Wednesday, August 26, 2009
 

Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week.

September 13-20, 2009 is Virginia's first Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week. It is being funded by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Drive Smart Virginia is promoting the event along with Bike Walk Virginia.

FABB agreed to promote the event and signed up as a co-sponsor. After receiving promotional materials from the group, we're having second thoughts about our sponsorship. The main graphic depicts behavior that is not only contrary to Virginia code, but goes against common sense. As you can see above, it shows a car, runner, bicyclist, and truck all headed in the same direction using the same line of travel.

The runner should be running against traffic (46.2-928. Pedestrians not to use roadway except when necessary; keeping to left.) The bicyclist, who seems to be riding (a very small bike) to the left of the dashed white line, should be riding as far right as practicable (46.2-905. Any person operating a bicycle... on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway...)

It's not a good sign when an organization that is "dedicated entirely to making Virginia's roadways the safest in the nation" produces such a graphic.

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Monday, August 24, 2009
 

Bike photos in the New York Times

In this Sunday's New York Times, there's a good collection of bicycle photos from Bill Cunningham for the On the Street section.
Cities are being transformed into weekend playgrounds for the summer months. In Manhattan, imagine Broadway, from Central Park to Macy's being turned into a mall for pedestrians and riders. It seems like everyone, with or without a safety helmet, is on wheels. Custom tricycles and bicycles—a few carrying flowers or packages and one carrying a beloved pet, Emmett—are the new status vehicles in a city that always goes out of its way to be on the go.
Isn't it time Fairfax had a summer streets event? There's been talk of closing Maple Ave in Vienna to traffic on a summer Sunday, between East St and Lawyers Rd. Traffic could be routed onto Church St. Both Spokes, Etc. and bikes@vienna are located along that section. It's a short stretch, but it would be a start.

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GAO ruling on Bicycle Commuter Act

According to The Wash Cycle, the Government Accounting Office recently ruled that employees of a federal agency, the National Indian Gaming Commission, are eligible to receive the bicycle commuter benefit of $20/month:
Under the federal government's transportation fringe benefit program, as established by 5 U.S.C. sect. 7905 and Executive Order No. 13150, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) provides monthly transit subsidies to employees who certify that they use mass transit to commute to and from work. NIGC may use its authority under 5 U.S.C. sect. 7905 to extend the program to provide a $20 cash reimbursement to those employees who commute to and from work by bicycle. If NIGC chooses to do so, NIGC should consider the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. sect. 132(f)(5), and guidance provided by the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Management and Budget.
Many agencies have been investigating the benefit but to my knowledge, none have yet provided it to employees. The GAO ruling should settle the issue. If you are a federal employee and would like to apply for the benefit, you should be able to reference the GAO ruling to convince your employer that they can provide the benefit.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009
 

City of Fairfax Regional Library bike racks

We finally had a chance yesterday to visit the City of Fairfax Regional Library that opened in 2008. It's one of the best libraries in the county, with an open feel, lots of internet workstations, and plenty of places to just hang out. It's located in the center of the City of Fairfax and many people access it by bike.

We were pleased to see several bike racks very conveniently located near the entrance to the building. Unfortunately they were installed incorrectly. The racks are known as hitch, hoop, or post racks. Bikes should be parked parallel to the hoop so that there are two contact points and a U lock can be used. As you can see from the photo on the right (black racks), if parked correctly, the three racks shown could hold perhaps 2 bikes. They are oriented the wrong way and were installed too close to the wall.

It's not the first time bike racks have been installed incorrectly; in fact it happens often. A very similar example is located at the Southgate Community Center in Reston (left photo, red racks). These two situations are one result of not having county bicycle parking standards.

