Tysons Neighborhood Traffic Impact StudyThe Neighborhood Traffic Impact Study developed by Fairfax Dept. of Transportation, was conducted to assess the impact of future development in Tysons Corner on neighboring communities. These are the communities where using a bicycle to get into and around Tysons should be a viable option for many short, local trips.
As with many "traffic" studies, there is no mention of bicycling and walking. The contractor selected 19 intersections for analysis, using two levels of future density in Tysons and looking at the modeled impact of that development on traffic delay (Level of Service or LOS). Where intersections "fail" with a low LOS, mitigation measures, such as added through or turn lanes, are recommended. The impact of these "improvements" on pedestrian and bicycle levels of service isn't considered.
As Greater Greater Washington explains in The only thing we have to fear is fear of traffic, this narrow view of how the world works isn't very effective when it comes to analyzing how cities work:
That's a straightforward formula for adding suburban sprawl. It's the system that built Tysons Corner. But strangely, when a plan comes up for building a real city, people balk. It could never work. It'd generate way too much traffic.
See a related post at SF.Streetsblog, Paradise LOSt (Part I): How Long Will the City Keep Us Stuck in Our Cars?.
[It should be noted that despite the above rant on LOS, the conclusion of the Traffic Impact Study was that: "revising the existing Comprehensive Plan by considering the GMU High Land Use Alternative will not cause any significant traffic impacts in the study area."]
New Metro DC bike routing applicationRide the City is a bike routing application that's been in use in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and a few other cities:
To help the developers improve the program, select a route, then provide route feedback by selecting "route options" then "rate the route." We've found the best way to create a route is to pan to your starting location, drag the green bicycle icon to the start point, then pan to the destination and drag the red stop sign. Entering addresses in the "where from?" and "where to?" boxes doesn't always work. (See Update below)
To use the old fashioned way to get bike directions see the electronic version of the printed Fairfax County Bike Map (PDF) or the online version divided into smaller sections.
[Update 12/30/2010: Entering addresses in the "where from?" and "where to?" boxes seems to be working fine now. The comment above was based on experiences in an earlier version of the program. We should have done further testing before stating that it "doesn't always work."]
Three feet to pass bill clears Senate Trans. Comm.From the 1/28/2010 VBF Legislative Update, SB 566, the three foot to pass bill, was merged with the House bill and is now out of committee and headed for the full Senate. The careless driving or tailgating sections were removed. Please contact your Senator to urge passage of SB 566. To find contact info for your Senator, visit the Who's My Legislator page.
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S. 2010 Benchmark ReportJust out from Alliance for Biking and Walking is the 2010 Benchmarking Report (14MB pdf):
Share the road pocket guide and bookmarkNorthern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) is printing copies of a new pocket guide Sharing the Road in VIRGINIA: Laws & Safety Tips for Bicyclists & Pedestrians [large pdf] and bookmark Sharing the Road in VIRGINIA: Know the Law. According to Debbie Spiliotopoulos of NVRC,
Another quibble regards where to ride in the road: "Stay as far right as safely possible or use shoulder." What the law actually states (46.2-905) is "ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway." There is a difference between "possible" and "practicable."
Another example is "Don't wear earphones in both ears. (46.2-1078)" We suggest not using earphones at all. Finally, we hope this one will be need to be updated soon with passage of HB 163/SB 566: "Motorists: Allow at least two feet between you and bicyclists when passing. (46.2-839)" Even so, it would have been better to suggest allowing at least three feet when passing, regardless of the current law.
Despite our reservations about some of the text, overall these will be a useful handouts. There's also a website, Sharing the Road in Virginia.
Support SB 566, three feet to passThe Virginia Senate Transportation Committee will meet today at 2 p.m. to consider Senate Bill 566:
Even without the careless driving provision the proposed bill will benefit cyclists by helping to prevent harassment by motorists who follow or pass too close. Besides Sen. Ticer, the patron of SB 566,
For more information on contacting your legislators, see Allen Muchnick's response to a question from Alan Young on why it is important to contact committee members, even if you do not live in their district.
VBF if posting frequent updates on bicycle-related legislature.
