Wednesday, March 31, 2010
 

Fairfax not among CDC grant finalists

We are sad to report that Fairfax County did not receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control anti-obesity grant program, Communities Putting Prevention to Work. We had hoped there would be funds for the Bicycle Master Plan, which were included in the county grant application. The results were announced a while back; we were too depressed to mention it. No Virginia applications were accepted.

Applications that included bicycle projects were:
  • Boston Public Health Commission—Increased active transit through a new bike share program and implementation of Complete Streets policies.
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health—A citywide pedestrian and bike plan will be completed.
  • Miami-Dade County Health Department—The department plans to enhance signage for bike lanes, boulevards, and walkable neighborhoods to encourage physical activity such as biking and walking.
  • Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government—Creating an initiative to enhance infrastructure to support bicycling and walking.
  • Multnomah County Health Department, Oregon—To promote physical activity, CDPP will work to increase the proportion of bike, pedestrian, public transit, and other active transportation projects rather than road-widening and expansion projects.
  • Healthy Portland, Maine—Increasing physical activity opportunities and signage in walkable/mixed-use neighborhoods and public transportation (e.g., through bike lanes/boulevards).
Perhaps the CDC got wind of the anti-bicycling comments of some Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

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Encouraging More Women to Cycle More Places

The free webinar entitled Writing Women Back into Bicycling: Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often will be held today from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. FABB's Fionnuala Quinn is one of the panelists who will discuss "Women's Cycling History, Resources & Preliminary APBP Survey Results." Visit the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals website to register. See our earlier post for more information.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010
 

Recent FABB events - Advocates Workshop and Regional Advocates Get Together

The Bicycling Advocate's Engineering Workshop—Fionnuala Quinn of FABB conducted this workshop designed to assist those who would like to play a constructive role, and make suggestions for better bicycle facilities during the design of new road projects in Virginia. Fionnuala gave an overview of the road design process and the participants in that process. She also briefly discussed bike facility design standards, guidelines, policies and rules. The group spent some time looking at sample project design plans.

FABB received a grant from the Alliance for Biking and Walking to develop the Virginia Bicycling Advocates Guide for Reviewing Public Road Projects. The workshop is an outgrowth of that project. The document is in final draft with an expected June publication date.

Bicycling Advocates Get Together—FABB got together with members of BikeLoudoun and a representative from the Winchester/Frederick County area to discuss common goals. We met over wine and cheese at the Village Winery in Waterford. We discussed the important role that bicycle tourism could play in promoting bicycling in Northern Virginia. Fairfax received funding this year to develop a bicycle tour map of Civil War sites that could be a template for bicycle route maps of historically important sites in Northern Virginia.

We also discussed the Safe Routes to School program as a way of getting more kids walking and biking. Parents who have tried to generate interest have had little support from the county or local schools. A goal of the group is to grow existing SRTS programs in the counties.

WABA has funding for a regional bike summit where we hope to continue the conversation with local bicycle advocates.

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Friday, March 26, 2010
 

LAB responds to attacks on Sec. LaHoods new policy guidance

As we reported a while back, U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood recently issued new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. As he said at the time, "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

Given that this is a major change, one that finally could help change the view that "transportation" too often meant "motorized" transportation, there has been some pushback from the trucking industry and the National Association of Manufacturers. The President of the American Trucking Association stated that
"I'm in full agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers, who said on their Shopfloor blog last week that "treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe." Such a policy will negate any effort the Administration has made to create jobs and will hinder the movement of our nation’s goods. As we work to emerge from these difficult economic times, we need policies that promote the safe, efficient movement of goods. The Administration's major policy revision will be particularly detrimental if it diverts Highway Trust Fund dollars from critical expansion and repair projects that will help use meet national goals."
Here is an excerpt from the response by Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists:
As I think back to major economic catastrophes of the last 40 years, I am having a hard time finding any tell-tale trace of bicycle tire tracks. On the contrary, my recollection of significant recent economic crises is that they are invariably caused by our predeliction for foreign oil – the 1973/74 oil embargo; 1988 oil crisis; 2008 gas price increases quickly followed by the mortgage and foreclosure crisis that piled unsustainable housing costs on top of budget-busting suburban commuting costs.

