle transit system called the Velib has been installed. Twenty thousand bikes have been made available and can be used free of charge for up to half an hour per ride.
"The montage of voices in the programme include the Velib's designer and Parisian residents. They talk about the bicycle's design features, how they use the system, the journeys they take, and how has the Velib has changed the city."
More Inaugural info for bicyclistsA Virginia State Police press release entitled PEDESTRIAN & BIKE INFORMATION FOR INAUGURATION DAY contains some good info on bicycling into the Inaugural. It's good to see that they realize the importance of bicycling as a legitimate transportation mode. As this region gets more populated and congested, bicycling will continue to be an important way to get around.
Biking to the InauguralWABA has posted a good FAQ about bicycling to the Inaugural on their Inaugural Bike Valet web page. See their Inaugural Bike Valet Google Map that shows routes into the city, the various security zones, and where you can a cannot ride. The map also shows the locations of the two bike valet stations.
If you plan to use the valet service, WABA wants you to RSVP. It's not required but will help them plan for the right amount of parking.
Dress warmly in layers so that you don't overheat while biking but have plenty of layers available for when you are standing around. The forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high temperature of 31°.
50 Ways to Improve Your LifeThe cover story of the current issue of U.S. News and World Report is title 50 Ways to Improve Your Life. We're told that number one on the list is Bike to Work:
"On a freezing november morning in Chicago, Megan Mason puts on leggings, several polyester tops and a fleece, a windbreaker, four pairs of gloves, and silk sock liners. She ties a bandana over her head, dons earmuffs, snaps on a helmet, safety-pins a scarf into a cocoon around her head, and gets on her bright green Schwinn for a 6½-mile ride to work.
"Surely anyone who braves Windy City cold must be a hardcore biker. But Mason, a 27-year-old curriculum analyst at the Northwestern University School of Law, is new to the ranks of cycle commuters—one of thousands of Americans who this year have switched to pedal power."
FABB discusses Lorton Road bike lanes with Fairfax County DOTFABB was recently invited to review proposed bike lanes on the Lorton Road widening project. The road will be widened from 2 to 4 lanes between Route 123 and Silverbrook Rd. There is also a short section of Furnace Rd to be widened from Lorton Rd to Hooes Rd. Both segments will include bike lanes. We discussed various design issues, including routing of the bike lanes through major intersections.
This is one of the few projects conducted by the county and not VDOT, although VDOT is involved in the design and approval process. Several issues still need to be resolved and we will continue to work with the county and VDOT as the project progresses. Our contact is the project manager, Jeanmarie Roberson with Fairfax Co DOT.
Commonwealth Transportation Board hearings TuesdayThe Commonwealth Transportation Board will hold public hearings in Fairfax County on Tuesday, January 13 at the Fairfax Co Government Center starting at 7 p.m. This is your chance to let the CTB know about the need for better bicycle facilities in Virginia.
According to the VDOT press release, "Representatives of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) will be present to provide information and answer questions." (It has always seemed odd to us that the Department of "Transportation" does not include rail and public transportation).
All road projects should accommodate bicyclists. When projects are designed, the impact on all modes should be considered. As an example, if a project could be extended a short distance to complete a bicycle facility, at least that part of the project should be included in the overall project scope.
There should be dedicated funds to maintain bike facilities. This includes regularly sweeping debris from bike lanes, regular repaving of major paved trails, and adding paved shoulders to existing roads.
See the Virginia Bicycling Federation site for more information on what you can do.
Bicycling to the InaugurationNow that the District government has decided to close all bridges to personal vehicles from Virginia into DC, it makes even more sense to bike to the Presidential Inauguration. Metro will be packed, there will be limited parking within about a 5 mile radius, and it's a long walk from this side of the Potomac to the Mall. Why not go by bike?
WABA will be providing bike valet stations at the Inaugural event. Two locations are planned, at the Jefferson Memorial parking lot and north of the White House off K street (final location TBA). WABA asks that you RSVP if you plan to use the bike valet services. Check the forecast before you go: "In the event of heavy rain or snow there will be no bike valet parking. However, all the bike racks at the north and south locations will be available to lock to for those cyclists that choose to bike to the inaugural event."
Fairfax City bike classesA group of cyclists is advocating for better bike facilities in Fairfax City. They hope to work with the city council to develop on-road bike routes in the city. One of their main goals is developing a route from GMU to the Vienna Metro station.
They are sponsoring a bike repair class. "Starting on January 15 at 7 p.m. we will have bicycle repair and safety classes open to the bicycling public at City of Fairfax Senior Center given by Oasis Bike Works. These classes will be held bi-weekly for 1 & 1/2 hours. Instructions will be given on the maintenance of your bicycle from changing tires to replacing gear and brake cables. The best part is there will be no cost except for replacement parts for your bicycle." For more information or to sign up for the classes contact Dick Sheil at email@example.com.
Bicycle Commuter Act went into effect January 1As part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act passed by Congress in October 2008, bicyclists are now eligible for help with the cost of bike commuting. According to BikeWalk.org:
"Section 211 of the 'Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008' allows for a 'qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement' for 'reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.'"
The League of American Bicyclist's Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision: Frequently Asked Questions contains additional information, although the page has not been updated since October.
Is your employer providing this benefit? If not, why not? Have you asked your employer about the act? Do you know of any organization that has implemented a program for providing the benefit? Companies have had since October to research the implications of the act and to set up programs. If they haven't done the work by now, it will take valuable time in 2009 to get programs established, and it will be 2010 before you know it.
According to a news release from BikeWalk.org Don't Forget to Ask for New Bicycle Commuter Benefit
"'We're hearing that many employers don't know anything about the bicycle commuter provision, or that it went into effect on Jan. 1,' said Peter Harkness, Board of Directors Chair of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking (NCBW)."
Loudoun cyclists form advocacy group
A group of bicyclists in Loudoun County recently formed a group to advocate for better bicycling conditions in the county. Their first meeting was held on Dec. 18 with about 16-18 avid cyclists attending. One of their main goals is to have the county designate a dedicated bicycle coordinator staff position. They also formed a Yahoo Group to facilitate their communictation, Bike Loudoun.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at Cascades Library, 21030 Whitfield Place, Sterling, VA. (map).
See the Loudoun County Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan.
County bike map mentioned in Images of 2008County Map Puts Cycling on a Safer Path is the title of one of the Images of 2008 in Today's Fairfax Extra section of the Washington Post. The photo shows two bike commuters on the W&OD Trail, and the caption mentions the new bike map: "Fairfax County leaders and cycling advocates released a bicycling map of the county May 16, capping more than a year of work. The map serves as the first step in developing safe and easy routes in a county with a reputation of being a dangerous place to bike."
The caption gets it right—the map was an achievement of 2008 that is also just a first step. Thanks to everyone who helped put the map together, and with everyone's help in 2009 we can work together to make Fairfax County a better place to bike.
As we mentioned earlier, a new, revised edition of the map is now available at local bike stores and through Fairfax County. An electronic copy of the earlier version is available on the County Bike Pages. The new one should be posted soon.