3-foot passing distanceFrom a WABA Action Alert sent out on Tuesday:
This bill will be heard in House Transportation Subcommittee 2 on Wednesday morning [didn't happen] so time is of the essence. Please call Delegate Tom Rust (R-Herndon) to express your support for the bill. His office number is 804-698-1086.
For more information on this, and other bicycle-related legislation proposed in the Virginia legislature, please visit our friends at the Virginia Bicycling Federation at www.vabike.org.
North American Handmade Bike Show coming to RichmondTo see some of the most beautiful bikes being made in America you should check out the North American Handmade Bike Show next month in Richmond. The bikes are not only beautiful, some are very practical city, commuting, touring, or cargo bikes.
See a photo gallery from last year's show. Austin Wheels blog contains links to more photos from last year's show.
The show will be held Friday, Feb. 26 thru Sunday, Feb. 28. Cost of admission is only $15 per day. From this recent news article about the show, it sounds tickets are selling fast.
Tysons plan meeting tomorrow nightAfter nearly 5 years of work, Fairfax County staff have completed the final draft of proposed Comprehensive Plan language [PDF] for redevelopment of Tysons into a compact, walkable, bikeable, liveable place. The Planning Commission Tysons Corner Committee is holding a public meeting tomorrow, January 27 to solicit input on the plan language. The meeting is at 7:00 pm in Conference Rooms 4/5 at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, near Fair Oaks Mall. See the Bicycle Network language.
If you live or work in or near Tysons, now is your chance to weigh in on proposed changes. New bike parking requirements, based on those in Arlington County, are included in the plan. An extensive network of on-road bike routes, mostly bike lanes, are planned for many of the streets in Tysons. FABB strongly supports these improvements. We are concerned that no bike facilities are planned for Routes 7 & 123 in the heart of Tysons. If cyclists end up using sidepaths near the stations, there would be too many conflicts with pedestrians; on-road facilities or separated bike facilities are needed.
There will be another public meeting on Feb. 11 (see FABB Events page for more info). There will also be formal public hearings before the Planning Commission (March 24) and the Board of Supervisors (May 25). See the Tysons Study website for more info.
FABB on FacebookYou can now follow FABB on Facebook. It's another way to find out about bicycle-related news and activities in the Fairfax County/Fairfax City area.
Fewer teens driving
|16-year-old licensed drivers (by year)|
According to the Post, More teens are choosing to wait to get driver's licenses, which we think is a good thing. According to NHSTA, "traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America."
It's become more difficult to get a license as a teenager. 60 hours of instruction are needed, and many schools are cutting back on driver's ed. Then there's the cost of gas, insurance, a vehicle.
Technology has also had an impact:
[Update 26Jan2010: A followup letter to the editor appeared in Today's Post, D.C. transit makes it easier for teens to put off driving:
Labels: teen drivers
Bike-related legislationThe Virginia legislature is now in session and there are several bike-related bills making their way through the process. To find out what is happening, check out Legislative Report 1/21/10 by Bud Vye of Virginia Bicycling Federation.
More bad health news about kidsWhen will parents realize that driving their kids everywhere, in part because they fear for their safety, is doing more harm to their health and well-being than good? The headline says it all: High cholesterol puts 1 of 5 teens at risk of heart disease:
Because of the obesity epidemic, some have said that this is the first generation in which parents may outlive their children. Exacerbating the problem is the amount of time children spend in front of a computer, tv, or some other media device: "children ages 8 to 18 devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes a day consuming some form of media for fun." Walking or biking to school is a simple, low cost part of the solution.
Tysons plan presented to Planning CommissionThe plan to remake Tysons into a walkable, bikeable community was presented to the Fairfax County Planning Commission last night: Fairfax County sets Tysons Corner approval process timeline. As we noted in an earlier post, the plan is online and contains new bike-related language, including bicycle parking requirements similar to those used in Arlington County. We'll post comments soon.
Herndon bike light giveawayThere was a great turnout at yesterday's bike light giveaway. Trinity Presbyterian Church in cooperation with Iglesia Nueva Rivera Presbiteriana hosted the event. The church holds a lunch that is attended by local workers, many of whom use bicycles for transportation. In fact, bicycles are an important part of their lives, providing transportation to jobs, for shopping, and for recreation.
We installed around 50 sets of Planet Bike Blinky lights. Most of the cyclists rode to the lunch, and afterwards there was a long line of cyclists waiting for lights.