Let me be clear. We need roads; we need highways. We need cars and trucks. But they don’t work for everything and everyone all the time. We need choice, we need alternatives, we need balance. That’s what the Secretary's new policy gives us a chance to achieve. The most vibrant, livable communities in the world - which also happen to be economic powerhouses - are those in which there is an equitable and rational balance between car, truck, transit, bike and walk modes. That's a vision we need to achieve together.
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FABB blog to move soon

We've been using the blogging service Blogger since we started doing the FABB blog in Feb. 2007. We store the files on our server and use FTP through Blogger to upload new files. Starting on May 1 Blogger will no longer provide provide the ftp service so we need to migrate from our current blog url to a new one (I suppose we could hand code everything from now on but that's too much trouble).

We don't have the new URL yet; once we do the migration, probably in the next week, we'll post an entry that we've moved and will try to notify as many people as possible about the change (not sure how this will be handled by Google Reader and other RSS readers). The old URL will still work for a while, redirected to the new one.

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W&OD Trail closure near Route 28

Pacific Blvd. is being extended over the W&OD Trail just west of the Route 28 bridge. Many cyclists who commute to AOL and other businesses to the south of the trail have been using a dirt trail to connect to Pacific Blvd. which dead ends at the trail. According to the VDOT public notice below, despite the fact that there is clear evidence of use along the dirt rail, there will be NO access during 3 months of construction. "During construction of the bridge, no access will be provided between the W&OD Trail and existing Pacific Boulevard to the south."

Also, between April 6-8, (Tues-Thurs) the trail will be closed for up to 30 minutes at a time from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. It is rare that the trail is closed completely without any detour or suggested alternative routes. If the Trail were a road I doubt that it would be closed completely during the day for up to 30 minutes at a time with no detours provided.

The full text of the VDOT Public Notice is below.

PACIFIC BOULEVARD EXTENSION ACROSS W&OD TRAIL
BEGINNING TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010
WEATHER PERMITTING
  • From 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. April 6th – 8th, trail traffic can expect flagging operations and intermittent stoppages (30 minutes or less) as crews erect bridge beams for the Pacific Boulevard Extension over the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The future overpass and trail connection for Pacific Boulevard is about 1/8 mile west of the W&OD trail bridge over Route 28.
  • On weekdays throughout the months of April, May and June, trail traffic should expect flagging operations and intermittent stoppages (no longer than 10 minutes) for construction on the bridge deck.
  • During construction of the bridge, no access will be provided between the W&OD Trail and existing Pacific Boulevard to the south.
  • In observance of Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21, 2010, no construction will be performed that would interrupt trail traffic. On behalf of the project team, we appreciate your cooperation during construction and look forward to a major improvement in traffic congestion and public safety once the project is complete.
For more project information, visit the VDOT project website. CONTACT: Christiana Briganti-Dunn, 703-383-2193, ; or Adam Gortowski, 703-932-8548.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010
 

WABA Executive Director Job Announcement

The job announcement for the WABA Executive Director position was recently posted on the WABA website. As we reported on March 8, Eric Gilliland, the current ED, is leaving for a position at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

Please help spread the word about this position. Eric did a great job with WABA and it will be difficult to find a replacement.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
 

Speak out for bike funding at budget meetings

The last three budget meetings will be held on Wednesday night. Please consider attending and speaking out for funding for the Fairfax County bike program:
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:00 pm, Hunter Mill District, James Madison High School, Warhawk Hall, 2500 James Madison Drive, Vienna, VA 22181
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Braddock District, Little Run Elementary School Cafeteria, 4511 Olley Lane, Fairfax, VA 22032
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 7:30 pm, Lee District Association, Lee District Community Room, 6121 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310

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Monday, March 22, 2010
 

VDOT survey on zig-zag markings

In April 2009 VDOT placed experimental zig-zag pavement markings on Sterling Blvd. and Belmont Ridge Rd. where the roads intersect the W&OD Trail. The goal was to encourage motorists to slow down at these high-volume ped/bike crossings.

VDOT is conducting a survey of trail users about the effectiveness of the pavement markings. From VDOT:
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) would like your opinion on the pavement markings that were installed on Belmont Ridge Road and Sterling Boulevard in Loudoun County in April 2009. These pavement markings are commonly referred to as "zig-zag" markings. VDOT is seeking your input to help determine the effectiveness of the markings and to help decision-makers assess the prospects of installing future zig-zag markings.
Let VDOT know what you think about the zig-zag markings by taking the survey.