Most local jurisdictions do have standards and have information on their websites regarding recommended rack types and installation information. Arlington County also has some bad examples of bike parking, and the first photo shows a hoop rack improperly installed. See the FABB Cyclist Resources page for more bike parking links. We want more bike parking, but it needs to be the right type and it should be installed correctly.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009
 

Copenhagen - City of Cyclists

It is probably the best city in the world for bicyclists. In December they will host the UN Climate Change Conference and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about the city then. Here are a few statistics about bicycling in Copenhagen from the city's web page City of Cyclists:
  • Copenhagen cyclists ride a total of 1.2 million kilometres a day. This is the equivalent of two brisk bicycle journeys to the moon and back.
  • There are a total of 350 kilometres of cycle tracks and 40 kilometres of green cycle routes in Copenhagen, the equivalent of the length of Jutland.
  • In Copenhagen 1 person out of 3 commutes by bicycle to work or school every day.
The city is currently investing $47 million in a bicycle superhighways that extend from the surrounding suburbs into the central city. Bicycle superhighways will have:
  • Smooth, even surfaces free of leaves, ice and snow.
  • As direct as possible with no detours.
  • Homogenous visual expression, for example, with signage and the trademark blue bike lanes through larger intersections.
  • 'Service stations' with air and tools along the routes.
  • Possibility to maintain a high speed and with sufficient width to overtake other cyclists.
  • Safe and quick crossing priority for cyclists when they approach cross streets.
  • Green Wave for cyclists through sections with frequent stop lights.

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Economic benefits of bicycle infrastructure

In June the League of American Bicyclists released a report on the many benefits of investing in bicycle infrastructure, The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments. Here are some highlights from the report as summarized by EcoVelo:
  • The bicycling industry contributes $133 billion a year to the U.S. economy.
  • The bicycling industry supports 1.1 million jobs and generates $17.7 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.
  • $46.9 billion is spent annually during bike trips and tours.
  • In urban areas bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes.
  • Researcher Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute estimates that replacing a car trip with a bike trip saves individuals and society $2.73 per mile.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009
 

Eisenhower Connector to Reopen to Bicycle Traffic

We just received this notice that the Eisenhower Connector, which is a popular bicycle connection across the Beltway, will reopen to bicycle traffic this weekend:

Eisenhower Connector to Reopen to Traffic, Bicyclists and Pedestrians the Weekend of Aug. 21-23 - All Changes to Take Effect for Morning Rush Hour, Mon. Aug. 24

ALEXANDRIA - All traffic access will be restored between the Eisenhower Connector and the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway Interstate 95/495 over the weekend of Aug. 21-23. The Eisenhower Connector was closed in July 2009 for deck replacement work in support of the widening of the I-95/495 Beltway as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.

Work to reopen the area will be completed in two stages. Starting on Fri., Aug. 21 at 10 p.m. lanes will be narrowed down to one lane and will remain closed overnight to prepare lanes for reopening. All three lanes of the Outer Loop of the Beltway will be restored by 12 p.m., Sat. Aug. 22. Motorists are encouraged to choose alternate routes when traveling I-95/495 during the overnight switch to avoid expected delays.

Construction crews will work throughout the weekend to restore service to and from the Connector as well as the bike and pedestrian path between Clermont Drive and Eisenhower Avenue. Traffic movements to and from the Connector and Outer Loop of the Beltway will open by 5 a.m. Mon., Aug. 24, in time for the morning commute. The bike and pedestrian path will reopen to residents needing to access the Eisenhower Valley from south of the Beltway by this time.

The earlier closure of the exit ramp from the Inner Loop to the Connector is scheduled to remain in place into October, when the new Inner Loop Local lanes will be completed and all Inner Loop traffic shifted over to the new lanes west of the Beltway Bridge over Cameron Run.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
 

FABB survey results

For the past several months we've had a link to the FABB Survey on the FABB home page. Hunter developed the survey and has written a summary of the results:

For the past few months FABB has been surveying visitors to our Web site to learn what experiences and hopes they have for bicycling in Fairfax County. Although the results are hardly scientific they give a flavor of what the riding public is thinking. Seventy-four site visitors completed the survey with the vast majority being male. Respondents live in a wide smattering of zip codes with Reston and Herndon appearing to be the best represented. Employment zip codes ranged even more widely. All are registered voters.