Thanks to the churches and to Reston Interfaith for helping coordinate the event.
Bike light giveaway in Herndon Jan. 20We're working with Reston Interfaith and Riverside Presbyterian Church (Iglesia Nueva Rivera Presbiteriana), which has a partnership with Trinity Presbyterian Church, to hand out free bike lights tomorrow, January 20 from 1-3 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church (map). If you need a light and are in the Reston/Herndon area, stop by and we'll install a set of Planet Bike blinky safety lights. Read the light giveaway flier.
Labels: bike lights
FABB meeting tomorrow, Jan. 20FABB will meet at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna tomorrow night, Jan. 20, at 7:30pm. This is a new location not far from the W&OD Trail. We'll be discussing our 2010 workplan, the bicycle component of the recently released plan for redevelopment of Tysons, how FABB can effectively use Facebook and Twitter, and an overview of recent projects from the county bicycle coordinator. All are welcome.
Labels: FABB meeting
WABA bike safety at NBC4 Health and Fitness ExpoYesterday we volunteered at the WABA bike safety booth at the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo. It was great to see so many kids having fun on bikes and learning about bike safety. WABA staff laid out a short course using orange cones that included several stations: the ABC (Air, Brakes, Chain and Cranks) Spin Check, weaving around cones, riding straight through parallel lines of cones, stopping at a stop sign and looking both ways, and walking their bike through a crosswalk.
WABA has a trailer filled with bikes of various sizes, including a few with training wheels, and several boxes of helmets. All kids were required to wear "cootie caps", shower caps to keep the helmets clean.
It was a fun but tiring morning and well worth the effort. With so little bicycle education available in the schools, WABA provides a great service to the community with events like this. They also conduct Safe Routes to School programs at several DC schools.
Final Tysons Plan draft releasedFairfax County staff have released their final draft of the plan [pdf] to transform Tysons into a walkable, bikeable, livable community. The Bicycle Network language on page 64 has been re-written with much more detail. Changes include new bicycle parking requirements that are similar to those in Arlington County (p. 66), and recommendations for wayfinding signage, including use of new guidelines from the recently revised Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices such as "Shared Lane Markings" and "Bicycles May Use Full Lane."
The schedule for upcoming meetings is online, including a March 11 "Planning Commission Workshop on Advertised Plan Amendment," March 24 Planning Commission Public Hearing, with an April Board of Supervisors Public Hearing.
Over the next few days we'll review the new plan language and develop suggested comments. The bicycle language is much improved from earlier versions, but our main concern continues to be the lack of any bicycle accommodations on Routes 7 and 123, through the heart of Tysons: "It should be noted that bicycles [sic] facilities are shown on Route 7 and Route 123 entering Tysons. It is anticipated, as shown on the Countywide Trails Plan, that these will be off-road facilities. However, bicycle facilities within Tysons will be provided on alternate routes."
[Update: 15 Jan 2010 - There will be two opportunities for public comments on the current plan draft before the formal public hearings: Jan. 27, 2010, 7:00 pm, Conference Rooms 4/5 & February 11, 2010, 7:00 pm, Conference Rooms 2/3 - Speakers will be allowed up to five minutes on either date to present comments to the committee (please sign up in advance through the PC website or call 703-324-2865).]
A related development is reported in today's Post: Metro-oriented neighborhood is planned for Tysons Corner. The article describes a prototype demonstration project adjacent to the planned Tysons West metro station intended to test some of the assumptions contained in the new Tysons plan. We're anxious to see detailed site plans.
McDonnell's transportation solution: Raise the speed limitThat's right, Governor-elect McDonnell wants to raise the speed limit on some interstate highways from 65 mph to 70 mph: "He [McDonnell] says he'll support legislation that could lead to higher speed limits on rural stretches of Interstates 64, 77 & 81." The graph on the right clearly shows the rapid decrease in fuel economy when driving 70 mph vs. 65 mph. According to fueleconomy.gov, "gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph."
I think many people will agree with Mitzi: "'I think it would be stupid,'" says Mitzi Shewmake. 'It uses more gas when you go 70 and I'm much against it.'"