Update: There are actually two surveys, the one above for bicyclists, and a second survey for motorists.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010
 

Respect for all transportation modes

We attended the Board of Supervisors Snow Summit last week and listened as VDOT discussed the logistics of plowing the roads of Northern Virginia. By most accounts, clearing the roads after the historic snowfall was handled well, but as we all know, one of the side effects was that snow and ice were dumped on sidewalks and trails, blocking access for people who don't drive. Walking to schools, bus stops, or just about anywhere else was nearly impossible, and made much worse by VDOT snow clearing. There was no mention of this problem by VDOT; they only discussed clearing snow for cars, trucks, and buses.

We're pleased that today's Post contains our letter to the editor (Virginia's other snow routes) suggesting some ways that VDOT could avoid this situation in the future.

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Friday, March 19, 2010
 

New bike connection in Tysons area

A new bridge that connects two dead-end segments of Wolftrap Road in the Vienna/Tysons area was recently completed (map). Charlie Strunk, the county bike coordinator, worked with county Park Authority staff to get the bridge funded and built over the winter.

It's a great addition to the bicycle network in that area, connecting the very bike-friendly Wolftrap Road and residential areas in Vienna to Kilmer Middle School, the Dunn Loring Fire Station, and businesses along Gallows Road. Bike lanes on Gallows Road from Old Courthouse Road to the W&OD Trail are funded and should be completed in the next year or so. There is also an easy connection to Oak Street. Once the HOT lanes are completed, Oak Street will be a good bike route leading to Idylwood Rd, Pimmit Hills, and Route 7 and the West Falls Church Metro station.

Thanks to Charlie and the Park Authority for making this happen.

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Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often

FABB's Fionnuala Quinn will be a panelist in a free webinar sponsored by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals to discuss women and bicycling. The title of the webinar is Writing Women Back into Bicycling: Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often. The session will be held on March 31, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. and is open to everyone.

From the APBP:
  • Connect with others interested in healthy, livable, bicycle-friendly
  • Learn about barriers, successes, international examples, what you can do
  • Women and girls are invited to respond to the online survey through 5/15/10 (interim results reported at the webinar)
  • Invite others to watch and listen with you - use this webinar as a springboard for local success as you encourage more people to cycle!
  • Can't participate live? At your leisure, view the free archived webinar later (link posted after the webinar at www.apbp.org)
Visit the APBP site to register for the webinar.

Thanks to Fionnuala for helping to make this session happen. According to APBP:
As part of the implementation process of the FHWA, AASHTO, NCHRP Int'l Scan on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety and Mobility, APBP is hosting a free webinar on March 31, 2010 on women cycling that will explore encouragement strategies and barriers to bicycling. The webinar is free to the public thanks to a generous donation from a sponsor. We're hoping to max out APBP's webinar capacity of 1,000 participants. You can help us do that by spreading the word.

Special thanks to APBP member Fionnuala Quinn who raised the question of numbers of women cycling in the cities visited on the scan and who went on to spearhead a webinar and survey in record time.
For more information on the International Scan read the INTERNATIONAL SCAN SUMMARY REPORT ON PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLIST SAFETY AND MOBILITY and the text and photo journal of the trip.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010
 

FABB meets with Supervisor Cook

Is a bicycle a transportation device? At today's meeting with Supervisor Cook, he indicated that many, many cyclists had given him answers that question, in response to his statement that a bicycle is not a transportation device.

FABB wanted to meet with the Supervisor to discuss his views on bicycling, which he expressed in his letter of response to those who wrote to him. We were encouraged when he wrote: "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."

We agreed that not many people currently bicycle for transportation, in part because we have so few facilities for these cyclists. While we realize there are limited funds for transportation, many bike projects can be built with little to no extra cost when wide outside lanes or bike lanes are added during repaving cycles. Bike lanes can be created by narrowing lanes as on Gallows Road, and road diets can be used to slow traffic by removing a lane and adding bike lanes as was done on Lawyers Road in Reston.

We asked that operating funding be restored to the bicycle program, which the county executive has recommended be completely cut next year. While most programs are being cut by a few percent, it's unfair that the bike program operating funds be cut by 100%. Funds are needed for long overdue wayfinding signage on the Fairfax County Parkway, shared lane markings in several locations, support for Bike to Work Day which has grown each year, bicycle planning, and many other outreach and project activities. When other communities are expanding their bike programs, we should not be cutting ours.

It seemed very appropriate that prior to our meeting, the Supervisor met with VDOT and county staff and state delegates to discuss the need for traffic calming on Wakefield Chapel Road. One proposed solution is to reduce the lanes and create bike lanes. This would be another example of making conditions better for residents (slower traffic), motorists (safety), and bicyclists for very little additional cost.