Most riders chose recreation and health as reasons for biking with commuting coming in third. While respondents could select multiple answers, 70% cited commuting as an important rationale. Most respondents ride several times per week. About half the respondents ride to work at least once a week or more. Approximately 50% of respondents who ride to work average about 10 miles each way.

Fitness and safety were the top considerations in deciding to bike commute. For non-bike-riders weather was the overwhelming reason they chose not to bike-commute. People biked most often on secondary roads followed by bike paths. A small percentage of bike commuters combine their bike commute with some other form of transportation such as Metro. Most occasionally ride in the dark.

Poor road conditions lead the list of regularly encountered problems followed by drivers not sharing the road. Nearly 90% of respondents said that bike lanes or wider lanes or paved shoulders were very important needed improvements. A distant second in importance was driver courtesy or driver awareness.

Many respondents suggested specific stretches that could be improved for cyclists. Perhaps most striking was that many of the named roads were major thoroughfares, not just side-streets or connecting roads. It appears these riders believe they should be part of mainstream traffic.

And finally, FABB priorities should be on-road facilities followed by education, bike path improvements, and driver education.

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The importance of bike parking for commuters

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the excellent book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, has written a very good article at Slate.com about the importance of providing safe, secure, covered bicycle parking: What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? Decent parking:
Surveys have shown that the leading deterrent to potential bicycle commuters is lack of a safe, secure parking spot on the other end.

Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, has estimated that 99 percent of car trips in the United States terminate in a free parking space, which means the nation's drivers don't have much incentive to think about parking—or not driving. In many American places, there are more parking spaces than people.
He mentions the recently passed law in New York that allows cyclists to bring their bikes into the building, which could greatly increase the options for indoor bike parking. Several cities are now requiring minimum bike parking with new developments.

Unfortunately, no such regulations exist in Fairfax. After a meeting with FABB to discuss this issue, Supervisor Smyth offered a motion to implement bike parking standards for the county at the November 19, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting:
Supervisor Smyth moved that the Board direct staff to investigate and report within three months how other jurisdictions are addressing these issues and develop specific standards for the County to use as part of the land development process, and to further examine how these standards could best be introduced whether through adoption of a Board Policy, an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, or incorporation into the Public Facilities Manual.
While the motion passed unanimously, almost two years later we still do not have a policy in place. Given the size and geographic diversity of Fairfax County, it is difficult to develop a policy that fits all situations, but we do need a policy. While the bike coordinator has done a good job of ensuring that the topic is addressed in most rezoning applications, having a policy in place would save the county time and money by reducing the need to ask for parking in each specific instance. We'll continue to push for development of a policy in Fairfax.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
 

Vienna Town Council sends Bikeway Plan changes to BAC

At last night's Vienna Town Council meeting several cyclists testified against the proposed amendment to the Town Bikeway Plan: "Bicyclists riding on sidewalks and bikepaths shall be required to stop at all intersections, crosswalks and/or street crossings." Many cyclists noted that if the roads were safer, cyclists wouldn't need to ride on the sidewalk. They asked that bike lanes be installed, especially along Nutley Street leading to the Vienna Metro Station. Mayor Seeman and others indicated they had received many emails from cyclists who were concerned about the proposed change.

In our FABB testimony we pointed out that the best way to address the high number of crashes that have occurred between cyclists riding on the sidewalk and motorists (27 with 1 fatality in recent years) was to make the streets of Vienna more bike-friendly and to improve bicycle education. We also suggested that the soon-to-be-formed bicycle advisory committee review the proposed changes to the Bikeway Plan and expand the plan to become a true bike plan that includes goals and objectives, suggested bike routes and other facility improvements, prioritized list of projects, and strategies for implementation.

Councilman Lovelace offered a motion to defer a decision on the proposed amendments until the bicycle advisory committee could review them. Councilwoman DiRocco offered a friendly amendment to suggest that the advisory committee consider expanding the Bikeway Plan to include many of the elements contained in a bicycle master plan. The motion passed unanimously.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to the Council and who testified at the public hearing. We think this is a step toward making Vienna a more bicycle-friendly community.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009
 

Vienna Town Council public hearing update

The agenda for the Monday August 17 Vienna Town Council meeting has been posted. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. The public hearing is item 7, after two other public hearings. Background material is also posted, starting on page 75 of the PDF file. We expect the bicycle amendment to public hearing to begin some time after 8:30.