Despite his campaign pledge to increase funding for transportation, according to the Post
It's not just about moving peopleSome people think that the only criteria for evaluating transportation projects should be "which strategies move the most people most effectively in most corridors." That's been the formula at the Federal Transit Authority as well, regardless of the effect of new projects on communities. Thanks to the new administration, that will change. According to a recent blog post by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Walking the walk; New transit action puts livability criteria squarely into the mix:
Now, the Recovery Act discretionary TIGER grants we announce soon will help some communities achieve these broader goals.
But if we’re serious--really serious--about creating livable communities built around good transportation, then our Federal Transit Administration needs to consider key livability factors when evaluating non-Recovery Act transit proposals. Factors like enivronmental benefits and economic development opportunities.
Unfortunately, FTA's flagship programs use cost and performance requirements that are too narrow to allow for weighing these livability factors.
So we are opening them up to a broader set of six performance criteria:
- Economic development
- Mobility improvements
- Environmental benefits
- Operating efficiencies
- Cost effectiveness
- Land use
Another call to raise the gas taxIt's become obvious to many people that if the price of gasoline is too low, there is little incentive to conserve. A solution is to raise the gas tax, so that instead of having gas price increases go to countries like Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Iran, some funds would remain here and could be funneled into road improvements and possibly alternative modes of transportation.
The Federal gas tax is currently 18.4¢/gal and was last raised in 1993, and the Virginia gas tax is one of the lowest in the country, 17.5¢/gal and was last raised in 1987. Bob Lutz, vice chairman of General Motors, thinks we should raise the Federal tax by 25¢ a year. This will encourage more people to drive fuel-efficient vehicles and to pursue alternatives to driving along, which is what most people do today.
Lutz said if a car buyer knew that gas that costs $2.75 a gallon today would likely go to $3 next year and $3.25 the year after that, it would prompt some buyers to say: "You know sweetheart—this time we should go one size down because we know what fuel is going to do."
Labels: gas tax
Reston Master Plan StudyFairfax County has begun the process of updating the Reston Master Plan. A task force is reviewing changes needed to the current plan now that the Silver Line is fully funded and three new Reston Metro stations (Wiehle Avenue, Reston Parkway, and Herndon-Monroe) scheduled to be completed in mid-2013.
Bicycle access to the new stations is critical to reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and to promote active lifestyles. Most people who currently use the Reston East Park and Ride lot, on the site of the planned Wiehle Ave station, live nearby and could easily get there by bike. Reston's reputation as a bicycle-friendly place is due to the presence of the W&OD Trail and an extensive paved trail system. However, direct, on-road bicycle access to major destinations is poor. There are no on-road bicycle facilities on major roads such as Reston Parkway, Baron Cameron Ave, Wiehle Ave, Sunrise Valley Dr, Sunset Hills Rd.
A series of community meetings will be held to define the future of Reston. These meetings are a good opportunity to speak out in favor of better bicycle access. The next community meeting will be on January 26 on Guiding Planning Principles for Reston, at Langston Hughes Middle School at 7:00 p.m.
Labels: reston master plan
Woman and dog hit on W&OD TrailAccording to the article Woman, Dog Hit by Car While Walking on W&OD Trail:
The woman, whose name wasn't released, was walking along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at about 6:15 p.m. when she attempted to cross West with two dogs in tow. She was hit by a northbound vehicle. One of her dogs also was hit, and was limping after the incident, the police report said. The driver of the car, Amada Ydania Castro, 26 years old, of Fairfax, was charged with reckless driving.
The article goes on to discuss cyclist and pedestrian rights and responsibilities at trail/road intersections. There's a reference to a video report from last October entitled Police Enforce Stop Signs on Bike Trail: "Falls Church Police have begun stopping bicyclists who choose not to stop at the stop signs on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail." Sounds like the enforcement was conducted at Grove Ave., the street just west of West St.
Winter bicycle clothingTrail Voice recently asked bicyclists "What winter gear can you not live without?" It's a timely question given the recent snow, ice, and cold weather.
We're fond a pair of ski pants we purchased for a great price at the REI attic sale a few years back. Our hands get very cold so we've resorted to using ski mittens on the really cold days. Because of limited dexterity, they're not good for urban cycling, but on long stretches of trail they work fine. To keep our feet warm, this year we started using neoprene socks, used by kayakers, over biking sandals.