We were encouraged that Supervisor Cook had joined Chairman Bulova and Supervisor McKay in asking citizens to help clear snow from sidewalks around schools after the snowpocalypse, and he is interested in improving biking and walking conditions around schools. We hope to work with Supervisor Cook in the future to try to obtain some of the $13 million in Safe Routes to School funding for the county.

We think we can work together to help make Fairfax a better place to walk and bike in the future.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
 

Hazard on Fairfax Co Parkway Trail

There is a new hazard for cyclists on the shared-use path along Rt 7100 Fairfax County Parkway at Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Sometime between snow falls, when most cyclists were kept off two wheels, heavy construction took place on the side path along the ramp connecting northbound 7100 Fairfax County Parkway to eastbound Rt 50 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy (Google Map image). The path is an extension of the shared-use path that follows the right turn lane leading to the ramp until the ramp diverges from the Parkway, at which point, the shared-use path crosses the ramp in a poorly-designed fashion -- at a right angle to the ramp.

This warning stems from the fact that a trench was dug cutting the asphalt of the path, and the start of the trench at the top end severs the shared-use path right where it is most dangerous: cyclists must slow here both to make the 90o left turn to cross the ramp while at the same time looking over their left shoulder for cars entering the ramp, while one's bicycle tires risk being tripped by the sharp break in pavement, just as surely as running up against a curb. We strongly recommend any cyclist approaching this area, do so with extreme caution, and dismount, walking past the area.

VDOT has been notified of the problem, but they have no record of any permit issued for the work, and so they seem to be unable to pursue the offending party to restore the damaged public property. The Parkway trail is one of the few trails in the County for which VDOT is officially responsible. VDOT is facing approximately $10M in winter storm damage, along with a dire financial situation, but this trail is a critical part of their transportation system and we expect it to be fixed.

We suggest all cyclists call the VDOT hot line (800.367.ROAD -- though the waits can be interminable) or enter a complaint via the on-line form. Sometimes, this can make a difference.

For the general case, we urge ALL cyclists, when noting damage, particularly if the offending equipment is still on site, PLEASE make a record of the precise location, name(s) on the side of the trucks/equipment, time and date; let us know while letting the County and/or VDOT know.

FABB will discuss the possibility of setting up an online reporting system for tracking problems like this. The program SeeClickFix is being used by several communities for this purpose.

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Monday, March 15, 2010
 

Secretary LaHood announces new Federal bike policy

Today Secretary Ray LaHood announced new Federal policy recommendations to state DOT's to ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians are treated as equals with other transportation modes. "This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized." The policy recommends that "bicyclists and pedestrians of all abilities should be involved throughout the planning process, should not be adversely affected by other transportation projects, and should be able to track annual obligations and expenditures on non-motorized transportation facilities."

From the blog entry My view from atop the table at the National Bike Summit
I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

* Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
* Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
* Go beyond minimum design standards.
* Collect data on walking and biking trips.
* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
* Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
* Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it's an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further.
Here is a video clip of Secretary LaHood's remarks at the closing reception at the National Bike Summit (from Streetsblog SF).

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Sunday, March 14, 2010
 

The Bicycling Advocate's Engineering Workshop

Fionnuala Quinn of FABB will conduct a workshop designed to assist those who would like to play a constructive role, and make suggestions for better bicycle facilities during the design of new road projects in Virginia. Learn how to engage with the public hearing process and make the type of comments that can bring change. The workshop is on Saturday, March 20 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, VA near the W&OD Trail. All are welcome. For more information contact Bruce Wright at finn@fabb-bikes.org. See a copy of the flier.

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Give up your car for a year challenge

The Bike Lane has challenged area cyclists to go car-free for a year.
The Bike Lane is taking applications from people who are ready to go by bike and want to tell the world about the benefits and challenges of doing so. The person who stands out as the most committed, most challenged by giving up their car, and has the most desire to make it happen will earn a new Trek Ride+ commuter bike; decked out with a rack, panniers, and lights. The Bike Lane will also provide you with some clothing, riding gear, and commuting support to make things a little easier.