The main item of interest to bicyclists is Sec. 21-10 Riding on Sidewalks and Bikepaths. There are two proposals regarding bicyclists approaching an intersection:

(e) Bicyclists riding on sidewalks and bikepaths shall be required to stop at all intersections, crosswalks and/or street crossings.

Alternative proposed new (e)

(e) Bicyclists riding on sidewalks and bikepaths shall be required to yield or follow posted signage at all intersections, crosswalks and/or street crossings.

The first proposal requires bicyclists to "stop" and was proposed by the police. It was presented to the Transportation Safety Commission which suggested that stop was "overly constricting for cyclists" and they suggested the use of "yield" (see page 80 of the background material), by a vote of 6-0.

We believe that either option is unnecessary, and both may be more restrictive than existing state code which states that "No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic" (bicyclists riding on the sidewalk are considered pedestrians).

FABB will attend the public hearing and testify against the proposals. Draft FABB testimony before Vienna Town Council.

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Pedalmania in the District

Today's Post has a good editorial on bicycling in this area, Pedalmania in the District: Everyone benefits from increased bicycling:
Bicycling offers wide-ranging benefits for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. It eases congestion, uses space efficiently -- 10 bikes can fit in a single car parking spot -- and offers health benefits to everyone: those who burn calories on their bikes and non-riders who also benefit from decreased pollution and traffic.

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Fairfax County Parkway trail continues to deteriorate

Yesterday we rode down to the Greenbriar Shopping Center on Route 50 just west of Fairfax County Parkway to check on the soon-to-be-open Dogfish Head Alehouse. The sign on the door states that it will be open this week. A private party was planned for later that day as a dry run for the upcoming opening. FABB may have a social gathering there next month.

Unfortunately there is no bike parking available. There were two bikes parked nearby, locked to trees. The owners probably work at Dogfish or one of the other businesses there. A while back we wrote to Dogfish and asked about the lack of parking and they expressed interest but there's still no parking. There's plenty of parking for cars, so we suggested creating a bike corral, taking one of the existing parking spaces for installation of a few inverted U racks.

On the return trip we rode along the Fairfax County Parkway, either in the shoulder or along the trail. The trail is getting worse. In an earlier post, wrote about the lack of maintenance on the trail. As you can see from the photo above taken near the Dulles Toll Road, the trail is still in bad shape, and none of the earlier problems have been fixed. In the second photo you can see that the grass beside the trail is growing out of control. Virginia's roads and trails are becoming a disgrace.

According to Fairfax County, repaving of the trail is a priority, but with limited funds available, it may take a while.

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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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Thursday, August 13, 2009
 

FABB Alert - Proposed changes to Vienna Bikeway Plan

The Vienna Town Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, August 17 at 8pm to discuss proposed amendments to the Town Bikeway Plan. The current plan is outdated and needs revision, but FABB is opposed to one of the proposed amendments: "(e) Bicyclists riding on sidewalks and bikepaths shall be required to stop at all intersections, crosswalks and/or street crossings."

We agree that riding on the sidewalk is very dangerous. However, we think the proposed change is contrary to existing Virginia Code, which currently states that no pedestrian (or bicyclist) shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic. It also states that "The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian (bicyclists on the sidewalk are considered pedestrians) crossing such highway:" The likely effect of the proposed code will be to transfer the responsibility for avoiding crashes from motorists to bicyclists.

Vienna is making some strides toward becoming a bicycle-friendly community. They have proposed establishing a Bicycle Advisory Committee and have recently approved a Vienna Bikeway Map. We suggest that the Town Council postpone a decision on the Bikeway Plan amendments until the formation of the Bicycle Advisory Committee. There are outdated sections of the Bikeway Plan that need to be changed, and the committee could provide advice on the proposed amendments, developing a list of comprehensive changes to the Bikeway Plan.