State of the County - TransportationFairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova recently gave her annual State of the County address. With the continuing economic downturn, the county expects "a projected shortfall for Fiscal Year 2011 of $316 million dollars. Schools—which make up 53.8% of the County's Budget—project a shortfall of $176 million."
She also discussed the Board's recently adopted Goals and Priorities. We're pleased to see bicycling listed first:
Arlington County Sustainability task forceThe first act of the new Arlington County Chairman, Jay Fisette, was to form a 28-member Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force. According to the Post, "The panel is to make recommendations to the board about how to reduce carbon emissions in the private and commercial sectors."
As the WashCycle pointed out, bicycling is a key part of a sustainable Arlington:
Also on the agenda for 2010, I hope to expand bicycling in Arlington. Arlington has a longstanding commitment to become one of the best places in the nation to bicycle. I love cycling and at different times in my life have done all my commuting on a bicycle. I have also traveled extensively by bicycle, including many vacations, as well as a three-month ride from England to Greece. I have always found the bicycle to be a wonderful compromise between walking and driving – as you can truly experience your surroundings while covering good distances. Bicycling is good for one’s health, great for the environment and a sustainable form of transportation.
Our 2010 Bicycle and Pedestrian Access and Safety Program will build upon existing efforts to educate residents and commuters about the benefits of bicycling and walking, as well as to implement planned infrastructure and facility improvements --such as additional bike lanes, improved bike signage and bicycle parking facilities in major business districts.
I was impressed with the large numbers of cyclists on trips to Portland, San Francisco, Boulder and Paris. Each year it becomes easier and safer to bicycle and walk in Arlington. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, dedicated cyclist, recently asked, “How many people, right now, are stuck in traffic on their way to ride a stationary bicycle in a health club?” It is time for Arlingtonians to rediscover their bicycles, and I plan to lead the way. Look for me in the bike lane! I commit to riding my bicycle to work at least once a week throughout 2010.
January-February FABB newsletterOur latest newsletter is now available online. It includes a short recap of major bicycle-related events that occurred in Fairfax County in 2009:
- Tysons Bike Plan (pdf) - FABB presented the draft Tysons Bike Plan to the Fairfax County Planning Commission's Tysons Corner Committee.
- Lawyers Road Bike Lanes - The first ever bike lanes in Reston were installed on a section of Lawyers Road.
- Gallows Road Bike Lanes - Bike lanes were striped from the I-66 bridge at Dunn Loring north to the W&OD Trail.
- Grant from Alliance for Biking and Walking - FABB received a grant of $9,600 from Alliance for Biking and Walking to develop a handbook for non-engineer bicycle advocates for use during the design of new bicycle facilities.
- Bike Valet at Reston Festival - Approximately 125 people parked their bikes at bike valet parking provided by FABB at the Reston Festival on July 11 & 12.
- VDOT Funding for HOT Lanes Bike/Ped Facilities (pdf) - VDOT received $500K to build connections from the HOT Lanes project limits to existing sidewalks and trails.
- Bike Light Giveaway - FABB installed approximately 150 sets of lights.
Labels: fabb newsletter
Climate PilotsToday's Post contains an article about a group of four N. Va. families who are Climate Pilots, going Beyond recycling and light bulbs.
Many Americans have adopted small eco-friendly measures, such as recycling and installing compact fluorescent light bulbs. A number of Washington area residents have made more significant lifestyle shifts, commuting by public transportation or bicycle and adopting high-efficiency or renewable-energy systems for their homes.
At times, there has been a culture gap. Angela Ulsh, a Climate Pilot who teaches second grade at the school, remembered a video conference call with her Swedish coach in Kalmar, who mentioned he had used his car only three times during the past month. "You've got to be kidding me," Ulsh replied. "I've used it three times in one day."
The Climate Pilots program has partnered with four families connected with the The Congressional School here in Fairfax County, on Sleepy Hollor Rd (a Preferred bike route by the way).
Learn more about the Climate Pilot program. In looking at the Traveling Challenge, we notice that there is little emphasis on alternative modes and more on saving fuel while driving smarter. Could be because the online tool used for tracking trips, Commute Greener, is produced by Volvo.