Applicants must agree to commit to using a bike for at least 80% of their transportation needs, to blog and use other social media to journal about their experience at least 3 times a week, and to track and report how many miles per week are used going by bike.
You also get a free one year Zipcar membership. Visit The Bike Lane website to apply before April 17.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010
 

More Bike Summit coverage

BikePortland posted two good articles about the final day of the National Bike Summit spent on Capitol Hill, A big day (and night) for Oregon on Capitol Hill and Ray LaHood rocks Summit crowd with tabletop speech. That's Zack Fields, Legislative Aide to Congressman Connolly (VA-11th District) on the right talking to Roger Geller, Portland Bicycle Coordinator. Congressman Connolly, when he was Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who initiated the Fairfax Comprehensive Bicycle Initiative which included funding for the Bicycle Program and the Bicycle Coordinator position:
After the inspiring speech by Oberstar - who in many ways is the architect of the modern bike movement - the Oregon contingent made their way to a Congressional panel presentation.

Organized by Scott Bricker and Earl Blumenauer’s legislative aide Tyler Frisbee, the purpose of the panel was for Congressional staffers to learn how Portland got on the road to being a world-class biking city.

Zack Fields, a legislative assistant for Virgina House Rep. Gerald Connolly, said the presentation by Roger Geller could help him inspire and motivate traffic engineers in Northern Virginia to be more bike-oriented.
And from Transportation Secretary LaHood:
I've been all over America, and where I've been in America I've been very proud to talk about the fact that people do want alternatives. They want out of their cars; they want out of congestion; they want to live in livable neighhoods. And we would not be where we're at today without you…. I'm very, very grateful!"

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Chain Bridge work postponed

According to Arlington Alert, the planned closure this weekend of Chain Bridge has been postponed because of expected heavy rain. The work will be rescheduled for next weekend, March 19-21.

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Friday, March 12, 2010
 

Snow summit

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a Snow Summit to "focus on this winter's snow and assess both what worked well and what did not at the state - Virginia Department of Transportation - and county levels. The lessons learned from this summit will be invaluable not only for the next snow storm, but for any emergency."

If you have ideas about what local government can do to help bicyclists after the next big snowstorm, now is the time to send them to the Board. On the Snow Summit webpage you can "Write about your experiences with the storms and how they impacted your family, neighborhood and/or business." (tell us) or provide a "new idea." The top list of new ideas is:
  • 48 (number of responses) - Require Sidewalk Shoveling
  • 44 - Map with location of fire hydrants
  • 37 - Better Web Information Services
  • 34 - Come up with "snow emergency" parking and ticketing rules
  • 30 - Clearing streets vs. clearing sidewalks
The county has done a good job of using crowdsourcing tools to gather this info.

Update: Details about the Snow Summit:
  • Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.
  • Fairfax County Government Center
  • Board Auditorium
  • 12000 Government Center Parkway
  • Fairfax, VA

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Getting Tysons right

Some opponents to transforming Tysons from a suburban office park to a vibrant, livable, mixed use community say that until the "transportation infrastructure" is in place, we can't have any more density in Tysons. Yet with this type of thinking a place like New York City, San Francisco or just about any other dense urban area shouldn't work.

What most people mean by "transportation infrastructure" is usually more and wider roads. What makes dense urban areas work? Having a mix of uses that allows people to walk and bike to nearby destinations. Having a good transit system and bicycle network that provide people with choices for moving around. Having interesting streets people want to be a part of and not just to pass through on their way to somewhere else.

Clark Tyler, Chairman of the Tysons Land Use Task Force, understands this and discusses his concerns about people who demand more and wider roads in Tysons before allowing development in the article "More lanes in Tysons is not the answer":
The goal in trying to transform the area is to enable people using Tysons to shift to public transit, and away from the automobile. Transportation improvements must focus primarily on making Metrorail a success. This can only be done by creating a viable circulator system: enhancing community shuttles from places such as McLean, Vienna, Great Falls and south county; building a grid of streets with completed sidewalks and bike lanes; and forgetting about such things as more lanes on Route 7, Route 123 and the Dulles Toll Road.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010
 

Bike Summit wrap-up

It was inspiring to attend the National Bike Summit this week to hear about all the great efforts underway to improve bicycling in the U.S. Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org was there and his coverage of the event is probably the most complete. Here are some highlights:

Opening Reception: Bikes Belong announced People for Bikes:
"Millions of Americans ride bicycles and recognize the economic, social and physical benefits. But, only a fraction of those who ride have stood up to help advance the cause of bicycling in America.

The goal of peopleforbikes.org is to gather a million names of support, to speak with one powerful voice - to let policy makers, the media and the public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted.