We urge cyclists, especially those who live in or near Vienna, to attend the public hearing and provide constructive comments on the proposed ordinance and the need to make Vienna more bicycle-friendly. If you cannot attend, please write to write to Mayor Seaman, and other council members (Laurie Cole, Edythe Kelleher, George Lovelace , Michael Polychrones, Laurie DiRocco, and Howard Springsteen):



1. Many people want to use bicycles for transportation but current conditions are dangerous and need to be improved.
2. We agree that bicycling on the sidewalk is dangerous but the proposed ordinance will not solve the problem.
3. Comprehensive bicycle education should be provided to Vienna citizens to make them aware of: proper riding techniques; the dangers of riding on the sidewalk; and current Virginia laws that apply to bicyclists.
4. The best solution is to make the streets of Vienna more bicycle-friendly.
5. The proposed Bicycle Advisory Committee should review the proposed amendments and other sections of the Bikeway Plan and make a single list of recommendations to the Council.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
 

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail Closed August 12

We just received this notice from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project:
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail Closed to Bicyclists and Pedestrians 9 a.m. to Noon Tomorrow, Aug. 12

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail will be closed to bicyclists and pedestrians from 9 a.m. to noon tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 12, while contractors use a truck on the trail to inspect and replace maritime navigational lights on the underside of the bridge. The work will start on the Virginia side of the bridge and continue over to Maryland.

Please contact Community Relations Manager Bryon Johnston at 703-329-3424 with any questions related to this closure or work.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009
 

New bike lanes in Reston

The planned road diet on Lawyers Road is finally a reality. The road was recently repaved and converted from a dangerous four-lane road with fast traffic to a three-lane road with five foot bike lanes. The bike symbols are not yet painted in the bike lanes but they should be in place soon. The road is a much different road than before the restriping.

Traffic was flowing well today as I rode up and down the approximately two mile stretch of new bike lanes from Reston Parkway to Myrtle Lane. The lanes end at Myrtle, just before the older, narrow two-lane section. Most cyclists headed east will turn left on Soapstone Dr to head to Glade Dr instead of continuing on Lawyers.

Traffic was much calmer than before the new bike lanes were striped. Instead of having the fastest motorists setting the pace in one of the two 45 mph lanes in each direction, the slowest cars now set the pace in the single through lane. Those who will dislike the results are the fastest motorists, the ones who likely cause the most crashes.

After riding along Lawyers for a while I turned south on Myrtle Lane to explore the roads south of Lawyers. The new bike-friendly Lawyers is a revelation; there is so much more territory to explore safely by bike now. I turned onto Running Cedar Rd, back to Soapstone, then to Foxclove Rd. I had forgotten that Foxclove continues south to Stuart Mill Rd with a jog past a chain across the road where motorists are not allowed to pass. One can take Stuart Mill Rd left to head to Birdfoot Ln and back to Lawyers Rd; a route often used by the Reston Bike Club.

Other options are to head west on Lawyers to Reston Parkway and the Reston South Park and Ride lot, Fox Mill Shopping Center, and the sidepath along West Ox Road that heads south to Route 50 and the Fair Oaks area.

I encourage everyone to check out the new, traffic-calmed Lawyers Rd and the new bike lanes. While it's a relatively short stretch of road, it could be a sign of things to come. There are many mean streets like Lawyers that could be tamed by adding bike lanes. While all lanes are bike lanes, some are better than others.

Update: There is one problem with the new lane configuration; the speed limit is still 45 mph. We think it should be reduced to 35 mph, which is likely the new 85 percentile speed. Traffic will move slower and safer, and a new speed limit would be a recognition of that reality.

There also need to be turn arrows for left turning vehicles at Steeplechase and Soapstone. Both of these changes can be made relatively easily in the future.

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Friday, August 7, 2009
 

NVTA supports gas tax increase

Wonders will never cease; the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, which claims to be "the only organization focused exclusively on working to make better transportation a reality for Northern Virginia citizens and businesses" (we beg to differ, that's FABB's mission as well), sent out an alert recently supporting a 10 cent gas tax increase: "No One is Suggesting Increasing the Gas Tax by $2.50 per gallon to Match Germany, but One Dime Doesn't Seem all that Unreasonable."

