Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Supervisor Cook responds

We just received this message in response to our letter to Supervisor Cook. It's encouraging to see he believes in bicycling as a mode of transportation, despite his earlier comments. He even thinks that "Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life." Unfortunately he doesn't think they are a very high priority, even near Metro stations, since so few people currently go by bike.

We agree that the number of people who commute to work by bike in Fairfax County is relatively small, but commuting trips comprise only about 20% of all trips. As Supervisor Hudgins states in Region Forward 2050, "'We know that trips are taken for more than just going to and from work,' said Catherine Hudgins, Fairfax County Supervisor. 'People need transportation options for their everyday needs.'" According to that same report, 9% of DC area commuters go by foot or bike. Forty percent of all trips made are 2 miles or less and many could easily be taken by bike if we had better facilities.

Here is Supervisor Cook's response:
Thank you for your e-mail regarding my comments at the recent Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' Transportation Committee meeting. I want to assure you that I am not opposed to cycling or to using bicycles as a mode of transportation for either recreation or commuting. To be clear, I support bicycling for both of these uses. In fact, my family owns several bicycles.

However, I do believe that the county needs to carefully consider its priorities for the use of limited transportation funding. According to the Washington Area Council of Governments, only 0.7% of D.C. area commuters bike to work even once a week, most of them residing outside of Fairfax County.

At the meeting where my comments were made, the Board was receiving a briefing on a study by the Reston Metrorail Access Group. That study was recommending $27.4 million for 33 pedestrian/bike improvements, including $12.7 million for projects associated with the Whiele Avenue Station on the Dulles Rail line. The Board had also just been briefed on a $15.6 million reduction in anticipated revenues from its locally imposed Commercial and Industrial Tax, which is the primary source of county funds for Transportation projects (most transportation projects are funded by the state, but that funding has been reduced significantly over the last couple of years). We do not have the funds to accomplish all our transportation goals. My comments were in the spirit of setting priorities for how to spend the shrinking available funding for a growing list of projects. Reasonable individuals may always disagree on how to spend limited public resources.

Bike trails and on-road bike lanes are a valuable asset to the county and can add to our quality of life. I believe we should continue to build and maintain bike trails and create on-road bike lanes. However, we need to carefully weigh the costs of these investments in light of difficult fiscal realities and determine their appropriate priority along with other transportation projects.

Thank you for reaching out and please keep in touch.

Best regards,

John C. Cook
Braddock District Supervisor
We have scheduled a meeting with the supervisor to discuss the importance of a transportation system that serves everyone.

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Way to go FABB. Good alternative transportation depends on good support. Arlington has great bike lanes and support, which leads to a lot of bikers, who support good bike lanes, which leads to lots of bikers.... W&OD cuts thru Fairfax and that thing is WELL used. We cannot expect to change our traffic patterns if we continue to build to legacy petroleum guzzling low occupancy vehicles.
I don't understand where the difference in bike commuting numbers comes from. The "Region Forward" report says the region has 9% bike/ped commuters. Yet cook says only 0.7% are bike commuters. That is quite a disconnect, even if the vast majority of the 9% are pedestrians.

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