Whether you're a commuter, a roadie, a mountain biker or just a casual rider, by uniting your voice with a million others, you can help build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country."
Opening Session: Congressman Blumenauer announced that bike lanes will be stripped on Pennsylvania Avenue by Bike to Work Day this year, Friday, May 21. From Bike Portland:
Blumenauer outlined several of his bike-related legislative efforts including, his Active Communities for Transportation bill (a.k.a. "the ACT act"), a Safe Routes for High Schools bill, and a bill he calls "Green Routes to Work" that would give all modes equal commuting reimbursements from employers."

On Safe Routes to High Schools: "We know childhood obesity strikes between 12 and 19… We shouldn’t abandon high schools… We want to make sure there’s a bike culture to complete with car culture."

On Green Routes to Work: "This is a blueprint for how we’re going to end socialism for the car… We’re not anit-car but we want to stop titling the playing field dramatically in favor of them."
Peter Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, described the "new reality" in which people are demanding more transportation choices, and that bicycling and transit, working together, are an ideal solution to allow people to "jettison" their cars (the "cycling/transit nexus".)

Google announces bicycle directions in Google Maps. As we mentioned earlier, it needs a little work in Fairfax.

Congratulations to The Bike Lane and Revolution Cycles who received Silver Bike Friendly Business awards.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams' chief of staff Tom Miller quoted Mayor Adams as saying that "you can't get a better return on investment than by promoting bicycling." Portland has spent approximately $60 million to build our entire bicycle network to date . This is roughly the cost of one mile of modem freeway. Portland has a goal of 25% bicycle mode share by 2030 (San Francisco wants to have a 17-18% mode share by then.)

New York City is transforming it's streets and documenting the effort in the NYCDOT Street Design Manual: "The Manual builds on the experience of innovation in street design, materials and lighting that has developed around the world, emphasizing a balanced approach that gives equal weight to transportation, community and environmental goals."

A major theme of the summit was livable and sustainable communities, and through the HUD-DOT-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities the there will be $100 million available to encourage development of these communities.

Social marketing tools: Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org, Bryan Goebel, editor of editor for Streetsblog San Francisco and Sarah Stuart of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia discussed the importance of using social marketing tools to engage more bicyclists in advocacy efforts. The Coalition has two blogs, bikePHL, an educational blog, and their advocacy blog. These are all supported by paid staff and they are recognized by local government officials as a reflection of the community's voice. The Philadelphia Coalition uses SeeClickFix to allow cyclists to report road problems.

Congressional visits: FABB jointed other area cyclists to visit local Congressional offices including Congressmen Connolly, Moran, and Wolf. We asked them to support the ACT Act, Active Community Transportation Act of 2010, HR 4722; the Complete Streets Act of 2009, HR 1443; Safe Routes to High Schools, HR 4021; and the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, HR 3734. If they were not already members, they were asked to join the Congressional Bike Caucus.

Pictured outside Congressman Moran's office are Allen Muchnick, Virginia Bicycle Federation, Jim Harmon, EX2 Adventures, Anne Mader, The Bike Lane, Eric Gilliland, WABA, Fionnuala Quinn, FABB, Jakob Wolf-Barnett, Revolution Cycles.

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Chain Bridge to close March 12-15

Chain Bridge will be closed from 8 pm on Friday, March 12 until 5 am on Monday, March 15 [UPDATE: Closure Postponed; bridge remains open March 12-15]. Here are the details from the Arlington Alert:
To: Arlington Alert Subscribers
Subject: Weekend Closure of Chain Bridge, 3/12-3/15

Weekend Closure of Chain Bridge. Work Delayed by Inclement Weather Now Rescheduled.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is advising motorists that it plans to completely close the Chain Bridge on the weekend of March 12-15 for reconstruction work on the bridge deck, approaches and structural steel beams. This work was originally scheduled for late January and early February but was delayed by multiple snow storms and sub-freezing temperatures.

Weather permitting, Chain Bridge will be closed from 8 pm on Friday, March 12 until 5 am on Monday, March 15.

There will be no access to the bridge from either the District or Arlington. That includes cyclists and pedestrians because the sidewalk will also be closed.

Thru traffic on Canal Road will not be obstructed, but motorists will not be able to turn onto Chain Bridge.

Motorists are advised to use alternate routes and river crossings including the American Legion, Key, Roosevelt, Memorial and 14th Street Bridges.

Variable Messages Boards will be in place to warn drivers of the work ahead and re-direct them to alternative routes.