Support is building for an increased gas tax, which in Virginia is currently 17.5 cents per gallon and the Federal gas tax is 18.5 cents a gallon. The Federal tax hasn't been raised in 16 years. However, we can imagine how NVTA would like the funds to be spent, given their top priorities:
· I-66 to six lanes inside the Beltway.
· Route 28 to eight lanes with limited access between Route 7 and I-66.
· Right-of-way protection and construction of key segments of the Western Bypass.
· An Eastern Bypass.
· The Loudoun County and Tri-County Parkways.
· Expand Dulles Corridor transit/rail. (already funded)
· A Fourth I-95 lane Newington to Occoquan.
· I-66/Route 29 (Gainesville) Interchange.
· Improved I-66 express bus service west of Vienna.
· A limited access Maryland InterCounty Connector between I-270 and I-95 / Route 1.
· A new Northern Potomac River Crossing (Techway).

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Thursday, August 6, 2009
 

Vienna to propose new bicycle regulations

According to a Vienna Connection article entitled "Eye to Eye Program Launched"Police Department rolls out bicycle safety program", the Town of Vienna is considering requiring bicyclists to yield to motorists when riding on the sidewalk, contrary to state law. According to Virginia code 46.2-904, operation of bicycles on sidewalks and crosswalks and shared-use paths, "A person riding a bicycle... on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances."

Since Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, we doubt that the Town can pass a local ordinance contrary to state law. What Vienna should be doing is working to make Vienna more bicycle-friendly. It makes little sense to pass a local ordinance that would only apply in Vienna.

Other measures being considered are: "We've suggested that riders be required to use audible signals at greater than 50 feet away when approaching pedestrians when riders are using the sidewalk and W & OD trail. Another consideration is to require all bike riders to stop before traversing a roadway or intersection when coming off a sidewalk." The same code referenced above, 46.2-904, already states that "A person riding a bicycle... shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian." Requiring bicyclists to "stop before traversing a roadway or intersection when coming off a sidewalk" is also contrary to existing code.

According to the news article above, Vienna has "adopted Portland, Oregon's Eye to Eye safety program". However, we doubt that Portland's Eye to Eye campaign would focus most of their efforts on bicyclist behavior. The motto of Portland's campaign is "Our Streets Belong to Everyone" (see their banner image above). Officer Murray wasn't kidding when he says that while they've been conferring with others, "We've elected to go on our own with this campaign."

We think more motorist education and enforcement is needed to help make cyclists safer in the Town. A more bike-friendly Vienna is the best solution for improving bicycle safety.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on August 17 to discuss proposed changes to the Town code regarding bicyclists on sidewalks. Town Council meetings begin at 8pm and are held at 127 Center St. South, Vienna, Virginia. We'll provide more information as it becomes available.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009
 

Senators Coburn and McCain: Kill bicycle funding

Coburn and McCain have a problem with transportation funds going toward bike projects. They asked the GAO to find out how much was spent in the past five years for "purposes other than construction and maintenance of highways and bridges." Apparently they think that "transportation" means highways and bridges.

The figure turned out to be $78 billion, of which $2 billion was for ped/bike projects. The GAO report states that $243.1 billion was spent on transportation during that period. $2 billion is .8% spent on ped/bike projects. According to LAB, 27% of the population over 16 years of age rode their bikes at least once in 2002.

A large portion of the $78 billion not spend on construction and maintenance was spent on non-bike/ped projects, such as "safety, planning, research, traffic management engineering, ferryboats, and training." And yet the $78 billion figure is used throughout the report as if it ware all spent needlessly on bike/ped projects.

Apparently the $2 billion wasn't bad enough for Coburn and McCain, so they had to go back for the last 13 years to say that another $3.2 billion was spent on bike/ped projects, which is probably a much smaller percentage of the total transportation amount.