Crews will be pouring new concrete and the bridge closures are necessary to give the concrete time to properly strengthen. Workers will also be replacing the expansion joints and streetlights on the bridge. To complete the work, additional weekend closures may be necessary later this month.

The project began on June 1, 2009. It was originally anticipated that the work on the bridge deck would be completed in late January, but the schedule has been significantly impacted by the severe weather this winter.

smj/OEM

Sent by Arlington County OEM to All users (e-mail, cell phones) through
Arlington Alert
I'll take issue with their statement that "There will be no access to the bridge from either the District or Arlington. That includes cyclists and pedestrians because the sidewalk will also be closed." Most cyclists that I know ride on the road anyway.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010
 

Bike Directions using Google Maps

At the National Bike Summit this morning Peter Birch, Google Product Manager, announced that bicycle routing will be included in Google Maps. A beta version of the product is now available at maps.google.com/biking. Along with directions "By car," "By public transit," and "Walking" you will now have the option to get "Bicycling" directions.

The application includes 12,000 miles of major trails from Rails to Trails Conservancy, which are shown as a dark green line. We tested the new application against Ride the City - DC and it looks like the Google app needs some work.

Directions from Reston to the County Government Center didn't include new bike lanes on Lawyers Rd or the shared use path along Reston Parkway. From Reston to Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park we were routed onto Baron Carmeron Dr and Route 7, two notoriously bad biking roads.

It will likely not be long before the Google app includes better symbology and data. If you find problems, they can be reported (see yellow box in image above). Users enrolled in the "Trusted tester program" will be able to edit the map data to improve routing results.

For more info see the Google Blog entry Biking directions added to Google Maps.

See a good summary at BikePortland.org of the unveiling of the new application at the Summit.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010
 

LAB Summit gets underway

The annual League of American Bicyclists (LAB) National Bike Summit got underway today in DC. At this afternoon's LAB annual meeting Andy Clarke noted that a record 700 people registered for this year's summit, compared to 600 last year. Lance Armstrong appeared in a video welcoming everyone to the conference at the opening reception. The main part of the conference is tomorrow, with concurrent sessions held throughout the day. On Thursday, bicyclists from around the country will descend upon the Capitol to meet with members of Congress. Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation is organizing meetings for the Virginia delegation.

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Reasons to go by bike

Supervisor Cook has received many emails from area cyclists concerned about his statement that "a bicycle is not a transportation device." Several of those emails were also sent to FABB. They all made a good case for why bicycling is a basic, important, low-cost form of transportation. We especially liked the letter from Phillip Troutman, Assistant Professor of Writing at George Washington University.

In this extract from Phillip's letter he outlines many of the reasons why biking is one of the best forms of transportation available:
In light of recent comments you are reported to have made, wanted you to know that bicycles are a form of transport. I ride 15 miles each way to work three times a week, from Falls Church to Georgetown. This saves me roughly $7 in car/gas costs and saves the planet about 29 pounds (!) of carbon. It is also far more reliable in terms of time than driving. When I ride my bike, it takes me 45 minutes always, unless I have a flat, in which case it takes one hour. When I drive, it might take 45 minutes or maybe one hour, or maybe an hour and a half. When I take Metro and bus, it is a similar range of times.

I urge you to reconsider the importance of bike lanes and bike trail infrastructure—supported especially by Arlington and the District, and the NoVa Regional Parks (w/ the WO&D trail)—and help Fairfax continue incorporating bike infrastructure in its new projects (e.g., as it already is in Reston and in plans for Tysons). If you would like to know more about how easy it can be to ride to work, I would be glad to give you more information.
Phillip is putting his words into action by encouraging other people who commute to GWU to go by bike with his bike2gw blog and the bike2gw Facebook page to "provide maps, route details, trail/road condition updates, & local bike event information, & to promote bike-friendly policies at GW."

Phillip obtained the information about the impact of his bicycle commute on the REI Bike Your Drive webpage.

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Monday, March 8, 2010
 

Who needs snow tires?

When you have rims like these, you don't need snow tires. We could have used this bike a few weeks ago. This photo was sent by a friend who said he took it at a bicycle museum. We can just make out what's in the frame in front of the bike. It's from an entry from Ripley's Believe it or Not that mentions the Oldest Farm in the U.S.A. with a drawing of someone riding the bike.

After a little googling, the only reference I could find is to a history article about the Little family, but there's not mention of the bike or how it was used: "In 1940, 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' printed a drawing of the farm and a story telling that it is the oldest farm in the USA continually cultivated for 300 years by the same family—the Littles. At that time [1940], it was owned by Seth Little, who was a member of the 10th generation of Littles to live there."