Not only do the two senators belittle bike projects, they don't think Federal funds should be used for bike safety programs either:
Efforts can be made to increase the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, but do today’s transportation circumstances warrant 398 federally funded projects costing taxpayers $84 million? By reviewing the projects' impact, eliminating those that are not showing results, and consolidating similar or duplicative projects, safety for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motorists driving on roads and bridges could be enhanced.
I'll agree with them there; ALL transportation projects need to be reviewed for their total impact on the environment, health and safety of our population, livability of our communities, and eliminating those that don't show results. Isn't it time we tried something different besides building more roads and highways and having over 40,000 people killed on our roads each year not to mention all the other negative impacts of more cars on more roads?

Let Senator McCain and Senator Coburn know what you think.

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Monday, August 3, 2009
 

Metro bike/ped study documents online

Greater Greater Washington points out that several documents from the Metrorail Station Area Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements Study, being conducted by Toole Design Group, are now online, including the Existing Bicycle Facilities map.

The map of facilities in Fairfax is interesting. The full length of the Cross County Trail is shown as one of the facilities, and yet at least half of the trail, which is mostly unpaved single-track, is not accessible for commuters. None of the on-road "Preferred" routes from the Fairfax Co Bike Map are included, which seems odd since Toole produced the Fairfax map. These would seem to qualify as Shared Roadway routes even though they aren't currently signed. We weren't able to attend the July 22 presentation on the study, but from the slides there is a reference to a 2006 Bike Facilities Inventory. Let's hope the map is updated based on existing info. Nevertheless, it's encouraging that Metro is investigating bike access beyond the immediate station areas.

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VDOT layoffs hit N. Va. bike/ped program

The Northern Virginia District bicycle and pedestrian program will lose two hourly staff as part of the ongoing VDOT layoffs. One position will be eliminated in November, the other in June 2010. We assume that one effort, the bike counts that were started in June 2008 are in jeopardy as well.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009
 

Biking around the world

The State We're In is a weekly NPR program "about human rights and human wrongs." This week's program is about bikes: The right to bike. "We compare bike life in two cities: San Francisco and Amsterdam. We talk to a man from Uganda whose bike made the difference between life and death and we hear from a committed cyclist in Manhattan who lost twenty bikes to thieves and reached a point where he became one himself."

From the Amsterdam segment: "Every self-respecting city in the world will have it's centers car-free by 2015. It seems quick but I promise you it's going to happen. Everybody's working on it, everybody sees the benefit." (Pascal van den Noort, Executive Director of Velo Mondial)

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Saturday, August 1, 2009
 

Exposures on W&OD Trail in Reston area

On Thursday, July 30 a man exposed himself to three women on the W&OD Trail between Mile 13 and Mile 15. Mile 13 is just east of Buckthorn Lane and Mile 15 is just east of Clarks Crossing Road and the soccer fields near Vienna. There were two incidents that police think were related. From the police news release:
Police are investigating two reported exposures that occurred within an hour of each other. On Thursday, July 30, a 24-year-old woman walked into the Reston District Police Station around 1 p.m. and reported the first exposure. Officers determined the victim was walking south on the W&OD Trail around mile marker 15 when a man approached on a bicycle. He exposed himself to the victim then fled on his bike.

A short time later at 1:12 p.m. police were called to a home in the 9700 block of Layminster Lane for a second exposure. Officers determined two women, 21 and 23 years old, were walking on the W&OD trail near mile marker 13 when a man appeared and exposed himself. The suspect grabbed one victim by the arm and she screamed; he then grabbed a bicycle hidden behind a bush and fled toward Clark's Crossing Road.

In each exposure the suspect was described as white, in his early 40s. He was about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 200 pounds with a large belly and tanned skin. He was shirtless with black athletic shorts. Investigators believe the same suspect was responsible for both exposures.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail at www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text "TIP187" plus your message to CRIMES/274637 or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.
There is a composite sketch posted along the trail in this area but we were not able to find a digital version to post here.

A similar incident occurred on July 15 in Vienna. "The assailant is described as white, 35-45 years old, clean shaven, well tanned, wearing black swim trunks and no shirt. He wore white sneakers and a black cyclist-type hat with the brim flipped up."

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