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WABA Director to accept postion with NACTO

Eric Gilliland, WABA Executive Director, announced his resignation today, effective April 2, 2010. Eric has done a great job since he was hired by WABA back in 1999. In Fairfax he helped us set up the first Bike to Work Day event in the county, in Reston in 2002, attending some of our first meetings. He worked with FABB from the beginning, helping us get started and providing some seed money for promotional materials. His leadership and dedication will be missed.
Eric Gilliland initially joined the Washington Area Bicyclist Association as a program assistant in the fall of 1999 after brief forays as a Capitol Hill intern and bicycle messenger. Hired part time to assist with a ride called Bike DC, Eric quickly made his mark on bicycling in the Washington region through his involvement on other events such as Bike to Work Day in addition to numerous advocacy and fundraising initiatives. Eric was eventually hired as executive director by the WABA board of directors January of 2004.
He's accepted the position of executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). NACTO recently initiated Cities for Cycling which will "catalog, promote and implement the world's best bicycle transportation practices in American municipalities."

The WABA Board of Directors has begun the search for a new executive director.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010
 

Action plan for dealing with snow

TheWashCycle Snowmaggedon After-Action Report outlines what can be done in the future to recover from a major snowfall. TheWashCycle thinks we should 1) have a plan, that includes having a prioritized list of bike facilities to be cleared, 2) communicate with users about the plan and provide them status of conditions on trails and bike lanes, and 3) ask for help. If a reason for not clearing a trail is lack of resources, ask cyclists and others to help.

Even though roads have been cleared for a while, in Fairfax, some major trails are still blocked, mostly by snow dumped at intersections by VDOT. We just sent this message to VDOT using their Report a Road Problem page about the Fairfax County Parkway Trail:
VDOT has cleared passage for one mode of "transportation" (cars) while blocking a couple of other modes (biking and walking) along the Fairfax County Parkway trail at the Dulles Toll Rd. The trail is blocked by snow piled at the trail entrance to the bridge over the Toll Rd and along the trail between the Toll Rd and the W&OD Trail. It's one thing not to clear snow for bicyclists and pedestrians, it's another when a trail is actively blocked by plows to make way for cars. The snow is hard and will be blocking the trail for many more days. Please clear these areas.
The good news is that it was a beautiful day to be out on the bike and we're looking forward to warmer weather this weekend. FABB plans to meet with fellow advocates from Loudoun and Frederik County at the Village Winery in Waterford on Saturday and it looks like it will be a good day to ride.

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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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Monday, March 1, 2010
 

Response to funding cuts from Supervisor McKay

Lee District Supervisor McKay is a cyclist who has supported bicycling in Fairfax by sponsoring the Tour de Lee, encouraging kids to walk and bike to school, and offering a motion for the Board of Supervisors to endorse the concept of the Bicycle Master Plan, which was passed unanimously by the Board. Below is his response to letters requesting that funds be restored to the bike program.

He notes that there will be funds from the Commercial & Industrial tax administered by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and passed to the county for funding transportation projects, including bike projects. He also notes that the bike coordinator position will remain. However, there will be no operating funds for the program to support activities like Bike to Work Day or to fund the countywide bicycle master plan. It will be difficult to have an effective bike program without those funds, which the county executive says will be permanently cut.

Supervisor McKay's response:
Thank you for letting me know your concerns about the future of the
County's bicycle program in light of the funding cuts in the County
Executive's proposed FY2011 budget.

As a longtime cyclist myself, I hate to see any cutbacks that would slow
the progress we've made in bicycle and pedestrian initiatives. I
believe the County Executive's proposed budget recognizes the Board's
commitment to bicycling as a transportation alternative and makes the
best of a difficult financial situation. While he proposes to remove
$213,641 in operational funding, he retains the staff position
associated with the program.

The staff person will continue to serve as the point of contact for
bicycle related issues, work on acquiring grant funding for bicycle
programming, provide input on incorporating bicycles into capital
roadway projects, and oversee the $5 million or so in commercial and
industrial (C&I) tax funds for bicycle-related improvements.

Given our severe budget situation, I believe that this is prudent. We
are keeping the infrastructure, institutional knowledge, and staff so
that once we come out of this economic slump we will be able to relaunch
our full bicycle initiative.

Jeffrey C. McKay
Lee District Supervisor

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